The Hope Diamond
The Hope diamond currently in the Smithsonian Museum, weighs 45.52 carats, is VS1 in clarity and is a natural fancy deep grayish blue color. This fantastic stone has had a mysterious, ever changing and cursed history as described below. The first recorded finding of the diamond was in the late 1600’s when Jean Baptiste either stole the diamond from a slave he later murdered or it was purchased for an unknown amount of money.
At that time, the diamond weighed 112 carats. This “violet blue diamond” as it was known was then sold to King Louis XIV of France in 1668 along with other diamonds both large and small. It was recut by the court jeweler resulting in a stone weighing 67.13 carats. Its color was then described as an intense steely blue. It was set in gold and was suspended in a neck ribbon worn on formal and informal occasions.
In 1749, King Louis XV had possession of the diamond. This diamond, then known as the “French Blue diamond”, was reset. It was stolen once again when Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette attempted to leave France. In 1812, a blue 44.25 carat diamond appeared, then owned by a diamond dealer, Daniel Eliason. This diamond was proved to be the original French Blue diamond of the late 1800’s. King George IV of England purchased the diamond at the London Exhibition and it was insured for an insane amount of money, one million dollars.
In 1830, it was sold to pay his debt. By 1839, the French Blue was purchased by Henry Philip Hope and the diamond was named after him, the Hope diamond. It was then given to his nephew, Henry Thomas Hope, and passed down to Lord Francis Hope. After selling the Hope diamond once again to a diamond dealer, Joseph Frankel, it was later sold for the cash he needed. The Hope diamond went thru several more owners until it was purchased by Cartier in 1910 and sold to Evalyn Walsh McLean.
The Hope diamond was reset into a necklace with 16 white pear and cushion cut diamonds. She owned it until her death in 1947. By 1949, the Hope diamond was purchased from the estate of Evalyn Walsh McLean by Harry Winston. He donated it to the Smithsonian museum on Nov. 19, 1958. The Hope diamond left the Smithsonian four times over the years. It traveled to the Louvre in Paris, the Rand Easter Show in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1965 and to Harry Winston in 1966 and once again to Harry Winston for cleaning and restoration.