bookmark_borderThe Grand Duchess Vladimir and her Rubies

Her imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia, The Grand Duchess Vladimir is considered one of the most important jewellery collectors in history. Born Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin she married the second son of the Russian Emperor Alexander II, Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich in 1874.

Grand Duchess Maria became renowned as ‘the grandest of the grand duchesses’ and her home, the Vladimir Palace, became the centre of Russian aristocratic society. In 1902, Consuela Vanderbilt (who had married the 9th Duke of Marlborough) visited Maria Pavlovna in St. Petersburg :

‘She [Maria] had a majestic personality, but could be both gracious and charming. After dinner she showed me her jewels set out in glass cases in her dressing room. There were endless parures of diamonds, emeralds, rubies and pearls to say nothing of semi-precious stones such as turquoises, tourmalines, cat’s eyes and aquamarines.’  What a night that would be! It seems Russian etiquette called for the hostess show off her jewels to honoured female guests. Not what would be called tasteful by others but I would be OK with seeing jewellery at a dinner party! 

Although she had a sumptuous collection of Sapphires, Emeralds, Diamonds and Pearls, Maria Pavlovna’s collection of Ruby jewellery does not seem to have been as extensive as its counterparts.

The Bolsheviks spread the belief that the Romanovs thought rubies were unlucky and symbolised bloodshed after the 1917 Russian Revolution.
This was of course, untrue. Several of the Grand Duchesses received jewellery made with rubies, frequently as wedding gifts. Maria Alexandrovna, the sister-in-law of Maria Pavlovna, married Prince Alfred of the United Kingdom in 1874 and was given an exquisite suite of diamonds and rubies by Bolin, the Russian court jeweller.


Just as she had done with her Sapphires, Grand Duchess Vladimir took a number of her ruby and diamond pieces to Paris and deposited them with her good friend, Louis Cartier. These jewels were to be reset into a new tiara and corsage.

Paul Cheyrouze, an assistant to Cartier, handed Maria Pavlovna an itemised list of the gems that had been dismantled on June 1st, 1908, according to Jewelry of the Romanovs. These included:
Fourteen pins

Two necklaces

Single necklace

Amongst the jewels were a bracelet and brooch in the shape of a horseshoe that were documented in a rare jewellery album.

Maria Pavlovna owned the 5ct “Beauharnais” Ruby, which is supposed to have belonged to Empress Josephine, the first wife of Napoleon. This gem would be the tiara’s focal point.
The Octagonal stone was to be surrounded by the pear-shaped diamonds, square-cut rubies and oval ruby cabochons taken from the horseshoe brooch and the bracelet.

A large ruby and diamond corsage (brooch) was also created to compliment the new tiara. Featuring three of the rubies, the gems were surrounded with garlands of round diamonds.

In 1918, Russia finally exploded in to Revolution. Grand Duchess Vladimir fled to the Crimea leaving her jewels hidden in the Vladimir Palace, thinking she would return when the situation had improved.
Below, Prince Michael of Kent (Grand Duchess Vladimir’s Great Grandson) explains how when reality finally set in, she instructed her son Grand Duke Boris and her close friend Albert Stopford to retrieve her jewels.

(This is a Danish documentary but Prince Michael speaks in English)

Grand Duchess Vladimir passed away on the 6th September 1920 in Switzerland. Her vast jewel collection was divided amongst her children with her sons Andrei and Kyril inheriting the Rubies & Sapphires. Grand Duke Boris acquired her famous emeralds and her only daughter Elena received the Diamonds and Pearls.

The Grand Duchess Vladimir and her Family
The Grand Duchess Vladimir and her Family

Like many other exiled Romanovs, Grand Duke Andrei was forced to sell his mothers jewels in order to survive. The Rubies were returned to Cartier who would arranged their sale to Princess Anastasia of Greece (formerly Mrs Nancy Leeds) who interestingly, owned a tiara that Cartier had modelled after The Grand Duchess Vladimir’s

When her 2nd Husband died in 1908, Nancy became an enormously wealthy widow. She met and married the King of Greece’s youngest son Prince Christopher in Biarritz in 1914.

In 1921, Nancy’s 19-year-old son, William B. Leeds, Jr married Princess Xenia Georgievna of Russia (Prince Christopher’s niece.)

In a post from Greek Royal Jewels and Stories, the newspapers of the time reported:
“Never will bride have a richer wedding dowry than the young Princess Xenia of Greece on her marriage to Mr. William Leeds, the young son of the famous American millionaire’s widow, who is herself, by her second marriage, Princess Anastasia of Greece. Mrs Leeds has been in Paris for the last two weeks devastating the shops in the Rue de la Paix of their best and finest jewels. Diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires – all perfect specimens of their kind – have been purchased regardless of price to form the wedding gift to her pretty future daughter-in-law.”

