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Monday, 6 February 2017
Replica of Imperial Crown of Russia to be Exhibited in Israel
Topic: Jewels

Replica of the Great Imperial Crown of the Russian Empire. Photo © Shakko
A replica of the Great Imperial Crown of the Russian Empire, which was used in the coronations of all Russian monarchs since Catherine the Great, will be exhibited from February 13 to 14 at the sixth International Diamond Week in Israel. 
The replica of the Crown was created by Kristall-Smolensk, Russia’s leading diamond manufacturer in honour of its 250th anniversary, and is being brought to Israel with the cooperation of Alrosa. It contains 11,352 polished diamonds, with a total weight of 1,180 carats. All of the polished diamonds are made from Alrosa rough. Its value has been estimated at $20 million. 
The Crown replica has been displayed throughout Russia, and has been the central attraction of an exhibit dedicated to Catherine the Great at the Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam from June 2016 to January 2017. It has been viewed by 400,000 people since its creation in 2012. 
For more information on the replica of the Great Imperial Crown, please refer to the following articles;  

Replica of Russian Imperial Crown Goes on Display in Minsk

Replica of Great Imperial Crown on Display at Romanov Exhibition in Moscow + VIDEO

Grand Imperial Crown Showcased in St. Petersburg

Russian Jeweller Recreates Great Imperial Crown

© IDEX. 6 February, 2017


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:58 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 7 February 2017 9:55 AM EST
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Saturday, 17 September 2016
For the First Time: the 1925 Romanov Jewels Catalogue is Available Online
Topic: Jewels

One of the approximately 20 copies of the Fersman catalogue known to exist today
One of the few surviving copies of a Bolshevik-era catalogue of royal jewels seized during the Russian Revolution is available to the public for the first time as part of a digitization project by the GIA. This 1925 catalogue, along with more than 200 other rare and historically significant books on gems and jewellery, is accessible on - click on the link to review the catalogue.

The catalogue of Russia’s regalia and crown jewels was photographed by mineralogist A.E. Fersman, with help from experts and jewellers including Agathon Faberge. According to Dona Dirlam, director of GIA’s library, “in 1925-26, the Bolshevik government published Russia’s Treasure of Diamonds and Precious Stones with the intention that the 406 Romanov jewels featured would never be sold. Eventually several of the pieces went to auction; approximately 20 copies of the Fersman catalogue are known to exist today”.

The jewels featured in the Fersman catalogue were collected by the Romanov dynasty, beginning with the reign of Peter the Great in 1689 until the overthrow of Emperor Nicolas II in 1917. Among the 406 treasures are the Imperial Sceptre set with the 189 carat Orlov diamond, the Imperial Globe set with a 200 carat sapphire, the Great Imperial Crown and the Imperial Nuptial Crown.
For additional information on this exceptional catalogue and it's contents, please refer to the following articles:

Photos of Lost Russian Crown Jewels Found In US Library + VIDEO

The Mysterious Disappearance of the Russian Crown Jewels

Rare Book on Romanov Jewels on Display

Rare Photographic Record of the Russian Crown Jewels to be Auctioned

"Russia's Treasure" Sold in USA

© Gemological Institute of America Inc. 17 September, 2016


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 3:49 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 17 September 2016 4:09 AM EDT
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Monday, 2 November 2015
Russia's Diamond Fund Exhibit Marks 50th Anniversary
Topic: Jewels

The Imperial Crown of Russia, made in 1762 for the coronation of Empress Catherine II
On November 2, 1967, the day which marked the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution of 1917, a unique exhibition, "The Diamond Fund of the USSR", opened in the Armoury Building of the Moscow Kremlin. 

Although situated in the same building as the Armoury Museum, the Diamond Fund is a separate institution, run by the Ministry of Finance, not the Ministry of Culture, nor is it part of the Moscow Kremlin Museum. The exhibition is not a museum in the truest sense of the word, since it is a sacred part of the gold reserves of the nation, as well as the repository of the fabulous collection of Russia's state jewels.

The idea of collecting jewels that belonged specifically to the Russian state - rather than to the ruling family - originated with Peter the Great, who had seen similar collections on his travels in Europe. He issued a proclamation that ordered each of his successors to leave a number of their jewels to the state, and declared that the state's fund was inviolate: the jewels could never be sold, altered or given away.

The fund was housed in the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, in a secure room called the Diamond Chamber, and grew rapidly, with a particularly large contribution from Peter's daughter, Empress Elizabeth, who was notorious for her love of expensive costumes and jewellery. A 1922 study by Alexander Fersman identified 85% of all exhibits to 1719–1855 (from Peter I to Nicholas I) and only 15% for the last three emperors.

