THE MARIE ANTOINETTE DIAMONDS
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 two three row bracelets.
In 1776 Marie Antoinette was Queen of France for two years.
In the spring of 1776, she bought these two diamond bracelets for 250,000 livres, a huge sum at the time. According to Count Mercy-Argenteau, Austria’s Ambassador to France, they were paid partly in gemstones from the Queen’s collection and partly with funds the Queen received from King Louis XVI.
In February 1777, in the personal papers of King Louis XVI, it is stated: ‘to the Queen: down payment of 29,000 livres for the diamond bracelets she bought from Boehmer’.
ESCAPE FROM FRANCE AND THE LEGACY OF THE DIAMONDS
Count Mercy-Argenteau left his post as Ambassador of the Austrian Empire to France in 1790 and took office in Brussels. On 11 January 1791, he received a letter from Queen Marie-Antoinette, then a prisoner in the Tuileries in Paris. It announced that a wooden chest would be sent to him for safekeeping. Mercy-Argenteau stored it unopened for the next couple of years.
On 16 October 1793, Marie Antoinette was guillotined and in February 1794, Emperor Francis II of Austria (1768-1835) ordered the chest to be opened in Brussels and an inventory to be made.
It read as ‘Item no. 6 – A pair of bracelets where three diamonds, with the biggest set in the middle, form two barrettes; the two barrettes serve as clasps, each comprising four diamonds and 96 collet-set diamonds’. Madame Royale (1778-1851), surviving daughter of Marie-Antoinette, received these jewels in January 1796 upon her arrival in Austria.
In the picture, painted in 1816, Madame Royale is wearing a pair of diamond bracelets consistent with the Brussels inventory.
Madame Royale died childless on 19 October 1851. Her will dated 1 July 1851 states that the entirety of her jewellery collection – including Marie Antoinette's jewels
– was to be divided among her three nieces and nephews: Count of Chambord (1820-1883), Countess of Chambord
(1817-1886) and Duchess of Parma (1819-1864).
Of the pieces with a traceable provenance back to the Queen of France, these extraordinary bracelets are the only example to include diamonds belonging to her and to retain the exact design described in the Brussels inventory.
While it is possible that the bracelets might have been remounted at a later stage, no changes were made to the overall composition and the number of diamonds, except for those on the clasp, were kept identical as per the inventory.
The important pair of diamond bracelets are later worn and pictured from: Maria Anna von Habsburg (1882 -1940), Archduchess of Austria as choker, both bracelets together >>
And Infanta Alicia, Duchess of Calabria Princess Alicia of Bourbon-Parma wore it as bracelet.
The pair of historic diamond collet bracelets will be offered from Christie's at Geneve on auction, in November 2021 estimated $2,000,000-4,000,000
Souces:Musée des Beaux-Arts;Christie's;
Diamond Bracelets of the Duchess of Angouleme|Diamants de Coronne |Queen Marie-Antoinette Diamonds | France Imperial Royal Jewels
Diamond Bracelets Queen Marie-Antoinette Diamonds|Diamants de Coronne |Infanta Alicia Duchess of Calabria| France Imperial Royal Jewels
Duchess d Angouleme - Diadem der französischen Königstochter | Royal Imperial Jewels: Orginal Entwurf der Rubin-Diamant-Parure
Viscountess Lambton Historic Tiara | Diadème d’émeraudes de la duchesse d'Angoulème |Imperial Joyaux France
Diamond Bow Brooch with large Yellow Diamond Queen Marie-Antoinette |Royal Imperial Jewels | Jewelery Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria
Pink Topaz Grand Parure | Empress Marie Louise of France | Tiara, Collier, Bracelet, Guirdle, Comb with Topaz| Joaillerie Marie Louise impératrice des Français
Pink Topaz Parure with Diamonds | Empress Marie Louise of France | Rosa Topase Diadem, Kamm, Halsband,Gürtel | Joaillerie Marie Louise impératrice des Français
Habsburg Sapphires Parure with Diamonds, Fleur de Lys Brooches, Stomacher, Necklace | Austrian Bourbon Piacenza Tiara
Saphir Schmuck der Kaiserin Marie-Louise | Sapphire Parure of the Marie-Louise Empress of France | Joaillerie Marie Louise impératrice des Français
Entwurf der Rubin Parure der französischen Krone | Sketch of the Imperial Ruby-Diamond-Parure| Joaillerie Marie Louise impératrice des Français
Modell der Rubin Parure aus dem 19.Jhdt | Replica of the Imperial Ruby-Diamond-Parure| Joaillerie Marie Louise impératrice des Français
Die Orginalversion der Smaragd Parure | The Imperial Emerald-Diamond-Parure|Joaillerie Marie Louise impératrice des Français
Die Kaiserin mit der Smaragd-Garnitur | The Empress wearing the Emerald-Parure | Joaillerie Marie Louise impératrice des Français
Spätere Versionen der Smaragd Tiara | Later Versions of the tiara | Joaillerie Marie Louise impératrice des Français
Das Smaragdcollier und die Ohrringe| The Emerald-Diamond-Necklace and the Earrings with Emeralds| Joaillerie Marie Louise impératrice des Français Königliche und Kaiserliche Juwelen | Royal and Imperial Jewels of France