15 January 2015

Tiara Thursday: Alexandra Feodorovna's Emerald Bow Tiara

Alexandra Feodorovna's Emerald Bow Tiara
As we’ve discussed before, if you’re searching for stones of exceptional quality and color, you need look no further than the collection that belonged to the Romanovs at the height of their splendor. The green stones featured in today’s tiara are one example, Colombian emeralds with what was said to have been a brilliant color. The center emerald is a sugarloaf cabochon, an unfaceted cut rising to a high point in the center, weighing in at around 23 carats. The emeralds were combined with South African diamonds in a design of upright loops alternating with bows in this tiara made to the order of Alexandra Feodorovna (1872-1918), wife of Tsar Nicholas II. It was crafted in gold and silver with removable elements in 1900 by imperial court jeweler Bolin.
Alexandra Feodorovna
The tiara was part of a matching set of jewels. Also made by Bolin for Alexandra at that time was a matching necklace and she was painted in 1907 by N.K. Bodarevsky (above) wearing what appears to be a matching brooch. A devant de corsage (dress ornament) of emeralds and diamonds with was made by another jeweler to the imperial family, Fabergé. The corsage was ordered by Alexandra Feodorovna’s sister, Elizabeth (1964-1918), who was married to Nicholas II’s uncle. The matching stones and bow design suggests that it was intended to be part of the same parure.
A detail of the center element in the tiara (left), the devant de corsage (center top), the tiara displayed with other jewels to be sold (center bottom), and the necklace (right)
Unfortunately, like so many other Romanov jewels, this parure has disappeared. It was sold by the Soviet government in the 1920s, after the overthrow of the monarchy. It’s hard to imagine it being successfully worn today, though; the tiara is actually a circlet, a complete circle, probably best worn with the elaborate hairstyles of the time, and a piece like the devant de corsage would scarcely be used with today’s fashions. The devant de corsage, however, is the one piece that has a version in existence today: a replica was made in 1985 for the Diamond Fund, the Russian state’s jewel collection.

Who do you think could pull this set off, if it was around today?

Photos: Fersman, Wikimedia Commons, USGS