Famous Gemstones - Hope Diamond


They say; ‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friend’, but were they taking into account the Hope Diamond, when this statement was first uttered? The Hope Diamond is one of the most famous gemstones in the world, yet its effect on the people surrounding its history has given it the reputation of being cursed. Is it just unfortunate circumstances or should this diamond have never seen the light of day?

Geologists have suggested the Hope Diamond was created by intense pressure within the earth’s crust billions of years ago. Its beauty lay buried until it was mined in India, approximately three centuries ago. Its original weight was thought to be 112 carats, but according to the Gemological Institute of America, in December 1988, it now weighs 45.52 carats.

It is 25.60 mm in length, 21.78 mm in width, 12.00 mm in depth, and has a cut that has been described as ‘cushion antique brilliant with a faceted girdle, and extra facets on the pavilion’. It is classified as a Type 1 lb diamond. Although deep blue in colour, when exposed to short-wave ultraviolet light for a few seconds, the Hope Diamond reflects a striking red colour.

The Hope Diamond now rests safely in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, USA, but it has a fascinating history, which includes travelling the world from its birth place in India, to France, England and finally coming to rest in the United States.
Mined from the Kollur mine in Golconda in India, in the 1600’s, and first purchased by a merchant traveller, Jean Baptiste Tavernier, the diamond has passed ownership numerous times.

Its owners have included French merchant traveller, Jean Baptiste Tavernier; King Louis XIV; King Louis XV1 and Marie Antoinette; a London diamond merchant, Daniel Eliason; King George IV; Henry Philip Hope; Joseph Frankels and Sons of New York; Selim Habib; C H Rosenau; Pierre Cartier; Mrs Evalyn Walsh McLean and Harry Winston Inc. of New York.

The diamond has held the names of ‘Tavenier Blue’, ‘Blue Diamond of the Crown’, ‘French Blue’, and finally, the ‘Hope Diamond’. Perhaps the two most persuading arguments regarding the curse of the diamond would be the legend of its original owner French merchant traveller, Jean Baptiste Tavernier, and Washington CD socialite, Mrs Evalyn Walsh McLean.

Legend has it that Tavenier did not buy it, but stole it from the eye of a Hindu idol. This was believed to have cursed the diamond and its subsequent owners. Tavernier was said to have gone bankrupt after he sold it to Louis XIV, and either died of a fever, or was killed by wild dogs in India. Mrs McLean’s husband died in a mental hospital, her daughter died of a drug overdose and her son was killed in a car accident. Upon her death it was sold to repay debts that she had amassed.

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