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The Hope Diamond

The Hope Diamond; a beautiful blue diamond weighing 45.52 carats, and perhaps the most notorious gem in history.  It was said to have a curse on because a thief stole it from the eye of a statue of the Hindu goddess, Sita. Since then the trail of unlucky owners is enough to make you believe in curses.

The Hope Diamond
1974. The Hope Diamond, one of the largest of all blue diamonds, exhibited at the National Museum of Natural History. The gem is slightly lopsided, possibly because the bottom of the teardrop shape was cut away so that the original stolen jewel could not be identified. The setting is a circlet of smaller white diamonds on a chain of diamonds. Image credit: Unknown, Public Domain, Link

A French trader, Tavernier, bought it in India and sold it to Louis XIV, and on his very next trip to India, Tavernier was killed by wild dogs!  It was then inherited by Louis XVI and Mary Antoinette, who had their heads cut off. Shortly after their executions the diamond was stolen and was re-cut by a Dutch diamond cutter, William Fals, who died of grief after his son, Hendrik, stole the gem from him. Soon after that Hendrik committed suicide.

In 1830, the diamond (then called the French Blue), resurfaced in London. Twenty years and a day after the robbery, just when the statue of limitations on prosecution for the theft expires, Henry Hope bought it and passed it on to his nephew, Lord Francis Hope, who didn’t hold on to his wealth for very long and lost his leg in a hunting accident.  An Eastern European Prince gave it to an actress of the Folies Bergere… and later shot her.

Another owner and his family plunged to their death in a car accident. Abdul Hamid II , a Turkish sultan, owned the diamond only a few months before he was toppled from his throne in 1909.

Then there was Evelyn McLean, wife of owner of The Washington Post, who bought it from Cartier, who promised to refund her if there was a death in her family within 6 months of purchase. Her son was killed in a car accident, her husband died in a mental hospital, and her daughter committed suicide. The business started failing and she had no choice but to auction off The Washington Post. At the auction she was begging people to take the diamond in exchange for her keeping the business. Nobody wanted it and the paper was sold for small change.

The next owner, Harry Winston, mailed it with ordinary mail as a donation to the Smithsonian Institution where it has been on display ever since.

A curse?  Coincidence? Decide for yourself. But if I was offered the stone, I wouldn’t want it!

— Reinette


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