“This is one of the most important collections of royal jewelery ever to hit the jewelry market,” said Daniela Machetti, Sotheby's Senior International Jewelery Specialist. The Parma Bourbon dynasty includes the royal houses of Spain and France, as well as the emperors of Austria. It also includes Marie Antoinette, the famous French queen, daughter of Marie Theresa, Empress of the Holy Roman Empire, and wife of King Louis XVI. No royal person in world history has been so closely associated with jewelry: Marie Antoinette had an extraordinary passion for pearls and diamonds. Ten items from the collection put up for auction belonged personally to the Queen of France.
Their story is quite dramatic. In March 1791, after the Great French Revolution, Louis XVI and his family were preparing to flee France. The Queen packed her jewels herself. The boxes from the Tuileries Palace were to be sent to Brussels to her sister, Archduchess Maria Christine of Austria. The dispatch was carried out by the Count of Mercy-Argento, the former ambassador of Austria in Paris, one of the few who managed to maintain the confidence of Marie-Antoinette.
The escape failed: in 1792, the royal family, including children, was imprisoned, and on October 16, 1793, the couple of monarchs were beheaded. Ten-year-old Louis XVII died in captivity, and only daughter Maria Teresa of France, released from custody in December 1795, was exiled to Austria. There she finally received her mother's jewelry - she was given them by her cousin, the Austrian emperor. Subsequently, she bequeathed the wealth to her niece, the granddaughter of King Charles X, and she passed them on to her son Robert I, the last Duke of Parma. So the jewelry of the disgraced French queen has survived to this day.
1 of 8 Diamond hair brooch with a ruby © press service Pendant with natural pearl © press service Diamond pendant © press service Necklace of natural pearls with diamonds © press service Necklace of cultured pearls with clasp of natural pearls © press service Pair of pendants with natural pearls and diamonds © press service Ring with an orange-pink diamond © press service Diamond brooch with sapphire © press service
Among the top lots of the Sotheby's auction, which belonged to Marie Antoinette herself, a pendant with a natural pearl of an impressive size (18x26 mm), tentatively estimated at $ 1-2 million (this is the most expensive auction lot), a pair of earrings with four pearls and diamonds (estimate $ 200- 300 thousand), a string of pearls ($ 40-70 thousand). But the magnificent six-row pearl necklace is estimated at $ 5-8 thousand: only the clasp with pearls has survived from the original thing (it originally adorned the bracelet). Other interesting lots include a bow-shaped brooch of the late 18th century with a pendant with a pear-shaped yellow diamond added later ($ 50-80 thousand) and a ring with a miniature portrait of the queen of the late 18th century ($ 8-12 thousand).
Diamond tiara with royal lilies, 1912 © press service
Jewelry of the French royal family is represented by a delightful diamond tiara with royal lilies of 1912 ($ 350-550 thousand), as well as jewelry insignia. The Austrian rulers once owned a set with Burmese rubies ($ 150-250 thousand).>