The Hope Diamond
The Hope Diamond: “The Killing Stone”.
Hope Diamond Facts.
- 45.52 carat
- VS1 Dark Blue in Color
- Size: 21.78mm wide, 25.60 mm long, 12.00 mm deep.
- It is surrounded by 16 white diamonds plus an additional 45 white diamonds which make up the necklace chain.
The history of the Hope diamond, believed to be the world’s largest deep blue diamond, is full of twists. Of all the well-known big diamonds this is the most infamous – the Hope Diamond, dubbed “The Killing Stone.”
The 112 carat stone that became the Hope began when the French merchant traveler, Jean Baptiste Tavernier purchase the stone from the Kollur mine in Golconda, India, in the 17th century. Its color was described by Tavernier as a beautiful violet.
Another version however claims it was stolen by Tavernier from a Buddha statue and hence a curse that foretold bad luck and death befell on the stone ever since.
For this transgression, the legend says, Tavernier was torn apart by wild dogs on a trip to Russia just after he had sold the diamond. This was the first horrible death attributed to the curse. But many others would follow…
The stone was sold to King Louis XIV of France in 1668 with 14 other large diamonds and several smaller ones. In 1673 the stone was recut by the court jeweler resulting in a 67-carat stone. Because of its intense steely-blue it was known the French Blue diamond.
In 1749, King Louis XV had the stone reset.
When Louis XV died, his grandson, Louis XVI, became king with Marie Antoinette as his queen. According to the legend, Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI were beheaded during the French Revolution because of the blue diamond’s curse.
During the looting in 1792 the ‘Blue Diamond of the Crown’ was stolen. Six years later, the thieves were condemned to the death penalty.
The blue diamond resurfaced in London by 1813 and was owned by jeweler Daniel Eliason. Strong evidence showed that the stone was the recut French Blue and the same stone known today as the Hope Diamond. The blue diamond that surfaced in London was estimated at 44 carat.
There was evidence that it was acquired by King George IV of England, and upon King George’s death, the diamond was sold to pay off debts.
In 1830, Francis Hope bought the huge blue diamond in an auction for 90.000 pounds and gave the stone his name. Francis Hope, who was a member of the parliament, soon died a sudden, unexplained death. Soon after his demise, his widow was burned to death in their mansion.
After receiving the stone, Francis Hope’s heir and nephew, Thomas, went bankrupted and was abandoned by his wife.
Thomas got rid of the diamond, which was purchased by the Russian prince Iva Kitanovski who gave it to a ballerina. The night she wore it for the first time she was shot and killed.
After a series of tragedies the stone found itself in the hands of Sultan Abdul Mamid II, who was forced to resign in favor of his brother and took the Hope along with other personal things to exile.
The diamond changed hands several times during the next several years, ending with Pierre Cartier.
In 1910, the Hope was bought by the mining heiress Evalyn Walsh Mclean, of Washington. Though Evalyn Mclean wore the Hope diamond as a good luck charm, others saw the curse strike her too.
Soon after, their daughter committed suicide and their nine-year-old son died in a car accident. Mr. McLean got really depressed and died months later in a mental institution in 1941. Evalyn McLean had wanted her jewelry to go to her grandchildren. But in 1949, two years after her death, her jewelry was put on sale in order to settle debts from her estate.
When the Hope diamond went on sale in 1949, it was bought by a famous New York jeweler: Harry Winston. For almost a decade, Winston offered the diamond on numerous occasions to be worn at balls to raise money for charity.
Then, on the 10th of November of 1958, this magnificent blue diamond traveled in a plain brown box by registered mail and was met by an eager group of people at the Smithsonian Institute. Some believe that Winston donated the Hope diamond to rid himself of the curse.
In 2003, the Hope was taken to a museum laboratory for testing. It was only the second time in 20 years the Hope has been removed from its necklace setting. They focused an ultraviolet beam on the stone. Then turned off the beam and, in pitch dark, the diamond glowed bright orange-amber (most blue diamond’s phosphoresce light is light blue.) It’s that strong color, which lasts for several seconds, that intrigues scientists.
Some speculate it’s related to chemical impurities that give its blue color. What causes the gem to fluoresce remains a mystery. But since the Hope Diamond has inspired many legends, some say that the glowing color reflects the blood of royalty spilled during the French Revolution and the trail of death and bad luck that followed the stone over the centuries.
Aside from its bad reputation, this diamond has been nothing but good luck for the Smithsonian Museum. After Winston’s donation, attendance has jumped and it has encouraged others to donate, helping the museum to build its world-class gem collection.