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Neck Badge of the Order of St. Anne, 1760In 1719, Emperor Peter I "the Great" (reigned 1682-1725), founded the earliest version of what we now know as the State Diamond Fund of the Russian Federation. Peter I had visited other European nations, and introduced many innovations to Russia, one of which was the creation of a permanent fund to house a collection of jewels which belonged not to the Romanov family, but to the Russian State.

Neck Badge of the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky, 1775

Peter declared that the state holdings were inviolate, and could not be altered, sold, or given away - and he also decreed that each subsequent Emperor or Empress should leave a certain number of pieces acquired during their reign to the State, for the permanent glory of the Russian Empire. Peter left all of the pieces used in the coronation ceremony to the Diamond Fund, as well as many important pieces of 15th, 16th and 17th century jewelry. The pieces were housed in a special secure room in the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, first called the Renteria, and subsequently called the Diamond Chamber.

Imperial Diamond Tiara.
Imperial Diamond Tiara.

Pair of Earrings in the form of bees, 1760Peter's daughter Elizabeth I (reigned 1741-1761) had a voracious taste for jewelry, and a number of the most beautiful pieces of the Rococo period date from her reign, such as the remarkable Earrings in the form of garlands of flowers with bees.

Stickpin, 1800

In 1914, with the threat of a possible German invasion due to World War I, the entire collection was carefully packed, and sent from St. Petersburg to Moscow, where it was placed in vaults beneath the Kremlin for safety. But Russia's political troubles, including the Revolution in 1917 and the ensuing Russian Civil War made the history of the State Jewels even more complicated.

Military Decoration with a potrait of Peter The Great.

Royal Tiara.The jewels were forgotten for a time, and it was not until 1926 that they were found in the Kremlin, and the pieces opened, catalogued, and photographed in their entirety. An enormous selection of the pieces were sold to an American consortium, and the pieces, which comprised close to 70% of the original collections, were sold at Christie's Auction house in London in 1927. The pieces which were sold were dispersed all over the globe, and many of their locations are now unknown.

Russian Field Tiars made from Diamonds and Gold.
Russian Field Tiars made from Diamonds and Gold.

Rose Brooch made from diamond and platinum 1970 .The remaining pieces, which are the historically and artistically most important from the collections include the coronation regaila, and a spectacular collection of eighteenth and ninteenth century jewelry. The pieces went on display for the first time in 1967 as a commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the revolution, when they were displayed in a special vault beneath the Kremlin to high-ranking officials and foreign dignitaries.

The treasures of the Diamond Fund are part of the national state heritage.

Since the fall of communism, the pieces are on display to the public, who can buy tickets to visit the diamond fund when they go to the Kremlin Armory Museum in Moscow.

Panagia, 17th CenturyThe history of Russian jewelry goes back over one thousand years. Many of the earliest pieces of Russian jewelry are very similar in style to pieces which were worn at the court of the Byzantine Empire. As ancient Rus' and Kiev grew into what we now know as Russia, the style changed very little.

Crown for the Icon of our Lady of Tolog, 19th Century

It was not until Emperor Peter I "the Great" that real innovations and exchanges with the west changed Russian jewelry style for ever.
The steady influence of foreign jewelers, combined with the Russian jewelers own creativity ended up establishing a Russian jewelry industry of great size and importance.

Snuffbox, Gold, cut diamonds, diamond roses, glass and silver, 1775 .During the second half of the 18th century the Russian imperial collection of items of jewellery was being continually added to. Such pieces included snuffboxes, which might also be used as awards or diplomatic gifts. Catherine II herself was a passionate collector of snuffboxes made of rare stones and was generous in her presentation of such objects to those around her.
The Great Imperial Crown.

The Great Imperial Crown.

The Great Imperial Crown made in 1762 for the coronation of Catherine the Great by the court jeweler J.Pauzie represents the height of creative imagination, lavish beauty and skilled workmanship. It is adorned with five thousand diamonds arranged in a splendid pattern of laurel wreaths and oak branches.

The glitter of the diamonds is enhanced by two rows of gleaming pearls and the crown is topped by a huge red spinel, the second largest in the world, which weighs almost 400 carats.

The Scepter has the world's famous "Orlov Diamond", the largest faceted diamond weighing 189 carats.


The 19th century brought changes in the organization of jewelry making. Many famous jewelers worked in Russia, and some, such as Faberge have become household names.

Peter Carl Faberge, the son of French-German ancestors, ruled the world of jewels in the four decades prior to the outbreak of the World War I. The House of Faberge became world-famous. It produced inter alia, figurines made of semi-precious stones, snuffboxes, powder-boxes and items of jewelry.

Faberge. Snuffbox, Circa 1765, State Hermitage Museum.
Faberge. Snuffbox, Circa 1765, Hermitage Museum.

Faberge: Snuff-box A diamond-set enameled two-color gold Imperial presentation snuff-box applied with a deep gold hued enamel over guilloche sunburst patterns accented by Imperial eagles and defined by a gold chased trellis set with diamonds. At the center of the box, is the diamond-set crowned monogram of Tsar Nicholas II against an oval panel enameled white with a diamond-set border.

Faberge: A gold-and silver-mounted diamond-set tiara.
A gold-and silver-mounted diamond-set tiara, signed with initials KF for Carl Faberge.

The House of Faberge was distinguished from other jewelers of the period by its beautifully made "Easter eggs with a surprise". For eleven years the firm received orders from the Imperial court for these eggs.

Faberge: Lilies of the Valie egg The Lilies of the Valley egg is a masterpeace in Art Nouveau style. The miniature of Tzar Nicholas II and his two daughters Olga and Tatyana painted within the body of the egg. The pictures pop up when a pearl knob is turned.
When Kerensky's provisional government took power in February 1917, the egg was not listed in the inventory of the Imperial Treasury. Even today it is not clear how it came to the West. The Forbes Magazine Collection acquired it together with the Coronation egg in 1979 for 2.16 million US dollars.

Faberge: Rooster eggOnly six of the Imperial Easter eggs contained mechanism.
One of the most famous is the Rooster egg, which the ruler, Nicholas II, presented to his mother on April 9 1900. At the push of the button, the lid opens, and a rooster appears, crowing and flapping his wings. The small rooster is decorated with real feather. In 1985 the egg was acquared by the Forbes Magazine Collection for 1.76 million US dollars.

The Coronation Egg is enameled a deep gold hue over guilloche sunburst patterns and blanketed by a gold trellis marked by diamond-set Imperial eagles at the intersections.

At the top of the egg is the crowned monogram of Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna emblazoned in rose-cut diamonds and rubies. The date 1897, appears beneath a smaller portrait diamond at the bottom of the egg. When the egg is opened, the surprise fitted inside a velvet-lined compartment is a removable replica of a coach of gold, enamel, diamond and rock crystal.

Faberge: The Coronation Egg. Faberge: The Coronation Egg.

Today in the museum of Faberge you can find the most exquisite and famous works of the house of Faberge from the Imperial Easter eggs collection to highly luxurious items for everyday use.

ivan the terrible
 peter the great  |  nicholas the second  |  anastasia  |  imperial style  |  regalia  |  jewellery

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