Hope diamond is perhaps the most controversial piece of treasure in history; the story of this spectacular piece of diamond is as exciting as the diamond itself. As of today, the diamond sits pretty in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History collection, and visitors troop in daily to take a close-up look at the beautiful dark blue gemstone that has brought numerous tragedies and misfortunes in history of the world.
The hope diamond is not just beautiful to look at; the 45.52-carat diamond has a hefty price tag thanks to controversies and speculations. Many people worldwide consider the hope diamond cursed and detrimental to anyone who has it in their possession, while others say it is a case of coincidental misfortunes. Whatever the case may be, the hope diamond is an infamous piece of treasure that is now under the custody of the government of Washington DC, United States of America.
For a large piece of diamond-like the Hope diamond, its purchase usually involves a hefty fee. The diamond changed hands numerous times, and during its history, the diamond was reset several times. Despite the diamonds getting a lot of visitors every week, not everybody has gotten to see the hope diamond, and not everyone knows how much the diamond is worth.
In this article, I will be covering everything about the Hope diamond; its composition, what it is worth today, and of course, the article would not be complete without the exciting history of the diamond.
What Is Hope Diamond?
“Hope diamond” as we know it today was not always the name of this greyish-blue gemstone; it only adopted this name because the famous Henry Philip Hope once owned it. Other nicknames include “The king’s jewel,” “The blue of France,” “The blue mystery,” and “The fragment of the midnight sky.”
The Hope diamond is listed as a Golconda diamond (diamonds mined in India’s Godavari delta geographic area). It started its journey like every other diamond when it was formed deep below the earth’s surface about 1 billion years ago.
Naturally formed diamonds are carbon and colorless; when cut by a skilled diamond cuter, they become clear and reflect more light. When a naturally formed diamond takes a particular color, it is due to impurities, and the hope diamond has its blue hue because of the presence of boron. It has been tested and confirmed that the hope contains about 0.6 parts per million boron.
Another thing to note about the Hope diamond is its enormous size. It is the largest and rarest blue diamond ever discovered in history. The diamond initially weighed an impressive 112 carats, but throughout history, it would see its size drop to 45.52 carats ( which is still considered a large size diamond).
History Of The Hope Diamond
The story of the hope diamond is a very interesting and horrifying one; it may sound like fiction or something straight out of a horror movie, but it is true, and since the diamond arrived at Smithsonian National Museum, no one has gotten the opportunity to own this magnificent diamond.
Legend has it that the blue diamond only began its journey when French diamond merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier arrived in India in the mid 17th century. His visit to India was solely in search of precious stones, so he inevitably heard about the large 112-carat diamond sitting on the forehead of the Hindu goddess of fertility, “Sita,” in a Hindu temple located in the city of Guntur, in Andhra Pradesh.
Tavernier was so fascinated by the diamond that he took a trip to the temple to inquire about it. What happened next is still unclear, but by the time Jean-Baptiste Tavernier left India, the blue gemstone had mysterious disappeared. Some people think it was stolen from the temple, while others say the French diamond merchant acquired the gemstone through a purchase from one of its staff. But according to many urban legends, on discovering the diamond was missing, the temple’s priests placed a curse on anyone who would wear the stolen diamond.
In 1668 Jean-Baptiste Tavernier arrived France, and it is recorded that he sold the large piece of diamond to King Louis XIV. The French diamond merchant died shortly after contracting a high fever. Just ten years after the French ruler acquired the diamond, he requested that the blue diamond be re-cut. The 112 carat diamond was cut into a 67.125 carat gemstone, and despite it taking two years to complete, the result was absolutely beautiful (this was the first time the diamond would get an actual design).
The consequent events that occurred were unpleasant for King Louis XIV, as he would witness all his children, but one dies before they get the chance to reach adolescence. He also lost his wife, Maria Theresa, at a young age.
The blue jewel will also be worn on special occasions by Nicolas Fouquet ( he was the finance supervisor under the rule of King Louis XIV). He was charged with corruption and embezzlement of funds, which led to his life sentence; in 1680, he died in prison. And on the 1st of September 1715, King Louis XIV died from gangrene.
The next victims of the blue diamond’s misfortunes were King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette, as they were spotted wearing the diamond on many occasions. If you are conversant with the French Revolution story, you would know how they met their deaths in 1793. During the chaos of the French Revolution in 1972, the diamond was stolen for the second time, this time with other gems from the French Crown Jewels collection, many of the stolen gems were recovered; however, the magnificent blue diamond was never recovered. There was a statute of limitation on all crimes committed during the revolution that would last for 20 years; this prevented the diamond from being resold.
Coincidentally, a London diamond merchant named Daniel Eliason entered a negotiation for a 45.52-carat blue diamond from a French man named Francis Beaulieu, who traveled to London in 1812 (exactly 20 years after the law on the diamond was passed). Shortly after the negotiations were finalized, Francis Beaulieu contracted typhus and died suddenly; Daniel Eliason died some months later. The diamonds changed owners during this period, and they would even be spotted with the Former King of the United Kingdom, George IV. After the death of George IV, the diamond was sold to pay off his debts, and the diamond would later be found with Henry Hope (a rich London banker). After his death, the diamond would move to Henry Philip Hope (from where it gets its name).
