Catherine the Great’s diamond esclavage bow and girandole earrings
An esclavage is a piece of jewelry that was worn on a wide lace or velvet ribbon like a necklace. This bow was made for Catherine II in the latest fashion of the time. It is decorated with a scattering of diamonds and spinels, rare minerals of red and pink shades. It is paired with massive girandole earrings—as candelabra-shaped earrings were called then. The gems appear particularly bright thanks to the use of the same foil technique as in the bouquet brooches above. In fact, their natural color is much softer. At the back of the bow there is the jeweler’s stamp reading “Pfisterer 10 Apr. 1764,” while the earrings are dated May 27 of the same year. The last owner of this set was Empress Maria Feodorovna (1847-1928), the wife of Alexander III. It was found in her chambers in the Anichkov Palace in St. Petersburg after she herself managed to escape Russia following the revolution.