This stunning and brilliant diamond necklace was created by Parisian jeweler, Nitot et Fils and commissioned by Napoleon I for his wife, Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria. Similar to other historical jewelry pieces, this necklace has changed ownership several times.
After the death of Marie Louise in 1847, the necklace was passed down to her niece-in-law, Archduchess Sophie of Austria. Sophie shortened the necklace by removing two diamonds that were turned into a pair of earrings.
Sophie passed away in 1872 and was obtained by her three sons, Archduke Karl Ludwig, Archduke Ludwig Viktor, and Archduke Franz Josef. Karl Ludwig later acquired the necklace, and after his death in 1914 passed it to his third wife, Infanta Maria Theresa of Portugal, who kept the necklace until her death in 1944.
In 1948, the Habsburg family sold the necklace to French industrialist Paul-Louise Weiller. He then sold the necklace in 1960 to the jeweler Harry Winston, who sold it to Marjorie Merrieweather Post. Post was kind enough to donate it to the Smithsonian Institution in 1962 where it remains on display at the National Museum of Natural History.
Four years later the Habsburg family sold the necklace to French industrialist Paul-Louise Weiller. Weiller sold the necklace in 1960 to jeweler Harry Winston, who sold the necklace to Marjorie Merriweather Post (she just loves to be included on this blog, doesn’t she?). Post donated the necklace to the Smithsonian Institution in 1962 where it remains on display at the National Museum of Natural History.
The Napoleon Diamond Necklace is set in gold and silver, consists of 234 diamonds: 23 mine-cut diamonds set in a single thread; 23 brilliant-cut diamonds that mount the four ovaline pendeloques and 12 rose-cut diamonds that mount each briolette. The largest stone weights approximately 10.40 carats.
Although the diamonds have never been graded, an infrared spectroscopy has revleaed that the majority of the significant diamond pieces are of the highest quality. This demonstrates that the standards used 200 years ago to select diamonds are similar to those still used today.
The necklace’s estimated value is 347,274 French Francs.