Diamond Fund of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Diamond Fund of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

 

a collection consisting of precious stones and jewelry of great historical, artistic, and material value and also unique gold and platinum nuggets.

The origin of the Diamond Fund of the USSR dates from the reign of Peter I when a ukase was promulgated on “Things belonging to the state.” The collection initially contained the symbols of state power: the orb, the scepter, and the crown. In the mid-18th century, the collection was placed in the so-called Diamond Room in the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg; it was moved to Moscow at the beginning of World War I (1914). The Diamond Fund of the RSFSR was founded in 1922; in the same year its first scholarly description was made under the guidance of the Soviet scholar A. E. Fersman. In 1924, this collection was renamed the Diamond Fund of the USSR.

Among the most famous 18th- and 19th-century works of art in the Diamond Fund of the USSR are seven so-called pure stones which are unequaled in the collections of other countries of the world: the well-known diamonds Orlov (189.62 carats), embedded in a scepter, and Shakh (88.7 carats); the world’s largest cut sapphire (258.8 carats), in a brooch; a very large emerald (136.25 carats) of a rare pure green color, also in a brooch; the largest flat (portrait) diamond (area 7.5 sq cm), mounted in a gold bracelet; the world’s largest crysolite (192.6 carats); and a dark red spinel (398.72 carats) decorating the large emperor’s crown made by the jeweler J. Pauzie in 1762.

During the years of Soviet power the fund has been greatly increased by large crystals from the Mir diamond mine in the Yakut ASSR; these include Mariia (105.98 carats), Chekist (95.0 carats), Oktiabr’skii (68.47 carats), Valentina Teresh-kova (51.66 carats), and Komsomol’skii (48.48 carats). Among the gold nuggets the most interesting is the smallest, Mefistofel’ (20.25 grams), marvelously carved by nature, and the biggest of the world’s preserved nuggets, Bol’shoi Treugol’nik (36 kilograms), which was found in 1842 in the Urals.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Soviet rule, a continuous exhibit of the Diamond Fund of the USSR has been opened in the Moscow Kremlin.

REFERENCES

Almaznyi fond SSSR, vols. 1–4. Moscow, 1924–25.
Sokrovishcha Almaznogo fonda SSSR. (Album.) Moscow, 1967.

E. S. OSIPOVA

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.