Antique Jewelry Gold Diggers 9 - La Paiva 3
Gold Diggers 9 - post 223
We have been chatting about the famous French courtesans of the 19th century. We have seen that they amassed fantastic jewelry collections.
What happened to all of this jewelry? Where is it now? Can we see some of it?
As we mentioned, most of these women fell as far as they rose. There were exceptions such as La Paiva, but for the most part, they lost everything and the jewelry they had once owned was lost to history. Not only that, but they did not buy the jewelry themselves. For the most part, it was rich gentlemen who went into Boucheron and Chaumet and made the purchases. It would be these mens' names that appeared on the ledgers and books of these famous jewellers, some of whom still exist today. In general, what we know about the courtesans' jewelry is from contemporary descriptions and from paintings.
One notable exception was La Paiva, who we have spoken about in the last few posts. Her jewellery went down in the Von Donnersmarck family and periodically, something comes up for auction. Last week, we discussed the famous Donnersmarck diamonds. Perhaps less well known is a brooch that was sold by Christies, Geneva in November 2007, lot #1350. (price Swiss Francs 349000.00).
Along with the lot, went a lot of research, some of which we will relate here.
A fascinating article is to be found in the Christies auction catalogue of November 2007, relating how La Paiva paid numerous visits to Boucheron and what she ordered there.
The list is mind-boggling - too numerous and too large to detail here and what stones!! Enormous. Beyond the fabulous collection of gems, there were the settings - how she wanted Boucheron to maker her jewelry. In some instances, she brought some of her own gems to add or include in an item.
Also of interest are the steel boxes she had made to carry her jewelry. She had separate boxes made for different kinds of jewels: one for diamonds, one for pearls. These were all enclosed in a leather bag and carried by La Paiva's maid, who walked behind her carrying this astonishing collection. I wonder just how long she would have lasted in a modern big city without being mugged.
What about the brooch sold in the previously mentioned auction? From the catalogue, it was a very big gem weighing 31.7ct. The workmanship is lovely, but not that special. Look at the emerald itself. Big yes, but is it a little dull? The catalogue tells us that it has been treated and we clearly see inclusions/flaws in the gem. Why did it sell for such an enormous sum? The only answer I can think of is that seldom is there an opportunity to own an item that is part of history. This brooch was originally owned by one of the most famous/notorious courtesans the world has known. It then descended in a very rich, aristocratic family (some of whose descendants are making history today, but that's another story).
For the true lover of history, who feels the connection with the past in their bones, this has a value above the mere intrinsic materials.
The Von Donnersmarck tiara.
Periodically, the Von Donnersmarck descendants sell off some of their jewelry and periodically, it re-appears at auction. Not only La Paiva loved jewelry, but her successor, Katherine did too. Her husband bought her a fabulous tiara with the emeralds formerly owned by Empress Eugenie (La Paiva already had the fabulous necklaces - see previous posts). Sold first in 1979 and then again in 2011, it brought an amazing $12 736 927.00 - just under 13million US Dollars, the highest amount ever paid for a tiara. Perhaps the current owner will tire of it and it will be your chance to own some fabulous jewelry with a fabulous story behind it.