From central Europe to the Middle East and South America, jewelry and precious stones collections are a tradition that started with popes and royal dynasties and has been maintained till today by museums, exhibitions and exposition shops. The Italian Eye Magazine takes you on a journey to discover the richest jewelry collections of the world.
THE APOSTOLES’ SACRISTY OF THE POPES, VATICAN CITY
Viale Vaticano, 00165, Rome
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 9 am – 4 pm, shut on Sundays (except the last one of each month) and non-working days.
The objects and the vestments used by the popes during religious celebrations are located in a hidden area of the complex of San Peter and the Vatican Museums. This is the Aspostoles’ Sacristy, that the visitor can accede to from the Sistine Chapel. The space is divided into three areas. The first one, the room of the weeping, opens to three rooms on three floors where objects and historical vestments such as golden and textile artifacts are kept. The new sacristy follows, where the popes’ religious garments and sacred ornaments are kept. Finally, the visitor get to the casket where are located reliquaries of various types, from the XV century up until today, which have been donated to the popes on occasion of beatification and canonization.
THE CROWN JEWELS IN THE TOWER OF LONDON
London EC3N 4AB, United Kingdom
Opening hours: 1 November – 28 February: Tuesday – Saturday 9 am – 4.30 pm, Sunday – Monday 10 am – 4.30 pm. 1 March – 31 October: Tuesday – Saturday 9 am – 5.30 pm, Sunday – Monday 10 am – 5.30 pm.
The London Royal Collection is made of the jewels and the objects used by the royals during state ceremonies, such as the crowning of kings and queens. The Collection includes crowns, scepters, globes, swords, rings and many other ceremonial objects and sacred vestments. Most of these date back to the eras previous to the Protestant Reformation, so they often hold a Catholic symbolism. The jewels cover a period of time that goes from the 18th century to today.
THE JEWELRY COLLECTION AT THE VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM, LONDON
Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL
Opening hours: daily 10 am – 5.45 pm, Friday 10 am – 10 pm
Unlike the collection in the Tower of London, which focuses on the heritage of British jewels, the Victoria & Albert Museum offers jewels coming from all over the world and from different historical epochs. Some areas include the Middle East, South East Asia, the North and East of Europe, India and South America. The museum offers frequent exhibitions, the last one of which has been the jewels collection of the Indian mogul Al Thani.
SWAROVSKI CRYSTAL WORLD IN WATTENS, AUSTRIA
Kristallweltenstraße 1, 6112 Wattens, Austria
Opening hours: daily 8.30 am – 7.30 pm, last entry 6.30 pm
The Swarovski Crystal World was launched in 1995 in occasion of the hundred year anniversary of the Austrian jewelry brand. Designed by the multimedia artist André Heller, the building looks like a fairy place and would be worth a visit just for the architecture. Inside the shop there is a wide range of Swarovski products, from fashion jewelry to accessories, decorative statues and optician.
THE DIAMOND MUSEUM IN AMSTERDAM
Paulus Potterstraat 8, 1071 CZ Amsterdam, Netherlands
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday 9 am – 5 pm
Located in the city center, the Diamond Museum of Amsterdam offers a permanent collection of jewels that includes famous pieces such as the Katana, the Rembrandt diamond and the ape skull. The museum offers a basic diamond workshop that includes an explanation and the cut and polishing of a small diamond.
THE REGALIA OF THE SWEDISH CROWN AT THE SKATTKAMMAREN, STOCKHOLM
Royal Palace | Gamla Stan, Kungliga Slottet, Stockholm, Sweden
Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday 12 pm – 4 pm
The jewels of the Swedish crown are guarded by the Skattkammaren (the royal Swedish treasury) at the Royal Palace in Stockholm. Until 1907 they have been used for the crowning of the royals, and since 1974 they have been exposed at the annual opening of the city parliament. Some of the most precious objects include William Vasa’s sword and the crown, the globe, the scepter and the keys of Erik XIV of Sweden.
THE ROYAL JEWELS AT THE GREAT KREMLIN PALACE, MOSCOW
Partizanskaya Street. 25121351 Mosca, Russia, 103073
Opening hours: 10 am – 5 pm, shut on Tuesdays
Located at the heart of Moscow, the southeastern exhibition area of the Kremlin Palace contains the jewels of the Russian tsars and other royal figures, besides other decorative elements such as thrones, swords, scepters, crowns and others. The collection goes from 17th century to the end of the 20th century. At the moment, the palace is hosting an exhibition called Jewels Inspired by Nature (1/04 – 31/07).
NATIONAL JEWELRY MUSEUM IN TEHRAN
Ferdowsi Avenue | Central Bank of I.R. Iran, Tehran, Iran
Opening hours: Saturday – Tuesday 2 pm – 4.30 pm, shut on Wednesday, the weekend and public holidays
Today, the jewels of the Iranian crown are kept in the National Jewelry Museum in Tehran. The royal heritage covers a period of time of 2500 years, since the birth of the Iranian Empire. The collection includes a great quantity of objects such as swords, adorned shields, thrones, decorative crowns and tiaras, besides a lot of diamonds and precious stones. Throughout the 1900s these have become well-known thanks to the Pahlavi dynasty, through state visits abroad where the shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his wife Farah Pahlavi would wear them.
ROYAL JEWELRY MUSEUM, ALEXANDRIA
27 Ahmed Yehia Pasha, Alexandria Governorate, Egypt
Opening hours: 9 am – 4 pm
Launched in 1986 and reopened in 2010 after years of renovation, the museum has been placed in what used to be Princess Fatima Al Zahra’s palace, in the urban area. The museum contains a collection of jewels and ornamental objects from the dynasty of Mohammad Ali, going from 1805, the beginning of the dynasty, to the outbreak of the Egyptian Revolution.
H. STERN IN RIO DE JANEIRO
Rua Garcia d’Avila, 113 – Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 22421-010, Brazil
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 9 am – 6 pm, Saturday 9 am – 12 pm
The museum H. Stern is linked to Hans Stern’s jewelry producer, founded in Brazil in 1945. Today, it is present in other international sites such as South America, United States, Asia and Europe. The museum offers the chance to follow two tours, a gem-related one, which is based on gems’ manufacturing, and the tour of the Brazilian gems, that revolves around accessories such as earrings and necklaces.
GOLD MUSEUM, BOGOTÁ
Carrera 6, 15-88, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia
Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday 9 am – 6 pm, Sunday 10 am – 4 pm
Founded in 1939 with the purpose of protecting the national archeological heritage, the collection offers golden artifacts and works in wood, stone, iron and textiles that go back to the pre-Colombian era. Besides its expositive purpose, the museum serves as proof of the ornamental objects that were used by the populations living in the area before the Europeans arrived in the continent.