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Marie Antoinette’s pendant sells for £25m in jewellery auction


A pearl pendant that once belonged to Marie Antoinette has sold at auction for £25m, smashing predictions.

The jewellery that was owned by the ill-fated French Queen went under the hammer by Sotheby’s in Geneva.

As well as the royal jewels of the Bourbon-Parma family, spanning centuries of European history, the lot contained a diamond-set monogrammed ring and a lock of her hair.

In total, the lot fetched a whopping $53.2m (£41m).

The jewels have not been seen in public for 200 years and the sale has been described as one of the most important royal jewellery auctions in history.

The full collection contains 100 pieces and 10 of those once belonged to Marie Antoinette.

The diamond pendant with a large pearl, measuring 26mm by 18mm, was the star of the lot.

Also in the collection was a necklace with 119 natural pearls.

Marie Antoinette left her jewels with her loyal retainer, Count Mercy Argenteau, when she and her family prepared their escape from France in March 1791.

The collection, in a wooden chest, travelled to Vienna via Brussels, where it stayed with the count until 1796. At that time the king and queen’s surviving child Marie-Therese was released from solitary confinement.

Marie Antoinette had been guillotined in Paris three years earlier at the age of 37.

Marie-Therese had no children of her own and passed the jewels to her niece and adopted daughter. The jewels have been owned privately by relatives ever since.

They date from the reign of Louis XVI until the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Daniela Mascetti, of Sotheby’s Jewellery Europe, said: “It is one of the most important royal jewellery collections ever to appear on the market and each and every jewel is absolutely imbued with history.

“Never before seen in public, this extraordinary group of jewels offers a captivating insight into the lives of its owners going back hundreds of years.

“What is also striking is the inherent beauty of the pieces themselves: the precious gems they are adorned with and the exceptional craftsmanship they display are stunning in their own right.”

Andres White Correal, Sotheby’s senior director of jewellery, added: “How do you top Marie Antoinette?”

(c) Sky News 2018: Marie Antoinette’s pendant sells for £25m in jewellery auction