The mysterious disappearance of Russian crown jewels

January 13, 2013 18:05

After the 1917 revolution, the new rulers of Russia were discussing what to do with the royal regalia. Collection is shown in this 1925 photo. But the album in 1922, owned by the U.S. Geological Survey, includes photos of four collections of fragments that are not covered in the official register of 1925.

History missing crown jewels began as many great adventures in the library.

In this case, it was the U.S. Geological Survey Library in Reston, Virginia.

When Richard Huffine, Director, browsing library collection of rare books, he came across too much in terms of volume.

"It is no marking on the spine of the book is also no signs or anything like that — he says. — This book caught my eye, and I pushed it to the side to another look at it. "

Researcher Jenna Nolte was one of those who managed to take a look at this book.

"Cover Sheet, completely covered drawings, had a wonderful, thought-patterns, and on it was the date — 1922 — says Nolte. — When we set the name, we found out that it was the Russian Diamond Fund. "

The Diamond Fund is the name given to the imperial regalia of the Romanovs, the Russian tsars for more than 300 years, from 1613 to 1917.

Huffine knew they came on the heels ..

"Some of the photos on the very first pages of the album depict landmark known product which, as you might think, made for the Russian crown, including diamond," Eagles "in the scepter, the majestic symbol of royal power, which has a huge rock on her top" — he says.

Diamond "Eagles" — the 189 carat stone, which was famously stolen from the eye of the statue of a Hindu deity in the southern part of India — and this is just one of the legends associated with the collection.

These precious stones are almost magical significance, being a symbol of unbridled power and wealth.

Call in an expert

Librarians are the U.S. Geological Survey called Kristen Regina, archivist and head of research of Hillwood Museum collection, located in Washington, DC.

Hillwood boasts the largest collection of Russian imperial art outside of Russia.

"Royal Regalia play an important role in the history of the coronation — says Regina — For the king puts on the crown during the coronation and at this very moment gets all the power."

Romanov dynasty met its end in 1917, amid the chaos of world war, revolution and civil war.

Regina says that the fate of the crown jewels created fierce debate among the Bolshevik leadership, which is desperately needed the money.

Some revolutionaries considered jewelry as a symbol of centuries of exploitation — precious stones, which are to be sold to employees.

Historian Igor Zimin says most of the collection was stored keepers Kremlin Museum in Moscow, who were able to convince the leaders that the gems are of great historical significance.

Zimin, head of the history department at St. Petersburg State Medical University, said that there are records at auction some of the things from a smaller part of the collection, dating from about 1927. There is even memoranda of Soviet agents who were detained while traveling with diamonds in luggage.

Zimin, by the way, is skeptical about the newly re-opened the book, since it dates from 1922, and the official photographic reproduction in the roster of the royal regalia was not published until 1925.

The differences between the two books

In fact, the U.S. Geological Survey using a copy of this book, and the researcher Jenna Nolte compare them.

She found that in a book in 1922 showcased four decorations, which are not represented in the later official books.

Nolte says that researchers have learned about the fate of one of the jewels — a sapphire brooch.

This brooch is one of four jewelry presented in a book in 1922 called "Russian Diamond Fund," which was recently discovered in the area of rare books library of the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, Virginia. The fourth product is no longer part of the Russian collection.

She says that the brooch was sold at auction in London in 1927, "but three other jewelry: necklace, tiara and bracelet — we do not know what happened to them."

This necklace is presented in an album in 1922, located in the library of the U.S. Geological Survey, but it is not listed in the book in 1925 about Russian royal regalia.

First of all, the man who would know this was a man who acquired the book in 1922.

This was an American mineralogist and expert in precious stones, who worked at different times for jewelers Tiffany & Co and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

His name was George Frederick Kunz, and adventure led him to Russia in the early 1890's.

"If you've ever read his work — says Nolte. — He's got a great attitude to yourself, traveling in cars on rural Russia to meet with the "rural queen amethyst", talked about how he traveled around with a gun on his lap, because the driver did not trust the coach, so I think we face, undoubtedly figure of Indiana Jones. "

In view of the Kremlin

Jewelry Russian Diamond Fund are on display in the Kremlin in Moscow — or, at least, most of them.

Officials responsible for the exhibition, declined to comment for this story.

As for the missing jewelry, you can see photos of all of their online U.S. Geological Survey.

The researchers who discovered this story, still talk about the other secrets that are available to anyone — amateur or professional — to try to solve them.

Who knows, maybe it's time to look at the jewel-box of your great-grandmother.

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