Gem Tales December 07 2015 1 Comment
What I love about sapphire jewelry is its ability to tell stories of its past lives. These natural gemstones last for many generations and with that come a rich history that would captivate any soul. In 2013, in the outskirts of France, an engagement ring was sold by the Onsenat auction house for 730,000 Euros ($1.17 million). The price it reached was almost 40 times what the experts at the auction house estimated and this premium was no surprise given its prominence in the hands of Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine (Rose Tascher de la Pagerie as she was known back then).
The story of their encounter, love and tragedy has been inextricably linked to the 18th century gold ring featured in a “toi et moi” (“You and Me”) setting with opposing tear shaped gemstones: a lush blue sapphire and a sparkling diamond. The bidders came from across the world and remained anonymous as they reached into their deep pockets with 10,000 Euros at a time to secure a piece of remarkable history.
Napoleon was only a young officer when he first met Josephine and he fell in love with her immediately. She was the widow of a French aristocrat who had two children, and as they acquainted each other for several months, their love grew into their marriage on March 9th in 1796. Excerpts from his memoirs portray a wild love as they longed for each other when Napoleon departed to lead the French army against the invasion of Italy.
Napoleon says,” Since I left you, I have been constantly depressed. My happiness is to be near you. Incessantly I live over in my memory your caress, your tears, and your affectionate solicitude.” He continued, “How happy would I be if I could assist you in your undressing, the little firm white breast, the adorable face, the hair tied up in a scarf a la creole.”
Unfortunately, Josephine had other ideas while Napoleon fought in the front lines of the war. Her affair with a French lieutenant did not go unnoticed as Napoleon completely changed his writing to reflect his anger and frustration. One letter said, “I don’t love you. Not at all; on the contrary, I detest you. You’re a naughty, gawky, foolish slut”.
The ring that he gave Josephine lasted through this turmoil and was passed down her family until it was sold in 2013 in the Onsenat auction house. The contrast that was depicted in this ring embodies the tragic love that Napoleon had Josephine which turned from a lush rich emotion to a hollow and cold disgust.
No matter what the story is, each gemstone continues to give us an insight into its interesting past. You have the power to make your own and you can be assured to have it retold many generations after you owning your own signature piece of heirloom jewelry.