Despite its long history in the public eye, the diamond known as The Hope Diamond still prompts many curious questions. Was the Hope Diamond cut from the great French Blue Diamond that was stolen during the French Revolution in 1792? Are there other blue diamonds that were cut from the same original parent stone as the Hope Diamond? Why does the Hope Diamond emit an curiously intense ember-orange glow after exposure to ultraviolet light? Well, that one is science. When exposed to ultraviolet light, it burns orange for a few seconds. That’s the boron in the stone.
Diamonds are also time travelers, having witnessed hundreds of millions to billions of years of Earth’s curious history, and more recently the lives of those that have cut, sold, and worn them. More interesting is the curious amounts of deaths attributed to this mysterious little stone.
The legend of the curse of the hope diamond began in India where a man named Tavernier supposedly stole a large blue diamond from the forehead of the Hindu idol Sita. He was then torn to pieces by wild dogs on a trip to Russia just after selling the diamond off. This is just a myth of course since no one really knows how he died. And the person who bought the diamond? King Louis XIV of course!
After the diamond was cut to enhance its brilliance, the king of France gave the stone the title “The Blue Diamond of the Crown” and often wore it around his neck with a blue ribbon. He died of gangrene.
In 1749, King Louis XV ordered for the diamond to be host to another ornate decoration for the Order of the Golden Fleece. But it wasn’t until the French Revolution when the Diamond took it’s most famous victims. King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette who inherited the diamond were beheaded, but was it really because of the Blue Diamond or their curious extravagance?
Princess de Lambelle, who also wore the diamond regularly, was beaten to death by a Parisian mob in a most horrific fashion – apparently hit with a hammer, decapitated, stripped, and disemboweled, among other things. Her head was impaled on a pike and carried to Marie Antoinette’s prison window.
Then…as the diamond was taken away from the dying French Monarchy, it was curiously stolen!
In 1813, a blue diamond was owned by a man in London named Daniel Eliason. No one is sure if the diamond was the famed Blue Diamond of the Crown since this one was almost 20 carats smaller, but since the clarity and cut is compared to that of the famed Blue Diamond scholars believe the stone was cut to hide it’s identity from libertines. In which case King George IV (the Hanover king whose debts are famous!) bought the diamond and after his death, was sold to pay off his debts.
A few lesser known and far less famous victims were two jewelers who came to have the gem. One whose son ended up murdering him and then killing himself. The other drove his car over a cliff and killed himself, his wife and his child.
At which point we come to the Hope family for whom the diamond gets its current name. Soon it came to the possession of Lord Francis Hope who had a very insatiable gambling habit. So, if the “curse” was not the cause of these sad deaths, what was?
Over the next 16 years, the Hope diamond went from one curious owner to the next, including Frenchman Jacques Colet, who committed suicide, and Russian Prince Ivan Kannitovitsky, a murder victim. In 1908, Turkish Sultan Abdul Hamid paid $400,000 for the diamond and promptly bestowed in on his favorite concubine, Surbaya. But within a year Hamid had stabbed Subaya to death and had been dethroned himself. Simon Montharides had it next until one evening his carriage overturned, killing him, along with his wife and infant daughter.
Now we come to Cartier, a famous American jeweler who bought the diamond and promoted the curious legend of its curse to hopefully win over expected buyers. The woman targeted was Mrs. Evalyn McLean who had proclaimed herself as a person who could change unlucky objects lucky. And thus Cartier emphasized the curse of the diamond in order to entice Mrs. McLean to buy it.
In her possession, the curse supposedly took her young son who died in a car crash, her daughter had committed suicide at the age of 25, Evalyn herself became addicted to morphine and her husband was declared legally insane and was committed until he died. This, of course, may be coincidence.
This is when it was then passed into the hands of Harry Winston who then donated it to the Smithsonian where it remains to this day. But, sadly, the curse still had an effect. The mailman who delivered the parcel with the diamond to the museum apparently had his leg crushed in a truck accident shortly thereafter. He also suffered a head injury in a separate accident. Oh, also, his house burned down. I even heard his dog died!
Whether you believe in curious curses or not, you have to admit…history is jammed packed with a slew of unexplained coincidences, don’t you think? I mean…all this for one stone?