1778: jewelers to the crown, Paul Bassange and Charles Boehmer create a prestigious necklace, one of the most extraordinary of all times comprising 540 diamonds. “The Queen’s Necklace” gave rise to one of the most romanesque adventures.
The jewelers Paul Bassange and Charles Boehmer decided to create an unprecedented necklace comprised of the purest diamonds in order to achieve absolute perfection of sparkle. This unique piece, that only the Queen would have the privilege to wear, was made up of 540 diamonds for a total weight of 1’245 carats. When Paul Bassange and Charles Boehmer presented the necklace to the Queen Marie Antoinette, while dazzled by its splendor, she hesitated: France is not well, the rumblings of the people can be heard and the price (close to 100 million Swiss francs today) requires a moment of reflection... The magnificent necklace is worth more than a battleship! Meanwhile, Madame de la Motte, an intriguing courtesan, took full advantage of her position to perfect her plan by taking advantage of Cardinal de Rohan. Fallen in disgrace, she claimed that he would regain the favor of the Queen if he would accept to serve as intermediary and acquire the necklace, for his own account and discreetly. In order to convince this man of God, she organized a meeting in the night in the garden of the castle where he purportedly met the masked Queen, in reality an actress disguised as Marie Antoinette, who offered him a signed letter asking him to pass her royal order to the jewelers. The duped Cardinal purchased the necklace from Paul Bassange and Charles Boehmer who gave him the necklace in all good faith. The jewelers only realized the truth of the enormous scam at the date of the first payment, alas all too late... In 1785 the scandal broke out. The necklace, unmounted by the lady and her accomplices was lost, the diamonds scattered... A major trial follows where the Queen, tainted by this infamy,wassummonedtotestifyinpersonofherinnocence…Theguiltyparties were finally imprisoned but the necklace was lost forever. Only the famous book by Alexander Dumas, The Queen’s Necklace survives an affair that shocked the judicial circles and destabilized the royal family and the aristocracy of the end of the 18th century, dragging them in its wake into the French Revolution.