Napoleon's Diamond Necklace, Marie Antoinette Diamond Earrings
The Napoleon Diamond Necklace containing 172 diamonds with a total weight of 275 carats is by far one of the nicest diamond necklaces ever to be seen. Napoleon I of France divorced his first wife Empress Joséphine, as she wasn't able to produce a child to continue the royal line. He re-married two months later to Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria. The necklace was designed by Etienne Nitot et Fils of Paris and was then presented by Emperor Napoleon of France to his second wife, Marie-Louise of Austria on the birth of their son Napoleon II,in 1811. The necklace has an estimated total weight of 263 carats, the largest single diamond weighing approximately 10.4 carats.
In 1815, Napoleon was exiled to Saint Helena, and Marie Louise returned to Austria with the necklace, and owned it until her death. Marie-Louise died in 1847, and the necklace was given to Archduchess Sophie of Austria (who was her sister in law) who then altered the necklace for herself. She ended up removing two of the stones and made earrings. The whereabouts of the earrings are unknown.
Then, in 1872, the necklace was entrusted to the Archduchess’ son, Archduke Karl Ludwig of Austria. In 1948, Archduke Ludwig’s grandson, Prince Franz Joseph of Liechtenstein then sold the necklace to a French collector who then sold it to Harry Winston in 1960.
Marjorie Merriweather Post obtained the necklace from Winston and donated it to the Smithsonian Institution in 1962 and it sits in the and it has since remained on display at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. today.
Marjorie Merriweather Post was the founder of General Foods, Inc. She was 27 when her father died, and she became the owner of the Postum Cereal Company later become one of the wealthiest women in America. Marjorie Post donated some of the most incredible jewelry to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. where it is displayed in the Harry Winston exhibit. To give you an idea how wealthy this woman was, she donated the Napoleon Necklace and Marie Louise Diadem, Diamond earrings set with pear shapes weighing 14 carats and 20 carats once belonging to Marie Antoinette. The Blue Heart Diamond, a 30.82 carat blue heart diamond ring; and an emerald and diamond necklace and ring belonging to Mexican emperor Maximilian. Although this necklace was not apprised, in 1993, the auction house Christie’s in Geneva sold another necklace that Napoleon had given to Marie-Louise which sold for $13 million.