A vintage piece of jewellery is a luxurious item for anyone to own. But there are some pieces that are out of financial reach for all but the world’s richest people. Below are some of the vintage pieces of jewellery that have sold at auction for the highest prices.

empress-eugenie-brooch1The Empress Eugenie Brooch

Dating from around 1855, this brooch is literally covered with diamonds. A sculpted bow with two crafted tassels and five cascades are all decorated with European-cut 141-carat diamonds (pictured right). It was designed and made by a Parisian jeweller named Francois Kramer as a gift for Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III, the ruler of France in the mid-nineteenth century. Originally designed as a belt buckle, with a gold setting, Eugenie preferred to wear it as a brooch. It was sold in 2008 at Christie’s New York to a private bidder for $10.8 million.

Panther Bracelet

When King Edward VIII of England wanted to show his devotion to his lover Wallis Simpson, he sought out one of the most exquisite pieces of jewellery in the world as gift. He decided on an onyx and diamond panther bracelet (pictured above). It was crafted in Paris in 1952, and became the most expensive bracelet ever sold when it was purchased for $12.4 million in 2010. The successful bidder was anonymous, but rumours still circulate that pop singer Madonna bought the bracelet, gaining strength when her first feature film as director was a biopic of Wallis Simpson.

The Wittelsbach Graff Diamond

A fancy greyish blue diamond weighing over 35 carats, this jewel was controversially cut by jeweller Laurence Graff to remove its imperfections. This meant that the piece was reduced to just over 31 carats, but was now absolutely flawless in its structure, both externally and internally. The stone originated in India and its ownership can be traced as far back as King Philip IV of Spain in the mid-seventeenth century. It was sold for $24.3 million in 2010.

The Graff Pink

Laurence Graff himself won the bidding war for the piece in 2010 at Sotheby’s in Geneva. He purchased it for $46 million – the highest price ever paid for an item of jewellery. An emerald-cut fancy intense pink diamond with rounded corners, it is set in a platinum ring with shield shaped diamonds on either side. It was previously owned by American jeweller Harry Winston for over sixty years before the 2010 auction.

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