The Hope Diamond – Gem of mystery


Diamonds aren’t always considered ‘a girl’s best friend’ – in the case of the Hope Diamond, it was long believed to hold mystical powers and bring grief.


The Hope Diamond (current setting) surrounded by 16 white diamonds attached to a chain of 45 white diamonds

Excavated from the Kollur mine in Golconda, India in 1642, the diamond was part of the famous Tavernier blue diamond (a whopping 115.16 carats the equivalent of 23 gms!).


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It was first owned by Louis XIV who had the stone recut for brilliance.  It then became known as the Blue Diamond of the Crown (68 carats). Following the French Revolution, it was held by the National Assembly, but disappeared as a result of a series of burglaries.

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Image Courtesy:

It was then recut to preserve its identity and would eventually become known as the Hope diamond (45.52 carats).  Its colour is actually a combination of blue and grey.   The many facets of the cut give off highlights of yellow and green and if exposed to ultraviolet light, flashes of red appear which is due to the presence of boron.   Deep, rich and beautiful, it seriously dazzles.


The Hope Diamond – side elevation capturing green flash

It reappeared in London in 1813 and then passed through several owners until 1839 when it was purchased by Henry Philip Hope from whom it took its name. The diamond stayed in the possession of the Hope family until 1901 when it was sold to an American jeweler, Simon Frankel.


The Hope Diamond front elevation showing highlighted flash

Several owners followed until it came into the possession of Mrs Evalyn Walsh McLean, who had the diamond encrusted with 16 white diamonds, both pear shaped and cushion cut (seen above) and attached to a chain of 45 white diamonds.  The design is luxuriously restrained and the result is breath taking.


Chain of 45 white pear shaped and cushion cut diamonds attached to the Hope diamond pendant

Evalyn and her husband, Ned McLean (owner and publisher of the Washington Post), were fabulously wealthy and equally legendary for their extravagant entertaining.  Evelyn wore the necklace pooh, poohing the curse associated with it, and considered it a good luck charm.

EWM--unknown date

Mrs Evalyn Walsh McLean pictured wearing the Hope diamond pendant necklace


Mrs Evalyn Walsh McLean pictured wearing the Hope diamond pendant necklace

Two years after Evalyn’s death, the diamond was again sold, this time to New York jeweler, Harry Winston who showed it at various charitable events in order to raise funds.

Then, in 1958 the Hope diamond turned up as a donation to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, in Washington DC.   It’s fascinating to note that it arrived unceremoniously in a plain brown paper parcel, via Registered Mail.    Sender: Harry Winston Inc.


Harry Winston Store, Fifth Avenue, New York

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has the Hope diamond displayed as part of the National Gem and Mineral Collection.  Mounted, as seen in these photographs, the plinth rotates slowly allowing the viewer to observe every angle.  It’s truly exquisite.   Little wonder that it’s considered to be one of the most visited museum objects in the world, bringing good fortune to the Smithsonian!