The Russian Tsars were lavish when it came to gifts in recognition of the loyalty and service of their subjects. Diamond-set imperial portraits, medals, orders and decorations were showered on the few who had earned the exceptional favor of the Sovereign. An interesting sub-group of these gifts are the imperial presentation rings, which bear the imperial double-headed eagle, the cypher of the Emperor, or the Emperor’s portrait.
In the 18th century, these were awarded at will to favorites, courtiers, and diplomats, but by the 19th century, strict rules were set regarding what types of rings could be awarded, to whom, what symbols they could bear, and at what cost to the Imperial cabinet.
Three exceptional Russian Imperial presentation rings will be offered in Freeman’s upcoming Oct. 17 Silver & Russian Works of Art sale. The first, from the period of Catherine II “the Great,” contrasts rose-cut diamonds set in silver against a background of cobalt blue guilloche enamel -- the height of Russian “diamond age” style.
Another ring was made by workmaster Erik Kollin for the famous Court Jeweler Fabergé, and bears the Imperial Crown in diamonds flanked by two double-headed eagles. Rings of this type were offered to gentlemen of the XII or XIII levels of the table of ranks. These rings were ordered in quantity by the Imperial Cabinet for distribution.
The last lot is exceptional. Executed by Michael Perkhin for the Fabergé firm, the ring was presented to P.O. Shcherbov-Nefedovich with the diamond set cypher of the last Emperor Nicholas II. A ring like this was awarded only to gentlemen of the III class of the table of ranks.
This ring by Fabergé is unique in its form and in the opulent diamond-encrusted ornamentation of its design, with a skillfully executed openwork band also ornamented with diamonds. This ring, with important documentation is a rare survival, and perhaps the first of this class to be offered at auction.