History of the Hope Diamond

Thrilling History Behind Cursed Yet Gorgeous Little Hope Diamond

On November 10, 1958, the authorities of the Smithsonian Natural History Museum received the Hope diamond. It arrived by registered mail, in a plain-looking brown box.
Historyplex Staff
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
Hope diamond is the world's largest blue diamond. As of now, it is housed in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C., and its size is 45.52 carats. The sparkling blue color is due to the presence of boron. When it is passed under ultraviolet rays, it displays red phosphorescence.

History
The Hope, or French Blue Diamond, or the Tavernier Blue Diamond, was mined in the Kollur mine in Golconda, India. At that time, its weight was 112 carats. In 1660, a French merchant-traveler and explorer, Jean Baptist Tavernier visited India. Some say he purchased the blue gemstone from an Indian slave. However, there are stories that say Tavernier stole the gemstone from the forehead of an idol of a Hindu Goddess Sita. In 1669, Tavernier smuggled the blue gemstone to France, where he sold it to the king of France, Louis XIV, the Sun King.

In 1673, under the orders of King Louis XIV, the blue gemstone was cut to enhance its brilliance. The newly cut gem weighed 67.80 carats. The King of France officially named it 'Blue Diamond of the Crown'. He wore it around his neck on a long ribbon. Since then, it was known as the French Blue or the Tavernier Blue.

In 1749, Louis XV, grandson of Louis XIV, the then king of France, ordered the crown jeweler to decorate the 'Order of the Golden Fleece' using the blue gemstone and ruby.

The Curse
There seems to be a curse attached to this gemstone. It is believed that its owners have been struck with bad luck, time and again.

Louis XIV had lent it to his mistress, Madame de Montespan. Soon, Madame de Maintenon, who later became the wife of Louis, replaced her. Eventually, there were mishaps in the king's life, as the king's son and grandson died shortly.

In 1774, Louis XVI inherited the throne and the Hope, which he presented to his wife Marie Antoinette. In 1793, they were both guillotined.

Also, Tavernier met with a mysterious death at the age of 84.

Why is it Called the Hope Diamond?
In 1813, the French Blue diamond resurfaced in London. However, there are no clear evidences whether it is the same blue gemstone that was stolen from Garde-Meuble. A jeweler called Daniel Eliason owned this gemstone, and its weight had been reduced to 45 carats in 1823.

There is historical evidence revealing that King George IV of England bought this gemstone from Daniel Eliason. On the death of the king, it was sold to clear his debts.

In 1839, this blue gemstone came into the possession of Henry Phillip Hope. It is from his last name, that it got its present name. When he died in 1862, his wife inherited it. She later presented it to her second grandson, Lord Francis Hope. He being a gambler, lost all his wealth, and finally had to auction the 'Hope', in order to pay off his debts.

In 1901, an American jeweler Simon Frankel brought it to the US. It reached the French jeweler Pierre Cartier, who sold the Hope Diamond to Evelyn McLean, and it was again sold to pay off her debts.