Lydia Courteille’s Scarlet Empress

I do love the color red. And I have never seen such amazing red used in today’s jewelry. Catch these wonderful images from Cherly Kremkow’s blog, Lydia Courteille’s Scarlet Empress. Be sure to see the rich and beautiful red gemstones in Courteille’s work show here.



Catherine the Great is the inspiration for a dramatic new red on red collection by Lydia Courteille.Catherine the Great was a woman of discerning taste and strong appetites. One of the things she craved was lavish jewelry. After she took power from her husband in a coup, she was crowned Empress. 

For me, the gem that Catherine the Great is most associated with is red spinel. In addition to the spinel on her crown, she often wore red spinel and diamond jewels with red gowns.  

As one of history’s strongest female rulers, and one who had a string of lovers and illegitimate children, Catherine has inspired many books and movies. The best known is The Scarlet Empress, which features Marlene Dietrich as Catherine. Both the great empress and the iconic actress who played her are the inspiration for a spectacular new collection of jewels by Lydia Courteille of Paris.


Lydia Courteille is known for intricate and elaborate jewelry with unconventional themes. For example, last year’s Animal Farm collection had jeweled pigs and cows.  My favorite is her Gardens of Xochimilco collection with its Day of the Dead skulls and vivid fire opals.

Her new Scarlet Empress collection, inspired by Catherine the Great, has all the fantastic detail you might expect from a Lydia Courteille collection. Imperial eagles, crowns, and bows add the intricate detail that is a Lydia Courteille signature.  But it’s the palette that makes this collection impossible to ignore: red on red monochrome gives the pieces a modern twist.

Just look at this bold eagle ring with a large rubellite cabochon.  Its crown eagle motif is almost Rubellite & Ruby Ringtraditional but the red on red palette takes it to another place entirely.

See the red enamel covering the only bits of metal not covered by red gems?  Breathtaking, isn’t it?  Even the shanks of the rings are red.  Here’s a hinged amour-style knuckle ring: one of my favorite Courteille silhouettes.

Lydia Courteille



This image of a large rubellite ring with a bow motif shows the red metal shank.


Scarlet Empress Earrings


As in most Lydia Courteille collections, the scale is dramatic.  Earrings, a particular favorite of Catherine the Great, who wore elaborate girandole silhouettes, include dramatic shoulder dusters.


Earrings from the Scarlet Empress Collection by Lydia Courteille

Ring from the Scarlet Empress Collection by Lydia Courteille

One thought on “Lydia Courteille’s Scarlet Empress

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  1. These pieces are quite arresting. They also show a lot of personality. Looking at these photos has made Catherine the Great seem more like a real person to me…if that makes sense?

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