The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has the Hope diamond, which is the largest blue-colored diamond in the world. It was gifted to Washington DC’s prestigious institution by Harry Winston in 1958. Much controversy surrounds the history and value of the Hope diamond.
This deep blue gem is famous for its beauty and its curse that has followed its owners through its fascinating and mysterious history. Although the original owner is unknown, it was part of court jewelry, owned by King Louis XIV, George IV, and Sultan Abdul Hamid II.
The Hope Diamond
The Hope diamond, weighing 112 3/16 carats at its initial weight, is the largest and most rare natural blue diamond ever discovered. This dark greyish-blue 45.52 carat diamond was cut and classified as a Type IIb with VS1 clarity. It is also almost perfect.
Hope Diamond Features
|Clarity||VS1 with whitish graining|
|Dimensions||1 by 7/8 by 15/32 inches (25.6 × 21.78 × 12 mm)|
The unique, intensely colored luminescence of a diamond is unusual and rare. It produces a bright red phosphorescence after exposure to UV light. This phosphorescence remains unchanged even after the light source is switched off.
It is known for its unique antique cushion cut and one-faceted girdle. Although the diamond’s current name is from the family that owned it since 1824, there are a few other names for this gem, such as:
- The King’s Jewel (Le Bijou Du Roi).
- The Blue of France (Le Bleu de France).
- Tavernier Blue
Since many of its owners suffered a difficult life and ended up in a tragic place, the Hope diamond has earned a bad reputation for being a cursed gem. It is not an actual gem that you see in the Titanic movie, the beautiful Heart of the Ocean diamond. It is however based on the Hope diamond.
Hope Diamond History
Legend has it that this diamond is cursed and people avoid it. Others, on the other hand love its beauty and don’t care about rumors.
An Indian mine found the triangular 112 3/16 carat, beautiful violet Hope diamond. Although some claim it was the Kollur Mine in Golconda, none can confirm this and the exact location remains unknown.
Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (a French traveler merchant) bought the diamond in Golconda’s diamond market and took it to Europe.
Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, a 1669 merchant, sold the diamond to King Louis XIV along with 1,000 other gems. In 1678, he ordered that the court jeweler cut the gem to reduce its size to 67.125 cars. It was officially named Violet de France (Blue Diamond of Crown of France, French Blue).
Two years ago, jeweler Sieur Pitau perfected the diamond. He then set it in a gold-cravat pin. King Louis XV still ordered Andre Jacquemin, a court jeweler, to reset the diamond and make it a pendant for the Toison D’Or in 1749.
The Crown jewels of France, including the famous and cherished diamond, were taken in September 1792 by the French Revolution. The stone was returned to England after another re-cutting. Its trace was lost until 1812.
The Hope Diamond Owners
|Louis XIV of France||1668|
|Louis XV of France||1715|
|Louis XVI of France and Marie Antoinette||1775|
|Government of France||1791|
|George IV of the United Kingdom||1805|
|London jeweler Daniel Eliason||1812|
|Henry Thomas Hope||1830|
|Henry Philip Hope||1839|
|6th Duke of Newcastle Henry Pelham-Clinton||1861|
|Lord Francis Hope||1884|
|London jewel merchant Adolph Weil||1901|
|Sultan Abdul Hamid||1908|
|Evalyn Walsh McLean||1911|
Daniel Eliason, a merchant, cut the diamond in 1824 and sold it off to Thomas Hope, a London banker. Henry Philip Hope, his younger brother, took the gem after his death. This was the time , the stone received its new name which has remained until today.
Henry Thomas Hope became Henry Philip Hope in 1839, after Henry Philip had died. The diamond was displayed at the Great Exhibition of London in 1851, and the Exposition Universelle Paris in 1855.
In 1887, his adopted daughter Henrietta gifted the diamond to Henry Francis Hope Pelham -Clinton. He resold his gem to Adolph Weil, a London jeweler, in 1902 for PS29,000.
