Two words – ‘cursed diamond’. These two words should be enough to keep anyone away from putting hands on a diamond that is considered to be cursed. However, with the case of Hope Diamond, things were different. The sheer beauty of the diamond attracted many people who were no ordinary men and women but were kings and queens and some famous people around the world. What’s interesting about this diamond is that it is considered to be a cursed stone that kills anyone who owns it or even touches it. Is the curse true? Let us find out by learning 20 interesting Hope Diamond curse facts.
Origins of the stone and Hope Diamond curse:
1. Formation: The diamond was formed around 1.1 billion years ago. The diamond was initially embedded in kimberlite. Kimberlite is a type of ingenious rock that is sometimes embedded with diamonds. Over years, the kimberlite went through rain and wind erosion and eventually got placed among gravels.
2. Contamination: 100% pure diamonds with zero contamination do not have any color. However, this diamond was actually contaminated with trace amounts of boron, giving it its characteristic blue color.
3. Mining: It is believed that the diamond was mined from Kollur mine located in Andhra Pradesh’s Gutur district in India.
4. The Onset of the Curse: There is no proper record of how the curse thing started. According to legends, the diamond was actually embedded on an idol in India and that someone stole it (plucked it) from the idol. Immediately as the diamond was stolen, a curse befell the diamond. Curse foretold bad luck as well as death for whoever possessed the diamond or even touched it.
The Curse of the Hope Diamond – What Really Happened?
5. It is being said that the diamond was placed on the forehead of Hindu goddess Sita. Many centuries ago, a man named Tavernier visited India and managed to steal the diamond. He managed to sell the diamond and was then on a trip to Russia when he met his horrible death. Wild dogs tore him apart and thereby fulfilling the curse of the diamond.
6. Tavernier’s full name was Jean Baptiste Tavernier and the story of his death is nothing but a myth. After he acquired the diamond (perhaps he bought it) in 1653, returned to France where he sold the diamond to King Louis XIV. He then moved to Russia where he died peacefully.
7. If at all there was any curse, King Louis XIV would have also suffered but that wasn’t the case. He actually reigned peacefully and died at the age of 76.
8. After the death of King Louis XIV, the diamond descended to King Louis XV. He too did not suffer any kind of misfortune and died at the age of 64.
9. The ‘French Blue’ as the diamond was then called was then inherited by King Louis XVI. This time however the story was different. King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette were beheaded (guillotined) in 1793. But was it the curse of the diamond. Perhaps not! They were guillotined during the French Revolution. Interesting, Louis XVI and his queen were not the only royals to be beheaded during the Reign of Terror and thus, the curse really did not have anything to do with their deaths. The French Blue was stolen along with crown jewels during the French Revolution. There is absolutely no history of any gruesome death or misfortune befalling the thieves. Most of the crown jewels were recovered but the French Blue was never recovered.
10. Around a couple of decades later, the French Blue surfaced in London but the stone was now a cut-down piece. In 1839, Henry Philip Hope, a renowned financer, bought the diamond and since then, the diamond is known by his and his family’s name as Hope Diamond. Henry Philip Hope did not face any curse. Was he lucky or was there no curse at all?
11. The Hope Diamond was later inherited by Lord Francis Hope. Francis Hope was ill-fated. He married Mary Yohe – an American show girl. The two lived beyond their means and eventually Francis Hope had to sell the Hope Diamond and he declared bankruptcy. Was it the cursed diamond? Before Francis Hope, the diamond stayed with three generations of Hope family and none of them actually faced ill fate. So, it was perhaps gambling habits of Francis Hope that was the root of his misfortune rather than the curse.
12. Mary Yohe on the other hand ran away with one of the rivals of Francis Hope. She then remarried a few times and eventually died of poverty at the age of 72. Curse? Who knows!
13. The Hope Diamond eventually reached Pierre Cartier, an American jeweler after changing hands a few times. He actually escaped any kind of bad luck or misfortune because of the so called curse. It is being said that Cartier actually exaggerated the stories of curse to sell the diamond to Evalyn Walsh McLean. The reason why he did this that McLean told her husband that anything that is considered to be bad luck for others turns out to be a good luck charm for her.
14. In a book about Hope Diamond, Susanne Patch says that it was possibly Pierre Cartier who started the whole curse concept. The argument Patch provides is that the idea of a curse attached to the Hope Diamond actually surfaced in twentieth century.
15. Evalyn Walsh McLean eventually bought the diamond after Cartier had reset the diamond on a new mount. Before that McLean was not interested in buying the diamond because she did not like the mount.
16. Despite the fact that McLean considered the Hope Diamond to be her good luck charm, people actually say that the curse struck her. Though nothing actually happened to McLean but she did suffer a lot in terms of her family losses.
17. Vinson, first born son of McLean, died at the age of 9 because of a car crash. At the age of 25, McLean’s daughter committed suicide. McLean’s husband was confined to a mental asylum after he was declared insane. He died at the institution in 1941. Was it the legendary curse in action?
18. Harry Winston, a jeweler from New York, then bought the Hope Diamond from McLean estate in 1947. While some people say that Winston sold the diamond to Smithsonian Institution, the truth is that he actually donated the diamond. Winston escaped any kind of curse.
19. The Hope Diamond is today located at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the diamond is put on display. Nothing has actually happened to anyone at the Smithsonian Museum.
20. Unfortunately, the postman who delivered the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution had to face ill-fate. He met an accident but that was not fatal. He survived. However, his dog and his wife died sometime later. The question is, how old was his dog and we don’t really know how his wife died and at what age. That was not all. Even the postman’s house was caught on fire!
The question is, ‘is there a real curse associated with the Hope Diamond?’ Perhaps no! The stories were only made up just like that of the Tutankhamen’s Curse.
Quick Facts about the Hope Diamond
- The Hope Diamond was initially 115 carats.
- Some believe that it was 112 3⁄16 carats.
- It was cut twice and currently is measures 45.52 carats.
- It is the largest blue diamond in world.
- When exposed to ultraviolet light, the Hope Diamond exhibits red phosphorescence.