The French Blue Diamond aka The Hope Diamond

The French Blue Diamond

Mined in India in the 1600s, The Hope Diamond was originally part of a 115 carat blue diamond named the Tavernier Blue. The diamond was sold in 1668 to the King Louis the Fourteenth of France, who had it cut and set in gold to be used in royal ceremonies, naming it the French Blue.

Some years later, after it had fallen out of favour for ceremonial use, King Louis the Sixteenth gave the diamond as a gift to Marie Antoinette, a woman famed for her excesses.

Jewellery of such beauty was surely prized and admired around the courts, but such reveling was not to last long: during the French Revolution in 1792 Marie Antoinette and the King were imprisoned, and the necklace was looted and taken to London. Not long after, Marie and Louis met their deaths at the guillotine! What happened to the diamond at this point is something of a mystery.

Mysterious Blue Diamond

The French Blue seemed to disappear once it reached London, but years afterwards , a magnificent blue diamond of unknown provenance appeared in the possession of a London diamond merchant. Rumours abounded that this treasure had been cut from the stolen French Blue. Were they one and the same? Had the French Blue been re-cut? Who had hidden the French Blue for so long.

Dianne Khan, 1791 Diamonds, blog, Marie Antoinette wearing the French Blue

Many believed the diamonds were one and the same, but it was impossible to prove. To add further intrigue, this ‘new’ blue diamond appeared almost exactly as the 20 year statute of limitations on the theft of the French Blue ran out. Hmmm… It was all intrigue and plot, but no-one knew for sure. But more on that later, now we have curses to consider.

Curse of the Hope Diamond

A Times article in 1909 fanned the flames of controversy, claiming all manner of disasters had befallen the diamond’s past owners, much of which was fanciful and some of which was outrageously fictitious.

A later owner, Mae Yohe, openly blamed the diamond for many of her troubles and created a film and book promoting the idea of the Hope Diamond as cursed. In truth, much of what was in her works was also fictional, and her personal problems were down to infidelity and greed. But, as the saying goes, one should never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Sure, searching through the history of other owners, you find stories of sickness, affairs, divorce, bankruptcy. Curses aplenty, you might think. However, in truth, the Hope Diamond’s owners seem to have suffered no more than the normal twists and turns of life, things that affect many people who don’t own such a gem. In fact, you could track the ownership of any one thing – a Weetbix tin, maybe - and find the same kinds of things happened to the owners of that item, too. That’s life. Sadly, although a curse would be far more exciting, it does appear that tales of a Hope Diamond curse are grossly exaggerated.

Dianne Khan, 1791 Diamonds, blog, Hope Diamond reflected in a mirror

French Blue Mystery Solved

Hope Diamond set in a necklace by Harry Winston

In 1949 the Hope Diamond was bought by Harry Winston, who in 1958 donated the gem to the Smithsonian Institute, apparently mailing it there in a brown paper bag (Another myth maybe?) It is now part of the National Gem Collection in the Smithsonian Institution where it is on display to the public. So far, nothing mysterious or unusual has happened to those working with the Hope Diamond, and instead it merely sparkles and glitters, sharing its beauty with those who come to see it.

You don’t think we’d finish without saying what really happened to the looted French Blue, did you? Two hundred and thirteen years after it was stolen from France, it was finally established by those diligent scientists at the Smithsonian what had happened to that beautiful looted diamond and where the Hope Diamond had come from.

In 2005 researchers using computer analysis were able to show that the Hope Diamond could indeed fit inside the French Blue, and they demonstrated precisely how the Hope Diamond was cut from the French Blue. Finally, the mystery was solved.

About

Dianne is the Customer Services fairy for online jewellery company 1791 Diamonds Limited, proud supplier of New Zealand made, designer diamond engagement rings.

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