Haunted Gems: The Hope Diamond

Halloween might be officially over, but there’s always time for one more scare! And what gemstone best represents Halloween and the Day of the Dead, especially with so many lives claimed to its name? Yes, we’re taking a look at the infamous Hope Diamond.

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Over 14 people have supposedly died because of the Hope’s curse, including Marie Antoinette and Sultan Abdul Hamid of Turkey, along with many others of unconfirmed origin. The curse originated when the diamond was taken from India, much like our previous blog about the Purple Sapphire of Delhi. The diamond, which was either a decoration for a statue or the statue’s eye, was first brought to France from India by Jean-Baptiste Tavernier. After travelling with it for some time, the then-called Tavernier Diamond was sold to King Louis XIV of France. At the time, the raw, uncut diamond was a stunning 116 carats! Though he was paid a small fortune for the gem, Tavernier wouldn’t get much time to spend it off: during a trip to Constantinople, he was attacked and killed by wild dogs.

 

Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, the 'original owner,' of the Hope Diamond
Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, the ‘original owner,’ of the Hope Diamond

Once in the hands of Louis XIV, it was passed down through his family for a pair of generations before ending up in the palms of Marie Antoinette, whom as we well know was beheaded along with her husband during the French Revolution. From there, it passed into England, where it earned the name of its owner Henry Thomas Hope. It passed through his family before settling with a distant relative, Lord Francis Hope, whom it troubled with financial hardships and tribulation. His Mistress, an acclaimed singer named May Yohe, stole the diamond from him and took it back with her to the United States. After it left her possession, however, she began to lose her voice, and died disgraced and poor in her older age.

The hope diamond in its new temporary setting called “Embracing Hope” that was designed by Henry Winston Inc. and was unveiled and place on public display November 18th, 2010 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Hope Diamond’s donation to the museum.
The hope diamond in its new temporary setting called “Embracing Hope” that was designed by Henry Winston Inc. and was unveiled and place on public display November 18th, 2010 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Hope Diamond’s donation to the museum.

It rested for a time with a large jewelry firm in the Americas, during which time the firm faltered during the Great Depression. The Hope Diamond was sold off to a wealthy Turkish jewelry collector, to try and keep the business afloat. That collector, the very same year, had to sell the diamond himself because of his own crippling debts. It passed amongst several prominent families in the United States and abroad, including the Cartier family, before finally coming to rest in the Smithsonian Institute. To this day, it remains displayed at the Institute. Hopefully, nothing ill will befall the Smithsonian!