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Marie Antoinette’s bracelets goes for £6 million at Christie’s auction in Geneva


Marie Antoinette’s two diamond bracelets were sold for £6million after being expected to fetch up to £3million at an auction yesterday, 228 years after her death.

The pair of silver and yellow gold bracelets are both made up of three strands and contain 112 diamonds.

The stunning jewellery was sold by a mystery European royal family member at Christie’s auction in Geneva, Switzerland. 

Marie Antoinette originally bought the bracelets for 250,000 livres in 1776, just two years after taking the throne with her husband King Louis XVI

The two bracelets contained 112 diamonds and sold for £6million after being expected to fetch up to £3million at an auction today

The two bracelets contained 112 diamonds and sold for £6million after being expected to fetch up to £3million at an auction today

The bracelets were hidden once she and her husband King Louis XVI were taken as prisoners in Paris during the French Revolution and were found after her beheading in 1793.

Marie Antionette placed the bracelets in a wooden chest entrusted to Austrian ambassador and friend Count Mercy-Argenteau, in Brussels in 1791.

She originally bought the bracelets for 250,000 livres in 1776, just two years after taking the throne with her husband King Louis XVI, paying for them partly with gemstones from her personal collection and with funds provided by her husband.

Marie Antoinette's two diamond bracelets were sold for £6million after being expected to fetch up to £3million at an auction today, 228 years after her death

Marie Antoinette’s two diamond bracelets were sold for £6million after being expected to fetch up to £3million at an auction today, 228 years after her death

But surprisingly a ruby and diamond Cartier bangle owned by Wallis Simpson the Duchess of Windsor, gifted to her by the Duke of Windsor for their first wedding anniversary, did not sell.

It had been estimated to fetch up to £1.62 million. 

Tobias Kormind, the managing director of Europe’s largest online jeweller 77 Diamonds, said: ‘This evening’s auction was both shocking and fantastic.

The bracelets were hidden once she and her husband King Louis XVI were taken as prisoners in Paris during the French Revolution and were found after her beheading in 1793

The bracelets were hidden once she and her husband King Louis XVI were taken as prisoners in Paris during the French Revolution and were found after her beheading in 1793

Marie Antionette placed the bracelets in a wooden chest entrusted to Austrian ambassador and friend Count Mercy-Argenteau, in Brussels in 1791

Marie Antionette placed the bracelets in a wooden chest entrusted to Austrian ambassador and friend Count Mercy-Argenteau, in Brussels in 1791

The stunning bracelets were sold by a mystery European royal family member at Christie's auction in Geneva, Switzerland

The stunning bracelets were sold by a mystery European royal family member at Christie’s auction in Geneva, Switzerland

‘An amazing result for bracelets owned by Marie-Antoinette, who was confirmed as true royalty, while the Duchess of Windsor, who appeared more of an impostor royal, whose bracelet seemed to have lost its lustre, despite being fashioned from prized Burmese rubies and commissioned from jeweller to royalty Cartier. 

‘Whichever way you look at it, being able to own a piece of history from someone you can read about in books is so powerful.

‘If you can’t make history then the next best thing is to own a piece of it. Newly uber-wealthy collectors still aspire to the magic and halo effect of royal provenance.

The bracelets were joined by a ruby and diamond Cartier bangle (above) that once belonged to Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor and was expected to reach up to £1.62 million

The bracelets were joined by a ruby and diamond Cartier bangle (above) that once belonged to Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor and was expected to reach up to £1.62 million

The Duke of Windsor, the former British King Edward VIII, gifted Simpson with the bracelet on their first anniversary in June 1938

The Duke of Windsor, the former British King Edward VIII, gifted Simpson with the bracelet on their first anniversary in June 1938

‘The three regal bracelets which went on the block today once belonged to two of the most legendary and controversial royals in history, both self-proclaimed jewellery addicts.

‘Marie Antoinette’s pair of diamond bracelets boast a total of 112 diamonds, while the Duchess of Windsor’s extravagant diamond and ruby Cartier bracelet, was a gift from the Duke of Windsor on their first wedding anniversary.’

The duchess’ jewellery attracted record-breaking attention in 1987 with some pieces exceeding expected prices ten times.

A ruby and diamond Cartier bangle owned by Wallis Simpson the Duchess of Windsor (pictured) gifted to her by the Duke of Windsor for their first wedding anniversary, did not sell

A ruby and diamond Cartier bangle owned by Wallis Simpson the Duchess of Windsor (pictured) gifted to her by the Duke of Windsor for their first wedding anniversary, did not sell

A 1957 emerald, ruby and diamond Cartier brooch from the Duchess of Windsor's jewellery collection which was auctioned in 1987

A 1957 emerald, ruby and diamond Cartier brooch from the Duchess of Windsor’s jewellery collection which was auctioned in 1987

That auction of her collection fetched $50m, setting a new record at the time as the most pricey auction of a single-owner jewellery collection. 

Buyers included the likes of her high society friends Elizabeth Taylor. 

Mr Kormind added: ‘While many women might expect a paper-themed gift to mark a first wedding anniversary, the Duke had famously abdicated the throne in order to wed the twice-divorced Wallis Simpson and the rubies on this cuff bracelet are said to mark the passion, love and courage shared between these disgraced royals – it’s shocking they didn’t sell.’ 



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