At Christie’s London Important Jewels Sale, Two Of Empress Eugénie’s Personal Pieces Sold For Way Over Estimate
From the beginning of her reign in 1853, The Last Empress of France, Eugénie set the style for jewelry worn in France and throughout Europe during the 19th century. The wife of Napoleon III, many of her jewels were sold in a historic auction which included much of the French Crown Jewels. Although some of the royal gems were dismantled and kept in Paris museums, the majority of the Crown Jewels were part of the sale which included pieces that she remounted to suit her personal taste. She also commissioned personal jewels from the time including court jewelers Bapst and Chaumet as well as the newer visionaries Boucheron and Cartier.
On November 27, in Christie’s London Important Jewels Sale, two of Empress Eugénie’s pieces went up on the auction block and sold for way over estimate. These two jewels were part of her personal collection which she kept; she returned the jewels owned by the sate after the fall of Empire in 1870.
Many of the pieces she had designed for herself and the Crowned Jewels she commissioned be re-interpreted during her reign resulted in some of her favorites, which are still popular motifs today in antique, vintage and modern jewelry. These included the romantic and feminine styles of crescent moons, stars, flowers and a variety of bows and ribbon designs.
The pieces sold in the Christie’s London Important Jewels Sale consisted of an important pair of 19th-century natural pearl earrings with gold and diamond tops (estimate: £60,000-80,000). The Price realized at auction was 237,500 GBP
There was also a mid-19th-century ruby and diamond heart locket pendant, circa 1850-60. The locket was included in the 2008 exhibition, Le Musée Chaumet, Le Grand Frisson – Bijoux de Sentiment, de la Renaissance à nos jours, in Paris. It was set with rubies and old and rose-cut diamonds and features a glazed compartment on the reverse of the pendant, which contains a lock of hair that reportedly belonging to Napoleon Ill.
Regarding the outcome of the sale, Keith Penton, Head of Jewellery, London explains, “There realized prices are in keeping with the heightened interest around jewels with royal provenance. But, the examples sold in the Important Jewels auction in London from the personal collection of Empress Eugénie were particularly exciting for collectors. Not only were they fresh to the market, but they had descended directly through her family and are eminently wearable. It is not difficult to imagine an empress wearing the impressive natural pearl drop earrings. And, the ruby and diamond heart locket was a more modest and sentimental jewel and reminds us that Eugénie was also a wife and mother.”
…An empress, wife and mother and style icon with exquisite taste.