The Moscow Kremlin is the site of several world-famous museums attracting numerous visitors. One of them is the Diamond Fund exhibition, a unique collection of precious stones and masterpieces of jewelers’ art. It was founded by Tsar Peter the Great as the storage of state insignia and ceremonial jewelry of the Tsar’s family. Tsar Peter’s decree of 1719 declared them Russian national treasures. Peter the Great also founded the Diamond Mill in Peterhof, a St.Petersburg suburb, to polish precious stones.
The development of the Russian mining industry in the Urals in the 18th century was accompanied by a growing interest in Russian gems. Diamonds and other precious stones were mounted in the coronation regalia, that is, crowns, scepters, and orbs. They adorned The Big Imperial CrownRussian state awards and valuable weapons.
When preparing for coronation in 1762, Catherine the Great ordered a Big Imperial Crown. The gold-and-silver crown made by a court jeweler Jeremiah Posier is decorated with almost five thousand diamonds – large and small – and 75 perfectly round, even-shaped large pearls. Posier achieved a harmonious combination of magnificent diamonds and white-pink pearls enhancing the stateliness and majesty of the crown’s design. A huge ruby-red spinel crowned with a diamond cross was placed on its top. The Russian Imperial Crown, weighing almost 400 carats – the most expensive in the world — is one of the seven historic gems of the Diamond Fund exhibition.
On display in the Diamond Fund is the world-famous Orlov diamond, the best known in Russia in the 18th century. This bluish-greenish crystal of the first-class clarity is cut in the shape of a rose with a great number of small facets arranged in layers. The Orlov diamond is believed to have been found in India where, according to a legend, it had served as the eye of an idol in a Brahman temple until the beginning of the 18th century, when it was stolen. In 1774, it was bought by Count Grigory Orlov who presented it to Empress Catherine the Great. Since that time the Orlov diamond has adorned the gold scepter of Russian Emperors.
Another historic gem of the Diamond Fund exhibition is the Shah, another Indian diamond found in the 16th century. Its perfect shape was created by nature, and only some of its facets were slightly polished. This is a transparent gem with a slight yellow tint. Engraved on three of its facets are the names of the three rulers who, in turn, possessed it. In the 17th century, the diamond adorned the throne of the TiaraMughal Empire as a talisman. When Shah Nadir conquered Delhi in 1739, he took the stone away with him to Persia. Ninety years later, the diamond was presented to Russian Emperor Nicholas I by the Shah of Persia “in atonement” for the assassination of Russian Ambassador in Tehran, a noted diplomat and poet Alexander Griboyedov.
In 1922, the Diamond Fund was set apart from the state repository later to become a separate exposition. The Kremlin’s Diamond Fund exhibition was opened to the public in 1967 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Soviet state. Initially, the collection was to be on display for a year. However, considering immense interest in it and a vast number of visitors, it was decided to make the exhibition permanent.
Today the Diamond Fund exposition is housed on the ground floor of the Kremlin’s Armory Chamber. On display in the first of its two halls are Russian diamonds, a rare collection of gold and platinum nuggets, and also Russian-made jewelry. The largest diamonds found in this country include some remarkable specimens named after notable events or personalities, such as the Star of Yakutia, the Great Beginning, and the Yuri Gagarin diamonds.
The Camel gold nuggetA large showcase demonstrates a collection of platinum and gold nuggets of rare weight, quality and shape, among them the Big Triangle nugget, the largest in the world, weighing over 36 kilos, and some fantastically-shaped ones, like, for example, “Hare’s Ears”, “Horse’s Head”, and “Camel”. On display at the Diamond Fund are also famous Russian semi-precious stones – a rare and very colorful collection of magnificent emeralds, sapphires, amethysts, and topazes.
The earliest jewelry on display dates back to the middle of the 18th century and includes exquisite posy-pins, flower-shaped ear-rings, and a diadem fashioned as a garland. The Diamond Fund also displays pre-revolutionary Russian and foreign orders, the most famous being the Order of St.Andrew the First Called richly adorned with diamonds.
Source:The Voice of Russia