Diamonds of any kind, color, clarity, cut, and carat weight are valuable purchases. They are durable and long-lasting and maintain their beauty over long periods.
Hope Diamond Value
To get an appreciation of the Hope Diamond value, it’s prudent to know a bit of its history. Let’s find out how this finest of gems became one of the most expensive on the market.
A Bit of Hope Diamond History
The colorful story of the Hope Diamond began when French merchant traveler, Jean Baptiste Tavernier, bought a 112 3/16-carat diamond, believed to have come from the Golconda Mines in India. It was somewhat triangular and crudely cut. Tavernier described its color as a “beautiful violet.”
Then, in 1668, he sold the diamond to King Louis XIV with 14 other large diamonds and several smaller ones. In 1673, Sieur Pitau, the court jeweler, recut the stone. The result was a 67 1/8-carat stone tagged as the “Blue Diamond of the Crown” or the “French Blue.”
The royal inventories described it as “an intense steely blue.” King Louis XIV then attached it to a ribbon and wore it ceremonially.
The King died in 1715 and was succeeded by King Louis XV, who, in 1749, had the stone reset by Andre Jaquimin, the court jeweler. It was then made as a part of ceremonial jewelry for the Order of the Golden Fleece (a Catholic order of chivalry founded by Philip, the Duke of Burgundy).
The French Revolution
In 1789, the stirrings of the French Revolution began. This prompted, in 1791, King Louis XV and Marie Antoinette to flee France together with the jewels of the French Royal Treasury. However, they were caught and imprisoned (and later executed) while the jewels were returned to the government.
That was not the end of it, though. In 1792, Paris was gripped in absolute chaos and mayhem, resulting in the theft of Royal jewelry, including the French Blue Diamond.
As fate would have it, in 1812, John Fancillion reported that the Blue Diamond was in possession of London diamond merchant Daniel Eliason. It weighed 177 grains (4 grains =1 carat). A closer investigation showed it was a recut version of the Franch Blue.
The Birth of Hope Diamond
At this point, the French Blue has become the Hope Diamond. And this is how it happened.
After escaping from the riots in France, it landed in the UK and was immediately bought by King George of England from an unknown peddler. However, before his death in 1830, he sold it through private channels due to the King’s enormous debts.
It remained dormant until 1839, when it landed in the hands of Henry Philip Hope, a famous London-based Dutch collector of arts and precious gems. He called the gem the Hope Diamond to put his imprint on it.
He did not own it for long because in 1839, after so much litigation, he died. Ownership of the Hope Diamond was transferred to his nephew, Henry Thomas Hope, and then to Henry’s grandson, Lord Francis Hope.
However, Lord Francis got embroiled in debt problems, so in 1901, he and his sisters got permission from the Court of Chancery to sell the gem. A London dealer bought it, who immediately sold it to Joseph Frankels and Sons of New York.
Hope Diamond in the US
It seems bad luck comes upon those who owned the diamond because Frankels and Sons soon got into debt problems. So they sold it to Selim Habib, who, in 1909, put it up for auction in Paris. Nobody was interested except a brave soul by the name of C.H. Rosenan. But not for long, as he immediately sold it to He did not hold on to it Pierre Carter that same year.
In 1910, Mrs. Evalyn Walsh McLean of Washington D.C. saw it at Cartier’s in Paris. Though she loved the diamond, she did not like the setting. So Cartier had it reset, took it to the U.S., and left it with Mrs. McLean for the weekend.
Cartier’s strategy worked. Mrs. McLean bought it in 1911, mounted as a headpiece on a three-tiered circlet of white diamonds. Flamboyant as she is. Mrs. McLean had further reset as a pendant of a diamond necklace. It remained in this configuration until her death in 1947.
Her treasure trove of expensive jewelry did not remain an orphan for so long. In 1949, Harry Winston Inc. of New York bought them all, including the Hope Diamond. The entire trove included the 94.8-carat Star of the East Diamond, the 15-carat Star of the South diamond, a 9-carat green diamond, and a 31-carat diamond, which is now called the McLean Diamond.
The Smithsonian Institution
For the next 10 years, the Hope Diamond stayed with Harry Winston and was featured in many exhibits and fund-raising events worldwide for charitable institutions. It was also the central attraction of the Court of Jewels exhibition—a roadshow of jewelry exhibition organized by Harry Winston Inc.
Then on November 10, 1958, the company donated the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution, where it immediately became its premier attraction. This would answer your question, “who currently owns the Hope Diamond?”
Since it found a permanent home at the Smithsonian, the diamond has left only four times. These were in:
- 1962 – in the Louvre, France, for one month as part of the exhibition “Ten Centuries of French Jewelry.”
- 1965 – South Africa, where it was exhibited at the Rand Easter Show in Johannesburg.
- 1984 – lent to Harry Winston Inc. in New York as part of the firm’s 50th anniversary.
- 1996 – again to Harry Winston in New York for cleaning and minor restoration.
“Is the Hope Diamond in Titanic?” The answer is “No.” The jewelry in the movie is called “The Heart of the Ocean.” It is not a real piece of jewelry, but the pendant design is based on the 45,52-carat Hope Diamond.
