GENEVA – Jewels once worn by France’s queen Marie Antoinette who was beheaded in the country’s Revolution went on show in Switzerland on Thursday ahead of one of the most important royal jewelry auctions in recent times.
The Sotheby’s auction house in Geneva revealed the rare and personal lots as part of the “Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family” auction due to come under the hammer on Nov. 14, spanning centuries of European history from the reign of Louis XVI of France to the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
“It is one of the most important royal jewelry collections ever to appear on the market where each jewel is imbued with history,” said Daniela Mascetti, Deputy Chairman, Sotheby’s Jewellery Europe.
“These extraordinary jewels offer a captivating insight into the lives of its owners going back hundreds of years.”
The Bourbon-Parma family lineage claims to descend by bloodline from Louis XIV of France, the Holy Roman Emperors and Pope Paul III, linking them to some of Europe’s most important ruling families, from the Bourbons to the Habsburgs.
Marie Antoinette, the daughter of Holy Roman Empress Maria Teresa, married Louis XVI and became the most famous and also reviled queen of France.
Her jewels, which were smuggled out of France during the Revolution, have not been seen in public for two centuries.
“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,” Mascetti added.
The forthcoming auction also includes a selection of fancy and colorless diamonds of impeccable quality and spectacular jewels by renowned houses such as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Bulgari, alongside other unique period items.
The lots can be viewed between Nov. 10-15 at Geneva’s Mandarin Oriental hotel.