Since the dawn of the monarchy in Europe, some of the most exquisite and luxurious pieces of jewellery have been bestowed upon European royalty. Just the very mention of the words monarch and jewels and you instantly think of the most beautiful and immaculate jewellery.
This stands to reason as throughout the ages kings and queens have been the owners of some of the most iconic jewellery pieces in history, such as the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara, the Monomakh’s Cap (Russia), the Imperial Crown of Russia and the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara.
Monarchs expressed their considerable power through various means such as exquisite jewellery pieces, usually the grander the jewellery piece the more power and prestige the monarchy possessed.
Throughout history various events have caused the collapse and destruction of monarchies, such as war and revolution. Take the French Revolution as an example. The French Monarchy was one of the most extravagant in history, but growing debt and an increase in social awareness saw the French people take up arms and storm the Bastille on 14 July 1789. This directly led to the abolishment of the monarchy and the execution of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
Another notable collapse of a monarchy came in 1917 with the Russian Revolution, which saw the complete and utter dismantlement of the Russian monarchy and the rise of the Soviet Union. The House of Romanov came to an end on 17 July 1918 with the execution of Nicholas II of Russia, his wife (Alexandra Feodorovna), their five children, physician and servants.
What happened to the French and Russian crown jewels?
According to various reports the French Crown Jewels were sold in 1885 by the orders of the Third French Republic and subsequently spread across the world. Only a handful of items were kept in the Louvre, and all had their gemstones removed and replaced with replicas.
After the Russian Revolution, the reigning Russian government sold various iconic items to international buyers. According to palagems.com, on 14 November 1926 an American-British group succeeded in purchasing significant pieces from the royal collection, such as Catherine the Great’s “nuptial crown” which contains 1,520 diamonds and was worn when she married Peter III in 1745; it was valued at $52 million.
Do you have any interesting pieces of jewellery?
With the worldwide scattering of jewellery from deposed monarchs, chances are that some have made their way into South Africa. Do you have any?
Visit Stephan Welz & Co. or www.auctionit.co.za today and receive a complimentary valuation of your jewellery.