Queen Marie-Antoinette's

"Necklace Affair"

- September 2017 -


Marie AntoinetteIt was not until the reign of Louis XVI that the tradition of favourites came to an end. The Queen Marie-Antoinette (1755-1793) enforced her position. She was of Austrian origin and criticised shortly after her wedding for political reasons. The fall of the monarchy was linked to her, partly because of her spending. Considered as one of the most beautiful women of the Court, she was refined and pleasure seeking. Elegant, she was a model for French fashion and was followed by all the European courts. Her style was simple: she wore her hair piled high and decorated with motifs of birds or flowers, even boats. She organised a whole programme of entertainment at court and transformed Versailles into a permanent state of festivity. She loved playing cards, in the Viennese tradition, but she lost lots of money.


necklace of Marie - AntoinettteShe was held responsible for all the crises in France at the time. Intrigues and rumours began to circulate about Marie-Antoinette, the most memorable example being the “affair of the necklace”. Wishing to be in the Queen’s favours, the cardinal Louis de Rohan gave her a diamond necklace. The Countess de la Motte managed to steal it before it became in the Queen’s possession. The necklace was nowhere to be found and unable to pay the credit on it, the cardinal was imprisoned at the Bastille. The King heard the story and sent the affair before the parliament which made it public. It is paradoxical that Marie-Antoinette was not a great fan of large pompous necklaces. Many jewels are attributed to her without any real proof that she actually owned them. The French Revolution was a disaster for the French court’s jewellery collection. Most private collections disappeared and the theft of the Crown Jewels reduced the collection to nothing.


Text ©World Luxury Jewellers.



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