Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach Sapphire Tiara

Today marks the 50th Anniversary of the Death of Princess Feodora, Grand Duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, who died on this day in 1972! The Saxe-Meiningen Princess who became the unhappy last Grand Duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, Princess Feodora possessed a spectacular Jewellery Collection, the most splendid piece among which was the Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, Sapphire Parure!


But first, lets learn about Princess Feodora, Grand Duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach! The daughter of of Prince Friedrich Johann of Saxe-Meiningen, a son of Duke Georg II of Saxe-Meiningen, and Countess Adelaide of Lippe-Biesterfeld, daughter of Ernst, Count of Lippe-Biesterfeld, Princess Feodora was urged by her kinsman Kaiser Wilhelm II to marry the widowed Wilhelm Ernst, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, though he later boycotted the wedding. The couple had four children; three sons and one daughter. The grand Duke’s first wedding had ended after eighteen months when his wife reportedly committed suicide and his second marriage was also quite unhappy, in the stifling environment of the Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach Court, said to be the most strict and formal in Germany, with Weimar called ‘the dreariest capital in Europe.’ After the Abolition of the German Monarchies, the Grand Ducal Family fled to their Heinrichau Estate in Silesia, where he passed away in 1923. The Grand Duchess remained active in social life and charitable interests, through which she remained popular in Weimar. The Grand Ducal Family had to flee to the western occupation zones after the Second World War, when their Silesian property was confiscated in the Soviet occupation zone. The Grand Duchess passed away in Freiburg im Breisgau in 1972.


This splendid Sapphire Parure was composed of thirteen pieces, consisting of a Tiara, two necklaces, bracelets, brooches, and various clusters and pendants, made by Court Jeweller Duval in St Petersburg, The elaborate Tiara of sapphires and diamonds was drawn by Duval around 1825 and features a unique crescent-shaped cabochon sapphire in the centre. The Parure was created for Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia, who married Hereditary Grand Duke Karl-Friedrich of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach in 1804, among a series of spectacular jewels in her trousseau, which also included Ruby, Emerald, Diamond, Pearl and Amethyst Parures. The massive Necklace of the Sapphire Parure is similar to the Sapphire Necklace of Queen Isabella II of Spain, which was sold at auction in the 1870s, and may have been acquired by the Grand Ducal Family.


The Sapphire Tiara and Parure were not publicly pictured on any of the Grand Duchesses, until being worn by Princess Feodora for a series of portraits soon after her wedding to the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach in 1910. There were portraits taken with both the ‘smaller’ necklace and also the larger necklace in separate portraits.


The Tiara remained with the Grand Ducal Family after the abolition of the Monarchy, being worn by the Grand Duchess for the Wedding of her daughter, Princess Sophie Luise, to the Prince of Schwarzburg-Rudolfstadt in 1938, when both necklaces were worn.


It is generally believed that the Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach Sapphire Parure was lost during  chaos after the Second World War, when the family estate was in the Soviet Occupied Zone. Before the family left, all their jewels were laid out and photographed on a 6 meter table, completely covered with jewels. It is believed that they were hidden on the estate when the family fled, but the people tasked with brining the jewels eventually betrayed them and they were lost. However, since the necklace of Queen Isabella II was sold in the 1980s, and some jewels have remained with the family, including a Tiara and some jewels sold at Christies in 2017, there might be a some pieces of the Sapphire Parure that remain with the Grand Duchess’ descendants.


Royal Magazin | RJWMB

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