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Jean-Baptiste Tavernier: The Prince of Diamonds

Jean-Baptiste Tavernier is the jewelry-lover’s superstar of the Age of Exploration.   

His name will be forever tied to the glittering court of Louis XIV.  To many of the most famous gems of the 17th century.  And to the Hope Diamond in particular.

An extraordinary man in an extraordinary time, Tavernier pioneered trade with India. 

He was born in Paris to a family of geographers and cartographers, and regaled as a child with stories of foreign travel and exotic places.

Bitten at a young age by the travel bug, and jeweler by profession, he famously and fabulously combined his love of jewels and his fearless passion for travel.    

In September, 1638, he embarked on the first of his celebrated six foreign adventures.  His voyages took him to places throughout India, Persia, and Afghanistan.

Acquiring a 112 Carat Blue Diamond

His carefully recorded memoirs tell the tale of this private gemstone merchant travelling 180,000 miles during the forty years of his six trips abroad.

He relates in detail his encounters with customs, manners, politics, religions, and rituals of the people he meets.   And he gives extensive accounts of the two Mughal kings whose court he visited.

It was on his first trip that he acquired the 112 carat blue diamond -- later to become known as the Hope Diamond -- that he sold to Louis XIV.

If you’d like to know more about this prince of diamonds, you can read his memoirs, known simply as Six Voyages.  

Or, for a quicker take on the story, you can open the pages of a compelling historical novel, by gemologist Richard W. Wise, called The French Blue.