Tuesday's Titillating Treasure or Trinket - Earrings

Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend

These stunning little (approximately 35 carats total weight) earrings once dangled daintly from Marie Antoinette's lovely lobes. 

They were a gift from Louis XVI but disappeared during the Revolution.

According to Jeffrey Post, Curator of the Natural Gem and Mineral Collection of the Smithsonian, "By unknown means, in the early 1800's, the earrings apparently ended up in the collection of Tatiana Youssoupoff, acording to an affadavit by Princess Youssoupoff to Pierre Cartier in 1938.

Tatiana Youssoupoff was a Grand Duchess of Russia.  Born in 1769 to Basil Andreivitch Engelhardt and Helena Alexandrovna Potemkine, she was described as gentle, kind, and stylish.  Indeed, she loved fashionable clothes and jewlery.  Throughout her life she amassed a jewelry collection that would make Elizabeth Taylor green with envy - including pieces from the French crown and jewels that had belonged to the Queen of Naples.  How Princess Youssoupoff came to own Marie Antoinette's earrings remains a mystery.  Many items were stolen from the royal palaces during the Revolution, so an obvious and logical explanation would be that she purchased the earrings from a thief or an unscrupulous courtier entrusted with their safe-keeping.

According to Mr. Post, "The Smithsonian received the earrings from Margorie Merriweather Post's daughter, Eleanor Barzin, in 1964."

They have been on display at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History ever since.


I am certain my most ardent readers and fellow devotees of Marie Antoinette will want to know this tidbit:  When I interviewed Mr. Post, he indicated that there are no known portraits of Marie Antoinette that depict her wearing these earrings.  When I looked through my comprehensive collection of paintings of Marie Antoinette, I only found one in which she was wearing earrings.

A Challenge for the Truly Devoted

Do you know which portrait of Marie Antoinette shows her wearing earrings?


  1. It's the infamous Vigee-Labrun 'propaganda' piece of the queen & her surviving children. She is wearing gold hoops with a single pearl hanging from them...at least that is what my semi-photographic memory is seeing when I think of that sad portrait...

  2. Brava Val1755!You are correct! She did, indeed, wear large tear-drop pearls on golden hoops for that painting.

    Thanks for visiting my blog and answering the question.

  3. Gorgeous earrings, and fascinating story behind those beautiful jewels!

  4. Avon made a pretty accurate set of earrings and added a necklace a while ago, and they pop up now and then at auction site Ebay.


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