beheaded, Mazarin made a deal with Cromwell to take over the treasure
of that luckless monarch. And from Charles's widow, by this time in
exile in France, he purchased one of the most famous diamonds of the
period, known as the Mirror of Portugal.
his death in 1661, Cardinal Mazarin left a magnificent collection of
eighteen diamonds to the crown, with the stipulation that they should
always, be known as "The Eighteen Mazarins" (or 12). Their value in
modern terms, was nearly ten million dollars. Louis, lover of gems, set
three of the stones in his sword handle, and his waistcoat of satin,
under his court coat of embroidered velvet, was covered with diamond
buttons, buckles, and jeweled orders.
the eighteen Mazarins, thirteen were lost in the looting of the French
treasury during the Revolution. Five were in the possession of Napoleon
and his successors until 1887, when they were sold by the French
Republic. (One of the five Mazarins, set into a finger ring, became the
property of John Jacob Astor.)
last year of Louis's reign (1715) brought misfortune to many craftsmen
of France, including the diamond cutters, and they were driven from
France by religious persecution. One of them was lucky and fled to
Paris. He was the celebrated Sir John Chardin, who was welcomed to the
court of Charles II and eventually was appointed jeweler to the king.
But the others, as with persecuted cutters in Poland, Portugal, and
Spain, fled to Holland, later to Antwerp.
was a time when Amsterdam boasted the greatest diamond-cutting center
and therefore the most powerful guild. But shifting conditions, the
rise of the London Trading Company, which gave Antwerp dealers an
equal chance to purchase diamonds, changed this, and Antwerp took the
lead. In 1939, for instance, when the cutters of Europe were