GENEVA - This superb ruby and diamond ring was part of the personal collection of the last Queen of Italy, Maria-José. When the young, clever and attractive Belgian Princess Marie-José married the Prince of Piedmont, future Umberto II in 1930, she received jewellery inherited from the fabulous private collection of his grandmother, Queen Margherita. At the same time, as was customary, she received gifts of more jewels from her family, friends, and patriotic Italian supporters of the monarchy. This ring was a gift from the scholar and bibliophile, Tammaro de Marinis to mark a long friendship, based on a shared passion for art and history.
Tammaro lived in the sumptuous Villa Montalto near Florence and there introduced Marie-José to the philosophers Benedetto Croce and Giovanni Gentile, along with the leading artists, poets, and politicians of the interwar period. A man of great taste, Tammaro chose the perfect ring for this brilliant princess set with an outstanding Burmese “pigeon blood” ruby.
THE QUEEN MARIA-JOSÉ RUBY RING. AN EXCEPTIONAL BURMESE RUBY AND DIAMOND RING WEIGHING 8.48 CARATS, LATE 19TH CENTURY. ESTIMATE CHF5,860,000–8,780,000.
Long honoured in history as the gemstone of sovereigns, ruby deposits are found across the globe, but certain locations produce exceptional stones: the Queen Maria José Ruby has the intense colour and strong natural red fluorescence common to the Mogok area of Burma, now Myanmar. Any Burmese ruby in excess of five carats is considered rare, and in the 19th century, a ruby of over eight carats and of such fine colour would have been considered a truly exceptional gift.