Sotheby’s Spectacular Auction of Jewels not seen in 200 years


Promoting it as “One of the most important royal jewelry collections at auction,” Sotheby’s will preview The Royal Jewels from The Bourbon Parma Family, which includes several jewels that belonged to Marie Antoinette.  Yes, you read it correctly treasures that belonged to the ill-fated Queen of France in the 1700s. During international previews in Hong Kong, New York, London, Dubai, Singapore, Taipei and Geneva (where  the jewels will hit the auction block on November 14, 2018) , this will be the first time in 200 years that  these historical jewels will be seen in public.

The preview in New York is scheduled from Oct 12-16.

Here is an excerpt from Sotheby’s on the Marie Antoinette pieces:

Never in the course of history has the destiny of a queen been so closely associated with jewels than that of Marie Antoinette. Her great love of pearls and diamonds is well-known and a number of historians have cited Napoleon’s view, that the so-called “affair of the diamond necklace” – a scandal which tarnished the queen’s reputation in 1785 – was one of the causes of the French Revolution1.

The impressive ensemble of jewels to be offered this autumn has an extraordinary story. In March 1791, King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and their children began to prepare their escape from France. According to accounts written by Marie Antoinette’s lady in waiting, Madame Campan, the queen spent an entire evening in the Tuileries Palace wrapping all of her diamonds, rubies and pearls in cotton and placing them in a wooden chest. In the following days, the jewels were sent to Brussels, which was under the rule of the queen’s sister, Archduchess Marie-Christine and which was home to Count Mercy Argentau. The count, the former Austrian Ambassador to Paris, was one of the only men who had retained the queen’s trust. It was he who took delivery of the jewels and sent them on to Vienna, into the safe keeping of the Austrian Emperor, Marie Antoinette’s nephew.

In 1792, the royal family was imprisoned in the Temple tower. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were executed by guillotine in 1793 and their 10-year old son, Louis XVII, died in captivity. The king and queen’s only surviving child, Marie-Thérèse de France (1778-1851), “Madame Royale”, was released in December 1795, after three years of solitary confinement. After learning of the deaths of her mother and brother, she was sent to Austria. Upon her arrival in Vienna in 1796, she was given her mother’s jewels by her cousin, the emperor. Having borne no children of her own, Madame Royale bequeathed part of her jewelry collection to her niece and adopted daughter, Louise of France (1819–1864), Duchess of Parma and grand-daughter of Charles X, King of France (1757-1836), who in turn left them to her son, Robert I (1848-1907), the last ruling Duke of Parma.”

Altogether, the collection includes 10 jewels which belonged to Marie Antoinette, eight of which are shown here:

A diamond brooch from the late eighteenth  century, features al yellow diamond. The double ribbon bow was formerly part of Marie Antoinette’s collection, and it is thought that the yellow diamond pendant was added at a later date ( Estimate: $50,000 – 80,000).

Marie Antoinette’s  single- strand natural pearl necklace (Estimate $40,000 – 70,000)


A six strand pearl necklace with a direct link to Marie Antoinette. It features an unaltered clasp, which includes five large and 18 smaller natural pearls. It was the clasp of one of a pair of Marie Antoinette’s six-row natural pearl bracelets.  The necklace was commissioned by later generations of the Bourbon Parma family and strung with cultured pearls (Estimate: $5,000 – 8,000).

Marie Antoinette’s natural pearl and diamond earrings (Estimate:  $ 200,000 – 300,000)

Created as a memento, a diamond ring bearing initials MA for Marie Antoinette and containing a lock of her hair provides an intimate link to the queen It is offered together with a ring with the monogram and hair of her father-in-law, Louis, Dauphin of France (1729-1765) who died before he could ascend the throne, and a diamond plaque bearing the monogram MT set in diamonds, which refers to Marie-Thérèse of Savoie (1803-1879), Duchess of Parma and wife of Charles II, Duke of Parma (Estimate for the two rings and plaque is $20,000 – 50,000).

By family tradition, the diamonds adorning this beautiful brooch belonged to Marie Antoinette. In her detailed inventory of the family’s jewels, Maria Anna of Austria (1882- 1940), explains she was informed of the history of the brooch by her father-in-law, Robert I of Parma (1848-1907), who presented it to her on the occasion of her engagement to his son, Elie de Bourbon Parme (1880-1959) (Estimate: $ 95,000 – 140,000).

Passed down through generations of Marie Antoinette’s descendants is a diamond ring decorated with her portrait, made in the late 18th century. In her will, Marie Antoinette’s daughter, Marie Thérèse de France (also known as Madame Royale),mentions that the portrait, which is set within a frame of pearls, is a likeness of her mother (Estimate:$ 8,000 – 12,000).

Marie Antoinette’s  pocket watch. Although the movement of the watch has been changed, its case – in blue enamel and encrusted with pearls – belonged to the queen. It bears the initials M.A. on the inside of the case, along with three fleur de lys motifs (Estimate: $1,000 – 2,000).

And if that weren’t enough to have you racing over to a preview near you, the auction also features JEWELS FROM THE FRENCH ROYAL FAMILY — highlighted by jewels that belonged to King Charles X (1757-1836), the last King of France and last of the Bourbon rulers, his son, the Duke of Angoulême and their descendants .

Additionally the ROYAL TREASURES OF AUSTRIA  which are from a separate branch of the Bourbon Parma family, and were passed through this prestigious family from the imperial family of Austria.

Bejeweled will follow up on this article after attending a press event, holding them in our hands and seeing them up close and personal. We will also report on several of the royal jewels in this spectacular auction.