This upcoming Valentine’s Day can be an opportunity to celebrate hope. (Hope is a good gift to celebrate regardless of whether or not you are in a romantic relationship.) Consider the most famous jewel around: the Hope Diamond.
How did this diamond which originated in India, and accumulated history among Europe’s aristocracy, end up in one of America’s most beloved museums, the Smithsonian? Just like people, stones have stories. Here’s the blue diamond’s brief and fascinating history.
Around 1668, King Louis XIV of France purchased the Hope diamond from Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, then promptly had the diamond re-cut into a 69-carat heart-shaped stone (giving it the famous heart shape that we associate with Valentine’s Day). Perhaps the most romantic plot point in the story of this famous diamond is this: over 100 years later, in 1791, the stone was captured by “enemy” revolutionary forces. According to the Smithsonian:
“King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were captured attempting to flee France during the French Revolution. The royal jewels were turned over to the revolutionary government and housed in the Garde-Meuble.”
Then, years later, the diamond was stolen again and reappeared on the London scene some time later. The famous jewelry kept changing hands, being captured and moved almost as if it had a life of its own.
At the turn of the 20th century, the famous diamond crossed the Atlantic Ocean and ended up in New York City, in the hands of Evalyn Walsh McLean, who was the last private owner of the diamond. There, according to the Smithsonian, a “growing myth about the Curse of the Hope Diamond” circulated. Was the stone haunted? What would it do to its wearers? Was it doomed to be stolen again?
In 1958, the stone would finally find its permanent home in the Smithsonian, where it would no longer be worn, but has since been gawked at, Googled, and admired by over 100 million visitors.
The Heart of the Ocean: A Blue Sapphire
Since we’re talking about the Hope Diamond, we’d be remiss not to mention the Heart of the Ocean. Do you remember this famous blue diamond featured in the film, “Titanic”?
The scene: Rose (played by Kate Winslet) is wearing a heart-shaped blue diamond around her neck (and naked body) as she is being sketched and admired by Jack (played by Leonardo DeCaprio). The Heart of the Ocean was inspired by the Hope Diamond. In other words: it’s a knock-off for the film. And apparently, because that film was such a blockbuster (and its characters and jewels made so famous and iconic), a jeweler wanted to make another knock-off, but this time a real knock-off. According to Vogue, London jewelers Asprey & Garrad decided to seize the opportunity. They crafted a necklace with a 170-carat heart-shaped sapphire (for it’s rare to find a blue diamond) and 104 sparkling diamonds. Celine Dion (who sang part of the Titanic soundtrack) then wore the necklace during her 1998 Oscar performance of the famed love song, “My Heart Will Go On.”
If you want to visit the Hope Diamond, you can find it in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Or, if you’re bored on V-day and want to indulge in romcoms (romantic comedies), you can have a throwback party and watch the three-hour “Titanic,” keeping watch for that famous jewelry to appear.
Contact My Jewelry Repair if you feel like fashioning your own jewelry, or re-fashioning or repairing something in your jewelry box for the holiday.