Records show that L'ancien regiéme had 20 crowns but just one has survived the bloody years of the revolution: that of Louis XV. Actually this is one of the two crowns made for Louis XV - one was silver-gilded and the other was of enamelled gold.
Louis XV commissioned this in 1722 and it was the work of Laurent Ronde and the design of Claude Rondé. Up until then the French crowns had been remarkably plain - but not any more. The large Regent Diamond was placed at the front near a fleur-de-lis which was the symbol of the French Bourbon dynasty. Cardinal Mazarin had given eight smaller diamonds and these were placed in the remaining seven fleur-de-lis and one in the circlet. At the very top is a large fleur-de-lis made out of nine diamonds including the Sancy diamond. Another 24 diamonds were sewn into the cap itself. The cap in the middle is of embroidered satin.
All in all the crown contains: 282 diamonds (161 large and 121 small), 64 coloured gemstones (including 16 sapphires, 16 rubies and 16 emeralds) as well as 237 pearls! The crown measures 22 centimetres in diameter and is 24 centimetres tall.
There are two surviving contemporary reports of the crown. One was published in the French newspaper "Le Mercure" in November 1722 (one month after the coronation) and the other was put in connection with the engraver Sébastien Antoine.
It is the second one that is most interesting. The thing is that the description varies on some points from the present crown. For example it mentions that the crown counted "only" 273 diamonds instead of the 282 we see today. The number of coloured precious stones is the same though. This suggests that the crown has been altered at some point or another.
|Design of the crown by Antoine|
The entire crown is littered with sapphires, rubies, topazes and emeralds, diamonds and pearls all costing a fortune. However, the original precious stones are long gone. They were replaced with glass at the request of Louis XV himself and the silver-gilded one is now permanently exhibited at the Louvre.