26 November 2017

Jewels in Motion: Jewels of the Romanovs (1997)

Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and his wife, Valentina, join Vice President Al Gore and Tipper Gore for a tour of the "Jewels of the Romanovs" at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, February 1997 (JOYCE NALTCHAYAN/AFP/Getty Images)

To wrap up our month-long peek into various jewel exhibitions, we're traveling to Washington, D.C., for the landmark Romanov display at the Corcoran Gallery of Art two decades ago. Enjoy a little bit of the experience for your self -- in motion!

The exhibition, the 125th anniversary of a state visit by Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich to the United States, featured jewels, clothing, and other objects that belonged to members of the House of Romanov. It was the first time that many of these items had been exhibited in the United States. The jewels are property of the country's Diamond Fund, which is housed in the Kremlin complex.

One of the stars of the show was this piece: the neck badge of the order of St. Alexander Nevsky, made in Moscow in 1775. The badge is made of gold and silver and set with ruby, enamel, glass, and nearly 100 carats of diamonds.

A bejeweled brooch featuring a miniature portrait

Diamond tassels dating to the eighteenth century, linked with Empress Alexandra, wife of Tsar Nicholas I

A rather modern brooch set with diamonds and red gemstones

A Gothic-style mourning bracelet, ca. 1820, that features a portrait of Emperor Alexander I set beneath a 27-carat table-cut diamond

A closer look at the bracelet, which was reportedly given to Alexander's widow, Empress Elizabeth, by his brother (and successor), Tsar Nicholas I

The exhibition also included replicas of lost pieces. This platinum and diamond rose brooch, made in 1970 in Moscow, is a replica of one that belonged to Empress Alexandra, wife of Tsar Nicholas II

The most magnificent replica included was undoubtedly this one, made in Moscow in 1980. The platinum, gold, and silver diadem is set with almost 130 carats of white diamonds and a single yellow diamond that weighs in at more than 35 carats. The piece is a copy of a diadem owned by Empress Maria Feodorovna, the second wife of Tsar Paul I; the original was sold by the Soviets in 1929

A few years ago, I reviewed the extensive catalogue from this exhibition; you can read more about that text, and the exhibition itself, over here!