Diamond Fund
Russia's State Diamond Fund is home to Russia's most important, and most impressive, treasures. Royal regalia, huge gems, and exquisite jewelry reside at the Kremlin.
Russia’s State Diamond Fund is essentially the depository into which Russia’s greatest treasures are kept. It was founded by Peter the Great in 1719 in order to maintain Russia’s crown jewels as property of the Russian state, rather than by ruling families themselves. The Russian State Diamond Fund works as a treasury, but its historical intent held the monarchs of Russia responsible for the contents of the Fund – the jewels, precious gems, and precious metals contained therein were not to be sold, given away, or modified, and each royal ruler was to leave a percentage of their acquisitions to the Fund (Nicholson, n.p.).
The Diamond Fund was originally housed in St. Petersburg, in the Diamond Chamber, which was a secure room located in the Winter Palace. Today, these jewels and gems reside at the Moscow Kremlin. Some of the items in the State Diamond Fund are on display at the Armory Museum. Many of the most historically important royal regalia come from Peter the Great’s donation to the Fund, including the Crown of Monomakh.
The Russian State Diamond Fund is also where the Imperial Crown of Russia is located, which was worn by Catherine the Great and succeeding Russian Rulers. This includes an impressive red spinel and almost five-thousand diamonds. The Imperial Sceptre, also from Catherine the Great’s reign, displays the Orlov Diamond, which weighs over 189 carats. The history behind the Orlov Diamond is muddy, but it seems to have come into Catherine’s possession by way of Count Orlov, who may have been Catherine’s lover and purchased the diamond as a gift, or who may have simply facilitated the purchase by Catherine and subsequent transfer of the diamond.
Other significant holdings of the Diamond Fund include Faberge Eggs, the Shah Diamond, a sapphire weighing over 260 carats, and numerous pieces of jewelry collected and worn by Russian royals.
The collection was moved from St. Petersburg to Moscow in 1914, before the onset of WWI. The items were locked away until the late 1920’s, when the collection was opened and catalogued. Some pieces were sold, and others may have found their way out of the Fund by other means. Today, a significant portion of the State Diamond Fund can be seen by the public, and some items have even been lent to museums and exhibitions outside of Russia. Unfortunately, the fate of those items once held in the Diamond Fund is largely unknown.
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