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The History and Mystery of the Hope Diamond

July 10th, 2013 Jewelry

Diamonds are commonly referred to as a girl's best friend, but many women aren't thrilled about the prospect of getting anywhere close to one particular gem - the Hope Diamond. Rumors that it's cursed have been swirling around the diamond for centuries, and it now remains under tight security at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. However, it wasn't always closely guarded and displayed to the public. The Hope Diamond was once just considered to be another gem meant for royalty. 

The beginnings of the Hope Diamond
The diamond was originally thought to be mined in India around the 1660s, and it was eventually brought west by Jean Baptiste Tavernier, according to Smithsonian Education. Tavernier then sold the gem to King Louis XIV in France. The stone is more than 45 carats in size and has a beautiful, unique blue hue. It was eventually placed on a ribbon to be worn as a necklace during special occasions.

After the diamond made its way into France, it stayed within royal hands for many years, being re-cut and re-sized along the way. During its reign in France, the stone became known as The French Blue, according to Britannica. It eventually disappeared from royal hands when several jewels were stolen in 1792. 

Reference to the diamond reappeared in the 1830s, when a man named Henry Philip Hope was cataloged as its latest owner. Some believe it may have been traded multiple times as items were sold off to cover the debt of George IV after his death. Henry Philip Hope is responsible for the name of the diamond as it is today. Henry Thomas Hope, his nephew, eventually inherited the gem after his death. 

Over the years, the Hope Diamond has been sold and traded to prominent jewelers as well as members of high society. The gem has been on display in various areas around the world, touring establishments and giving people a chance to marvel at its beauty.

The curse of the Hope Diamond
Many people believe that the Hope Diamond is cursed, but it's all in the eyes of the beholder. While some are incredibly superstitious about its origin, several people find it difficult to wrap their minds around the possibility of an inanimate object causing harm to its owners.

Life's Little Mysteries claims that the diamond may have been cursed, seeing that Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette, were eventually executed with the Hope Diamond in their possession. Socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean owned the gem and found her fate to be tragic as well. During her lifetime, her son was killed in a car accident and her daughter committed suicide. McLean's husband left her for another woman as well, and she became synonymous with the curse of the Hope Diamond by the end of her life.

The Hope Diamond today
Today, visitors can see the Hope Diamond safely displayed in the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., where it no longer seems to exert its curse on passersby or owners. In 1988, the gem was taken in by the Gemological Institute of America to find out more about its composure. Researchers found that it has evidence of regular wear - perhaps by its owners over the years - and its clarity is slightly skewed by white graining. This is common in blue diamonds, but it may be difficult to see if you visit the Hope Diamond, which is kept out of the hands of viewers.

As of 2010, experts were still conducting tests on the Hope Diamond, according to Smithsonian magazine. This gem seems to not only fascinate people with its beauty, but its mystery as well.