Origin of name

The term “parure” (pah-rur) that came into popular usage in France and later other European countries in the 17th century, refer to an entire wardrobe or suite of matching jewelry, which became a status symbol for the royalty, noble and wealthier classes. A parure meant for the royalty usually included a diadem, tiara, comb, bandeau, choker, necklace, earrings, brooch, stomacher, bracelets and rings. Parures are usually named according to the types of precious or semi-precious stones, used in the setting of its components. The Marie-Louise Parure under consideration is set mainly with emeralds and diamonds. Hence the name “Emerald and Diamond Parure.” Like wise we can have combinations like “Sapphire and Diamond Parure”, “Ruby and Diamond Parure,” “Amethyst and Diamond Parure” etc. where two gemstones are almost equally co-dominant. Parures where only a single type of gemstone predominates is usually given the name of such gemstone, such as “diamond parure,” “emerald parure,” “sapphire parure,” “ruby parure” etc.

Napoleon Bonaparte, the mighty emperor of France was reported to have lavished such expensive parures on his first wife Josephine and later his second wife Marie Louise. The emerald and diamond parure which is the subject of this webpage, was a gift of Napoleon Bonaparte to Marie Louise on the occasion of their wedding, which was solemnized in the year 1810, and thus came to be known as the “Emerald and Diamond Parure of Marie Louise.”

Components of the Emerald and Diamond Parure of Empress Marie-Louise

The following are the components of the exquisitely crafted and renowned Emerald and Diamond Parure of Empress Marie-Louise :-

1) Emerald and Diamond Diadem

2) Emerald and Diamond Necklace

3) A pair of Emerald and Diamond Earrings

4) Emerald and Diamond Comb

5) Emerald Belt Clasp

The parure was designed and executed by the renowned Parisian jewelers Etienne Nitot et fils (Etienne Nitot and Sons)  and consisted of a total of 138 emeralds, 382 rose-cut diamonds and 2,162 brilliant-cut diamonds. The completed parure was delivered to Empress Marie-Louise in March 1810.

1) Marie-Louise Emerald and Diamond Diadem

The word “diadem” is derived from the Latin and Greek word “diadema” which is derived from “diadein” meaning “to bind around.” It is synonymous with the word “crown.” The word “tiara” which is of Persian origin means a decorative, jeweled or flowered head band or semicircle, usually worn by women in the front of their hair on formal occasions. Thus the difference between a diadem and a tiara is, that while a diadem is circular going round the head, a tiara is usually semi-circular going only partially round the head in the front.

The “Marie-Louise Emerald and Diamond Diadem” had been variously referred to as a diadem and tiara by different websites. But, in keeping with the above definitions we would prefer to call it a diadem and not a tiara. as it is a circular ornamental headdress like a crown.

©Van Cleef & Arpels

The diadem which is circular is broader in the front and slightly narrows down towards the rear. Symmetrical floral motifs have been used on the diadem, a style that was prevalent throughout the 19th century for jewelry crafting. Jewelry designs of this period reflected a naturalistic style, that used the “language of flowers” such as plant and floral motifs, which also conveyed a message of love or affection. A total of 22 large emeralds, 57 small emeralds, 1,002 brilliants and 66 rose-cut diamonds were used on the diadem. The largest emerald which is the centerpiece of the diadem weighed 12 carats, and was a square-shaped emerald surrounded by a single layer of large rose-cut white diamonds. The square emerald has been placed with one of its diagonals along the median vertical line of the front of the diadem. Thus opposite vertices of the square lie along the median vertical line. A second smaller oval-shaped emerald, also surrounded by rose-cut emeralds, is placed below the square-shaped emerald centerpiece, still along the median vertical line. Other large emeralds are placed at symmetrical positions on either side of the median line. The band that goes right round and forms the base of the diadem, is mounted with a single row of rose-cut emeralds. The entire diadem was set in silver and gold, and overall the diadem represented one of the  most exquisitely crafted diadems of this design ever created, attaining a very high level of perfection and refinement in its execution, so characteristic of the highly developed jewel crafting industry in Paris during this period.