As a corollary, “How much is the diamond from Titanic worth?” Since it is a movie prop, it isn’t worth anything.
Bits and Pieces of the Hope Diamond
So far, the Hope Diamond has only been known for its color and colorful history. Now it is given a closer look.
For many years, the diamond was reported to be 44 carats. In 1974, it was removed from its setting and weighed. It weighs 45.52 carats. And belongs to Type IIB. For the uninitiated, there are four types of diamonds these are:
Type Ia (most natural diamond):
- Has nitrogen atoms in clusters
- They make up approximately 95% of natural diamonds
- Are near colorless to light yellow
Type Ib (often canary yellow)
- Has isolated nitrogen atom
- Often bright yellow and extremely rare
- Called the “canary” by diamond traders.
Type IIa (extremely rare)
- No measurable nitrogen or boron impurities
- Usually colorless, but can also be gray, light brown, light yellow, or light pink
- Most chemically pure of all diamonds
- Only 1-2% of all diamonds are this Type
- The best examples of this diamond type are the Cullinan, Koh-i-Noor, and Lesedi La Rona.
Type IIB (most rare)
- Contains noticeable traces of boron elements
- Often blue or gray color
- Only 0.1% of all natural diamonds are this Type
- A semiconductor.
- Wittelsbach Blue and Apollo blue earrings belong to this Type.
The Hope Diamond is a semiconductor with strong red phosphorescence that can last hours after exposure to short UV light. Its blue coloration is attributed to its content of trace amounts of boron.
As a pendant, the Hope Diamond is surrounded by 16 pear-shaped and cushion-cut diamonds. In a bit of creativity, Mrs. McLean attached a small bail to the charm so she could attach other diamonds, including the McLean and the Star of the East diamond, to it. In total, the necklace has 45 white diamonds in it.
In December 1988, GIA sent a team of gemologists to the Smithsonian to grade the famous and great stone using modern techniques.
The team observed some signs of wear and a remarkably strong phosphorescence; its clarity is slightly affected by a whitish graining common to blue diamonds. They graded the color as fancy dark-greyish blue. To be more precise, they used a very sensitive colorimeter which revealed a very slight violet component of its deep blue color. However, it is invisible to the naked eye.
This puts into question how Tavernier was able to describe the 112 3/16-carat stone as the “un beau violet” (a beautiful violet)—without any instrument—when he bought it in 1666.
The following is a more comprehensive report of the GIA’s work on the Hope Diamond
Shape and cut
- 45.52 carats
- 25.60 x 21.78 x 12.00 mm cushion antique brilliant cut
- The depth percentage is 55.!%, table is 53%
- The girdle, which is faceted, ranges from very thin to slightly thick
- Culet is very large, symmetry is fair to good, and polish is good.
The Hope Diamond has been described as “all perfection without specks or flaws.” However, the GIA graded it VVS due to the wear marks, whitish graining, and minor feathers the agency found in the stone.
Hope Diamond Worth
How much is Hope Diamond worth? Currently, a 1 carat of fancy blue diamond costs between $6,800 to $11,200. This price range is on the uptick due to its rarity and demand (see chart).
The Hope Diamond could easily fetch $200-300 million if sold in the open market. And this is where you can appreciate the difference between price and value.
Price is the amount of money you pay for something, while value is what that something pays you (not necessarily in monetary terms). Assuming that you have the money to buy it, its value is priceless; it is invaluable.
For this reason, the current Hope Diamond owner, the Smithsonian Institution, considers it not for sale because of its value. Its color, size, and colorful history make it a part of American culture.
The Curse of Hope Diamond
Like anything iconic and has a long history of human folly, the Hope Diamond has its own stories of the grim and the macabre.
Stories have it that the Hope Diamond was stolen from Sita (the consort of the god Rama in Indian Sanskrit). Right after that, the thief is said to have been torn to pieces by dogs. Since then, everyone who got involved with it suffered the Hope Diamond curse. Here are some of them:
King Louis XIV
He died of gangrene, and all his legitimate children died in childhood (though this was common in those times).
He was said to have worn the diamond for a special occasion. Soon after, he fell out of favor with the King and was banished from France. Then his sentence was changed to life imprisonment, and he spent 15 years in the fortress of Pignerol.
Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette
Marie Antoinette is said to have worn it. Both were beheaded in 1789.
Marie-Louise, Princes de Lamballe
She was a member of Marie Antoinette’s court and her closest confidante. A mob killed her, her head decapitated and impaled on a stick, and brought to the prison cell of Marie Antoinette.
Wilhelm was a Dutch jeweler who recut the diamond again. Later on, his son murdered him, after which he committed suicide.
Hope Diamond: The Priceless Rock
The Hope Diamond value can be measured in monetary terms, but not its intrinsic value. Given that it is extremely rare and astonishingly beautiful, its value lies in its long history—from the time a 17th-Century French gem merchant and traveler bought it from a nameless street peddler, through its being lost during the French Revolution, only to resurface in the UK, until it found its final resting place—the Smithsonian Institute.
Now that you have learned about the Hope Diamond value, you might interested in how much engagement rings cost. Read our article, “Average Engagement Ring Cost in the US and Around the World.“