The Hope Diamond

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    The Hope Diamond...

    The history of the stone which was eventually named the Hope diamond began when the French merchant traveller, Jean Baptiste Tavernier, purchased a 112 3/16-carat diamond. This diamond, which was most likely from the Kollur mine in Golconda, India, was somewhat triangular in shape and crudely cut. Its color was described by Tavernier as a "beautiful violet."

    Tavernier sold the diamond to King Louis XIV of France in 1668 with 14 other large diamonds and several smaller ones. In 1673 the stone was recut by Sieur Pitau, the court jeweler, resulting in a 67 1/8-carat stone. In the royal inventories, its color was described as an intense steely-blue and the stone became known as the "Blue Diamond of the Crown," or the "French Blue." It was set in gold and suspended on a neck ribbon which the king wore on ceremonial occasions.

    King Louis XV, in 1749, had the stone reset by court jeweler Andre Jacquemin, in a piece of ceremonial jewelry for the Order of the Golden Fleece (Toison D'Or). In 1791, after an attempt by Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette to flee France, the jewels of the French Royal Treasury were turned over to the government. During a week-long looting of the crown jewels in September of 1792, the French Blue diamond was stolen.

    In 1812 a deep blue diamond described by John Francillion as weighing 177 grains (4 grains = 1 carat) was documented as being in the possession of London diamond merchant, Daniel Eliason. Strong evidence indicates that the stone was the recut French Blue and the same stone known today as the Hope Diamond. Several references suggest that it was acquired by King George IV of England. At his death, in 1830, the king's debts were so enormous that the blue diamond was likely sold through private channels.

    The first reference to the diamond's next owner is found in the 1839 entry of the gem collection catalog of the well-known Henry Philip Hope, the man from whom the diamond takes its name. Unfortunately, the catalog does not reveal where or from whom Hope acquired the diamond or how much he paid for it.

    Following the death of Henry Philip Hope in 1839, and after much litigation, the diamond passed to his nephew Henry Thomas Hope and ultimately to the nephew's grandson Lord Francis Hope. In 1901 Lord Francis Hope obtained permission from the Court of Chancery and his sisters to sell the stone to help pay off his debts. It was sold to a London dealer who quickly sold it to Joseph Frankels and Sons of New York City, who retained the stone in New York until they, in turn, needed cash. The diamond was next sold to Selim Habib who put it up for auction in Paris in 1909. It did not sell at the auction but was sold soon after to C.H. Rosenau and then resold to Pierre Cartier that same year.

    In 1910 the Hope diamond was shown to Mrs. Evalyn Walsh McLean, of Washington D.C., at Cartier's in Paris, but she did not like the setting. Cartier had the diamond reset and took it to the U.S. where he left it with Mrs. McLean for a weekend. This strategy was successful. The sale was made in 1911 with the diamond mounted as a headpiece on a three-tiered circlet of large white diamonds. Sometime later it became the pendant on a diamond necklace as we know it today. Mrs. McLean's flamboyant ownership of the stone lasted until her death in 1947.

    Harry Winston Inc. of New York City purchased Mrs. McLean's entire jewelry collection, including the Hope diamond, from her estate in 1949. This collection also included the 94.8-carat Star of the East diamond, the 15-carat Star of the South diamond, a 9-carat green diamond, and a 31-carat diamond which is now called the McLean diamond.

    For the next 10 years the Hope diamond was shown at many exhibits and charitable events world wide by Harry Winston Inc., including as the central attraction of their Court of Jewels exhibition. On November 10, 1958, they donated the Hope diamond to the Smithsonian Institution, and almost immediately the great blue stone became its premier attraction.

    The Hope diamond has left the Smithsonian only four times since it was donated. In 1962 it was exhibited for a month at the Louvre in Paris, France, as part of an exhibit entitled Ten Centuries of French Jewelry. In 1965 the Hope diamond traveled to South Africa where it was exhibited at the Rand Easter Show in Johannesburg. In 1984 the diamond was lent to Harry Winston Inc., in New York, as part of the firm's 50th anniversary celebration. In 1996 the Hope diamond was again sent to Harry Winston Inc., in New York, this time for cleaning and some minor restoration work.

