Sunday, 6 May 2012

CHAUMET: The Murat Tiara

This extraordinary tiara with a foliate design set in diamonds was made by Chaumet in 1920 for the marriage of Prince Alexandre Murat with Yvonne Gillois. It would be another magnificent piece with great design, provenance and excellent craftsmanship and gemstones but the three natural pearls make it exceptional. The centre one weights 303.97 grains (75.84 carats) and the two on the sides weight 121.19 and 120.90 grains respectively. To put this in perspective, the famous Peregrina pearl that was recently sold for more than $11.8 million weights 203 grains.

Prince Alexander descends from Joachim Murat who married Caroline Bonaparte, Napoleon's sister. An inn-keeper's son from Gascony, his brilliant military and political career granted him the ruling of the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily until he was publicly executed in Calabria. Prince Alexandre's father, Joachim, married Cecile d'Elchingen, the descendant of Marshal Ney, one Napoleon's highest regarded generals. Cecile inherited a huge fortune from her adopted grand-mother (Madame Furtado-Heine) and the family lived in grandeur amongst the European royal families for many decades.

Chaumet had been selected to supply all the jewels for the marriages of the family for two generations and he was selected for this one as well. Their designs at the time fell under two categories, romantic traditional and contemporary chic. It is interesting to note that the design chosen for this piece was classical and majestic and did not follow the modern Art deco trends of the time. However, even Vogue in 1920 praised the tiara. Chaumet also created a bandeau which could be adjusted under the tiara to give it extra height and importance.

This piece will be auctioned by Sotheby's Geneva on May 14th

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