Curse of the Hope Diamond: Fact or Fiction?

Lorein Abenhaim

hope diamond Curse of the Hope Diamond: Fact or Fiction?If you are superstitious, then between not opening an umbrella indoors and avoiding black cats, you’ve likely heard about the Hope diamond curse. For those who haven’t, the legend goes something like this—a French jeweler named Travernier, while exploring India, stole a massive 112 carat blue diamond from the forehead of a Hindu statue (the diamond itself was believed to have been discovered in the 1600s). After selling the diamond, Travernier was found in Russia, killed by wild dogs. And so the legend of the curse of the Hope Diamond began—anyone who touches the Hope diamond will be doomed to a life of bad luck.
We know, intense.
To lighten the mood a bit and offer some truth behind this myth, we made a timeline of the Hope diamond’s actual history and leave you to answer the time old question, is the curse of the Hope diamond fact or fiction?
1642: A French Jeweler, Jean Baptiste Travernier, found a blue diamond, weighing about 112 carats, while traveling in India. Travernier continued to travel for almost 30 more years, carrying the massive blue diamond with him.
1668: Travernier returned to France and sold the diamond to King Louis XIV, who made him a nobleman, and cut the diamond down to 67.5 carats. While Travernier did die in Russia at age 84, there’s no actual evidence to say it was by wild dogs. So far no curse.
1673-1749: The Blue diamond was named the “Diamond of the Crown,” and eventually was passed to King Louis XVI and his impulsive queen, Marie Antoinette.
1791: This royal couple went from living a life of excess to being beheaded, kicking off the French Revolution with a bang. Within the midst of battles and gunpowder, the blue diamond was stolen.
1823: The diamond found its way to England, specifically into the hands of a jeweler named Daniel Eliason. He sold it to King George IV, and by this time the diamond had been cut so many times that it weighed 45.52 carats, less than half its original weight.
1830: King George IV died and the diamond was sold to pay off his debts. It was definitely questionable as to whether King George IV was bad at managing his finances or his money troubles stemmed from the diamond. Even so, this curse seems mildly convincing at best. From here on out it traveled through the hands of a few Englishmen, until…
1839-1900: Here’s where the curse gets more interesting. Henry Phillip Hope took possession of the diamond, buying it for $90,000, and gave it the “Hope” name. The Hope family was known for their wealth. After three generations of possessing the diamond, Lord Francis Hope gambled away his fortune and went bankrupt. In order to pay his debts, he sold the Hope diamond.
1901: An American jeweler, Simon Frankel, bought the Hope diamond from Francis Hope, and brought it to the United States.
1901-1910: The Hope diamond was passed along to different people for a few years including Turkish Sultan Abdul Hamid II (who lost the Ottoman Empire after possessing the Hope diamond), until Pierre Cartier got his hands on it. He aimed to sell it to mining heiress Evalyn McLean, who liked to collect jewelry known for its bad luck, believing it had the reverse effect on her. With that mentality in mind, Cartier widely promoted the curse of the Hope diamond.
1910: McLean bought the Hope diamond. From that point on she found herself caught in the middle of several unfortunate events. Between her son dying in a car crash to her daughter committing suicide to her husband being committed to an insane asylum, McLean had anything but good luck following taking possession of the Hope diamond.
1945: After McLean’s death her estate sold the Hope diamond to Harry Winston. Instead of selling it to the highest bidder, Harry Winston used the Hope diamond to raise money for various charities.
1958: With the hope of creating a national jewel collection, Harry Winston donated the Hope diamond to the Smithsonian Institution. To some, Harry Winston got rid of the curse through the donation. Others believe the curse still lives on, just confined behind thick glass in the National Gem and Mineral Collection at the Smithsonian. What you should believe, we leave up to you.
2010: In 2010, Harry Winston celebrated the anniversary of its donation with a new setting for the Hope Diamond, the Embracing Hope.