The Blue Hope Diamond
Previously known as Le Bleu de France, the infamous Hope diamond is one of the most famous diamonds in history. The 45.52 carat Fancy Deep Grayish Blue diamond with VS1 clarity is the largest blue diamond in the world, and one of the earliest and most famous fancy color diamonds that was ever discovered. Le Bleu de France was most probably mined in India, as per the historic remarks of the first owner of the Hope diamond. It is unclear exactly when the diamond was discovered and by whom, although it is attributed to Jean-Baptiste Tavernier. It is also unknown whether he bought it or acquired it by some other means. A gem the size of a walnut, it is measured as 25.60mm (length) × 21.78mm (width) × 12.00mm (depth). The cut has been described as, “cushion antique brilliant with a faceted girdle and extra facets on the pavilion.”
The stone was most probably acquired by King Louis XIV in 1668, after which it was cut from its original 115.28 carats to 67.125 carats. Louis had it set in a cravat-pin that became legendary at court for its eye catching beauty. It was later reset as a pendant by Louis XV and kept exclusively for the use of the king, contrary to historically held beliefs that Marie Antoinette wore it and was beheaded, thereby perpetuating the curse of the diamond.
It was temporarily lost to history, as many of the crown jewels were stolen during the French Revolution, the Hope diamond not among them. It is thought that the gem made its way to England, and became public again as part of the collection of Henry Phillip Hope in 1839, listed as the Hope diamond. Illustrious jeweler Pierre Cartier reset the diamond in its current familar setting in 1910 and sold it to Washington DC socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean. It was sold by trustees of her estate to famous jeweler Harry Winston in 1949, who incorporated it into his display of his "Court of Jewels", his jewelry collection which toured the entire US. In 1958, Winston donated it to the Smithsonian in Washington DC, the National Museum of Natural History as part of the national gem collection, where it still remains until today.
The Hope diamond was left on display in the Museum in its diamond necklace surrounded by antique cut and pear shaped diamonds, although in 2009 it was taken out in order to be displayed as a loose gem.
In 2009, the Smithsonian celebrated 50 years of the diamond in its walls with the announcement of a temporary reset of the diamond into a new setting. They held an online vote between 3 designs, and a winning design was chosen and used for the diamond.
The new design is a triple strand of diamonds which culminates in an embrace of sorts with the diamond in its center. It stayed in this setting for a year before it was returned to its unset state for display.
It would be difficult to find another diamond let alone gemstone with the mystery, legend, allure, and aura that surrounds the Hope Diamond. Acquired approximately 450 years ago, it has withstood wars, revolution, theft, family squabbles, curses, and redesign; however its longevity and magic remains undiminished.