A New Orleans-based fine antiques store has put up for sale an 18k gold pectoral cross and a platinum ring with more than 75 carats of diamonds, which once belonged to Pope Paul VI (1963 – 1978), expecting to fetch a combined $1.9 million.
According to the auction house’s web site, the two pieces not only are historically significant, but they are also unique as rarely ever Papal jewellery is sold on the market.
The almost 18cm long gold cross features 12 mine-cut diamonds, ranging in size from 3 to 8.66 carats with VVS and VC clarity, run the length and width of the cross totalling more than 60 carats. The $1.25 million piece also includes several Colombian emeralds and tiny diamonds, which fill in the 18k carvings of golden scrolls and leaves along the cross’ edges.
The Papal ring, donated by Paul VI to the United Nations in 1965, is centred with a 13-carat round white diamond surrounded by 14 smaller round diamonds totalling 3.5 carats. The $650,000 piece is set in platinum and flanked by two diamond pavé squares on either side inset with a cross made of rubies.
Both the ring and the cross to be auction by M.S. Rau Antiques are engraved with the Christian Chi Rho symbol, which indicates that both were most probably made by Vatican jewellers in the early 1900′s with existing jewels from the Vatican’s own collection.
Pope Paul VI hoped the proceedings of the jewels auction would help finance the UN’s human relief activities.