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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Sotheby’s Geneva to Auction Russian Imperial Jewels on 15 November

Sotheby’s Geneva announces that it will present – in its sale of Magnificent Jewels on Tuesday, 15 November 2011 – a superb and unique suite of imperial jewels – probably the most important parure of antique coloured diamond jewels to appear at auction in the last 50 years. Coming from a European private collection, these magnificent jewels have not appeared on the open market since 1963 and are offered for sale with an estimate in the region of $10 million*.

Commenting on the forthcoming sale of this magnificent and unique diamond parure, David Bennett, Chairman of Sotheby’s Jewellery Department in Europe and the Middle East and Co-Chairman of Sotheby’s Switzerland said: “It is difficult to overestimate the rarity of such jewels. This parure is one of the most sumptuous suites of antique jewels I have ever seen and its appearance on the market after nearly 50 years in a private collection is a major event.”

Comprising a necklace, a brooch and a pair of earrings, this diamond parure dates from the mid-19th century and contains jewels which may have formed part of a gift presented by Empress Catherine I, wife of Peter the Great of Russia to the Twenty-Third Ottoman Sultan Ahmed III (1673-1736) to negotiate peace after the Pruth River Battles. At the end of 1710, under the influence of Charles XII of Sweden, the Ottoman Sultan declared war on Russia. Ill-prepared, Peter the Great and his troops found themselves surrounded by the Ottoman army on the Pruth River in July 1711. As remarkably related by Voltaire in his History of the Russian Empire under Peter the Great (1759)1, after days of siege, Catherine urged the Czar to seek for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. In accordance with the Oriental custom, by which one should never approach a sovereign or their representatives without gifts, Catherine gathered all the jewels she had brought with her, both family heirlooms and gifts from her husband, and sent them in secret alongside the Czar’s letter to the Grand Vizier. The gift of the jewels was duly accepted and a peace treaty was signed between Russia and the Ottoman Empire.

The jewels from the Russian Empress are believed to have then passed into the Ottoman Treasures. By tradition, they are said to have been used by the Sultan Abdül Hamid II (1842-1918) for the present necklace which he offered to the wife of the Khedive Teufik of Egypt, possibly on the occasion of the birth of their son and heir Abbas II Hilmi Pasa (1874-1944). Born HH Princess Emine-Nacibe Hanimefendi, the “Valida Sultana” or “Valide Pasha” became the most powerful woman of the region, seconding her son in the conduct of the State until 1914, when Egypt became an independent Sultanate under a British protectorate. Banned from British territory, the last Khedive of Egypt and Sudan retired to Geneva where he died in 1944. His son, the Prince Muhammad Abdul Moneim (1899-1979) was husband to Her Imperial Highness Princess Neslishah Abdul Moneim who consigned the parure when it was sold to the current owner at Christie’s London on 22 May 1963.

Image: A magnificent and unique diamond parure, mid-19th century. Est. in the region of $10 million. Photo: Sotheby’s.

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