Marie Antoinette: Which Precious Jewels Belonging to Last Queen of France Fetched Millions at Auction?

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We hardly need the auction of some of Marie Antoinette’s most precious jewels to remind us that she was a person who adored the finer things in life.

The beheading of the last Queen of France during the French Revolution in 1793 transformed her into the infamous symbol of unfettered excess, and you can kind of see why. During her lifetime she accumulated a vast amount of precious items such as her beloved Japanese lacquer boxes, richly embroidered clothes, and—of course—jewels.

Before treasure trove that was the Palace of Versailles was ransacked by revolutionaries enraged by the royal family’ gross lavishness in the face of mass starvation, the queen managed to smuggle her jewels out of France in a wooden chest that would eventually be sent to Austria, her birthplace. In 1795, Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI’s only surviving child, Marie-Therese, was released from prison. By this time her parents had been executed at the guillotine, and the jewels were hers.

Some of these pieces went up for auction at Sotheby’s in November, marking the first time some of them had been seen in public for 200 years. One example was a ring containing the hair of Marie Antoinette and monogrammed with her initials M.A., which sold for $440,000.

Her three-strand pearl necklace sold for $2.2.million. Out of its 119 pearls, 116 are saltwater and 3 are freshwater—all natural, of course. Forbes explains how natural pearls were especially indicative of royalty in the 18th century due to the danger and difficulty of harvesting them.

Perhaps thousands of oysters would be harvested and opened by divers without finding a single pearl, and pearl hunters who ventured further into the lake or ocean depths risked drowning or being attacked by predators.

Due to these factors, in Marie Antoinette’s time pearls were more valuable than diamonds.

The most stunning piece that went up for auction was a pearl pendant that sold for a stunning $36 million., an item described by Sotheby’s as “exceptional and highly important.”

Meanwhile, a rare blue diamond called the Farnese Blue sold for $6.7 million. Passed between Europe’s royal families for generations, the gem was mined in India and probably formed the centerpiece of one of Marie Antoinette’s opulent tiaras.

Source :

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