Sadly though, like so many of the Romanov treasures, the fate of these pieces remains unknown.

bookmark_borderMonaco’s Royal Tiara – The Cartier Diamond and Pearl Drop Tiara

Before the American actress Grace Kelly enlarged the royal jewellery collection with her marriage to Prince Rainier in 1956, the next best thing were the personal jewels of Rainier’s mother, Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois. Continue Reading…

bookmark_borderRussian Royal Jewels – Tsarina Maria Feodorovna Sapphire Brooch

Before the Russian Revolution Maria Feodorovna was at the centre of Imperial Court life. Unlike her antisocial daughter in law (Tsarina Alexandra), Maria Feodorovna believed it was the duty of the Empress of Russia to be on display. Being one of the wealthiest monarchies of all time, the Romanovs displayed their power using their outstanding jewel collections. Continue Reading…

bookmark_borderGrace Kelly’s Van Cleef and Arpels Diamond Wedding Bracelet

Grace Kelly's Van Cleef and Arpels Diamond Wedding Bracelet - Princess Grace of Monaco

Although their Principality may be famous for its Grand Prix, generous income tax laws and being the second smallest state in the world, the Princes of Monaco do not have a conventional collection of royal jewels unlike their dynastic counterparts throughout Europe.
Therefore, when she married Prince Rainier in 1956, the American actress Grace Kelly had to start her own jewellery collection from scratch. Prince Rainier’s mother, Princess Charlotte, did own several impressive pieces (such as her Cartier Pearl and Diamond Fringe Tiaras) but these were personal property and she was apparently unwilling to share with her new daughter in law.

Fortunately for Grace, she had received several impressive jewelled wedding presents to kick start the collection, including a beautiful Pearl and Diamond Parure from the French Jeweller, Van Cleef & Arpels,
two engagement rings and a Diamond and Ruby tiara from Cartier


In order to make up for causing a minor scandal, the National Council of Monaco purchased their new princess a 58 Carat Diamond Cartier Necklace and an intricate diamond bracelet from Van Cleef and Arpels.

Set in platinum, this beautiful bracelet contains Round Brilliant and Baguette Cut Diamonds set in an interlaced pattern with three large diamond elements interspersed throughout.


Keen to live up to the fairy-tale image, Princess Grace would wear her most impressive jewels during her early years to state events, such as when visiting the Vatican in 1957.

She would continue to wear her Diamond bracelet (along with her other Wedding presents) throughout her life, for both official and social events.


After her tragic death in 1982, Princess Grace’s jewellery became part of the ‘Palais Princier de Monaco Collection’.
This Collection encompasses not only jewels but fine art, furniture and Prince Rainier’s famous vintage cars. Princess Grace’s Jewels are often loaned out to exhibitions.

Grace Kelly's Van Cleef and Arpels Diamond Wedding Bracelet - Princess Grace of Monaco
Grace Kelly’s Van Cleef and Arpels Diamond Wedding Bracelet – Princess Grace of Monaco

The jewels are available for use by any member of the Grimaldi family but it has been Princess Caroline who has been the main wearer of her family’s pieces over the years.  From the time of her mother’s death in 1982 to her brother Albert’s marriage in 2011, Caroline was effectively Monaco’s first lady.
As such, she would wear her mother’s jewels when representing and promoting the Principality. In 1999, Princess Caroline married Prince Ernst August of Hanover, Duke of Brunswick. This marriage elevated Caroline from a Serene Highness (HSH) to a Royal Highness (HRH) and put her at the heart of the European Royal Society.
Ernst August is head of the House of Hanover which makes him related to all the major European royal families. Therefore, Caroline’s presence is required at high profile events where she will often wear elements of her mother’s jewellery collection.

Continuing the tradition, the younger Grimaldi’s have now begun to wear Princess Grace’s jewels.
At the annual Rose Ball in Monte Carlo in 2019, Tatiana Santo Domingo (wife of Grace’s grandson Andrea Casiraghi) wore the Diamond Bracelet along with Princess Grace’s anniversary earrings.

bookmark_borderPrincess Diana’s Sapphire Jewels

It is hard to remember Princess Diana without thinking about her magnificent collection of Sapphire jewellery. She was synonymous with the dark blue jewel from the moment she entered the public eye and over the years she managed to build a sumptuous collection featuring some outstanding pieces . Continue Reading…

bookmark_borderMonaco’s Royal Jewels – Grace Kelly’s Pearls

When she married Prince Rainier in 1956, the American actress Grace Kelly had to start her own jewellery collection from scratch. Fortunately for Grace, she had received several impressive jewelled wedding presents to kick start the collection including a beautiful Pearl and Diamond Parure from the French Jeweller, Van Cleef & Arpels. Continue Reading…

bookmark_borderThe Greek Royal Rubies

Worn by the Queens of the Hellenes (Greece), this beautifully delicate Ruby and Diamond Parure includes a Ruby Olive Wreath and Diamond tiara, a pair of Diamond and Ruby drop earrings, an impressive Diamond and Ruby necklace and two magnificent Diamond and Ruby brooches. Originating in Imperial Russia, it can still be seen at important Royal events today. Continue Reading…

