Silver and blue and white-enamelled Maltese cross with ball-tipped finials, double-headed crowned Serbian eagles between the arms, the royal arms in white and red enamel imposed on their breasts, on swivel crown suspension; the face with a central oval medallion bearing the multi-coloured enamel portrait of St. Sava, his right hand raised in blessing, a staff in his left hand, within a blue ring inscribed in gilt letters with the Old Church Slavonic inscription ‘One’s Own Work Achieves All’; the reverse with a white enamel central oval medallion bearing the date ‘1883’ in silver letters, encircled by a blue enamel ring decorated with silver laurel leaves; a small old repair to the base of the blue enamel ring of the face; on original age-faded trifold ribbon.
The Order was established by King Milan I Obrenovic on 23 January (4 February) 1883 and named for St. Sava (1175/6-1235/6). St. Sava was the son of Stefan Nemanja, founder of the medieval Serb state, and was the first Serb archbishop (1219-1233), most important saint of the Serbian Orthodox Church and patron saint of Serbia.
The Order was a civil decoration, to be awarded especially for services to the Church, to the arts and sciences, as well as to the royal house and the state. After the overthrow of the Obrenovic dynasty in 1903, King Milan’s cipher was replaced on the reverse with the date (1888) of the founding of the Order. From 1921, the saint’s robe is green rather than red.
The Orders were mainly manufactured by G. A. Scheid of Vienna until the outbreak of World War I in 1914, after which the insignia were made by Arthus Bertrand of Paris (France) and Huguenin Freres of Le Locle (Switzerland), as well as by local workshops (Fran Sorlini of Varaždin, and Griesbach & Knaus, of Zagreb).