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The Diamond Fund Museum in Moscow

The Diamond Fund Museum in Moscow

Diamond FundRussian: Алмазный фонд (also known as Almazny Fond) of the Moscow Kremlin is one of the most visited museums in Moscow. In the end, everyone—regardless of age, gender or interests—would like to see a piece of fairytale! When you hear the words ‘diamond fund’, you probably imagine piles of loose diamonds, glittering and shining, a real cave of Ali-Baba! Indeed, there are natural diamonds and nuggets of precious metals in the Diamond Fund. The core of the collection is comprised of strikingly beautiful jewellery from various historic periods, of which the Imperial Crown of Russiait was used by the Emperors of Russia until the monarchy's abolition in 1917 is considered to be the gem. Military awards and numerous imperial regalia are also on display. The precious items of the collection allow visitors to trace Russia’s evolution history as far as 300 years back. The Diamond Fund is perhaps the most ‘expensive’ museum in Russia, in terms of both the uniqueness and the material value of its collection.

The Russian Diamond Fund is guarded by the Federal Guard ServiceRussian: Federalnaya sluzhba okhrany or Федеральная служба охраны, which also guards the President of Russia. The admission hours of the Diamond Fund’s exhibition are divided into 20-minute-long sessions. The number of visitors admitted per session is limited. It is better to buy tickets from the Kremlin’s ticket office in Alexander Garden during the morning hours: in summertime or holiday periods, tickets for the same day can be sold out very quickly. It is not permitted to take photos in the Diamond Fund.

If the Russian history is a subject of your interest and you want to know, for example, what is the oldest church in Moscow, what are the famous monasteries around Moscow, which style of Moscow architecture you can see only in this town, you can read on our website pages about Kremlin Moscow and “History and Architecture”.

The origins and history of museum

ex2_image2_sThe history of the Kremlin’s Diamond Fund dates back to the 18th century, namely to the 1719 decree of Peter the Greatruled from 1682 until 1725. From the dawn of time, the state treasury had possessed lots of treasures that had to be guarded especially well. Peter the Great ordered an inventory of all the valuables to be made and to provide a room where such valuables would be safely stored and guarded at all times. This room came to be called the Diamond Room.

A lot of magnificent jewellery was created in the 18th century. Russia’s rulers of that time were mostly women: for that reason, probably, it was jewellery that demonstrated social status and was an attribute of power. The Imperial Court of Empress Elizabeth Ithe Empress of Russia from 1741 until 1761 was the first to demonstrate particularly extravagant luxury and splendour—a trend continued by Catherine the GreatEmpress of Russia from 1762 until 1796. Under her rule, the Diamond RoomRussian: Brilliantovaya komnata or Бриллиантовая комната actually moved to the grand bedroom of the Empress.

A number of world-famous jewellers lived and worked in Russia at that time, including Jérémie Pauzié, the Duval dynasty, and Georg Friedrich Ekart. They created masterpieces of jewellery that were valuable not only for the abundance of precious stones and metals in them but also for the exceptional delicacy of workmanship.
Another important part of the Diamond Fund collection came down to us from Catherine the Great’s era. The enlightened Empress took an interest in sciences, including mineral science. As a result, an incredibly rich collection of minerals collected personally by Catherine was added to the Fund.

Another important part of the Diamond Fund collection came down to us from Catherine the Great’s era. The enlightened Empress took an interest in sciences, including mineral science. As a result, an incredibly rich collection of minerals collected personally by Catherine was added to the Fund.

Держава и скипетрAll members of the Romanov dynastythe second dynasty to rule Russia, reigning from 1613 until 1917 understood the exceptional value of the imperial jewellery collection. Therefore, it remained intact even through the most difficult times for the country, up until the Soviet era. At the beginning of World War I, as the frontline was moving closer to St. Petersburg, the collection was transferred to Moscow, where it was placed in the Crown Hall Russian: Koronnyi zal or Коронный залof the Kremlin ArmouryRussian: Oruzheynaya palata or Оружейная палата. Unfortunately, the ascension of the Bolsheviks to power in 1917 was fatal for the collection of imperial treasures. Just as beautiful artwork associated with royal power had been destroyed during the French Revolution, imperial jewels in Soviet Russia were also associated with tsarism, and only scientists cared about their cultural and historical value. Soon, many diamonds and works of art from the Russian funds were sold in private auctions to foreign collectors at prices incredibly inconsistent with the actual value of the masterpieces. The best-known Diamond Fund exhibits that have been sold or lost include the Russian Beauty Diadem, the Georgian Crown, a dozen Fabergé Easter eggs, a diamond insignia of the Order of The Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called, and one of the minor imperial crowns.

