The historical record of Queen Marie’s jewels has been one highly conditioned by the shifting grounds of the intervening political regimes and legislations. Many of them were thus lost or scattered in many places, but their memory and beauty can still be glimpsed in old photographs, and more compellingly in newly discovered drawings from the 1900 or documents such as the list of her jewels compiled in 1902, her correspondence, bills and her will. Many of Marie’s jewels were lost in the maelstrom of the Bolshevik Revolution, and only a few survived, a part of which can now be admired as museum exhibits, while others became family heirlooms after her death, imprinting the destiny of their inheritors. The old photographs and drawings exude the spirit of a princess, who then became a queen, and was a keen collector of jewels of a multitude of styles and fashions, from the Victorian ones to Byzantine designs in the manner of those of Empress Theodora, from flamboyant Art Nouveau to the reduced to essence Art Deco, and in her last years to a preference for pearls and diamonds.
The Noble Jewels session on the 15th May is led by the sensational Beau Sancy diamond, a stone of supreme historical importance with an impeccable royal provenance stretching back to Marie de Medici; also featured is the Murat tiara commissioned by Prince Alexandre Murat in 1920 from Chaumet and set with one of the largest natural pearls ever recorded. Enjoying similarly illustrious provenance is a selection of jewels from the collection of a member of the Princely Family of Thurn und Taxis, the collection of the late Prince Kinsky, and the collection of Prince Filippo Corsini to name but a few.
An extremely rare, aristocratic Beau Sancy diamond, which has passed through the royal families of France, England, Prussia and the Netherlands’ House of Orange, is to go up for auction at Sotheby’s.
The stone, a 35-carat modified ‘pear double rose cut’ diamond belonging to Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia and the present Head of the House of Hohenzollern, is expected to fetch between £1.24m and £2.47m (2m-4m USD).
The diamond originated from the mines in India near Golconda and was acquired by Nicolas de Harlay, Lord of Sancy, in Constantinople in the 1500s, explaining its name. In 1604 it was bought for 75,000 livres by French king Henry IV as a gift for his wife, Marie de Medici. According to Sotheby’s, the queen had long coveted the stone, especially after learning that de Harlay had sold a larger diamond called the Sancy and now part of the Louvre Collection to King James I of England.
Sold: 9,042,500 CHF
The Murat Tiara
The Murat Tiara will be auctioned also by Sotheby’s. Est. CHF 1,375,000 – 2,285,000/ $1,500,000 – 2,500,000. Photo: Sotheby’s – an impressive pearl and diamond diadem created in 1920 by Joseph Chaumet for the marriage of Prince Alexandre Murat to Yvonne Gillois. The tiara boasts one of the largest natural pearls ever recorded, at 303.37 grains, with the SSEF laboratory stating “natural pearls of this size, quality and with a documented historic provenance are very rare and thus the described tiara with three large pearls represents a very exceptional treasure”.
Sold: 3,610,500 CHF