It’s no surprise that diamonds are expensive, but one lot in a sale of jewels being held on Tuesday at Sotheby’s in Geneva goes above and beyond: the “magnificent fancy vivid pink diamond ring” dubbed the Historic Pink is expected to be sold for up to 17.5 million Swiss Francs, which is nearly $19 million.
That price is due to more than just the 8.72-carat stone at the center of the ring. The diamond is believed to have belonged to Princess Mathilde Bonaparte, a niece of Napoleon Bonaparte and member of the Russian royal family who became a famous Parisian socialite. According to Sotheby’s research, the stone was sold as part of a collection from Princess Mathilde in 1904, after which it can be traced directly to the collection of its recent owner, Huguette Clark. Clark herself was pretty much as close to a princess as an American can get: the heiress and philanthropist, who died in 2011 after a reclusive old age, came from spectacular wealth and pedigree.
But the Historic Pink is far from the only gem with a rich back story. Here are some of history’s fanciest and most famous jewels.