Saturday, 31 August 2019

The Jewels of Marie Josèphe

The Saxon Dauphine, Marie Josèphe, never did ascend to the throne of France but she certainly had a jewellery box worthy of a queen. Upon her death in 1747, an inventory was made over her possessions including her sumptuous jewels and precious stones. This provides us with an amazing insight into both the fashions of the time and the artistry of the 18th century.

Considering the sheer worth of this collection it was transferred to the protection of Monsieur Fontanieu, who served as the king's intendant of the royal furniture. A stomacher brooch is an often very elaborate piece of jewellery made to be pinned to the stomacher. The inventory often refers to a so-called "næud" which can be both a knot or a bow; as such it was likely what we would term a brooch that could be attached to a gown.

Billedresultat for marie josephe de saxe
Marie Josèphe


1 aigrette on which four large pendants could be attached

1 aigrette of brilliants and emeralds with the motif of the Saint-Esprit at the centre and five pendants

1 aigrette of brilliants with three pear-shaped pendants: two consisting of emeralds and one of more brilliants (part of a parure given to her by Louis XV in 1751)

1 aigrette with a large ruby, pear-shaped diamonds and flowers of both diamonds and rubies


1 pair of bracelets consisting of 290 brilliants (diamonds cut in a multifaceted manner - a gift from the king to go with the girandole earrings)

1 bracelet with a portrait of Louis Ferdinand, Dauphin set in a frame of diamonds, and mounted on six rows of pearls

1 bracelet with a portrait of Louis XV, in the same style as the one above

1 pair of bracelets consisting of six rows of pearls 

1 pair of bracelets with diamonds and emeralds set on seven rows of pearls

Brooches / Stomacher Brooches

1 brooch in the shape of two diamond bows (one small intersecting a larger one) with a diamond pendant, also from Saxony

1 brooch shaped as a bouquet of white and yellow diamonds and rubies

1 "knot or bow" meant for a deshabille gown (robe de chamber) of diamonds and emeralds

1 "knot or bow" of diamonds and emeralds in the shape of a clover with a pendant

1 bow of brilliants mounted on a brooch painted pink with a pendant of the same colour

1 large square-cut Spinel ruby flanked by brilliants and smaller rubies


1 pair of earrings with encircled bows

1 pair of "loop-shaped" earrings consisting of Saxon diamonds (likely a wedding present)

1 pair of girandole earrings (a gift from Louis XV)

1 pair of earrings with floral motif

1 pair of diamond and emerald earrings with attached pendants

1 pair of earrings of Spinel rubies and brilliants

1 pair of large, round earrings of white brilliants and pink brilliants


1 fan of gold with amethysts and diamonds

1 fan of mother-of-pearl, encrusted with brilliants, rubies and emeralds


1 necklace with two large diamond pendants, a bow or a knot and seven pieces encircling the neck (this probably refers to a choker-style necklace)

1 six-row pearl necklace

1 necklace with twenty-three Oriental pearls (originally a gift from "the Sultan" to Louis XV in 1722)


1 stomacher brooch of diamonds, 2 accompanying diamond pieces (these two could be added to any part of the dress) and 2 matching cuffs (attached to the sleeves)

1 collar with a bow, a pair of girandole earrings of topazes from Saxony and nine loose diamonds (to be attached to the gown or stomacher)


1 ring with a lozenge-shaped emerald (meaning in the shape of a rhombus) with four brilliants on the ring itself

Shoe Buckles

1 pair of buckles adorned with eight oval diamonds and several smaller diamonds


1 tassel consisting of one large diamond encircled by six smaller diamonds

6 diamond encrusted buttons

1 ribbon and 12-15 diamonds that could be interchanged with different parures

1 unspecified piece of jewellery depicting the Saint Jean Népomucène

1 more unspecified piece of jewellery of the same saint but mounted on small emeralds

1 cross of brilliants

5 tassels of diamonds and emeralds

1 watch and chain with white and blue diamonds in a chequered pattern  

The complete value of this magnificent collection was estimated at no less than 737.762 livres.