Dynamic Duo of Jewels Once Owned by Pope Paul VI Auction for $1.9 Million
Two extremely rare papal treasures once owned by Pope Paul VI have resurfaced recently and are up for auction at New Orleans-based M.S. Rau Antiques. Together, the diamond and emerald cross and diamond halo ring share a combined estimate of over $1.9 million.
The duo was famously donated by the Pope to the United Nations in 1965, in hopes that the proceeds would help aid humanitarian efforts. Two years later, both pieces went up for auction at Sotheby’s and were purchased by a Chicago jeweler for $64,000. The proceeds were split between four UN agencies. Since then, the jewelry has changed ownership several times, including to the legendary American daredevil, Evel Knievel.
The first is the late Pope’s Pectoral Cross; a pendant awarded to Catholics who achieve the status of Bishop or higher. Intricately carved in 18K yellow gold, the cross features Old Mine cut diamonds and is inlaid with natural Colombian emeralds, totalling over 60 carats in gems. The meticulous workmanship can be seen in great detail especially on the backside of the pendant. The pendant measures over seven inches long and four inches wide and is estimated to yield $1.25 million at auction.
The second papal piece up for auction is a ring that had originally belonged to Pope Pius XII, and was a gift to Pope Paul VI. The handcrafted platinum ring is set with a 12.75 carat Old European cut diamond center, complemented by a halo of 14 diamonds. A distinctive ruby cross is inlaid among pave set diamonds on either side of the ring’s shank, and the elaborate ring is finished off
Both the Pectoral Cross and ring are engraved with the Christian Chi Rho symbol, which indicates that they were made by jewelers to the Vatican, using gems from the Vatican’s own collection.
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