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Colorado and the History of the Hope Diamond

The Hope Diamond: A history of mystery and intrigue

The Hope Diamond, one of the most famous and mysterious diamonds in the world, has captivated the imagination of countless individuals for centuries.  This remarkable gemstone, a 45.52-carat deep sapphire-blue diamond, has a history riddled with legends, curses and changing fortunes.  Follow along as we embark on a journey through time to unravel the captivating history of the Hope Diamond.


The history of the Hope Diamond is long and fascinating. It is believed to have originated in India, where it was mined centuries ago, in the Golconda region. The original diamond, before it was cut, was estimated to have weighed a staggering 112 carats.  The diamond was first recorded in the 17th century when it was purchased by French gem merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier. Tavernier sold the diamond to King Louis XIV of France, who had it recut into a 67.12-carat heart-shape and set into a necklace.

The French Connection – Theft and Disappearance

In the 17th Century, the French royal court became the guardian of the Hope Diamond which was called the “French Blue” at the time.  After the French Revolution, it disappeared. It is believed to have been stolen from the royal treasury in 1792. The diamond resurfaced in London in 1812, when it was purchased by banker Henry Philip Hope after having been recut and significantly reduced in size. The diamond remained in the Hope family for over a century.

The Colorado Connection

In 1901, the Hope Diamond was sold to a London diamond dealer. The diamond then passed through the hands of several different owners before it was purchased in 1911 by American socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean, a Colorado gold mining heiress. McLean wore the Hope Diamond frequently and it became one of her most prized possessions.  While living in Ouray, Colorado, her father, Tom Walsh, an Irish immigrant, became a multimillionaire from operating the Camp Bird gold mine.  

After McLean's death in 1947, the Hope Diamond was inherited by her son, Vinson Walsh McLean.  Harry Winston purchased the Hope diamond and, in 1958 he mailed it by registered mail to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

The Curse of the Hope Diamond

Shrouded in legend, the Hope Diamond's legacy is as captivating as its deep blue hue. An enduring belief holds the gem cursed, bringing misfortune to its owners. This notion is fueled by the tragic ends met by some of its past holders.

  • King Louis XIV of France, for instance, succumbed to illness just years after acquiring the diamond. A similar fate befell his successor, Louis XV, who also died young. Queen Marie Antoinette, a frequent wearer of the Hope Diamond, infamously lost her head during the French Revolution.
  • The 19th century offered no respite. The diamond passed through several hands, many of whom met with untimely or violent ends. Prince Ivan Kanitovski, one such owner, was murdered.  

The Hope Diamond today

The Hope Diamond is currently on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. The diamond is one of the museum's most popular exhibits and it attracts millions of visitors each year.  It is a stunning and rare example of nature's beauty and a symbol of history, mystery, and intrigue. It is estimated to be worth over $250 million. 

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