The 1950s saw a new era in the life of the Diamond Fund. The country had made a step forward in developing natural resources, and the first diamond pipe (an open pit diamond mine) was discovered in 1954, which was followed by the discovery of several more diamond deposits in Yakutiaa federal subject of Russia (a republic). The State Repository began to receive the most significant diamond samples. At the same time, the collection of the Diamond Fund began growing with the addition of new items that symbolised the Soviet mining industry and the mastery of craftsmen. A temporary exhibition of the Diamond Fund was opened in the Moscow Kremlin Armoury Chamber in 1967 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Soviet State. The leaders of the country were going to return the exhibits back to the State Repository a year later, but the exhibition became a major cultural event on a global scale, so it was eventually decided to make it permanent. A jewellery laboratory opened a bit later which restored the Major and Minor Imperial Crowns, reconstructed the lost Russian Beauty Diadem and other jewels. At present, all stones heavier than 50 carats go straight to the treasury. The largest diamond kept in the Diamond Fund weighs as much as 342 carats!

The PERMANENT EXHIBITION

The Diamond Fund’s permanent exhibition is presented in two relatively small rooms of the Armoury Chamber, divided into seven themed halls. The first one features loose precious stones and metal nuggets, along with some modern jewellery. Emeralds are worth a special mention: because they are so rare, they have now become almost as valuable as diamonds. There is also a collection of gems from the Urals. The beauty of these rocks, although they are only semi-precious, draws visitor’s attention.

The central diex4_image4_ssplay case of the hall contains nuggets of gold and platinum. The Diamond Fund’s nugget collection is considered to be the largest in the world and one of the oldest, being as much as 150 years old. The nuggets represent true works of art created by nature itself. For instance, the Diamond Fund presents two nuggets called Camel and Mephisto, both looking artificially sculpted rather than shaped by nature. There is also a gold nugget called the Big Triangle: it weighs 36 kilos and is the largest in the world. To top this off, the first exhibit hall features a map of Russia made of diamonds.

The second hall focuses on historic relics. Visitors will be first of all interested to learn about the seven precious stones. These three diamonds and four semi-precious stones are known as the Seven Wonders of the Diamond Fund. The first is the Orlov Diamond which adorns the scepter of Russian Emperors. Its first owner is believed to have been Shah Jahan, builder of the famous Taj Mahal in India. The rock initially weighed almost 400 carats but became nearly twice as light after cutting (189.62 carats). Later, the diamond became an eye in a statue of a local idol. It was stolen by a French soldier, who, to accomplish this enterprise, had changed his faith and had become a novice at the temple where the statue was standing. The diamond was then purchased in Amsterdam by a merchant, who brought it to the Russian Imperial Court. Here is where historians begin to disagree. There’s a romantic version: Count Orlovthe favorite of Empress Catherine the Great bought this diamond from the merchant to make a luxurious gift to the empress. Most likely, however, it was Catherine the Great who asked her lover Count Orlov to present this stone to her, as there were rumours about its magic properties that only manifested themselves if the gem was received as a gift. One way or the other, the diamond named after the empress’s lover took its place on the imperial scepter. This scepter is depicted in the coat of arms of St. Petersburg.

Diamond EaglesThe Shah Diamond is a crystal with a yellowish tinge. It is uncut but has the names of its previous owners engraved on it. The history of this diamond is rather sad. Anti-Russian riots broke out in Teheran in the 19th century, during the reign of Emperor Nicholas Ithe Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1855, taking the lives of all the Russian embassy members, including the famous writer Alexander Griboyedova Russian diplomat, playwright, poet, and composer. The Shah Diamond, one of the top treasures of the Persian Shah, was presented to Nicholas I among other gifts as a token of apology and reconciliation.

Other giant historic gems include the Flat Portrait Diamond, the giant Red Spinel (nearly 400 carat), the Emerald, the Sapphire, and the Chrysolite. The Red Spinel sits in the Imperial Crown of Russia; the Columbian Emerald adorns a brooch; the Ceylonese Sapphire is the world’s largest of its kind.

