The Sancy Blood Diamond

Written by Susan Ronald
Review by Bethany Skaggs

The centuries-long fascination with diamonds, especially large ones, has progressed well beyond an attraction to shiny objects. Like others before her (see Marian Fowler’s Hope: Adventures of a Diamond), Ronald capitalizes on this fascination with a popular history. Her diamond of choice is the Sancy, once the largest white diamond in the Western world. Ronald follows the Sancy through the hands of royalty, revolutionaries, and more to its eventual repose on display at the Louvre. Regrettably, Ronald continually loses focus, delving into side and back stories so deeply that pages go by without any mention of the diamond. She also has an unfortunate penchant for sensationalism, as evidenced by her melodramatic subtitle, and her assertions sometimes border on outlandish. Ronald credits the Sancy with more power and importance than is actually the case, often skewing historical perspective to do so. For instance, Napoleon’s victory at Marengo was accomplished in part by a skillful use of cavalry; Ronald plays up the Sancy’s connection in providing funding to buy the horses, but in actuality, it was only one of many gems used as security for the loan. Overall, an interesting history, if one can ignore the digressions and exaggerations.