Anyone with $2 million handy can buy a necklace from Bulgari or Graff, but not everyone can own a piece of jewelry with a backstory. A lucky few inherit important items from their family; for everyone else (and by "everyone else" we actually mean ".00001 percent of the world's population") acquiring a piece of history most often requires a trip to the spring jewelry auctions.
Like clockwork,Sotheby's and Christie's this April and May will offer up a range of rings, earrings, tiaras, and brooches from some of the most illustrious aristocratic families in the world. Occasionally the lot descriptions will just be a tease—a $700,000 diamond necklace at Sotheby's is murkily listed as "Property of a European Imperial Royal Family," for instance—but there are other objects where the consignors are less discreet, and you'll know exactly which Bourbon king bought what (and when) for his wife/third cousin. The following are highlights, including a few American-owned items thrown in for good measure; if Jackie O doesn't count as royalty, then no one should.
Dollar figures are auction house estimates.
Cartier Pendant-Necklace — $1.8 million to $2.2 million
Diamond Tiara/Necklace — $150,000 to $295,000
Diamond Brooch — $1.5 million to $2 million
Van Cleef and Arpels Earrings and Ring — $250,000 to $350,000
Diamond Tiara/Necklace — $300,000 to $500,000
Cartier Diamond Tiara — $300,000 to $500,000
Boucheron bangle-bracelet — $400,000 to $700,000
Emerald Bangles — $1.5 million to $2 million
Cartier Gem Set and Diamond Clips — $70,000 to $100,000