10 Amazing Facts About the Cursed Hope Diamond


 

 

In 1839, a blue diamond weighing over forty-five carats appeared in the collection catalogue of London banker and diamond collector, Henry Phillip Hope.

It would become known as the Hope Diamond, and is famously alleged to have been surrounded by bad luck.

 

Many owners of the cursed gem met with a grisly death, family tragedy, or a hapless fate.

King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette who owned the diamond were beheaded.

 

Other owners and their families experienced suicides, marriage break-ups, bankruptcy, deaths in car crashes, falls off cliffs, mental breakdowns, and deaths through drug overdoses.


Most grisly of all was perhaps the death of the man who discovered—or some say, stole—the diamond in 1642.

 

Today, spectators gaze in awe at the Hope Diamond through a thick glass in its case at the National Gem Collection of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington D. C.


Here are 10 amazing facts about the “the most famous diamond in the world”.

 

 

A French merchant-traveler named Jean-Baptiste Tavernier obtained the stone in 1642 in India, either by purchase or as some think more likely, through deception and murder.

Tavernier returned to Paris with a large uncut diamond that became known as the Tavernier Blue diamond—the precursor to the "French Blue" and subsequently the Hope Diamond.

He sold the French Blue to King Louis XIV.

There is a myth that Tavernier was later torn apart by wild dogs because of the curse of the French Blue.

 

 

It was a crudely cut triangular shaped stone of an estimated 115 carats (23.0 g).

Tavernier's book, the Six Voyages, contains sketches of several large diamonds that he sold to Louis XIV c.1668.

In 2005, 3D imaging technology was used to confirm beyond doubt that the Tavernier Blue was the precursor to the French Blue—and subsequently the Hope Diamond.

 

 

 

In 1749, Louis' descendant, King Louis XV, had the French Blue set into a more elaborate jeweled pendant for the Order of the Golden Fleece by court jeweler André Jacquemin.

The assembled piece included a red spinel of 107 carats shaped as a dragon breathing "covetous flames", as well as 83 red-painted diamonds and 112 yellow-painted diamonds to suggest a fleece shape.

King Louis XV died of smallpox at the Palace of Versailles.

The diamond became the property of his grandson, the ill-fated Louis XVI.

 


During the reign of her husband, Marie Antoinette wore many of the French Crown Jewels for personal use and had the gems placed in new settings and combinations.


In January 1793, King Louis XVI was guillotined, followed by Marie in October. Some said their beheadings were a direct result of the diamond's "curse".

 

 

No one knows for sure, but the French blue is thought to have made its way to Spain.

This famous portrait of Queen Maria Luisa of Spain by Francisco Goya (1746–1828) shows her wearing what was believed to be the stolen French Blue.

Soon after goya painted this portrait, Maria Luisa was forced to abdicate and flee the country.

Was this the curse of the French Blue?

 

  

On September 11, 1792, during the early stages of the French Revolution, Louis XVI and his family were held captive in the Palais des Tuileries near the Place de la Concorde.

Thieves broke into the Royal Storehouse and over five days of looting most of the Crown Jewels were stolen.

The French Blue was cut into the Hope Diamond in an attempt to prevent its proper identification.

Caroline Of Brunswick—the wife of King George IV of the United Kingdom—is rumored to have played a part in smuggling the Hope Diamond into England.

 

In 1812, a deep blue diamond described by John Francillion as weighing 177 grains (4 grains = 1 carat) was documented as being in the possession of London diamond merchant, Daniel Eliason.

Strong evidence indicates that the stone was the recut French Blue—the same stone known today as the Hope Diamond.

Several references suggest that it was acquired by King George IV of the United Kingdom.

At his death, in 1830, the king's debts were so great that the blue diamond was privately sold to pay them.

 

 

In 1894, American musical theatre actress May Yohé married Lord Francis Hope—heir to the Hope fortune—and possessed the Hope Diamond.

She divorced Lord Hope eight years later, followed by a string of failed marriages with handsome adventurers.

May Yohé performed in London's West End and music hall and vauderville on the US West Coast, but suffered frequent financial woes and died penniless.


 

Pierre Cartier, the Parisian jeweler, is widely credited with publicizing the stories of a curse on the diamond in hopes of increasing its saleability.

A clause in the sale agreement stated: "Should any fatality occur to the family of Edward B. McLean within six months, the said Hope diamond is agreed to be exchanged for jewelry of equal value".

 

 

On January 28, 1911, Washington Post magnate Edward B. McLean and mining heiress Evalyn Walsh purchased the Hope Diamond from Pierre Cartier.

On February 2,
1912 The New York Times reported, "Wealthy Purchasers of Famous Stone to Retain It Despite Sinister Reputation."

The diamond's curse struck their first-born son. Nine-year-old Vinson Walsh McLean was killed by a car outside their house on May 18, 1919.

By 1933, the couple had divorced and Edward B. McLean was declared legally insane. He died of a heart attack in 1941 at the age of 51.

Evalyn Walsh later pawned the diamond to pay a con-man connected with the Lindbergh kidnapping.






reprinted from 5 minute history

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