Blue Mystery: The Story of the Hope Diamond

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Summary

  • The Hope diamond, a flawless 45-plus gem of rare steel-blue color, was donated to the Smithsonian Institution in 1958 by New York City jeweler Harry Winston, and is the centerpiece of the Hall of Gems at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. The author reviews the fascinating history and examines the mystery surrounding this priceless diamond, including its supposed reputation for bringing bad luck, in her book, which is divided into three segments: what is known about the Hope diamond, speculations about the Hope, and evaluating the legend of the diamond. The famous Hope is believed to have come from the French blue diamond, which was mined in India and purchased there in 1642 by French traveler and jewel merchant Jean B. Tavernier, who sold it to Louis XVI in 1668.
  • The diamond was recut, named the "Blue Diamond of the Crown," and remained part of the French crown jewels until the French Revolution, when it was stolen in 1792 with other jewels from a depository facility and vanished without a trace. Research by the author establishes 1812 as the year the diamond reappeared, but in a different, recut form, as its existence was documented then in drawings and descriptions prepared by a lapidary for Daniel Eliason, a diamond merchant in London. London banker Henry Philip Hope purchased the diamond from Eliason for approximately $90,000 in 1830, and it remained in the Hope family until 1901, when it was sold to a New York diamond merchant.
  • The Hope was later acquired by the Paris firm of Cartier, which sold it in 1911 to Evalyn Walsh McLean, the daughter of a wealthy Colorado gold miner. Mrs. McLean died in 1947, and her jewelry collection, including the Hope diamond, was sold to Harry Winston to help settle claims against her estate. To help fulfill his wish that the United States develop a major national jewel collection, Winston donated the Hope diamond to the Smithsonian to serve as the focal point of such a collection and act as a stimulus for other potential donors.

Author

Patch, Susanne Steinem

Subject

  • Winston, Harry 1896-1978
  • National Museum of Natural History (U.S.)
  • Hall of Gems

Category

Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography

Notes

Paperback book; 64 pages with photographs and illustrations.

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu

Date

1976

Topic

  • Gems
  • Diamonds
  • Museums
  • Hope diamond
  • Museum exhibits

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