The Hope Diamond is one of the most fascinating jewels in the world, with ownership records dating back almost four centuries, this piece of jewellery has an abundance of stories to tell.
The diamond’s much sought-after rare blue colour is due to trace amounts of boron atoms, weighing at 45.52 carats, its remarkable size has led to new findings about the formation of gemstones. The diamond has been compared in size and shape to a pigeon egg or a walnut. With the colour being described as “fancy dark greyish-blue” as well as being “dark blue in color”] or having a “steely-blue” color. Despite this people often speak of the red glow the diamond emits.
The jewel is believed to have originated in India, where the original stone was purchased in 1666 by French gem merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier. Tavernier was cut and yielded in the French Blue, which Tavernier later sold to King Louis XIV in 1668.
The Hope Diamond was stolen in 1791 and was recut, with the largest section acquiring its ‘Hope’ name when it appeared in the catalogue of a gem collection owned by a London banking family called Hope in 1839.
The diamond changed hands numerous times in the years that followed, it was eventually sold to Washington socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean, who was often seen sporting the fine jewel.
It was purchased again in 1949 by New York gem merchant Harry Winston, who toured it for a number of years before donating it to the National Museum of Natural History of the United States in 1958, where it has since remained on a permanent exhibition.
The Hope Diamond has been surrounded by mythology for hundreds of years. It is said to be a reputed ‘curse’ that will bring misfortune and tragedy to persons who own it or wear it. It is thought that such stories were fabricated to enhance the stones’ mystery and appeal, since increased publicity normally raised a gem’s value.
According to accounts in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the original form of the Hope Diamond was stolen from the eye of a sculpted statue of the goddess Sita, the wife of Rama , the seventh Avatar of Vishnu. However, much like the ‘curse of Tutankhamun’, this general type of legend was most likely the invention of Western commentators during the Victorian era. It fueled speculation that humans possessing the gemstone were fated to have bad luck of varying vearcity.
There is evidence of several newspaper accounts which helped spread the curse story. A New Zealand newspaper article in 1888 described the supposedly cursed history of the Hope Diamond, including a claim it was said “once to have formed the single eye of a great idol”, as part of a confused description that also claimed its namesake owner had personally brought it from India.
The mainstream view is that these accounts are specious and not to be taken too seriously since there are few, if any, independent confirmations to back them up. Despite doubts being cast about the ‘curse’ of this Diamond, there are no doubts to be made about its striking beauty and rich history.