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Royal Russian Tiaras: The Russian Nuptial Tiara

Royal Russian Tiaras: The Russian Nuptial Tiara
The Russian Nuptial Tiara

So many treasures lost. It happens when a royal empire falls. Families are at best driven into exile and at worst? Well, I think we all know the answer to that. In either case, priceless jewels are often lost forever, either sold or stolen and then broken up. That was definitely the case for many of the adornments of the last Russian Royal Family. But a few treasures remain – The Russian Nuptial Tiara, for one, survives.

Elizabeth Alexeievna wearing the Nuptial Tiara.

Crafted around 1800 (or earlier) by St. Petersburg jeweler Jacob David Duval for one of two women – either Maria Feodorovna (Duchess Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg, 1759-1828), the wife of Tsar Paul I, or Elizabeth Alexeievna (Princess Louise of Baden, 1779-1826), the wife of Tsar Alexander I. No matter for whom it was made, it’s remarkable that it’s still intact and nearly unchanged, given its age.

Royal Russian Tiaras: The Russian Nuptial Tiara
The Russian Nuptial Tiara with the foil backing removed from the pink diamond centerpiece.

The tall kokoshnik design centers around a spectacular natural pink diamond, a 13.335 carat stone (having at one time been foil backed, which explains the difference in color from image to image) with more than one thousand carats of diamonds surrounding it. The briolette-cut diamonds hanging within the center of the tiara are “en Tremblant” meaning they are free moving, dangling and throwing disco-ball-worthy prisms around with every movement.

Alexandra Feodorovna wearing both the Russian Nuptial Tiara and the wedding crown at her marriage to Nicholas II.

With a name like the Russian Nuptial Tiara, it’s kind of obvious that it was often worn by the bride in Russian royal weddings (along with a bevy of additional imperial wedding jewels, which included the wedding crown, because apparently one adornment for the head was not enough). One of last to wear it (but not THE very last) was Alexandra Feodorovna when she married Nicholas II in 1894. After the assassination of the royal family in July of 1918, the royal jewels were confiscated by the Bolsheviks and later displayed en mass in 1922. Many of the pieces were then sold off to wealthy Europeans and Americans (more on that later). Some simply disappeared (like the diamond wedding necklace). And then some were retained by the Russian government and are kept under lock and key Diamond Fund museum at the Kremlin in Moscow. And that is where the The Russian Nuptial Tiara can currently be found, locked away for nearly a century.

Grand Duchess Elizabeth Mavrikievna in both the tiara and the crown at her 1884 wedding to Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich.

What do you think should happen to the tiara? Should it be put on public display? Sold off? Kept hidden under lock and key? Share your thoughts with me please!


4 Responses

  1. I think they would make fantastic exhibit. They should be on display for everyone to see not hidden away in a dusty vault.

    1. I agree. What I heard from another reader is that they are actually on display at the Kremlin. I haven’t been able to confirm that yet. And it’s not like most of us are going to get to go to the Kremlin to see them, if they are. 🙁

        1. Many of the pieces from that time period didn’t survive, so there are many that aren’t in any museum at all. But my understanding is that it is not easily accessible for viewing in its current home. And that’s a shame.

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