|Princes Marina's Diamond Bow Brooch
The brooch is executed in a classical bow style with the double ribbon bow centred by an oval-shaped 3.5 carat diamond, and accented by numerous pear-shaped and old mine-cut diamonds weighing approximately 38.00 carats. The smaller old mine and rose-cut diamonds weigh another 64.25 carats.
The brooch originally belonged to Marina’s mother, Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia. Grand Duchess Elena was the daughter of Grand Duke Vladimir (the son of Emperor Alexander II) and Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna (Grand Duchess Vladimir) whose fabulous jewellery collection was famous across the world. Since this brooch was made in 1850s, it is possible the original owner was Maria Pavlovna herself.
The Vladimir family was able to salvage some of their jewellery collection after the revolution, not least thanks to the help of some resourceful friends: one of them, a British diplomat, reportedly managed to enter their palace (where some of the jewellery was hidden) under the nose of the guards, find the jewels, then send them to Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna via diplomatic channels in a simple brown box.
This brooch may have been among the wedding presents the Grand Duke and Duchess Vladimir gave to Elena upon her marriage to Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark. Whatever the case, Marina has certainly inherited it from her mother. She often wore it together with her favourite Girandole Earrings (which have a similar Russian provenance as well).
At some point, Marina’s descendants sold the brooch and it ended in the hands of Jayne Wrightsman, the famous American philanthropist, fine art collector and widow of the equally notable philanthropist Charles B. Wrightsman.
The brooch remained in Jayne’s collection until the December of 2012, when it was sold at Sotheby’s. Incidentally, because of the brooch’s illustrious provenance, it attracted a considerable attention and fetched about four times the estimate: the estimate was $200,000 - 300,000 and the final sale price - $842,500.