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Marie Antoinette’s jewels up for auction

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AFP

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One of the most prized items in the auction is Marie Antoinette’s Pearl, a natural pearl and diamond pendant, valued at up to $2m (£1.5m)

Jewels once belonging to ill-fated French Queen Marie Antoinette are being auctioned in what is being called one of the most important royal jewellery auctions in history.

They have not been seen in public for 200 years and include a pearl and diamond pendant, earrings and necklace.

The jewels are part of a major collection of jewellery being sold by Italy’s royal Bourbon-Parma house.

The auction will take place in the Swiss city of Geneva on Thursday.

Sotheby’s, which is auctioning the jewels, called it “one of the most important royal jewellery collections ever to appear on the market”.

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AFP

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The French queen’s jewels are part of a larger collection being auctioned by Italy’s Bourbon-Parma family

Deputy Chair Daniela Mascetti said: “This extraordinary group of jewels offers a captivating insight into the lives of its owners going back hundreds of years.”

But she noted the “inherent beauty of the pieces themselves; the precious gems they are adorned with and the exceptional craftsmanship they display are stunning in their own right”.

One of the most prized items is Marie Antoinette’s Pearl, a natural pearl and diamond pendant, valued at up to $2m (£1.5m).

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AFP

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Marie Antoinette’s pendant sits here on a 119-natural-pearl necklace

The natural pearl and diamond necklace and a pair of pearl and diamond earrings are both expected to fetch as much as $300,000, while a monogram ring with a lock of her hair is valued at up to $10,000.

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EPA

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One of the other items up for sale is a diamond ring bearing the initials MA for Marie Antoinette and containing a lock of her hair

Other items up for auction include pieces from King Charles X, the Archdukes of Austria and the Dukes of Parma, including a diamond tiara valued at up to $550,000.

Marie Antoinette was an Austrian princess before her marriage to France’s King Louis XVI. Her extravagant lifestyle turned her into a hate figure in the years leading up to the French Revolution, when many French people could barely afford to feed their families.

She smuggled out her jewellery to her family in Austria before her failed attempt to flee France with Louis XVI and their children. France’s last queen was guillotined in 1793 at the age of 37.

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