With the threat of German invasion looming, the collection was transported from St. Petersburg to Moscow in 1914, to be kept safe in vaults beneath the Kremlin. There it languished half forgotten during the years of the Civil War, and the vault was only reopened in 1926. The next year, over two thirds of the priceless collection were auctioned off at Christie's Auction House in London, to raise funds for the struggling Soviet economy. The whereabouts of many of the items to this day remains unknown.

What was left, which included the most important pieces of state regalia, was kept in the Kremlin, and eventually went on display in 1967, although only for high-ranking officials and visiting dignitaries. It wasn't until the fall of communism that the fund was opened to the public. Now, although there are still strict rules governing visits, this extraordinary collection is open to everyone, and ranks among the world's most spectacular displays of jewels.

The State Diamond Fund is located in two halls. Highlights of the collection include the stunningly lavish Imperial Crown of Russia (also called the Great Imperial Crown), the world's largest sapphire, and the famous Orlov Diamond.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 02 November, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:34 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 2 November 2015 8:44 AM EST
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Friday, 31 July 2015
400 Years of the House of Romanov: The Latest Chef d'oeuvre by Jeweller Ananov
Topic: Jewels

400 Years of the House of Romanov Easter Egg
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the July 31st, 2015 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. RBTH own the copyright of the text and photographs presented below. 
In early August, the Historical Museum in Moscow will open an exhibition by famous contemporary jeweler Andrei Ananov, dedicated to his 70th anniversary, entitled “Returning What’s Lost...”

Click on the link below to view a dozen beautiful photographs:

400 Years of the House of Romanov:The Latest Chef d'oeuvre by Jeweller Ananov  

© Russia Beyond the Headlines. 31 July, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:59 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 31 July 2015 8:06 AM EDT
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Saturday, 11 April 2015
Tsarist Russia - Behind the Headlines No. 1
Topic: Jewels

An Orthodox priest blesses the traditional Easter meal in a military academy in St. Petersburg
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the April 9, 2015 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Ilya Krol, owns the copyright of the work presented below. 

RBTH turns the clock back a century and shines a light on the now-forgotten stories being reported on the inside pages of Russian newspapers in 1915 and the events and processes occupying the minds of the Russians of the age. Travel back in time with us week by week for a sense of what life was like in the twilight days of the Russian Empire.

Lack of vegetables and plants in the markets
Early Easter, with its snowy cover, has created almost a total lack of vegetables and flowers in the markets of the capital. There are of course small quantities of spinach and cucumbers. Bundles of quickly matured radish with 8-10 small heads cost fifty kopeks apiece, while cauliflower cannot be found at all. Pots of hyacinths and narcissus, which have been greatly damaged by the cold wind, can be found here and there. The saddest of all are the cut greenhouse flowers being held by poor women and children, stiffened from the cold.
Petrogradsky Listok, April 6, 1915
Floating dachas for wounded soldiers
Kiev Region Railways is organizing floating dachas for wounded soldiers. For this purpose 70 barges will be adapted and fully equipped with all comforts. The barges will have libraries, halls for walks, dispensaries, etc. Towed by steamboats, the vessels will navigate the most beautiful parts of the Dniepr and its tributaries and make long stops at the healthiest and most picturesque places.
Russkoe Slovo, April 7, 1915  
Easter night
Despite the cold weather the Kremlin was overflowing with people on Easter night. By midnight endless processions of carriages had already passed through the Resurrection Gates. Pedestrians were not admitted through the gates and had to use another entrance. A huge crowd filled the Kremlin. People selling fireworks and sparklers are circulating all around. Despite this being forbidden, the young are buying rockets and preparing to light them after the first toll of the bell.
Moskovskaya Kopeika, April 7, 1915
Around Moscow
Officially, sobriety still thrives in Moscow, but unofficially there is not a home without a substantial reserve of drink. And those few Muscovites who spent Christmas without wine, having become wise from the bitter experience, began to stock up long before Easter. In fact, this was not so difficult: Middlemen enter houses and ask directly: "What and how much?" And the order is carried out that same day, with "blessed" prices.
Stolichnaya Moskva, April 8, 1915
Exchange of captive doctors
The mayor has received information from the Red Cross that an agreement has been reached with the Austrian government on the exchange of captive military doctors. It was not possible to reach the same agreement with Germany, though. However, the German government is freeing nurses.
Moskovsky Listok, April 10, 1915
A new union
A group of Moscow public figures and representatives of the British colony in Moscow have presented a draft of the Anglo-Russian Union charter to the Ministry of Interior. The union's aim is to assist the economic and cultural convergence between Russia and Britain. To realize this mission the union intends to organize exhibitions, lectures, museums, open an information bureau, carry out intermediary services between the countries, and publish books and newspapers. The idea had the ministry's full sympathy.
Kievskaya Mysl, April 12, 1915 
© Ilya Krol / Russia Beyond the Headlines. 11 April, 2015


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:47 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 11 April 2015 10:52 AM EDT
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Monday, 14 April 2014
Looking beyond Faberge: The Great Russian Jewelers of the 19th Century
Topic: Jewels

Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the April 13th, 2014 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Marina Obrazkova, owns the copyright of the article presented below.

