The saving of Marie’s Jewels

Heading to the Auction at Sotheby’s {Rue François-Diday 2, 1204 Genève, Switzerland} Melanie wearing her French Court pendant was euphoric knowing that once more she would see the pearl and diamond pendant Marie had insisted, she wear at their wedding so many years ago.

There were reports that its estimated value was between 1 and 2 million dollars. Not within their budget!

It had only been 6 months ago that James had told her about the Auction. Until then she didn’t know if Marie had followed her advice to get her jewels out of France.

Melanie now knew she had; and in March 1791, just months before her arrest, Marie had placed her diamonds, rubies, and pearls in a wooden chest and following Melanie’s suggestion, had her trusted friend Monsieur Florimond Claude, get them to the Bourbon family in Austria.

When Marie-Thérèse, was released in 1795 she found her way to Vienna and had reclaimed Marie’s jewels.

The jewels had sat hidden away in the family collection for the last 200 years.

Arriving at the auction house James and Melanie signed the attendance register at the door. Racing over to the display Melanie almost tripped over a man standing there. “I’m terribly sorry Sir.” she apologised.

“Not at all Madam, it is a very exciting day.” he smiled.

“You have no idea Sir; I am so excited to see the pearl pendant again!”

As she stared down once more at the pendant, she felt the hair on the back of her neck tingle. She knew that Marie was there with her again. Tears filled her eyes as she remembered the wonderful happy day in Versailles with Louis and Marie.

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Monsieur Bourbon looked at Melanie like he had seen a ghost, but didn’t say a word. Instead he walked over to the register book. Seeing the names of James and Melanie Osborne he needed to steady himself. He sat motionless in a reception chair for some minutes.

Reaching into his jacket pocket he took out the sealed letter and looked at Marie Antoinette’s hand written message. It read.

Ne nourrir que ma très chère amie Mélanie Osborne et son mari James. Ne pas être ouvert sauf par eux.

{To be provide only to my very dearest friend Melanie Osborne and her husband James. Not to be opened save only by them.}

It was sealed with the royal crest of Louis XVI.

Several more minutes passed before he could stand. He sat motionless listening to the video presentation playing in the background.

Finally gaining his composure he walked over to Melanie sitting at the rear of the auction room.

“Madam” his voice quivered “Are you Melanie Osborne?”

“Yes” replied Melanie politely “and this is my husband James.”

James shook his hand. “Very pleased to meet you, and you are?”

Monsieur Bourbon noticing the pendant Melanie was wearing started to shake visibly. He steadied himself on the back of the chair before slowing sitting down next to James.

Finally, he said. “I am Christian Bourbon. I have no understanding of what I am about to tell you. I will just try to explain as best I can.”

He continued.

“When my family received a wooded chest of jewels sent by Marie Antoinette 200 years ago for safe keeping, inside the chest was a letter written by the Marie Antoinette. When the Queens daughter arrived in Vienna in 1796, she told our family of a wedding that had taken place some years before.

The letter has specific instruction that only Melanie Osborne or her husband James was ever to open the letter. My family through the generations have followed the Queens instructions”

Looking at Melanie’s pendant he continued.

“The story told to my family by Marie-Thérèse was the letter was for the wedding couple.

Was that you?” He asked wide-eyed.

“Yes” grinned Melanie “It’s was James and I; we were married on June 7th 1789 at the Palace of Versailles!”

His hands shaking, he said. “I have the letter here and I think it was intended for you.”

He handed Melanie the letter.

Gasping for breath Melanie felt faint as she took hold of Marie’s letter.

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Ching Dynasty Collection

We are the custodians of some of the most exquisite examples of hand carved artistry from 200 years ago, here as just a few for you to look at: