The Sancy, diamond from all European Courts


- September 2016 -

No diamond, not even the fateful Koh I Noor, can claim a more romantic past in fact and fable than the almond shaped stone, weighing only 53 carats and known to fame as the Sancy diamond.


sancy diamondThe Sancy has been said by some writers to have been identical with the cut by Louis van Berquem for Charles the Bold and worn by him at the disastrous battle of Nancy, where in 1477 the power of Burgundy went down, carrying its duke with it. The Duke’s diamond was taken from his dead body by a Swiss soldier and at this point a gap occurs in its history.
A diamond of the same shape and approximate weight was brought to France from the East by Nicholas Harlai, Seigneur de Sancy, about the year 1570, de Sancy being at that time French Ambassador to the Ottoman Court. From this point the varied history of the Sancy diamond is a matter of record. In the reign of Henry IV, de Sancy was minister of Finance and offered his diamond as a pledge to his sovereign, who wished to borrow money for an increase of his army. The jewel was sent by a trusted messenger who however never arrived, since he was waylaid, murdered and robbed. But not of the Sancy diamond. The faithful servant swallowed the gem before he fell under the knives of the bandits, and his master, knowing something of his devotion, recovered it from his stomach.

James I wearing the Sancy diamond At some time between 1590 and 1600 the Sancy was sold to James I of England (successor of Queen Elisabeth and wearing here the Sancy Diamond). It remained among the English crown jewels until the widow of Charles I presented it to the Earl of Worcester. By purchase or gift it again came back to the English crown jewels, for we find it among them in the reign of James II, who sold it to Louis XIV about the year 1695 for $ 625.000. Diamonds of more than 5 carats were reserved for kings and a few lords. The largest known diamond at the time was the Sancy which was owned by the kings of France and weighed around fifty-five carats.


Viscountess Nancy Astor It disappeared temporary when the Garde-Meuble was robbed during the French Revolution, but reappeared in 1828 when Prince Demidoff of Russia purchased it from a French dealer for $ 100.000. During the 19th century it was sold several times for varying sums. According to authentic sources its last purchaser was the Maharajah of Patiala. It reappeared in 1867, displayed at the Paris Exposition, carrying a price tag of one million francs. The gem then vanished again for forty years. The Sancy next surfaced in 1906 when bought by William Waldorf Astor, 1st Viscount Astor for his wife Nancy (here in the picture). The prominent Astor family possessed it for 72 years until the 4th Viscount Astor sold it to the Louvre for 1 million in 1978. The Sancy now rests in the Apollo Gallery, next to the Regent and the Hortensia diamond.


Text ©World Luxury Jewellers



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