The original pair of diamond earrings which served as the inspiration for lot 363, date back to the early 18th century and formed part of the collection of jewels belonging to Empress Maria Therese of Austria (1718-1780). In 1765 these, and the rest of the Austrian Crown Jewels, were placed in the 'Schatzkammer', the Imperial Treasury, and held in the Imperial Palace until 1918. After the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Emperor Karl (1887-1922) removed the jewels from their display and took them with him into exile in Switzerland. As the jewels were sold, many were dismantled and lost, but the pair of earrings, by family repute, passed into the hands of Cartier. Cartier produced a copy of Maria Therese's earrings in keeping with the Art Deco style, using modern cut diamonds of the time and mounted in platinum. It is these earrings (with the cluster top slightly modified) which are offered as lot 363.
The diamond earrings of Empress Maria Therese of Austria, photograph taken circa 1920