The Blue Hope Diamond,King of all diamonds
Since centuries the only known diamond mine, where the most extraordinaire diamonds were found as the Hope diamond - king of all diamonds - was the Golconda mine in India. But from 1700, the Golconda mines gradually ran out of diamonds.
Fortunately, in 1723, mines were discovered in the Portuguese colony of Brazil. This meant that in the 1720s the supply from Brazil was five times greater than from India. But still most appreciated specimen came from India. The success of the diamond compared to other precious stones became greater as of the second half of the 17th Century and throughout the 18th due to improvements in cutting methods.
It was Louis XIV who purchased the most diamonds and precious stones for the State. Of course, one of the best known diamonds was the Blue Diamond of the Crown, later known as the Blue Hope. This exceptional diamond has a rare blue colour, which is due to trace amounts of boron atoms. Due to his exceptional size, the diamond could reveal a lot of information about diamond formation. Originally mined in India, this superb diamond of 115.28 carats was sold to Louis XIV by Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (see picture), the great traveller and gem merchant in India. The King had it cut into a heart-shape to wear it as a pin. This mythical diamond became legendary for the curse it supposedly puts on all its owners. According to the legend, the curse goes back to Madame de Montespan, the King’s mistress, who wore it at Black Mass ceremonies. In 1792, it was stolen fro m store rooms along with the rest of the French Crown jewels. It reappeared in Britain when Henry Philip Hope bought it in 1830. It was re-cut to hide its origin and Hope named it after himself. Later, the diamond was sold to Pierre Cartier, grandson of the famous Louis-François Cartier, founder of the Cartier jewellery house.
Pierre Cartier then sold it to Evalyn Walsh McLean (see picture), a rich American heiress who wore it at worldly events. In her autobiography, she said “When I forget to wear my diamonds, astute members of my family call the doctor because they know that I must be falling ill.” The McLeans were great jewellery collectors: as well as the McLean diamond which later became part of the Duchess of Windsor’s collection and the “Star of the East” which was later acquired by King Farouk of Egypt, they also possessed the 126 carat Jonker diamond.
McLean died in 1947, she bequeathed the diamond to her grandchildren through a will which insisted that her former property would remain in the custody of trustees until the eldest child had reached 25 years of age. This requirement would have prevented any sale for the next two decades. However, the trustees gained permission to sell her jewels to settle her debts. In 1949, Harry Winston bought the Hope diamond. As Cosmopolitan said in 1947 if Evalyn Walsh McLean was nicknamed the queen of diamonds because of her fabulous collection, then Harry Winston was the king. In 1949, He was reputed to possess the most beautiful diamonds after the English Crown jewels. In 1958, he donated the famous diamond to the Smithsonian Institute of Washington. He sent it by post so as to remain anonymous.
In the 1943 film “Titanic”, a love story revolves around the theft of a blue diamond, a reference to the Hope diamond. In James Cameron’s more recent version of the film, starring Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet, there is also a blue diamond named the “Heart of the Ocean”. According to the film, this diamond lies on the bed of the ocean within the wreck of the Titanic. This is pure fiction, as the Hope diamond was not aboard the Titanic. However, a beautiful piece of jewellery with a 170 carat sapphire created by Garrard, was made for the film. At the 1998 Academy Awards, the singer Céline Dion wore the “Heart of the Ocean” to present her song “My Heart Will Go On”. The jewel was auctioned for charity at the end of the ceremony.
In 2005, the Smithsonian published a year-long computer-aided geometry research which officially acknowledged that the Hope Diamond is in fact the Blue Diamond of the Crown of Louis XIV and was part of the stolen French Blue crown jewel.
Text Diamond Divas book ©World Luxury Jewellers