One of the most breathtaking royal jewelry collections ever to come to auction will capture the world’s imagination when it goes under the gavel at Sotheby’s in Geneva on November 14th. Prior to auction, the collection will be making stops on an international tour, where members of the public may view and even try on some of the delicate royal pieces.
The jewels, once owned by the ill-fated and most famous of French Queens, includes a stunning diamond and pearl pendant with an estimated value of one to two million dollars. There is also a diamond ring containing a lock of the Queen’s hair. Marie Antoinette’s jewelry is part of a larger collection comprised of pieces from the Bourbon-Parma family, one of Europe’s most influential royal dynasties. The family is linked to French royalty, including Marie Antoinette and her husband, Louis XVI, as well as Kings of Spain, Austrian Emperors and Dukes of Parma.
This opulent ensemble of jewels has an extraordinary history. During the French Revolution, as King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and their family prepared their escape in March 1791, the Queen wrapped her valuable gems in cotton and placed them in a wooden chest which was smuggled out of France, eventually arriving in Vienna. In 1796, the last surviving child of the King and Queen, known as ‘Madame Royal’, reclaimed her mother’s jewels which had been kept safe by her nephew, the Austrian Emperor.
Most of the jewels in the collection being auctioned at Sotheby’s were given to Robert I (1848-1907), the last sovereign Duke of Parma, by his mother, Louise of France (1819-1864), grand-daughter of King Charles X of France and a great-niece of Marie Antoinette.
“It is one of the most important royal jewelry collections ever to appear on the market and each jewel is absolutely imbued with history. Never before seen in public, this extraordinary group of jewels offers a captivating insight into the lives of its owners, going back hundreds of years. What is also striking is the inherent beauty of the pieces themselves.”
Daniela Mascetti, Deputy Chairman
Sotheby’s Jewellery Europe