Monday Mystery- The Regent Diamond

Jun 29, 2015
Monday Mystery- The Regent Diamond

With great jewels comes great tragedy, or so some macabre legends and historical records suggest. We’ve had a Monday Mystery series in the past, detailing the history of some of the most beautiful “cursed” gems the world has ever seen. Luckily for us, there’s no shortage of so-called cursed gemstones in the world, and we’re investigating a doozy of a curse this week.

The Regent Diamond was discovered in India in the late 1600’s and it wasted no time establishing it’s dark reputation. The 426.00ct stone was said to have been discovered by a slave who stole it by hiding the large diamond in his body via a self-inflicted leg wound. The slave attempted to work out a deal with an English sea captain- passage out of India in exchange for some of the diamond’s profits- but the English captain drowned the slave and stole the diamond for himself.

English governor Thomas Pitt purchased the diamond and, modest as he was, named it after himself. Pitt had the diamond cut down to a more practical 140.64 carats, the size the diamond remains to this very day. After he had the stone cut, Pitt sold the diamond to French Regent Philippe II of Orleans. It is at this time that the diamond was renamed “The Regent”.

The Regent was used by the doomed Queen Marie Antoinette as decoration in elaborate hats and hairstyles a few short years before her French subjects cut off her head. In 1792, during one of the most bloodthirsty revolutions the world has ever seen, the French Crown Jewels, including The Hope and The Regent Diamonds, were brazenly stolen. Napoleon Bonaparte later recovered The Regent and had it set in the handle of his sword. Within two decades, Napolean was dead and over time the stone was re-purposed. Of the unlucky French kings who chose to set the stone in their crowns, Louis XVIII was exiled twice, Charles X abdicated the throne, and Napoleon III was exiled.

Nowadays, The Regent diamond rests in a Greek-style diadem for Empress Eugenie. Since 1887 the diamond crusted diadem has called The Louvre museum home, except for a brief time during WWII when the diamond was hidden to protect it from invading German forces. While it’s almost impossible to put a price on The Regent diamond given it’s impressive historical significance, some experts believe the stone is now worth as much as $74 million dollars.

Whether you believe the diamond itself is cursed, or that it has merely been witness to unfortunate circumstance, you have to admit that it’s fascinating when such beautiful stones have such sordid histories. Stay tuned for our next installment of Monday Mystery!

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