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The Hope Diamond
by Gary Hocking
Hundreds of years old and coming from Golconda India it was originally 112 carats. A French merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier bought the stone around 1660.
Tavernier then sold the gem in 1668 to Louis XIV who had his court jeweller cut it down to 67 carats. It was then given the name of French Blue and was set in gold as a necklace for the king to wear on ceremonial occasions.
It was at the French court that the gemstone acquired its reputation as being linked with evil forces. One of the king’s mistresses wore the gem and subsequently fell out of favour with the court. Louis XIV died of gangrene and as the French revolution came King Louis XVI and his wife lost their heads. The diamond was then stolen.
That was the end of the stone as it was then known. It is believed that it was recut into three stones. One of these stones came into the possession of a London jeweller named Eliason who sold it to a banker Lord Henry Philip Hope. It seems the darker forces came into play again and the Hope diamond was thought to be responsible for the Hope family becoming insolvent.
The stone was bought by Evalyn Walsh McLean who was also a victim of the curse of the Hope diamond as her son was hit by a car and killed. She suffered a tragic life after that.
Harry Winston finally acquired the stone and donated it to the Smithsonian Institute. Winston sent it in the mail in a plain brown paper bag. He did not believe in the curse and live to the ripe old age of 82.
It now weighs 45.52 carats and is described as a Fancy dark greyish blue. The clarity is VS1.
It is easy to see how the supposed curse gained credibility. It was told that Tavernier, the original owner of the large stone, had stolen it from a Hindu idol. A priest of the temple was said to have placed a curse on whoever possessed the gem from then on. So we had a string of what should be considered normal, but unfortunate, incidents happening to people owning or associated with the stone and the legend of evil continued.