Diamonds of the Mysterious Comte de Saint Germain

diamond octahedron

I have oftentimes tried this experiment that if a man keep them with a little of the rock and water them with

May dew often, they shall grow every year.

How Diamonds Are Grown

From The Travels of Sir John Mandeville (14th century)

Comte de Saint Germain

Comte de Saint Germain

An accomplished, but mysterious, gentleman named the Comte de Saint Germain frequented the French Court during the 18th century. He was known to be handsome, genial, and clever. He was said to be a talented musician, conversant in numerous languages, and he served King Louis XV on a variety of diplomatic missions.

diamond ring men's

18th-Century Men’s Diamond Ring

The life of the colorful Comte was chronicled by Isabel Cooper-Oakley (1912). She based her work on the correspondence of people who knew him at the time. According to one member of the French aristocracy, Mme. V. Georgy:

“The Count dresses simply but with taste. His only luxury consists of a large number of diamonds, with which he is fairly covered; he wears them on every finger, and they are set in his snuffboxes and his watches. One evening he appeared at court with shoe buckles, which Herr V. Gontaut, an expert on precious stones, estimated at 200,000 Francs.”

Men's fashions

Mid-18th Century Men’s Fashions in France

With regard to the Comte’s other accomplishments Mme. Georgy said: “The Comte de St. Germain accompanied on the piano without music, not only every song but also the most difficult concerti, played on various instruments.”

“The Count paints beautifully in oils; but that which makes his paintings so remarkable is a particular colour, a secret, which he has discovered, and which lends to the painting an extraordinary brilliancy.”

giacomo casanova

Giacomo Casanova

But darker stories followed the Comte as well. There was no way to reconcile his profligate spending with his known sources of income. It was rumored that he was an occult master and he did not appear to age. Since he always looked “about forty years old,” some claimed he possessed the elixir of youth.

The Comte seemed to enjoy these tales and was, without doubt, a master of spin. He professed to be an alchemist and boasted he could turn small diamonds into large ones. The Italian adventurer Giacomo Casanova met the Count in 1757 and described him in his memoirs:

Dresden Green diamond“This extraordinary man, intended by nature to be the king of impostors and quacks, would say in an easy, assured manner that he was three hundred years old, that he knew the secret of the Universal Medicine, that he possessed a mastery over nature, that he could melt diamonds, professing himself capable of forming, out of ten or twelve small diamonds, one large one of the finest water without any loss of weight. All this, he said, was a mere trifle to him. Notwithstanding his boastings, his bare-faced lies, and his manifold eccentricities, I cannot say I thought him offensive.”

rough diamondOne of the great axioms [of alchemy] is, ‘within everything is the seed of everything,’ although by the simple processes of Nature, it may remain latent for many centuries, or its growth may be exceedingly slow…By means of this art the seed which is within the soul of a stone may be made to germinate so intensively that in a few moments a diamond is grown from the seed of itself…but as the seed is within all things, a diamond my be grown out of any other substance in the universe.  In some substances, however, it is easier to perform this miracle because in them these germs have already been long fertilized and are thus more nearly prepared for the vivifying process of the diamonds 3

Manly Palmer Hall

The Secret Teachings of All Ages (1928)

Madame de Pompadour

Madame de Pompadour

According to Madame du Hausset, lady’s maid to the King’s mistress, Madame De Pompadour:

“The King ordered a middling-sized diamond which had a flaw in it, to be brought to him.  After having it weighed, his Majesty said to the Comte: ‘The value of this diamond as it is, and with the flaw in it, is six thousand livres; without the flaw it would be worth at least ten thousand. Will you undertake to make me a gainer of four thousand livres?’ St. Germain examined it very attentively, and said, ‘It is possible; it may be done. I will bring it to you again in a month.’ At the time appointed the Comte de St. Germain brought back the diamond without a spot, and gave it to the King…His Majesty then sent it to his jeweller by M. de Gontaut, without telling him of anything that had passed. The jeweller gave him nine thousand six hundred livres for it. The King, however, sent for the diamond back again, and said he would keep it as a curiosity.”

blue heart diamondsWhen the Comte de Saint Germain died in 1784, there were no diamonds or other gemstones among his personal effects. Nevertheless his legend lived on, and like Elvis, the Comte was seen many times after he was buried.