Marie Antoinette’s prized jewels up for auction

Have you ever wanted to wear jewels fit for a queen? Now’s your chance.

Jewelry that once belonged to Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France before the French Revolution, will be going up for auction this fall. And before the auction, the collection is making stops on an international tour where members of the public can view and even try on the royal pieces.

The jewels once belonging to the ill-fated queen include a diamond and pearl pendant with a value estimated at between $1 and $2 million, a pearl and diamond necklace valued between $200,000 to $300,000, and a diamond double-ribbon-bow brooch valued between $50,000 to $80,000.

There’s also a diamond ring containing a lock of the queen’s hair. It’s worth an estimated $20,000 to $50,000.

The jewelry, never before seen in public, is part of a larger auction collection comprised of pieces from the Bourbon Parma family, one of Europe’s most significant dynastic families. The family is linked to French royalty, including Marie Antoinette and her husband, Louis XVI, as well as kings of Spain, emperors of Austria and dukes of Parma.

Sotheby’s, the luxury dealer managing the auction, calls the collection “one of the most important royal jewellery [sic] collections ever to come to auction,” according to a press release.

The jewels were smuggled out of France

With the revolution raging, King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette plotted their escape from France. In March 1791, just months before her arrest, the queen placed a selection of her diamonds, rubies, and pearls in a wooden chest. The collection made its way to Vienna by way of Brussels in the care of Florimond Claude, Comte de Mercy Argenteau, an Austrian diplomat and loyal retainer to the queen.

Both Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were imprisoned and executed by guillotine in 1793. Their son died in captivity shortly afterwards at the age of 10.

“Their last surviving child Marie-Therèse, known as “Madame Royale,” was released from three years of solitary confinement in 1795. Upon her eventual arrival in Vienna in 1796 she reclaimed her mother’s jewels, which had been kept safe by her cousin, the Austrian Emperor,” Sotheby’s said.

The collection has been kept in the family for over 200 years and this is the first time the jewels are on public display.

“Every jewel is absolutely imbued with history,” said Daniela Mascetti, Deputy Chairman of Sotheby’s Jewelry Europe. “This extraordinary group of jewels offers a captivating insight into the lives of its owners going back hundreds of years.”

The collection is currently on exhibition in New York City after being showcased in Dubai earlier this month. After New York, the collection will make stops in London, Singapore, and Taipei before going up for auction in Geneva, Switzerland on Nov. 14.