The Hope Diamond is a deep-blue clored, 45.52 carat (9.10 gram) diamond, which is believed to have been mined from the Kollur Mines in the erstwhile kingdom of Golconda in India, is now displayed at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum at Washington. The diamond was originally just over 112 carats and was sold by a French merchant Jean Baptiste Tavernier to France’s King Louis XIV in 1668. The king had the diamond re-cut by the court jeweller, Sieur Pitau, and wore it at ceremonies.
The diamond is alternatively called the ‘Le bleu de France’ or ‘Le Bijou du Roi’ or the ‘Tavernier Blue’ referring to its blue color and its being in the possession of the king.
The diamond may not be the largest in the world but is certainly one of the most famous due to its large size and its blue color. The minuscule amount of boron present in the crystals makes the diamond appear to be steely blue, something similar to the appearance of a sapphire. Exposure to ultra violer lights givesit a reddish glow.
The diamond, which lengends say was the stolen eye of a deity, is rumoured to carry a curse affecting the possessor of the diamond. King Louis XIV was dogged by ill-fortune till he was killed at the hands of his own men. Madame de Montespan, to whom the stone was given by Louis XIV, was soon sidelined in the palace. Nicholas Foquet, in charge of finance, ‘borrowed’ the diamond in a bid to impress the king but ended up being accused of embezzlement bby the king. Princess Lamballie and Marie Antoinette, both wore the diamond were guilottined.
The diamond was stolen during the looting of the French treasury in September 1792 and disappeared. When it resurface in 1830, it was purchased by English banker, Henry Thomas Hope. The diamond, which derives its most commonly used name from this family, remained in the Hope family till 1901 when it was sold to pay the debts of one of the heirs.
The stone passed through many famous hands before it was ultimately donate by Harry Winston Inc. to the Smithsonian Institution where it now lies.
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