History of the Hope Diamond

The Hope Diamond is arguably the world’s most famous diamond. Like its modern day counterpart, the headline-snatching 100 carat beauty that sold for $22 million at Sotheby’s, the Hope Diamond is huge, renowned, and beautiful.

This stunner is sure to enter the annals of famous diamonds, but when it comes to household names, no diamond’s more prominent than the Hope Diamond. The fabled rock studs history dating back to 1642. It’s then that it was supposedly mined in the Kollur mines of india. The diamond was described as a 112 + carat blue diamond, purchased by French jeweler Jean Baptiste Tavernier.

About 26 years later, Tavernier summoned to the court of  King Louis XIV. The king added the magnificent stone and a number of other jewels purchased from Tavernier to his collection and made the jeweler a noble.

In 1673, the diamond was recut by Sieur Pitau, the court jeweler, to render it a mere 69 carats. It was then named the “French Blue” and suspended by a ribbon as a necklace. Louis XIV’s successor, King Louis XV, decided to re-set the diamond into the Order of the Golden Fleece. However, the diamond met the same fate as the other crown jewels during the looting of the French Revolution in September 1972. It disappeared until 1812, when (the alleged) diamond turned up again in the possession of a London diamond dealer, conveniently right after the statue of limitations for the French Blue’s theft expired.

The diamond then made its way back through royal channels (King George IV: actual king, Pierre Cartier: King of Jewelers) and extremely wealthy nobility and aristocrats (The Hope family, which earned its name, and Evalyn Walsh McClean) before ending up in the collection of one Harry Winston. After Winston donated the diamond to the Smithsonian museum, the rest was (more) history. Check out the entire timeline, put together by the Smithsonian’s Division of Mineralogy.

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