    The weight of the Hope diamond for many years was reported to be 44.5 carats. In 1974 it was removed from its setting and found actually to weigh 45.52 carats. It is classified as a type IIb diamond, which are semiconductive and usually phosphoresce. The Hope diamond phosphoresces a strong red color, which will last for several seconds after exposure to short wave ultra-violet light. The diamond's blue coloration is attributed to trace amounts of boron in the stone.

    In the pendant surrounding the Hope diamond are 16 white diamonds, both pear-shapes and cushion cuts. A bail is soldered to the pendant where Mrs. McLean would often attach other diamonds including the McLean diamond and the Star of the East. The necklace chain contains 45 white diamonds.


    In December of 1988, a team from the Gemological Institute of America visited the Smithsonian to grade the great blue stone using present day techniques. They observed that the gem shows evidence of wear, has a remarkably strong phosphorescence, and that its clarity is slightly affected by a whitish graining which is common to blue diamonds. They described the color as a fancy dark grayish-blue. An examination on the same day by another gemologist using a very sensitive colorimeter revealed that there is a very slight violet component to the deep blue color which is imperceptible to the naked eye. Still, one can only wonder that the original 112 3/16-carat stone bought by Tavernier was described as "un beau violet" (a beautiful violet).

    The Legend Behind The Hope Diamond

    This great blue diamond is perhaps the most notorious gem in history. It has left behind it a trail of so many unlucky owners that it has been popularly supposed to be cursed. The Hope was mined in India, and the 112-carat gem was brought to France in 1668. It was said that a curse rested on it, for a thief was reputed to have stolen the diamond from the eye of a statue of the Hindu goddess Sita, wife of Rama.

    Tavernier, who brought the gem from India to France, sold it to Louis XIV, who had it cut into a 67-carat heart-shaped stone and named it the Blue Diamond of the Crown. Tavernier is said to have been killed by wild dogs on his next trip to India.

    Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette inherited the French Blue, as it was popularly known. In 1792, about the time of their executions, the French Blue was stolen from the Garde-Meuble together with all of the French crown jewels. Some of the gems taken in this robbery were recovered, but not the Blue Diamond of the Crown.

    It is intriguing to note that a gem resembling the Hope is worn by Queen Maria Louisa of Spain in a portrait painted by Goya in 1800. There are reports that the stolen French Blue was recut to its present size by Wilhelm Fals, a Dutch diamond cutter. Fals is said to have died of grief after his son, Hendrick stole the gem from him. Hendrick, in turn, committed suicide.

    In 1830, there appeared in London a 44.5-carat deep blue oval-cut diamond the gem experts agree was the French Blue recut to conceal its identity. Henry Hope bought i, and since then it has been known as the Hope diamond.

    The Hope moved on. An Eastern European prince gave it to an actress of the Folies Bergere and later shot her. A Greek owner and his family plunged to their death over a precipice in an automobile accident. The Turkish sultan Abdul-Hamid II had owned the gem only a few months when an army revolt toppled him from his throne in 1909.

    Evalyn Walsh McLean, a wealthy and eccentric American social figure, bought the Hope diamond in 1911. Her son was killed in an automobile accident, her husband died in a mental hospital, and her daughter died in 1946 of an overdose of sleeping pills.

    After Mrs. McLean’s death in 1947, New York jeweler Harry Winston purchased her jewels, including the Hope. He gave the gem to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., in 1958, no doubt with a certain sense of relief.

    ***When Harry Winston "gave" the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian, he mailed it via registered mail which was delivered by the US Postal Service. The package arrived at Union Station in Washington DC via train from an overnight trip from New York City.
    The package was insured for $142.00 and had postage in the amount of $2.90 on it.

    James Todd was the USPS mail carrier who delivered the package to the Smithsonian Museum. As with so many others, the curses of anyone who handled the Hope Diamond also impacted James Todd. Shortly after delivering the package, he was injured by a truck which ran over and crushed his leg. Soon after that, Todd experienced three additional incidents: his wife had a heart attack, his dog died after getting strangled by his own leash, and lastly Todd's house was destroyed in a fire.

    Coincidence or not, the diamond seems to have brought enormous troubles in its train.

    Back<->lash, Perfect Diamond™, asol, and 14 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    1. mphoenix 110 months ago | reply

      Lovely diamond. I saw it once when I was a teenager (last century).

    2. Perfect Diamond™ 101 months ago | reply

      Nothing shine and sparkles like a diamond.

