Antique & Estate Jewelry / Colored Stones / Diamonds

A Rare Opportunity to Acquire One of the French Crown Jewels


The French Crown Jewels are undoubtedly among the most exceptional in the world—but their history isn’t excluded from the less glamorous motivations of politics. “The jewelry assembled by the French queens and empresses was legendary,” antique jewelry house M.S. Rau explained on its site. “Over 400 years of the finest examples were kept together for the Royal families to wear and enjoy. After the disastrous Franco-Prussian war culminated in 1871, Emperor Napoleon III abdicated and in 1875 the democratically elected French Third Republic was born. The newly born government feared right-wing and Royalist adversaries staging a coup, so they decided to auction off almost all the jewels. They reasoned: ‘without a crown, there cannot be a King!’”

As a result, the French Crown Jewels were sold in a nine-session auction at the Louvre in 1887. One of the most prominent jewelry sales in all of the 19th century, it’s credited as the moment that brought American jeweler Tiffany & Co. to its current fame: “Charles Tiffany traveled to Paris for the auction at the Louvre and purchased roughly a third of the collection. He then shipped these famed gems to New York and had individually crafted leather boxes made for each and every object,” M.S. Rau elaborated.

French crown jewels
French Crown Jewels necklace (circa 1830) in silver-topped 18k gold with Burma rubies and diamonds, $375,000

But now one of those exceptional crown jewels is available again in a rare sale through M.S. Rau. Featuring a dramatic design set with Burma rubies and diamonds, the crown jewel necklace is listed for $375,000. Furthermore, it comes in its original leather box with the inscription “Diamants de la Couronne” (“Crown Diamonds”) in 24k yellow gold.

Beyond anything else, the offering marks a once-in-a-lifetime chance to own a piece of history.

At top: A close-up of the French Crown Jewels Burma ruby necklace

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By: Annie Davidson Watson

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