More than 200 luxurious jewelry items linked to the Viennese court life of one of Europe's most famous and influential ruling dynasties — the Habsburgs — will hit the auction block at Sotheby's Geneva on November 6 and 7. The collection, according to Sotheby's, recently resurfaced after being hidden away in a bank vault for nearly a century.
Among the historical pieces being offered for sale at "Vienna 1900: An Imperial and Royal Collection" are opulent tiaras and necklaces dripping with diamonds, rubies and natural pearls. Many of the items are from the collection of Archduchess Maria Immaculata of Austria-Tuscany, also known as the Duchess of of Wütttemberg.
According to Sotheby's, the sale will provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to immerse oneself in the history, glamour and romance of a scintillating bygone era. At certain times in history, the Habsburg dynasty reached across Europe and around the globe, including Asia, Africa and the Americas.
Lot 1084, a diamond rivière necklace, is particularly interesting because it was originally purchased by Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph from royal court jeweler Köchert in October 1900. The emperor presented the piece as a wedding present for Archduchess Maria Immaculata of Austria-Tuscany (1878-1968) on the occasion of her marriage to Robert, Duke of Württemberg (1873-1947).
When it was gifted, the necklace contained 38 detachable collets (segments). It currently has 39, so it is presumed that one was added at a later date. The piece carries a presale estimate of 270,000 - 450,000 CHF (approx. $294,000-$490,000).
Another top item, Lot 1083 (photo, top), is a natural pearl-and-diamond tiara once owned by Princess Maria Immaculata of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, Archduchess of Austria-Tuscany (1844-1899). Also tagged with a presale estimate of 270,000 - 450,000 CHF (approx. $294,000-$490,000), the Köchert tiara features an openwork, garland design with drop-shaped natural pearls set throughout with cushion-shaped and circular-cut diamonds.
Lot 1089, a natural pearl and diamond devant-de-corsage dates back to 1865 and was part of the collection of Archduchess Marie Therese of Austria-Teschen, Duchess of Württemberg (1845-1927). Designed as a floral wreath set throughout with cushion-shaped and rose-cut diamonds, the central flowerhead displays a drop-shaped natural pearl supporting three detachable drop-shaped pearl pendants capped by diamond-set surmounts. The stamen of each remaining flowerhead is set with a button-shaped natural pearl. This piece carries the same presale estimate as the items, above: 270,000 - 450,000 CHF (approx. $294,000-$490,000).
Sotheby's stated in a catalog note that Philipp, Duke of Württemberg (1838-1917), offered the corsage as a wedding gift to his bride Archduchess Marie Therese of Austria-Teschen, Duchess of Württemberg (1845-1927) on the occasion of their marriage in 1865.
An impressive ruby and diamond tiara, circa 1896, will be offered as Lot 1085. With a presale estimate of 180,000 - 350,000 CHF (approx. $196,000-$381,000), the piece from the collection of Duchess Isabella of Württemberg, Princess of Saxony (1871-1904) was also designed by court jeweler Köchert. The bow-and-ribbon design highlights oval- and cushion-shaped rubies, set throughout with cushion-shaped and circular-cut diamonds. Three bow-shaped motifs and four arches are detachable.
A necklace composed of five strands of natural saltwater pearls joined by an elaborate diamond clasp rounds out our top picks from the "Vienna 1900" auction. The slightly graduated rows of oval, button- and barrel-shaped natural pearls measuring approximately from 8.20 to 5.35mm meet at a clasp centered by a large cushion-shaped diamond. This piece by Köchert was originally owned by Princess Maria Immaculata of Bourbon-Two Sicilies. Lot 1082 has a presale estimate of 140,000 - 220,000 CHF (approx. $152,000-$240,000).
Highlighted items from "Vienna 1900" are currently on exhibit in Wanchai, Hong Kong, with future stops scheduled for Bangkok (October 10-11), Singapore (October 13-14), Dubai (October 16-17), Taipei (October 17-18), London (October 23-24) and Geneva (starting November 3).
Credits: Photos courtesy of Sotheby’s.