    3. shankypec 100 months ago | reply

      Lot of information. I have taken one similar shot in my album

    4. nostamp4email 94 months ago | reply

      Too bad diamonds are not precious gems and are actually the equivalent of rhinestones. It wasn't until queen elizabeth was seen wearing diamonds in photos that they became "desired". Check it out I'm not kidding. How else do you think it could have left a royal family?

    5. dbking 94 months ago | reply

      In response to nostamp4email:

      Knowledge of diamond and the origin of its many connations starts in India, where it was first mined. The word most generally used for diamond in Sanskrit is translitereated as vajra, "thunderbolt," and indrayudha, "Indra's weapon." Because Indra is the warrior god from Vedic scriptures, the foundation of Hinduism, the thunderbolt symbol indicates much about the Indian conception of diamond. The flash of lightning is a suitable comparison for the light thrown off by a fine diamond octahedron and a diamond's indomitable hardness. Early descriptions of vajra date to the 4th century BCE which is supported by archaeological evidence. By that date diamond was a valued material.

      Writings: The earliest known reference to diamond is a Sanskrit manuscript, the Arthasastra ("The Lesson of Profit") by Kautiliya, a minister to Chandragupta of the Mauryan dynasty in northern India. The work is dated from 320-296 before the Common Era (BCE). Kautiliya states "(a diamond that is) big, heavy, capable of bearing blows, with symmetrical points, capable of scratching (from the inside) a (glass) vessel (filled with water), revolving like a spindle and brilliantly shining is excellent. That (diamond) with points lost, without edges and defective on one side is bad." Indians recognized the qualities of a fine diamond octahedron and valued it.

    6. innocencenow 88 months ago | reply

      I may add here that most of the big diamonds in the world possibly 5 have been mined from Golconda and in India all coloured diamonds are believed to be very unlucky and it is quite possible that such were donated to temples because once something is offered to Gods it ceases to be unlucky.
      All things stolen from temples have never proved lucky for anyone in India.

    7. Perfect Diamond™ 88 months ago | reply

      Diamonds are created by nature between 100 million to 3.3 billion years. Rhinestones are being created on a daily basis and more of it are created as of writing. Few people likes rhinestones but many people desired diamonds. That's the reason why many mines are established bcoz they know everybody wants diamonds. Are you going to mine something that nobody likes?

      Diamonds are rare. Perfect diamonds are even rarer. All the diamonds in the world are not enough for all those who desired them.

    8. kevbeaux 84 months ago | reply

      and when's the last time you heard of a BLOOD Rhinestone?

    9. Perfect Diamond™ 84 months ago | reply

      Only 5% of diamonds are blood diamonds. Canadian diamonds are conflict free. Diamonds are the most beautiful gems on the face of planet earth and rhinestone looks punny in comparison. Life is too short to waste time not wearing diamonds.

      Rhinestone are also expensive and have a monopoly that sounds like complicated fakes. Go to Swarovski or Preciosa and see how overpriced these fake stones are...

      Many of the food you eat, the land you buy, the car you drive have conflict issues as well and many of them have blood drenched histories.

      Does it mean we all all stop living? Living the way we want our lives to be? I wan't to shine and nothing shine and sparkles like a diamond...

    10. kevbeaux 84 months ago | reply

      I was referring to the comment about "too bad diamonds are not precious gems" in that no one ever fought over a rhinestone. Not the blood connotation. I have my Dad's 3/4 carat pave diamond ring on my hand right now. Wasn't getting political, but can see how it came off that way. I should have put blood "rhinestones" meaning if they are precious enough to fight over, they're precious stones. Besides....I'm a hedonist!!!

    11. Perfect Diamond™ 84 months ago | reply

      Diamonds are precious. It takes 3.3 billion years to create them Rhinestone takes only a day or two I guess and they can be as common as dust. Diamonds are the most favored of all the gemstones and that is why more people are interested on mining them from the ground. Nobody wan'ts to dig a gem that very few people appreciate. Go to any jewelry store and you woudn't see a tooth set in jewelry even though they are considered gems as well.

    12. winninator 69 months ago | reply

      Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Crown Jewels and Other Royal Treasures, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

    13. rubylite12 60 months ago | reply

      Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Jewelry in Museums, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

    14. peeweedog 42 months ago | reply

      i seems to me it is a stolen item and should be return to the country of origin ,re guard less of the people having paid for it . what do you think ? stolen or not ? return it or not ?

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