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Smuggled Romanov Jewels Lead Sotheby’s Geneva

Oct 19, 2021 6:10 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... A set of jewels belonging to the Romanov family, smuggled out of Russia during the 1917 revolution, will go under the hammer at a Sotheby’s auction in Geneva.

The collection includes an oval-shaped, 26.80-carat Ceylon sapphire and diamond brooch and matching ear clips weighing 6.69 and 9.63 carats. The jewels, which together carry a high estimate of $500,000, will star at the November 10 Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale, Sotheby’s said Monday.

Once belonging to the aunt of Emperor Nicholas II, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, the jewels were entrusted to her friend, British antiques dealer and aristocrat Albert Henry Stopford, to transport them out of Russia and into London. Dressed in workman’s clothes, Stopford collected the jewels from the grand duchess’s home, dismantled them, wrapped the pieces in old newspapers and brought them, along with 241 other pieces of Pavlovna’s jewelry, on a 10-day journey across the North Sea. Pavlovna never made it to London to collect the jewels, and they were instead passed down to her daughter, Princess Elena of Greece and Denmark, Sotheby’s explained.

“We rarely come across jewelry with a more storied provenance than these stunning sapphire and diamond pieces,” said Olivier Wagner, head of the Geneva sale. “Theirs is a truly remarkable survival, having made their way from one of the Romanov palaces, out of revolutionary Russia, across war-torn Europe and into the vaults of a London bank. Often referred to as ‘The Queen of St. Petersburg,’ the grand duchess was by all accounts a glittering figure who fought to hold on to the trimmings of splendor during the revolution. Here we get a glimpse into her long-forgotten jewelry box, bravely spirited out of Russia by one of her closest friends.”

Other notable items include a bracelet from designer Mouawad, featuring a pear-shaped, 59-carat, D-color, VVS1-clarity diamond. The piece, which is set with smaller step-cut, oval and square diamonds, has a high valuation of $4.5 million. A Cartier ring containing a step-cut, 43.35-carat, fancy-vivid-yellow diamond, bracketed by trapeze-shaped white diamonds, is expected to fetch up to $1.6 million, while a step-cut, 33.62-carat, E-color, internally flawless diamond ring carries a $2 million upper estimate.

Image: The set of Romanov jewels. (Sotheby’s)
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Tags: Cartier, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, Jewelry, Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale, mouawad, Olivier Wagner, Princess Elena of Greece and Denmark, Rapaport News, Romanov Jewels, Sotheby’s, Sotheby’s Geneva
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