Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Hope Diamond - Gemstone with a Long History

Most of you have probably heard of the Hope Diamond, arguably one of the most famous diamonds in the world. It is currently housed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. It has long been its premiere exhibit.

This unique stone is a large, 45.52 carats fancy deep blue diamond. The Hope Diamond appears blue to the naked eye because of trace amounts of boron within its structure. Under ultraviolet light, it exhibits red phosphorescence.

Photo Credit: Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

The history of the Hope diamond is long and fascinating. According to dubious account, the original Diamond was stolen from an eye of a sculpted idol Sita, the Hindu goddess who was the wife of Rama.

The diamond is famous for being "cursed." The earliest account of the curse was taken from a fanciful newspaper article in The Times in 1909. The article wrongly reported that the diamond's previous owner, Selim Habib, had drowned in a shipwreck near Singapore. In actual fact, this death is attribute to aa different person with the same name, not the owner of the diamond. The jeweler Pierre Cartier, a later owner of the diamond, embellished more lurid tales to the curse to intrigue Evalyn Walsh McLean into buying the Hope Diamond in 1911.

The lengthy history of the Hope Diamond began in 1668 when King Louis XIV of France sold it, along with 14 other large diamonds and several smaller ones. The diamond passed through many royal courts and then was reset in 1749, during the reign of King Louis XV. During a week-long looting of the crown jewels in September of 1792, the French Blue diamond was stolen.

Several owners claimed it over the next decades until it was sold to Pierre Cartier in 1909. The diamond was again reset in 1911 by Cartier when he showed it to Mrs. Evalyn Walsh McLean and she did no care for the setting. Cartier mounted it on a headpiece with other large diamonds. Sometime later, it was again reset into the pendant necklace we know today. Harry Winston's purchased it in an estate in 1949, after which it was shown at many exhibits and charitable events worldwide. Finally, in 1958, it was donated to the Smithsonian Institution, where it now resides.

The Smithsonian Institution has a wonderful resource article which outlines the full history of the Hope Diamond. It is truly fascinating and worth the time to read it.

2 comments:

  1. Hey,
    i only heard the name of the hope diamond till now.But from your blog I know the history of the diamond.Thanks a lot for your information.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm glad you enjoyed the article. The diamond certainly has an interesting history.

    ReplyDelete

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