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The Regent

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From the Archives : Originally published August 07th, 2009
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Category : Gems and Treasures

 

 

 

 

In 1698, a slave found the 410 carat (82 g) uncut diamond in a Golconda mine, more specifically Paritala-Kollur Mine in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. The slave stole the enormous rough concealing it in bandages of a self-inflicted leg wound, and fled to the seacoast.

 


 

There, he divulged his secret to an English sea captain, offering him half the value of the stone in return for safe passage to a free country. But during the voyage to Bombay, temptation overcame this seafaring man and he murdered the slave and  took the diamond. After selling it to an Indian diamond merchant named Jamchund for about $5000, the captain squandered the proceeds and, in a fit of remorse and delirium tremens, hanged himself. In 1702, Jamchund sold the stone for about $100,000 to Governor Thomas Pitt. He claimed to pay 20,400£ for it and the cutting took two years and cost about $25,000, but a number of smaller stones brought more than $35,000; some of these were rose-cut stones that were sold to Peter the Great of Russia. The principal gem, which has but one very small imperfection, is today considered one of the finest and most brilliant of the known large diamonds.

 


 

 

The diamond was cut in a 141 carats (28 g) cushion brilliant. After many attempts to sell it to various European royalty, including Louis XIV of France, it was sold it to the French Prince, Philippe II, Duke of Orléans in 1717 for £135,000 from which it gets the name Regent.

 


 

The royals used the stone in many ways including being set in the crown of Louis XV for his coronation in 1722, in a new crown for the coronation of Louis XVI in 1775, and as an adornment in the hat of Marie Antoinette. In 1791 its appraised value was £480,000.

 


 

In 1792 during the revolutionary furor in Paris, "Le Régent," was stolen along with the Hope and the Sancy. It was recovered a year later. When Napoleon Bonaparte came to power it was mounted in the hilt of his sword and after his downfall in 1814, the stone travelled around quite a lot. Napoleon's wife, Marie Louisa, carried the Regent back to Austria upon his death. Later her father returned it to the French Crown Jewels by 1824. The Regent was worn at the coronation of Charles X.  The diamond was mounted successively on the crowns of Louis XVIII, Charles X and Napoleon III.

 

It was fortunate for this diamond not have been sold with many other stones in France and having survived the Second World War hidden behind a stone in a chateau at Chambord.  Today, The Regent is mounted in a Greek diadem designed for Empress Eugenie, it remains in the French Royal Treasury at the Louvre where it has been on display there since 1887.


 


 

 

 

All famous diamonds 

 

 

 

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