Cursed yet priceless: The untold story of Rs 2,900 crore 'The Hope Diamond'

Join us as we delve into the captivating tale of the Hope Diamond, exploring its history, the legends of its curse, and the scientific marvels that make it one of the world's most celebrated treasures.
IT Worth Desk
IT Worth Desk
Updated on Jun 25, 2024, 19:13 IST
The Hope Diamond

Deep in the mines of 17th-century India, a remarkable gem was discovered. This gem, eventually named the Hope Diamond, has a story that spans continents and centuries, captivating everyone who hears it.

Originally part of a larger diamond known as the Tavernier Blue, it traveled far and wide, catching the eye of kings and collectors alike. King Louis XIV of France was so enchanted by its blue brilliance that he had it reshaped into the French Blue, a dazzling centerpiece of his royal collection. But history took a different turn, and during the French Revolution, the diamond vanished, only to reappear years later in London as the smaller yet equally mesmerising Hope Diamond.

As it changed hands through the years, each owner seemed to be touched by its mysterious curse, leading to tales of tragedy and misfortune. Despite scepticism, these stories only added to its mystique.

Today, housed safely at the Smithsonian Institution, the Hope Diamond continues to captivate millions of visitors annually. Its deep blue color and impressive size make it not just a gemstone, but a living piece of history and a testament to humanity's enduring fascination with rare and beautiful objects.

Join us as we delve into the captivating tale of the Hope Diamond, exploring its history, the legends of its curse, and the scientific marvels that make it one of the world's most celebrated treasures.

Where was Hope Diamond first found

The Hope Diamond The Hope Diamond | Photo: Wikipedia

According to various reports, The Hope Diamond is believed to have come from the Kollur Mine in Guntur, India. But recently, new evidence suggests that this diamond, along with other Golconda diamonds, might have actually originated from the Wajrakarur kimberlite field in Andhra Pradesh, reported in Live Science. This location is about 186 miles (300 kilometres) away from where they were originally believed to have been mined.

Also Read: 50 Rolls Royce cars & Rs 1,000 crore diamond: The remarkable life of India’s first billionaire

History of The Hope Diamond

The Hope Diamond earned its name from Henry Philip Hope, a wealthy British banker and passionate collector of gems and artwork. It was part of his extensive collection until his passing. Afterwards, it changed hands multiple times until Evalyn Walsh McLean, a prominent socialite from Washington, D.C., acquired it in 1912 and held onto it until her death in 1947. Later, jeweler Harry Winston owned it for eleven years before generously donating it to the Smithsonian Institution in 1958, where it now belongs to all Americans.

The diamond's journey traces back to the Tavernier Blue, a 115-carat blue diamond brought from India to France and purchased by King Louis XIV, known as the "Sun King," in 1673. His royal jeweler recut the stone into the 69-carat French Blue, enhancing its beauty with a gold backing that made it shine brightly. Unfortunately, the French Revolution saw the theft of this magnificent diamond in 1792. Twenty years later, a smaller yet still stunning 45-carat blue diamond emerged in London, eventually known as the Hope Diamond. Its appearance coincided closely with the expiration of the twenty-year statute of limitations for crimes from the French Revolution, though details about who recut the gemstone remain scarce. While speculation persisted for decades that the lost French Blue and the Hope Diamond might be one and the same, solid evidence confirming this connection didn't emerge until the mid-2000s.

Detailed replicas of the Tavernier Blue and the French Blue were meticulously crafted, including computer models to ascertain that the Hope Diamond could fit entirely within the French Blue. Certain decisions made in cutting the Hope Diamond, like its asymmetrical shape, were best understood in light of its earlier incarnation as the 69-carat French Blue.

The Curse of The Hope Diamond

The Hope Diamond The Hope Diamond | Photo: Clean Origin

It's known by various names like Le Bijou du Roi (“the King’s Jewel”), Le bleu de France (“France’s Blue”), and the Tavernier Blue. This deep-blue gem weighs 45.52 carats and is stunning to look at, but many believe it carries a curse. Since it was found in India in 1642, this diamond has been stolen at least twice and changed owners many times. Each owner seems to have met with bad luck, fueling the belief in its curse.Legend has it that those who possess the Hope Diamond are cursed with misfortune. From mysterious deaths to financial ruin, its owners have reportedly faced calamities throughout history. Despite skepticism, tales of its curse continue to intrigue and mystify.

Also Read: Meet Sudha Reddy, The Hyderabad-based Billionaire Who Wore 200-Carat Diamonds At Met Gala 2024

Here are legends about the Hope Diamond eerie tales:

  • The curse is said to have started with the Tavernier Blue, a large diamond stolen by Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, a French merchant, from a Hindu statue's eye. It's said Tavernier fell ill and died soon after taking the diamond.
  • King Louis XIV of France bought the diamond and had it recut. He later suffered from gangrene and passed away.
  • Nicholas Fouquet, linked to King Louis XIV, wore the diamond and was later imprisoned for life.
  • Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, who inherited the diamond, faced tragic deaths during the French Revolution.
  • Marie-Louise, Princess de Lamballe, another wearer, also met an untimely death.
  • During the French Revolution, the diamond was stolen again and reshaped by Wilhelm Fals, a Dutch jeweller, who met a tragic end involving his family.
  • Disappearing for years, the diamond resurfaced in a London banking family's collection in 1839.
  • Simon Maoncharides, a Greek merchant, owned and then sold the diamond in 1910 to Pierre Cartier, involved in a fatal car accident.
  • Evalyn Walsh McLean, a wealthy heiress, bought the diamond in 1912, experiencing a series of tragedies in her family before selling the diamond in 1949.
  • Donated to the Smithsonian in 1958, the diamond traveled through the mail, bringing misfortune to the mailman involved.

Science Behind The Hope Diamond

The Hope Diamond was examined and graded by the GIA in 1988 and 1996. It weighs 45.52 carats and has a cushion shape with antique brilliance, VS1 clarity, and a Fancy Deep greyish-blue colour.

  • This unique colour is due to a high concentration of boron impurities, about 1.7 parts per million, which is very rare in natural diamonds.
  • Most gem diamonds (about 99%) contain nitrogen impurities, while less than 0.1% have detectable boron. The Hope Diamond stands out with its unusually high boron content.
  • Another exceptional feature is its red phosphorescence. When exposed to ultraviolet light, it glows red for over a minute, thanks to the boron atoms interacting with other impurities in the diamond.
  • Scientific studies in the past two decades have uncovered many secrets of the Hope Diamond, including its origin as the French Blue, details about its phosphorescence, and precise measurements of its boron concentrations.
  • Despite changing owners over centuries, the Hope Diamond eventually found its way to the Smithsonian, where its name reflects the universal human sentiment of hope, fitting for such a priceless gem.

Where is The Hope Diamond today and how much is it worth?

Today, housed at the Smithsonian Institution, the Hope Diamond remains a cultural icon, attracting millions of visitors annually. According to Forbes The Hope Diamond's worth, estimated at $350 million (Approx Rs 2,900 crore), reflects not just its monetary worth but also its cultural significance and enduring appeal.

Also Read: Man Buys Cartier Diamond Earrings Worth Rs 11 Lakh For Just Rs 1,200 Due To Typo On Website!

The saga of the Hope Diamond continues to captivate, blending history, legend, and scientific marvel. As it remains on display, its allure and mystique ensure its place as one of the world's most famous gemstones.

By weaving together its captivating history, alleged curse, scientific intrigue, and cultural impact, the story of the Hope Diamond emerges as a timeless tale of beauty and mystery.

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