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Bourbon Parma family jewels to sell in October


Marie-Antoinette Pearl
This spectacular pearl and diamond pendant belonged to Marie-Antoinette (Image: Sotheby's)

Sotheby’s will offer a selection of jewellery from the Bourbon Parma family in a dedicated sale at Sotheby’s Geneva on October 12.

This historically important sale will feature more than 100 lots, many of which were owned by famous members of this powerful European royal dynasty.

Among the stars is a spectacular diamond and pearl pendant that once belonged to French Bourbon queen Marie-Antoinette. It’s valued at $1m-2m.

Her love of excess proved too much for the people of France, who rose up in revolution against her in 1785. Indeed, it was an alleged defrauding of a jeweller (the so-called “Affair of the necklace”) that got the public riled up enough to take to the streets. 

There are several pieces from Marie-Antoinette’s jewellery box in the sale, including a large pearl necklace offered with an estimate of $200,000-300,000.

Daniela Mascetti, Sotheby’s deputy chairman of jewellery in Europe, comments: “It is one of the most important royal jewellery collections ever to appear on the market and each and every jewel is absolutely imbued with history.

“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.”

There’s also a collection of jewels from the Hapsburgs, including a diamond tiara gifted by the Emperor Franz Josef to his great niece Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria – who married Elias of Bourbon (Duke of Parma) in 1902. It’s expected to make around $80,000-120,000.

While each of these items has an inherent value due to the rarity and desirability of materials, there’s a good chance that the historical resonance of this sale could see many of these lots dramatically exceed their estimates.

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