GENEVA — Diamond and pearl earrings, pearl necklaces, a giant pearl pendant, and other jewelry once belonging to ill-fated French queen Marie Antoinette went up for auction in Geneva on Wednesday, showcasing perhaps the quintessential emblems of pre-Revolutionary royal opulence in France.
The pearl pendant for a record $32 million hammer price, according to Sotheby’s.
Sotheby’s billed the sale as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to scoop up heirlooms and jewels that have been held in the Bourbon-Parma dynasty for generations, some of which haven’t been seen for 200 years.
Marie Antoinette, who was guillotined in 1793 at age 37, had secretly smuggled abroad some of her most treasured possessions to her relatives, amid swelling revolutionary fervor that ultimately marked the beginning of the end of France’s centuries-old monarchy.
The queen’s jewelry is split across several lots, also including a set of pearl and diamond earrings, a diamond brooch, and a natural pearl and diamond necklace. A monogrammed, diamond-set ring bears a lock of her hair.