The Hope diamond is the largest blue diamond in the world that is a part of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History collection. Harry Winston gifted it to this prestigious institution in Washington DC in 1958. The Hope diamond’s history & worth is the subject of much controversy and speculation.
This deep blue gem is well-known for its incredible beauty and the curse following its owners throughout its exciting and mysterious history. The first owner was unknown, but it was a part of court jewelry and property of King Louis XIV of France, George IV of England, and Turkish Sultan Abdul Hamid II.
The Hope Diamond
The Hope diamond is the rare and largest natural blue diamond in the world ever discovered, weighted 112 3/16 carats initially. After being cut, this dark greyish-blue diamond of 45.52 carats was classified as a Type IIb diamond with VS1 clarity. In other words, it is almost perfect.
Hope diamond features
|VS1 with whitish graining
|1 by 7/8 by 15/32 inches (25.6 × 21.78 × 12 mm)
A diamond’s strongly-colored luminescence type is unique and unusually intense. After exposure to UV light, it produces a brilliant red phosphorescence that stays unchanged even after switching off the light source.
It is famous for its unique cushion antique brilliant cut, and one faceted girdle. The diamond’s current name comes from the family who owned this gem from 1824, but it is known for a few other names, like:
- The King’s Jewel (Le Bijou Du Roi)
- The Blue of France (Le Bleu de France)
- Tavernier Blue
The Hope diamond has a bad reputation as a cursed gem since many owners had a troubled life and even tragic end. The beautiful diamond Heart of the Ocean you can see in the Titanic movie is not an existing gem. However, it is based on the famous Hope diamond.
Hope Diamond History
The legend says this diamond is cursed, and many people shy away from it. On the other hand, others enjoy its beauty and don’t care about rumors.
The triangular 112 3/16-carat, beautifully violet Hope diamond was found at an Indian mine. Even though some believe it was the Kollur mine in Golconda, no one can confirm that, and the exact location stayed uncertain.
The diamond’s official history started once Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, a traveling French merchant, bought it in the diamond market in Golconda and brought it to Europe.
In 1669, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier sold the diamond to King Louis XIV with 1,000 other gems. He ordered the court jeweler to cut the gem and reduce it to 67.125 carats in 1678. Its official name became Violet de France (Blue Diamond of the Crown of France, French Blue).
Jeweler Sieur Pitau spent two years perfecting the diamond and set it in a gold cravat pin. Still, King Louis XV ordered court jeweler Andre Jacquemin to reset it again and transform it to a pendant for the Toison D’Or (Royal Order of the Golden Fleece) in 1749.
After French Revolution, the Crown jewels of France were stolen, including the famous diamond, in September 1792. After another re-cutting, the stone came to England, where its trace was lost until 1812.
The Hope diamond owners
|Louis XIV of France
|Louis XV of France
|Louis XVI of France and Marie Antoinette
|Government of France
|George IV of the United Kingdom
|London jeweler Daniel Eliason
|Henry Thomas Hope
|Henry Philip Hope
|6th Duke of Newcastle Henry Pelham-Clinton
|Lord Francis Hope
|London jewel merchant Adolph Weil
|Sultan Abdul Hamid
|Evalyn Walsh McLean
The merchant Daniel Eliason had the diamond cut in 1824 and sold it to London banker Thomas Hope. After his death, his younger brother Henry Philip Hope inherited the gem. That was a period when the stone got its new name that has stayed until today.
The new heir became Henry Thomas Hope after Henry Philip died in 1839. He let the diamond be exhibited at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851 and then the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1855.
His adopted daughter Henrietta gave the diamond to his grandson, Henry Francis Hope Pelham-Clinton, in 1887. After the family bankruptcy in 1897, he resold the gem to London jeweler Adolph Weil in 1902 for £29,000.
It is known that American broker Simon Frankel bought the Hope diamond for $250,000. He brought the stone to New York, where its value was evaluated to only $141,032. After being in the hand of one sultan, Pierre Cartier became an owner in 1910.
After long and detailed negotiations, he sold the gem to Evalyn Walsh McLean for $300,000 in 1911. Financially speaking, this diamond wasn’t a positive transaction for Cartier because he took a loss after legal fees. However, that trade paid off in the long run and ranked Cartier among the top respected goldsmiths.
After Evalyn’s tragic life and final death in 1947, her entire jewelry collection, including the famous gem, passed to Harry Winston, a New York diamond merchant, in 1949. He exhibited it during the ten years, including the Court of Jewels tour.
It is unclear whether the legend of the cursed diamond affected his decision, but Harry donated the Hope to the Smithsonian Institute on November 10, 1958. Interestingly, he wrapped it in the package and sent it to the Smithsonian by post.
With up to seven million annual admirers, the Hope diamond is the museum’s premier attraction and the second most visited art item worldwide, right after the Mona Lisa.
Brief Hope Diamond History
1668 – Tavernier reported the possession of the Tavernier Blue diamond weighing 112 carats, but its origin stayed unknown. He sold it to King Louis XIV of France.
1673 – At the king’s request, Sieur Pitau cut the diamond to 67.125 carats. Since then, it became famous as French Blue and Blue Diamond of the Crown.
1749 – King Louis XV ordered Andre Jacquemin to re-cut the diamond once again.
1792 – The jewel was stolen during the French revolution.
1812 – John Françillion reported the existence of 45 carats blue diamond in London.
1822 – The diamond appeared in the King George IV of England portrait.
1839 – A large blue diamond appeared in Henry Philip Hope’s gem catalog under the new name, the Hope diamond.
1902 – After family bankruptcy in 1897, Henry Francis Hope Pelham-Clinton sold the gem for $250,000.
1908 – The Hope Diamond came to Turkey. Turkish Sultan Abdul Hamid II bought it for $400,000.
1911 – Pierre Cartier re-settled the gem and sold it to Evalyn Walsh McLean for $300,000.
1921 – May Yohe publishes a book, The Mystery of the Hope Diamond, describing the diamond’s dark past.
1949 – Harry Winston, a New York jeweler, bought the Evalyn Walsh McLean’s estate jewelry, including the Hope diamond, and sent the collection on a goodwill tour of the US.
1958 – Harry Winston donated the famous diamond to the Smithsonian Institution.
1962 – 1996 – The gem left the Smithsonian Institution four times. It was a part of the Louvre exhibition in 1962 and the Rand Easter Show in South Africa in 1965. In 1984, it was sent to Harry Winston Inc. to honor its 50th-anniversary celebration and for cleaning and restoration in 1996.
1998 – The diamond became a part of the Harry Winston room in the Natural History Museum of the Smithsonian Institution.
Hope Diamond Worth
Nowadays, the Hope diamond is exhibited in a glass cabinet in the Smithsonian Institution. You can come to admire a chain containing 45 colorless diamonds with a famous Hope as a central pendant stone surrounded by sixteen smaller diamonds.
The most expensive diamonds worldwide
|Up to $2 billion
|$200 to $250 million
|Heart of Eternity
|Moussaieff Red diamond
|Up to $8 million
Even though it is impossible to assess the actual Hope diamond price, it was estimated to $200 to $250 million, but some believe its value is approximately $350 million. That places it in a respectable third place on the list of the most expensive diamonds in the world.
However, the Smithsonian considers the Hope diamond a true, priceless American treasure. It is officially not for sale.
The Hope diamond is a highly precious, 45.52 carats stone well-known worldwide. Even though its current price is estimated to $350 million, there are only a few people who have wanted to own this cursed gem with a dark history.