“The King’s jewel,” “The blue of France” – these are some nicknames for the most mysterious and seemingly dangerous gem in history. The selected few who were “lucky” enough to possess the famous Hope Diamond died horrific deaths. But in the beginning, nobody could foresee the trouble…
The gemstone, which is now called the Hope Diamond, was formed deep within the Earth more than 1 billion years ago! It was initially used as one of the decorations of an Indian temple of an idol of the goddess Sita. At that time, India was well known by the world for its beautiful diamonds. One day a Hindu priest decided Hope Diamond was far too beautiful and valuable to leave there and plucked it out. He was severely punished for that, of course, but the Hope Diamond was already out of the temple.
Hope Diamond in France
Indians had a different mindset about diamonds. They did not use to cut gemstones rather they used to preserve them. Indians used to believe that diamonds absorb evil thoughts and negative feelings and used to wear gemstones to protect themselves; some Indian believe this to date. So, Hope Diamond as a roughly cut jewel was worth about 112 carats when it came into the hands of a famous french merchant, Jean Baptiste Tavernier. Some say that Tavernier stole the diamond from the previous owner in India, while others believe that he bought it from there. It is also said that Tavernier had a serious raging fever not long after he owned the marvellous Hope Diamond.
Tavernier got the most gems and best deals than other dealers and merchants from different countries who flocked to India in search of unique gems. He made six trips to India between about 1630 and 1670. While returning to France in 1668, he met with King Louis XIV of France at the newly built Versailles palace. Tavernier sold the king about 200 diamonds, along with the rare Hope Diamond. King was impressed with the Hope diamond. The King asked his jeweller to change it a little and give it a triangular shape and set it in gold. After two years of work, the Hope Diamond was ready. The king usually wore it on some ceremonial occasions. The Diamond quickly caught everybody’s attention and was named “The Blue Diamond of the Crown” and “The French Blue”.
The Hope Diamond curse got to King Louis XIV as well. He died suffering from gangrene. Moreover, all but one of his children didn’t make it passed their childhood, though it wasn’t that uncommon those days. The Hope Diamond was passed to his successor King Louis XV and then to King Louis XVI. King Louis XVI often made his wife wear the Diamond. And after that, we all know what happened! Both Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were executed by guillotine during the French revolution. The Hope Diamond was been stolen from the Royal Storehouse shortly after.
Hope Diamond in England
The diamond was missing for about 20 years and it was suddenly discovered in England. Well, how did it get there? Several sources confirmed that it was actually owned by King George IV of the United Kingdom. An English merchant, Daniel Eliason resetted the diamond and sold it to King George IV. The life story of this King wasn’t very happy either he decreased the prestige of the monarchy and was among the most unpopular leaders in the history of the United Kingdoms. Eventually, his unhealthy lifestyle made him extremely obese and almost blind due to cataracts. He didn’t leave any descendants and died due to gastrointestinal bleeding. King George IV also had enormous debts. And after his death, the Hope Diamond was sold through private channels.
The next recorded owner of the Hope Diamond was a rich London banker Thomas Hope. After his death, the Diamond came to his bother Henry Philipe Hope. He put it in his gem collection catalogue in 1839. However, he died that same year. Henry’s nephews, Thomes’ sons and his wife spent 10 years in court, battling to get the rights to own the large collection but in the end, it got split up. Henry’s oldest nephew Henry Thomas Hope got the Hope diamond. It was with the family for many years so it is the most commonly used name. But in 1902 it was again sold to a London jewel merchant. After The Hope diamond changed many owners. One of them was the last Turkish Sultan Abdul Hamid II. After He bought the Diamond his life was completely changed by the military revolution by the Young Turks. He was deported and spent his last days in captivity.
After this, the Hope Diamond was bought by Pierre Cartier. He reset the diamond and sold it to the Mclean family. Evalyn Walsh McLean really adored the Hope Diamond and wore it almost every single day. Sometimes she even let her dog wear it in his dog collar as long as it was in the apartment. But the happiness didn’t last long. First, Evalyn’s mother-in-law died. Then her 10-year-old son was in a car accident and didn’t make it. This broke her and her husband so much that he actually left for another woman and later died in a mental hospital. At the same time their family business, which they owned the famous Washington Post was bankrupt. But the continued Evalyn’s daughter passed away when she was just 25. Still, Evalyn didn’t believe in the Hope Diamond curse and the jewel was kept with the family. Evalyn died and as the family was carrying huge debts the rest of her children had to sell the diamond to improve their financial condition.
It was then bought by the famous, American jeweller Harry Winston was next to get the Hope Diamond. So for the next 10 years or so, The Hope Diamond was the new thing at many exhibits and charity events held by Harry Winston INC. However, it didn’t stay in the company for long. Harry Winston decided to donate the diamond to the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of Natural History. And it’s still there to this date! Now the Hope Diamond weighs a little bit over 45 carats, still has its deep greyish-blue colour, and even produces a dangerous red glow if you decide to expose it to short-wave ultraviolet light. So, if you want to see this diamond with your own two eyes the museum is always open for visitors.
Despite the diamond’s rich history, there are still heated debates as to whether it’s actually cursed or not. Some people say that all the tales about the jewels being cursed were simply created to boost its popularity. The sales for Hope Diamond were always very high! It is said that the natural colour of Hope Diamond was white. Unless you hold it to the light, then you will see beautiful blue rays. In 1911, the New York Times came out with a whole list of the Hope diamond’s supposed “victims.” The list consisted of about 14 people who died tragic deaths not long after possessing or even holding the Hope Diamond. Still, if the curse does exists Jean Baptiste Tavernier, Pierre Cartier, King Louis XIV and many others died at a very old age. Of course, nobody knows what the Hope Diamond is all about for sure. But it remains one of the most popular attractions in the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum and still catches the attention of many people…