Marie Antoinette’s diamond bracelets sold in Geneva auction

A pair of diamond bracelets that once belonged to Marie Antoinette, the condemned 18th century queen of France, have been purchased at a Christie’s auction for 7.6 million Swiss francs ($AU11.1 million).

Both bracelets are silver and gold and have 112 diamonds. Antoinette used cotton to hide the bracelets in a wooden chest, whilst imprisoned for treason in 1791.

Prior to selling at the Geneva Magnificent Jewels auction on 9 November, a Christie’s spokesperson said that they expected the bracelets to sell for between $AU3-6 million.

The auction was a success, with the winning bid exceeding the pre-sale estimates.

Jean-Marc Lunel, senior international specialist Christie’s, said the bracelets were particularly attractive to buyers, as “it is miraculous that they have remained together and intact when they could have easily been broken up, as many other jewels of royal provenance have been.”

Rahul Kadakia, international director of jewellery Christie’s, explained that the bracelets had been in the family for more than two centuries because Antoinette took steps to ensure the safekeeping of the bracelets, prior to her execution in 1793.

Antoinette was renowned for her extravagant spending, and purchased the bracelets for 250,000 livres, an amount equivalent to $AU4.6 million in today’s currency. in order to purchase the bracelets Antoinette had to sell a collection of her own gemstones, and borrow money from her husband, King Louis XVI, according to a contemporary accounting book.

Each bracelet has approximately 140 to 150-carats of diamonds, with Lunel stating that the bracelets were designed by Charles Auguste Boehmer, Antoinette’s personal jeweller.

Lunel added that their unique cut is not typically found in contemporary diamond designs, as “the imperfect antique cut of the diamonds provides a unique charm that cannot be found in modern cut diamonds.”

The bracelets were both sold to an unidentified buyer who bid via telephone.

The auction also had several other historical jewellery pieces on offer, including a 26-carat oval sapphire and matching ear clips, once owned by the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia.





Image: Keystone via AP Martial Trezzini)

Images: Reuters

Image: Christie’s

Image: Christie’s

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