Barrons is announcing that Royal Jewels from the Bourbon Parma Family is being auctioned by Sotheby’s Jewelry in Geneva this November. Spanning centuries of European history – from the reign of King Louis XVI to the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – the entire collection is poised to net tens of millions of dollars. Most interesting: Many of doomed Queen Marie Antoinette’s pieces, including pearl and diamond pendants and necklaces and a ruby and diamond brooch, will be seen for the first time in centuries. So where have they been hiding? Glad that you asked.
According to Sotheby’s, as King Louis and Antoinette prepared for escape in 1791, the queen hid all of her jewelry in a wooden chest, which eventually made its way to Vienna in the care of Count Mercy Argentau, a loyal retainer to the queen. After they were executed in 1793, the couple’s surviving daughter, Marie-Thérèse, reclaimed the jewelry from her cousin, the Austrian Emperor, upon her arrival in Vienna in 1796 after being released from captivity. (Sotheby’s did not immediately respond to a request for comment about where the jewels have been kept since then.)
So, we’re to believe they’ve just been in the home of a private collector for 220 years? Fascinating.
“It is one of the most important royal jewelry collections ever to appear on the market,” said Daniela Mascetti, deputy chairman of Sotheby’s Jewelry Europe, in a release. “Each and every 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.”
Sotheby’s confirmed the authenticity of the jewelry through extensive historical tracing of descendants of the crown.
Old portraits of the French queen showcase her opulent diamonds and pearls. Antoinette’s jewelry was often of particular interest to the French proletariat, as she was regularly embroiled with scandals involving jewelry, most notably the “affair of the diamond necklace” in 1785, in which she was implicated in the defrauding of French crown jewelers.
Marie Antoinette’s treasures will be showcased in Munich this September, about a month before the auction.
So what will you be bidding on? I’m definitely digging the ruby and diamond brooch (although rubies are notoriously bad luck) (I mean… they certainly were for HER). And I would adore the sapphire brooch. And the orange pink diamond ring. Oh, hell. I might as well out in a bid for all of the items and hope for the best.