AMSTERDAM.- From 14 September 2019 until 15 March 2020, tens of thousands of precious gems will sparkle at the Hermitage Amsterdam. From agate to zirconium, almost every type of precious stone will be on display. They were turned into the most exquisite jewels and accessories, worn by Russian high society. Together with an abundance of richly decorated ball gowns, imperial costumes and majestic portraits, the jewels tell the personal stories and give a fascinating impression of over two centuries of fashion and jewellery. From Rococo, Empire and Romantic, to Art Nouveau.

Jewels! Glittering at the Russian court
The fabled collection of jewels forms one of the great treasuries of the State Hermitage in St Petersburg. The impressive collection has grown into an absolute treasure trove, with thousands of exquisite jewels. From this collection, over 300 breathtaking pieces are coming to the Netherlands this autumn for Jewels!. Visitors will meet flamboyant, powerful tsarinas such as Elizabeth and Catherine the Great, as well as later, fashion-conscious tsarinas, whose countless personal belongings are on display. One of the highlights is the flower bouquet made of precious gems (1740–50): Empress Elizabeth’s brooch made with over 400 brilliant-cut and over 450 rose-cut diamonds, as well as blue and yellow sapphires, rubies, topazes and emeralds. A showpiece like no other.

Catherine the Great’s personal jewellery box will also be on view. An inconceivably rich masterpiece weighing three kilos and littered with almost 400 colourful precious gems, including some real eye catchers: 26 rubies, 24 emeralds and various cameos. Anna Pavlovna also makes an appearance, the ‘Dutch’ Romanov, Queen of the Netherlands from 1840 to 1849. Glittering alongside the Romanovs are the extremely wealthy noble families of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, such as the Yusupov princes. Together they were (inter)national fashion trend setters, putting famous jewellery houses even more prominently on the map. Masterpieces by Cartier, Lalique, Tiffany and of course court jeweller Fabergé, will soon be on display in the exhibition.


Catherine the Great’s Jewel casket, Augsburg, late 17th century. Silver, gold, rubies, emeralds, agates, rock crystal, amethysts, turquoise (among others), 14.5 x 24.5 x 22.5 cm. © State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg


Star of the Russian Order of Saint Andrew, St Petersburg, c. 1800. Gold, silver, brilliant-cut and rose-cut diamonds, rubies, enamel, Ø 8.3 cm. © State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg


Flower bouquet of precious stones St Petersburg, Jérémie Pauzié, 1740-50. Gold, silver, brilliant-cut diamonds, various precious stones, glass, fabric, 14 x 12.5 cm. © State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg


Watch, France, Léonard Bordier, late 18th – early 19th century. Gold, silver, enamel, glass, pearls, Ø 5.4 cm.  © State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg


Hair pin, St Petersburg, 1770-90. Gold, silver, diamonds, steal, foil, 4 x 2.4 cm. © State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg



Snuffbox, Potsdam, jewelers of Frederick the Great, c. 1770. Agate, gold, brilliant-cut diamonds, rubies, nephrite, 4.3 x 10.3 x 7.7 cm. © State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

A glittering dream world at the Hermitage
Designer Carlo Wijnands is creating a spectacular exhibition design inspired by precious gems’ flickering play of light and colour and by the monumental St Petersburg. Visitors to the Great Hall are welcomed into a dream world. A bewitching ‘ball room’ filled with the personal jewels of the Romanovs and colourful Russian aristocrats, surrounded by their majestic costumes and ball gowns. Visitors come face to face with their portraits. Following the grandeur of this hall is, just as after a Russian ball of yesteryear, a peek into the intimate treasury, with the most lavish jewels that the State Hermitage has to offer. Visitors then follow a route past various scenes including the boudoir, the princes and princesses, weddings, the dandy world and eroticism. Mysterious, mischievous jewellery with hidden symbolism is right at home in this world. After all, a little jewel can hide secrets about impassioned love affairs and forbidden love. These secrets – and more – will soon be revealed in Jewels!.


Louis Caravaque, Portrait of Grand Duchess Elizabeth, 1725-30© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.


Johan Baptist Lampi I, Portrait of Catherine the Great, 1794© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.


Ivan Kramskoy, Portrait of Empress Maria Feodorovna, 1881© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.


Nikolaj Bogdanov-Belski, Portrait of Prince Konstantin Gortsjakov, late 19th-early 20th century© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.


Nikolaj Bogdanov-Belski, Portrait of Princess Maria AbamelekLazareva, 1900-01© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.