A jewel-like approach
For three months the craftsmen of the Saint Petersburg Mint of Goznak worked upon a special order of Gokhran (State Depository for Precious Metals) of Russia. The Mint received a letter of acknowledgement from Gokhran of Russia. As a result, a unique series of seven commemorative “Jewelers of Russia” medals was produced.
The medals are dedicated to the great jewelers of the 18th – the beginning of the 20th century – Ignaty Sazikov, Pavel Ovchinnikov, Ivan Khlebnikov, Karl Eduard Bolin, Mikhail Perkhin and Peter Karl Faberge. On the front side of the medals, there is a relief portrait of the Great Russian jewelers; on the reverse, their famous works.
With a special feeling the craftsmen of Goznak worked upon the seventh medal dedicated to the outstanding jewelry designers whose creative activity took place in the second half of the 20th century – Vladimir Sitnikov, Victor Nikolaev, Gennady Aleksakhin, Boris Ivanov and Vladimir Zhilin. On the front side of the medal, there is their group portrait with an inscription below it – the Experimental Laboratory of Gokhran. However, for the sake of justice, we should provide clarifications. The Jewelry Experimental Laboratory was founded at the Research Institute of Goznak in 1965. It was a logical step because Goznak was engaged in the jewelry development of the post-war Soviet Union since the beginning of the 1950s. Victor Nikolaev, Gennady Aleksakhin and Boris Ivanov worked at the Experimental Laboratory of the Research Institute of Goznak till 1970, when they were transferred to Gokhran together with the Laboratory. By the way, it was in 1970 that the famous “Diamond Rose” brooch (craftsman V. Nikolaev, jewelers V. Nikolaev, G. Aleksakhin) depicted on the back side of the medal was created.
The rose was made of platinum, gold and 1466 life-sized diamonds. The rose petals were connected in the center with hidden springs creating the effect of light flickering, increasing the play of the jewels; each of them is grinded in the complete classical faceting, which is rare for the diamonds of this size. The fully opened bud flickers with every movement, and the play of the diamonds creates an illusion of a living rose branch. In spite of the considerable size (10 x 15 cm) and weight (222.11 g), the decoration looks light and elegant. The photograph of the diamond rose is preserved at the Archive of the Research Institute, and the brooch itself – at the Diamond Fund.
The mint has co-operated with Gokhran before – replicas of the unique jewelry objects preserved at Gokhran were produced at the Mint. This time the order was not easier, and perhaps even more difficult. According to Andrey Kondratiev, Head of the workshop, a few technologies were applied in the production of the medals (gilding, encrusting with jewels, organic enamel etc.). In order to execute the order on time, many specialists of various profiles were engaged in the work.
As a result, 500 medals of each kind were produced. For high quality of the products the Saint Petersburg Mint of Goznak received a letter of acknowledgement from Gokhran. Gokhran thanked all workers engaged in the preparation and execution of the order separately and awarded each of them with one medal of the series.
Anna Loseva, a jeweler and assembler, said that each kind of medal required its own approach and application of various technologies. “Some medals required complicated gilding and rhodium plating. Others – silvering and enamel application. Many things proved new to us. For example, we have never fixed jewels of quite a large size to tombac products (copper and zinc alloy).
The most complicated product turned out to be the medal dedicated to Karl Faberge depicting his famous “lily-of-the-valley” Easter egg. A few complicated technologies were applied – gilding, enamel application and encrusting with jewels. The design was not very gibbous, and the enamel artists had to work hard to apply varnishing”.
All the seven medals are produced of the copper-zinc alloy Л90 with electrotype silver-plating. The manufacturing quality is ordinary, the following technologies were applied for the medal production – oxidizing with clearing, partial gilding, decorating the alloy surface with a film of reddish hue, encrusting jewels. The medals have the shape of a circle with gibbous skirting on both sides. The medal parameters are: the diameter – 50.0 ± 0.5 mm, edge thickness – 4.25 ± 0.30 mm, weight – 70.0/+4.0/-14.0 g.
