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Hope Diamond

The Hope Diamond is a large deep blue diamond. It was originally mined from the Kollur mine in Golconda, India, and was a crudely cut triangular shape of 112 3/16-carats. It was purchased by French merchant traveller Jean-Baptiste Tavernier and sold to King Louis XIV of France in 1668 and was re-cut by Sieur Pitau, the court jeweler and produced a 67 1/8-carat stone. The stone became known as "The Blue Diamond of the Crown" or the "French Blue" and was set in gold and suspended on a neck ribbon for the King to wear on ceremonial occasions. During the French Revolution when King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were held in prison, the diamond was stolen.

A similar blue diamond was in the possession of a London diamond merchant in 1812, this diamond which is now known as the "Hope Diamond" is believed to be the re-cut French Blue. It was acquired by King George IV, but after his death in 1830 it was sold privately to clear his debts.

It next appeared in the gem collection of Henry Philip Hope in 1839. It had a number of incarnations including being re-set by Pierre Cartier in 1909. It was acquired by New York jeweller, Harry Winston, who donated it to the Smithsonian Institution in 1958. The most recent examinations show it to weigh 45.52 carats and is described as "Fancy dark grayish-blue". The stone exhibits a unique delayed fluorescence; like many other gemstones, it emits a dim light under ultraviolet light, but when the light source is removed, the diamond produces a brilliant red phosphorescence.

The diamond is legendary for the misfortunes it supposedly visits upon its possessors, a fate that does not seem to have afflicted the Smithsonian. Note, however, that almost all prominent gems have such legends associated with them. See curse.