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F22 - Regent Diamond

Also known as: Pitt Diamond
140.64 carats 

Where Did They Find It?
A slave found it, while working in the Partial Mine, in India, around 1700.

If you like history, you’ll love this diamond.  Ready for the roller-coaster ride?  The slave who found it inflicted a wound on himself so he required bandages.  He hid the diamond in the bandages and escaped the mine.  He met a sea captain when he reached the coast, and offered the man half the value, for passage to any free country (where he wouldn’t be a slave.) 

The sea captain murdered the slave during the voyage, and stole the diamond.  Then he sold it to a diamond dealer in Bombay, squandered the proceeds, felt really bad about the slave he’d killed, and hanged himself in a fit of remorse.   

The diamond dealer sold it to Governor of India Thomas Pitt, who sent it back to England for cutting.  It passed to his grandson William Pitt, who became British Prime Minister, and after whom Pittsburgh is named.  At this point the diamond was known as the Pitt Diamond, which is a horrid name for a diamond although it’s an OK name for a town.  Fortunately, the history didn’t stop there.  In fact, it’s just getting started.

The Story Continues:
In 1717 (cool date, huh?) the diamond was sold to Philip II, Regent of France, who named it—OK, you probably figured this out already—the Regent Diamond.   Even better, the diamond got a promotion.  It was set in the crown of King Louis XV, and worn at his coronation.  His wife, Queen Marie (no, not that Queen Marie, she comes into this later), removed the diamond from the crown and wore it in her hair.  This is the kind of thing a queen can do that you and I probably couldn’t get away with.  Two generations later, there’s a new Queen in town, Marie Antoinette, and she wears the Regent on a black hat.  Very fashionable.   Well, we know what happened to Ms. Antoinette.  She went to the guillotine and for awhile the diamond disappeared. 

We Are So Not Done With This Diamond’s History:
The diamond was finally re-discovered.  It had been hidden in a tiny hole carved into the timber of a Parisian house, and this time it was Napoleon Bonaparte who claimed it.  Well, if you’re a dictator, wouldn’t you claim a big diamond like this?  But he didn’t keep it long because Napoleon was trying to conquer Europe so he pawned it for money for the troops.  After conquering Europe he was rich and redeemed it from the pawnbroker.   He placed the diamond on the hilt of his sword, which he wore to his coronation as Emperor.  But after that, he quite sensibly gave it to his wife, Marie Louisa, perhaps to make up for all those days he’d been away conquering Europe. 

The final stretch:
When Napoleon was finally captured and sent in exile to the island of Elba, Maria Louisa ran home to dad, who happened to be the Emperor of Austria, and took the diamond with her.  But you’ll be glad to hear he quite properly sent it back to France, where the new king, Charles X, wore it at his coronation.  It has been part of the French Crown Jewels ever since. 

Where is it now?
In the Louvre museum.    

Why the name?
It was owned briefly by Phillip II, Regent of France.  He named it after himself.   Sort of. 

Fun Fact:
As the Nazis were invading Paris, the diamond was removed from the Louvre, hidden away in the French countryside, and not returned until after the war.