European Royals

Marie Antoinette’s jewels to be auctioned

Sotheby’s auction house is set to auction of the royal jewels of French Queen Marie Antoinette on 12 December, alongside a number of other jewels from the royal houses of Bourbon-Parma.

Sotheby’s Vice President of Fine Jewellery in Europe, Daniela Macetti says that “This is one of the most important royal jewellery collections ever on the market. Staying out of sight, never seen in public, this extraordinary ensemble offers a fascinating insight into the life of this family over the past centuries”.

The auction will see hundreds of lots auctioned in Geneva on the day, including a diamond pendant with a natural pearl of exceptional size, with an estimated value of $1-2 million, a pair of earrings – similarly in pearls and diamonds – estimated to be worth $30,000 to $50,000, and a necklace of over 300 natural pearls estimated to be worth $200,000 to $300,000. Each piece once belonged to Marie Antoinette.

Other pieces which are sure to be popular in the sale include a diamond tiara donated by Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria to his grand-niece, the Archduchess Marie-Anne to wear at her marriage to Elie de Bourbon, Duke of Parma in 1902. The tiara, signed by the prestigious Viennese house Köchert – founded in 1814 and appointed jeweler of the emperors of Austria for four generations – is estimated to fetch between $80,000 to $120,000.

A breath-taking finery once owned by Louise de France, granddaughter of King Charles X and mother of the Duke of Parma Robert I, is made up of 95 diamonds, five of which also belonged to Marie Antoinette and is expected to fetch between $300,000 and $500,000 at auction.

A significant portion of the royal jewels which once belonged to Marie Antoinette were sent to Brussels in March 1791 as Louis XVI, his wife and their children prepared to flee France and the Revolution. Entrusted to a man loyal to the Queen, the jewels were eventually given to the Emperor of Austria, her nephew.