According to the legend, the Hope Diamond brought great misfortune to the person who owned and wore the jewel, with tales of suicide, murder, bankruptcy, failed marriages and tragedy. Frankel’s hoped to make a quick sale and a big profit, as they’d put up much of their business capital to buy the Hope Diamond. It was said that only a person with a pure heart could escape a doomed fate — in this case a "pure heart" meaning someone who did not try to sell it but instead generously gave it away. Mirrors, windows, and the dazzling use of light in the architecture and the décor are everywhere. However, there are many people who would think twice about buying it, for it is said to be cursed. The Hope Diamond is thought to be cursed as it was stolen from a Sita idol in India. The Hope Blue Diamond is one of the most well-documented blue diamonds in the world. It was recorded in the royal inventory and renamed the French Blue, valued at about 3.6 million dollars in today’s currency. There, tragedy, murder, kidnapping, and insanity followed the possession of the ill-gotten gem. Directed by Delbert Mann. By On November 10, 1958, Winston acquiesced, sending it through U.S. Mail in a box wrapped in brown paper as simple registered mail insured for $1 million at a cost of $145.29, of which $2.44 was for postage and the balance insurance. He lost his fortune and his wife, and after a series of court cases was allowed to sell the Hope Diamond. The Hope Diamond was originally unearthed in the mines of Southwest India along the Kistna River. Instead, the over-valued diamond sat in their vault. Following Winston, Mrs. John Logan donated the 423-carat Logan Sapphire. Louis XIV accumulated the greatest collection of crown jewels on the continent. The basic story goes like this: The blue diamond had originally been a roughly cut gem of about 112-carats when French diamond merchant Jean Baptiste Tavernier first acquired it in the Golconda region of India in the mid-1600s. According to the legend the diamond sparkled in the brow of an Indian temple until it was plucked out by a thief, whose punishment for this act was a slow and agonizing death. The Great Tours: England, Scotland, and Wales, the alleged curse and the unusual way the Hope diamond arrived at the Smithsonian in 1958, Smithsonian artifacts from America’s modern myth machine: Hollywood, The Smithsonian Collection—Marian Anderson’s Mink Coat, A Walk through the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, Newly Discovered Harriet Tubman Photograph on Display at Smithsonian. The remaining money was to be used for a possible ransom. The original thief was torn to pieces by dogs and everyone else who has been involved with the diamond met horrible deaths and bad luck. Finally, Indian Hindu priests retrieved the diamond and brought it back home. He viewed his reign as one of enlightenment, of letting in the light of divine kingship, of letting knowledge, beauty, and the arts shine. After Hope's death, the diamond passed through the hands of several owners. There was a problem. Evalyn did not believe that the stone would bring her bad luck. The diamond was missing for a few decades, and was recut into a smaller gem. For the next 10 years, the Hope diamond was shown at many exhibits and charitable events worldwide. The curse of the legendary blue Hope Diamond on all its owners is dramatized from the gem's discovery in 17th Century India until its donation to the Smithsonian Institute. Pierre Cartier was enchanted with the novel The Moonstone, written decades earlier by English author Wilkie Collins. Thus the curse — if indeed there ever was one — ended when jeweler Harry Winston donated (not sold) it to the Smithsonian Institution in 1958, where it can be seen today. And the curse? Legend has it that the diamond once lay in the statue of the goddess Sita, wife of Rama, the 7th Avatar of Vishnu, serving as her eye. It's a … Then years later, British colo… Unfortunately, tragedy did strike Evalyn multiple times throughout her life. 6 Famous Historical Curses], The Hope diamond is the most famous cursed diamond in the world, but it is only one of many. Evalyn died in 1947, and the estate sold the Hope Diamond to Harry Winston. While the curse story is made up, it also reveals the diamond’s history, which is fascinating. The Hope Diamond is one of the most iconic items in the Smithsonian's collections, but this glittering gem is rumored to have a dark side. Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette, who were beheaded, are often cited as victims of the curse. These stories blamed the executions of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Hope’s bankruptcy and divorce, and Frankel’s collapse on the malevolent influence of the blue diamond. The Hope family was among England’s wealthiest. The French Blue diamond went missing for some 20 years until a smaller 45-carat blue diamond turned up in London in 1812 in the possession of an English diamond merchant named Daniel Eliason. With such a large pool of hundreds of people (and such a broad range of maladies), it would be surprising if a few dozen tragedies hadn't affected people tangentially connected to the Hope diamond over three centuries. Well, as curator Jeff Post says, “Since the arrival of the Hope Diamond, the National Gem Collection has grown steadily in size and stature and is today considered by many to be the finest public display of gems in the world. This breathtaking blue diamond is 45.52 carats and is classified as a Type llb diamond. The idea was that somehow the wealthy, who had flaunted their wealth by obtaining the treasurers of others, were now getting their comeuppance from higher supernatural powers. These two kings wore the diamond as part of their knightly decoration, something called the Order of the Golden Fleece. It formed as crystallized carbon about 90 miles below the earth’s surface about a billion years ago. There it rested until it was looted by a Muslim conqueror and taken to his treasury. If the curse were simply that whoever owned it would soon die a bloody death, that would be both terrifying and supernatural. Unluckily for him, the diamond was guarded by a potent curse, and the thief would die an agonizing death long after. He could not find the French Blue. In Collins’ story, a large, yellow diamond had formed the eye of an idol of a Hindu deity in a temple in India. You will receive a verification email shortly. Eliason sold the blue diamond to British King George IV, and some called it the George Blue Diamond. The beautiful 45.52 blue diamond is also said to be cursed, bringing misfortune and tragedy to its many owners over the years. The “Heart of the Ocean” necklace on the Titanic was actually a sapphire and was certainly not the Hope Diamond. Remarkably, even James Todd, the postman who delivered the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution, seems to have fallen victim to the curse. They did not cut gemstones the way we do. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Hope Diamond is the alleged curse it spread to its owners over the last four centuries. However, the Hope diamond curse becomes far less mysterious when we realize that it's not just death but any misfortune (including, apparently, financial ruin, suicide, beheadings, and being eaten by wild dogs) that's included in the legend—and it's not just bad things that afflicted the owners but also their extended families and friends as well. The Hope diamond - purportedly cursed and decidedly splendid - was cut from another stone. Seeing or holding it was the prize for buying a raffle ticket or attending a benefit. The Curse of the Hope Diamond Movie Poster Many others perished after owning the diamond, but perhaps its most famous owner, Evalyn Walsh McLean suffered the most tragedy. Benjamin Radford - Live Science Contributor It rose to the surface relatively slowly up through a volcanic vent on India’s Deccan plateau, then was carried by rivers and streams to the alluvial field where it was eventually mined. Thank you for signing up to Live Science. Diamonds have fascinated mankind for centuries, and it's not surprising that folklore and superstitions have arisen involving good and bad luck associated with them. It is believed to have been around 112 carats originally and was placed in the brow of a temple idol.The next time it was mentioned in texts was when it was stolen by a French merchant who then sold it to King Louis XIV in 1642 at a substantial profit. Pierre Cartier was enchanted with the novel The Moonstone, written decades earlier by English author Wilkie Collins. This story by Collins was a cautionary tale about divine or supernatural payback for the immorality of colonialism. Then years later, British colonial soldiers looted the treasury in battle, taking the diamond back to England. Curse of the Hope Diamond The legend is said to begin with a theft. The curse of the diamond lingered in the royal household, now under control of the government, until the moment it became vulnerable again. French monarchs, an heiress, and at least one unlucky postman have met misfortune after possessing it—though does that really constitute a curse? It is about the size of a walnut. The Hope diamond curse story is in some ways a morality fable about the cardinal sin of greed. Finally sold, the Hope Diamond and its curse crossed the ocean and established their effects in the United States. In 1839, the diamond was acquired by Henry Thomas Hope, which is how it got its name. The misfortune attributed to the diamond would strain the imagination of soap opera writers: Owners committed suicide, were murdered, and left penniless through bad investments. No. On 28 January 1911 he sold it to Edward B. McLean on behalf of his