Napoleon and Josephine’s Engagement Ring Auction Sale Smashes Expectations

Napoleons RingNapoleon`s engagement ring went to auction to be timed to coincide with the 250th anniversary of Josephina’s birthday. It fetched a hefty $949,000 (€730,000) so that after commission and fees the total was $1.17 million! Almost 50 times the original $20,000 estimate! The winning bidder remains anonymous.

Osenat auction house described the the 18th century ring as a “simple” gold band decorated with two opposing pear-shaped gems, a blue sapphire and diamond. Both stones are smaller than 1 carat.

The setting is an 18th Century style known as”toi et moi” (you and me). “At the time, Napoleon had very little money,” Osenat’s Jean-Christophe Chataignier told the Daily Mail. “it would have broken his wallet”.

Emily Villane, who led the auction told ABC News that “The ring is a very ordinary one” “In my wildest dreams, I did not think we would outsell the estimate by more than 47 times,” “We based the estimates in our catalog on the actual market value of the ring, minus Napoleon and Josephine provenance. It is not our job to tell bidders how much they should pay for the historical premium.”

There was intense interest in the ring. The auction house had to adapt to accommodate the bidders setting up extra phone lines and hiring 10 more staff. In addition to the 300 people in the Fontainebleau auction house, about 50 more international bidders were hooked up by phone and Osenat auction house, also received more than 40 written bids by email from the U.S. alone. There were even requests for private spaces a floor above the salesroom, where the superrich could watch and bid without being seen.

“It was 15 minutes of relentless bidding,” Villane said. “We opened at 10,000 Euros, I raised it to 50,000 Euros. From then on it was going up by 10,000. When the hammer went down at 730,000 Euros there was a huge applause.”

The moi et toi ring style is less common nowadays, although it is still seen and perhaps it will become more popular considering the high profile nature of this example. If the style speaks to you then consider getting a similar one for yourself. It can be any variation on the theme of you and me. Rather than the most common solitair (you are the one), or 3 stone (I Love you/then, now, alsways), go for 2 stones in a unique setting like this. it is a great way to showcase fancy cut and different coloured stones. Check out this one from Cartier with marquise cut diamonds each about 1 carat:

Your ring can be simple like Napoleon’s or extravagant like Cartier’s – its up to you. Come in to Secret Sapphire Luxury jewellery in Yaletown and discuss your design with Monica. She can work with your design needs and budget to create for you the perfect ring that says it all. Drop in at 493 Davie Street Tuesday to Saturday 10.30-5.30 or call for an appointment at 604-558-3638.