06 March 2014

Tiara Thursday: The Kochli Sapphire Tiara

The Kochli Sapphire Tiara
Kochli (also spelled Koechli, Koechly, etc.) was one of the court jewelers to the imperial court in Russia, and was the jeweler called upon by Alexander III and his wife Marie Feodorovna in 1894 for a new sapphire and diamond parure. This design was selected and the set was given to Princess Alix of Hesse (1872-1918), who married their son Nicholas II the same year. She adopted the name Alexandra Feodorovna. 
The tiara displayed after it was confiscated by the Bolsheviks (upper left), sketches of the tiara, necklace, and brooch (colored), and the necklace and brooch (upper and lower right)
The tiara is made of 16 sapphires in a diamond surround. I've always thought this tiara had a particularly festive air to it; the piece is centered around the five largest oval sapphires, each of which is topped by diamonds bursting out like fireworks. Underneath, a structure of swirling diamond scrolls knot together, studded with additional sapphires. The design theme continues throughout the rest of the parure, which included a brooch, necklace, and bracelet.
Alexandra Feodorovna
It remained in the collection of Alexandra Feodorovna through her years as tsarina, but like the rest of her jewels, it ended up in the hands of the Bolsheviks, who had brutally murdered Alix and her family. The set was catalogued in the inventory of seized jewels completed at the time, but what became of the Kochli Sapphire Tiara and its parure is, I believe, unknown. Some pieces were sold whole, others were dismantled, so it is possible that the once festive tiara no longer exists.

How do you rate this sapphire tiara?

Photos: Fersman/State Hermitage Museum