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Diamond necklace of the Queen of France

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Many rare and beautiful objects adorned with gems have changed the course of history, and this next section of our blog, History of Jewelry, shall recount some of the most famous and unusual ones.

One of the most famous, the diamond necklace of the Queen of France, was made for Marie Antoinette, even though she never wore or owned it. It was commissioned by her father-in-law, Louis XV, as a gift for the infamous Madam du Barry, but the king died before it could be sold to him.

The jewelers, desperate for money, tried to sell the incredible jewelry to the new Queen, but she refused to purchase it for a variety of reasons including crop failures, wars and political unrest. Faced with ruin, the jewelers concocted a scheme in tandem with an adventuress, Madam La Motte, who used lies, forgery and impersonation to enlist the aid of an out-of-favor nobleman, Cardinal De Rohan.

The jewelry was eventually sold in London, and “The Affair of the Necklace” became one of the sparks igniting the French Revolution. The exact weight of the diamonds remains unknown, but the sheer volume and size suggested something spectacular. Several original drawings still exist, showing cascades of matched round diamonds and festoons extending over half a person’s torso.

No trace of the original necklace exists today; however, some royal collections are boasted to contain a group of stones from the original. Meanwhile, this extravagant gift changed the course of European history.

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