The public’s obsession with Marie Antoinette continues almost 250 years after her death. On Tuesday, two of the French Queen’s diamond bracelets sold for $8.2 million at Christie’s, far surpassing the auction house’s original estimate of $2 to $4 million.
The bracelets, which were part of Christie’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels auction, feature around 140 to 150 carats of antique diamonds. They’re thought to have been made by Marie Antoinette’s personal jeweler, Charles Auguste Boehmer in 1776. According to Christie’s historian, Vincent Meylan, Marie Antoinette, who was known to be a fine jewelry fanatic, paid 250,000 livres (about $4.6 million today) for the bracelets. The Queen apparently had to sell some of her other pieces and borrow 29,000 livres from her husband, King Louis XVI, in order to afford the jewelry.
In 1791, Marie Antoinette relocated the bracelets outside of France for safekeeping during the Revolution. Of course, Marie Antoinette was never able to recover them, having died by guillotine at the hands of the Revolutionary Tribunal in 1973.
"What is miraculous is that they have remained together and intact when they could have easily been broken up, as many other jewels of royal provenance have been," said the senior international jewelry specialist at Christie's in Geneva, Jean-Marc Lunel, in the statement. "This makes them particularly attractive to collectors."
Lunel continued, saying, "They are so light and so well made that they simply flow on your wrist like fabric. And the imperfect antique cut of the diamonds provides a unique charm that cannot be found in modern cut diamonds."