DIAMONDS IN FASHION: I
The Affair of the Queen's Necklace
they marvel that any men be so foolish as to have delight and pleasure
in the glistering ot a little trifling stone, which may behold any of
the stars, or else the sun itself.
Sir Thomas More, Utopia
The diamond as a fashionable ornament did not become popular until near the end of the dreary Middle Ages. Until then it was a "male" stone, considered as a king's jewel, generally mounted in scepters, crowns, scabbards, and other royal raiment and equipment, or placed in a vault as a prized possession. As an adornment for women it was unknown until the middle of the fifteenth century, when a lady named Agnes Sorel, mistress of Charles VII, appeared in public wearing a number of diamonds in a necklace. She was the chief lady-in-waiting to Isabel of Lorraine, who was closely identified with the royal family. In the year 1444 a series of magnificent festivals at Nancy engaged the attention of the French court and Agnes Sorel was the center of them. She so successfully had embellished her person with fabulous finery that she attracted the attention and ardent admiration of the king, eventually becoming his "favorite."
Bom of a family of a lesser nobility, but beautiful, accomplished, and an acknowledged leader of fashion, her