A rare photo of Chaumet’s blue enamel kokoshnik, property of the Dukes of Westminster, seen here at the Wartski exhibition of May 2006. The exhibition was
devoted to ‘Fabergé and the Russian jewellers’.
Loans ranged from the eighteenth century to 1917 and included several pieces from the Russian crown jewels as well as works by Fabergé and his contemporaries. A section of the exhibition explored the theme of ice and icicles in jewellery conceived for Fabergé by Alma Pihl, who designed the famous Imperial Winter Egg. The Victoria and Albert Museum was one of several public institutions that lent to the show, the majority of piece however were lent by anonymous private collectors.
ROYAL JEWELLERY || Empress Alexandra Feodorovna’s Aquamarine Kokoshnik Tiara Made in 1900 for Tsar Nicholai II of Russia’s wife Alexandra Feodorovna, this is one of the relatively few pieces of magnificent Romanov jewellery to have made its way out of the revolution in one piece. The tiara consists of aquamarines and diamonds and is modelled after the traditional Russian headdress, the kokoshnik. It was purchased by Wartski in the late 1920s and is a part of a parure consisting of a tiara alongside matching earrings and a necklace – also made of aquamarines and diamonds. The tiara’s jeweller as well as current whereabouts remain unknown.
Natural pearl, enamel, gold, ruby and diamonds.
‘Of lozenge form, finely enamelled opaque black and white in the renaissance taste. mounted with pearls, old brilliant cut diamonds and centred by an oval ruby’.
Attributed to Carlo Giuliano, London, circa 1890.
The Blue Serpent Clock Egg is a Tsar Imperial Fabergé egg, one of a series of fifty-two jeweled eggs made under the supervision of Peter Carl Fabergé for the Russian Imperial family. This is the first of the Imperial Fabergé eggs to feature a clock, and is a design that Fabergé copied for his Duchess of Marlborough Egg in 1902. It was crafted and delivered in 1887 to the then Tsar of Russia, Alexander III. It is currently owned by Prince Albert II, and is held in Monaco. This egg, along with the First Hen Egg, is the only known surviving Imperial egg from the 1880s.
The crafting of this imperial egg is credited to Mikhail Perkhin of Fabergé’s shop. The egg stands on a base of gold that is painted in opalescent white enamel. The three panels of the base feature motifs of raised gold in four colors, representing the arts and sciences. A serpent, set with diamonds, coils around the stand connecting the base to the egg and up toward the center of the egg. The serpent’s head and tongue point to the hour which is indicated in roman numerals on a white band which runs around the egg near the top. This band rotates within the egg to indicate the time, rather than the serpent rotating around the egg. This is the first of the Tsar Imperial Fabergé eggs to feature a working clock.The majority of the egg is enameled in translucent blue and has diamond-studded gold bands and designs ringing the top and bottom of the egg. On each side of the egg a sculpted gold handle arches up in a “C” shape, attached to the egg on the top near the apex and on the lower half of the egg, near the center. One interesting feature is that the egg identified as the Blue Serpent Clock Egg contains no sapphires, while descriptions from the Russian State Historical Archives, the 1917 inventory of confiscated imperial treasure and the 1922 transfer documents for the egg to be moved from the Anichkov Palace to the Sovnarkom all describe the egg as containing sapphires.
It is not known when or how the Tsar ordered the third Easter egg from Fabergé, but the Blue Serpent Clock Egg was presented to Maria Feodorovna by Tsar Alexander III on Easter day, April 5, 1887. It is possible that by this time, the egg gift was already an established tradition, allowing Fabergé and his craftsmen an entire year to craft the next egg. This would explain in part why this egg is so much more elaborate than the first Imperial Easter egg. The egg was housed in the Anichkov Palace until the 1917 revolution. Along with the other Fabergé eggs in the palace, the Serpent Clock Egg was transferred to the Armory Palace of the Kremlin in mid September 1917. In 1922 the egg was likely transferred to the Sovnarkom where it was held until it was sold abroad to Michel Norman of the Australian Pearl Company. Between 1922 and 1950 the egg was bought by Emanuel Snowman of Wartski, sold, and bought back by Wartski. The egg was sold again by Wartski around 1974 to an unknown party, was held in a private collection in Switzerland in 1989, and was owned by Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1992. When Rainier III died in 2005, Prince Albert II inherited the egg along with the throne. Fabergé created a very similar egg in 1902, the Duchess of Marlborough Egg for Consuelo Vanderbilt. This clock egg is larger than the Blue Serpent Clock Egg and is enameled in a pink, rather than blue, color. (x)
Kate’s Wedding Dress, designed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen:
Kate displayed a wished for the gown to combine tradition and modernity. The design shows the influence of Victorian dress in details such as the cinched in waist, padded hips and bustle a top the nine foot train, but also with a modern cut in a modern fabric – satin gazar. The dress is fastened at the back and at the cuffs by tiny buttons covered in satin gazar and silk tulle. The lace appliqué on the dress is in a unique design made from six types of lace. The appliquéd lace which covers the bodice and sleeves, the skirt and the train evokes the theme of the language of flowers, evident in many elements of the wedding from the flowers to the wedding cake. The lace design also incorporates the National emblems of the UK (Rose, Thistle, Shamrock and Daffodil). The dress has a sense of grandeur appropriate to the importance of the occasion and retains a sense of modesty in keeping with The Duchess of Cambridge’s wishes.
Kate chose to wear the Cartier “halo” tiara, made in 1936. It was purchased by the Duke of York (later King George VI) for his wife and was later given to Queen Elizabeth II, then Princess Elizabeth, as an 18th birthday present. Kate’s custom made-to-match earrings by Robinson Pelham were a present from her parents. The earrings, with acorn motifs, were inspired by the new Middleton family crest. Kate’s wedding ring is a band of Welsh gold by Wartski, which also crafted Welsh-gold wedding bands for Prince Charles and Camilla. Kate wore matching, custom-made heels by McQueen with the same lace applique as seen on her gown.
This tiara was made in 1819/1820 for Marie Therese Charlotte, Duchesse d'Angouleme, as a gift from her husband, Louis Antoine, the Duc d'Angouleme. It was made of unmounted stones from the French crown jewels, and set in gold and silver. It contains 40 emeralds and over a thousand diamonds.
When her father in law/uncle Charles X abdicated the throne in 1830, as did her husband immediately after, the family went into exile and Marie Therese was forced to return the tiara to the treasury. It remained packed away until Napoleon III came to the throne, when it was frequently worn by his wife, Empress Eugenie. Unfortunately, there are no known portraits or photographs of either woman wearing it. When Napoleon III went into exile in 1870, Eugenie also had to return the tiara to the treasury.
It was displayed at the Paris World’s Fair in 1878, and then at the Louvre in 1884. In 1887, it was sold at auction along with the majority of the other french crown jewels. It wasn’t seen again until it surfaced in the vaults of the Wartski jewellers. The owner was apparently unaware of its’ history, but allowed it to be displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum from 1982-2002. The tiara was then but up for sale, but the British government placed a temporary export ban on it so that funds could be raised to keep it in the country. They weren’t successful in raising the money, but an arrangement was made with the Louvre museum to have it returned to their collection. It is now on display there, along with other surviving items from the French crown jewels.
Aquamarine and diamond brooch set in gold given to Princess Alix of Hesse as an engagement gift by her suitor, Tsar Nicholas II.
It was found in Yekaterinburg after the murder of the Empress and later sold by the Soviets. Currently owned by Wartski, London.