Today’s tiara topic is the Russian Nuptial Tiara. Once upon a time this dazzling tiara was part of the bridal jewelry worn by all Russian grand duchesses and wives of grand dukes on their wedding day.
The kokoshnik-shaped tiara has four arched diamond-studded rows. The second row from the bottom is composed of intertwined loops of diamonds, while the third row consists entirely of hanging briolette diamonds. The briolettes are from India and the other white diamonds are from Brazil. The center holds a 13 carat pink diamond that came from the treasury of Paul I. My guess is that the tiara wasn’t initially created to act as a nuptial tiara. Even the Russian Nuptial Crown wasn’t created until 1840.
According to the 1925 catalog Russia’s Treasure of Diamonds and Precious Stones, the tiara was created in 1800 for Elizabeth Alexeievna (née Princess Louise of Baden, 1779-1826) consort of Alexander I. However, according to Christie’s, the tiara was created for Maria Feodorovna (née Duchess Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg, 1759-1828) wife of Tsar Paul I (father of Alexander I). I tend to side with Christie’s that it was made for Maria Feodorovna since the pink diamond came from her husband’s treasury.
Regardless of whom it was made for, it’s incredible that the nuptial tiara has survived two centuries. Miraculously, the Soviet government decided not to destroy or sell it. The tiara is intact in its original form and remains in the ownership of the Russian government. You can spot the Russian Nuptial Tiara on the inventory table with other confiscated Romanov jewels. It’s the third tiara from the right.
Leslie Field’s Lot Essay for Christie’s
Jewels of the Romanovs by Stafano Papi
Russia’s Treasure of Diamonds and Precious Stones by Alexander Evgenevich Fersman