The most famous piece of jewelry is a title that is highly contested. I've filled my brain with more information about gems and jewelry than I can retain, and one of those compartments holds a ton of famous jewelry pieces that you'll recognize without a doubt... But with so many nominees, how could I possibly decide for myself which one is the most famous piece of jewelry?
There was only one solution... To hit the streets! Metaphorically speaking of course. I've done a little research of my own. After asking everyone around me for nominations, and then holding a very official poll on Twitter that only about 50 of my followers bothered answering, we had our winner. Not the most scientific method, I'll admit but it certainly gave me a very definitive answer regarding the one true winner:
The Hope Diamond
You've heard of this thing. People who know nothing about jewelry have probably heard about the Hope Diamond and it is by far the most famous piece of jewelry. It has withstood revolutions, wars, theft, family in-fighting, supposed curses, and a handful of redesigns. The mystery of the Hope Diamond is ingrained deeply within world culture, and today we'll cover the known history of this amazing precious gem.
If you have a piece of jewelry as world-famous as the Hope Diamond you'd probably be exceedingly inclined to take good care of it. Even if you got some frozen-spit diamonds from a kiosk in your local mall, it was an investment that you'd be foolish not to protect to the best of your ability. If you need a quick clean then our portable diamond cleaner brush will keep your sparkle on point anywhere you go. If you've got time for a more thorough clean, the ultrasonic jewelry cleaner can get in every nook and cranny to make that jewelry piece shine like new.
Summary of the Hope Diamond
The Hope Diamond is also known as the Le Bijou du Roi or 'the King's Jewel'. It is a large blue diamond that weighs 45.52 carats or 9.104 grams. While it isn't the largest diamond ever found, it is large enough to be quite breathtaking. People have compared its size to a walnut or pigeon egg. Despite the deep blue color, the Hope Diamond can also emit a red glow when exposed to short wave UV light. This reddish glow persists even after the light source is switched off, and probably helps fuel the reputation that the gem is actually cursed.
The Hope Diamond began its life deep within the Earth roughly one billion years ago. It was originally embedded in a layer of kimberlite, which is a type of igneous rock named after the home of the diamond rush: Kimberley, South Africa. Its blue color is derived from the presence of boron, but there is also hydrogen and nitrogen present. Like all diamonds, it is made from tightly bonded carbon atoms.
History of the Most Famous Piece of Jewelry
The Hope Diamond was recorded by gem merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier who obtained it in India in 1666. It was that that the gem was found in the Kollur mines in the Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. Aside from these facts, the initial history of the Hope Diamond is rather muddy. It's unclear who found it, where they found it, and in what condition. What is known is that Tavernier first obtained the gem, possibly through theft.
The Hope Diamond was taken to Paris along with 24 other diamonds and sold as a lot directly to King Louis XIV for around 220,000 livres which is equivalent to 147 kilograms of pure gold! Wow! The uncut diamond weighed roughly 115 carats. In 1678 Louis XIV paid the court jewelry to recut the stone, which resulted in a 67.125 carat stone. It was set in gold and worn with a ribbon around the neck during ceremonies. Louis XIV's great grandson Louis XV set the diamond into a more elaborate diamond pendant.
Upon the death of Louis XV the diamond fell into disuse. Louis XVI's wife Marie Antoinette wore many of the crown jewels for personal adornment but despite rumors, this diamond was not one of them. On September 11, 1972 Louis XVI and his family were imprisoned during the French Revolution. At this time, thieves broke into the Royal Storehouse and stole most of the crown jewels during a five-day looting spree.
The Hope Diamond finally resurface in the United Kingdom, but the thief had obviously tried to have it recut and the jeweler had done an absolute hack-job. The stone was a total of 23.5 carats lighter. Other pieces were found that were suspected to be part of the original diamond, but there is no conclusive evidence one way or the other. It was this time that the diamond got its namesake, as it was acquired by a banker named Thomas Hope. Once Hope died, his three nephews battled in court for ten years. The collection was eventually split, and the eldest nephew received the Hope Diamond.
When that nephew died he left the gem to his wife. The wife passed it on to her grandson, Lord Francis Hope. The will stipulated that he wasn't allowed to sell it, and he later met and married an American concert hall singer named May Yohe. This couple lived well beyond their means and were forced to sell the Hope Diamond after a long legal battle to do so, in 1901. A London jewel merchant named Adolph Weil purchased it and sold to a dealer by the name of Simon Frankel, who took it to New York city.
The Hope Diamond sort of fell off the map from 1902-1907. It was held by Frankel the entire time, but rarely ever seen publicly. When the Great Depression hit in 1907 Simon Frankel was forced to sell the Hope Diamond in 1908 to a Turkish diamond collector who then sold it back to a party in Paris. This buyer then sold it to Pierre Cartier. The diamond had changed hands quite a bit but in 1910 it found its way back to the U.S.A. when Cartier sold the gem to Washington D.C. socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean.
Upon Evalyn's death in 1947 she willed the diamond to her grandchildren. There was a stipulation that the diamond remain in the care of trustees until the children were 25... Well, again that didn't come to fruition. The diamond was sold by the trustees in order to settle some of McLean's debts. In 1949 the Hope Diamond was sold to Harry Winston, who was persuaded by Smithsonian mineralogist George Switzer to donate the gem to the Smithsonia where it remains to this day.