Ignaty Pavlovich Sazikov
In the 19th century the jewelry company of Ignaty Sazikov was one of the leading jewelry enterprises of Russia. The company was the founder of a new direction in the Russian jewelry – historicism.
On the reverse of the medal, there is “Troika” desk decoration. Cast figures of horses are noted for exclusive fineness of work and accuracy of modelling.
“Sazikov” company model by sculptor E.A. Lansere Moscow, 1870-1880s. silver, jasper. Height 15.5 cm, length 26.3 cm.
Karl Eduard Bolin
“Bolin” company is the only jewelry company that served seven Russian Tsars without interruption and supplies its works to the Swedish Royal Court. On the reverse of the medal, there is a silver-mounted decanter of two-coloured glass. The surface of the mount is covered with a stylized pattern in Art Nouveau style: flexible scapes of the grapevine with leaves and fruit cover all the surface of the glass shape.
“Bolin” company Moscow, 1908-1917. Silver, two-coloured glass. Height 29.1 cm.
Ivan Petrovich Khlebnikov
Ivan Petrovich Khlebnikov’s company produced gold, silver and diamond products of high manufacturing quality. On the medal reverse, there is a casket in the shape of a cushion, its top part is a lid, a ball of yarn and a crochet hook which is the lid handle, and four tassels play the role of legs. By using engraving, carving and gilding, the craftsmen managed to reproduce the facture of the iridescent silver cloth with the vegetative and geometric pattern, ruching, gold lacing and fringe.
Khlebnikov’s company, craftsman ГЛ. Moscow,1878. Silver, engraving, gilding. Height 7.5 cm, length 32.0 cm.
Pavel Akimovich Ovchinnikov
An outstanding craftsman of enameling in Russia of the 19th century. The craftsmen of Ovchinnikov’s company applied plique-a-jour and champlevé. They managed to revive an old artistic decoration method – window enamel. In 1870, the company started to produce sugar bowls in the shape of weaved baskets with bright towels or napkins with fringe. The craftsmen revived the entwinement of flexible vines, cloth threads, coloured embroidering, figured handmade lacework.
Pavel Ovchinnikov’s company Moscow, 1877. Silver, enamel, gilding. Height 7.5 cm, length 32.0 cm.
Peter Karl Faberge
A famous Russian jeweler of the 19th century. On the medal reverse, there is “lily-pf-the-valley” Easter egg – a gift of Emperor Nikolay II to his spouse Empress Alexandra Fiodorovna for Easter in 1898 in Art Nouveau style, decorated with pearls, diamonds and Alexandra Fiodorovna’s favourite flowers. The egg surprise is miniature portraits of Emperor Nikolay II and two elder daughters of the Imperial couple. They appear inside when the pin with the pearl is turned. When the egg is closed, the hole is covered with a miniature copy of the Imperial crown covered with diamonds.
Faberge company, craftsman M.E. Perkhin. Miniature painter I. Tseingraf. Saint Petersburg, 1898. Gold, silver, diamonds, rubies, pearls, rock crystal, bone, watercolors, enamel.
Mikhail Yevlampievich Perkhin
One of the leading craftsmen of Faberge company. In 1886 he became head of the workshop where the most significant works of the company were produced. Jewelry was produced for the Russia Imperial Court; but they also manufactured products for various strata of the population. On the medal reverse, there is a pendant from the collection of Gosfond of Russia. It was made of multicoloured gold, covered with finest engraving and decorated with precious stones.
Faberge company, craftsman M.E. Perkhin. Saint Petersburg, 1880-1890s. Gold, diamonds, sapphire.
Jewelers of Russia
Just like jewelers of the past, the jewelers of Gokhran of Russia – V.G. Sitnikov, V.V. Nikolaev, G.F. Aleksin, B.V. Ivanov, V.E. Zhilin – created a masterpiece of jewelry. On the medal reverse, the “Diamond Rose” brooch is depicted.
“Diamond Rose” brooch. The author was V.V. Nikolaev, jewelers – V.V. Nikolaev, G.F. Aleksin. Moscow, 1970. Platinum, gold, 1,446 diamonds. 10.0 x 15.0 cm. Weight 222.11 g.