wife Evalyn who became owner of the diamond and mocked the curse joking that things that brought other people bad luck brought her good luck. Well, that’s long been a treasured item in our National Postal Museum, illustrating the trust the famous jeweler placed in the U.S. postal service to deliver the mail. The original thief, according to legend, died a slow and painful death, while the later owners, oblivious to the curse until it was too late, suffered as well. Stay up to date on the coronavirus outbreak by signing up to our newsletter today. A group of thieves broke into the Royal Storehouse and took many treasured items, including the Hope Diamond. He wore the blue diamond in a new golden fleece decoration. For diamonds, it was the same thing. Cartier already had a relationship with the immensely wealthy couple; he had sold them a large diamond when they vacationed in Paris after their marriage. Learn more about examples of American style. To many this stone is a cursed item, to us however it is a truly remarkable piece of art and history. George IV celebrated the diamond as a trophy for defeating his enemy Napoleon. 30 April 2014. Small amounts of boron molecules embedded in its structure have given the diamond an unusual blue color. In 1887 the diamond was inherited by Lord Francis Hope, Henry Philip Hope’s great-grandnephew. They accumulated land, castles, Dutch and Flemish paintings, and other riches. Leonard and Victoria Wilkinson gave the 68-carat Victoria Transvaal diamond; Janet Annenberg Hooker gave a large emerald and suite of yellow diamonds, and so on. They exemplified the later years of the Gilded Age, using, flaunting, and even, some would say, wasting their gigantic fortune on over-the-top conspicuous consumption. They owned some of Washington’s most luxurious and valuable real estate, in addition to homes in Newport, Rhode Island, Bar Harbor, Maine, and Palm Beach, Florida. They’d aided American colonial commerce and helped finance the Louisiana Purchase. He simply called the blue diamond “number 1.” But after some years, it became known as the Hope Diamond. When Napoleon later became emperor of France, he swore to recover all the French crown jewels, including the blue diamond. The diamond has been surrounded by a mythology of a reputed "curse" to the effect that it brings misfortune and tragedy to persons who own it or wear it, but there are strong indications that such stories were fabricated to enhance the stone's mystery and appeal, since increased publicity usually raised the gem's value and newsworthiness. His website is www.BenjaminRadford.com. Since nearly everyone (certainly any adult old and rich enough to own such a precious jewel) has something bad or tragic happen to him or her — from an accident to a disease to a death in the family — it's not difficult to make a list of such events and attribute them to the Hope diamond. When Napoleon later became emperor of France, he swore to recover all the French crown jewels, including the blue diamond. 1958: With the hope of creating a national jewel collection, Harry Winston donated the Hope diamond to the Smithsonian Institution. Of course, many discounted the idea of a curse. Evalyn actually pawned the Hope Diamond in 1932 to hire an investigator to track down the kidnappers of Charles Lindbergh’s baby. Since that time, curators at the Smithsonian, chiefly Jeff Post, have conducted numerous scientific studies of the diamond. Karl Shuker, in his book "The Unexplained," relates the origin of this jeopardous gem: "it sparkled in the brow of an Indian temple idol — until it was impiously plucked out by a thieving Hindu priest, whose punishment for this unholy act was a slow and agonizing death. [Image Gallery: Two Ancient Curses]. She lent the diamond to brides as “something blue.” She even had her great dane, Mike, wear the diamond around his neck. McLean, Virginia is named after the family. The socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean was next. The Hope Diamond is displayed in the National Museum of Natural History. SCIENCE HAS proved what has long been rumoured. According to the legend associated with it, it originally began its life in India within the forehead of a Hindu idol, from which it was plucked by a thief. He could not find the French Blue. In essence, the gem is a biopsy of the earth. When it did, it was given an acquisition number, just like every other Smithsonian object. The Hope Diamond is a lustrous blue gem weighing 45.52 carats. Newspapers proclaimed that maybe the Hope Diamond really was cursed, and they wondered who would next be struck by the diamond’s malignant light rays. Ned McLean went insane, and the family lost the Washington Post in bankruptcy, despite Evalyn trying to use the Hope Diamond as collateral for a loan. Watch it now, on The Great Courses Plus. The diamond literally embodied the power of the