Famous Diamonds: the Mystery of the Florentine Diamond
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Famous Diamonds: the Mystery of the Florentine Diamond

The mystery of the Florentine diamond which has been missing for over ninety years.

Where is the Florentine diamond? It’s a question that has been asked since the 139 carat, yellow diamond was last seen over ninety years ago. The diamond originated from India and belonged to the Medicis family in the sixteen hundreds. The Midicis were wealthy and powerful merchants from Florence who became Dukes of Tuscany in the seventeenth century. The only official valuation there is of the Florentine diamond was carried out by the adventure, East Indian trade pioneer and gemologist Jean Baptiste Tavernier. Tavernier notably remarked in his book that the diamond’s color was similar to the yellow of citrine.In the 1737 Gian Gastone the last of the Medici men died. Anna Maria Madici fought to keep the Medici's legacy of artwork and jewels in the city of Florence. However after her passing in1742 as the last of the Medicis family, the Florentine diamond became part of the Austrian crown jewels. The diamond was set in a crown and worn by the Emperor Francis I at his coronation. The Hapsburg Empire fell after World War I and the Hapsburg royal family went into exile taking their jewelry including the Florentine, with them. By that time the diamond had been removed from the crown and set into a brooch. At this point the trail goes cold or should I say lukewarm.

A copy of the Florentine diamond.

There are a number of theories as to what happened next. One of them was given by an employee of the Empress Maria Theresa of Hapsburg. He claimed that a dishonest associate of the royal families had stolen some of the jewels including the Florentine and taken them to South American where the Florentine had been recut and sold. In 1923 a slightly smaller yellow diamond called the ‘Shah of Persia’ surfaced in the USA and there was suspicion that it could have been the Florentine. However the ‘Shah of Persia’ is said to have originated from South Africa, although this hasn’t been independently verified.

The diamond was set into this hat ornament.

The next chapter in the famous diamonds history came in 1945, when information surfaced that the Florentine was in Vienna. Apparently Hitler had ordered that the Austrian crown jewels be hidden in a mine in Salzburg. After Austria came under US control the diamond was said to have been recovered and returned to Vienna along with other valuables belonging to the Austrian Royal Family. However this was just a rumor and the Museum of Art confirmed that the diamond hadn’t been seen since the Hapsburgs exile. This conclusion seems feasible because it doesn’t make sense that the Emperor, the royal family and their entourage would have left Vienna without their most valuable items, their crown jewels.

Anna Maria Medici was the last of the Medici and a patron of the arts.

Some years later Archduke Otto who was the descendent of the last emperor, was partitioned to appear in court by Dr Theodor Salavator. Salavator was a direct descendent of the Emperor Francis Joseph and he claimed that Otto was in possession of the Florentine. He demanded to see the inventory of the Archdukes jewels, hoping that the Florentine would be there as his rightful claim. Unfortunately for him and us it wasn’t. Otherwise a Vienna court could have solved this mystery.

Photo's from commons.wikimedia.com

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Comments (2)


Diamonds are girls' best friend. Thanks for sharing...