Emperor Christian Victor I

Emperor Christian Victor I

Monday, 11 March 2013

Tiaras and Trinkets on Tuesday (The Ruskian Collection)

We are posting almost a day earlier than planned because I couldn't wait any more. Prepare to be dazzled.

The former Imperial Court of Ruskiana was probably the most spectacular the world has ever witnessed. The display of wealth through architecture, art and jewellery was on a level beyond imagination. Even to this day, what is left of the former Imperial Jewel Collection still stupefies even though it is a mere drop in the proverbial bucket. Let us take a look at what remains in ownership of the current pretender. Remember, her inheritance is also only that which remains on her side branch of the family tree as the main line were all assassinated and most of the main jewels stolen or destroyed.

There are many categories of head ornaments and in the class of Tiaras specifically there are also sub-categories. Whenever you discuss Ruskian Royal  jewellery you are required to understand the term Kokoshnik. The Kokoshnik class of tiara has its origin in the folk history of the Ruskian peasants. The ladies of old used to wear a headress or hat for obviously practical reasons of covering the head in order to protect from sun and dirt. The shape of this headdress became very distinct and as time went by was ornately embellished especially when the tradition of wearing it extended to weddings. The women would stitch intricate lace work and beads to the stiffened fabric base of the peasant "hat". This traditional headdress was adopted as the official court headdress in the Ruskian Imperial Court and the stitching of certain decorative elements then became huge diamonds and expensive pearls. Eventually the traditional fabric base was completely abandoned and tiaras made in gold and platinum were manufactured as a whole from metal but still mimicked the very specific shape of the traditional Kokoshnik. .

One of the only official pieces that belonged to an actual Empress Consort is the very famous and spectacular Tzar Nikolas I Pink Diamond Kokoshnik. It could be seen as the premier and symbolically the most Ruskian of all the jewellery that survived the Ruskian Revolution. The Diamond was the central feature of the Imperial Crown Jewels. Legend has it that the Perlistani Sultan had a genie create the unnaturally large coloured diamond in order to flatter and tempt the Tzar into an armistice. The Tzar however gained it through drawing the Sultan into a sword match that cost him the stone and a finger. The diamond was set in the Tzar's Crown but following a decade of bad luck had it removed claiming that the Sultan had cursed it with its pink colour in order that a man could never wear it and be blessed as a man. Since then it was set in its current place in this tiara which was then seen as one of the many tiaras only worn by Empress Consorts. 

The Tiara was thought lost after the Ruskian Revolution but in reality was sent by Tzar Ivan X, the last reigning Emperor of Ruskia for repairs to the Court Jeweller weeks before the Revolution exploded in full force. The jeweller escaped with it to Franconia and kept it there in secret. He left it in his will to the nearest legal claimant to the throne of Ruskia and after his death in 1998 it was delivered to the Grand Duke of Hanoveria by his lawyers who in turn passed it on to his niece Xenia Alexandrovna.

This very basic kokoshnik style tiara with matching choker would have formed the staple of any low ranking Ruskian Grand Duchess' jewellery collection. The tiara and necklace has no documented origin as these were lost to its turbulent history. However Grand Duchess Xenia's grandmother told the story of how it was a betrothal gift from Grand Duke Sergei, the youngest brother of Tzar Alexander II to his fiance the Countess Iliana Kirilovich Rostoff. The marriage was morganatic and after their deaths their entire estate reverted to the Tzar. This lesser tiara was forgotten  and was probably passed unnoticed down the family tree. It eventually surfaced in Xenia's grandmother's Americanian safety deposit box which was opened for the first time years after the 96 revolution and it is now often worn by the current pretender to the throne. The exceptionally large diamonds in the earrings are of truly Imperial scale and were a documented coming of age gift to Grand Duchess Xenia's great grandmother Princess Theodora of Syldavia from her grandfather.  She became a Ruskian Grand Duchess upon her marriage to the Grand Duke Alexander Alexandrovich who became known asTzar Alexander III. 

In a rare appearance of the iconic Emerald Cross of Ruskiana, was worn by Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna to the Swann 15th Anniversary Celebration in March this year along with its matching earrings. She also wears an antique Kokoshnik Tiara.

