What woman wouldn’t be fascinated by the brilliance, size and beauty of the French Crown Jewels?
Luckily some have survived, intact, over the years and are on display at the Galerie d’Apollon of the Louvre, Frances’ premier museum and the former royal palace.
The crowns, tiaras, orbs, sceptres, diadems and jewels were symbols of Royal power between 752 and 1825.
One of the most stunning stones is the Regent diamond. Originally it was an incredible 410 carat stone. Discovered by a slave in about 1710, it was offered to a sea captain for the slaves safe passage. The Captain murdered the slave, stole the stone and then out of guilt, ultimately hung himself. Over time the diamond was cut into smaller diamonds and the principal gem is today considered one of the most brilliant and pure stones for its size. It is an incredible 140.50 carats and I admit I just couldn’t take my eyes off it!
Marie Antoinette used the Regent diamond to adorn a large black velvet hat. It was lost for some time during the Revolution but was recovered 15 months later when it was found in a hole in a Paris attic along with the Hortensia.
Regent Diamond 140.50 carats housed at the Louvre, Paris
Queen Marie-Amelie (1782-1866), the wife of Louis Phillipe, has a stunning set of Crown Jewels on display at the Louvre. Her tiara is made of a set of large natural Ceylon sapphires and brilliant diamonds of exceptional quality. Some of her jewels remained with her family for many decades. The family Orleans gave it to their grandson Phillipe, Count of Paris (1838-1894) and it passed down to his descendants until the family sold the set to the Louvre in 1985.
The display is breath taking and definitely worth the time to view. It is easy to imagine the decadence and grandeur of this period as you take in the incredible surrounds of what once was the royal palace. The restoration of the room, walls and some furniture is incredible.
My only advice is as the Louvre is just so expansive, try and break your visit over three days, if you have the time. We found we had a case of visual overload by the time we had spent 5 hours viewing just one of the three wings of the Louvre.