Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia to launch memoirs in New York this September
"Since the moment I was born, I've been surrounded by fantastic jewelry," says HRH Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, a descendent of the great royal and imperial houses of Europe, who currently lives in New York.
And now a new book of memoirs will tell the stories of the jewelry that he has seen and experienced through the words of his family – which brings together Danish, Greek, Italian, Yugoslavian and particularly Russian royalty – as well as the tales behind the pieces that the prince himself creates, inspired by history and the fusion of different cultures.
Raised in Versailles, Prince Dimitri graduated from the University of Paris with a degree in business law. In 1983, he moved to New York, where he has been designing jewelry since 1999, taking inspiration from the royal collections that he saw firsthand, or heard about from those who wore them, as well as from trips to exotic lands, all recreated with the prince's own personal touch and transformed into pieces that feature his crest, monogram and signature.
History and cultural fusion have proved to be a never-ending source of typologies, colors and forms – or combinations of forms – to materialize through the medium of gemstones and precious metals. Prince Dimitri uses rare materials to masterfully create unique jewelry that is as astonishing as his family tree, pieces that can be seen and read about in his new book, set to be released in September.
As the prince explains on his brand's website, "my masterpiece works are inspired by every culture and time in history. They are also inspired by my clients who bring me their stones or old jewels and ask me to remount them to suit their lifestyle today and the evolution of taste."
Featuring a preface by Carolina Herrera, an introduction by François Curiel and photography by Mark Roskams,Once Upon a Diamond: A Family Tradition of Royal Jewels is a remarkable history of jewelry told through the feats and deeds of the royal families of Belgium, Greece, Italy, Yugoslavia and Russia, all narrated by the prince.
The respected jewelry designer describes the curious exploits of his family members, as well as their fabulous jewelry collections. Among the many royals that appear in the book are the prince's paternal grandparents, Prince Paul of Yugoslavia and Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark; Princess Olga's parents, Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark and Princess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia; and Princess Elena's parents, Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich and Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia, as well as Prince Dimitri's maternal grandparents, King Umberto II of Italy and his queen consort, Marie-José of Belgium.
The exquisite photography and the family albums of the famously temperamental Grand Duchess Elena of Russia (later Princess of Greek and Denmark) provide magnificent images of the pre-revolutionary life of Russia's imperial family, its court and the many members and friends of the great European royal family.
The lavish volume also includes exclusive never-seen-before designs by Prince Dimitri, which experiment with unusual materials and colors, as well as both innovative and timeless forms.
New York's very own prince of jewelry, Dimitri of Yugoslavia also sells his contemporary pieces to members of various European royal families. For example, the cross earrings worn by Letizia Ortiz, queen consort of Spain, at the 40th birthday party of Prince Willem-Alexander, now king of the Netherlands, were bought from Prince Dimitri by King Felipe VI of Spain in 2005.
Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia also has Spanish and Portuguese royal blood through his great-great-grandmother, Infanta Maria José of Portugal, later duchess of Bavaria through her marriage to Duke Karl-Theodor – favorite brother of Empress Elisabeth of Austria and father of Queen Elisabeth of Belgium. Maria José was the fourth daughter of Miguel I of Portugal and Bavaria's Princess Adelaide of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg. Miguel, in turn, was the son of King John VI of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves, and Infanta Carlota Joaquina of Spain, eldest daughter of King Charles IV of Spain and Maria Luisa of Parma, queen consort of Spain and princess of Asturias.
Through the Treaty of Rio de Janeiro of 1825, King John VI of Portugal was also responsible for recognizing the independence of Brazil, albeit under the authority of his own son, Emperor Pedro I of Brazil.
Great-great-grandmother, Maria José of Portugal, was the maternal grandmother of Leopold III of Belgium and great-grandmother of Princess Marie-José of Belgium, who is the maternal grandmother of Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia.
This family legacy can be seen in every creative decision made by the prince.
"I create intensely individual pieces of art. When I play with stones I see the rich imagery of the natural universe; the magnificence of palaces such as Versailles; design motifs that stretch back to China, India and Persia; astrological symbols and signs of divine orders," says the designer on PrinceDimitri.com.
Having started out by pursuing a career on Wall Street, Prince Dimitri swerved away from this path to work in jewelry. He was offered a position in the Sotheby's jewelry department, ultimately rising to the role of senior vice president and taking over the supervision of all jewelry auctions. During his 15 years at Sotheby's he also studied gemology and became an appraiser.
He began designing jewelry in 1999, launching a collection of gemstone cufflinks that was sold at Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue. Since then he has also designed an exclusive line of women's jewelry for Barneys New York and Neiman Marcus, as well as The New Look of Pearls, a collection of pearl jewelry for Assael, which rapidly became a hit.
In 2002, Prince Dimitri transferred to Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg, a British auction house founded in London in 1796, which also has a head office in New York, where he became head of the jewelry department. In 2007, the prince and his business partner, Todd Morley, founded the Prince Dimitri brand, opening a salon in Manhattan.
More recently, in 2019, Prince Dimitri created a collection for Swarovski, responding to an invitation from Nadja Swarovski, who claims that "Prince Dimitri is a designer who understands the essence" of the crystal brand.
His creative talent comes to him naturally. His paternal grandmother, Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark, described to him the magnificent jewelry collections of her mother, Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia, of her maternal grandmother, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia, and of her paternal grandmother, Grand Duchess Olga Konstantinovna of Russia.
Grand Duchess Elena of Russia inherited all of the diamonds that belonged to her mother, Maria Pavlovna, a collection known around the world for its lavish sophistication and impressive size. A unique heritage that Prince Dimitri continues to cultivate.
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