The Russian sable is a species of marten found in the forests of Siberia, north Mongolia, China and Japan.
A sable coat meant serious wealth, as sable fur did not come cheap and was more often used to adorn just the cuffs and collars, hems or hats. It remains a luxury item today.
Sable fur is famed for its soft, silky smoothness and rich, beautiful colours. Stroke a sable coat in any direction and its luxurious smoothness is the same, unlike other pelts which can feel rough if stroked the 'wrong way'.
Fans of sable included Henry I and Henry VIII, who decreed the fur be worn only by nobles of a rank higher than viscount.