Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia on the incredible family jewels featured in his new book

‘Once Upon a Diamond: A Family Tradition of Royal Jewels’ is a new coffee table book written by Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, a jewellery designer, gemologist and former senior vice president of the jewellery department of auction house Sotheby’s, whose heritage links him to great royal jewels of the past, and by Lavinia Branca Snyder.

‘Once Upon a Diamond: A Family Tradition of Royal Jewels’ is essentially divided in two sections: one of the grand jewels worn by the Prince Dimitri’s ancestors, and another one on the jewels he has designed himself. The cover emphasizes this, with an Indian inspired jewel of his own design juxtaposed over a photograph of Princess Olga, his grandmother.

Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia traces his ancestor’s history in Once Upon a Diamond: A Family Tradition of Royal Jewels. Published by Rizzoli with a foreword by fashion designer Carolina Herrera, the richly illustrated tome gave Prince Dimitri the impetus to further research the provenance of rare treasures, illustrating his family’s love for jewellery through generations and across European royal courts.

Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark photographed by Cecil Beaton in 1940 (collection of Prince Dimitri)

Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia recounts the enthralling exploits of his beloved family members and describes their extraordinary jewelry collections. Among the many royals whose stories are richly illustrated in this volume are his paternal grandparents Prince Regent Paul and Princess Olga of Yugoslavia; Grand Duke Vladimir and Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia (better known as Grand Duchess Vladimir); his great-grandparents Prince Nicolas and Princess Helen of Greece as well as his maternal grandparents King Umberto II and Queen Marie-José of Italy. Prince Dimitri uncovered surprising revelations about his family’s finery while researching his publication.

On the cover of the book, my grandmother wears an amazing tiara that we always thought to be from Cartier. After further research they discovered that when Grand Duchess Vladimir was in Paris on one of her visits to Cartier to order things she had the tiara with her and asked them if they could repair it as it was damaged. According to the Cartier Archives they did repair it but it was actually a Chaumet tiara!

Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia

Examples include the Vladimir tiara. Finished by Romanov court jeweller House of Bolin in 1874 for the Grand Duchess Vladimir – the wife of Emperor Alexander II’s son – the pearl and diamond design today forms part of The Queen’s collection of jewels, and is among the personal favourites of Prince Dimitri, and a hoard of Harry Winston diamond gems embellishing a triple-chignon updo his mother Princess Maria Pia sported for a 1960s photoshoot.

Princess Maria Pia wearing Harry Winston diamond gems in her hair (collection of H.R.H. Princess Maria Pia of Bourbon-Parma)

The exquisite photography and family albums of Grand Duchess Elena of Russia (later Princess of Greece and Prince Dimitri’s great-grandmother) present remarkable never-before-seen images of prerevolutionary life of the Russian imperial family, their court, and their many European royal family members and friends.

This luxurious tome also includes exclusive and previously unpublished designs by Prince Dimitri, which juxtapose uncommon materials and color in imaginative yet timeless forms.

Written by Lavinia Branca Snyder and Prince Dimitri, Photographed by New York based Mark Roskams. With a foreword by fashion designer Carolina Herrera, and an introduction by Francois Curiel, who is chairman of Christie’s Europe and Asia and head of its global luxury division.

  • Hardcover : 288 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0847866912
  • ISBN-13 : 978-08478-66915
  • Product Dimensions : 10.25 x 1.15 x 13.38 inches
  • Publisher : Rizzoli (September 8, 2020)
  • Language: : English

If you love jewels with a royal lineage – breathtaking tiaras and a noble family that spans across Yugoslavia, Italy, Greece, Belgium and Russia, then you are sure to get lost in jewelry designer Prince Dimitri’s history… Come into the beautiful world of Rizzoli.

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