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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

The Great Explorer and Merchant
Jean-Baptiste Tavernier

Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (1605-1689) was a French explorer and merchant. He was the first European to describe the diamond mines in India. In 1676, Tavernier published an account of his six journeys to India and Persia from 1631 to 1668 in Les Six Voyages de Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (translated into English in 1678 as The Six Voyages of John Baptista Tavernier). Though Tavernier provided a wealth of information about his travels and work, he did not record the details of his important transactions. It is likely that he did not want to reveal the source and the price of gems that he purchased since that information could negatively affect his business. Unfortunately, this means that little is known about how he acquired the 115-carat blue diamond that he sold to King Louis XIV (Morel 1988).

Source Tavernier 1676

Tavernier in Eastern-style attire

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