This bouquet of ‘flowers’ made up of over 2,000 diamonds and other jewels that was gifted by Empress Maria Theresa to the Holy Roman Emperor is set to go on display as a one-off, must-see event on Valentine’s Day.
The Natural History Museum (NHM) in the Austrian capital Vienna said in a statement obtained by Newsflash that the pricey bouquet will be presented during a special tour given by mineralogist Dr Vera M. F. Hammer on 14th February.
The museum said that the bouquet is made up of “61 glittering flowers and 12 sparkling insects, which are made of a total of 2,102 diamonds and 761 coloured precious and semi-precious gemstones in a vase made of rock crystal”.
They were a Valentine’s Day gift from Empress Maria Theresa (1717-1780) to her husband, the Holy Roman Emperor, Francis I (1708-1765).
The museum said that even the famous author Johann von Goethe had been impressed by the precious stones, saying in Frankfurt or Vienna in approximately 1760: “Everyone knew that Emperor Franz had a great fondness for jewels, especially coloured stones.
“Lautensack had spent a considerable sum (and, as it later turned out, more than his fortune) on gems of this kind, and from them began to make a bouquet in which each stone should stand out favourably according to its shape and colour and the whole should be a piece of art, worthy of being preserved in an emperor’s vault.”
The museum added: “In fact, the bouquet of flowers, weighing 2.8 kilogrammes and 50 centimetres high, was completed by the jeweller Michael Grosser in Vienna around 1760. If one believes Goethe, however, the Frankfurt jeweller Johann Gottfried Lautensack did the preparatory work.
“It is said that Maria Theresa had the gemstone bouquet placed in her husband’s mineral cabinet in 1764 as a “little name day surprise”. The empress supported her husband’s passion for mineralogy and mining – as a way of promoting the economic prosperity of the empire.”
Tickets for the Valentine’s Day Special tour, which will take place from 6pm to 8pm on Monday, 14th February, are currently on sale by the museum for EUR 24 (GBP 20), and reservations can be made by emailing email@example.com.