Thus it is tragic that such a priceless diadem with an inestimable artistic and historic value was allowed to be partially dismantled and its emeralds re-set in other jewelry settings, with an intention of gaining enhanced profits. However it gives a sense of relief that at least the original framework of the tiara had been preserved, the emeralds being replaced by turquoise, and lies today in the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals of the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution, thanks to the foresight of a philanthropist and a connoisseur of jewels and jewelry Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887-1973), who purchased the renowned piece from Van Cleef & Arpels and donated it to the Smithsonian Institution.

2) Marie-Louise Emerald and Diamond necklace

The design of the necklace is classical in nature conforming to the architectural style developed for the period by Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine. The necklace is composed of 32 emeralds, 264 rose-cut diamonds and 864 brilliant-cut diamonds. The necklace set in gold and silver consists of symmetrically arranged alternating square-shaped and cushion-shaped large emeralds, surrounded by a single layer of white rose-cut emeralds, separated by smaller round-shaped emeralds, surrounded by small round brilliant-cut diamonds. There are five square-shaped emeralds, and five cushion-shaped emeralds and twelve small round-shaped emeralds. Usually only a single round-shaped emerald has been placed between a square-shaped emerald and a cushion-shaped emerald, except at the rear of the necklace where two round-shaped emeralds have been placed symmetrically on either side.


From each of the large square-shaped and cushion-shaped emeralds arise a drop-shaped or briolette emerald, also surrounded by diamonds increasing in size from the pointed end towards the rounded end. Briolettes were very popular in France in the 18th and 19th centuries, particularly during the period of Napoleon Bonaparte, who is said to have gifted a 275-carat diamond briolette necklace to his Empress Consort Marie Louise, to celebrate the birth of their son, the future King of Rome. This necklace is also part of the Smithsonian collection in the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

The small round-shaped emerald between a large square-shaped emerald and a large cushion-shaped emerald is the base of a palmette derived from Greek and Roman art. As there are twelve round-shaped emeralds in the necklace, there are a corresponding number of palmettes. Each palmette has five rays, like the five fingers of the palm. Each ray of a palmette is made up of round brilliant-cut diamonds that increase in size from the base towards the tip; the largest round-brilliant being placed at the tip of each ray.https://googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/ads?client=ca-pub-7229261828749113&output=html&h=280&adk=1192690887&adf=1174828677&w=1200&fwrn=4&fwrnh=100&lmt=1598629200&num_ads=1&rafmt=1&armr=3&sem=mc&pwprc=8839250923&psa=1&guci=×280&url=https%3A%2F%2Finternetstones.com%2Femerald-diamond-parure-of-marie-louise-empress-of-france-vancleef-and-arpels.html&flash=0&fwr=0&pra=3&rh=200&rw=1333&rpe=1&resp_fmts=3&wgl=1&fa=27&adsid=ChAI8Nai-gUQy4SstJ-gr-UfEjsAelOtmExvJiyj9ut6-AI-kRsUbb3HQimDpi6s9NbXvbxm7OyvV6bvVmH3fpZT9jcSE3pW1EfaufhIHg&dt=1598629200311&bpp=11&bdt=2358&idt=-M&shv=r20200826&cbv=r20190131&ptt=9&saldr=aa&abxe=1&cookie=ID%3D23759033c2f10ec5%3AT%3D1589425638%3AS%3DALNI_MZqzLPSK1MCB3fAgNSftWfesfRRUg&prev_fmts=0x0&nras=2&correlator=2316295660168&frm=20&pv=1&ga_vid=1817441596.1589531453&ga_sid=1598629199&ga_hid=2034876420&ga_fc=0&iag=0&icsg=139596987074&dssz=36&mdo=0&mso=0&u_tz=330&u_his=7&u_java=0&u_h=768&u_w=1366&u_ah=728&u_aw=1366&u_cd=24&u_nplug=3&u_nmime=4&adx=75&ady=1899&biw=1349&bih=657&scr_x=0&scr_y=0&eid=42530587%2C44723322%2C21066532%2C21066706&oid=3&pvsid=1275308392811033&pem=273&ref=https%3A%2F%2Finternetstones.com%2Fpage%2Ffamous-gemstones-of-the-world%2F&rx=0&eae=0&fc=384&brdim=0%2C0%2C0%2C0%2C1366%2C0%2C1366%2C728%2C1366%2C657&vis=1&rsz=%7C%7Cs%7C&abl=NS&fu=8320&bc=31&jar=2020-08-28-15&ifi=3&uci=a!3&btvi=1&fsb=1&xpc=OIx2sctyZV&p=https%3A//www.internetstones.com&dtd=122

