The Hope diamond

The Hope Diamond is one of the most famous jewels in the world, with ownership records dating back almost four centuries. Its much-admired rare blue color is due to trace amounts of boron atoms. Weighing 45.52 carats, its exceptional size has revealed new findings about the formation of gemstones.

The jewel is believed to have originated in India, where the original (larger) stone was purchased in 1666 by French gem merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier as the Tavernier Blue. The Tavernier Blue was cut and yielded the French Blue (Le bleu de France), which Tavernier sold to King Louis XIV in 1668. Stolen in 1791, it was recut, with the largest section acquiring its “Hope” name when it appeared in the catalogue of a gem collection owned by a London banking family called Hope in 1839. After going through numerous owners, it was sold to Washington socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean, who was often seen wearing it. It was purchased in 1949 by New York gem merchant Harry Winston, who toured it for a number of years before giving it to the National Museum of Natural History in 1958, where it has since remained on permanent exhibition.

The Hope Diamond has long been rumored to carry a curse, possibly due to agents trying to arouse interest in the stone. It was last reported to be insured for $250 million.