Sotheby’s isn’t the only auction house holding a Magnificent Jewels sale this week. In Geneva, Christie’s mounted a similar sale today, featuring lots of important pieces—including this royal sapphire and diamond bracelet.
Today’s auction in Geneva includes this magnificent antique sapphire and diamond bracelet. The lot notes from Christie’s described the bracelet as including an “oval-shaped sapphire, old-cut diamonds, gold and silver (French mark for mixed metal), late 19th century.”
The sapphire set in the center of the bracelet is Sri Lankan in origin, and the auction notes state that it shows no evidence of heating.
Here’s a view of the back of the bracelet, clearly showing the way that the links are articulated.
Christie’s writes that “by family tradition” the bracelet was given as a wedding present to Infanta Maria Antonia of Portugal by her husband, Robert I, the last sovereign Duke of Parma. Maria Antonia was the daughter of the deposed King Miguel I of Portugal and his German wife, Princess Adelaide of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg. She was Duke Robert’s second wife, marrying him in 1884 following the death in childbirth of his first wife, Princess Maria Pia of Bourbon-Two Sicilies.
Robert and Maria Antonia were the heads of an extremely prolific royal family. Robert had had twelve children (three of whom died in infancy) with his first wife, Princess Maria Pia, and after their marriage Maria Antonia gave birth to twelve more (all of whom survived to adulthood). This family portrait was taken in 1906, the year before Robert’s death. It shows Robert and Maria Antonia with eighteen of their children at their family home, the Villa Pianore. The portrait includes several of the couple’s prominent descendants, including the future Empress Zita of Austria (seated in the front row on the far right-hand side of the picture) and Prince Felix (standing behind her), who would later marry Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg.
One of Robert and Maria Antonia’s descendants is now selling the sapphire and diamond bracelet (as well as several other pieces of family jewelry) in today’s auction at Christie’s. The specific identity of the seller has not been made public.
The auction estimate for the bracelet was set at 80,000-140,000 Swiss francs (about £70,000-123,000 GBP or $81,000-142,000 USD at today’s exchange rates). I’m writing this article ahead of time, and by the time it’s published, we may know what the outcome of the auction was. You can find the link to the lot here.