Marie Antoinette jewels, Kobe Bryant’s shoes set for auctions

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A diamond bracelet that belonged to France’s Marie Antoinette and a sapphire-and-diamond brooch with matching ear clips that once dangled from a Russian grand duchess are among the featured items in auctions of jewelry and other collectibles next week in Geneva.

Also going under the hammer in the lakeside Swiss city will be a pair of high-top Nike sneakers from late Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas last year.

The blue, white and gold Nike Air Zoom Huarache 2K4 basketball shoes are expected to fetch up to $38,000 during a Nov. 11 sale at Sotheby’s. Bryant wore the sneakers in a March 17, 2004, victory over the Clippers, according to the auction house.

But as usual in the Geneva fall auction season, diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, rubies and other prized gems will be the highlights of next week’s sales at Sotheby’s and rival Christie’s.

Christie’s is putting up on Tuesday a historical pair of heavy bracelets from the 18th century that are studded with three rows of small diamonds. The bracelets are billed as one of the last remaining vestiges of Marie Antoinette’s rich jewelry cabinet that are still available for sale.

The auction house said the famed royal and wife of King Louis XVI was known to have carefully wrapped her jewels in cotton herself, hoping to keep them outside revolutionary France, where she was ultimately executed by guillotine. The bracelets, commissioned around 1776, were kept within royal lineage for more than 200 years, Christie’s said.

“Despite Marie Antoinette’s capture in the French Revolution and her unfortunate death in 1793, the bracelets survived and were passed on to her daughter, Madame Royale, and then the Duchess of Parma,” said Max Fawcett, head of Christie’s jewelry department, referring respectively to Marie-Therese of France, the royal couple’s daughter, and Princess Louise d’Artois, who died in 1864.

“To see them up for auction today is a unique opportunity for collectors around the world to own a piece of French royal history,” Fawcett said.

The presale estimate for the bracelets is up to $4.38 million. They each weigh 3.42 ounces and include “old-cut” diamonds as well as silver and gold, Christie’s said.

Among the lots Sotheby’s plans to present Wednesday is a pair of “perfectly matched” earrings, each set with 25.8-carat diamonds, that is expected to fetch up to $5.5 million.

It will also showcase a brooch with a 26.8-carat oval sapphire surrounded by diamonds, and matching ear clips that belonged to Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia and were whisked out of the country during the 1917 Russian Revolution. The trio is expected to garner as much as $525,800.

“She was the wife of Grand Duke Vladimir, the son of the czar, and she was really passionate about jewelry. She had a fantastic collection of jewels,” said Olivier Wagner, head of sale at Sotheby’s Geneva.

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