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Chatelaine's Antiques & Appraisals Magazine > Jewelry > The Crown Jewels > The French Crown Jewels


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The Crown Jewels of France

The French Crown Jewels

 The French Crown jewels were the jewels embedded in the crowns of French monarchs. They were all sold to the general public in 1887, with Tiffany's & Co of New York buying 24 of the total 69 lots. Only a few of the crowns were kept, with colored glass replacing the jewels.

Crown Jewels of Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie kept at Apollon Gallery of the Louvre Museum

Included in the auction was a stunning diamond necklace of Empress Eugénie, considered at the time to have been the finest single item to go on sale.  The necklace featured four diamonds which may have been among the former Mazarins.

 View the 135.80 carat Ruspoli Sapphire Crystal here

 In 1717, The Regent Diamond was sold to Philip II, Duke of Orleans, then Regent of France, for about $650,000; since that time, it has been known as the Regent Diamond. It was set in the crown of Crown of Louis XV and worn at his coronation in February, 1723. Removed from the crown, it was worn by Queen Marie Leczinska in her hair. Two generations later, when the French Crown Jewels were adorned the Royal Family in many different kinds of personal ornaments, Marie Antoinette used the Regent to adorn a large black-velvet hat.

 The coveted Regent Diamond disappeared, together with the equally famous Sancy and French Blue (from which the Hope Diamond was cut), when the Garde Meuble (Royal Treasury) was robbed of it's fabulous jewels in 1792, during the early part of the Revolution. Some of the gems were soon recovered, but the Regent could not at first be traced. After fifteen months, however, it was found, having been secreted in a hole under the timberwork of a Paris garret. 

 In 1797, the great gem was pledged for money that helped Napoleon in his ride to power. He had in mounted in the hilt of his sword that he carried at his coronation in 1804. When Napoleon went into exile in Elba in 1814, Marie Louisa, his second wife, carried the Regent to the Chateau of Blois. Later, however, her father, Emperor Francis I of Austria, returned it to France and it again became part of the French Crown Jewels. 

 In 1825, Charles X wore the Regent at his coronation; it remained in the Royal Crown until the time of Napoleon III. Then, a place was made for it in a Greek diadem designed for Empress Eugenie. 

 Many of the French Crown Jewels were sold at auction in 1887, but the Regent was reserved from the sale and exhibited at the Louvre among the national treasures.

 In 1940, when the Germans invaded Paris, it was sent to the chateau country, this time to Chambord, where it was secreted behind a stone panel. After the War, it was returned to Paris and put on display in the Apollon Gallery of the Louvre Museum. It was one of the features of the Ten Centuries of French Jewelry exhibition at the Museum in 1962. An alternate name sometimes used is the Millionaire Diamond.

Adapted from DIAMONDS - Famous, Notable and Unique (GIA).



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