Marie Antoinette’s jewelry and gems belonging to an aristocratic family are up for auction at Sotheby’s this fall and it’s some serious bling.
The collection, which hits the auction block on Nov. 14, belongs to the Bourbon-Parma family, which has blood ties to kings of France and Spain and emperors of Austria and the dukes of Parma. For those a little rusty on their history of Europe, the House of Bourbon held thrones in Spain, Parma, Naples, Sicily and France and the Habsburgs, or the House of Austria, was a sovereign dynasty in Europe from the 15th to the 20th centuries.
Among the pieces, delicate jewels belonging to Marie Antoinette — the fashionable yet ill-fated queen and wife of Louis XVI who met her death by the blade of a guillotine in 1793 — lead the collection.
In addition to a diamond ring with a miniature portrait of the queen (pictured above and worth about $8,000-$12,000), the collection includes a natural pearl and diamond pendant (estimated worth of $1-2 million); a diamond brooch in a double bow design with a pear-shaped yellow diamond (estimated worth of $50,000-$80,000) and about 22 more gems.
The jewelry certainly sets the imagination ablaze — it’s easy to picture Marie Antoinette dripping with diamonds in her opulent castle at Versailles.
“It is one of the most important royal jewelry collections ever to appear on the market, and each and every jewel is absolutely imbued with history," said Daniela Mascetti, Sotheby’s senior specialist worldwide. "Never before seen in public, this extraordinary group of jewels offers a captivating insight into the lives of its owners going back hundreds of years. What is also striking is the inherent beauty of the pieces themselves: the precious gems they are adorned with and the exceptional craftsmanship they display are stunning in their own right.”
The collection will be presented with Sotheby’s "New York Fine Jewels" exhibition and its "Magnificent Jewels" auction in December.
To see them, head to Sotheby’s (1334 York Ave.) between Oct. 12-16, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Oct. 14, from 1 to 5 p.m.