Monday, November 15, 2010

Regent Pit Diamond and French Royal History

Regent Pit DiamondIn 1701, The Governor of Fort St. George, Thomas Pit, accuired uncut diamond from a merchant in Madras. That diamond have weight 410 carat (82 gr) and founded by a slave from Kollur Mine Golkonda - India in 1698. After returning to English, Pit had it cut into a 141 carats (28 g). it took two years to finish all the job cutting (1704-1706), and produced several secondary stones.

After many attempts to sell it to various European royalty, including Louis XIV of France, it was sold to the French Prince, Philippe II, Duke of Orléans in 1717 for £135,000 (£18,634,090 as of 2010). 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 (£46,922,530 as of 2010).

In 1792 during the revolutionary furor in Paris, "Le Régent," as the diamond came to be known, was stolen along with other crown jewels of France, but was later recovered, after being hidden in some roof timbers. The diamond was used as security on several occasions by the Directoire and later the Consulat, before being permanently redeemed by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1801.

Napoleon used it to embellish his sword, designed by the goldsmiths Odiot, Boutet and Marie-Etienne Nitot. In 1812, it appeared on the Emperor's two-edged sword, the work of Nitot. Napoleon's second wife, Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria, carried the Régent back to Austria upon his death. Later her father returned it to the French Crown Jewels. The diamond was mounted successively on the crowns of Louis XVIII, Charles X and Napoleon III.

Today, mounted in a Greek diadem designed for Empress Eugenie, it remains in the French Royal Treasury at the Louvre. It has been on display there since 1887.

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