17 September 2017

Jewels in Motion: The Bohemian Crown Jewels

DAVID NEFF/AFP/Getty Images

Time for another look at the crown jewels of the world in glittering motion! Today, we're marveling at the medieval crown jewels of Bohemia, which is now part of the Czech Republic.





The Bohemian crown jewel set includes several objects, but today we're focusing on three in particular: the Crown of St. Wenceslas, the royal orb, and the royal scepter.




All three objects date to the 14th century. They were first used in the coronation ceremony of King Charles IV of Bohemia, who reigned from 1346 until his death in 1378. Made of 18-carat gold, the orb features scenes from the Old Testament carved in relief on its surface. The orb is also set with numerous gems, including sapphires, spinels, and pearls.




The scepter is also made of 18-carat gold, and like the orb, it is also encrusted with sapphires, spinels, and pearls.




The intricate top of the scepter is set with an especially large spinel. The scepter, orb, and crown all reside in a special room in the St. Vitus Cathedral, part of the Prague Castle complex. The door to the chamber is secured with seven locks; the keys to the locks are distributed to seven different holders, so that no one person can access the jewel room alone.




Here's a close-up view of the sides of the Crown of St. Wenceslaus, which is decorated with sapphires and spinels to match the orb and the scepter.




The view of the arches shows that emeralds and pearls are also set in the crown, along with rubies and a single aquamarine.




The crown features four distinctive fleur-de-lis elements and a central cross, which is said to contain a relic of Jesus's crown of thorns. The crown jewels are not on permanent display; in fact, they're only shown publicly on special occasions on the order of the President of the Czech Republic. They were displayed only nine times during the 20th century, but they have been brought out for public viewing four times since 2000.