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Drawing of the blue diamond sold by Tavernier to King Louis XIV
1668-1669
King Louis XIV of France purchased a spectacular blue diamond from Jean-Baptiste Tavernier
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A photorealistic simulation of the French Blue as it appeared when set in gold and mounted on a stick
1669-1672
Louis XIV ordered Tavernier's Diamond recut, producing a ~69-carat heart-shaped diamond known today as the French Blue.
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1668-1669
Tavernier's diamond

King Louis XIV was fond of beautiful and rare gems, especially diamonds. In December of 1668, the explorer Jean-Baptiste Tavernier met with the king to share a collection of diamonds collected on his recently completed trip to India. In February of 1669, King Louis XIV purchased the lot of diamonds, including a large blue diamond weighing 112 316 old French carats (approximately 115 modern metric carats) for 220,000 livres (Bapst 1889). In recognition of this transaction, the king honored Tavernier with the rank of nobleman (Morel 1988).

It is commonly assumed that Tavernier acquired the diamond on his last journey to India (1664-1668) and that it came from the Kollur Mine of the Golconda region. However, evidence for both source and timing is circumstantial, as Tavernier makes no mention of the acquisition of the diamond in the published accounts of his journeys. The Kollur Mine is considered a likely source because it was known for producing large and colored diamonds (Post and Farges 2014), but there were several diamond mines throughout India during the time of Tavernier’s voyages, and the diamond could have come from any one of them. The diamond must at least have originated in India, as India was the only commercial source of diamonds in Tavernier's time.

In Depth

Gallery

Drawing of the blue diamond sold by Tavernier to King Louis XIV
Engraving of Jean-Baptiste Tavernier
Drawing of twenty diamonds sold by Tavernier to King Louis XIV. The upper left corner (A) shows three views of the blue diamond that would later be cut into the French Blue, and ultimately, the Hope Diamond.
Timeline adapted from Post and Farges 2014 and sources therein. Updated 23 October 2017.

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