By Brecken Branstrator
This ruby and diamond heart pendant once belonged to Eugénie de Montijo, the last empress of France. It will hit the auction block Nov. 27 at Christie’s London.
London—The last empress of France had not only a great influence on the country’s politics but also on fashion and jewelry.

Now, a few of her historic jewels are heading to auction.

Christie’s Nov. 27 Important Jewels auction in London will feature pieces formerly in the collection of Eugénie de Montijo (1826-1920), wife of Napoleon III.

Born in Granada, Spain, Eugénie was the daughter of a Spanish noble who fought on the French side during Napoleon I’s Peninsular War in Spain, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

She went to Paris when Louis-Napoléon became president of the Second Republic in 1848; the two were married in 1853, after he became the emperor Napoleon III.

Eugénie eventually took an active role in the country’s political affairs, even serving as regent on three occasions—in 1859, 1865, 1870—in her husband’s absence.

She joined her family in exile after the Battle of Sedan in 1870, during which her husband was captured, Britannica said, and continued to play a big role in Bonapartist political activities even after his death.

When her son died in 1879, she assumed the role of the grande dame in exile.

During her reign, Empress Eugénie was vital in enhancing the reputation of French high jewelry, Christie’s said.

With a legendary love of jewelry, Eugénie had many of the French Crown Jewels remounted to suit her personal taste and commissioned new pieces from the most famous jewelers in Paris, like Bapst and Chaumet.

Many of the French Crown Jewels were sold at auction in 1887 by the Third Republic.

Some of those that weren’t now are hitting the auction block at Christie’s.

There will be a mid-19th century circular-cut ruby heart pendant with old- and rose-cut diamonds circa 1850-1860 in the jewelry auction that could sell for up to $19,305.

A glazed compartment on the reverse of the pendant contains a lock of hair that reportedly belonged to Napoleon Ill.

The locket appeared in the 2008 exhibition “Le Musée Chaumet, Le Grand Frisson - Bijoux de Sentiment, de la Renaissance à nos jours,” in Paris.

20191111 Eugenie pearls

The heart pendant will be offered for sale alongside an important pair of 19th century natural pearl and diamond earrings (pictured above), estimated to go for $77,220 to $102,960.

In addition to the empress’ jewels, Christie’s Nov. 27 jewelry auction will feature antique, modern and signed jewelry, including a rare medieval sapphire ring, tiaras from the collection of the late Lady Grantchester, and a Cartier Art Deco Fob Watch and two mid-20th century diamond jewels from a royal house.

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