Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Russian Royal Jewels: Maria Feodorovna's Russian Field Diadem

Empress Maria Feodorovna (wife of Paul I, not the other one) commissioned a diadem from the famous Duval Brothers. The Empress wanted something that would remind of the Russian fields, and so the brothers created a diadem of oak and laurel leaves, bordered by sheaves of wheat.

Russian Field Diadem
The Empress was fond of the piece and called it “Mon diademe en epis” (“my diadem of sheaves”). In her will, Maria Feodorovna left this piece, along with several other jewels, to the Diamond Fund. The Diamond Fond is a unique collection of jewellery and gems that dates back to the Russian Crown Treasury instituted by Peter I of Russia in 1719. The collection is currently stored and exhibited in Kremlin.

The original Field Diadem was sold by the Soviet Government in 1929 and is now lost, probably dismantled. However, Russian jewellers recreated the piece after months of painstaking research; in order to achieve a near-identical result, jewellers Nikolaev and Aleksakhin studied photographs and archival information. The only changes they made was substituting platinum for silver, and using stones of Russian origin-only. The centrepiece is a beautiful yellow diamond of over 35 carats (the original featured a citrine of a similar size), surrounded by hundreds of white diamonds which weigh 129.62 carats. 

It’s a shame the original was lost. In fact, it’s a shame so many beautiful, historical pieces were sold by the Soviet Government; they should have preserved them not as inheritance of the loathed Tsars, but as legacy of the craftsmanship of their own people.

Picture and source credit: “Jewels of the Romanovs: Treasures of the Russian Imperial Court”.

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