03 November 2016

Tiara Thursday: The Habsburg Sapphire Parure (With Bonus Auction Treasures)

There are several interesting pieces with royal and noble heritage coming up for sale this month. A couple of the most impressive:

The Habsburg Sapphire Parure Tiara
Christie’s is offering an in impressive set of sapphire and diamond jewelry with a somewhat confusing heritage (and I can only simplify here). The parure was sold in 1961 at Christie’s with notes stating that it came from Empress Marie Louise (1791-1847), the second wife of Napoleon I, and that it had been lastly worn by the Duchess of Habsburg-Lothringen. Marie Louise was a Habsburg, the daughter of Empress Francis II of Austria, and some of her jewels were left to her Habsburg relatives when she died. Today, however, these jewels are dated from after her death, but may have been created using stones that belonged to her.

Two brooches and a bracelet
Parts of the parure are being sold in November: a 19th century tiara consisting of a sapphire and old-cut diamond scrollwork band with a detachable top of old-cut diamonds and pear-shaped sapphires, a bracelet with sapphires separated by diamond fleur de lys motifs, and two sapphire and diamond fleur de lys brooches. The same set was sold as separate lots in 2012 at Sotheby’s, when an ornate sapphire and diamond necklace and another fleur de lys brooch were also included. The fleur de lys motifs probably indicate a tie to the Bourbon dynasty.

The other brooch and necklace, auctioned in 2012
When sold in 2012, these pieces were noted as the property of a German nobleman and the provenance listed an owner as German banker August von Finck (1898-1980) and thence by descent. In the current sale, they are listed as the property of a private collector. The tiara is estimated to sell for $30,449 to $50,748. (For more on the complex history of these pieces, see the tiara, the bracelet, and the brooches at Christie’s; the brooches at Sotheby’s from 2012. Royal Magazin offers a photo of the tiara in use.)

Also at auction this month, Sotheby’s offers some magnificent jewels with imperial Russian heritage.
Diamond Necklace
Combined as one necklace today, this bow brooch and necklace band were originally two separate pieces. The bow probably dates from the 1760s; the band may date from around 1780 and has been altered over time. Both pieces were in Russia’s imperial collection until they were sold by the revolutionaries in 1925. They were then handled by dealers until purchased in 1960 for a private collection. The necklace was last sold in 2005. Its estimated price at this auction is $3,041,538 to $5,072,668. (See it at Sotheby’s here.)

Diamond Parure
This set includes earrings, a necklace, and a brooch with cushion-shaped diamonds tinted in various colors. It dates from the late 19th century. The stones used here are alleged to have belonged to Empress Catherine I of Russia, wife of Peter the Great, and to have been part of the jewels given to Sultan Ahmed III of the Ottoman Empire to encourage the peace treaty ending the Russo-Ottoman War of 1710–11. The stones were later made into this necklace which was given to the wife of the Khedive Teufik of Egypt. Now listed as being sold from a European private collection, the pieces are noted as having been formerly in the collection of Her Imperial Highness Neslishah Abdel-Moneim. The set’s estimate is $3,041,538 to $5,072,668. (See it at Sotheby’s here.)

Video: More on these Russian jewels and their history