Entries in Diamond Ring (2)


Napoleon and Josephine's Engagement Ring to Be Auctioned Off

ABC News/Osenat(PARIS) -- As jewelry goes, it is modest, a simple diamond and sapphire ring. But it is rich in history.

The ring, which will be auctioned off in Paris on Sunday, was Napoleon's engagement ring in 1796 to the woman who would become Empress Josephine.

The gold ring has an 18th century setting called "toi et moi" with opposing tear shaped jewels, a blue sapphire and a diamond. The carat weight of the two gems is slightly less than one carat each.

This ring will go on sale at the Osenat auction house in Fontainebleau outside Paris where the bidding is expected to reach 15,000 euros, something close to $20,000.

The ring may seem unimpressive considering the names attached to them are an emperor and empress, but it actually illustrates Napoleon's passion for his future queen.

"At the time Napoleon was a young and promising officer, but he was not rich. He must have broken his wallet to buy this quality ring," Osenat's expert Jean-Christophe Chataignier told ABC News.

The auction is also being held on a unique day.

"The auction will celebrate 250th anniversary of Josephine's birth," says historian David Chanteranne, the editor in chief of Napoleon I Magazine.

Napoleon met Josephine, Rose Tascher de la Pagerie as she was known then, in September 1795. She was 32 years old, six years older than Bonaparte. At the time, she was the rich and stylish widow of Alexandre de Beauharnais, an aristocrat who supported the French Revolution but died on the guillotine. Her first marriage produced two children, Eugene and Hortense, who Napoleon later adopted.

According to Napoleon's memoirs written at St. Helena, he met Josephine when her son Eugene came to ask him for the right to keep his father's sword. Napoleon said yes, and Josephine invited him to her apartment in Paris to thank him. Napoleon was immediately smitten, and within the first couple months of their relationship, had fallen completely in love with her. He wrote about this in his memoirs:

"Everyone knows the extreme grace of the Empress Josephine and her sweet and attractive manners. The acquaintance soon became intimate and tender, and it was not long before we married."

Their wedding day was March 9, 1796, but the honeymoon lasted only 36 hours. Napoleon left to lead the French army on a successful invasion of Italy, but during his absence he wrote frequently, sometimes twice a day.

"Since I left you, I have been constantly depressed," one letter says. "My happiness is to be near you. Incessantly I live over in my memory your caresses, your tears, your affectionate solicitude."

Napoleon begged Josephine to join him in on his conquest in Milan, but Josephine was often unresponsive. She preferred Paris, where her kids attended school, to the front line in Italy. And then, there was her Parisian affair with Lt. Hippolyte Charles.

When Napoleon learned about Josephine's affairs, his letters changed in tone: "I don't love you, not at all; on the contrary I detest you. You're a naughty, gawky, foolish slut."

The marriage didn't last, but "Josephine continued to treasure the ring and gave it to her daughter Hortense, later Queen of Holland, through whom it came down to her son, Napoleon III and his wife Empress Eugene to whose family this relic ring still belongs," claims Chataignier.

The buyer will be breaking up something of a set. The ring is currently on display alongside other historic treasures, including portraits of Napoleon's son and a sword given to the emperor by King Henry IV.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Woman Uses Diamond Ring to Escape Being Buried Alive

ABC News(LONDON) -- A woman who was buried alive in a cardboard box has told a British court how she used her diamond engagement ring to cut her hands and legs free, and then slash her way out of the box.

Michelina Lewendowska, 27, told her harrowing tale while testifying against her former fiancé Marcin Kasprzak and his friend Patryk Borys, who are both on trial for attempted murder.

Speaking in her native Polish, Lewendowska told the court her fiancé attacked her with a stun gun in their home last May.

"I was trying to push him away with the taser. He knelt down, he pressed my ribs with his knee and continued to use the taser," she said.

Lewendowska was tasered twice in the neck, bound and gagged, and put into a cardboard computer box, she said. The woman told the court Kasprzak and Borys taped the box shut, put her in the trunk of a car, then drove her to the woods and buried her, head down, under nearly half a foot of dirt. And left.

Lewendsowska testified that she struggled to breathe, then made use of the only tool she had, her engagement ring. She cut her legs free, and then scratched at the box.

"I started to tear the box apart. I was focusing on the opening I had just made. Soil was getting in. My face was getting dirty. I could see some black sky and leaves. I was so exhausted," she told the court.

Lewendowska said it took her a half hour to cut herself out of her cardboard coffin, then flagged down a motorist, who called for help.

Prosecutors say Kasprzak had grown bored with Lewendowska and wanted her out of the way so he could start a new romance with another woman.

His defense attorney argues Kasprzak was only trying to scare his fiance. The lawyer reminded her in court that his client left two hand holds on the box open so she could breathe. But Lewendowska said her former lover did not tape them up because he was in a hurry to bury her.

"I can tell you now that they were not left specifically or intentionally for me to live," she said. Kasprzak and Borys have pled not guilty to charges of attempted murder.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio