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In their current form, the 112 diamonds set as collets, originally belonging to Queen Marie-Antoinette of France 1755-1793 , are made as a historic pair of bracelets. And later owned by her daughter Madame Royale Duchess d’Angoulême
A cord in writing, found between the boxes of jewels, stated that these sapphire jewels were given to Grand Duchess Stephanie of Baden, by her cousin Hortense de Beauharnais, Queen of Holland.
Such an origin is very likely. In many paintings Queen Hortense of Holland, and her mother Empress Josephine, can be seen wearing precious belts. Furthermore, Hortense’s financial papers, which are kept in the Napoléon archive in Paris, give evidence of her fortune between 1817 and 1837, the year she passed away. They show that she left Paris in 1816 with little money, but a lot of jewellery.
After Grand Duchess Stephanie’s of Baden death in 1860 the sapphire parure described as
‘necklace, pendant, earrings, seven pins and a belt’
was inherited by Stephanie’s second daughter, Josephine, Princess of Hohenzollern Sigmaringen.
See at the coronation picture, the sisters of Napoleon Caroline, Pauline, Elise and Hortense are in court gown with „jeweled belts“ and „bandeau head ornaments“ also stetted with large pins of precious centers, like the brooches and pins.
Under Napoléon’s court, belts decorated with precious stones were part of any jewellery parure, as fashion dictated that the waist was very high on dresses and court ladies needed a belt which was placed just under the décolleté. More about the history:
The marriage of Princess Helene of Orleans, daughter of the late Comte de Paris, heir to the throne of Louis Philippe, King of the French, to the Duc d’Aosta, nephew to King Humbert of Italy, took place on Tuesday, June 25, 1895 in the small Roman Catholic Church of St. Raphael, at Kingston-on-Thames. More about the history:
Marie Louise went to Vienna after the fall of Napoleon I and took with her her personal jewelery, including the emarald parure. The parure stayed in the Habsburg family until 1953. Then a Scandinavian decendant of the Habsburg family sold the diadem and kept the other pieces of the parure. They sold it to the famous Jewelhouse Van Cleef and Arpels.
They replaced the emeralds with turquoises and sold it to Mrs. Merriweather Post. Majorie Merriweather Post, is seen above, wearing the famous jewel. She donated the diadem to the Smithsonian Institution in 1966. See above in the pictures, update about the history