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The Hope Diamond is a large, 45.52 carats (9.10 g), fancy deep-blue diamond, housed in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C. The Hope Diamond is blue to the naked eye because of trace amounts of boron within its crystal structure, but it exhibits red phosphorescence under ultraviolet light.  It is classified as a Type IIb diamond, and is famous for supposedly being cursed.

The "Curse"

An early account of the Hope Diamond's "cursed origins" was a fanciful and anonymously written newspaper article in The Times on June 25, 1909. However, an article entitled "Hope Diamond Has Brought Trouble To All Who Have Owned It" had appeared in the Washington Post on January 19, 1908.

A few months later, this was compounded by the New York Times on November 17, 1909, which wrongly reported that the diamond's former owner, Selim Habib, had drowned in a shipwreck near Singapore; in fact, it was a different person with the same name, not the owner of the diamond. The jeweller Pierre Cartier further embroidered the lurid tales to intrigue Evalyn Walsh McLean into buying the Hope Diamond in 1911.

One likely source of inspiration was Wilkie Collins' 1868 novel The Moonstone, which created a coherent narrative from vague and largely disregarded legends which had been attached to other diamonds such as the Koh-i-Nur and the Orloff diamond.

According to these stories, Tavernier stole the diamond from a Hindu temple where it had been set as one of two matching eyes of an idol, and the temple priests then laid a curse on whoever might possess the missing stone. One reason that this is not accepted is the other blue diamond "eye" has never surfaced. Furthermore, the legend claimed that Tavernier died of fever soon after and that his body was torn apart by wolves, but the historical record shows that he actually lived to the age of 84.

The Hope Diamond was also blamed for the unhappy fates of other historical figures vaguely linked to its ownership, such as the falls of Madame Athenais de Montespan and French finance minister Nicolas Fouquet during the reign of Louis XIV of France; the beheadings of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and the rape and mutilation of the Princesse de Lamballe during the French Revolution; and the forced abdication of Turkish Sultan Abdul Hamid who had supposedly killed various members of his court for the stone (despite the annotation in Habib's auction catalog).

Even the jewelers who may have handled the Hope Diamond were not spared from its reputed malice: the insanity and suicide of Jacques Colot, who supposedly bought it from Eliason; the financial ruin of the jeweler Simon Frankel, who bought it from the Hope family. But although he is documented as a French diamond dealer of the correct era, Colot has no recorded connection with the stone, and Frankel's misfortunes were in the midst of economic straits that also ruined many of his peers.

The legend further includes the deaths of numerous other characters who had been previously unknown: diamond cutter Wilhelm Fals, killed by his son Hendrik, who stole it and later committed suicide; Francois Beaulieu, who received the stone from Hendrik but starved to death after selling it to Daniel Eliason; a Russian prince named Kanitowski, who lent it to French actress Lorens Ladue and promptly shot her dead on the stage, and was himself stabbed to death by revolutionaries; Simon Montharides, hurled over a precipice with his family. However, the existence of only a few of these characters has been verified historically, leading researchers to conclude that most of these persons are fictitious.

The actress May Yohe made many attempts to capitalize on her identity as the former wife of the last Hope to own the diamond, and sometimes blamed the Hope for her misfortunes. In July 1902, months after Lord Francis divorced her, she told police in Australia that her lover, Putnam Strong, had abandoned her and taken her jewels. Incredibly, the couple reconciled, married later that year, but divorced in 1910. On her third marriage by 1920, she persuaded film producer George Kleine to back a 15-episode serial The Hope Diamond Mystery, which added fictitious characters to the tale. It was not successful. In 1921, she hired Henry Leyford Gates to help her write The Mystery of the Hope Diamond, in which she starred as Lady Francis Hope. The film added more characters, including a fictionalized Tavernier, and added Marat among the diamond's "victims". She also wore her copy of the Hope, trying to generate more publicity to further her career.

Lord Francis Hope married Olive Muriel Thompson in 1904. They had three children before she died suddenly in 1912, a tragedy that has been attributed to The Curse.

Evalyn Walsh McLean added her own narrative to the story behind the blue jewel, including that one of the owners was Catherine the Great. McLean would bring the Diamond out for friends to try on, including Warren G. Harding and Florence Harding. McLean often strapped the Hope to her pet dog's collar while in residence at Friendship, in northwest Washington D.C.. There are also stories that she would frequently misplace it at parties, and then make a children's game out of finding the Hope.

However, since the diamond was put in the care of the Smithsonian Institution, there have been no unusual incidents related to it.
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