This historic light pink diamond – Le Grand Mazarin is one of France’s most storied gemstones and is a look back into three centuries of royal provenance. Le Grand Mazarin, which was sold by Christie’s on November 14 is a diamond that was found in the Golconda mines on India’s Deccan plateau. This mine has come forward more often in the diamond industry history as most important diamonds came from here, such as the Koh-i-Noor, The Wittelsbach, and the Regent Diamond.
The diamond got its name from France’s Chief Minister in 1642, who towards the end of his life assembled a collection of 18 exceptional gems. The ‘Le Grand Mazarin’ is one of the 18 gems of the collection.
The GIA has graded the diamond light pink, VS2 and type IIA. A diamond grading that is already rare on its own, but the fact that this diamond has so much provenance makes it even rarer.
The first person to wear ‘Le Grand Mazarin’
Maria Theresa of Austria, the wife of Louis XIV, is likely the first person who wore the Grand Mazarin. Followed by Louis himself who added the Grand Mazarin to his chain of diamonds. In 1792, King Louis XVI was forced due to the French Revolution to hand over all property. Only a year later the complete inventory including the French crown jewels was taken by a group of 30 men who broke into the Garde-Meuble. Together with the finest diamonds of France, the Grand Mazarin disappeared.
Most of the thieves were eventually caught and sentenced to death, while one begged to be spared in return for surrendering his portion of the spoils. In between these spoils, the Grand Mazarin came back to the authorities of France. Unfortunately, the other fine jewels have never been found.
Emperor Napoleon creates magnificent set including ‘Le Grand Mazarin’
The rise of emperor Napoleon brought a new fashion, that celebrates the splendors of the past. Therefore in 1810, Napoleon commanded to create a magnificent set of diamond jewelry for his wife Marie Louise. The magnificent set included:
- A diamond crown
- A diadem
- A necklace
- A comb
- A pair of three drop earrings
- A belt
- 10 dress jewels
- 8 rows of gold collets
In the diadem beautiful diamonds were set, including the Le Grand Mazarin. However, the Le Grand Mazarin was shortly removed and returned to the crown as King Louis XVII ascended the throne in 1814.
For seventy years the Le Grand Mazarin was not moved to new owners until in 1884 the French crown jewels were put in an exhibition at the Louvre, followed by being auctioned off in may 1887. Frédéric Boucheron, one of the favored jewelers for great French families became the new owner as he purchased the diamond at the auction.
Many years later in 1962, the Louvre held an exhaustive meticulously researched exhibition showcasing the most important jewels ever produced in France, with a special reserved place for French crown jewels. After this public appearance, the diamond was subsequently sold to a European private collection returning back to the auction block last year 2017 in Geneva by Christie’s.