After the death of Henry Philip Hope in 1839, his son would retain the diamond, and it remained in the family for many years. In 1902, the diamond would be resold to another London diamond merchant.
The hope diamond continued changing hands and leaving behind tragedies and misfortunes. The last person to buy the diamond was American jeweler; Harry Winston; he acquired it from a broken MacLean family who was forced to sell the diamond to salvage their finances. Harry Winston had the diamond on display for some years before donating it to the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of Natural History, where it has been on display to date.
What Makes The Hope Diamond Special?
- The dark greyish-blue color is the first thing that gets people attracted to the hope diamond. Research has, however, proven that the real color of this diamond is white; it only gets its blue tint when it is exposed to light. It still contains minute traces of boron, and it is considered the rarest blue diamond to date.
- The size of this diamond is breathtaking. A 45.52 carat diamond of any color is considered large and given that it initially weighed a whopping 112 carats is incredible. The size of this diamond, coupled with the rare color, makes it highly priced; it is even considered priceless by most people.
- Most of the colored diamonds in displays today are lab-grown diamonds; these diamonds are technologically engineered inside a laboratory because of the concerning ecological footprints of mining diamonds. These lab-grown diamonds are cheaper than naturally formed diamonds, so the hope diamond is highly-priced because it is a large natural diamond.
- The hope diamond is a Type IIb diamond, and these diamonds are the rarest of all diamonds; just 0.1% of all-natural diamonds in the world are type IIb diamonds. A type IIb diamond is semiconductive with traces of boron in them, usually blue or gray. Other type IIb diamonds include Wittelsbach Blue and Apollo blue earrings.
How Much Is The Hope Diamond Worth?
The hope diamond is considered a priceless jewel in history, especially by the Smithsonian National Museum. The Hope diamond is the rarest and largest blue diamond the earth has ever witnessed, and the 45,52-carat gemstone has one of the most brilliant cuts you would ever see on a diamond. It is considered a type IIb diamond with VS1 clarity also. Considering all these things, you would understand why the Smithsonian National Museum tagged it as “priceless.”
Despite the museum tagging the diamond as “priceless” and not for sale, the worth of the breathtaking piece of jewel is estimated to be around $200 to $250, with some reports suggesting it is worth more than that at $350. This is an impressive figure for a diamond, but sadly it isn’t the most expensive diamond in the world. Still, it sits on a decent third spot on the list of the world’s most expensive diamonds behind Koh-i-Noor and Cullinan, worth up to Billion dollars.
Below is a table containing the top ten most expensive diamonds in how much they are worth.
Carat Price (in dollars) Color
Koh-i-Noor 105.6 Colorless
Cullinan 3.106.75 Up to 2 billion Near colorless
Hope diamond 45.52 – 200 to 250 million Dark gray-blue
Centenary diamond 273.85- 100 million D color
Pink star 59.60- 71.2 million Pink
Winston blue 13.22- 23.8 million Vivid Blue
Wittelsbach diamond 31.06- 23.4 million Deep blue
Perfect pink 14.23 – 23.2 million Pink
Heart of Eternity 777 – 16 million Vivid blue
Moussaieff Red diamond 5.11- Up to 8 million Red
Hope Diamond Setting
The French blue (later known as the Hope Diamond) was reset several times throughout history. The most famous setting was made by Pierre C. Cartier when he resold the diamond to Evalyn Walsh McLean. But as of today, the diamond has a different setting from the one Evalyn Walsh McLean had; let us take a look at the different settings of this magnificent diamond.
The hope diamond started its journey as a crudely, unshaped large diamond in the hands of Jean-Baptiste Tavernier; if we had to pick a shape for it, it would be closer to a triangle than anything else. Later on, it would get its first set when it became a royal property, the Tavernier blue was cut into a 67.125-carat diamond with a definite triangular shape, and King Louis XIV would ask for it to be set in pure gold.
The successor of King Louis XIV, King Louis XV, would reset the diamond once again, this time, it was a more complex setting alongside other precious diamonds, and they took the order of the golden fleece.
The diamond was later cut and sold as a naked diamond to disguise its appearance when stolen from the French Crown Jewels collection. The famous design of the Hope diamond came when Evalyn Walsh McLean requested that Pierre C. Cartier changed the setting to something that would suit her, and the result was a large blue diamond surrounded by 15 small white diamonds.
The hope diamond remained in the setting until November 2020, when a new design was unveiled. The new setting is called “embracing hope,” It was designed by Harry Winston Inc to mark the 50th anniversary of the Hope Diamond’s donation to the Smithsonian National Museum in 1958 and the 100th anniversary of the museum. The design is temporary, and the hope diamond will return to its former setting.
The hope diamond is one of the most controversial diamonds to date, but that doesn’t stop it from being an expensive piece of jewelry. Despite the mysterious history of the large blue diamond, certain people do not consider the hope diamond curse true; if you are one of them, owning the hope diamond would be a massive achievement and a way to write your name into history books.
However, as of today, the diamond sits in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History collection as an antique for educational purposes. If we were to estimate a price for a 45,52-carat diamond, it would be something close to a quarter of a billion dollars.
Despite the hope diamond being cut several times, the diamond is undoubtedly still a valuable item to date, and the question remains, “if you got the chance to wear it, would you?”.