The 45.52 carat steely-blue modified cushion antique brilliant diamond that we now know as the famous Hope diamond, is currently on display at the Smithsonian Institute. It is graded as a fancy deep greyish blue and is today worth over $250 million.
There is much mystique surrounding the Hope Diamond in that it is rumoured to be cursed, as its numerous owners have suffered such misfortunes as imprisonment, torture, financial ruin, murder and suicide.
The diamond had its origins when it was formed deep in the earth over a billion years ago. Trace amounts of boron give rise to its blue hue. Its precursor was obtained on a voyage to India by Jean-Baptiste Tavernier in 1666, and became known as the Tavernier Blue. At this point is was a somewhat triangular shape weighing over 115 carats.
In 1668, it was sold to Louis XIV, who commissioned his court jeweller to recut the diamond, and it became known as the French Blue, which was set into various pieces. It was passed down through the generations, but in 1793, Louis XVI was guillotined and the diamond was stolen.
At some point the diamond was recut into various pieces, the largest of which became known as the Hope Diamond when it was acquired by a wealthy London banker called Thomas Hope in 1839.
After numerous owners, socialite Mrs Evalyn Walsh McLean purchased the Hope Diamond from Cartier in 1911. It was initially set in a headpiece, but later into the more familiar pendant we know today.
1949, Mrs McLean’s entire jewellery collection was purchased by Harry Winston, who later donated the diamond to the Smithsonian Institute in 1958.
The Hope Diamond lay in its Carter-designed platinum and diamond encrusted necklace as the most popular gemstone at the Institute. For a while, it was on public display as a stand-alone gem, and at one point it was set into a newly designed necklace named “Embracing Hope”. It was later reset into its original setting. The Hope Diamond is one of the most famous gemstones and has enjoyed over 100 million visitors.