The historic Aquamarine and Diamond Tiara by Fabergé will be sold in the upcoming Magnificent Jewels sale by Christie’s.
The turn of the century, up to the first world war, saw the last age of aristocratic and monarchial rule and with it the splendour and glamour it brought. Up to and during this time many of the great families of Europe solidified and expanded their power through marriage. By joining these great dynasties the future seemed secure and with that, their grip on power.
One of these ‘great unions’ was the marriage between Princess Alexandra of Hanover and Cumberland, the granddaughter to King George V of Hanover and Frederick Francis IV, the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.
Other than weddings and great stately homes, jewellery was considered to be one of the greatest displays of power and wealth and the ruling class used this power-play to the max. In celebration of his marriage, the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin gifted the magnificent Aquamarine and Diamond Tiara by Fabergé to his bride as a wedding gift.
The History of the Aquamarine and Diamond Tiara by Fabergé
After having become the Russian court jeweller, the house of Fabergé soon rose to international prominence and became the go-to jeweller for the western world’s elite. Their pieces became so popular that it was once jokingly said; “there is no great house in the whole of Europe that does not have a bit of Fabergé lying around.”
Following suit, the Grand Duke’s mother, the Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia was a keen and avid Fabergé collector. As such, when it came time for his son to have something commissioned for his new bride, there would be no better choice than the atelier Fabergé in St Petersburg.
Archival correspondence shows that the Grand Ducal Cabinet of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Eugène Fabergé himself were in discussions regarding the commissioning of an important jewel. In a letter dating 10 May 1909, the two options were discussed: “a diamond tiara for 10’000 roubles or an aquamarine and diamond tiara for 7’500 roubles”. It was further discussed that only using aquamarines as gemstones was not possible.
The following letter addressed to the Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna, referred to drawings with designs Fabergé proposed for the top section of the tiara to be approved by her son. But it seems that the young Grand Duke must have had only marriage on his mind as by two weeks before the wedding Fabergé wrote to the Grand Ducal Cabinet that he was yet to receive any instructions to proceed. The problem was that the jeweller never kept a copy and as such could not proceed without receiving back the original.
Due to the lack of time, the Aquamarine and Diamond Tiara by Fabergé was not ready and Princess Alexandra of Hanover and Cumberland had to wear the traditional Hanoverian nuptial crown on the wedding day. The diamond-set coronet that had been in her family for more than a century was commissioned in 1761 for the wedding of King George III of England and Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
The magnificent tiara was eventually finished and the Grand Duke presented it to his young bride as a belated wedding gift. She can be seen wearing it in the image of the couple below.
As had become the trademark of Fabergé, the tiara’s design is rife with symbolism and hidden messages of adoration and love. The Tiara’s motive consists of forget-me-not flowers that are tied with ribbon bows. This symbolizes true and eternal love. The knots are pierced with arrows representing cupid, a token of endearment, attraction and affection.
The tiara composes of nine graduated pear-shaped aquamarines, old, cushion and rose-cut diamonds.
This historic Aquamarine and Diamond Tiara by Fabergé will be offered on auction for the first time in the upcoming Magnificent Jewels sale on 15 May in Geneva, and is offered with a pre-sale estimate of CHF 230,000–340,000 / $ 230,000-340,000).