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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Updated: Napoleon’s Engagement Ring to Joséphine is up for Auction

Napoleon Bonaparte was one of the world’s fiercest warriors but he also had a flair for romance. 

In 1796, as a symbol of his love for his wife-to-be Joséphine, he presented her with a diamond and sapphire engagement ring. This same ring will be up for bid March 24 at the Osenat auction house in Fontainebleau, France. It is estimated to fetch $13,000 to $20,000.

The gold ring, with an origin listed as 18th Century, is adorned with two pear-shaped stones (also described as “tear shaped” in media reports), a blue sapphire and diamond that rest side by side facing opposite directions. The carat-weight of the two gems was not provided by the auction house.

Updated information:  The carat-weight of each gem is approximately one carat each, said Jean Christophe Chatignier, a partner with the auction house, who responded to my e-mail Monday morning.

Empress Joséphine was 32 years old, six years older than Napoleon, was a widow with one son at the time of their marriage on March 9, 1796, just before Napoleon departed for his Italian command, according to the auction house.

The ring is from the collection of Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie, according to the auction house. Napoleon III, the last monarch of France, was the nephew and heir of Napoleon.

Empress Joséphine did not produce an heir, although Napoleon formally adopted her son Eugène and cousin Stéphanie. Napoleon chose to divorce Joséphine so he could remarry for an heir. In March 1810, he married Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria. The couple had one child, Napoleon Francis Joseph Charles. He became Napoleon II in 1814 and reigned for only two weeks. He was given the title of the Duke of Reichstadt in 1818 and died of tuberculosis in 1832 at the age of 21, with no children.

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