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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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Computer 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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A color illustration of the emblem of the Order of the Golden Fleece. The emblem contained several spectacular gems, including the French Blue diamond and the Côte de Bretagne spinel.
1749
King Louis XV had the French Blue Diamond set into the Order of the Golden Fleece by Parisian jeweler Pierre-André Jacqumin
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1669-1672
Creating the French Blue

King Louis XIV ordered one of his court jewelers, Jean Pittan the Younger, to supervise the recutting of the 115-carat blue diamond. The king likely ordered the stone recut because of differences between Indian and European tastes in diamonds: Indian gems were cut to retain size and weight, while Europeans prized luster, symmetry and brilliance. It is not known who actually cut the diamond, but the job took about two years to complete. The result was an approximately 69-carat heart-shaped diamond referred to as “the great violet diamond of His Majesty” in the historic royal archives. At that time, “violet” meant a shade of blue. Today, the diamond is most commonly known as the “French Blue” (Post and Farges 2014).

An inventory of the French Crown Jewels from 1691 reveals that the French Blue was “set into gold and mounted on a stick.” In 2012, a computer simulation revealed that eight central facets on the pavilion of the French Blue were cut so as to be visible when one looked through the face of the gem (Farges et al. 2012). When the stone was set in gold, the effect would be the appearance of a gold sun in the center of the blue diamond. Post and Farges (2014) proposed that the stone was cut this way to show the colors of the French monarchy, blue and gold, symbolizing the divine standing and power of King Louis XIV, the Sun King. The diamond was not worn as a piece of jewelry or kept with the French Crown Jewels, but rather was stored in the King’s cabinet of curiosities at Versailles, where he could show it to special guests.

Gallery

A lead cast of the French Blue discovered in 2007 in the collections of the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris, France.
Computer photorealistic simulation of the French Blue as it appeared when set in gold and mounted on a stick
Timeline adapted from Post and Farges 2014 and sources therein. Updated 19 April 2017.

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