Russian diamonds that reputedly helped broker peace between warring empires three centuries ago will go to the highest bidder at the Geneva jewel auctions this week.
The Swiss city’s twice-yearly sales of rare jewels are often dominated by stones the size of door stoppers, but this week, gems enriched by the weight of history will share centre -stage with those valued by their weight in carats.
Christie’s began the auction season yesterday at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues on Lake Geneva, while Sotheby’s takes its turn today a cross the road at the five-star Hotel Beau Rivage.
Sotheby’s features diamonds once owned by Russian empress Catherine I that were given to herby her husband, Czar Peter the Great.
In 1711, Catherine ordered her husband – in the middle of the night – to draft a peace treaty, Sotheby’s said, citing historical records.
Without telling Peter, Catherine sent the peace proposal and all the jewels she was travelling with to the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed III.
David Bennet, of Sotheby’s, said the Sultan “accepted these and was delighted, the truce was given and the [Russian] empire was saved”.