The Hope Diamond: Monday Mystery Part 1

hope diamond loose

The Hope Diamond

As we head into October, we’ve decided to get into the spirit of the season with our top six most mysterious gemstones. Notoriously cursed and infinitely elusive, these spooky stones have captured the imagination of the public and attracted the envy of the powerful. We leave it up to you to decide how real the curses may be.

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There are few things on this earth that are more infamous or more coveted than the Hope Diamond. In fact, the Hope Diamond has been labeled as the second-most visited piece of artwork after the Mona Lisa. This rare, exceptionally beautiful blue diamond weighing 45.52 carats also has a history rife with intrigue, theft, and misfortune to boot, only adding to its allure and leaving many to believe that the Hope Diamond is cursed. It doesn’t help matters that the diamond has a mysterious trait of after being exposed to ultraviolet light, the diamond will give off a faint red glow.

hope diamond

Many Believe the Hope Diamond is Cursed

Although the origins surrounding the Hope Diamond are somewhat foggy, it is generally believed that the Hope Diamond was originally mined from one of the first diamond mines in the world in the Golconda region of India. The gem was first mentioned in a report from French gem merchant Jean Baptiste Tavernier in the 17th century. Named initially as the Tavernier Blue, it was recorded as weighing 112 carats and Tavernier fails to mention how the gem was acquired or when.

Jean Baptiste Tavernier

Jean Baptiste Tavernier

In 1668 Tavernier proceeds to sell the diamond to King Louis XIV of France with 14 other larger diamonds. Five years later King Louis directs the court jeweler, Sieur Pitau, to re-cut the stone. The diamond is reduced to a little over 67 carats and is renamed the “Blue Diamond of the Crown” or the “French Blue” and worn mostly for ceremonial purposes.

The diamond remained in the French court until 1791, when after Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette tried to flee France during the beginning of the French Revolution, the jewels were turned over to the French Royal Treasury. In 1792 during a stint of looting, the French Blue diamond is stolen and disappears from history.

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Word of the diamond does not appear again until 1812 when records appear that it is in the possession of Daniel Eliason, a London diamond merchant. It is believed that King George IV of England must have acquired the stone at some point and then later sold it in order to pay off his massive debts.

The next mention of the diamond is in a catalog entry in 1839 belonging to Henry Philip Hope. The diamond is now 45.52 carats and there is no mention of where it came from or how Hope acquired it. After Hope’s death in 1839, the diamond was passed through Hope’s family and sold multiple times before it was finally purchased in 1909 by Pierre Cartier.

Henry Philip Hope

Henry Philip Hope

In 1912, Evalyn Walsh McLean purchased the diamond from Cartier, who had by then reset the diamond as a pendant with a white diamond halo. Evalyn is probably the most notorious example of the fabled Hope Diamond curse. Her son was killed in a car crash, her daughter committed suicide, and her husband was committed to a mental institution.

Evalyn Walsh McLean wearing the Hope Diamond

Evalyn Walsh McLean wearing the Hope Diamond

After McLean’s death in 1947, Harry Winston purchased her jewelry collection, including the Hope Diamond. Harry Winston donated the diamond to the Smithsonian museum in 1958, but they still handle the diamond’s maintenance. In 2010 Harry Winston designed a new setting for the diamond known as “Embracing Hope.”

harry winston embracing hope diamond necklace

Whether cursed or not, the Hope Diamond continues to hold the captivation of the public eye as one of the most beautiful and intriguing objects to date.

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David King

Author: David King

David King is the Director of Business Development of King Jewelers. A Graduate Gemologist with specialties in luxury timepieces, diamonds, and marketing, his main responsibilities include advertising & marketing, events, watch buying, client relations, concierge services, website development, brand management, and business development.

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