Napoleon Diamond Necklace
The Napoleon necklace was a gift from Emperor Napoleon I to his second wife, Marie-Louise to celebrate the birth of their son, Napoleon II, the Emperor of Rome, in 1811. The silver and gold set necklace, designed by Etienne Nitot et Fils of Paris was completed in 1811 and consists of 234 diamonds: 28 oval and cushion-cut diamonds, suspending a fringe of 19 briolette-cut oval and pear shaped diamonds and accented by small, round diamonds and diamond set motifs. The diamonds are cut in the "old mine" style, the precursor to the modern brilliant cut, resulting in great dispersion (flashes of color as the stone moves in light), but less brilliance due to less light refraction through the top of the stone. The necklace has an estimated total weight of 263 carats, the largest single diamond weighing approximately 10.4 carats. When Marie-Louise died in 1847, the necklace was given to her sister-in-law, Archduchess Sophie of Austria, who removed two stones to shorten the necklace. Earrings were made with the two removed stones, the whereabouts of which are unknown. In 1872, the necklace was bequeathed to the Archduchess' son, Archduke Karl Ludwig of Austria. In 1948, Archduke Ludwig's grandson, Prince Franz Joseph of Liechtenstein, sold the necklace to a French collector who then sold it to Harry Winston in 1960. Marjorie Merriweather Post obtained the necklace from Winston and donated it to the Smithsonian Institution in 1962.
Image Number: 97-35722
Catalog Number: G5019
Weight: 263 carats
Gift: Mrs. Marjorie Merriweather Post