Diamond jewelry has long been symbolic of political power and authority in Europe. This book focuses on the individuals who commissioned and wore extraordinarily precious diamond ornaments from the mid-14th century until the ‘democratization’ of diamonds that followed the opening of mines in South Africa in 1867.
This enthralling story covers seven centuries of history, showing the way in which rulers such as Charles V of France, Queen Elizabeth I of Great Britain, Louis XIV of France and Catherine II of Russia used diamond jewelry to reinforce their power and authority. As works of art, these precious creations mirror the successive styles of each period – late Gothic naturalism, the culture of the Renaissance, Baroque splendour, Rococo elegance and the Imperial grandeur of the First and Second Napoleonic Empires. The recurring themes – religion, sentiment, heraldry, military glory, miniatures and cameo portraiture – are reinterpreted by each generation of jewelers. Like royal dress, diamond jewelry was worn to dazzle and impress – at weddings, coronations, christenings and state visits – and was presented as gifts reflecting princely generosity. Over the centuries, these displays proved remarkably successful as instruments of government, symbolizing the pride and glory of a nation.