DIAMOND NECKLACE, THE, a wonderful piece of jewelry, made in Paris about the year 1775, and intended for Madame Du Barry, the favorite of Louis XV. She, how ever, was excluded from court on the death of Louis (1774), and before the necklace was finished. After being made, this beautiful ornament, adorned with 500 diamonds, was discovered to be so costly that no one could purchase it. It was valued at 1,800,000 livres, which in present sterling money is equal to about £80,000.
The prince-cardinal de Bohan, a wealthy, vain, and profligate man, persuaded by a woman named De Lamotte, who waited about court, that the queen (Marie Antoi nette) regarded him with an eye of favor, became so infatuated with the idea that he was ready to do anything, however extravagant, in order to preserve this feeling in the queen. be Lamotte had stated to the cardinal that the queen was desirous of obtain ing this glorious necklace, and that not having sufficient money just then, she would sign an agreement to purchase it if the cardinal would become security. The cardinal consented. The agreement was approved of and signed with the royal signature, as also with that of time cardinal, who, on the 1st Feb., 1786, carried off the treasure to Ver sailles, where it had been agreed the queen should send for it. On the following day, a person dressed in the uniform of one of the court valets, entered the apartments of the cardinal, and repeating as he entered the words, de par la mine, "in time name of the queen," he advanced to the table whereon the casket containing the treasure lay, and bore it away. In a few days De Lamotte, her husband, and the soi-disant valet,
having all disappeared from Paris, were busily engaged separating the diamond neck lace into portions, and selling them. The whole transaction had been a trick; the mes sages from the queen, verbal and written, were without foundation, the latter, indeed, being forged by the "valet," who was skilled in imitating handwriting. The plot was discovered by means of the maker of the diamond necklace, who, not receiving any money when the period of the first installment had arrived, went to court, demanding to know if time necklace had been delivered to the queen. In a few months the cardinal found himself in the Bastile, where those by whom he had been duped were already sent. In May, 1786, the trial of the prisoners was brought to a close. De Lamotte was branded on each shoulder with the letter V (for release, thief), and was sentenced to be imprisoned for life. All the others were acquitted. The queen was falsely supposed by the populace of Paris to have been implicated in the plot, and the odium resulting from it was cast upon her, even at the last, when she sat on the cart that bore her through a raging and cursing mob to the guillotine.