Hope Diamond

Is there anyone who hasn’t at least heard of the famous Hope Diamond? Many people are surprised when they first learn that this famous stone isn’t a clear diamond, but instead is a brilliant blue stone, surrounded by white diamonds and suspended from a diamond necklace.

It first appears in history in the mid 1600s when it was purchased by a merchant named Jean Baptiste Tavernier, who sold the stone to Louis XIV of France. At that time it was a 112-carat stone, described as having a beautiful violet color. It was recut into a 67-carat stone and the color was named French Blue. During the French Revolution, the diamond was stolen during a looting of the crown jewels. It reappeared in 1812, but recut once again and was acquired by George IV of England who had to sell the stone to pay off debts. The exact transaction is unknown, but the diamond is next found as an entry in the collection of Henry Philip Hope, whose name is attached to the diamond to this day.

Eventually the stone was owned by the Cartier jewelry firm in Paris and purchased by Evalyn Walsh Maclean of Washington, DC. It was at her request that the stone was reset and made into the necklace that we know of today. It was acquired by Henry Winston who purchased it from Mrs. Maclean’s estate in 1947 and eventually became part of the Smithsonian Collection.

There is a long-standing legend of a curse attached to the Hope Diamond, which the story says was plucked from an idol in India. True or not, many who have owned the Hope Diamond have met with misfortune, including the Hope family, who supposedly went bankrupt from owning the diamond. It’s possible that the whole concept of the curse originated with Pierre Cartier who sold it to Mrs. Maclean with the story of a curse, because she thought objects surrounded with bad luck were actually good luck for her. Sadly, Mrs. Maclean’s first son was killed at age 9 in a car accident and her 25-year old daughter committed suicide. Her husband was declared insane and was institutionalized until his death in 1941. Was it part of a curse?