Overall the combined emerald and diamond necklace was a masterpiece of its kind ever created imparting  an elegant look on its wearer especially if fair-skinned, like the Empress Marie Louise. This necklace of great historic and artistic value, and imperial provenance, was preserved in its pristine pure state, by the person who acquired it from the ancestors of Marie Louise. This indeed is a great relief to all lovers of historic artifacts and the owner of the historic piece needs the commendation of art lovers worldwide, for preserving an irreplaceable piece of the world heritage. Fortunately, the Louvre Museum in France, had taken the unprecedented step  of acquiring the celebrated necklace together with a pair of earrings, also part of the original parure, for a whopping sum of 3.7 million euros, the highest ever sum of money paid by a museum for items of jewelry. It is heartening to note that at least now the Louvre Museum in France, had realized the folly of those who were instrumental in dispersing the crown jewels of France in 1887, and are leaving no stone unturned to restore the lost heritage of one of Europe’s greatest nations.

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3) Marie Louise Emerald and Diamond Earrings

Marie Louise Emerald and Diamond Earrings are based on a simple but elegant design, matching the design on the celebrated necklace. The central theme of this design is the drop-shaped emerald or briolette, suspended from a square-shaped emerald aligned with one of its diagonals lying vertically. The square-shaped emerald is surrounded by a row of small rounded brilliant-cut diamonds. The briolette hangs freely from the square-shaped emerald, but is surrounded by a loop of gold wire mounted with large rose-cut diamonds. A single round-shaped emerald is also incorporated in the loop right at its bottom.


Overall the design of the earrings matches perfectly with that of the necklace, particularly that part of the necklace with a combination of square and drop-shaped emeralds. The two earrings are composed of 6 emeralds, 20 rose-cut and 40 brilliant-cut diamonds.

The pair of emerald and diamond earrings was also part of the parure of the Empress Marie-Louise, that had miraculously escaped any tampering or alteration, like the celebrated Marie-Louise Emerald and Diamond necklace, and was purchased by the Louvre Museum under the same deal by which they acquired  the celebrated necklace.

4) Emerald and Diamond Comb

The Emerald and Diamond Comb was said to have been made up of 23 emeralds, 54 rose-cut diamonds and 226 brilliant-cut diamonds, but unfortunately no further information on the comb is available, not even an image of the comb. If such an image was available a description of its design could have been attempted.

5) Emerald and Diamond Belt Clasp

The Emerald and Diamond Belt Clasp was said to have been made of 5 emeralds and 107 brilliants, but no further information on the piece of jewelry is available.

History of the Marie-Louise Emerald and Diamond Parure

Napoleon Bonaparte takes power as absolute dictator and later as Emperor of France

Napoleon Bonaparte, the mighty dictator of France who took power as First Consul in 1799, and later as Emperor of France in 1804, was a direct product of the French Revolution. It was the French Revolution that propelled him at an early age to the highest position in the State. The people had confidence in him for bringing many victories to France, and they expected him to bring back much-needed peace to the country, after the turmoil and uncertainty following the revolution, to end disorder, and to consolidate the political and social conquests of the revolution. But, what the people of France did not know was that Napoleon did not believe in the sovereignty of the people, in the popular will or in parliamentary debate. He had secretly nurtured in him an ambition to take the place of the deposed Bourbon Monarchs, and assume the title of the Emperor of France. Thus all his actions between 1799 and 1804, as the First Consulate was calculated towards achieving this objective. To give a semblance of legitimacy for his actions he got Pope Pius VII to come to Paris and consecrate him and crown him as the Emperor of France. Soon the court of Emperor Napoleon I surpassed the grandeur and pageantry of some of the former Bourbon Monarchs.

