Extraordinary Diamond Heists

First made priceless by European royalty, diamonds have used as valuable resources for thousands of years. Kings have coveted them and wars have been waged to gain control of their mining regions. Throughout various monarchies in Europe, diamonds quickly began to gain value and popularity as they became desirable decorations for crowns and jewelry. Napoleon used the famous Regent Diamond to adorn is sword while King Henry III used the Sancy Diamond to accent a cap designed to hide his baldness. Both diamonds suffered similar fate: they were the prize of one of the most famous robberies in history.

French Revolution

During the French Revolution, thieves raided the Royal Treasury to steal Europe’s most famous jewels. Among the collateral was the Sancy diamond, the Regent diamond, and the Hope Diamond. Together, the three jewels weigh more than 240 carats and are worth hundreds of millions of dollars by today’s standards. The diamonds have since made their way to museums like the Louvre and the Smithsonian.


Since the French Revolution, many more diamond robberies have taken place. The largest jewelry heist to ever take place in France occurred in Cannes in 2013. French authorities reported that the unusual robbery took place in the lobby of the Carlton Intercontinental hotel which was home of a temporary exhibit featuring jewels from the Leviev Diamond Company. The collection, which was owned by billionaire diamond merchant Lev Leviev, suffered a loss of $136 million after the robbery. Authorities credit the theft to one armed person who entered the lobby through a beachside entrance. The jewelry was stuffed into a briefcase and carried off by foot. In total, over 72 pieces were stolen including several rings, pendants, and earrings.
A similar incident took place less than a decade earlier in 1994 when robbers approached a jewelry store in the same hotel just as it was closing. The robbers fired machine gun blanks and made off with $60,000,000 worth of jewelry. To this day, the thieves and the jewels remain unfound.

Pink Panthers

Recent history has provided us with some of the most thrilling cases of jewelry thefts. A group of bandits thought to be of Serbian decent are suspected of being responsible for over $500 million worth of diamond robberies since 1999. The robberies have taken place all over the world from Dubai to Germany. They are even credited with the 2013 heist at the Cannes Carlton Hotel. It’s estimated that several hundred individuals have taken part in the Pink Panther thefts over the years. They use face altering make up techniques and disguises to complete their robberies.
Another famous heist they have been credited with is the 2008 Harry Winston robbery in Paris where three men disguised as well dressed women revealed handguns and made off with $108 million worth of jewelry and watches.


Figure 2:

Diamat dit “le Sancy” [Online Image]. (n.d.). Retrieved January 16, 2015 from Louvre Museum. http://cartelen.louvre.fr/cartelen/visite?srv=car_not_frame&idNotice=11351&langue=fr

Figure 3:

Hope Diamond [Online Image]. (n.d.). Retrieved January 15, 2015 from Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Department of Mineral Sciences. http://mineralsciences.si.edu/hope.htm

Figure 4:

Dali, S. (Artist). (1941). Original Sin [Painting]. Retrieved January 20, 2015 from http://www.thehistorialist.com/2014/06/1941-salvador-dali-original-sin.html

Figure 5:

Bruno, B. (Photographer). (2013). [Police examine the crime scene in Cannes, Paris, France], [Online Image]. Bebert Bruno/Sipa/Rex Features. Retrieved January 15, 2015 from The Guardian website. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/29/cannes-diamond-heist-largest-ever?INTCMP=SRCH

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