This is an interesting article on Louis’s passion for diamonds and how it began:
Louis the XIV ascended to the French throne and became the Sun King in 1643. Because of his love of diamonds, a better name for him might be “The King of Bling.”
Louis’ love of diamonds made him an odd duck in the fashion world of the time. In the 1600s, and for centuries before that, Europe’s high and mighty didn’t want diamonds, they wanted pearls. In fact, when Christopher Columbus went to the New World, pearls were on the top of Queen Isabella‘s wish list, way ahead of gold and silver (diamonds didn’t even make the list).
But Louis the XIV was having none of that. He was dazzled by diamonds, which were incredibly rare in those days. This was before diamonds were discovered in Brazil or South Africa, when the world’s diamonds came from the river sediments of the Golconda region of India.
Luckily for Louis, an intrepid explorer came along. His name was Jean-Baptiste Tavernier and he’s the greatest explorer you never heard of.
I love Tavernier’s description of Louis at court:
“In the middle of this hall and near the side overlooking the court, as in a theatre, they place the throne when the Emperor comes to give audience and administer justice. It is a small bed of the size of our camp beds, with its four columns, the canopy, the back, a bolster, and counterpane; all of which are covered with diamonds.”