The Sancy Diamond
In the third and final blog of our coloured diamonds, we relay the history of The Sancy Diamond, a pale-yellow shield cut stone weighing 55.23cts. It is thought to have originated in India and is unusual due to its cut. It is one of the first large diamonds to be cut with symmetrical facets, ie: no pavilion, just a pair of crowns on either side.
In 1570 the diamond was purchased in Constantinople by the French Ambassador to Turkey, Nicholas Harlai, the Seigneur de Sancy. When Sancy was made Superintendent of France, Henry IV borrowed the diamond as security against a substantial loan to hire soldiers. A messenger was dispatched with the jewel but he never reached his destination, thieves had followed him. Knowing the messenger was loyal, Sancy searched for him. His body was discovered, and disinterred the diamond was found in the stomach of the servant!
Sancy sold the diamond to James I and in 1605. It remained in England until 1669. Charles I (son of James I) was beheaded and his widow, Henrietta Maria, gave the diamond to Somerset, the Earl of Worcester, from whom it passed again to the English Crown.
James II later owned it but he lost it in the battle of the Boyne and fled to France. James, in desperation, sold the stone to Louis XIV for $25,000.
In 1792, at the beginning of the French Revolution, the Sancy and other famous gems (such as The Hope Diamond) were stolen from the Garde Meuble (Royal Treasury) in Paris. It reappeared in 1828 and was sold a by a French merchant to Prince Anatole Demidoff of Russia who then sold it on in 1865 for $100,000. Two years later it was displayed at the Paris Exposition by the French jeweller, G Bapst, with a one million franc price tag.
In 1906, records reveal the Sancy was purchased by William Waldorf Astor as a wedding present when his son married Nancy Langhorne of Virginia. Lady Astor often wore the ring in a tiara on state occasions. On Lady Astor’s death in 1964, it was inherited by her son, the 3rd Viscount Astor.
The Sancy now resides in The Louvre, Paris.