Marie de Medici with the pearshaped double rose cut Beau Sancy in her crown at her coronation as Queen Consort of Henri IV in 1610.
Acquired by Nicolas de Harlay, Lord of Sancy
(1546-1629), in Constantinople in the mid to
late 1500’s, the Beau Sancy is most likely to
have originated from the mines in southcentral
India near the city of Golconda, the
source of history’s best-known diamonds such like the Hope, the Koh-i-Noor.
In 1604, the Beau Sancy was bought
for 75 000 livres (25 000 écus) by Henri IV
and gifted to his wife, Marie de Medici - which he had married in 1600.
Queen of France had long desired the stone of 22,3mm and 19,5 mm,
particularly after learning that de Sancy had
sold a larger stone, today known as the
“Sancy”, to King James I of England.
Testament to the importance her Majesty
placed on the diamond, the Beau Sancy was
mounted atop the crown she wore at her
coronation in 1610, as shown in a magnificent
portrait by Frans II Pourbus, the Younger, above.
Following Henri IV’s assassination by Ravaillac, the Queen was
exiled in disgrace and escaped to the Netherlands. Heavily in debt,
her possessions were sold and the Beau Sancy was acquired by
Prince Frederick Hendrick of Orange-Nassau (1584-1647) for 80
000 florins - the most important expenditure in the state’s budget
In the same year, in an attempt to reinforce the alliances of
the United Provinces of Holland with the great European powers,
the diamond was used to seal the arrangement of 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 Henriette-Marie of France, and grand-daughter of Marie de Medici.
After the death of her husband, Mary Stuart embarked for England with her jewels in order to support her
brother Charles II in his fight for the throne.
In 1662, the Beau Sancy was pawned to settle her debts and it
was only in 1677, on the occasion of the wedding of Willem III of Orange-Nassau (1650-1702) to Mary II
Stuart, daughter of the King of England James II, that the diamond reentered the Treasure of the House of
In 1689, the couple ascended the throne of England and thus the Beau Sancy now joined
the collection of the Queen of England. However, as the monarchs were childless at their death, the
diamond went back to the House of Orange-Nassau.
In 1702, following the settlement of a dispute between the heirs to the House of Orange, Friedrich I who had
just been crowned the first King of Prussia, gave up the jewels of his legacy to obtain the Beau Sancy. The
symbolic value and the prestige of the celebrated gem were such that the King made it the principal
ornament of the new royal crown of Prussia and associated it with the first order of Prussia, the Order of the
The largest gemstone within the House of Prussia’s collection, the Beau Sancy passed down to each
successive generation until today.
Worn by the women of the family on important royal occasions, the
diamond adorned the costume of each successive bride on the day of her princely wedding, much like it had
in the past, but not seen on the bride of the current royal house.
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.
After the war, the pear double rose cut diamond weighing 34.98 carat diamond was subsequently passed down to the eldest son of the Kaiser, Kronprinz Wilhelm
(1882-1951) and his son, Prince Louis Ferdinand (1907-1994). After the death of Prince Louis Ferdinand, the
diamond was inherited as part of the estate by his grandson, Georg Friedrich (1976-), Prince of Prussia and
current head of the Royal 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.
The diamond of supreme historical importance will be offered for auction in Geneve on 15 May 2012 est. $2-4 million
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