GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 254-7
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


TOZER, Rose, JONATHAN, Cathleen, DIRLAM, Dona Mary, RUCINSKI, Paula and OSTRYE, Sarah, Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library and Information Center, Gemological Institute of America (GIA), The Robert Mouawad Campus, 5345 Armada Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008,

One of the rarest and most interesting works in the GIA Library’s rare book collection is Russia's Treasure of Diamonds and Precious Stonesedited by A. E. Fersman, the noted Russian mineralogist. It is one of very few surviving catalogs that document Russia's regalia and crown jewels at the time of the overthrow of the tsarist government after the February Revolution of 1917. In 1922, the treasure was inventoried and photographed in a project overseen by Fersman with help from experts and jewelers including Agathon Fabergé, son of Carl, from the House of Fabergé.

Published in 1925 by the Bolshevik government, it was printed in three languages: Russian, French and English. One hundred black and white images illustrate many of these historically significant items. Of the 350 catalogs printed, fewer than 20 copies are known to exist today. Through the GIA Library’s digitization project, this important work is now available online to view and download for free on Internet Archive (

Russia's Treasure of Diamonds and Precious Stonesdocuments the spectacular collection acquired by the Romanov dynasty over a span of 228 years. Of the 406 separate pieces of jewelry in the treasure, 269 pieces were documented as having come from a particular Romanov reign. The jewels documented in this catalog date from Peter I, better known as Peter the Great, who reigned from 1689 to 1725 through Nicholas II who reigned from 1894 to 1917.

The treasure includes regalia such as the Imperial Sceptre set with the 189 carat Orlov diamond, the Imperial Globe set with a 200 carat sapphire, the Great Imperial Crown, the Imperial Nuptial Crown, plus another small crown, chains, stars, crosses, emblems, diadems, necklaces, brooches, rings, earrings, and other items set with diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, rubies, spinels, pearls, alexandrites, and other gemstones.

Despite statements in the catalog that the pieces would never be sold, it was used as a sales catalog that was sent to potential buyers. Although the treasure was removed from the market, some of the pieces were sold to a syndicate and subsequently put up for sale at Christie’s London 16 March 1927. Most of the collection still remains in Russia in the Diamond Fund at the Moscow Kremlin.