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Historical images of lost Russian royal jewels rediscovered

Published time: December 19, 2012 10:41
Edited time: December 19, 2012 14:41
Russian Crown Jewels from the USGS Library (image from

Russian Crown Jewels from the USGS Library (image from

Four unique photos of undocumented Russian Crown Jewels have been discovered in the Geological Survey Library in America. The images are featured in the 1922 “Russian Diamond Fund” album uncovered in the library’s rare book collection.

­The four pieces are a sapphire and diamond tiara, a sapphire bracelet, an emerald necklace, and a sapphire brooch in the shape of a bow.

According to researchers, the sapphire brooch was sold in London in 1927, while the fate of the other three pieces is still a mystery.  

The pictures were originally part of the personal collection of George F. Kunz, a gemmologist and employee of the United States Geological Survey and Tiffany & Co, the USGS scientific agency’s website reported.

What makes the newly discovered photos so special is that they are not included in the official documentation of the Russian Crown Jewels,

“Russia’s Treasure of Diamonds and Precious Stones,” published in 1925 and considered the most complete inventory of the Russian Crown Jewels.

Russian Crown Jewels from the USGS Library (image from
Russian Crown Jewels from the USGS Library (image from

“These images are unique representations of a bygone era taken at a key moment for Russia, buried in quiet bookshelves for almost a hundred years, then rediscovered to add one more tiny but important part to the infinite puzzle of history,” USGS librarian Jenna Nolt explained.
USGS librarians are trying to trace their history with assistance from experts from across the world.

“The USGS has preserved this collection in obscurity for over 75 years, and now that it’s been discovered, we’re excited to share this material with the world to support research and understanding of these rare materials today,” USGS Library Director Richard Huffine said.

Russian Crown Jewels from the USGS Library (image from
Russian Crown Jewels from the USGS Library (image from

“Russia’s Treasure of Diamonds and Precious Stones” was published as the inventory of the Romanov jewels. Although its copy at the USGS Library is missing two plates, it appears to be in excellent condition. In 2007, a different copy of “Russia’s Treasure of Diamonds and Precious Stones” sold at a Christie’s auction for over $141,000.

Meanwhile, the album “Russian Diamond Fund” is believed to be the only copy in existence.


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