Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hope Diamond - Famous Diamond

For my first post, I thought I would start with what started my obsession with jewelry. I always had a fascination for jewelry from a young age, but it was during a school trip to Washington D.C. where I visited the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and saw the Hope Diamond up close and in person did I really become obsessed with jewelry. If you ever get a chance to visit the Museum I highly recommend it, not only to see the wonderful jewelry and gemstones that are on display, but the other exhibits as well. Although the jewelry on display is pretty impressive. The Hope Diamond has a long and interesting past. It started out as the Tavernier diamond weighing in at 112 3/16 carats, its current weight is only 45.52 carats. The diamond was then sold to King Louis XIV of France in 1668 and was recut in 1673 by the court jeweler reducing its weight to 67 1/8 carat stone. It then became know as the "Blue Diamod of the Crown" or the "French Blue". The "French Blue" was then stolen during the looting of the palace of Marie Antoinette ad Louis XVI, in 1792. In 1812 John Francillion described a deep blue diamond that was being held by a London diamond merchant. It has been suggested that King George IV of England purchased the diamond through private back channels, because of his enormous debts. The next owner in 1839 and from where the diamond got its name, Henry Philip Hope. There is no information over how, from where, from whom and for how much he paid for the diamond. After his death the stone was passed on to his nephew, but he and his sisters had to sell it to pay off his debts. It was bought by a London dealer who sold it to Joseph Frankels and Sons of New York City. But then it was once again sold on because of the need for cash. Selim Habib the next owner also had it up for auction soon after purchasing it. C.H. Rosenau bought it but sold it that same to Pierre Cartier. Finally in 1912 Mrs. Evalyn Walsh McLean bought the diamond which was mounted as a headpiece on a three-tiered circlet of large white diamonds by Cartier. It was at a later date when it was transformed into a pendant on a diamond necklace as it is mostly known as. Harry Winston Inc. purchased it from Mrs. McLean's estate. This was not the only famous diamond in her collection. She also had the Star of the East, Star of the South, a 9 carat green diamond, and the "McLean" 31 carat diamond. I will be posting about these famous diamonds in the coming days. For 10 years it was on display at many exhibits and charitable events around the world. On November 10, 1958, it was donated to the Smithsonian. It has remained for the most part at the museum, only leaving four times since the donation. A couple special notes about the Hope Diamond: 1. actual weight 45.52, it was thought to be 44.5 carats 2. it is a type IIb diamond which are semiconductive and usually phosphoresce 3. a strong red color after exposure to ultraviolet light 4. the blue is caused by the trace amounts of boron in the diamond. The pendant surrounding the Hope diamond has 16 white diamonds in both pear and cushion cuts. There is a bail attached so that Mrs. McLean could attach other diamonds like the Star of the East. The necklace chain has 45 more white diamonds. Even as impressive as that all sounds I can only imagine what would the original diamond looked like. And so begins my love affair with jewelry and gemstones. I hope you enjoy reading my post about the gemstones and jewelry I love.