Bracelets that once belonged to Marie Antoinette are selling for $8.2 million at auction

LONDON – Bracelets that once belonged to France’s last Queen, Marie Antoinette, sold for more than $8 million at an auction in Geneva on Tuesday, but a bracelet that once belonged to Britain’s Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, failed to find a buyer. find.

Antoinette’s two bracelets consist of three strands of diamonds and contain 112 stones. They sold for $8.2 million, the second-highest price ever paid for a Marie Antoinette jewel, and the highest price for a diamond jewel of this provenance, according to Christie’s auction house.

Prior to the sale, Christie’s auction house estimated they could sell for between $2 million and $4 million.

“It’s incredibly rare to find a historic piece dating back more than 200 years,” said Max Fawcett, head of Christie’s Geneva jewelry division.

According to Christie’s, the Queen bought the bracelets in 1776, just two years after she and her husband King Louis XVI ascended the throne.

In 1791, while the French Revolution was in full swing, Antoinette sent a briefcase to the ambassador of the Austrian Empire for safekeeping. When it was finally opened after she was beheaded in 1793, the bracelet was discovered and then given to Antoinette’s daughter, according to Christie’s.

The bracelets were accompanied at auction by a ruby ​​and diamond bracelet that once belonged to the Duchess of Windsor, but did not sell.

The former British King Edward VIII gifted his wife, the Duchess of Windsor, this ruby ​​and diamond bracelet on the occasion of their first wedding anniversary in June 1938. Martial Trezzini / AP

Simpson, a twice-divorced American, married the Duke of Windsor, former British King Edward VIII, after he abdicated in December 1936. Forced to choose between the crown and Simpson, he gave up his position less than a year after his father’s death. dead.

The Duke of Windsor gave the bracelet, made by Cartier, to Simpson on the occasion of their first birthday in June 1938 while living in France. It was inscribed by the former king, “For our first anniversary of June 3rd.”

Prior to the auction, Fawcett had expected the bracelet to be in high demand.

“She was a truly influential figure that people looked to as an icon in the jewelry world,” Fawcett said. “She had incredible jewelry and when they come up for sale, it’s something collectors look for.”

After Edward’s abdication, his brother King George VI, father of Queen Elizabeth II, took over the throne.

The Duchess’ jewelry collection was first auctioned in 1987 after her death, where it sold for much more than originally estimated.

Diamond bracelets belonging to Marie Antoinette sold for $8.2 million, the second highest price ever for a Queen’s jewel. Martial Trezzini / AP

The auction house had estimated that the ruby-and-diamond bracelet could sell for between $1.10 million and $2.19 million Tuesday.

Before the auction, jeweler Tobias Kormind said jewelry with royalty connections is rare and predicted the bracelets could sell for much more than estimates.

“It’s so powerful to own a piece of someone’s history that you can read about in books,” said Kormind, the director of 77 Diamonds. “If you can’t make history, it’s best to own a piece of it.”

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