20 April 2019

Grand Duchess Alexandra's Faberge Tiara

Grand Duchess Alexandra wearing her aquamarine tiara (Christie's)

We recently chatted here about the stunning Prussian diamond tiara headed for auction in May -- but guess what? It's not the only sparkler from the extended family that will be available for a lucky buyer! Today, we've got a look at the gorgeous Fabergé tiara owned by Crown Princess Cecilie's sister-in-law, Grand Duchess Alexandra of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.

Alexandra and Friedrich Franz (Christie's)

In 1904, twenty-two-year-old Grand Duke Friedrich Franz IV of Mecklenburg-Schwerin married Princess Alexandra of Hanover. The twenty-one-year-old bride was the granddaughter of two monarchs: King George V of Hanover and King Christian IX of Denmark. The groom was the only son of Grand Duke Friedrich Franz III of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and his Russian-born wife, Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna.

Alexandra's aquamarine tiara (Christie's)

Friedrich Franz's mother, Anastasia, was one of Fabergé's biggest fans and best clients. As we discussed two weeks ago, she was instrumental in ensuring that her daughter, Cecilie, received a diamond tiara from the firm when she married the German Crown Prince in 1905. Anastasia also apparently encouraged her son to secure a Fabergé tiara to offer his new wife as her wedding present. Correspondence between the government of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and the jewelry firm reveals that several designs were proposed, and that a tiara was delivered for the princess shortly after their royal wedding in June 1904.

Alexandra's aquamarine tiara (Christie's)

Christie's, the auction house that will soon sell the tiara, describes the piece as being set with "nine graduated pear-shaped aquamarines" as well as "old, cushion and rose-cut diamonds." The tiara's elaborate diamond base features numerous elements typical of belle epoque style, including forget-me-knots and ribbons. You'll also note that the large, pear-shaped aquamarines are set atop cupid's arrows -- a touching design element for a tiara given as a wedding present.

Grand Ladies Site

Shortly after she received the tiara, Alexandra wore the diadem for a grand court ball in Schwerin, held in July 1904. The Christie's catalogue notes that "Princess Alexandra was recorded wearing a pink silk dress with pearl necklaces and an aquamarine tiara" for the event. Around the same time -- perhaps even the same evening -- Friedrich Franz and Alexandra sat for a series of photographic portraits, which feature Alexandra wearing her new tiara.

Grand Ladies Site

Christie's will sell the tiara in Geneva on May 15, and they expect it to bring somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000-300,000. We don't know the identity of the person selling the tiara, though the catalogue notes that it was indeed inherited by Alexandra's descendants when she died in 1963. (The couple had five children, and they still have descendants living today.) Regardless of the seller, the auction house is clearly banking on the tiara's romantic nature to inspire potential purchasers, noting that the tiara "represents a wonderful opportunity for collectors to acquire a jewel which was at one time in history an emblematic token of love."