Marie Antoinette's Diamond Bracelets Auctioned for £6 Million

Published November 10th, 2021 - 09:54 GMT
Marie Antoinette's diamond bracelets goes for sale
A photograph of French Queen Marie Antoinette is displayed amongst her jewelry at at Sotheby's auction house, October 12, 2018 in New York City. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP
Marie Antoinette's two diamond bracelets sold for £6million at auction today

Marie Antoinette's two diamond bracelets were sold for £6million after being expected to fetch up to £3million at an auction yesterday, 228 years after her death.

The pair of silver and yellow gold bracelets are both made up of three strands and contain 112 diamonds.

The stunning jewellery was sold by a mystery European royal family member at Christie's auction in Geneva, Switzerland. 

The bracelets were hidden once she and her husband King Louis XVI were taken as prisoners in Paris during the French Revolution and were found after her beheading in 1793.

Marie Antionette placed the bracelets in a wooden chest entrusted to Austrian ambassador and friend Count Mercy-Argenteau, in Brussels in 1791.

She originally bought the bracelets for 250,000 livres in 1776, just two years after taking the throne with her husband King Louis XVI, paying for them partly with gemstones from her personal collection and with funds provided by her husband.

But surprisingly a ruby and diamond Cartier bangle owned by Wallis Simpson the Duchess of Windsor, gifted to her by the Duke of Windsor for their first wedding anniversary, did not sell.

It had been estimated to fetch up to £1.62 million. 

Tobias Kormind, the managing director of Europe's largest online jeweller 77 Diamonds, said: 'This evening's auction was both shocking and fantastic.

'An amazing result for bracelets owned by Marie-Antoinette, who was confirmed as true royalty, while the Duchess of Windsor, who appeared more of an impostor royal, whose bracelet seemed to have lost its lustre, despite being fashioned from prized Burmese rubies and commissioned from jeweller to royalty Cartier. 

'Whichever way you look at it, being able to own a piece of history from someone you can read about in books is so powerful.

'If you can't make history then the next best thing is to own a piece of it. Newly uber-wealthy collectors still aspire to the magic and halo effect of royal provenance.

'The three regal bracelets which went on the block today once belonged to two of the most legendary and controversial royals in history, both self-proclaimed jewellery addicts.

'Marie Antoinette's pair of diamond bracelets boast a total of 112 diamonds, while the Duchess of Windsor's extravagant diamond and ruby Cartier bracelet, was a gift from the Duke of Windsor on their first wedding anniversary.'

The duchess' jewellery attracted record-breaking attention in 1987 with some pieces exceeding expected prices ten times.

That auction of her collection fetched $50m, setting a new record at the time as the most pricey auction of a single-owner jewellery collection. 

Buyers included the likes of her high society friends Elizabeth Taylor. 

Mr Kormind added: 'While many women might expect a paper-themed gift to mark a first wedding anniversary, the Duke had famously abdicated the throne in order to wed the twice-divorced Wallis Simpson and the rubies on this cuff bracelet are said to mark the passion, love and courage shared between these disgraced royals - it's shocking they didn't sell.' 

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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