Is the Hope Diamond Curse Real or Just a Marketing Ploy?

“Diamonds are forever;” “Lucy in the sky with diamonds;” “diamond in the rough;” the world is consumed and exited by the power of diamonds..  They are rare and beautiful gems, and the largest diamond in the world is the Hope Diamond.  It is believed to have a curse attached to it that will cause anyone who touches it to suffer injury or death.  This idea is completely false, there is no curse, in fact, it was made up in order to sell the diamond and based on unsubstantiated facts.

The Hope Diamond was believed to have been stolen from the eye of a Hindu goddess by a man named Jean Baptiste Tavernier.  After he stole the diamond, a curse was put on it that causes devastation to anyone who touches it (Patch online).  The first person who was supposedly affected by the curse was Tavernier himself, who was believed to be torn apart by a pack of wild dogs on a trip to Russia (online).  Another story says he was killed on his next trip to India (Heiniger online).  As shown here, the story has changed over the years since it was first made up.  Based on Tavernier’s intricate drawings of the Hope diamond, it has been shown that the diamond was the wrong shape to be an eye (Patch online).  Tavernier was actually never affected by the curse, because he died at the age of eighty-four a very rich man (PBS online).

Before Tavernier died, he sold the Hope Diamond and 1,167 other diamonds to King Louis XIV for a price equivalent to $1,760,000 today (Fowler online). After purchasing the diamonds, King Louis XIV had the Hope Diamond cut down to 67.5 carats from 112.19 carats.  Eventually, the diamond was passed down through two generations with no ill effects to them or anyone else (Patch online).  When King Louis XVI inherited the diamond, both he and his wife, Marie Antoinette, were beheaded during the French revolution.  Even though they were killed, there is no way of directly attributing their deaths to the curse, because they were obviously not the only one’s who were killed during that turbulent period.  Before they were killed, the Hope diamond, as well as all the other family jewels were put in the Garde-Meuble for safe keeping (Heiniger online).  In mid-September of 1791, the diamonds were stolen, and even though some of the smaller jewels were recovered, the Hope diamond was not (Patch online).  After they were stolen, and for the next twenty years, it is not known exactly what happened to the Hope Diamond.  Many people have added embellishments to the curse for what happened during this time.  A couple of the more famous storytellers are; May Yohe, who wrote a book, and Pierre Cartier (Fowler online).

In 1812, just after the statute of limitations for the robbing of the diamond expired, a very large blue diamond of forty- four carats was put up for auction in London.  Until recently, it was not known for sure if they were the same diamond, since it had a different cut.  Just this year, a team was able to prove that it was in fact the same diamond by computer simulations based off the intricate drawings of the diamond (Wired online).

By 1839, a man named Henry Philip Hope owned the diamond.  The Hope Diamond was named after the Hope family, because it was passed down through three generations before it was sold again (Patch online).  Henry Philip Hope was an heir to the Hope & Co. banking firm, which was sold in 1813, more than twenty years before his possession of the diamond.  Because he was never married, he left his estate to his three nephews, with the Hope diamond going to Henry Thomas Hope.  After this, the diamond stayed in the family for two more generations, when it got to Francis Hope.  Because he was an excessive gambler, Francis Hope soon fell into bankruptcy.  It is believed that the Hope diamond was the cause of the Hope family going bankrupt, yet many people go bankrupt every day who don’t own the diamond.  After a few unsuccessful tries at selling the diamond, he finally sold it to a man named Simon Frankel in 1901, who in turn sold it to Pierre Cartier.  There are no reported misgivings associated with Simon Frankel and the diamond (online). 

Pierre Cartier wanted to sell the diamond soon after, and tried to sell it to Evalyn Walsh McLean, but she did not like its mounting.  While he was trying to sell it to her, he heard that she believed that, “objects usually considered bad luck turned into good luck for her” (online).  This is where most people believe that the curse originated, as to appeal to Mrs. Walsh.  After a few months, Cartier got the diamond remounted to its current mounting, and he asked Mrs. Walsh if she would watch over it for a weekend, and she fell in love with the diamond, and after she bought it, she wore the diamond almost every day of her life (online).  Her life was highlighted by one tragedy after another, in which; her son was killed in a car crash, her husband was put in a mental hospital, and her daughter overdosed on sleeping pills, and finally Mrs. Walsh herself died in 1947 (Heiniger online).  Of course, this is a lot for one person to have to endure in a lifetime, but she had a rocky life before she owned the diamond.  She was a very self-conscience person, and this was more of a reason for her downfall than the diamond. After her death, the diamond had to be sold in order to pay back all of the debt that she had accumulated over her lifetime.  In 1949, a man named Harry Winston bought the diamond, and then proceeded to donate the diamond to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. (PBS online).  Since then, the diamond has been on display in the Winston hall of the Smithsonian.  Ever since they received the diamond, the Smithsonian has received many donations to the national gem collection, and millions of people a year come to see the diamond.  Because of this, the Smithsonian believes the diamond has been good luck for them.

In conclusion, the curse of the Hope Diamond has been disproved.  The curse is based on uncorroborated facts, and was fabricated in the first place as a sales pitch.  The idea of a curse still draws people to the diamond, and adds to the allure of one of the world’s most amazing diamonds. After all, diamonds are a girl’s best friend.