National Geographic : 1958 Apr
Tragedy Haunts the Hope Diamond, Fabulous Treasure of Royalty The rare, deep-blue stone is traditionally associ ated with some dozen violent deaths and with disasters to two royal houses. As part of the larger French Blue, the diamond adorned Louis XIV. Stolen during the French Revolution, it reappeared in England cut to this 44 2-carat oval. It took its name from banker Henry Thomas Hope, who acquired it in the mid-1800's. Later, Sultan Abdul-Hamid of Turkey bought the gem and hung it on the neck of a favorite wife. When his throne toppled, the jewel was purchased by Evalyn Walsh McLean. After her death the Hope passed to Harry Winston, New York jeweler. Mounted in a clip, the 79-carat diamond at left was mined in India and treasured for years by a noble family of Nepal. Now a Winston property, it carries a $500,000 price tag. Diamonds sparkle in rainbow colors. Arranged like a necklace, these gems form part of a treasury of 150 "fancies," world's largest and best collec tion of naturally tinted diamonds. Owned and exhibited in London by The Diamond Corpora tion, Ltd., the stones are not for sale, and thus have never been priced. However, the pinks and blues have the greatest value, as they are rarest. Shown for scale, the 167-carat uncut stone was found at the Dutoitspan Mine, Kimberley. Its name: The Cape; its estimated worth: $42,000. 569 of the stone Winston then was cutting, and which he later sold to the Greek shipowner Stavros S. Niarchos (opposite, below). It is strange, in a way, that the diamond holds such fascination. For untold centuries men have fought and died for possession of far smaller bits of this same glittering mineral. Yet today nearly five tons of diamonds are mined in a year, the greater proportion des tined not for gems at all but for use in work aday industrial plants. This substance, diamond, is familiar to most of us as the glint on the third finger of a woman's left hand, in a flashing necklace in a jeweler's window, or perhaps as the nearly in visible tip of a high-fidelity phonograph stylus. But the day before, in a clattering New Jersey factory, I had watched a sackful of rough dark-brown pebbles-all diamonds disappear into a crushing mill and emerge as dust for making grindstones. The car I drove ran smoothly, in part be cause diamonds had polished its piston rings. It ran on gasoline taken from wells drilled by diamonds. The wire in its ignition system had, in all probability, been drawn through a hole in a diamond. Diamonds cut steel, saw stone, shape bowl- Kodachromes by National Geographic Photographers B. Anthony Stewart (opposite) and Robert F. Sisson. Shown actual size. © N.G.S .