The two large, pear-shaped diamonds - probably from India - weigh 14.25 and 20.34 carats respectively.
Worn By a French Queen
The large diamonds in these modern earrings were once set in a much older pair. According to sworn documents, the original earrings were owned by Marie Antoinette, the queen of France who was guillotined in 1793 during the French Revolution.
Part of a Legend
The earrings were said to be a gift from her husband, King Louis XVI. According to one legend, she had them with her when she was arrested fleeing the French Revolution in 1791. Grand Duchess Tatiana Yousupoff of Russia later acquired the earrings. They stayed with her family until 1928
Marjorie Merriweather Post acquired the earrings from Pierre Cartier in October 1928. At the time of the sale, Cartier described the settings as original, but it is not known if these had been replaced or altered in the previous century. The large diamond drops were surrounded by bands of silver that had gold linkages and were decorated with old mine cut diamonds in scroll work. Later, Cartier replaced the tops of the earrings with triangular diamonds set in platinum. In 1959, Harry Winston, Inc., mounted the diamonds into platinum and diamond replicas of the “original” silver settings for Mrs. Post. In November 1964, Mrs. Post’s daughter, Mrs. Eleanor Barzin, donated the earrings, along with the original settings, to the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History.