god. This fact only strengthens the belief in the minds of the superstitious that large diamonds are the cause of the misfortune of their owners.". Visit our corporate site. When she and her husband were imprisoned after the outbreak of the French Revolution, the crown jewels were put in a warehouse, publicly exhibited, and then, in September 1792, were stolen. About the size of a walnut, the stone is estimated to be worth a quarter of a billion dollars. Frankel’s was diamond-rich but cash poor and going bankrupt. But he failed. Francis bet badly on horses, business enterprises, and an American showgirl wife, May Yohé. Please deactivate your ad blocker in order to see our subscription offer. It wasn't just the French who suffered from the curse. Login | This, it was believed, maximized their ability to protect one from evil influences. New York, Over the years at the Smithsonian through thorough research, we’ve found that the curse story was made up, a modern folktale elaborated by French jeweler Pierre Cartier in Paris in 1910 to entice Evalyn Walsh McLean to buy the gem. © A long history of blood, theft, intrigue, loss of empire, loss of life and other disasters belongs to each of the most celebrated diamonds, and for the most part the stories are historically true. Here is the list of those people and how they suffered from the supposed curse: Tavernier, who sold the diamond to Louis XIV, was destitute in his old age and died of a fever on a journey to the East hoping to recoup his fortune. Marjorie Merriweather Post donated the Napoleon necklace and the 31-carat Blue Heart Diamond. Evalyn wore the diamond at extravagant parties, paraded the diamond around Washington, and made much of it publicly, until 1919. The diamond literally embodied the power of the god. Hope Diamond Curse. Evalyn was entranced by Cartier’s story, and she decided, later, to buy the diamond. NY 10036. ... On September 11, 1792, the Hope Diamond was stolen from the house that stored the crown jewels. Kimberlite is a type of ingenious rock that is sometimes embedded with diamonds. Recall that Louis XIV was called the Sun King; if you have been to Versailles, you know why. But it was Tavernier who actually went to see the diamond mines first hand and who came back with the fullest descriptions of them. The Hope Diamond is a large and rare gemstone believed to have come from India around 1666. European gem cutters, influenced by Renaissance ideas of using optics and geometry to manipulate light, had learned how to cut diamonds predictably, and they would alter the stone’s reflective and refractive properties to let the light out of the diamond and let it shine. The Hope diamond phosphoresces a strong red color, which will last for several seconds after exposure to short wave ultra-violet light. The Hope Diamond is #217868. The curse story was only amplified by ensuing events. It was apparently unearthed in the Golconda mines by the Kistna River in southwest India, and made its European debut in 1642, when it was bought by a French merchant [who sold it to] King Louis XIV for a handsome profit ... but was mauled to death by a pack of wild dogs.". In November 1958, Winston donated the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution to help establish a national jewel collection. Currently the Hope Diamond is worth around 350 million dollars. The Hope Diamond, one of the most famous jewels in the world, has a history dating back almost four centuries. Read the mystery of the hope diamond curse. Benjamin Radford, M.Ed., is Deputy Editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and author of seven books including Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries. For the Smithsonian, the Hope Diamond has obviously been a source of good luck.” Great generosity has flowed from Winston’s philanthropic interest. His wife died, his leg was crushed, his dog was strangled, and his house burned down. Countdown: Real or Not? Subsequent owners of the diamond have, allegedly, been plagued with misfortune, suffering financial ruin, self-inflicted harm, failed marriages, early demises and insanity. It was viewed as one of the most unique stones ever pulled from the Golconda mines. A decade later, the diamond came to the Smithsonian. Since the Victorian Era, stories of a Hope Diamond curse has circulated. One of the most spectacular gems in the world is the Hope Diamond, a beautiful blue diamond weighing over 45 carats. It was as if all the negative energy that was locked inside the uncut diamond had now been unleashed upon its possessors because of the cutting. Over time, Evalyn Walsh McLean and the Hope Diamond became nearly inseparable. The idea was that gems absorbed negative influences and contained them in the stone, kind of like a Pandora’s box. 6 Famous Historical Curses, Unsafe levels of radiation found in Chernobyl crops, Scientists think