Marie-Antoinette’s diamond bracelets are auctioned off | Smart News

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The Queen of France bought the pair of diamond bracelets for 250,000 pounds in 1776.
Courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd. 2021

The Queen of France Marie-Antoinette was renowned for her sense of style. During her lifetime, she captivated the court with her richly adorned hairstyles and lavish dresses; centuries after her death, the monarch’s sartorial choices, including walking through a model village on the grounds of Versailles in a milkmaid’s dress known as the queen shirt—Continue to inspire new looks.

In November, two accessories from the Queen’s coveted wardrobe will go under the hammer at Christie’s Geneva. As reported by Agence France-Presse (AFP), the pair of three-row bracelets, set with a total of 112 diamonds, is estimated at between $ 2 million and $ 4 million but could fetch a much higher price.

Speaking to AFP, Marie-Cécile Cisamolo, jewelry specialist at Christie’s, specifies that the estimate “includes not only the intrinsic value of diamonds, but also the possibility of wearing jewelry that was once worn by the famous queen “.

According to a statement, Marie-Antoinette bought the bracelets in 1776, paying £ 250,000 for them – “a huge sum at the time”. The French pound was then worth roughly the same as a silver pound, notes Joseph Golder for Zenger News.

Marie-Antoinette's diamond bracelets are up for auction

1783 portrait of Queen Marie Antoinette in an informal chiffon dress

Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The queen paid for the bracelets with gems from her collection and funds provided by her husband, Louis XVI. In 1791, as the French Revolution threatened to overthrow the monarchy, Marie-Antoinette sent the jewels – locked in a wooden chest – to the former Austrian Ambassador to France, Count Mercy-Argenteau, for him to have. keep.

After the execution of the queen in October 1793, the emperor of Austria, François II, ordered his servants to draw up an inventory of the contents of the safe. Item number six, according to Christie’s, was a “pair of bracelets where three diamonds, with the largest set in the middle, form two bars; the two bars serve as clasps, each comprising four diamonds and 96 neck-set diamonds.

Cisamolo tells City Country‘s Jill Newman that diamond bracelets “relive and transport part of French history to the world today”.

She adds that the coins are even more valuable because they haven’t been altered over time. They appear to be in the same condition as when the Queen bought them.

“We can assume that the simple design has spoken to its various owners over the past 226 years,” Cisamolo said.

Born in Vienna in 1755, Marie-Antoinette was only 14 when she married Louis, grandson of Louis XV of France, in May 1770. She courted controversy from the start of her reign in 1794, attracting critical because of its Austrian origins and perceived reputation. “like a spender … indifferent to the fate of the French people”, writes Nazanin Lankarani for the New York Times in 2019.

Marie-Antoinette's diamond bracelets are up for auction

The Queen’s daughter, Marie-Thérèse Charlotte of France, wears what appear to be her mother’s diamond bracelets in this 1816 portrait of Antoine-Jean Gros.

Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

By the time the French revolutionaries took the Bastille on July 14, 1789, Marie-Antoinette was one of the country’s most hated figures. Imprisoned in the Tuileries in Paris in 1791, the queen sent her jewels to Brussels, believing that she would end up being exonerated and reunited with them, by City Country. Instead, she and her husband were sentenced to death and beheaded by guillotine.

The couple’s daughter, Marie-Thérèse Charlotte of France, known as “Madame Royale”, survived the revolution, surviving her parents and her brother, the young Louis XVII. She was released in December 1795 and sent to Austria, where she took possession of her mother’s jewelry. A portrait of Marie-Thérèse from 1816 shows the royal wearing a pair of bracelets conforming to the Brussels inventory.

“These jewels go back to Marie-Antoinette,” Cisamolo told AFP.

Other Queen’s jewelry has been auctioned off in recent years. In 2018, for example, a pearl and diamond pendant once worn by the doomed monarch sold at Sotheby’s for $ 36 million.


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