Jewel of the Month

The Seal of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich- a gold and imperial topaz seal by Fabergé

The seal of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich.  Image KREMLIN MUSEUM

The seal of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich. Image KREMLIN MUSEUM

A piece belonging to Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia, this is one of the few surviving pieces from the Grand Duke’s massive art and objets d’art collection. Made by Fabergé master W. Reimer in 1898, this seal can be considered both an objet d’art and jewel as it is constructed entirely from fine gold and gem quality topaz. Its golden handle depicts a tiny replica of the Russian Imperial crown, which is attached to the large oval topaz by two scrolling gold ‘ribbons’ and a pair of gold screws. The topaz is chequerboard faceted on the sides and bezel cut on the bottom where there is an engraving of the royal emblem of Moscow: a shield with St. George slaying a dragon below the imperial crown, with a double-headed eagle on either side. One side of the stone bears the engraving of the word ‘Ilyinsky’ and other features the Grand Duke’s initials under the Imperial crown.

Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, late 19th century (approxiately 1880s). Image GETTY IMAGES

Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, late 19th century (approxiately 1880s).
Image GETTY IMAGES

Not much information is available on this particular piece, including information on how it survived the Russian Revolution and both World Wars, or who it belongs to now. It currently sits out of sight, either belonging to the state or a private individual, and was most likely a piece of palace property seized by the state during the 1917 revolution. The seal was most likely appropriated from the Winter Palace, one of the Tsar’s family residences, since as an official object of state it would have been returned from the Grand Duke’s official residence after his death.

Grand Duke Sergei and his wife Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (formerly Princess Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine), 1890s.  Recoloured image CHEDDERBAY.COM/ROYALTEA, original image WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.

Grand Duke Sergei and his wife Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (formerly Princess Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine), 1890s. Recoloured image CHEDDERBAY.COM/ROYALTEA, original image WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.

The seal remained out of the public eye until 2012, when it was displayed in an exhibition celebrating the work of Fabergé and other Russian jewel masters at the Kremlin Museum in Moscow. It has since disappeared again.

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