Marie Antoinette's exquisite jewels go under the hammer
GENEVA - AFP
Marie Antoinette's dazzling diamonds and pearls, unseen in public for two centuries, will go on sale in Geneva on Nov. 14 in what is being billed as one of the most important royal jewelry auctions in history.
The treasures were secretly whisked out of Paris in 1791 as King Louis XVI, his queen and their children prepared to escape during the French Revolution.
They are part of a major collection, held by the Italian royal House of Bourbon-Parma, that is being sold by Sotheby's auction house.
Out of the more than 100 lots, 10 pieces belonged to the ill-fated Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France before the revolution.
She was guillotined in Paris in Oct. 1793 at the age of 37.
"It is the sale of the 21st century. Because how do you top Marie Antoinette?" Andres White Correal, Sotheby's senior director of jewelry, said last month.
The highlight is Marie Antoinette's Pearl, a natural pearl and diamond pendant valued at $1-2 million.
A natural pearl and diamond necklace composed of three rows of more than 100 slightly graduated pearls is expected to fetch $200,000-300,000, as are a pair of pearl and diamond pendant earrings.
A monogrammed ring containing a lock of her hair is valued at $8,000-10,000.
"It is one of the most important royal jewellery collections ever to appear on the market and each and every jewel is absolutely imbued with history," said Daniela Mascetti, deputy chair of Sotheby's jewelry Europe.