L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sapphires and emeralds - new and "previously owned" merchandise

As Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna (the "younger") prepared for her 1908 wedding to Prince Wilhelm of Sweden, Duke of Södermanland, her father, Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich, ordered a magnificent sapphire and diamond parure from Cartier.  This included a tiara, corsage ornament, and necklace.  The necklace can be seen in the photographs below where, since married, the then Duchess of Södermanland is wearing Swedish court dress.  (The black velvet of the court robes was a convenient camouflage; the duchess was pregnant at the time with her son, Lennart, who was born in 1909.)  The marriage was unhappy and they divorced in 1914.  I don't know the eventual fate of this parure.  Most likely, like her more famous emeralds, she was forced to sell them, while living in exile after the revolution .  Most likely, they were subsequently dismantled and used for other less prestigious adornments.



At that time of the commission, Grand Duke Paul was living in exile in Paris with his second - and morganatic - wife and their three children.  His first wife, Grand Duchess Alexandra Georgievna, née Princess Alexandra of Greece, died giving birth to their son, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich.  Because of the scandal of the affair with and subsequent marriage to Olga, madame von Pistohlkors (later Countess Hohenfelsen, later Princess Paley), they were forced to leave Russia, and Maria and Dmitri were left in the care of Paul's brother, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and his wife, the great beauty and sister of Tsaritsa Alexandra, Grand Duchess Elisaveta Feodorovna.  After the assassination of her husband in 1905 Grand Duchess Elisaveta decided to become a nun.  In preparation for this great transformation and in order to help pay for the establishment of a convent, she gave much of her celebrated jewelry to relatives and sold the rest.  One of the pieces she gave to her ward, Maria Pavlovna, was a necklace of diamond links.  It can be seen below in a photograph of Grand Duchess Elisaveta and, again, in the third and forth pictures above, worn above Maria Pavlovna's sapphire necklace.


As for the "more famous emeralds", these were also given to her by her aunt.  A tiara and necklace, and perhaps other pieces that I haven't seen documented.  The central section of the necklace could be detached and worn as a brooch, as it most often was.  I've never seen a photograph of the Grand Duchess Elisaveta wearing the tiara but, like most large and "important" jewels, sections could be detached and used in other ways.  The large diamond-ringed cabochon emeralds from the tiara are visible as "buttons" down the front of her court gown in the first image below, and as ornamentation for her traditional kokoshnik in the second two.

Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, divorced, back in Russia, and photographed wearing the tiara and necklace.

After escaping revolutionary Russia, Maria Pavlovna found refuge in Roumania, where her flamboyant first cousin, Marie, was queen.  In the depths of World War I, Queen Marie had sent her jewelry to her ally Russia for safekeeping.  An unwise decision as it turned out; before the war was even over, the revolution in Russia had broken out, and the victorious Bolsheviks were not at all inclined to return her jewels.  Having three daughters approaching a marriageable age, and with an outsized love of adornment, herself, she set about buying up a large portion of the jewelry that her near relatives, newly exiled, were so eager to sell.  Queen Marie purchased the tiara and necklace to give to her daughter who was soon to marry King Alexander of Yugoslavia; "Mignon", as she was called in the family, wore the necklace pinned to the neckline of her gown on her wedding day.  (I should mention that I've also read that it was the King, himself, who bought the emeralds for his bride.  I'm not certain which story is accurate.)

Subsequently, the necklace was broken up and the stones reused to create a heavy sautoir by Cartier.

 Both necklace and tiara were later sold.  I don't know the fate of the necklace, but the tiara still exists in the collection of Van Cleef & Arpels.  The emeralds have been replaced with paste copies.

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