Jewelry & Watches

A Rare Fabergé Tiara With Ties to the Russian Royal Family Was Just Sold

It fetched a whopping $433,321 at auction in Geneva.
IMAGE COURTESY OF SOTHEBY'S AND CHRISTIE'S
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Two royal wedding tiaras, both created by Fabergé, both designed as gifts to a noble bride, both designed in the first years of the 20th century, and both gifts from Russian relatives, will go up for auction within a day of each other this May. Let’s chronicle the details of this incredible royal jewelry coincidence.


THE BRIDES


Today, Sotheby's sold the intricately crafted, all-diamond Fabergé tiara that Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin received on the occasion of her 1905 marriage to Wilhelm von Hohenzollem, the heir to the Prussian throne. It fetched 437,500 Swiss Francs, or $433,687.19.


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Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin with her fiancé Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Germany and Prussia.

According to Sotheby's, their wedding was a major affair, witnessed by tens of thousands of people, who lined the streets of Berlin to witness the arrival of the bride.

A day later, on May 15, Christie's will sell the historic aquamarine and diamond Fabergé tiara Princess Alexandra of Hanover and Cumberland received on the occasion of her 1904 marriage to Frederick Francis IV, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.


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Princess Alexandra of Hanover and Cumberland.

Frederick Francis IV and Duchess Cecilie were, in fact, siblings, and Cecilie met her royal husband at her brother's wedding.


THE JEWELS


Crown Princess Cecilie's all-diamond tiara has an estimate of $300,000 at Sotheby's.

The piece was discovered last July by Daniela Mascetti, chairman of Sotheby’s Jewelry Division, Europe. She stumbled upon it almost by accident—and only knew its provenance because in July 2018, she had admired a portrait of Cecilie wearing the piece. “I was visiting Hohenzollern Castle in Heshingen, near Stuttgart when I saw a lovely painting of Crown Princess Cecilie wearing a beautiful diamond tiara," Mascetti told T&C via email.


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Diamond tiara, attributed to fabergé, circa 1903

"I took a picture of the painting with my phone: I thought I might use it in one of my lectures as the perfect example of an early 20th-century tiara worn on the perfect hairstyle and with the perfect dress fashion of the time. Months later, completely unexpected and in a location far away from Heshingen, I was shown that very tiara! I could not believe it… and the client could not believe I knew of the existence of the painting.”

The aquamarine and diamond Christie's tiara has a slightly higher estimate of $340,000. It is noted for its symbolic design of forget-me-not flowers tied with ribbon bows and arrows representing Cupid. There are nine pear-shaped aquamarines and rose cut diamonds throughout.


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A rare aquamarine and diamond fabergé tiara, 1904.

Records from when the aquamarine tiara was first commissioned from Fabergé reveal the price haggling that comes with such an important jewel. It was the Grand Duke’s mother, Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia, who was in charge, she being a big collector and client of Fabergé. The jewelers made it clear that they could do a diamond tiara for “10,000 roubles” and “aquamarine and diamond tiara for 7,500 roubles” but that an all-aquamarine tiara was just not possible. The back and forth between the Grand Duke, his mother, and Faberge delayed the completion of the crown, and it missed the wedding entirely.

THE RUSSIANS

Both tiaras were commissioned—just about a year apart—through the Fabergé atelier in St. Petersburg. The all-diamond Sotheby's tiara, Mascetti notes, “was given as a gift to Princess Cecilie on the occasion of her wedding to Crown Prince Wilhelm, from her Russian relatives. Cecilie was the daughter of Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia. It has remained in the family and was handed down through subsequent generations."

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Fabergé, the jewelry house known for its colorful eggs, was also the crown jeweler to the Romanovs.

The aquamarine and diamond Christie's tiara was commissioned by the same Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia for her son to gift to his bride Princess Alexandra. Fabergé, the jewelry house known for its colorful eggs, was also the crown jeweler to the Romanovs and to other Russian nobility.

The upcoming simultaneous appearance at auction of two such intricately crafted tiaras, made for the same royal family over a century ago, is a rare occasion.

“Their weddings were a year apart, and now their tiaras are being sold a day apart,” said one jewelry expert who had seen both tiaras personally. “Funny, no?”

Learn more about Crown Princess Cecilie's all-diamond tiara here:

*This article originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com

*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors

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