The natural pearl and diamond pendant was displayed at Sotheby’s Dubai in October
Marie Antoinette’s pearl sells for record Dh133 million, more than 18 times its estimated price
A month after being displayed in Dubai, the royal jewels of the Bourbon-Parma family were auctioned at Sotheby’s Geneva on November 14. Among these was a pearl that belonged to the infamous French queen Marie Antoinette, which was bought by a private bidder from Europe for US$36.2 million (Dh133m), setting the world auction record for a natural pearl. The piece – a pearl and diamond pendant – was estimated to sell for between $1m and $20m.
Ahead of the Dubai display, jewellery specialist Daniela Mascetti told The National: “As a jewellery historian and an archaeologist, I have a special passion for jewels that have a lot of soul, as it were, and have a story to tell. The Bourbon-Parma group of jewels offers a captivating insight into the lives of its owners going back hundreds of years. However, these pieces are also very special thanks to the quality of the gemstones and diamonds, as well as the workmanship – even before you consider their huge historical importance.”
Here's a closer look at the pearl pendant:
The 18th-century pendant was among 10 pieces that once belonged to Antoinette, all of which attracted fierce bidding. Together they realised a total of Dh156.8 million. Among these was a monogrammed diamond ring, with the initials MA and containing a lock of her hair, which was snapped up for Dh1.63 million, more than 50 times its pre-sale estimate.
After the auction, Mascetti said: “Tonight we saw the Marie Antoinette factor work its magic. No other queen is more famous for her love of jewels, and her personal treasures, pearls and diamonds that survived intact the tumults of history [and] captivated the interest of collectors around the world.”
Other highlights of the Bourbon-Parma collection include: