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Sotheby’s to auction the legendary Beau Sancy diamond
The diamond originated from India’s Golconda mines
By: Diamond World News Service
Feb 29 2012 6:17PM
Reference: 6768  

The forthcoming Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels by Sotheby’s Geneva will offer a 34.98 carat modified pear double rose cut diamond called the “Beau Sancy’, which carries over 400 years of European history and the legacy of being part of Royal families of France, England, Prussia and the House of Orange over these years. It is being offered at the Sotheby’s auction at an estimated price of $2-4 million. The sale will be held on 15 May 2012.

David Bennett, Chairman of Sotheby’s Jewellery Department in Europe and the Middle East and Co-Chairman of Sotheby’s Switzerland said: “The Beau Sancy is one of the most fascinating and romantic gems ever to appear at auction and it is an immense privilege for Sotheby’s to handle the sale”.

The Legend of the Beau Sancy: The diamond was discovered in the mines of south-central India near the city of Golconda.

Lord of Sancy: The diamond was first bought by Nicolas de Harlay, Lord of Sancy in Constantinople in the mid to late 1500’s, hence its name ‘Beau Sancy’.

French Royalty owns the Beau Sancy: In 1604, Henri IV bought the diamond for 75 000 livres for his wife, Marie de Medici - the Queen of France. She had desired the stone especially upon learning that Harlay sold a larger stone, today known as the “Sancy”, to King James I of England. The Queen embedded the stone in her crown.

In the treasures of Orange-Nassau: When Henri IV was assassinated, the Queen was exiled and escaped to the Netherlands. Here she sold the Beau Sancy, along with her other possessions to repay her debts. Prince Frederick Hendrick of Orange-Nassau (1584-1647) bought the diamond for 80 000 florins - the most important expenditure in the state’s budget in 1641. The stone helped seal the wedding of Frederick Hendrick’s son, Willem, later Willem II of Orange Nassau (1631-1660), to Mary Stuart, daughter of Charles I of England and grand-daughter of Marie de Medici.

After the death of her husband, Mary Stuart embarked for England with her jewels to support her brother Charles II in his fight for the throne. In 1662, the Beau Sancy was pawned to settle her debts and returned to Treasure of the House of Orange-Nassau when Willem III of Orange-Nassau (1650-1702) married Mary II Stuart, daughter of the King of England James II. In 1689, the couple ascended the throne of England. However, as the monarchs were childless at their death, the diamond went back to the House of Orange-Nassau.

In Prussia: In 1702, the Beau Sancy became the principal ornament of the new royal crown of Prussia. When the last German Emperor and King of Prussia fled to exile in Holland, in November 1918, the crown jewels remained at the Kaiser’s palace in Berlin. At the end of World War II, the collection was transferred to a bricked-up crypt for safe keeping in Bückeburg, where it was later found by British troops and returned to the estate of the House of Prussia.

The Beau Sancy has been shown publicly only four times in the last 50 years: first in 1972, alongside the Grand Sancy in Helsinki, in 1985, in Hamburg at the Schmuck aus dem Hause Hohenzollern exhibition, in 2001, in Paris again alongside the Grand Sancy at the Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle, and finally in 2004, in Munich at the Schatzhäuser Deutschands exhibition.

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