Simon Frankel, an American broker, purchased the Hope diamond for $250,000. The stone was brought to New York by Simon Frankel, an American broker. Its value was only $141,032. Pierre Cartier, after the stone had been in the hands of one Sultan, became its owner in 1910.
He sold the gem to Evalyn McLean in 1911 for $300,000. This transaction was not a good one for Cartier financially. He lost his legal fees. But, the trade was a success and Cartier was ranked among the most respected goldsmiths.
Evalyn died in tragic circumstances in 1947. Her entire jewelry collection was passed to Harry Winston in 1949. Winston is a New York diamond merchant. It was displayed during the ten-year period, which included the Court of Jewels tour.
Although it is not clear whether Harry was motivated by the legend of the cursed diamant, he donated the Hope to Smithsonian Institute on November 10, 1958. He wrapped the Hope in a package and sent it by mail to the Smithsonian.
The museum’s most popular attraction, the Hope diamond, is a favorite of up to 7 million people annually. It is also the second most-visited art item in the world, just after the Mona Lisa.
Brief Hope Diamond History
1668 Tavernier reported that he owned the Tavernier Blue diamond, which weighed 112 carats. However, its origin remains unknown. It was sold to King Louis XIV, France.
1673 The king requested that Sieur Pitau reduce the diamond to 67.125 Carats. It has been known as the French Blue and Blue Diamond of The Crown since then.
1749 – King Louis XV directed Andre Jacquemin, to re-cut diamonds once more.
1792 The jewel was taken during the French revolution.
1812 John Francillion reported that there was a 45 carat blue diamond in London.
1822 The diamond was seen in the King George IV portrait.
1839 A large blue diamond was discovered in Henry Philip Hope’s gem catalog, under the new name of the Hope diamond.
1902 After a family bankruptcy in 1897 Henry Francis Hope Pelham–Clinton purchased the gem for $250,000.
1908 The Hope Diamond arrived in Turkey. It was purchased by the Turkish Sultan Abdul Hamid II for $400,000.
1911 Pierre Cartier sold the gem to Evalyn Walsh McLean, who paid $300,000.
1921 May Yohe writes The Mystery of the Hope Diamond. It describes the diamond’s dark history.
1949 Harry Winston, a New York jeweler bought Evalyn Walsh McLean’s estate jewelry and the Hope diamond. He then sent the collection on goodwill tours of the US.
1958 Harry Winston donated the famous Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution.
1962 to 1996 The Smithsonian Institution has lost the gem four times. It was part of the Louvre exhibit in 1962 and the Rand Easter Show, South Africa in 1965. It was donated to Harry Winston Inc. in 1984 to celebrate its 50th anniversary and to clean and restore it in 1996.
1998 The diamond was added to the Harry Winston Room in the Smithsonian Institution’s Natural History Museum.
Hope Diamond Worth
The Most Expensive Diamonds Worldwide
|Cullinan||3.106,75||Rough diamond||Near colorless||Up to $2 billion|
|Hope diamond||45.52||Antique cushion||Dark gray-blue||$200 to $250 million|
|Centenary diamond||273.85||Heart||D color||$100 million|
|Pink Star||59.60||Oval||Pink||$71.2 million|
|Winston Blue||13.22||Pear||Vivid blue||$23.8 million|
|Wittelsbach diamond||31.06||Oval||Deep blue||$23.4 million|
|Perfect Pink||14.23||Oval||Pink||$23.2 million|
|Heart of Eternity||777||Heart||Vivid blue||$16 million|
|Moussaieff Red diamond||5.11||Triangular||Red||Up to $8 million|
Although it is difficult to estimate the exact Hope diamond price, it was valued at $200-250 million. However, some estimates put it at $350 million. It is ranked third on the list for the most expensive diamonds worldwide.
The Smithsonian however considers the Hope Diamond a valuable American treasure. It is not available for sale.
The 45.52 carat Hope diamond is a rare and valuable gem that is well-known around the world. Although its current value is $350 million, only a few people have ever wanted to own this rare gem with a dark past.