bookmark_borderBalkan Royal Jewels – The Royal Emeralds of Yugoslavia

The jewels we know today as the Yugoslavian Emeralds actually started their journey at the Court of Imperial Russia. The gemstones were sent to the Imperial Court Jeweller (Bolin) who set them into the traditional headdress of the Russian court, the Kokoshnik. Bolin also created a matching necklace, earrings, brooch and stomacher. Continue Reading…


bookmark_borderBritish Royal Jewels – The Kent Festoon Tiara

The Kent Festoon Tiara has become one of the most recognisable jewels in the Kent Family collection and is still worn at important royal gatherings today. However its origins remain a mystery that continues to fascinate historians and jewellery lovers alike. Continue Reading…

bookmark_borderBritish Royal Jewels – The Kent Pearl Bandeau Tiara

In 1934, Princess Marina married George, Duke of Kent, Fourth Son of King George V of England.
As was tradition, she received many bejewelled gifts from both her family and her new in laws. Along with the Cambridge Sapphires and her Cartier Clips, she also received her mother’s Pearl Bandeau. Continue Reading…

bookmark_borderMonaco’s Royal Jewels – The Diamond Fringe Tiara Mystery

Although their Principality may be famous for its Grand Prix, generous income tax laws and being the second smallest state in the world, the Princes of Monaco do not have a conventional collection of royal jewels unlike their dynastic counterparts throughout Europe.
The Grimaldi’s may have ruled the principality since 1297, but before the American actress Grace Kelly enlarged the royal jewellery collection with her marriage to Prince Rainier in 1956, the next best thing were the personal jewels of Rainier’s mother, Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois.

Continue Reading…

bookmark_borderMonaco’s Royal Jewels – The Bains de Mer Tiara

For her marriage to Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956, the American actress Grace Kelly was gifted a number of bejewelled presents from her soon to be subjects. The most famous company in Monaco, The Société des Bains de Mer, decided to commission the illustrious French jeweller Cartier to make the new princess a tiara featuring the Monegasque national colours of Red and White.
Continue Reading…

bookmark_borderThe Kent Pearl Bandeau Tiara

This wonderfully delicate yet stunning tiara origins are a mystery. Made from Diamonds and Pearls, it can be worn as a tiara or necklace with a pair of matching earrings. The design features diamond snakes (the circles) guarding their eggs (the pearls in the middle).

The Kent Pearl Bandeau Tiara
The Kent Pearl Bandeau Tiara
The Grand Duchess Vladimir and Princess Nicolas of Greece (Elena Vladimirovna)

As with the Diamond Bow Brooch, most people like to think that this piece came from the legendary jewel collection of Grand Duchess Vladimir of Russia. When her only daughter, Elena (pictured) married Prince Nicolas of Greece in 1902, it has been assumed that the bandeau would have been part of her lavish wedding presents (which also included a Diamond Kokoshnik Tiara, made by Chaumet)

However, in my personal opinion, I don’t think this is the case. When you compare this piece to the other jewels of Imperial Russia it is small and delicate by comparison. The naturalistic snake motif was very common within the Art Nouveau movement of the early 20th Century and would explain why Elena was pictured wearing it in 1912.

Prince Nicolas and Elena had three daughters, Olga, Elizabeth and Marina. All three made suitable royal marriages and all three were to inherit elements of their mothers jewellery collection

In 1934, Princess Marina married George, Duke of Kent, Fourth Son of King George V of England.
As was tradition, she received many bejewelled gifts from both her family and her new in laws. Along with the Cambridge Sapphires and her Cartier Clips, she also received her mother’s Pearl Bandeau.

Known as ‘the Dazzling Pair’, Prince George and Princess Marina were the leaders of London High Society during the 30’s, giving Marina ample opportunity to wear the Bandeau to many glamorous events.

After Prince George’s tragic death in 1942, Marina was still a valued member of the extended Royal Family and would continue to serve the British people and the Monarchy at ceremonial events. When representing Queen Elizabeth II at the celebrations of Ghanaian Independence in 1957, Princess Marina chose to wear the Pearl Bandeau

The Kent Pearl Bandeau Tiara - Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent

Alongside her official duties, Marina would often attend many Royal gatherings across Europe.
She wore the bandeau at the Wedding Ball of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria and Countess Helene zu Törring-Jettenbach at Schloss Seefeld in Bavaria. In 1962, her close friend, Queen Juliana of the Netherlands celebrated her Silver wedding anniversary and Marina can be seen in the front row wearing the bandeau.

Her daughter, Princess Alexandra of Kent, borrowed heavily from her mothers jewellery collection before her marriage, with pieces such as the Bandeau and the Festoon Tiara. Princess Alexandra wore the pearl bandeau frequently during the 1960s

Sadly, The Kents were forced to sell several important pieces of jewellery to pay Princess Marina’s inheritance tax after she died in 1968. The tiara and earrings were photographed for Geoffrey Munn’s tiara book in 2002, but the piece was attributed merely to a “private collection.” 
 

Further Reading: