‘Beau Sancy’ diamond sells for $9.7 million

The "Beau Sancy" diamondTo nobody’s surprise, the beautiful and historic “Beau Sancy” diamond has sold for more than double the high pre-sale estimate at Sotheby’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale. The 35-carat modified pear double rose cut gemstone, which since the early 17th century has successively been part of the crown jewels of France, Holland, England, Prussia and the German Empire, was purchased by an anonymous telephone bidder for $9.7 million including buyer’s premium.

The diamond first entered the historical record in 1570 when it was purchased in Constantinople by diplomat, financier and jewel expert Nicolas de Harlay, Lord of Sancy. It was purchased by Henri IV of France for his wife Marie de Medici in 1604. From then until now, the “Beau Sancy” has never been in non-royal hands (as long as you consider the sellers, the House of Hohenzollern, still royal, even though their last scion to sit on a throne was Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany).

Five bidders from North America, Europe and Asia vied for the “Beau Sancy” and one of them won. Sotheby’s won’t disclose any more information than that, so sadly this probably means a stone that has been at the center of European royal history for more than 400 years has now been sucked into the black hole of private collections never to be seen again until the next public sale.

The Louvre's Apollo GalleryPerhaps we’ll get lucky and the buyer will loan it to the Louvre so it can be put on display in the Apollo Gallery along with its cousin the “Sancy” diamond, a 53-carat pale yellow shield-shaped modified brilliant cut that was once the center stone of the fleur-de-lis on top of Louis XV’s coronation crown. The “Sancy” was replaced by a replica in 1729 at the king’s command, and the Revolution and later French Republics looted, dispersed and sold the originals. After many vicissitudes, including decades of being hidden away in anonymous private collections, the “Sancy” found its way back home again when William Waldorf Astor, 4th Viscount Astor, sold it to the Louvre for one million dollars in 1978. So there’s hope that like its cousin, the “Beau Sancy” might end up in a museum, even though it could take a few centuries.

See the catalogue notes on Sotheby’s website for more details about the fascinating history of the “Beau Sancy” diamond. I found the information about the connection between the light-giving symbolism of royalty and the newly-invented cut particularly interesting:

The "Beau Sancy," side viewThe fact that the Beau Sancy was first worn by Marie de Medici in 1610 as the principle [sic] stone and centrepiece of her coronation crown indicates very clearly the importance of the diamond at this time as the supreme emblem of Royalty. On a symbolic level, diamonds are associated with the sun, our “Daystar”, the dynamic centre of our cosmos and thus the source of all life and light. What better stone therefore could be used to illustrate the parallel with the position and central role of the Monarch within his Kingdom? Indeed, later the same century, King Louis XIV would go a step further and call himself “Le Roi Soleil”.

The Beau Sancy, which was cut and polished towards the end of the 16th century, exhibits the first attempts to liberate the ‘fire’ inherent in the stone – a property of diamond so familiar and so admired today, but which, due to the absolute hardness of the crystal which rendered cutting so difficult, had only just begun to be exploited. By the use of the newly-developed ‘rose’ style of cutting, which employed a myriad of triangular facets covering the entire surface of the crystal, the light which entered the stone was reflected and dispersed, broken up on the way into the colours of the rainbow. This was totally new.

6 thoughts on “‘Beau Sancy’ diamond sells for $9.7 million

  1. It is a marvel to wonder who cut and polished this stone so long ago. The pictures are a true testament to the profound skill required to execute such a splendid piece.

  2. I dont mean to be rude but the diamond you hold must be investigated becaise I know it is related to me through my bloodline. Please I am the daughter of the last holder. Please the connections are a matter of life and death for me and my sanity that affects… I myself am 33 and have been suffering for many years behind this and this article today explains the scrunity i experience from individuals on a everyday basis currently. Please my family is poor and the scrunity is cost us our mental and social freedoms in every way for many years. Was the diamond received unexpectingly and at random recently? Please I need your help! Thank You. I will wait for pending response. And please only communicate with myself because This is the reason why I couldnt trust any one,anymore. This is a extremly important matter and relevant. Thank you

    1. The Beau Sancy diamond was sold at auction yesterday by Georg Friedrich Ferdinand, head of the princely Prussian Hohenzollern family. It has been in the possession of the House of Hohenzollern since it was bequeathed to King Frederick I of Prussia by William of Orange, King of England, in 1702. Before that it was owned by Marie de’ Medici of France who sold it to the House of Orange in 1641, and before that it was owned by Nicolas de Harlay, Lord of Sancy, who purchased it in Constantinople in 1570.

      Unless you are related to the Hohenzollerns, I think it highly unlikely that this particular diamond is the one that has caused you so much suffering.

  3. There is another (larger) Sancy diamond , perhaps this is the one you are referring to. It also has a long royal history but its whereabouts during some of that time are unknown, it now resides in the Louvre museum.

    There is a brief history of it here


    1. That one hasn’t been received unexpectedly and at random recently either. It’s been in the Louvre since 1978, and before that the Astors owned it starting with the first Viscount in 1906.

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