One July night in 1918, Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra, their five children and a few servants and loyal companions were murdered, as everyone knows, in the cellar of the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg. A few days later, the White Army liberated the city from the Bolsheviks.
Then began the investigation into the imperial family’s assassination. Overwhelming evidence, including many witnesses, confirmed the terrible tragedy. In particular, found in a mine shaft were not bodies, but clothes, and in them jewels stitched into the seams by the Empress and her daughters in an attempt to conceal them and save them for a rainy day they felt was soon coming.
Also found in the Ipatiev house were furniture pieces, icons, and keepsakes. Everything was photographed and crated up. Among the jewellery, in the grand duchess’s clothing, an extremely beautiful emerald and diamond cross was found.
It was meant to illustrate the famous Sokoloff report, named after the president of the investigative committee that had searched for all the evidence pertaining to the assassination. It had all been published in his book. We knew that everything that was found (clothing, jewellery, furniture, and icons) was crated up. As the Bolshevik armies approached, they were sent to Vladivostok. Then, inventory was taken. It was all there except the jewels. The furniture and icons were sent to London to adorn a chapel dedicated to the memory of the imperial victims. But the jewels, who made them disappear? Where were they? What had become of them? Not a trace.
Until, a few months ago, scrolling through Facebook and a forgotten site of mine, there was a photo, this time in colour, of the emerald and diamond cross, perfectly recognisable. Was this a recent photo or an old one since colourised? And if it was a recent photo, what had become of this cross? Who had it and where was it? And if the cross had been saved and recovered, what had become of the other jewels?
An unfathomable mystery shrouds all that touches the Russian imperial family’s end, and their treasures.