The very first Miss Universe crown was worn by Miss Finland, Armi Kuusela in 1952. It wasn’t just any crown though that they placed upon her head. She wore the Romanov Nuptial Crown. Probably the only time ever that a pageant winner wore actual royal jewels.
Alexandra of Hesse wore the crown when she wed czar Nicholas II of Russia on November 26, 1894.
The nuptial crown was then used by all Russian grand Duchesses and wives of grand dukes on their wedding day. Here you can see Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna when she was to wed Prince Nicholas of Greece. wearing the crown on August 29, 1902.
The Romanov Imperial nuptial crown was thought to originally be made in 1840 or 1844 by the jewelers Nichols & Plinkle. The crown was thought to be made from diamonds which were used as trimming for clothes and in a belt by Catherine the Great.
It’s a crown entirely composed of double rows of fine brilliants in borders of smaller stones, and surmounted by a cross of six large brilliants – on a setting of red velvet. It is thought to include approximately 1,535 old mine diamonds.
It was sold by the Bolsheviks in 1927 through Christie’s. It was bought by Marjorie Merriweather Post, an American billionaire who was a passionate collector of imperial memories.
Her third husband was the U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union in the 1930s, and during their tenure in Moscow she turned her collecting eye to the spoils of the Russian revolution. She amassed what is said to be the finest collection of imperial art outside of Russia. Upon her death she turned her home the Hillwood estate into a museum, which is where the Romanov Imperial nuptial crown is currently located.