Sunday, 31 May 2015

The world famous cursed Sancy diamond

The Sancy, Bespoke diamond.  www.handddiamonds.co.uk
 The story of  diamonds, in reality,  is a story of  money minded, greedy, rich people and middlemen and their intrigues to cheat one another, even to murder to posses it, not to speak of the foibles and  follies of the monarchs and the royal members. Like many mysterious diamonds, the  Sancy diamond has a checkered history that goes back to circa 1570, a history that is written in blood and violence. Once belonged to Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, this  diamond became an object of adoration  and envy. After  Charles died in 1495, his cousin king Manuel I  became the owner of the Sancy Diamond.

The Sancy diamond is a pale yellow 55.23-carat shield-shaped stone, apparently of Indian origin, and is  said to be one of the first large diamonds to be cut with symmetrical facets. It is one of the famous diamonds in Europe and is believed to have been once owned by the Moguls. The cut - shield-shaped modified brilliant cut is unusual by Western standards.

In  Portugal during the Spanish occupation, claimant D. António fled the country with a huge chunk of Portuguese Crown jewels and sold it to   Nicolas de Harlay, seigneur de Sancy, a popular character in the French court and later French Ambassador to Turkey. He was an expert in diamonds.

According to one story, Henry III of France in order  to conceal his premature baldness used to wear a cap with diamonds. Once he wanted to wear Sancy diamond, so, through a messenger, it was sent to the king by the owner. Since the diamond did not reach the king, the  investigation that was ordered,  revealed  that  the loyal messenger was found murdered on the way and the diamond was in his stomach. Apparently, sensing trouble, the messenger swallowed the diamond. Had he carried the diamond on him, probably it would have been stolen. 

In 1605 James I successor of Queen Elizabeth acquired the stone. Sancy saw several owners - the unfortunate Charles I (King of England, Scotland and Ireland) and then by his third son James II. He sold it to  Cardinal Mazarin in 1657 for the reported sum of £25,000. The cardinal bequeathed the diamond to the king  Louis XIV of France upon his death in 1661. Sancy and other diamonds were stolen from  the Garde Meuble (Royal Treasury) in Paris during the French revolution. Until 1828, the history of Sancy is not known.  There was a big hiatus in its strange history. Then it was sold to one  Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy, an Indian prince, for £100,000. Then in 1906 the diamond was owned by  William Waldorf Astor, 1st Viscount Astor. It was with the Astor family for 72 years. Fourth Viscount Astor sold it to the Louvre Museum, Paris  for $1 million in 1978. 

The Sancy diamond is on display in the Apollo Gallery, sharing the limelight  with the likes of the Regent and the Hortensia.

Like almost all well known diamonds of Indian origin, Sancy's long history is replete with stories of pleasure and pain, death and blood shed and down fall of kingdoms. The advent of this diamond in France saw the bloody French revolution, scores of French nobles lost their lives. Incidentally, it is believed, that this diamond was once in a Hindu temple of Southern India, apparently on the God's idol!!
A glimpse of the long list of  past owners of the diamond would tell you how greedy and grasping the rich and the royal were to possess an earthy stone regardless of its trail of bloody history.

Ref:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sancy  

Shipley, R. (1939). Famous Diamonds of the World, pp. 24–27. Gemological Institute of America, USA

                         (corrections made - August 04,  2016)