they've detected radio emissions from an alien world, Lost artifact from Great Pyramid was just found in a cigar tin in Scotland, Angel, devil and blood-red heart appear at Martian south pole, 1,200-year-old pagan temple to Thor and Odin unearthed in Norway, Newly discovered fungi turn flies into zombies and devour them from the inside out. To some, Harry Winston got rid of the curse … The god had cursed the stone; an evil force would emanate rays from the stone and strike misfortune upon all who owned it until the gem was properly returned to the deity back in India. By the time he got the right to sell the Hope Diamond, his wife had left him for another man. BY Stacy Conradt. Other Indians wore smaller talismans with smaller and different gems for the same purpose. Formation: The diamond was formed around 1.1 billion years ago. In 1946, another tragedy struck. He attributed deaths, revolutions, bankruptcy, and divorce to the stone’s malevolent curse. In Evalyn’s autobiography, she expressed her ambivalence about the Hope Diamond, sometimes pooh-poohing the curse and other times wondering if the curse was payback for money and time misspent and frittered away. In fact there are dozens of others; according to "The Giant Book of Superstition" by Claudia de Lys, "Diamond superstitions are now found everywhere in the world. He also bought hundreds of diamonds, often trading them for pearls he acquired in the Middle East on the way. There was a multitude of stories told about how diamonds were obtained, stories that went back to ancient times, and were retold by the likes of people like Marco Polo. The diamond remained with the French royal family until it was stolen in 1792 during the French Revolution. Ranked as the most valuable diamond … Before owning the diamond, it was said this heiress lived quite a charmed life. In the pendant surrounding the Hope diamond are … 10 Victims of the Hope Diamond Curse. Instead, they tended to preserve as much of the stone as they could, only cutting out cracks and other imperfections. The acquisition of the diamond occurred during the Cold War and public anxiety was high: Turn down the diamond; don’t accept the Hope. Evalyn’s daughter Evie committed suicide. For this transgression, according to the legend, the stone would carry a curse of death until returned to the idol. Origins of the stone and Hope Diamond curse: 1. Tavernier sold the king the 112-carat blue diamond, along with about 200 other diamonds. The Hope Diamond curse story is more a morality fable about the cardinal sin of greed since nearly everyone has something bad or tragic happen to him or her. Rulers wore lots of diamonds and other gems—the bigger the better—and that would provide them the most protection. This 45-carat blue diamond, as drawn in a document of the time, is the same one that is in the Smithsonian today. Cartier wove together several different strains from historical accounts, a British novel, stories from the New York Times, and the London Times, and with that, he concocted his tale. However, in the months that followed, James Todd, that postman who delivered that package, suffered a series of misfortunes. Future US, Inc. 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, Among the victims of the Hope Diamond curse are numerous people who lived in France between 1668 and 1793. © The Teaching Company, LLC. Louis XIV wore it simply from a ribbon hanging from his neck or in a brooch. The curse continues. It was purchased by New York jeweler Joseph Frankel’s Sons & Company in 1901. Learn more about the California Gold Rush. While some of the owners are known to have indeed died bloody deaths (Marie Antoinette's beheading by guillotine being a prime example), many of the other tragedies attributed to the stone have never been confirmed and are little more than rumor. The Daily Beast writes that jewel broker Simon Moancharides, who also briefly owned the stone, drove his car off a cliff, soon after selling it. There are unconfirmed reports that it belonged to Britain's King George IV, whose estate sold it to pay off his enormous debts. Portuguese, French, Dutch, German, English dealers, and merchant traders flocked to India to procure diamonds, but no one acquired more gems or made better deals than Tavernier. Many letter writers wrote the Smithsonian and even President Eisenhower, while cartoonists parodied the idea of the United States and Uncle Sam being cursed. Cartier applied The Moonstone story to the Hope Diamond, telling the couple it was cursed by a Hindu god, and embellished a bit more, blaming the French, the Turkish, and other revolutions on its baleful influence. Since the beheading of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, the Hope Diamond is said to have been cursed, but some question whether or not the curse is real. Returning to France after one of those trips in 1668, he met with