Visiting my colleague Nikolai, a Faberge restoration expert in New York, is always a treat. We share a passion for the exquisite and rare, and when he showed me a Faberge brooch during a recent visit, I fell instantly in love. Though I didn't know its provenance at the time, some three months later I discovered that its story was also one of love at first sight.
In 1890 Nicholas II, heir to the Russian throne, first witnessed the ballerina Mathilde Kshesinskaya. He 21 and she 18, they met following her performance and fell instantly in love. Royalty and politics being what they are, he wed Queen Victoria's granddaughter, but the petite ballerina forever owned his heart. In 1912, 22 years after they first met, Nicholas had Karl Gustavovich Faberge fashion this brooch of rubies and diamonds for Mathilde, the brooch I now possess.
You see, love attends to different rules than those of politics and men. Unable to place a crown on his ballerina's head, Nicholas had an exquisite one made for her heart. Love rules.