What do you know about Marie Antoinette’s expensive collection of jewels? Only part of them are known today (they are in museums or private collections), the rest are lost or re-made into new jewelry pieces. The French queen Marie Antoinette managed to keep at least some of her jewels safe by entrusting them to her friends or hiding them. And those adornments that we know of are magnificent. Let’s have a closer look at them.
Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France, had a large collection of precious jewels in her private collection. Unfortunately, most of these jewels were lost during the French Revolution. But Marie Antoinette did manage to hide some of it with the help of her trusted friends.
Most of them found their way back to Marie Therese, Marie Antoinette’s daughter. And some of them are on display in museums or are in private collections. But most of them have been re-cut and fashioned into new creations and cannot be traced anymore.
Here are few of the remaining jewelries:
Pear-shaped diamond earrings
Marie Antoinette got those earrings as a present from her husband, King Louis XVI. Considered to be one of Queen Marie’s favorite earrings, and were taken from her when she was arrested. After that, they belonged to Grand Duchess Tatiana of Russia, from whose family Pierre Cartier bought them in 1928. Miss Marjorie Merriweather bought the earrings from Cartier, and her daughter Eleanor Barzin donated them to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington.
Pearls and diamonds of Marie Antoinette
During the early days of the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette gave Lady Sutherland, the wife of the British ambassador, some of her pearls and diamonds for safekeeping. Marie Antoinette trusted Lady Sutherland to give her the precious stones after she escaped from France. After the execution of Marie Antoinette, Lady Sutherland made a necklace using the pearls and diamonds.
The Regent Diamond
The gem was first set in the coronation crown of Louis XV and then, once removed, worn as a hair ornament by his Queen. Marie Antoinette used this big diamond to decorate a large black-velvet hat. The diamond weighed 140.50 carats. The gem then disappeared in 1792 and was found again in a hole in an attic in Paris. In 1797, it was pledged for money to help Napoleon’s rise to power. Napoleon had it mounted on the sword he carried at his coronation. After his fall, his wife Marie Louise’s father returned it back to France. The Regent Diamond was among the few jewels that were not sold, and it was exhibited at the Louvre. It was then hidden again when the Nazi invaded France and returned to the museum after the end of the conflict.
The Blue Diamond Heart Ring
In 1791, Marie Antoinette gave another piece of her jewelries to her close friend Princess Lubomirska. Unfortunately, the Princess was also executed during the Revolution. And the diamond ring was passed down to her daughter. Finally, it was sold at an auction at Christie’s in Geneva in 1983. And now it is in a private collection somewhere in Europe.
Marie Antoinette’s pearl necklace
This originally belonged to Anne of Austria and was passed down from generation to generation until Marie Antoinette. The necklace eventually came into the possession of Barbara Hutton, the heiress to a fortune left behind by her grandparents, who became one of the richest women in the world. Barbara Hutton is reported to have worn the pearl necklace on the occasion of her wedding to the Russian Prince Alexis Mdivani in 1933.
The Affair Necklace
Probably the most famous of Marie Antoinette’s jewelries, the Affair Necklace was first commissioned for the wife of Louis XVI. But before it was completed, Louis XVI died and it was offered to Marie Antoinette. This was an issue that was brought up during the trial of Antoinette, accusing her of participating in a crime to defraud the crown jewels of the cost of a very expensive diamond necklace.