Marie Antoinette diamond bracelets soar to US$8 million at auction

GENEVA (REUTERS) – A pair of diamond bracelets that belonged to France’s Queen Marie Antoinette sold at auction on Tuesday (Nov 9) for 7.46 million Swiss francs (S$11 million), several times the pre-sale estimate, Christie’s said.

Rahul Kadakia, Christie’s international director of jewellery who conducted the auction, told the Geneva saleroom that the bracelets had stayed in the family for almost 200 years.

The buyer was bidding by telephone and not identified.

The hammer price was 6.2 million Swiss francs, but with commission the final price was 7.46 million Swiss francs, Christie’s spokesman Alexandra Kindermann said.

A blue velvet box bearing a label “bracelets of Queen Marie Antoinette” holds the double bracelets, each composed of three strings of diamonds and a large barrette clasp, for a total of 112 diamonds.

Marie Antoinette, who sent a letter from prison in the Tuileries in Paris saying that a wooden chest with jewels would be sent for safekeeping, was guillotined in 1793.

Her surviving daughter Marie Therese, Madame Royale, received the jewels on her arrival in Austria, the auction house said.

The bracelets, which were the property of a European royal family, had been expected to fetch US$2 million (S$2.7 million) to US$4 million, Christie’s said before the sale.

An Art Deco ruby and diamond ring, ordered by the Duke of Windsor from Cartier, and offered to his American wife Wallis Simpson on their first wedding anniversary by the man who gave up the British throne to marry her, failed to find a new owner.

The pre-sale estimate for the Duchess of Windsor ring was 1 million to 2 million Swiss francs, the auction house said.

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