Napoleon’s first marriage to Josephine 

Josephine, the eldest daughter of Joseph Tascher de La Pagerie, married a rich young army officer Alexandre vicomte de Beauharnais in the year 1779 at the age of 16 years. Josephine was brought up in the rural atmosphere of the island of Martinique, where she lived for 15 years, before her marriage. Thus Alexander was ashamed of her rural manners and lack of sophistication, and refused to present her at the court of Marie Antoinette at Versailles. Yet, Josephine bore him two children, a daughter Hortense and a son Eugene. The indifferent attitude of Alexandre towards Josephine finally led to their seperation in 1785. After the separation, she remained in Paris for several years and was determined to learn the ways of the elite high society and aristocrats. In the year 1794, at the height of the French Revolution her former husband Alexandre who was serving in the revolutionary army, fell out of favor with them and was guillotined to death.


Empress Josephine

Josephine who was now a sophisticated high society lady, caught the attention of an upcoming and ambitious army officer, Napoleon Bonaparte, who fell in love with her. After the appointment of Napoleon as the commander of the Italian expedition, Josephine agreed to marry him, and the marriage took place on March 9, 1796. Napoleon appears to have been passionately in love with Josephine, but on her part she was indifferent not reciprocating his love for her. She even went to the extent of flirting with another army officer when Napoleon was away during his Egyptian campaign during 1798-99, and on his return Napoleon threatened to divorce her. Her marriage was only saved by her children who pleaded on her behalf with their step-father. The rift was healed and Napoleon forgave her for her misdeeds. After Napoleon became the first consul in 1779, she worked closely with her husband to advance his political fortunes. The couple became very close to each other and when Napoleon assumed control as the Emperor of France she was able to persuade him to conduct a fresh marriage ceremony with full religious rites, which was held only a day before his coronation by the Pope in Notre-Dame on December 2, 1804. Besides this, Josephine was able to use her husbands power and position to find good spouses for her two children by her first marriage. Her daughter Hortense was given in marriage to Napoleon’s brother, Louis Bonaparte, and her son Eugene, who was appointed as the viceroy of Italy by Napoleon, married the daughter of the King of Bavaria.

Josephine was now well established as the Empress of France, and held court with all the grandeur and splendor associated with her office. She was particularly noted for her extravagance and had a fabulous jewelry collection mostly lavished on her by her beloved husband Napoleon. But, strains were placed on their relationship as Josephine was without any issue from Napoleon, and was not able to give him a son, who would succeeded him as the future emperor of Rome. Thus Napoleon decided to separate from Josephine, with a view of taking a second wife, and had already planned to marry Marie-Louise, the daughter of Emperor Francis I of Austria, after the separation.  Napoleon was able to obtain a separation from Josephine in January 1810, without resorting to divorce, as his previous marriage of 1804 was declared null and void as a parish priest had not been present at the ceremony. After the divorce, Josephine left the palace to her private residence outside Paris, and was continued to be maintained by the Emperor.

Napoleon’s second marriage to Marie-Louise

Marie-Louise who originated from the “House of Hapsburg” of Austria, was the eldest daughter of Emperor Francis I of Austria and Maria Theresa, and was a niece of Marie-Antoinette, the unfortunate queen of France who was guillotined at the time of the French revolution. She married Napoleon Bonaparte on April 1, 1810, after the annulment of his childless previous marriage to Empress Josephine. The result of this marriage was the long- awaited son and heir, the future King of Rome, who was born on March 20, 1811. The proud father Emperor Napoleon was overjoyed, and presented his Queen consort with a 275-carat diamond necklace set with briolette diamonds, to celebrate the occasion of the birth of his long-desired son. The necklace came to be known as the Marie-Louise diamond necklace.

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Empress Marie-Louise with her son, the future King of Rome

During Napoleon’s  absence from France pursuing his ceaseless military campaigns, Marie-Louise acted as his regent in Paris. Eventually, after Napoleon’s defeat and abdication in 1814, she returned to Vienna with her son. She refused to join Napoleon in his exile in Elba, something that caused serious pain of mind for the ex-emperor. The “Treaty of Fontainebleau” that exiled Napoleon to the island of Elba, also granted to Marie Louise the duchies of Parma, Piacenza, and Guastalla, which was ratified by the Congress of Vienna. Marie-Louis while ruling over her domains, fell in love with Adam Adalbert, Count von Neipperg, by whom she had two children. Finally after the death of Napoleon Bonaparte in St. Helena on May 5, 1821, she married Adam Albert in September 1821.

The Coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon was not only a brilliant soldier but also a great patron of the arts. He also extended his patronage to the jewelry craftsmen of Paris, who turned out exquisitely crafted pieces of jewelry for the use of his court which included a wide range of jewelry for his coronation and the coronation of Empress Josephine. Napoleon engaged the services of Martin Biennais, a gifted jewelry craftsman of Paris, to create the coronation regalia and the crowns, and the coronation sword. The coronation regalia included the robe, the crown, the sword, the scepter, the orb, the chain, the ring and the ermine collar, all encrusted with the most expensive of gems and jewels. The crown was designed by Martin Biennais, to look like the medieval Charlemagne Crown, that was destroyed during the French revolution, and traditionally used by the French Monarchs for their coronations. The famous and magnificent “Regent Diamond” was set into the handle of Napoleon’s coronation sword.


During the actual coronation ceremony, Pope Pius VII, first took the crown and other regalia from the altar and blessed them, and after returning them to the altar, took his seat. Napoleon then stood up from his throne and walked up to the altar, and taking the crown from the altar placed it on his head, thus crowning himself. This procedure was agreed upon earlier, as Napoleon did not want to accept the Pope as his overlord. He then walked up to the altar and removing the “Charlemagne Crown” from his head, returned it to the altar, and replaced it with a laurel wreath made of gold, of the type worn by Roman emperors. He then took the “Charlemagne Crown” from the altar again, and walking up to the kneeling Josephine placed it on her head, crowning her as the Empress of France.

The brilliance and grandeur of Napoleon’s court

After ascending the throne as the Emperor of France, Napoleon organized his court, in which ceremonies took place in an atmosphere of utmost splendor and brilliance, that was imparted by the grandiose display of gems and precious stones. The grandeur and brilliance of his court even exceeded that of some of the Bourbon monarchs who preceded him, and was almost equivalent to the great pomp and pageantry displayed in the court of the great Mogul Emperor Shah Jahaan (1628-58) of India. The grandeur and extravagance reached a climax at the time of Napoleon’s marriage to Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria, on April 1, 1810. The extravagance of this event is described by Balzac in his book “La Paix du Menage” as follows : “Diamonds glittered everywhere, so much so that it seemed as if the wealth of the whole world was concentrated on Paris…… never had the diamond been so sought after, never had it cost so much.”

Napoleon presents the Emerald and Diamond Parure as a wedding gift to Marie-Louise

Napoleon extended royal patronage to the jewelry industry of Paris, with a view of re-establishing Paris as a creative center for luxury and fashion, a position which it had lost following the revolution. The boost given to the industry helped in its revival and it was reported in 1807 by the Chambre de Commerce, that there were 400 jewelers in Paris, employing 800 men and 2,000 women.

One of the most experienced jewelers in Paris, at the time was Marie Etienne Nitot, who had previously collaborated with Aubert, the jewelers to King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Napoleon appointed him as his court jeweler. When Marie Etienne died in 1809, he was succeeded by his son Francois Regnault as the court jeweler. As court jewelers both father and son helped Napoleon to re-assemble the jewels dispersed from the Tresor de la Couronne (Crown Treasury) during the French revolution, and to acquire emeralds, diamonds and other precious stones needed for the manufacture of the expensive parures he lavished on his wives.

At the time of his marriage to Marie-Louise in 1810, it was Francois Regnault who was assigned with the task of designing and manufacturing the emerald and diamond parure to be given to Marie-Louise as a wedding gift. As the emeralds that were available in the Crown Treasury were not sufficient to execute the parure he had designed, Francois Regnault was compelled to make purchases of square-cut and briolette-cut emeralds weighing a total of 290 carats for the execution of the royal assignment. Examination of the “Marie-Louise Emerald and Diamond Necklace,” acquired by the Louvre Museum recently, has shown that the emeralds used on the necklace were all of exceptional quality, being “loupe clean” with intense velvety-green color, and believed to have originated from the renowned Muzo emerald mines of Colombia, where emeralds were mined uninterruptedly from 1594 to the mid-18th century, when production came to a standstill due to a disastrous fire, and was not resumed until after the independence of Colombia in 1819. Francois Regnault delivered the completed parure to Marie-Louise in March 1810, just before the wedding that took place at the beginning of April. Being a gift to the empress the parure entered her personal collection and was never the property of the state.

