The Beau Sancy diamond sells for CHF 9,042,500 (USD 9,699,618)

On 15th May 2012 at Sotheby’s Geneva, the Beau Sancy, one of the most important historic diamonds ever to come to auction, sold for CHF 9,042,500 (USD 9,699,618), almost five times the pre-sale low estimate of CHF 1,850,000-3,650,000 (USD 2-4 million). No less than five bidders competed for the gem in a tense battle that lasted 8 minutes. The celebrated diamond was finally bought by an anonymous buyer bidding over the telephone.

Speaking after the sale, David Bennett, Chairman of Sotheby’s Jewellery Department in Europe and the Middle East and Co-Chairman of Sotheby’s Switzerland commented: “The legendary Beau Sancy is a truly magical stone that has entranced generations of royal owners and continues to exert a powerful influence over all who see it. Its supreme historical importance was reflected tonight in the strength of the bidding and the remarkable result realised”.

Passed down through the Royal Families of France, England, Prussia and the House of Orange, the 34.98 carat modified pear double rose cut diamond has been the privileged witness of 400 years of European history.

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 south-central India near the city of Golconda, the source of history’s best known diamonds, including the Hope, the Koh-i-Noor and the Regent. 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. The Queen of France had long desired the stone, particularly after learning that de Sancy had sold a larger stone, today known as the “Sancy”, to King James I of England1. 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, (pictured left) now in the Louvre.