The whole world has heard of jeweler Carl Fabergé, purveyor to the Russian Imperial Court and the creator of the celebrated Fabergé eggs. Yet the 19th century produced many other talented jewelers in Russia, and though they are not household names, their works are no less valuable.

Until the mid-19th century, jewelers in Russia were considered to be ordinary craftsmen. It was only when they began to take part in international exhibitions that their names turned into commercial brands.
Stockholm syndrome

The Bolins, a family of Swedish jewelers, first came to Russia in the early 19th century, several decades before Fabergé. Overall, they served six Russian emperors. That was no easy work. Among other things, their duty was to design and make trousseaux, or bridal outfits, for tsars' daughters. A wedding set alone could cost as much as a house in the center of St Petersburg. It usually consisted of a wedding crown, several diadems, a necklace, and bracelets. On top of that, there were also rings and earrings to be made. On the eve of a wedding, the princess's new jewels were displayed for everyone to see. That was an old custom, as the value of a bride was determined by how much her trousseau had cost.

The House of Bolin operated in Russia up till World War I. At its outbreak, the then-owner of the firm, Wilhelm Bolin, happened to be in Germany. He tried to get back to Russia via Sweden but got stuck in Stockholm, where he subsequently opened a store and soon began to work for the Swedish royal family. That is to say, he exchanged one monarch for another.

Turning heads, Russian style

The jewelry workshop of merchant Pavel Sazikov dates back to 1793. His son Ignaty brought to the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London a collection of works inspired by the traditional peasant lifestyle. The items on display featured a bear with its tamer, a milkmaid, a candelabrum commemorating the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380 and other works inspired by folk themes. The candelabrum received a silver medal at the exhibition, and Ignaty returned to Russia a famous man.

Customers back home took Ignaty's recognition in London as an ultimate seal of approval and followed suit. The courtiers who were now bombarding Ignaty with their orders were dealing not just with some craftsman or other but with a jeweler who had been admired in London!

Russian aristocrats, who often spoke French better than they spoke Russian, could thus underline their belonging to Russia. It is therefore not surprising that the Russian style enjoyed such lasting popularity. Europeans fell in love with style “à la russe” too. At the Vienna Exhibition in 1873, jeweler Ivan Khlebnikov created a sensation with his samovar and tea set. The samovar stood on rooster feet and had handles in the form of rooster heads, while the cups in the tea set were decorated with precious stones and enamel. It was a thing of unusual beauty that could not but attract interest and admiration. Khlebnikov returned from the exhibition proud as a cockerel and threw himself into his work with renewed energy.

He took his themes from history and literature: scenes from the lives of Tsar Ivan the Terrible or Russian Orthodox Church saint Sergius of Radonezh, or the poems of Mikhail Lermontov. The most interesting of Khlebnikov's works are his enamels. The State Historical Museum in Moscow has a wine set consisting of a carafe in the form of a rooster and cups in the form of chickens decorated with champlevé enamelling. He also made silver and gold dishes using the same technique.

A social climber

Enamel was the trademark technique of another outstanding Russian jeweler, Pavel Ovchinnikov. He was particularly famed for his filigree, painted and stained-glass enamels. Filigree enamel used to be popular in Kievan Rus, to where it had been brought from Byzantium, but the technique was lost during the years of the Mongol invasion of Russia. It was Ovchinnikov who revived that lost craft.

His was an unusual life story. Pavel Ovchinnikov was born a serf but already at a very young age he displayed a talent for drawing and was sent to become an apprentice to a gold and silversmith. After eight years of work he managed to save enough money to buy his freedom, made a good marriage and opened a workshop of his own.

By the time Ovchinnikov was just 24, he had an annual turnover of half a million rubles. In today's money, that would be enough to make the Titanic movie. Furthermore, he already had 600 people in his employment at that time. By the age of 35, Ovchinnikov became a purveyor to the Imperial Court and an honorary citizen, and had been decorated with several state awards.