Marie-Louise Emerald and Diamond Parure is taken to Austria after the fall of the empire

After the fall of the empire and the abdication of Napoleon in 1814, Marie Louise returned to Austria with her son. She returned all the crown jewelry in her possession to the Crown Treasury, but carried her personal jewelry to Austria. This included the Marie-Louise Emerald and Diamond Parure given to her as a gift by Napoleon for her wedding.  The Parure remained with her throughout the period of her rule as the Duchess of Pharma, and at the time of her death in 1847, she bequeathed it to her Hapsburg aunt Archduchess Elise. The part of her will relevant to the emerald and diamond parure reads as follows :- To my aunt Archduchess Elise, my emerald and diamond parure, consisting of a diadem, a necklace, a pair of earrings, a comb and a belt clasp.

The course of inheritance of the parure from Archduchess Elise to Archduchess Alice

Archduchess Elise who was married to Archduke Rainer, son of Leopold II, bequeathed the parure to her son the Archduke Leopold, who was the godson and cousin of Empress Marie Louise. From Archduke Leopold the parure is eventually inherited by Archduke Carl Albrecht, from whom it passes on to his wife the Archduchess Alice and his son, after his death in 1951

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The sale of the Marie-Louise Emerald and Diamond Diadem to Van Cleef & Arpels

Archduke Karl Albrecht was an Austrian and Polish archduke, and was the eldest son of Archduke Charles Stephen and Archduchess Maria Theresia, the Princess of Tuscany. He was an Officer Colonel of Artillery of both the Imperial Austro-Hungarian army and the Polish army. He married Alice Elisabeth Ankarcrona daughter of Oscar Carl Gustav Ankarcrona, a major in the Swedish Army and his wife Anna Elisabeth. Since 1795, Poland was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After World War I Poland gained its independence in 1918. Archduke Albrecht served the Polish Army after Poland gained independence. During World War II Poland was partly occupied by Nazi Germany and partly by the Soviet Union. After World War II, in which Poland lost over six million of its citizens, the country emerged as a socialist republic within the Eastern Communist Bloc, under strong soviet influence. During this tumultuous period in its history, Archduke Karl Albrecht and his family emigrated to Sweden, Archduchess Alice Elisabeth’s motherland. They also carried with them their valuable items of jewelry including the “Marie-Louis Emerald and Diamond Parure.”

During their hurried getaway from Poland they carried only the jewels including the parure, but left behind a saddle-shaped box that contained a detailed inventory of their jewels and documents testifying to their ownership. Thus Archduchess Alice Elisabeth and her son Archduke Karl Stefan had no documents to show that they were the actual owners of the expensive emerald and diamond parure. As such they were unable to sell the parure, which they had been planning to do for a long time. Van Cleef & Arpels who were interested in purchasing the parure were unable to do so because the company purchased only items that were accompanied by documents showing proof of ownership. To overcome this problem lawyers to Archduchess Alice Elisabeth and her son Archduke Karl Stefan advised them to sign an affidavit before a Public Notary in Stockholm, certifying the origin and their ownership of the parure, which they did on May 28, 1952. The salient points in this document was that the emerald and diamond parure originally belonged to Empress Marie-Louis, Archduchess of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla, who bequeathed it to her aunt Archduchess Elise on her death in 1847, from whom the parure descended down to Archduke Karl Albrecht, that the parure was the most valuable part of Marie-Louise’s collection of jewels, that the parure was kept hidden behind an iron-curtain on the family estate in Poland, that when the parure was taken to Sweden, the original saddle-shaped box containing a detailed inventory and a record of the Empress’ bequest had to be left behind and that the chance of retrieving these documents were very remote.

