Much like many other legendary and historical diamonds, the history surrounding the Regent diamond is full of adventure, and suspense. The Regent diamond was originally named the Pitt, and weighed 401 carats. It was discovered by a slave in the Partial Mines around 1701. The man concealed the large gemstone in bandages of a self-inflicted leg wound and subsequently fled to the coast of a sea. He then met a English sea captain and made a deal by offering him half the value of the stone in exchange for a safe passage to a free country. The sea captain had others plans and during the voyage to Bombay he decided to kill the slave and take the diamond. He would eventually sell it to a Indian diamond merchant for $5000, however, thoughts of remorse and delirium overcame him and he eventually hanged himself.
The Indian merchant, Jamchund would then sell the diamond in 1702 to Governor Thomas Pitt of Ft. George, Madras for $100,000. Pitt eventually would send it to England to have it fashioned into a 140.50 carat cushion-shaped brilliant cut with 32mm x 34mm x 25mm dimensions. The cutting process took two years and cost roughly $25,000, which spawned several smaller stones and some were sold to Peter the Great of Russia. The principal diamond had only a slight imperfection is considered one of the finest and most brilliant of the known large diamonds.
In 1717 the diamond was sold to Philip II, Duke of Orleans, then Regent of France for $650,000 and since then it was known as the Regent Diamond. It would then be used in several different occasions and hands beginning with Louis XV by setting it in his crown. It would be eventually removed from the crown and worn by Queen Marie Leczinska in her hair. Two generations later, Marie Antoinette used the Regent as an adornment in a large black velvet hat.
In 1792 the Regent Diamond, Sancy and French Blue diamond disappeared when the Garde Meuble was ransacked of its precious gemstones during the beginning part of the Revolution. For many years, many of these cherished diamonds would remain unaccounted for, however, the Regent Diamond would eventually be found logged in birch wood.
In 1797, the Regent diamond was pledged for money that helped Napolean in his ascendance to power. The diamond was mounted in the hilt of his sword that he carried at his coronation in 1804. Napolean would eventually go into exile to Elba in 1814, and Marie Louisa, his second wife, carried the Regent to the Chateau of Blois. Emperor Francis I of Austria, her father would return it to France and it became part of the French Crown Jewels once again.
In 1825, Charles X wore the Regent at his coronation; it remained in the Royal Crown until Napolean III. It would eventually be made for a Greek diadem specficially designed for Empress Eugenie.
When the Germans made an advance towards allied lines and invaded Paris in 1940, it was sent to the chateau country and Chambord, where it was placed behind a stone panel for safe keeping. Soon after the War ended, it was returned to paris and put on display in the Apollon Gallery of the Louvre Museum. It was one of the features of the Ten Centuries of French Jewelry exhibition at the Museum in 1962.