Russian jewellery began to form its own individual styling back in the 10th century. Although it was greatly influenced by the Byzantine era, at that stage it began to form a definite character of its own. Metal had been in use for many centuries and about now Russian jewellers began adding filigree work to various items. Embossing and chasing were used for decorating the pieces as well as cloisonne enamelling, niello, and granulated gold.
The jewellery made included articles of necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, buckles for belts, and filigree buttons. Some of them had pagan motifs and in others, there were found Oriental and Norse influences.
Kiev acknowledged as jewellery centre
From the 11th till the 14th century Kiev thrived as a manufacturing city for fine jewellery making. This was particularly evident with high-quality cloisonne enamelware made for necklaces and pendants, which often contained religious motifs.
Later, Novgorod overtook Kiev and during the 15th century, it was moved to Moscow. The range began to expand to include jewelled covers for secular books and gold and silver covers for icons.
With the passing of time and the start of the 18th century Russian jewellery began to appear with beautiful gemstones. Some of the items made containing several different coloured gems to be incorporated into an individual piece.
Lavish Jewels for the Royal Court
Catherine the Great introduced extravagant Western-styled pieces of handmade jewellery for wearing at the Royal Court. For her coronation in 1762, she wore a spectacular oval brilliant diamond weighing 51 carats, given to her by Grigori Potemkin. Later it became known as the Eugenie diamond or Potemkin diamond. This was due to Napoleon lll buying and setting it in a necklace as a wedding gift for his bride, Empress Eugenie. Hence the two names for it.
Russian jewellery reached its peak with the artistic intricate work produced by Carl Faberge. His imaginative creations in gold, enamelling, and gemstones, became world-renowned. He is best remembered for his fantastic array of jewelled eggs made for the Tsar to give the Tsarina as Easter gifts.
He accomplished receiving international recognition at the Paris Exposition in 1900. This assured his making jewellery not only for the Russian Court, but also for Edward Vll, and various other members of Royalty. He specialized in the various use of enamels and metals of different colours in Art Nouveau style.