This vivid blue diamond is perhaps the most notorious gem in history. It has left behind it a trail of so many unlucky owners that it has been popularly supposed to be cursed. Many legends surround this infamous diamond.
The Hope Diamond is a rare deep blue Type IIb diamond, weighing 45.52ct. It has 60 facets with extra facets on the girdle, is cushion shaped and was named after Henry Philip Hope, a prominent banker.
One legend states that some 500 years ago, the Hope diamond weighing 112.5ct was ripped from the forehead of a Hindu idol by a Hindu priest in a temple build by the worshippers of Rama, the Hindu God of Preservation. The priest was caught and tortured to death when the missing diamond could not be recovered.
In 1642, a French trader in India named Jean Baptiste Tavernier obtained possession of this diamond. Travenier got involved in bad gambling debts, became bankrupt and was torn to death by some rabid dogs.
The gem then came into the possession of King Louis XIV of France, who had it cut to 67.5ct. King Louis XIV’s kingdom was crippled by a series of war and he died a brokenhearted man. King Louis XVI who inherited the diamond presented it to his Queen, Marie Antoinette who died on the guillotine.
A Dutch diamond cutter came in possession of the diamond, had it recut to 45.5ct and committed suicide when it was stolen from him. Others who came to own this fabulous diamond were Jacques Colet who killed himself, Prince Ivan Kanitovitsky, who was murdered and Sultan Abdul Hamid of Turkey, who was dethroned.
In 1830 Henry Philip Hope purchased this diamond. He died a bachelor and the Hope as inherited by Lord Francis Hope who became penniless and bankrupt. In 1910, Cartiers sold the Hope to an American heiress named Evelyn Walsh Mclean. Her son was killed in an accident, her husband died in a mental home and her daughter died of an overdose of sleeping pills in 1946.
The last owner of this magnificent diamond was Harry Winston, the famous American diamond merchant of Fifth Avenue, New York City. He donated it to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC on November 10, 1958 where it is exhibited for all to enjoy its splendor.
If you happen to be in Washington DC do not miss out this opportunity of going to the Smithsonian Institute to view this beautiful and rare diamond. It is indeed a magnificent sight.
The Eureka Diamond, weighing 21.25ct in the rough and 10.73 ct when finally cut, had numerous internal flaws. It is not by ordinary standards exceptional but it was the first diamond to be discovered by pure accident in South Africa in 1867 and therefore has historical significance.
In 1866 a shepherd boy found a small, shiny stone on the south bank of the Orange River near Hopetown. The pebble was kept for a while by a 15-year-old boy named Erasmus Jacobs, who later gave it to his neighbor, farmer Schalk van Niekerk, a collector of unusual stones.
Van Niekerk entrusted the pebble to John O’Reilly, a traveling peddler, who sent it, in an unsealed envelope, to Dr W.G. Atherstone of Grahamstown, one of the few people in the Cape Colony who knew something about minerals and gems. Dr Atherstone identified it as a 21.25-carat brownish yellow diamond. It was later sold for £500 to Sir Phillip Wodehouse, the Governor of the Cape Colony.
In 1870 Sir Philip returned to the UK, and there the Eureka was to remain for almost 100 years. It was cut and, over the course of almost a century, changed hands a number of times.
It remained in a private collection until, in 1967, exactly 100 years after its discovery, De Beers purchased the Eureka, gifting it to the people of South Africa.
The Eureka was placed on permanent loan by the South African government at the Mine Museum, Kimberley – a fitting venue to display the gemstone that established South Africa as one of the world’s richest resources of diamonds.
A rare, flawless blue diamond that was once part of the legendary De Beers Millennium Collection sold for $6.4 million at auction, exceeding the top price estimate but falling short of the 2009 record.
The 5.16 carat pear-shaped diamond was the first gem of its kind to appear in an auction from the collection that De Beers, the world’s largest diamond producer, presented in 2000 to celebrate the millennium.
Auctioneers Sotheby’s had priced the diamond at between $4.6 million and $5.8 million and it was sold in Hong Kong to London-based gem merchant Alisa Moussaieff who said she was satisfied with the price.
“It’s an individual thing and people have got to like it and people have got to see the value in it, but we do see the value and I hope our clients will see the value as well,” she said.
The De Beers Millennium Collection comprised 12 rare gems and took decades to assemble. Blue diamonds are among the rarest of all gems and owe their natural color to the presence of the chemical element boron during the stone’s formation.
The diamond was the star lot of a gem sale by Sotheby’s, which said it had had deliberately kept prices conservative to attract bidding in a still fragile economy.
“I think what people are actually looking for are rare objects of high quality that are hard to find on the market,” said Patti Wong, Sotheby’s Asia Director.
“So when we assembled the sale we were very mindful that the economy out there may not have fully recovered so we were very conservative with our estimates and clients responded very well to that and competed accordingly.”
The overall auction raised $52.4 million, a figure Sotheby’s said was the highest total ever for a sale of this category.
The auction’s location probably helped: China is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing diamond markets, with jewelers forecasting it will be the next big purchaser of rare jewels as its economy surges while the rest of the world still grapples with the global financial meltdown.
In May 2009, a 7.03 carat cushion-shaped flawless blue diamond set the world record price per carat for any gemstone at a Sotheby’s Geneva auction when it was bought by a Hong Kong collector for $9.48 million dollars.
In the field of gemological or geological study a basic understanding on fundamentals is important for us to appreciate the subject matter more thoroughly as well as giving us a better perspective on how minerals differ from each other.
There is no intention to delve too deeply into scientific principals and a sure way to lose readership is to come up with jargons like Angstrom, icositetrahedron structure and some fancy high tech unreadable scientific terms which are only required by PhD students doing a thesis. However, some science is inevitable and a layman’s term is laid out so that readers will have a better understanding.
Diamond and graphite are both polymorph of the native element carbon. Minerals that represent different arrangement of their internal atoms are called polymorph. Thus, diamond and graphite have the same chemical composition but different crystal structures.
Diamond crystallizes in the isometric system (or cubic system) while graphite crystallizes in the hexagonal system. A schematic diagram below would be easier to understand.
Diamond has a framework structure where the carbon atoms are bonded to other carbon atoms in three dimensions as opposed to two in graphite.
Although both are of the native element carbon their properties differs as follows:
Diamond is the hardest mineral known to man, Graphite is one of the softest.
Diamond is an excellent electrical insulator, Graphite is a good conductor of electricity.
Diamond is the ultimate abrasive, Graphite is a very good lubricant.
Diamond is usually transparent, Graphite is opaque.
Hence, the diamond stone on your engagement ring is simply Carbon but take heart a diamond with excellent color and clarity is a rare mineral.