Hope Diamond Press Release, Michele Urie, Smithsonian, National Museum
Feb, 9, 2005
Mysteries of the Smithsonian’s Hope Diamond Solved
with New Scientific Research
Discovery Channel Special Premieres Feb. 10
Is it possible that the Hope Diamond was cut from another larger blue
200 years ago? Is there another blue diamond out there also cut
this possible “parent stone”? Could the Hope Diamond have a
New research has provided important insights into the lineage of the
Diamond at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.
over the past year, the research supports the theory that the Hope
was cut from the French Blue Diamond after it was stolen from the
Crown Jewels in 1792. The team of researchers included Jeffrey E. Post,
curator of gems and minerals, and Steven Attaway, engineer and gem
as well as Scott Sucher and Nancy Attaway, gem cutting experts.
This extensive research project was captured on film and will be
on the Discovery Channel. “Unsolved History: Hope Diamond” will
on Feb. 10 at 9 p.m. with additional scheduled airings on Feb. 11 at 12
and Feb. 13 at 2 p.m.
The team used state-of-the-art imaging and computer modeling
combined with new measurements of the Hope Diamond and historical
and sketches of the Tavernier Blue Diamond and the French Blue Diamond,
create for the first time ever accurate virtual computer models of the
diamonds. The results of the modeling study clearly show that the Hope
fits exactly within the French Blue Diamond – a clear indication of
– and reveal that no sister stone to the Hope Diamond could have been
from either previous stone. The computer models were used to guide the
of accurate replicas of the two precursor stones—in cubic zirconia.
“This new Hope Diamond research would not have been possible ten years
said Post. “What is exciting is that we are constantly learning new
about our collections as we apply new high tech research methods. Even
Hope Diamond is grudgingly giving up some of its secrets.”
“The geometric evidence was overwhelming, leading us to conclude that
only did the Hope Diamond fit within the French Blue Diamond, but some
the facets on the Hope Diamond may be relics from the French Blue
said Steven Attaway.
National Gem and Mineral Collection is one of the greatest collections
its kind in the world. More than 375,000 individual specimens include
famous pieces as the Hope Diamond and the Star of Asia Sapphire, as
as a research and mineral collection used by scientists around the
Background on the Hope Diamond
The Hope Diamond—the world’s
deep blue diamond—is more than one billion years old. The parent stone
the Hope Diamond formed deep within the Earth and was carried by a
eruption to the surface in what is now India. It was discovered prior
1668 in the Golconda region of southern India. In 1668, French gem
Jean Baptiste Tavernier sold the 115-metric-carat diamond to King Louis
of France, who commissioned it to be re-cut to the 69-carat French Blue
The French Blue was stolen during the 1792 French Revolution.
Twenty years and two days later, after the statute of limitations
a 45.52-carat blue diamond was quietly put up for sale in London, and
Henry Phillip Hope purchased it. After being passed down through
Hope family, the diamond was sold in 1901.
It then changed hands several times and was eventually sold to Pierre
in 1909. Cartier sold the diamond to Evalyn Walsh McLean of
D.C., in 1911. McLean’s flamboyant ownership of the stone lasted until
death in 1947. Harry Winston, Inc. of New York City purchased McLean’s
jewelry collection, including the Hope Diamond, from her estate in
For the next 10 years, the Hope Diamond was shown at many exhibits and
events worldwide by Harry Winston, Inc. On Nov. 10, 1958, the company
the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution.
The weight of the Hope Diamond for many years was reported to be 44.5
but in 1974 it was removed from its setting and found to weigh actually
carats. It is classified as a type IIb diamond, which are
and usually phosphoric. The Hope Diamond phosphoresces a strong red
that lasts for several minutes after exposure to short wave
light and the diamond’s blue coloration is attributed to trace amounts
boron in the stone. The pendant surrounding the Hope Diamond has 16
diamonds – both pear-shapes and cushion cuts – and the necklace chain
45 white diamonds.