If you like adventure tales containing historical treasure, then you will love the thriller of the Sancy Diamond. I will not go into the fascinating 600 year history of the one of the most sought after diamonds in the world. It is my intent to simply spark your interest by telling you only one of its many alluring tales.

The Sancy Diamond is pale yellow 55.23ct shield shaped, double rose cut diamond. It derives its name from the French Ambassador to Turkey, Nicholas Harlai, the Seigneur de Sancy, who was an avid gem and jewelry collector in 1570.  (Don’t you just love men like that?)

Pale Yellow 55.23ct Sancy Diamond

During the reign of Henry IV, Sancy was made Minister of Finance. King Henry IV then borrowed the not-yet-known-as The Sancy Diamond to use as collateral to finance only one of the many wars this gemstone has seen. In the days before FedEx, a messenger had to be sent to deliver the diamond to the King.  That messenger never reached the court. He was followed by thieves en route who murdered him in search of the treasure they knew him to be carrying. It would not be an uncommon story if the messenger had run off with the diamond himself, reporting his own murder back to the French court to cover his tracks. Luckily, Sancy believed the messenger was loyal and had a search made for the man… or the man’s body.  When the man was discovered, no diamond-Sancy or otherwise- was found on the messenger.

Nicholas Harlai refused to give up. The search for the Sancy diamond continued over the area where the body was last seen. The King’s men policed the area and the diamond was finally found. Strangely, it just wasn’t found in the area or ON the messenger.

The Sancy diamond was actually found in the messenger’s stomach. The loyal man had swallowed a 55.23ct diamond to prevent the thieves from stealing it!

 

With a story like that, it’s no wonder that there are entire books written about the Sancy Diamond. Its owners have been beheaded, lost it at the Battle Boyne, and have been deposed. Marie Antoinette, Napoleon Bonaparte and Queen Elizabeth have all had a hand in this diamond’s fascinating tale. It is said to be one of the most cursed diamonds in history.

I encourage you to do your digging into the past and read more about the rest of this diamond’s many bedtime stories.

Why whisper sweet nothings when you can proclaim an eternal love written in stone?

Today’s blog deals with a type of jewelry made specifically for the idea of expressing love and sentiment. While most of the jewelry we own we wear for sentimental reasons, there’s an entire segment of antique jewelry that actually spells it out in gold and gemstones. Welcome to the idea of Acrostic Jewelry.

REGARD JEWELRY

It doesn’t take one long to realize that the people written about in Jane Austen novels spoke differently than we do today. The pages of her books are filled with phrases like, “I hold him in high esteem,” or “I have a great regard for him.” What Jane is talking about is love.

The word “Regard” was so synonymous with “love” in ages past that you will find antique jewelry that spelled out the word Regard! This example of sentimental jewelry was popular through the Georgian and Victorian periods. Rings, pendants and pins often contained small stones which, when viewed as an acronym, would spell little “sweet nothings.” The idea was to arrange stones in such a way that when you used the first letter of each stone in the sequence, the letters would spell the word “REGARD.”  For this to work, one would have a ruby, emerald, garnet, amethyst, ruby and diamond set in a row or circle from left to right. Take the first letter of each stone: “r” for ruby, “e” for the emerald, “g” for garnet and so on.  In that way, the first letter of each stone spells the word “regard.” So Jane Austen!

This pad lock pendant with key is from the Victoria and Albert Museum. It spells regard, as does the ring at the top.

 

DEAREST RINGS

I’ve seen these mostly as rings, but once in while examples pop up on other pieces of jewelry. These types of rings contain gemstones in the following sequence: diamond, emerald, amethyst, ruby, emerald, sapphire, topaz. In this case, the first letter of each stone spells “Dearest.”

Dearest and Regard jewelry is also known as Acrostic jewelry. It dates back to the 1700’s when a French jeweler, Jean-Baptiste Mellerio, popularized it by making jewelry that spelled out French words for Marie Anoinette and the French Court. Perhaps if I take a trip to a Paris antique store, I’ll find the French versions of these which spell “amitie`” (friendship) and “souvenir” (remembrance). Below is a bracelet from S.J. Phillips that spells the word Souvenir.

The most elaborate acrostic jewels I’ve seen are those of Empress Marie Louise. She had three acrostic bracelets that spelled out her name, Napoleon’s name, and their dates of courtship and marriage. How is that for eternal love spelled in stone?

Top: “Napoleon 15 Aôut 1769” spelled, Natrolite, Amethyst, Peridot, Opal, Lapis, Emerald, Onyx, Natrolite [15] Agate, Opal, Uranite, Turquoise [1769].

Middle: “Marie Louise 12 Decembre 1791” spelled, Malachite, Amethyst, Ruby, Iris, Emerald, Lapis, Opal, Uranite, Iolite, Sapphire, Emerald [12] Diamond, Emerald, Chrysoprase, Emerald, Malachite, Beryl, Ruby, Emerald [1791].

Bottom: “27 Mars 1810, 2 Avril 1810” (The date of their first meeting in Compiègne and the date of their wedding in Paris) spelled, [27] Malachite, Amethyst, Ruby, Serpentine [1810], [2] Amethyst, Vermeil (?), Ruby, Iris, Limestone [1810].

If you’re looking to immortalize your own romance in gemstone form, some modern designers make acrostic rings of all forms. This is one of Erica Weiner’s DEAREST rings.