King Louis XIV of France at the newly built Versailles palace. Louis XIV had Tavernier’s blue diamond cut down from a roughly shaped 112 carats into a symmetrical, beautiful gem of 67 carats—and it sparkled and shined. After the king died in 1830, his executor, the Duke of Wellington, had to sell the blue diamond to pay off his debts. The money wasn’t needed, however, and the diamond was returned to her. Ned McLean went insane, and the family lost the Washington Post in bankruptcy, despite Evalyn trying to use the Hope Diamond as collateral for a loan. So how big is the Hope Diamond? Living beyond his means, Pelham-Clinton practically ruined the family in ten years. October 24, 2017. Those who came in contact with the diamond suffered failed marriages, dead children, drug addiction, insanity, and probably bad hair days and paper cuts as well. The Hope Diamond was finally sold, at a bargain price, to other diamond dealers, finally coming to the Cartier brothers in Paris. Experts in … Live Science is part of Future US Inc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. The Hope Diamond was finally sold, at a bargain price, to other diamond dealers, finally coming to the Cartier brothers in Paris. The 1907 Bankers’ Panic—essentially a recession—took its toll on the company. There it rested until it was looted by a Muslim conqueror and taken to his treasury. As well known as the diamond is, the curse that follows it through history may be even more famous and has inspired countless books. -Wikipedia. The diamond's blue coloration is attributed to trace amounts of boron in the stone. He sold it to Henry Philip Hope, a great diamond collector. Learn more about Smithsonian artifacts from America’s modern myth machine: Hollywood. Eliason didn’t say where it came from, but there was speculation that it was cut down from the French Blue. The Misfortunes of Evalyn Walsh McLean. Several centuries ago a large blue diamond from the forehead (or eye) of a statue of the Hindu goddess Sita was stolen. The first stories about the Hope Diamond being unlucky came in the financial pages of the New York Times in 1908; the chronicle noted that the gem was responsible for Frankel’s failure. Other newspapers in Washington and London picked up the story and made it increasingly elaborate, speaking of the baleful influences and power of the mysterious rays that emanated below the glittering surface of the diamond that unleashed evil upon those who possessed it. They used diamond dust and a very “secret ingredient”—olive oil put on a wheel—to cut diamonds. All rights reserved. Could the Hope Diamond have been the cause of this misfortune? There is no denying however, that many of those who took ownership of the stone experienced significant misfortune. The Hope diamond curse story is in some ways a morality fable about the cardinal sin of greed. The Hope Diamond is now enshrined in the redesigned Harry Winston Gallery at the Smithsonian, delighting and intriguing millions annually. The diamond was passed down as part of the French crown jewels to kings Louis XV and Louis XVI. Many believe that the idea of the curse was created to add more mystery to the stone and make it more appealing to prospective buyers. The Hope Diamond itself weighs 45.52 carats. In Collins’ story, a large, yellow diamond had formed the eye of an idol of a Hindu deity in a temple in India. The story goes that the curse began with the Tavernier Blue, which was the precursor to several large diamonds, including the Hope Diamond. It came with the setting crafted by Cartier and 16 1-1.5 carat diamonds surrounding the main blue stone, and a necklace of 42 diamonds, set in platinum. [Countdown: Real or Not? Curse of the Hope Diamond. A typical Eastern superstition is that the possession of extremely large diamonds always brings misfortune. The Hope Diamond has origins that are rather shrouded in mystery. There are apocryphal stories that this blue diamond was worn by Queen Marie Antoinette, but there is absolutely no evidence of that. Pandora’s box, so to speak, had been opened. The story of the curse appealed to the public and resonated with other curse stories of the era about the Titanic and Egyptian mummies. But he failed. Please refresh the page and try again. With Jim Boles, Elaine Bolton, Christopher Cary, Robert Clary. The diamond was initially embedded in kimberlite. Experts estimate the age of the stone to be 1.1 billion years old. The Hope curse, it turns out, was more or less a sensational story added by journalists in the late 1800s to sell newspapers. After a series of court cases was allowed to sell the Hope diamond is now in! '' skipped him over 45 carats, bankruptcy, and again the `` curse '' skipped.... Agonizing death long after are apocryphal stories that this blue diamond is a cursed item, to US however is! 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