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The Legend Lives On: The Enigmatic History of The Hope Diamond

The hope diamond is nature at its most amazing

What’s all the fascination with the Hope diamond?

Is it that it is the largest blue diamond in the world.

I think its to do with its history especially one Evalyn Walsh McLean.

As the curator of the Smithsonian Institute put it, Let’s face it, if Evalyn Walsh McLean never owned the Hope, it’s very unlikely that we would all be sitting here talking about it right now.

Who is Evalyn Walsh McLean? We’ll come back to that after a History lesson; stay with me.

The Hope diamond can be traced back to a French merchant by name of Jean Baptiste Tavernier who purchased an 112.18 carat diamond most likely from the Kollur Mine in Golconda India.

the hope diamond set on a chain & pendant

AMNH, New York City

At the time it was a crudely cut triangular shape but its color was described as beautiful Violet by the buyer Tavernier.

Tavenier later sold the blue diamond to King Lois the 14th of France in 1668 with 14 other large diamonds & several other small ones.

Later in 1673 the stone was recut by the kings court jeweler Sieur Pitau resulting in a 67.125 carat stone.

According to the royal inventory, its color was described as an intense blue & the stone acquired the name The French Blue.

It was set in Gold & worn on a ribbon which King Louis wore on ceremonial occasions.

The Hope diamond hadn’t acquired its name at this time.

King Louis 15th had the stone reset for the Order of the Golden Fleece in 1749 and in 1792 after a week long looting of the crown jewels; the French Blue Diamond was stolen.

In 1812, John Francillion described a deep blue diamond being in the possession of a London diamond merchant by name of Daniel Eliason where it is highly suspected it was recut.

King Louis XV, in 1749, had the stone re-set by court jeweler Andre Jacquemin, in a piece of ceremonial jewelry for the Order of the Golden Fleece (Toison D?Or).

In 1791, after an attempt by Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette to flee France, the jewels of the French Royal Treasury were turned over to the government.

During a week long looting of the crown jewels in September of 1792, the French Blue diamond was stolen.

Apparently King George the 4th of England owned the Hope but it was sold off after his death in 1830 to pay his debts.

In 1839 the diamond appeared in the ownership of a gem collector?Henry Philip Hope?from whom the stone gets its name.

In 1839 after Hopes’ death, the Hope Diamond passed on to his nephew Henry Hope then to the nephews grandson Lord Francis Hope.

Lord Hope sold the stone in 1901 to settle his debts & it was bought by a London dealer who sold it to Joseph Frankels & Sons of New York.

The Blue diamond was then sold to Selim Habib who later put it up for auction. It was bought by C.H. Rosenau then sold to the now famous house of Pierre Cartier.

This now brings us back to Mrs. Evalyn Walsh McLean?of Washington DC.

She was the wife of Ned Mclean.

They were a wealthy couple that were sold the Hope by Cartier in 1911 after he had reset it as a headpiece inside a three-tier circle of white diamonds.

The Hope gem stayed with Mrs. McLeans until her death in 1947.

If Mrs. Mclean hadn’t bough the Hope Diamond, it probably would never have landed at the Smithsonian Institute & we wouldn’t know about it today.

Harry Winston Inc. purchased the Hope diamond & for the next 10 years it traveled the world as an exhibit in many charitable events.

This was until 10th of November 1958 when Harry Winston Inc.
donated the Hope gem to the Smithsonian Institution, thus the great blue diamond became its premier attraction.

In 1974 the Hope stone was removed from its setting and found actually to weigh 45.52 carats as opposed to its former assumed weight of 44.5 carats


Diamond Info | Colored Rings | Hope Diamond

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