Knowledge Centre > Jewellery History > History

Early French Jewels: The Sun King

Extravagant fashion and excessive luxuries

Post Medieval gold fleur de lis signet ring hatton garden
Post Medieval gold fleur-de-lis signet ring, circa 17th century AD.
Ref: 27570

The century prior to the French revolution was exclusively ruled by the House of Bourbon. Famed for their opulent lifestyle, extravagant fashion and excessive luxuries, these French Kings ruled in lavish style. King Louis XIV also known as the Sun King ascended to the throne in 1643 as a child of four years old. His reign would be over seventy-two years, the longest recorded in European history. However, his personal rule of France did not commence until 1661. Amongst some of his most notable achievements include: the phasing out of medieval customs, consolidating France under a system of autocracy which endured in France until the French revolution and leading the country during a period of unprecedented prosperity.

The Palace of Versailles is irrevocably connected with the monarch as it was his home and project for many decades. During his reign the palace was transformed from a humble brick château into a decadent sprawling palace, equipped with lush gardens, stone apartments, crystal chandeliers, gilded statues and the showstopping Hall of Mirrors. By 1682 the palace became the principal residence of King Louis XIV and thus became the centre of political power in Europe.

The palace also became synonymous with the rich parties of the French Royal Family and its courtiers. The 700-room palace housed the Royal court and nobility allowing excessive parties to occur within the spacious surrounds. The party of 1668 was to stand out as one of the most lavish costing the equivalent of over £12 million today. The festivities included afternoon tea, theatre and a dazzling fireworks display.

The King’s taste for the finer things in life were not restricted to home décor and parties. He also acquired a number of extremely rare jewels during his reign which became part of the Crown Jewels of France. The most notable gems are the set of 18 Mazarin diamonds, the Royal French Blue (now known as the Hope diamond) and the 135.80 carat Ruspoli sapphire.

Amongst our extensive collection of ancient, antique and vintage collections at Berganza we have a rare selection of early jewels from the 17th and 18th centuries. Shop instore or online today to acquire your own piece of history.   

Silver seal matrix ring hatton garden
Silver seal matrix ring, 18th century.
Ref: 18718
Post medieval gold ring hatton garden
Post medieval gold ring, circa 17th-18th century.
Ref: 27497
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Updated 23/07/2024 at 11:34AM

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