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, jewelers began to leave Russia. They found it impossible to work in a country blighted by hunger and desolation, where jewelry was being expropriated for the needs of the working class. The craft of the jeweler, which was all but lost in this period, was later gradually revived, although it was a different school and had a different aesthetic. These days the high style of the imperial jewelers can be found only in museums and private collections. 
© Marina Obrazkova @ Russia Beyond the Headlines. 14 April, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:02 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 14 April 2014 8:31 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 8 April 2014
Replica of Russian Imperial Crown Goes on Display in Minsk
Topic: Jewels

A replica of the Imperial Crown of Russia on display at the National Art Museum of Belarus in Minsk
A replica of the Imperial Crown of Russia has gone on display at the National Art Museum of Belarus in Minsk, BelTA reports. The display will continue through April 21.

The Imperial Crown of Russia (replica) is also known as the Great Imperial Crown. It is one of the most expensive pieces of jewellery in the world. The Great Imperial Crown was first used in a coronation of Catherine II in 1762, and was last used in the coronation of Nicholas II. The last time the crown was on display was at the solemn opening ceremony of the First Imperial Duma in 1906. Today the original crown is part of the permanent exposition at the Diamond Treasury of Russia.

To create the Great Imperial Crown jewellers used 4,936 diamonds weighing 2,858 carats. Its hemispheres rest on a circlet of nineteen diamonds, all averaging over five carats in weight, the largest being a pear-shaped stone of 12.63 carats in front. The edges of the hemispheres are bordered with two rows of large white matte pearls.

The crown is topped with a diamond rosette of twelve petals from which rises a large red spinel, weighing 398.72 carats, surmounted by a cross of five diamonds. The spinel is believed to be the second largest one in the world. In 2012 the Great Imperial Crown celebrated its 250th anniversary. Smolensk jewellers decided to mark the event by creating its replica. 
 For more information on the replica of the Great Imperial Crown, please refer to the following articles;  
© Russia Beyond the Headlines. 08 April, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:06 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 8 April 2014 6:14 AM EDT
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Thursday, 19 December 2013
Replica of Great Imperial Crown on Display at Romanov Exhibition in Moscow
Topic: Jewels
A replica of the Great Imperial Crown is now on display at the State Historical Museum in Moscow. Visitors can now view the crown in the hall dedicated to Empress Catherine II in the exhibition, The Romanovs: Portrait of a Dynasty which is currently running in the War of 1812 Museum near Red Square.

The crown on display is a replica of the original worn by the Empress Catherine II for her Coronation in 1762. After her death, the Great Imperial Crown was worn by each successive emperor, from Paul I in 1797 to Nicholas II in 1896. This spectacular replica is the work of more than sixty jewellers, artisans and craftsmen, the white gold crown contains 11,500 diamonds, valued at more than $5 million.

The jewellers were granted access to the original crown, which is stored in the Diamond Fund of Russia in the Armoury, however, they were given only 24 hours to complete their research. They set to work immediately making the necessary inspection and measurements. The process of creating the crown took six months. The most difficult tasks were the repeated symbolic items - the two hemispheres - the unity of East and West; the laurel branches - a symbol of victory and glory, the oak leaves and acorns - a symbol of strength of power. With the help of modern technology, each piece was calculated to the millimetre.

The original Great Imperial Crown of the Russian Empire is under tight security and cannot be removed from the Diamond Fund, therefore this replica now allows museums to display it in a historical context.

The crown will be on display at the The Romanovs: Portrait of a Dynasty exhibition until January 8th, 2014. It is a spectacular finale to the year in which Russia marked the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty.
For more information on the replica of the Great Imperial Crown, please refer to the following articles; 
For more information on the exhibition The Romanovs: Portrait of a Dynasty, please refer to the following articles; 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 19 December, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:52 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 19 December 2013 8:14 AM EST
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Monday, 11 February 2013
Grand Imperial Crown Showcased in St. Petersburg
Topic: Jewels




It took six months to make the replica of the Grand Imperial Crown that was showcased at a jewelers’ forum in St. Petersburg. Sixty jewelers from Smolensk made it for the 250th anniversary of the coronation of Catherine the Great and the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. A total of 11 thousand diamonds adorn the white gold crown.

The Imperial Crown of Russia, also known as the Great Imperial Crown, was used by the Emperors of Russia until the monarchy's abolition in 1917. The Great Imperial Crown was first used in a coronation by Catherine II, and was last used at the coronation of Nicholas II. Since December 20, 2000, the Imperial Crown has appeared on the Coat of arms of the Russian Federation.

