The hope Diamond which ruined its owners’ lives
“The King’s jewel,” “The blue of France” – these are some nicknames for the most mysterious and seemingly dangerous gem in history. The selected few who were “lucky” enough to possess the famous Hope Diamond died horrific deaths. But in the beginning, nobody could foresee the trouble…
From a temple to King
The gemstone, which is now called the Hope Diamond, was formed deep within the Earth more than 1 billion years ago! According to Karl Shuker, British crypto-zoologist and author of the book “The Unexplained,” the diamond was originally used as one of the decorations of an Indian temple idol.
But one day a Hindu priest decided it was far too beautiful and valuable to leave there and plucked it out. He was severely punished, of course, but the Hope Diamond was already out of the temple and in the hands of a famous French merchant – Jean-Baptiste Tavernier. And here’s where the story becomes a little blurry.
Some say that Tavernier stole the diamond from the previous owner, while others are sure he bought it. Rumor also has it that Tavernier had a serious raging fever not long after he got the marvelous Hope Diamond. One thing is for sure – he quickly sold it to King Louis XIV of France, along with a couple of other goodies.
Evil curse: what happened to King Louis XIV
King Louis XIV decided to change the famous diamond a bit and asked his jeweler to make it triangular and set it in gold. After two years of work, the Hope Diamond was ready. The king usually wore it on his neck for ceremonial occasions.
The diamond quickly caught everyone’s attention and got nicknamed “The Blue Diamond of the Crown” and “French Blue.” However, the Hope Diamond curse got to King Louis XIV as well – he died suffering of gangrene. Moreover, all but one of his children didn’t make it passed their childhood, though it wasn’t that uncommon those days.
The King’s successor, King Louis XV, asked the court jeweler to reset the diamond once again for the Order of the Golden Fleece. Then came Louis XVI who, according to some sources, often let his wife, Marie Antoinette, wear the beautiful gem. Well, we know how that went, don’t we? Both Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were executed by guillotine during the French revolution. The Hope Diamond was stolen from the Royal Storehouse shortly after.
The diamond gets to England
A couple of years passed and the diamond was suddenly discovered in England. Well how did it get there? Several sources confirmed that it was actually owned by King George IV of the United Kingdom.
Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but this king’s life story wasn’t that happy either – he decreased the prestige of the monarchy and was one of the most unpopular rulers in the history of the UK.
Eventually, his unhealthy lifestyle made him extremely obese and almost completely blind from cataracts. He didn’t leave any descendants and died from gastrointestinal bleeding. George IV also left enormous debts, so after his death the Hope Diamond was, apparently, sold through private channels.
… and changes owners all the time
The next recorded owner of the mysterious and terrifying diamond was rich London banker Thomas Hope. After his death, his brother Henry Philip Hope got the diamond and even put it in his gem collection catalog in 1839.
However, Henry died that same year! That raised only one question: who gets his large and spectacular gem collection now? Henry’s nephews, Thomas’ sons, and his wife spent 10 years in court, battling for their rights to own the collection, but in the end it got split up.
The “happy” owner was Henry’s oldest nephew Henry Thomas Hope. Surprisingly, the diamond stayed in the family for many years, hence its most commonly used name. But in 1902 it was sold once again to a London jewel merchant. After that, the Hope Diamond changed owners many times. One of them was the last Turkish sultan Abdul Hamid II.
Shortly after he bought the diamond, his life was completely changed by the military revolution of the Young Turks. He was deported and spent his last days in captivity. After this tragic story, the Hope Diamond was bought by none other than Pierre Cartier. He reset the diamond and sold it to the McLean family. If only they knew what was going to happen next…
Tragedies of McLean family
At first everything was perfectly fine. Evalyn Walsh McLean absolutely adored the Hope Diamond and wore it almost every single day. Sometimes she even put it in her dog’s collar and allowed it to wear it, as long as it was in the apartment. But the happiness didn’t last long.
First, Evalyn’s mother-in-law died. Then her 9-year-old son was in a car accident, and didn’t make it. This broke her and her husband so much that he actually left for another woman and later died in a mental hospital. At the same time their family business (the McLean family owned the famous Washington Post, by the way) went bankrupt.
But the misfortunes didn’t stop there – Evalyn’s daughter passed away when she was just 25! Nonetheless, Evalyn didn’t believe in the Hope Diamond curse and the jewel was still kept in the family. Then Evalyn died, and, as the family was carrying huge debts, the rest of her children had to sell the diamond to improve their financial situation.
Doesn’t say here what finally happened to the dog. Undaunted by rumors of the curse, famous American jeweler Harry Winston was the next to buy the diamond. So for the next 10 years or so, the Hope Diamond was the hot new thing at many exhibits and charity events held by Harry Winston Inc. However, it didn’t stay in the company for long.
Where is the diamond now?
Harry Winston decided to donate the diamond to the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of Natural History. And, believe it or not, it’s still there to this day! Now the Hope Diamond weighs a little bit over 45 carats, still has its deep greyish-blue color, and even produces a dangerous red glow if you decide to expose it to short-wave ultraviolet light. Why would you do that? I don’t know.
Needless to say, it’s still worth a crazy amount of money! So if you wanna see this legendary gem with your own two eyes, the museum is always open for visitors. Despite the diamond’s rich history, there are still heated debates as to whether it’s actually cursed or not. Some people are sure that all the legends about the jewel’s cursed origins were simply created to boost its popularity.
I mean, the sales for the Hope Diamond were always pretty high! Others say that the diamond wasn’t originally stolen from India at all – someone just bought it from there. And, hold on to your seat, its natural color was white! Unless you hold it to the light, then you’ll see beautiful light blue rays.
How many people it “killed”
In 1911, the New York Times came out with a whole list of the diamond’s supposed “victims.” The list consisted of about 14 people who died tragic deaths not long after possessing or even holding the Hope Diamond. Still, even if the curse does exist, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, King Louis XIV, Pierre Cartier, and many others died at a pretty old age.
Of course, nobody knows what the Hope Diamond is all about for sure, but one thing is certain – it remains one of the most popular attractions in the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum and still catches everyone’s attention!
Do you know any other items with long and fascinating history? Let me know down in the comments! If you learned something new today, then rate this article “The hope Diamond which ruined its owners’ lives” byBright Side and share it with your friends!
Credit: Bright Side