Mecklenburg-Schwerin Fabergé Aquamarine Tiara

Today marks the 140th Anniversary of the Birth of Princess Alexandra of Hanover, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who was born on this day in 1882! The Hanoverian Princess who became the last Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who was closely linked to the Danish and Prussian Royal Families, Grand Duchess Alexandra possessed some spectacular jewels, the most promninanto of which is this Fabergé Aquamarine and Diamond Tiara!

But first, lets learn about Grand Duchess Alexandra! The daughter of Ernest Augustus, Crown Prince of Hanover and Princess Thyra of Denmark, Princess Alexandra of Hanover grew up at Schloss Cumberland in Gmunden, since the family had lost their throne when Prussia annexed Hanover in 1866. In 1904, she married Grand Duke Frederick Francis IV of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, son of Grand Duke Frederick Francis III of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia and brother of Queen Alexandrine of Denmark and Crown Princess Cecilie of Prussia, with the couple having five children. The Grand Duke lost his Throne at the end of the First World War, and after living in Denmark for a period, the family returned to Germany where they retained their properties and much of their wealth, attending Royal Events around Europe.

However, after the Second World War, the Grand Duke passed away just days after being arrested by the RAF, while their second son, who had been managing Schloss Ludwigslust and properties in the Soviet occupied zone was imprisoned in Russia until 1953. The Grand Duchess resided at Schloss Glücksburg, which had been looted by British troops while the family was held at gunpoint, and remained close to the Danish, Greek, Prussian, Hanoverian, and Hesse Royal Families, as the aunt of King Frederik IX of Denmark, Queen Frederica of Greece, Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, and Prince Ernest Augustus of Hanover, until her death in 1963.

Composed of nine pear-shaped Aquamarines set in cupid’s arrows on a base of diamond forget-me-knots and ribbons, this Tiara was commissioned by Grand Duke Frederick Francis IV of Mecklenburg-Schwerin from the famed Russian jewellery house Fabergé, with a leading role in the purchase taken by his mother, Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna.

The Tiara was delivered to Schwerin shortly after the Wedding of Grand Duke Frederick Francis IV to Princess Alexandra of Hanover in June 1904, and worn the following month for a grand Court Ball at the Palace in Schwerin the following month, as well as a series of official portraits. 

While the Grand Duke lost his Throne after the First World War, the family retained their properties and much of their wealth, as well as the Fabergé Aquamarine Tiara, which, due to the close ties through her sister-in-law, Queen Alexandrine of Denmark, was worn for the Wedding Gala of her nephew, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, and Princess Ingrid of Sweden in 1935 as well as for King Christian X’s Silver Jubilee Celebrations in 1937 and the Wedding Gala of Crown Prince Paul of Greece and Princess Frederica of Hanover in 1938.

The family did not fare as well during the Second World War, and lost most of their properties, but Grand Duchess Alexandra remained active in royal circles, and notably wore the Fabergé Aquamarine Tiara for King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid’s Silver Anniversary Banquet in 1960. 

After Grand Duchess Alexandra’s death in 1963, the Tiara was inherited by her children, and worn by her youngest daughter, Duchess Anastasia, married to Prince Friedrich Ferdinand of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, in the 1970s, remaining in the family until 2019. 

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The Fabergé Aquamarine Tiara came up for auction at the Christies’ Magnificent Jewels Sale in Geneva in May 2019, selling for CHF 1,035,000, much higher than the estimate of CHF 230,000 – CHF 340,00. In an interesting coincidence the Fabergé Tiara belonging to Crown Princess Cecilie of Prussia, Grand Duchess Alexandra’s sister-in-law, was sold the following day. 


The Tiara was bought by Fabergé collectors Dorothy and Artie McFerrin and is on permanent display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, though it was loaned to the ‘Fabergé in London: Romance to Revolution’ Exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London from November 2021 to May 2022. 



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