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  • Writer's pictureSiheli Siyathra

Curse of Hope Diamond

‘The King’s Jewel,’ ‘the Blue of France’ -- These are some of the nicknames given 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...

The gemstone, which is now called the Hope Diamond, was formed deep within the Earth. More than one billion years ago. According to Karl Shuker (British crypto-zoologist) and the author of the book ‘The Unexplained,’ the diamond was originally used to decorate an Indian temple. But one day, a Hindu priest decided it was far too valuable and beautiful to just leave it there. He plucked it out. He was severely punished. But the diamond was already out of the temple and in the hands of a famous French merchant -- Jean-Baptiste Tavernier. And this is where the story becomes a little blurry.

Some say that Tavernier stole the diamond, while others are sure he bought it. Rumour also has it that Tavernier had a serious raging fever not long after he got the Hope Diamond. He quickly sold it to King Louis XIV of France.

King Louis XIV wanted to change the diamond and asked his jeweller to make it triangular and set it in gold. After two years of work, the Hope Diamond was ready. The King wore it on his neck for ceremonial occasions. The gem attracted everyone’s attention. However, the Hope Diamond’s curse got into King Louis, too. He died suffering from Gangrene. Moreover only one of his children made it past childhood. But it wasn’t that uncommon back then.

The King’s successor, King Louis XV, asked his jeweller to reset the diamond once again, for the Order of the Golden Fleece. Then came King Louis XVI who, according to some sources, often let his wife (Marie Antoinette) wear the gem. We all know how that ended, don’t we? Both King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were executed by guillotine during the French revolution. Ouch!

The Hope Diamond was stolen from the Royal Storehouse shortly after. A couple of years passed, and the diamond was suddenly discovered in England! Well, how did it get there? Several sources confirm that it was owned by King George IV of the UK. The King’s life story didn’t go well 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 blind from cataracts. He didn’t leave any descendants and died from Gastrointestinal Bleeding. King George IV also left enormous debts, so after his death, the Hope Diamond was sold through private channels.

The next recorded owner of the diamond was a 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. But he died that same year! Who gets the gem catalogue now? Henry’s nephews, Thomas’s sons, and his wife spent 10 years in court, battling for their rights to own it. In the end, it got split up. The happy owner of the Hope Diamond was Henry Thomas Hope (Nephew of Henry Philip Hope).

Surprisingly, the gem stayed in their family for many years, hence its name. In 1902, it was sold once again to a London jewel merchant. After that, the 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 his tragic story, the Hope Diamond was bought by Pierre Cartier. He reset the diamond and sold it to the McLean family. Only if they knew what was coming. At first, everything was perfectly fine. Evalyn Walsh McLean adored the Hope Diamond and wore it every single day. Sometimes, she even let her dog wear it, as long as it was in the apartment. But the happiness didn’t last. First, Evelyn’s mother-in-law died. Then her 9-year-old son died in a car accident. Shortly after, her husband left and later died in a Mental Hospital. At the same time, their family business (The McLean family owned the Washington Post) went bankrupt. Evalyn’s daughter died when she was 25. Then Evalyn died. As the family carried huge debts, the gem was sold. Wonder what happened to the dog?

Undaunted by the rumours of the curse, famous American jeweller Harry Winston bought the diamond. So, for the next decade, 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. Harry Winston donated it to the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum Of Natural History. Believe it or not, it’s still there today!

Now the Hope Diamond weighs a bit over 45 carats, still has its deep greenish-blue colour, and even produces a dangerous red glow if you decide to expose it to UV rays. But who'd be crazy enough to do that?

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