With the ownership of the parure regularized, Van Cleef & Arpels purchased the Marie-Louise Emerald & Diamond Diadem and the belt clasp from Archduchess Alice and her son Archduke Karl Stefan, the legal owners of the pieces of jewelry. However, the Archduchess and the Archduke retained the other pieces of the parure, the necklace and the pair of earrings which were still in the original condition, exactly as made for Empress Marie-Louise. The comb however, had been altered to be worn as a tiara, but was not so impressive.

Partial dismounting of the Marie-Louise Emerald and Diamond Diadem

Van Cleef & Arpels, who acquired the celebrated diadem dismounted the emeralds from the setting but left all the diamonds in tact. As a renowned jewelry firm they too appreciated the historic and artistic value of the diadem and therefore decided to preserve its original framework. However, the spaces occupied by the emeralds were re-set with Persian turquoises of matching sizes and shapes.


©Van Cleef & Arpels

The partially modified diadem was then purchased in 1971 by Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887-1973), the owner of the Postum Cereal Company, who was America’s first business woman and the wealthiest woman in America at the time, and was a socialite, philanthropist and a great connoisseur and collector of works of art. Mrs. Post then donated the diadem to the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution of Washington DC, where it is exhibited today at the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals. Other significant pieces donated by her to the Institution include a pair of diamond earrings that once belonged to the unfortunate Marie Antoinette, the 30.82-carat “Blue Heart Diamond” ring, and an emerald and diamond necklace that once belonged to Emperor Maximilian of Mexico.

Re-setting of the emeralds from the diadem by Van Cleef & Arpels

The emeralds removed from the celebrated diadem were then re-set by Van Cleef & Arpels into modern jewelry settings and offered for sale to their customers. A newspaper advertisement that advertised the sale of this re-set pieces of jewelry proclaimed, “An Emerald for you from the Historic Napoleonic Tiara.” In 1967, Van Cleef & Arpels set two of these emeralds on two unique pieces of jewelry, a brooch and a ring, for one of their customers Mrs. Sybil Harrington of Texas. The brooch resembling a floral bouquet with the emerald as the centerpiece and marquise and pear-shaped diamonds forming the petals of the flowers, was set in a wire mounting that highlighted the gemstones. The ring had the second emerald as the centerpiece and was surrounded by round brilliant-cut diamonds.

The emerald brooch and ring that belonged to Mrs. Sybil Harrington came up for auction at Christie’s in New York on October 19, 1999.  The reserve value placed on the two items was between $75,000 to $100,000, but the to items finally sold for $189,500.

The Marie-Louise Necklace and Earrings acquired by the Louvre Museum

The Marie-Louise Necklace and Earrings were not immediately disposed of by Archduchess Alice and Archduke Stefan, but eventually sold without any modification to an anonymous private owner, who subsequently lent the two historic pieces to the exhibition known as “Dix Siecles de Joaillerie Francais” (Ten Centuries of French Jewelry)  held at the Louvre Museum in 1962. Van Cleef & Arpels who had by then not disposed of the modified Marie-Louise Emerald and Diamond Diadem, also lent it to the Louvre for the exhibition. The two celebrated pieces had since then been worn at many important social events and had received the commendations of important personalities.

In the year 2004, the Louvre Museum finally acquired the Marie-Louise Necklace and Earrings from their owner for a record sum of 3.7 million euros, the highest price ever paid by an institution for items of jewelry. The purchase was executed through their agents Humphrey Butler and S. J. Phillips of London,  and Thomas Faerber of Geneva. Humphrey Butler had  in the year 2002, negotiated the purchase of the Duchess d’Angouleme tiara from its owner, for the Louvre Museum. The celebrated Marie-Louise Necklace and Earrings are today on display in Paris, in the Galerie d’Apollon of the Louvre Museum.

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1.The French Crown Jewels – B. Morel (1988)   
2.Two Centuries of Fine Jewelry – Diana Scarlsbrick and R. Hurel (1998)  
3. Napoleon Series web article – France’s Royal and Imperial Crown Jewels : 1792-2005 by Stephen Miller’
4. Marjorie Merriweather Post – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 
5.Tiara – Diana Scarisbrick (2000)
6.Timeless Tiaras – Diana Scarisbrick (2003)
7.Encyclopedia Britannica – 2006   

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