EYE CANDY

A Rare Glimpse at the Prized Pearls and Jewels That Once Adorned Marie Antoinette’s Head

Michael Bowles/Getty Images for Sotheby’s

Even before she famously lost it by guillotine, Marie Antoinette‘s head figured prominently into her reputation, thanks to the bevy of jewelry it often hosted. So deep, in fact, was the Queen of France’s passion of gems that it’s thought to have in part led to not only her execution, but also the French Revolution, thanks to the so-called “Affair of the Diamond Necklace” in 1785, which found her and the rest of the monarchy caught up in a fraudulent scandal involving today’s equivalent of around $14 million. It’s no surprise, then, that before her attempted escape from France, she gathered up her collection and sent it off far from the Tuileries Palace for safekeeping, all the way to her nephew, the Austrian Emperor, in Vienna. After her death, they passed into the hands of her daughter, and from there into the hands of her niece and adopted daughter, thereby making their way over to the Bourbon-Parma family, who count Pope Paul III and the Holy Roman Emperors among their forebears. All that was, of course, centuries ago, but this month brought the announcement that Marie Antoinette’s jewels will be seen for the first time in 200 years—along with no shortage of others, stretching from the reign of Louis XVI to the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire—in the Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family auction at Sotheby’s Geneva in November. Get a preview of all the pieces that could be yours in your few months—at least, if you happen to have a million or so to spare—here.

1

A diamond pendeloque brooch, given to Princess Maria Pia of Bourbon-Two Sicilies by her husband’s grandfather, Charles II of Parma, on the occasion of her wedding to Robert I. Estimated $25,000 – 35,000. Featured in the Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family auction at Sotheby’s Geneva, November 2018.

2

A diamond pendeloque brooch, given to Princess Maria Pia of Bourbon-Two Sicilies by her husband’s grandfather, Charles II of Parma, on the occasion of her wedding to Robert I. Estimated $25,000 – 35,000. Featured in the Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family auction at Sotheby’s Geneva, November 2018.

3

A necklace featuring diamond and 331 natural pearls that belonged to Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, estimated $200,000 – 300,000. Featured in the Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family auction at Sotheby’s Geneva, November 2018.

4

A necklace featuring diamond and 331 natural pearls that belonged to belonged to Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France, estimated $200,000 – 300,000. Featured in the Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family auction at Sotheby’s Geneva, November 2018.

5

A diamond bow brooch featuring a 6.89-carat Burmese ruby, given to Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria by her father to mark the births of her two sons, estimated $200,000 – $300,000. Featured in the Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family auction at Sotheby’s Geneva, November 2018.

6

A diamond bow brooch featuring a 6.89-carat Burmese ruby, given to Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria by her father to mark the births of her two sons, estimated $200,000 – $300,000. Featured in the Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family auction at Sotheby’s Geneva, November 2018.

7

A diamond pendant featuring a natural pearl, estimated $1,000,000 – 2,000,000. Featured in the Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family auction at Sotheby’s Geneva, November 2018.

8

A diamond pendant featuring a natural pearl, estimated $1,000,000 – 2,000,000. Featured in the Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family auction at Sotheby’s Geneva, November 2018.

9

A diamond girandole earring, given to Robert I by his grandmother, Maria-Teresa of Savoy, the Duchess of Parma, estimated $150,000 – 250,000. Featured in the Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family auction at Sotheby’s Geneva, November 2018.

10

A pair of diamond girandole earrings, given to Robert I by his grandmother, Maria-Teresa of Savoy, the Duchess of Parma, estimated $150,000 – 250,000. Featured in the Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family auction at Sotheby’s Geneva, November 2018.

11

A diamond parure featuring 95 diamonds, including five solitaire diamonds that belonged to Marie Antoinette, Queen of France. Made for Louise of France the granddaughter of Charles X, King of France and mother of Robert I, Duke of Parma. Estimated $300,000 – 500,000. Featured in the Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family auction at Sotheby’s Geneva, November 2018.

12

A diamond parure featuring 95 diamonds, including five solitaire diamonds that belonged to Marie Antoinette, Queen of France. Made for Louise of France the granddaughter of Charles X, King of France and mother of Robert I, Duke of Parma. Estimated $300,000 – 500,000. Featured in the Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family auction at Sotheby’s Geneva, November 2018.

13

A diamond brooch featuring a 30.7-carat sapphire from Ceylon, given to Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria by her mother on the occasion of her marriage, estimated $150,000 – 250,000. Featured in the Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family auction at Sotheby’s Geneva, November 2018.

14

A necklace featuring diamond and 331 natural pearls that belonged to belonged to Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France, estimated $200,000 – 300,000. Featured in the Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family auction at Sotheby’s Geneva, November 2018.

15

A pair of natural pearl drops, estimated $30,000 – 50,000. Featured in the Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family auction at Sotheby’s Geneva, November 2018.

16

A ring featuring a 2.44-carat diamond, given to Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria by her father to mark the births of her two sons, estimated $120,000 – 180,000. Featured in the Royal Jewels from the Bourbon-Parma Family auction at Sotheby’s Geneva, November 2018.