DescriptionRare Russian Imperial Diamond Maid of Honor Decoration
By Karl Hahn, 1896-1911, unsigned, with inventory number
Designed as the conjoined initials M A for Dowager Empress Maria Fedorovna and Empress Alexandra Fedorovna, below a Romanov Crown set with diamonds, the scrolling terminals set with sapphires
Karl Hahn, Jeweler to the Imperial Court
Like Fabergé, Hahn was an important supplier to the Russian Imperial Court who also had the title of Court Jeweler. Based in St. Petersburg, the firm specialized in Court commissions: diamond orders and decorations, portrait badges, snuffboxes, jewels, and objets d'art. The firm closed in 1911.
Recipients of these diamond ciphers were young unmarried women of aristocratic background personally chosen by both the Empress and Dowager Empress. The decorations were worn on specific ceremonial occasions with a court dress in the traditional Old Russian style. The dress was of white silk weighted by a gold and red velvet train complete with kokoshnik diadem of red velvet embroidered with gold. The ciphers were then pinned to the left shoulder on a St. Andrew's sash of pale blue moiré silk. Once married, the demoiselles des Imperatrices would renounce their positions as Maids of Honor, but would be allowed to keep their diamond decorations.
With special thanks to Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm for the above information.
Jointly presented by the Dowager Empress Maria Fedorovna and Empress Alexandra, wife of Emperor Nicholas II to a selected Maid of Honor.
Purchased from Marie E. Betteley, New York
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