The 45.52-carat, steel-blue Hope diamond started life as a rough crystal weighing 112 carats.
• Weight: 45.52 carats
• Dimensions: 25.60mm x 21.78mm x 12.00mm
• Colour: fancy dark grey-blue
• Rough weight: cut from the French Blue
• Origin: The French Blue diamond
• Date found: Cut in the early 1800s
• Current Location: Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC
History of the stone
French diamond merchant Jean Baptiste Tavernier acquired the stone from a slave and sold it to King Louis XIV, whereupon the king had it cut into a triangular, pear-shaped stone weighing 67.50 carats.
Throughout its life as the Tavernier Blue diamond, and then the French Blue diamond, the fancy coloured stone garnered a reputation for ill-fortune that continued when it was eventually cut into the Hope diamond.
Following the death of Louis XIV, the French Blue diamond disappeared. It wasn’t until 1830 when a large, blue diamond of a different shape and weight (44.50 carats) appeared on the market in England and was purchased by banker Henry Thomas Hope.
Taking on its modern-day name, the Hope diamond was shown at the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London in 1851, where it was insured for the truly astonishing figure of one-million dollars – but then again, this was the largest diamond of its type in the world.
It was then inherited by a descendant of Henry Thomas Hope, Lord Francis Pelham Clinton Hope, whose wife left him and who eventually went bankrupt.
The Hope’s next owner was Abdul Hamid II, Sultan of Turkey, who purchased the diamond for $US450,000 and gave it to Subaya, a wife who he later executed. Hamid II had the jewel smuggled to Paris in 1911 where it sold to Evalyn Walsh McLean, but he did not receive a penny after he was dethroned and the proceeds seized by his successors.
In 1949, two years after her death, Harry Winston purchased the McLean collection, which contained not only the Hope Diamond but also the Star of the East. Winston later gave it to the nation and it is now on display in the Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC.
In 1975, the stone was removed from its setting to be cleaned and weighed. It turned out to weigh 45.52 carats, and not 44.50 carats as previously thought. This is attributed to the standardisation of the carat in the early 1900s.
Myths about the stone
Many people believe the Hope is the largest blue diamond in the world, but this isn’t true. It’s actually the fourth largest; however, it is the largest dark blue diamond in the world.
Up until recently it has been speculated that the long-lost 13.75-carat Brunswick Blue diamond was a fragment of the French Blue. Other experts have argued that Brunswick Blue II – a 6.50-carat, pear-shaped, blue diamond – is instead the fragment of the French Blue, rather than the 13.75-carat Brunswick Blue.
This was later disproved beyond a shadow of a doubt by gem cutter and diamond replicator Scott Sucher, with the help of Steve and Nancy Attaway and the Smithsonian mineralogy curator Jeffrey E. Post.
Sucher’s research also proves that no secondary gems were fashioned from the French Blue when it was recut into the Hope Diamond.
ABOUT SCOTT SUCHER
When one thinks of diamonds, Tijeras, New Mexico is not the first place that springs to mind, but it’s home to Scott Sucher, the Master behind the research and replicas that form the World Famous Diamonds.
Scott Sucher’s lifelong interest in geology commenced when a local museum hosted an exhibition of famous diamonds made of quartz when he was just a young boy. Whenever he could find time in his busy life, he published a collection of internet articles and lectures.
After retirement, Sucher returned to stone cutting with renewed vigour when a Discovery Channel producer requested help for a program on famous diamonds. The 14-month collaboration resulted in Unsolved History: the Hope Diamond, which first aired in February 2005.
The program gave Sucher the chance to handle the unset Hope diamond, the 31-carat Blue Heart diamond and Napoleon’s necklace – a 234-diamond necklace that Napoleon gave to his second wife Marie-Louise.
Sucher then worked with the Natural History Museum in London to recreate a replica of the historic Koh-i-noor. The entire process took 12 months – photo analysis took four months alone – and concluded in July 2007. The cutting alone took 46 hours, and Sucher likened it to “brain surgery, as one mistake can be non-recoverable.”
Sucher continues his work in partnership with many other experts and museums in the field. If anyone knows anything about the world’s most famous diamonds, it’s Scott Sucher.
To follow his ongoing works click here.