Monday, 11 December 2017

Cardinal Mazarin's Jewel Collection

Cardinal Mazarin used his immense wealth and influence to amass collections of art greater than that of the king himself. One of his most prized collections consisted of 18 exceptional gemstones. These magnificent stones were known as the Mazarins. Upon his death in 1661 the Cardinal left his diamonds to Louis XIV - thus, they became a part of the crown's royal jewels. 

Cardinal Mazarin had the twelve largest stones carved according to the fashions of the time; this mainly resulted in cutting the surface into many small facets - the Sancy is an excellent example. One of the stones was called Boin-Taburet but which is lost to history.

The Cardinal's love for gemstones went further than a simple admiration for their raw appearance. Like his royal master, Louis XIV, Cardinal Mazarin liked to create something of his own. He employed specific masters in the art of diamond-cutting who were set up in Paris where they came up with a new method of cutting diamonds. This allowed the diamond to reflect the light from within. It also made the outside light bend and refract off of the facets - thus, they sparkled more. Naturally, this was named the Mazarin cut and required the stone to be cut into 12 facets.

Billedresultat for cardinal mazarin diamonds
Cardinal Mazarin

Some of these are more elaborately described in other posts, so they will only be described shortly here.

It had been the Cardinal's wish that his collection would continue to be known as the Mazarins. Thus, most are known to history by a number rather than a specific nickname. These stones were recorded in the inventory of crown both in 1691 and a century later, in 1791. Some were stolen during the revolution and has not been seen since while others were rediscovered. 
It should be noted that there are a few inconsistencies in the royal inventories. For example the carats seem to vary a bit - in some occasions the stones are recorded as larger in 1791. Furthermore, the way of measuring carat was slightly different which has led to a different carat value today.

It is also quite odd that the inventory of the royal possessions drawn up in 1774 mentions only one of the Mazarins when they are all accounted for in 1791. Clearly, they cannot have disappeared only to return again to the crown but why were they not recorded in 1774?

The Mazarin I - the Sancy
It was most likely mined in India but made its way to the crowned heads of Europe in the 16th century and probably earlier. The Sancy was the property of both James I of England and later Charles I before it ended in Cardinal Mazarin's collection. The diamond is white and cut in a pear shape. In 1691 it was measured at 53 1/2 carats and 53 12/26 in 1791. Today it is set at 55,23 carats.

The Sancy

The Mazarin II
Another white diamond the second Mazarin was in the so-called table-cut style; this basically means that the top had been cut off leaving a flat surface. It weighed 33 3/8 carats in 1691 but has shrunk considerably in 1791 when it was measured at 24 1/6 carats. Today it is estimated at 24.81 carats.

The Mazarin III - the Mirror of Portugal
The name is probably given due to the shape of the stone. It was not only table-cut but also square in shape. Combined with its white colour it is not hard to imagine the origins. It was the property of the Portuguese crown before it was sold to Elizabeth I. It disappeared during the revolution and has never been found. 
In 1691 it weighed 25 3/8 carats, in 1791 it was 21 2/16 and today it is 21.68 carats.

Replica of the Mirror of Portugal

The Mazarin IV
The fourth Mazarin stone is described as being of a "brownish" colour and formed into a heart-shape. Like the second stone, this also underwent a considerable reduction from 1691-1791 - or from 24 1/4 carats to 13 10/16 carats. Today it would be said to be 13.97 carats. It was recovered after having been stolen during the revolution.

The Mazarin V
Surprisingly, this almond-shaped diamond appears to have grown slightly in size. In 1691 it weighed 21 5/8 carats whereas the modern estimate is 22,97 carats.

The Mazarin VI
This one appears to have been a "little-sister" to the fifth stone. Like the former it was almond-shaped but weighed 18 1/4 carats in 1691, 19 12/16 in 1791 and 20,27 today.

The Mazarin VII - Le Grand Mazarin
The inventory of Louis XIV listed this one as weighing 21 carats; the revolutionaries were a bit more moderate and set to to be 18 9/16 carats. Today, a middle ground of 19,10 carats is estimated. Le Grand Mazarin is of a slightly rose colour and cut into a square. It was worn by no less than four kings, four queens, two emperors and two empresses.

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Le Grand Mazarin

The Mazarin VIII
A white diamond cut into a square, it weighs 15,14 carats today. In 1691 it was recorded as 18 1/4 and as 14 12/16 in 1791. This one also returned after the robbery of the Crown Jewels. 

The Mazarin IX
The ninth stone was cut in what would be known as the "marquise"-cut during Louis XV due to a rumour that it was inspired by the lips of Madame de Pompadour. It is almost estimated at the same weight today (15,27 carats) as it was in 1691 (15 1/4) but differs somewhat from the 1791-bid of 14 14/16 carats.

The Mazarin X
This is the only stone in the collection that is described as having a greyish colour. However, the shape - a square - is shared by most of the others. In 1691 it was noted as weighing 17 3/4 while both 1791 and the modern estimate aim at above 20 - 20 6/16 and 20,91 respectively. It is the only one that appears in the royal inventory of 1774 where it is described as the "tenth Mazarin" weighing 16 carats. At that time it was called a brilliant "of pure water" and valued at about 2000 §. 

The Mazarin XI 
A rectangular shape the eleventh Mazarin had a red glow to it. This is one of the stones were the estimated has been rather consistent over the years: both 1691 and 1791 rated it at 17 and today it is set at 17,45 carats.

The Mazarin XII
It appears to have been larger in 1691 (13 carats) than in 1791 (10 4/16) - today it is estimated at 10,52 carats. It, too, has a brownish hue and is square-cut.

The Mazarin XIII
Another stone that has been the victim of further cutting. Starting at 13 carats in 1691 it then went down to 10 4/16 carats in 1791 to finally 10,52 carats today. The stone was rediscovered after the burglary of the royal family's jewels.

Authentic copy of Mazarin's will that bequeathed the Mazarins to the
royal family

The Mazarin XIV
This one began at 11 1/3 and then fell to 8 7/16 before being estimated at 8,66 today. Like the Mirror of Portugal it is both square-cut and table-cut. This would make it ideal for a ring or a brooch.

The Mazarin XV
The colour of this one appears to have been somewhat uncertain as it is described as being yellow/brownish. What is clear is that it was square and table-cut. It weighed 10 3/4 in 1691, then 8 16/32 in 1791 and is finally estimated at 8,72 carats today.

The Mazarin XVI
Having gone from 8 3/4 in 1691 it quickly went to 6 which was slightly modified in modern times to 6,16 carats, it was square-cut and had also received the table-cut treatment. However, this one's yellow colour seems to have been indisputable. The last of the stones stolen to be returned.

The Mazarin XVII
Brownish in colour it was cut into a heart-shape but appears to have maintained its original weight somewhat. In 1691 it was at 21 1/2 carats, in 1791 21 6/16 and is today set at 21,94 carats. Both this and the eighteenth Mazarin made a part of Empress Eugènie's brooch.

The Mazarin XVIII
The last Mazarin is almost a twin to the seventeenth. Also brownish in hue it was likewise molded into a heart-shape. This one has a slight advantage in weight, though. From 22 carats in 1691 to 21 8/16 in 1791 it was finally decided to be 22.07 carats.

The entire collection was said to be worth 10.000.000. In 1900 two of the Mazarin stones were exhibited at the Paris Exhibition. One was described as weighing 18 11/16 carats while the other - a tad smaller - 16 9/16 carats.

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