The Hope Diamond – The Most Famous Coloured Diamond in History
In the world of precious gemstones, the diamond is the hardest and most valuable. But even among the diamond family, there are a select few that are regarded as standouts – whether you are a historian, student of the jewellery business, or, like me, a local Sydney jeweller – Michael Arthur Diamonds.
Although many don’t realise it, the most rare and most beautiful diamonds can be of the “coloured” variety. Tiny trace amounts of other elements from deep in the Earth’s core leave a permanent imprint on the diamonds that are formed nearby.
But the Hope Diamond has this unique identifier, along with a long list of amazing attributes, and a history that has to be read to be believed.
What You Can See?
As with any diamond, the most noticeable characteristic is instantly the size of the stone 45.52ct. If you can visualise a quail egg or a walnut you will get a sense of both the incredible size and unique shape of the Hope Diamond.
But it is the colour of the Hope Diamond that truly sets it apart and makes it a favourite of many diamond aficionados and jewellers, including me!
With a steely-blue colour, the diamond puts many viewers in mind of a sapphire, which is in itself a highly desirable stone. But the Hope Diamond also performs a kind of metamorphosis when the lights are dimmed: it glows a brilliant, luminous red.
Not only does this feature increase it’s value, it is impossible to replicate artificially, which means that experts measure other “blue” diamonds against the incredible colour shown by the Hope Diamond. As well, the glowing red incandescence of the gem has likely contributed to the stone’s being said to be cursed.
The story of the Hope Diamond, as with all diamonds, began over a billion years ago under the intense pressure in the depths of the Earth.
But the human history of the gemstone is far more colourful. The original uncut stone was unearthed in India over 400 years ago. Whether by chance or theft, it came into the possession of Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Tavernier who brought the uncut stone to Paris.
Originally known as the Tavernier Blue, ownership was transferred to the King, Louis XIV, in exchange for the French equivalent of a Knighthood. It was Louis’ descendant who was the owner of the diamond shortly before it was stolen by thieves prior to his execution during the French revolution.
After decades in anonymity the Tavernier Blue resurfaced in Britain in the hands of a well-known diamond merchant. While there is some suggestion that the diamond passed through the hands of the British royal family, it eventually came into the possession of a notable banker in London called Thomas Hope. It was from this family’s ownership over generations that the diamond began to be known as the Hope Diamond.
Voyage to the United States
Eventually the gemstone made it’s way to North America, through the ownership of Simon Frankel for the princely sum of a quarter of a million dollars. Frankel transported it to New York.
Within years, he had sold it to a Turkish diamond collector who soon had to sell it to settle outstanding debts – but this continued the international history of the stone. After some decades being worn to lavish parties in the United States, including several where it was deliberately hidden so guests could play “find the Hope”, it came into the hands of the world-renowned Smithsonian Museum.
The fact it even made it there is a matter of some amazement, given the priceless gemstone was posted in the US Mail in a regular brown paper package!
While not every diamond has the incredible globe spanning history of the Hope Diamond, each stone is quite unique.
As a Sydney jeweller https://www.michaelarthur.com.au/michael-arthur/ , I enjoy welcoming prospective clients to my studio to talk about their vision for their bespoke engagement ring, wedding bands, or other jewellery. My clients come from the inner city (where the studio is located), from the Northern Beaches, Eastern Suburbs, and even from the Blue Mountains and interstate.
I’d love the chance to meet you at my studio to discuss your plans, and invite you to contact me to arrange an appointment. https://www.michaelarthur.com.au/contact-us/