Зал Алмазного фондаFinally, the exhibit that nobody can pass up: the gorgeous Imperial Crown of Russia (also known as the Great Imperial Crown) created for the coronation of Catherine the Great. The old tradition was to make ‘customized’ crowns: each crown was created for a particular coronation ceremony, after which it was again taken apart. However, Catherine the Great’s crown became an unsurpassable masterpiece and was used in all subsequent coronations. The crown was manufactured in 1762 by Georg Friedrich Ekart and Jérémie Pauzié. It is adorned with almost 5,000 diamonds, two threads of big Indian pearls, and a giant red spinel, one of the seven historic gems of the Diamond Fund. The spinel is prominently placed in the centre, just below the cross. The crown weighs over 2 kilos. The coronation regalia also includes the Minor Imperial Crown of Russia, slightly more modest in size and decoration, the scepter with the Orlov Diamond, the orb with the Ceylonese Sapphire, a large chain, an agrafe buckle, and a star of the Order of Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called.

 

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total number of grades: 2, average rating: 4.00 (from 5)
Location

Within Garden Ring

Nearest Metro Station

Okhotny Ryad, Teatralnaya, Biblioteka Imeni Lenina, Alexandrovsky Sad

Address

Kremlin, Moscow

Website

http://www.gokhran.ru

Museum Opening Hours / Ticket Office Opening Hours

Mo: 10 a.m. - 5.20 p.m. (ticket office: 9.30 a.m. till 4.30 p.m.)
Tu: 10 a.m. - 5.20 p.m. (ticket office: 9.30 a.m. till 4.30 p.m.)
We: 10 a.m. - 5.20 p.m. (ticket office: 9.30 a.m. till 4.30 p.m.)
Fr: 10 a.m. - 5.20 p.m. (ticket office: 9.30 a.m. till 4.30 p.m.)
Sa: 10 a.m. - 5.20 p.m. (ticket office: 9.30 a.m. till 4.30 p.m.)
Su: 10 a.m. - 5.20 p.m. (ticket office: 9.30 a.m. till 4.30 p.m.)
Work break: from 1 to 2 p.m.

Days off

Thursday

Ticket Price

From 100 to 500 rubles depending on visitor category and programme of visits.
Photo and video filming is not allowed.

Visiting Rules

Large things must be taken to the storage room.
Visit within tour groups is organized every 20 minutes.

Additional Information

For foreign tourists the audioguide is available in English, German, French, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese. There is an opportunity to buy tickets online.

Gallery

Imperial Crown of Russia
Jewellery. Photo: Shutterstock.com
Diamond Fund
Armour Chamber
Armour Chamber
Elizabeth of Russia
Catherine the Great
Alexander Griboyedov
Peter the Great
Jérémie Pauzié
Gerhard von Kügelgen. Portrait of Jacob David Duval
Bracelet portraying Alexander I of Russia
Big bouquet
Great Bear Diamond
Easter eggs by Carl Fabergé
Lily-of-the-Valley, an Easter egg by Carl Fabergé
Imperial regalia
Easter egg containing the miniature Russian ship of the line Azov by M. Perkhin, 1891
The crown of Catherine the Great
Orb and scepter
Brooch
Tiara. 20th century
Shah Diamond
Orlov Diamond
Large triangle, a gold nugget
Small Imperial Crown of Russia
Russian imperial regalia
Russian imperial regalia
Left Right

Featured reviews

Visitor rating:   4.5

September 2016
Despite the relatively high cost of the ticket, I have not regretted about my visit. Moreover, I was happy to come back here for the second time. The stones are of incredible beauty... What wealth and power of the Russian Empire! I highly recommend visit this place, preferably with a guide!

August 2016
Of course, you have to get here, at least for once in your life! It is treasure collection of the Russian Crown. There are historical artifacts, works of jewelry by masters of the early 16th century and our time. There are placer of diamonds and other precious stones. It inspires and strikes imagination. Tickets should be purchased in advance. All sessions are planned.

June 2016
For lovers of nice things it is very interesting here. You can only walk in a group, that's a bit frustrating. The group is quite large, you can't see and hear the guide well. Taking pictures is not allowed in order to buy printing in a gift shop.

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