Imagine you’re Napoleon, conqueror of Europe and self-proclaimed emperor (with an out-sized dose of ambition and an ego to match). You’re madly in love with a gorgeous woman. You need a ring to propose. What do you choose?
Oh, and there’s just one catch. You’re not emperor yet. In fact you’ve got quite a ways before you reach the top of the “ladder of legend.” Which means your budget isn’t quite – well, royal. So what do you give the woman you will make your empress?
Here it is:
This modestly pretty, delicate gold band set with a pair of 1-carat pear-shaped gems (diamond & sapphire) hardly bespeaks the splendor of world conquest, or the passion of one of history’s most famous and tempestuous love affairs.
Purchased by a young Bonaparte in the early years of his larger-than-life career, the ring saw the unfolding of world-changing events and the rise and fall of empires. Not until now has it assumed the prestige and glamour it deserves.
(An early portrait of Josephine)
The ring went up for auction this week in France to commemorate the Empress Josephine’s birthday. The list price was estimated at $20,000 – on the high side – so the auction floor quickly went electric when the first bidder offered over $60,000. In the end, the sale ended with a staggering conclusion at nearly $1,000,000.
Napoleon would have been proud.
A scene from Empress Josephine’s coronation