Christie's to bring 90-carat Briolette of India diamond necklace to Dubai

Jewellery piece believed to have once been owned by Richard the Lionheart and Eleanor of Aquitaine is the star of $150 million collection

The Briolette of India necklace. Photo: Christie's
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A 90-carat diamond with a 900-year history, including links to medieval kings and queens, is coming to Dubai.

The Briolette of India necklace is part of a collection expected to sell for more than Dh550 million ($150 million) when it goes under the hammer in Geneva next month.

Ahead of the sale, the Christie's branch in the Dubai International Financial Centre will display the jewellery piece alongside 700 others for three days from April 28.

The highest grade of diamond, the D-coloured type IIa, is thought to have been acquired by Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen Consort of King Louis VII of France, in the 12th century. Its precise history is unknown, but it is believed to have been owned by Richard the Lionheart, who ruled England from 1189 as King Richard I; Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen Consort of King Louis VII of France in the 12 century; and Catherine de Medici, who was Queen of France from 1547. Cartier bought it in the early 20th century.

It was then purchased by Harry Winston from an Indian Maharaja in the 1950s. While the stone has been mounted in various ways over the centuries, the long, peardrop shape is a complex double rose cut, giving its name, the Briolette.

The collection belonged to the late Viennese philanthropist Heidi Horton and was amassed from the 1970s from many of the world’s finest jewellery houses such as Boivin, Bulgari, Cartier, Kochert, Tiffany, Harry Winston, and Van Cleef & Arpels. She also owned some of the world’s most precious diamonds, coloured gemstones and jadeite.

The auction, which will take place between May 3 and 15, is called The World of Heidi Horton collection.

Held on a chain of marquise and pear-shaped diamonds set in platinum, the piece is changeable, with sections that can be removed to make into a shorter necklace. The diamond can also be removed and worn separately.

The sale is widely anticipated to surpass the previous records sales of the 2011 Elizabeth Taylor Collection that raised $115 million and the $109 million Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence sale in 2019.

Proceeds of the auction will go to The Heidi Horton Foundation, which supports the museum of modern and contemporary art that carries her name in Austria, as well as to medical research and other philanthropic activities.

Updated: April 14, 2023, 11:27 AM