These diamonds worth millions that belonged to famous French Queen Marie Antoinette are set to be sold at a Christie’s auction in Geneva.
The diamonds, which were set as a pair of bracelets, were purchased by the young queen in 1776 for the sum of 250,000 livres. They have been valued at between USD 2 million and USD 4 million (GBP 1.45 million and GBP 2.9 million), according to the British auction house.
Christie’s said in a statement: “According to Count Mercy-Argenteau, Austria’s Ambassador to France, they were paid partly in gemstones from the Queen’s collection and partly with funds the Queen received from King Louis XVI.”
The statement also said: “Count Mercy-Argenteau left his post as Ambassador of the Austrian Empire to France in 1790 and took office in Brussels. On 11 January 1791, he received a letter from Queen Marie-Antoinette, then a prisoner in the Tuileries in Paris.
“It announced that a wooden chest would be sent to him for safekeeping. Mercy-Argenteau stored it unopened for the next couple of years. On 16 October 1793, Marie Antoinette was guillotined and in February 1794, Emperor Francis II of Austria (1768-1835) ordered the chest to be opened in Brussels and an inventory to be made.
“It read as ‘Item no. 6 – A pair of bracelets where three diamonds, with the biggest set in the middle, form two barrettes; the two barrettes serve as clasps, each comprising four diamonds and 96 collet-set diamonds’.
“Madame Royale (1778-1851), surviving daughter of Marie-Antoinette, received these jewels in January 1796 upon her arrival in Austria.”
François Curiel, Chairman of Christie’s Luxury, said: “Over the past 255 years Christie’s have offered many Historic Jewels from Royal Houses around the world.
“It is a privilege to be able to offer these exceptional and unique bracelets for sale at Christie’s where they will attract bidding from collectors globally. As seen in recent Geneva sales, the market for jewels of noble provenance continues to perform extremely well.”
Christie’s live ‘Magnificent Jewels Auction’ is set to be held at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues in the city of Geneva, in western Switzerland, near the French border.
Marie Antoinette (1755-1793) was an Austrian archduchess who became the last queen of France before the French Revolution. She was guillotined on 16th October 1793. The phrase “let them eat cake” is often, albeit erroneously, attributed to her.
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