This week, a pair of jewelry auctions in Switzerland featured numerous tiaras and jewels with incredible royal provenance. We’ve featured several pieces in our recent articles, and today, I’ve got some updates on the results of the sale—including that jaw-dropping price for French royal diamonds!
Let’s start with the big one, shall we? Queen Marie Antoinette of France purchased this matched pair of diamond bracelets in 1776 from Charles Auguste Böhmer. After the revolution, the bracelets were saved, and they were passed on later to Marie Antoinette’s daughter, the Duchess of Angoulême. They stayed with the extended family over the years, and were offered for sale by Christie’s in Geneva on behalf of an unnamed European royal family. While the bracelets were expected to fetch a high price, with the auction estimate set between 2,000,000-4,000,000 Swiss francs, they absolutely smashed those expectations, selling for an incredible 7,459,000 francs (around $8.1 million USD!).
In the same auction, Christie’s also sold another piece of jewelry from the Duchess of Angoulême’s collection. This diamond and ruby brooch was originally one of the earrings from her ruby parure, which had been remade from a suite originally owned by Empress Marie Louise, Napoleon’s second wife. The rubies were state property, and they stayed in France as various royal families came and went during the nineteenth century. The jewel was sold in 1887 along with the rest of the French crown jewels, and it’s not known where it’s been in the interim; Christie’s simply said it was being sold by a “noble family.” But we know that on Tuesday, the brooch was in the sale room in Geneva, where it brought 250,000 Swiss francs (around $272,000 USD), significantly exceeding its pre-sale estimate of 40,000-60,000 francs.
The ruby brooch wasn’t the only jewel in the auction associated with Napoleon. Christie’s also sold this remarkable diamond ears of wheat tiara, made for Pauline Bonaparte Borghese by François Regnault Nitot in 1811. The jewel has stayed with the extended Borghese family for two centuries, until its sale in Geneva this week. The tiara was expected to sell for between 440,000-650,000 Swiss francs, but it exceeded those numbers, fetching 810,000 francs (approximately $880,000 USD).
As a sidenote: earlier, we covered another royal jewel that was supposed to be included in the Christie’s sale: the ruby and diamond bangle made by Cartier for the Duchess of Windsor. The bracelet appears to have been withdrawn from the sale before the auction date.
Sotheby’s also mounted a major jewelry sale in Geneva this week, auctioning off numerous pieces on Wednesday. We highlighted several of these in recent posts, including this sapphire and diamond palmette tiara. It belonged to the opera singer Johanna Loisinger, who married Prince Alexander of Battenberg after his brief tenure as the sovereign Prince of Bulgaria. The tiara was expected to sell for between 70,000-120,000 Swiss francs, and indeed, it brought 113,400 francs (around $123,000 USD).
The Sotheby’s sale also included a few more tiaras. This diamond tiara, made in the 1880s, features scroll and floral designs. It was offered for sale by an unnamed German noble family, with an estimate set between 50,000-65,000 Swiss francs. It sold for nearly double that: 107,100 francs (or around $116,000 USD).
This sapphire and diamond floral necklace, also due to be sold on Wednesday by Sotheby’s in Geneva, can be dismantled, and sections can be mounted on a frame to be worn as a tiara or a coronet. The piece was made in the late 19th century, but we don’t know any more about its provenance. The jewel’s auction estimate was set at 120,000-170,000 Swiss francs—but it was ultimately withdrawn from the sale.
This classic diamond floral fringe tiara, though, actually was sold on Wednesday in Geneva. Made in France in the late 19th century, this was offered by an unnamed “lady,” and it was sold with a fitted case from Chaumet. Expected to bring between 35,000-45,000 Swiss francs, the tiara sold for just over the estimate: 47,880 francs (or around $52,000 USD).
Our tiara roundup from the Sotheby’s auction concludes with this sleek Art Deco bandeau from Chaumet, set with diamonds and a single emerald. It’s versatile, able to be worn in various different configurations. An unnamed noble family offered it in the auction, at an estimate of 100,000-110,000 Swiss francs. It significantly exceeded that number, selling for 277,200 francs (or appoximately $300,000 USD).
And finally, we’ve got the remarkable diamonds and sapphires from the collection of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia, who is better known to many of us as Grand Duchess Vladimir. The brooch and earrings, made by Bolin, were some of the pieces smuggled out of St. Petersburg after the revolution, adding a little extra mystique to the sale. The estimate for the sapphires was set at 280,000-480,000 Swiss francs. It should come as no surprise that they blew that number out of the water, selling for a whopping 806,500 francs (or approximately $875,000).
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