Sunday, October 11, 2009

Question from Vonya - Romanov royal jewels

I know this is not exactly about the Tudors, but I hope someone can help me with my question. I would really appreciate any information and/or assistance anyone can offer me.

Have all the Romanov royal jewels been found and/or accounted for? Is there any reliable record of the items in their possession when they were taken into custody? I realize this may be morbid, but were any jewels found with their remains? I've always found it troubling that several items known to have been owned by the Romanovs somehow showed up on other "royals" after their horrible deaths....I can't help wondering how those pieces survived when their former owners had been so brutally murdered.

Thank you so very much for your help.....

[I don't post very many off topic questions, but I thought there were a few people here who have researched the Romanovs who might be able to help? - Lara]


Jacque said...

The Romanovs are my favourite history topic after the Tudors and I must confess that I have been in love with the Romanov family for longer.

Concerning their jewels...I do not know about specific ones or where they are today -but I do know that they took about 8,000,000 pounds worth (in today's currency) with them when they went to Tobolsk. A further 8,000,000 pounds was found in Ekaterinburg. In Tobolsk the family gave pieces of their jewelry to trusted servants and some were smuggled out of Tobolsk to their supporters and to nuns at a nearby convent.

After Nicholas, Alexandra and Maria left Tobolsk, Olga, Tatiana and Anastasia, by their mother's bidding, sewed the jewels into the lining of their clothes so that the guards would not find them. When Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Alexei left Tobolsk to meet their parents and sister in Ekaterinburg they would have been wearing the jewels.

Some of the pieces were kept out in the open and on July 4, 1918 at Ipatiev House, Alexandra and the grand duchesses were forced to give up this jewelry they had kept publicly to Yurovsky. Nicholas also had to hand over some of his jewels, but they all were allowed to keep small pieces of little value. The guards knew that the Romanovs had brought many jewels with them, and this was an attempt to seize them, but they knew they were still hiding most of them, and they desperately wanted to find them.

On July 16, the last day of their lives, Alexandra made a reference in her diary to having "arranged the medicines" (medicines was their code word for jewels), which indicates they were still thinking they would be rescued.

Alexandra, Olga, Tatiana and Anastasia were wearing the jewels at the time of their deaths. Anna Demidova (Alexandra's maid who was murdered with them) was carrying a pillow with jewels sewn into them when she died -this pillow weighed about 17 pounds. This is partly why it was so hard for them to kill the grand duchesses and why they resorted to using bayonets on the younger girls.

After their deaths when the Bolsheviks were sorting through the family's private possessions, including their clothes, they found diamonds concealed beneath one of the grand duchess' belts, then re-checked all their other clothing and found many more jewels, even concealed in hatpins. They attempted to steal these jewels a short time after their murders while they were still wearing them, but Yurovsky (chief executioner) threatened to shoot anyone who did.

The men who removed the Romanovs' bodies from the mine in order to bury them found a few diamonds and other bits of jewelry that had escaped the guards' notice.

To the best of my knowledge, some of the jewels are lost, but others have survived and are shown in exhibitions or owned by other royals. A piece of Romanov jewelry is the Vladimir tiara which Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth currently owns and often wears -although this particular tiara did not belong to the immediate imperial family and it was smuggled out of Russia in 1917.

Diane said...

When the 1919 Sokolov investigation searched the Four Brothers site they found various pieces of jewelry, icons and personal items along with a human finger that was thought to be Alexandra's. They also found burnt bones.
The jewelry found on the bodies after the executions was collected by Yurovsky and (I think) sent to Moscow. All the Imperial possessions throughout the former Empire that were not stolen were confiscated by the government. Some were sold.

Anonymous said...

Greg King and Penny Wilson's book "The Fate of the Romanovs" John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2003 describes the last months of the Romanov's captivity and their murders in this detailed book. An appendix lists five pages of their jewels. The first entry describes a diamond brooch, 100 carats, valued at $5,868,000 in 2002 currency! Do read this book!

Marilyn R said...

If you haven’t already seen it do try to find a copy of Vincent Meylan’s “Queens’ Jewels”, a large coffee table book with many photos, which includes a chapter on the Romanovs. In Annex I at the back he lists the items found at the Four Brothers Mine and in Annex II the jewels of Nicholas’s mother sold by her daughters, some of which were bought by Queen Mary, who was later accused of cheating the sisters, although receipts published in the 1990’s appear to show that she paid the full asking prices.

There are pictures of some of Nicholas’s aunt the Grand Duchess Vladimir’s collection, rescued from St Petersburg by a British diplomat, including the famous emerald necklace bought by Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton and later broken up by Van Cleef & Arpels. As Jacque says, Queen Elizabeth II has the Vladimir tiara, purchased from the Grand Duchess’s children by her grandmother Queen Mary.

Meylan also mentions the hiding of over 150 items of the family’s private collection smuggled out to nuns in Tobolsk and found in 1933 by Soviet police. There is a photo of these online taken at the time, but they disappeared soon after it was taken.

The most impressive photo in the Romanov chapter in the book is a double page spread showing the royal jewels including the imperial crown and Alexandra’s famous pearl tiaras photographed in the early 1920’s; subsequently most of the pieces were sold off by the State.

Meylan also points out that many women around the world today could be wearing precious stones from the 19 pounds in weight that had been concealed about the bodies and in the little pillow, quite unaware of their gruesome history. Yurovski said after the most brutal of murders,

“The girls were wearing corsets stuffed with diamonds and other precious stones which, as well as concealing valuable objects protected their wearers. I would like to point out that no one is to blame for the long agony of the three grand duchesses who were wearing the said camisoles but themselves. All in all we discovered almost 19 pounds of jewellery...”

I wonder what was on the well-manicured finger Diane mentions that warranted it being severed.

Anonymous said...

When the Dowager Empress Maria Federovna escaped Russia, she had many of the royal jewels in her possession. It is my understanding that the British Monarchy, who refused to help her son and his family in leaving Russia, were able to rest many of the jewels from her possession once she was in exile. In other words, the House of Windsor stole many jewels from the House of Romanov and now count them as part of the collection they keep in the Tower of London. Though other royals houses may have taken some of the Dowager's jewels, especially upon her death, I find it most alarming that her own nephew was willing to condemn his own cousin to death and even more willing to benefit from his demise.

Nick Nicholson said...

In 1933, the "medicines" that Empress Alexandra Feodorovna arranged to have hidden in a women's monastery were discovered, catalogued, valued, photographed and returned to Moscow, never to be seen again. You can see the list at:

megayel said...

I think the jewels where bought by the Egyptian monarchy. ..part of queen nazlı 's fortune zat was lost in america