A Handful of History
A couple weeks ago, an historical treasure traded hands, literally.
Diamond enthusiasts watched eagerly for the sale of Marie Antoinette's diamond bracelets which went on the auction block. Two diamond bracelets of 3 rows each (112 stones) were estimated to be between 140 to 150 carats. Obviously they were not removed from their 18th century mountings for an exact weight.
One could call them priceless. In a sense they are. But if you're going to sell these relics of history, you must put a price on them.
Presale estimates of these treasures placed their value between $2 to 4 million dollars. The enraptured bidding at Christie's Geneva on November 10, 2021 quickly blew past those figures. When the diamond dust settled, it was more like $8.2 million dollars.
The diamonds belonging to France' last Queen are one of a kind---and more than that, a tangible memorial to the last monarch right before the French Revolution sent her, her husband King Louis XVI, and history recounts, most all of her family to the guillotine.
Like most famous (or infamous depending on how you view the French monarchy) jewels, the backstory tied to these pieces catapults their sensational prices through the stratosphere.
In the chaotic last months of her life, the queen secreted her bracelets out of France for safekeeping. Diamonds and rare gemstones have been called the world's most portable form of wealth for good reason. These small items represent a concentrated form of valuable assets that are impervious to the fluctuations of a global economy or time for that matter.
Marie Antoinette's object was to provide for herself if she were spared execution, and absent that, to provide for her daughter who was eventually allowed to go to her family in Austria.
Safely Hidden for Centuries
For the last 2 centuries, Christie's said, the remarkable jewels have been kept safe with a private royal family. The miraculous thing about these ancient jewels is that they did not get broken up and reset into modern jewelry--which was the fate of many older royal jewelry pieces.
These diamond bracelets are as light as a feather owing to the skilled workmanship of their manufacture. So while the stones flaunt an ancient asymmetrical cutting, they have a modern vibe lent them by the fluid movement of the articulated style.
Her surviving daughter Marie Therese, (Madame Royale) eventually did receive the jewels when she landed in Austria. Their new owner remains anonymous as a phone bidder.