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    RUSSIA TO REGAIN ROMANOV TIARA?

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    MOSCOW, MARCH 4, RIA NOVOSTI - The renowned Smaller Romanov Tiara will, to all appearances, remove to one of Russia's museums, Novosti heard from Artem Tarasov, president of a Moscow-based charitable foundation for recovery of national cultural and historical treasures.

    The federal Culture Ministry will do its utmost to have the tiara back to Russia, Victor Petrakov, second in charge of the ministerial department for cultural value preservation, said to Novosti.

    The tiara originally belonged to Sophia von Merenberg the Countess of Tor Bay, granddaughter of Alexander Pushkin, Russia's foremost poet. A masterpiece of the K.E. Bohlin jeweller company, purveyors to the Imperial house of Russia, the jewel was made in St. Petersburg in 1890 on order of Grand Duke Michael, grandson of Emperor Nicholas I, as gift to Sophia, his beloved morganatic wife. Documentary proof of donation has survived to this day. The tiara of massive gold weighs 160 grams. 822 diamonds and seventy uncut rubies lavishly adorn it. Present-day experts evaluate the exquisite decoration at five million US dollars.

    The tiara was recently brought to Russia on Artem Tarasov's request, and is on two-week display at the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. The precious item is preserved at the museum Diamond Depository, officially known as Special Depository No. 1. The Culture Ministry hopes the owners will authorise its subsequent exposition at the Kremlin Armoury Chamber.

    Cherished family jewel of the Counts of Tor Bay, the tiara has never appeared in an auction. However, the family regains the treasure for a mere two days a year, spending the rest of the time in travel from show to show, in particular, with British Royal jewellery expositions, says Artem Tarasov.

    Now that there is a chance of the family selling the tiara, he hopes he will coax Russian tycoons into buying the precious memento to make it national possession. He, however, is not sure moneybags in his country are patriotic enough to make collections for such purposes as that.

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