The Donnersmarck Diamonds, a pair of fancy intense yellow diamonds with aristocratic provenance is being offered as part of Sotheby’s Geneva auction of Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels November 15 at the Mandarin Oriental, Geneva.
The diamonds, formerly in the collection of the von Donnersmarck family, consist of a 102.54-carat cushion-shaped diamond and an 82.47-carat pear-shaped diamond. They are being offered as a single lot with a pre-sale estimate of $9 – $14 million.
Sotheby’s said these diamonds are attached to one of the great love stories of the 19th Century.
“These stunning diamonds carry with them a fascinating story, full of romance and determination over adversity, which could have inspired some of the greatest novels and operas, from Manon Lescaut to La Traviata,” said David Bennett, worldwide chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewellery Division.
The Donnersmarck Diamonds were part of the collection of La Païva, Countess Henckel von Donnersmarck (1819-1884), arguably the most famous of the 19th-century French courtesans, Sotheby’s said.
Born Esther Lachman, the Russian native of modest means arrived in Paris at the age of 18 and was introduced to the city’s cultural and artistic circles. She gained the friendship of many artists, including Richard Wagner, Hans von Bülow, Théophile Gautier and Emile de Girardin.
In the late 1840s, she met the Portuguese Marquis Albino Francisco de Araújo de Païva. They were married in 1851 but the marriage lasted only one day.
Now known as La Païva, It was around this time she met her future husband, German nobleman, Count Guido Henckel von Donnersmarck (1830-1916), one of Europe’s richest men. Their relationship was the talk of Paris high society and in 1871, the two were married.
Among the jewels von Donnersmarck gave to La Païva during the course of their marriage was the two yellow diamonds now known as the Donnersmarck Diamonds.
Following La Païva’s death in 1884, the count, who became prince in 1901, retained ownership of the diamonds. They remained in the Donnersmarck family for more than a century until they appeared at auction at Sotheby’s in 2007 where they sold for approximately $7.9 million. They will appear again in November after having been in a private collection for the past 10 years.
The Donnersmarck Diamonds come to the market at the same time that Sotheby’s is celebrating its 10th anniversary in sales dedicated to “noble jewels,” storied jewels of great provenance.
“Ten years ago, they were the star of the show when we launched our very first sale dedicated to Noble Jewels here in Geneva,” Bennett said. “I am delighted to mark a decade of success by presenting these exceptional diamonds once again. Jewels of royal and aristocratic provenance carry with them a special sense of history and these are no exception.”