Russia’s Treasure of Diamonds and Precious Stones 





Large format 8-1/2″ x 11″ hard cover and paperback editions, 206 pages + 100 black & white photos

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This is the first time that the original 1925 four-part folio, has been published in book format – both hard cover and paperback editions – a facsimile of the copy from the private collection of Paul Gilbert.

The spectacular gem and jewellery collection of the Romanov dynasty is documented in Russia’s Treasure of Diamonds and Precious Stones, documenting Russia’s regalia and crown jewels at the time of the overthrow of the tsarist government in 1917.

Published in 1925-26 by the Bolshevik government, the catalogue project was overseen by noted mineralogist Alexander Evgenevich Fersman (1883-1945), with the help of specialists, experts and jewellers including Agathon Fabergé from the House of Fabergé.

Of the 406 separate pieces in the treasure, 110 are documented as having come from the reign of Catherine II (1762-1796) and her son Paul I (1796-1801). The treasure is comprised of the Imperial Sceptre set with the approximately 190 carat (ct) Orlov diamond, the Imperial Globe set with an approximately 200 ct Ceylon (Sri Lanka) sapphire, the Great Imperial Crown featuring an approximately 402 ct spinel, the Imperial Nuptial Crown, chains, stars, crosses, emblems, diadems, necklaces, brooches, rings, earrings, as well as loose diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, rubies, spinels, pearls and alexandrites.

PHOTO: Russia’s Treasure of Diamonds and Precious Stones was originally published as a four-part folio in 1925. It is now available in a book format [both hardcover and paperback editions] for the very first time

The Fersman catalogue states that the jewels, considered national property, would never be “sold or done away with.” Because the new Soviet Union desperately needed capitol, however, copies of the catalogue were sent to potential jewellery buyers anyway. Although the treasure was later removed from the market, some of the pieces were sold to a syndicate and eventually wound up at auction at Christie’s London on March 16, 1927. The majority of the collection remains in Russia at the Kremlin Diamond Fund in Moscow.

Only 350 copies of the catalogue were printed in three languages: Russian, French and English, copies of which are highly sought after by collectors. At least 20 copies of the English language catalogue are known to exist today. As such, it is an exceedingly rare work in any of the three languages, and much desired by gemologists, jewellers, historians and collectors of books about the Romanovs.

Every now and then a copy has been offered by one of the auction houses, selling for up to tens of thousands of dollars. For instance: a copy in 2011 for £42,000 GBP [$56,000 USD]; in 2018 for $8,260 USD; in 2019 for £25,000 GBP [$33,500 USD].

I am pleased to present the original 1925 four-part folio in a book format for the very first time, a facsimile of the copy from my own private collection, and at a price which is affordable for all.

© Paul Gilbert. 3 January 2022