Originally the Cross formed part of the Ruskian Crown Jewel Collection having been given to the Tzar in 1794 by the then Metropolitan of Moskovi as a blessing over Easter. Later the pectoral cross was put on a strand of pearls with the intent that it would be worn more regularly by the wives of the Tzars. After the Great War the cross left Ruskiana along with the fleeing Imperial Family but was lost in the chaos. It reappeared in 1961 at auction and at that stage the Ruskian Socialist Government was repentant for the gross murder of members of the Imperial family. As a token of their remorse they bought the cross, ordered the addition of the earrings and gifted it to the Hanoverian Royal Family in trust of their Ruskian Imperial cousins. Today the set is in the private collection of Grand Duchess Xenia and Grand Duchess Alexandra who rarely wear it due to its cumbersome large size.  

The famous Tsar Alexander Sapphire Parure previously featured in detail in its own post. Tzar Alexander III of Ruskiana is the long deceased  great-great grandfather of Grand Duchess Xenia the current pretender to the Ruskian throne. His was a title and court also in pretense as his older brother was the last real Tzar of Ruskiana. Tzar Ivan X and his family were killed by rebels during the aftermath of the Great War. Alexander III succeeded him but was never crowned. He in turn was killed while fleeing the country a few months later with his young family. His son and heir and the rest were saved by Tzar Alexander giving his life in order to create a diversion for the pursuing rebels. Many pieces of family jewels also survived this escape one of which was the Parure of Sapphires that Alexander ordered for his wife in the heyday of the Ruskian Imperial Court. The full parure employed the then very modern stone cut called "baguette cut" for the sapphires. These rectangular sapphires were accented by very large round cut diamonds. 

 The tiara passed to Nicholas II who had become Tzar d'jour in exile. He left it to his son, who was murdered in the Bloody Revolution of 1996 while living in exile in the Empire of Scot Britania. As the father of Xenia he left the tiara and the remaining jewels to her and her sister who escaped with their lives to South Americania. The necklace passed to Tzar Nicholas II's younger sister Grand Duchess Anna, who left it to her daughter who married the last King of Serbieski. they left it to their son who let his wife wear it on her wedding day as "something blue". We know the couple today as the mediatized Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Serbieski in the restored Kingdom of Syldavia. The earrings passed to the youngest daughter of Alexander III, Grand Duchess Tatiana. From here it ended up in the Crown Jewel Collection of Britannia in a rather scandalous turn of events. Those jewels are in trust for the Crown Prince Imperial and his descendants and as such may never be sold.

This is not where the story ends however. In the early days of 2012, the Prince Karageorgevich received the confirmation of the restoration of the Kingdom of Syldavia and his assumption of the title of Grand Duke of Serbieski. To raise much needed cash he sold the necklace. The private sale took place in April and the buyer was none other than Grand Duchess Xenia of Ruskiana. The necklace has returned to its tiara albeit not to its homeland as yet. There is little to no hope that the earrings will ever return unfortunately.

As per Hanoverian tradition, a daughter of the House of Hanoveria is honoured upon her 18th birthday with the addition of a set of jewellery to the Hanoverian collection. This is not made in particular for her but rather leaves room for her choice to be made to take a dowry of jewellery upon her marriage. This bandeau style tiara with earrings and two modest necklaces combined to form the set of jewellery that Princess Maria of Hanoveria chose when she married Grand Duchess Xenia's father. Today it is referred to as the Hanoverian Nuptial Diamond Parure.

The Hanoverian Nuptial Diamond Parure in its original configuration seen above, is strictly speaking not designed as a set but was individual pieces selected in a group in order to fulfill the Hanoverian dowry tradition. It is known that some minor alterations have been made to it since this archive photo was taken.

The Grand Duchess Tatiana Yellow Diamond Parure is another "small" set of Imperial jewelry that was almost lost to history if not for Grand Duchess Xenia's contemporary wearing of it. It originally belonged to Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevich who died as a young spinster after failing to cope with life following her survival of the Great War and subsequent Ruskian Revolution. The set was sold after her death and disappeared until it surface in a 2006 auction and was purchased by Grand Duchess Xenia for a complete bargain. She added vintage 1980's earrings to complete the set as a makeshift parure. This set is very small, even on the scale of any exiled Royal standards. It is however not cheap as all the stones are top quality yellow diamonds albeit it that they are of an older cut and as such have reduced contemporary value.

 This set of aquamarine jewellery consisting of a necklace and earrings. Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna inherited them from her mother who brought them form Hanoveria with her into her marriage as private property. They originally were a 21st birthday present from all her Royal relatives. 

That concludes our feature of what remains of the Ruskian Imperial Jewels. 


  1. Beautiful as always! I never tire of seeing your jewelry.

    1. Kind words Vanessa. Perhaps one day, one of your characters will inherit a Royal set of jewellery from a distant relative or friend.