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18th century Russian necklace sold for $1.5 million
Sotheby’s & Christies hold auction neck to neck
By: AFNS
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Nov 23 2005 12:00AM
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Reference: 111  

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A 18th century diamond necklace made for Russian empress Catherine the Great was sold for $ 1.5 million at Sotheby’s on November 22, 2005 at Geneva in Switzerland. Around 200 collectors and dealers attended the sale in Geneva where the necklace of the Tsarina who ruled Russia from 1762 to 1796 was bought for just under its estimated sale price. The necklace includes a matching bow clasp and features 27 large cushion-shaped diamonds.

The treasured piece was kept in the Russian state diamond depository in St. Petersburg until 1917. It is one of the few survivors from the 18th century when jewels were usually broken up to make new jewelry in the latest styles. Along with the necklace, 340 lots were sold for 35.8 million francs ($27 million). Among the pieces of jewelry was a pink diamond ring which was sold for 5.17 million francs ($3.90 million).

Meanwhile Christies, rival auction house of Sotheby’s also held an auction of magnificent jewels in Geneva, raising 51 million francs ($38.5 million) for more than 280 lots. Among the most prominent pieces sold was the drop-shaped "La Regente" which set a record price for a single pearl. It sold for 3.27 million francs ($2.5 million), which was three times the low-end estimate. That pearl, weighs more than 300 grams and was given by Napoleon Bonaparte to his second wife Marie-Louise in 1811, according to Christies. Some 40 years later Bonapartes nephew Napoleon III had the pearl set in a corsage as a wedding present for his future wife, Eugenie de Montijo, who became Empress Eugenie of France.

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