It is currently on display in the Moscow Kremlin Armoury State Diamond Fund. No one is allowed even to touch that, and therefore that replica is the only one in the world. Jewelers are confident that a second replica will never be made. The replica will be exhibited in several Russian cities later this year.

© RIA Novosti. 11 February, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:21 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 19 December 2013 7:54 AM EST
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Monday, 31 December 2012
The Mysterious Disappearance of the Russian Crown Jewels
Topic: Jewels


After the 1917 revolution, Russia's new rulers debated what to do with the crown jewels. This 1925 photo shows the collection. However, a 1922 album at the USGS includes photos of four items that are missing from the 1925 photo.

The story of the missing Russian crown jewels begins, as so many great adventures do, in a library.

In this case, it was the U.S. Geological Survey Library in Reston, Va.

Richard Huffine, the director, was looking through the library's rare-book collection when he came upon an oversized volume.

"And there's no markings on the outside, there's no spine label or anything like that," he says. "This one caught our eye, and we pulled it aside to take a further look at it."

Researcher Jenna Nolt was one of those who took a look.

"The title page is completely hand drawn, and it's got this beautiful, elaborate design on it, and it has the date 1922," Nolt says. "When we translated the title, we found out that it was The Russian Diamond Fund."

The Diamond Fund is the name given to the imperial regalia of the Romanov family, the czars of Russia for more than 300 years, from 1613 to 1917.

Huffine knew they were on to something.

"Several of the pictures at the very front of the album are the iconic, known products that you would think of for the Russian Crown Jewels, including the Orlov Diamond in the scepter, and the grand crown, which has the huge stone at the top," he says.

The Orlov Diamond is a 189-carat stone that was famously stolen from the eye of a statue of a Hindu deity in southern India — and that's only one of the stories behind the collection.

These are jewels of almost magical significance, symbols of unbridled power and wealth.

Calling In An Expert

The U.S. Geological Survey librarians called Kristen Regina, the archivist and head of the research collection at the Hillwood Museum in Washington, D.C.

The Hillwood boasts the largest collection of Russian imperial art outside of Russia.

"The crown jewels play an important part in the coronation story," Regina says, "because the czar crowns himself in the coronation, and that is the moment when he takes full power."

The Romanov dynasty came to an end in 1917, amid the chaos of a world war, a revolution and a civil war.

Regina says the fate of the crown jewels raised a furious debate among the Bolshevik leadership, which was badly in need of money.

Some of the revolutionaries saw the jewels as symbols of centuries of exploitation — gems that ought to be sold to benefit the workers.

Historian Igor Zimin says much of the collection was preserved by curators at the Kremlin in Moscow, who were able to convince the leaders that the gems had enormous historical significance.

Zimin, the head of the history department at the St. Petersburg State Medical University, says there are records of auctions of some of the lesser pieces from the collection dating from around 1927. There are even memoranda about Soviet agents being caught while traveling with diamonds in their luggage.

Zimin is skeptical, by the way, about the newly rediscovered book, because it's dated 1922, and an official photographic inventory of the crown jewels wasn't published until 1925.

Differences Between The Two Books

The USGS has a copy of that book, too, and researcher Jenna Nolt has compared the two.

She found that the 1922 volume shows four pieces of jewelry that don't appear in the later official book.

Nolt says the researchers learned the fate of one of the pieces, a sapphire brooch.

She says it was sold at auction in London in 1927, "but the three other pieces, the necklace, the diadem and the bracelet, we have no idea what happened to them."

One person who might have known is the man who acquired the 1922 volume in the first place.

He was an American mineralogist and gem expert who worked at various times for the jeweler Tiffany & Co. and the USGS.

His name was George Frederick Kunz, and his adventures took him to Russia in those dangerous years after the revolution and the civil war.

"If you ever have a chance to read his writings," Nolt says, "he's got this wonderful attitude, and he's traveling in carriages in rural Russia to meet 'the peasant queen of amethysts,' and he's talking about how he's traveling with a pistol over his knees because he doesn't trust the driver of the carriage, so I think — an Indiana Jones figure, definitely."

On View At The Kremlin

The jewels of the Russian Diamond Fund are on display in the Kremlin in Moscow — or most of them, anyway.

The officials in charge of the exhibition declined to comment for this story.

The researchers who've uncovered the story thus far say the rest of the mystery is free for anyone — amateur or professional — to try to solve.

Who knows, it might be time to take a look in great-grandma's jewel case.

||| Click Here to View Video of Lost Russian Crown Jewels Found In US Library |||

© National Public Radio. 31 December, 2012

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:44 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 31 December 2012 4:58 AM EST
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