And now for something totally different. A Russian tiara that we know the whereabouts of. Or at least…. we did. The Russian Pearl Pendant Kokoshnik Tiara was one of the great Romanov treasures that was confiscated. But we have a paper trail to follow telling us where it ended up. For a while at least. But let’s start from the beginning.
The tiara was created in 1841 by Bolin for Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (the wife of Nicolas I) using 25 of the finest pearls hanging from diamond arches. But it was Marie Feodorovna (wife of Tsar Alexander III) who truly loved the tiara. So much so, that even though it was a part of the Crown Jewels and not her personal tiara, she kept it in her home. By the time of the Bolshevik revolution, Marie was now Dowager Empress and she fled to Crimea to avoid the future fate of her son and family (it’s good to have family in high places. Her nephew King George V sent a ship for her).
When she first fled, she had no idea she would never return, so she took only her “day jewels” with her. When Prince Felix Yusupov (you might remember him as one of the men who assassinated Rasputin) attempted to retrieve the rest of her jewelry collection from her home, he found them already gone. It had fallen into the hands of the Bolsheviks.
But unlike so many of the others (the Sapphire Wave Tiara, the Yugoslavian Diamond Kokoshnik Tiara, and Elizabeth Alexeievna’s Diamond Kokoshnik Tiara), we can trace this tiara through a sale at Christie’s in 1927 when it was sold to jeweler Holmes & Co., who later turned around and sold it to the 9th Duke of Marlborough to give to his second wife Gladys.
When Gladys died, the tiara changed hands yet again in 1978 filtering through the London jewelry trade and this time ended up in the collection of Imelda Marcos. The tiara, along with myriad other jewels supposedly purchased with Philippine state funds still sits in the Central Bank of the Philippines in a vault, awaiting its eventual fate.
There’s been talk that the Philippine government will exhibit the confiscated pieces, including The Russian Pearl Pendant Kokoshnik Tiara, to bring in more tourism or that the government will sell them at auction. Which would you rather see happen? Tell me in the comments below.