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Curse of the Hope Diamond

Updated on January 16, 2020

Beware all who touch the Gem!

It was long ago, more than three hundred years, when this large and mysterious blue-gray diamond was found. A billion years in the making and thrown from the earth through a volcano, it was gradually moved with sediment along the Krishna river, and settled with other diamonds in the Kollur mine near Golconda, India.

Exactly how she was found is the subject of some debate. The first to own the diamond that we know of, Mr Jean Baptiste Tavernier, either purchased the diamond from the mine or, as some of the legends say, plucked it from the eye of a statue of the Hindu Goddess Sita.


The same Goddess legend tells us Mr Tavernier was killed by a pack of wild dogs too. We know that didn't happen. So, even the early history of the "Tavernier Blue", as it was called then, is cloaked in mystery. This lens is a compilation of some of these wild stories, embellished a little here and there to make them more ghoulish for our Halloween fun. Some of these events actually happened. I will leave that for you, dear reader, to decide!

Title Image courtesy

Hope Diamond Glows Red
Hope Diamond Glows Red

The Curse of the Goddess

Why She Glows Red in Ultra Violet light

The story of the Hindu Goddess Sita centers on her total devotion to her husband, despite the fact that she is treated badly. Her tragic life ends as she is swallowed back into the earth from whence she was born. Instead of coming alive again as a person, she chooses to become the mystic blue diamond. The curse she laid on the men who treated her badly was thus:

"For your betrayal you shall never be satisfied. However much you get, you will always want more."

Sita Statue, at Samahit Sthal in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, IN

Thanks to the curse of the goddess, any time one who wears the diamond is too greedy, the curse is "activated", and something bad happens to the wearer or his family: Usually death or some sort of tragic injury. The red glow was discovered by accident when she was examined by ultra violet light - but the secret "glow" was always present any time the diamond's handlers offended the Goddess of the Blue Stone. Some of the versions of the legend talk of an "eye" of the Goddess - in a sense, they are correct. It is the Third Eye, of the goddess - her spiritual eye, which has become the Stone.

A Poisonous Affair! - King Louis XIV, his Mistress, and the Man in the Iron Mask

The Sun King

Louis the Great

A King who is kingly would be good and honorable and just. One who is greedy, like King Louis XIV of France, might be subjected to the curse of the now "French Blue" Diamond, which he purchased from the explorer Tavernier. It must have been a lonely place, there on that throne, because King Louis demanded much company and attention, especially from the ladies. Not, mind you, that of his wife the Queen, but from his mistresses. There was one in particular whom he favored, and Madame de Montespan, who, in her own selfish ways, used spells and potions purchased from midwife Catherine Deshayes Monvoisin to cast black magic on him so that he would desire her more than the rest. Caught up in the infamous "Affair of the Poisons", she ruined his name and tied him forever to the scandalous mass murder case.

But that's not all! The selfish king also locked away noble men. One of these was his finance minister, Nicolas Foquet, whom he accused of embezzlement - but really he locked him away because he was jealous of his wealth. The other was a mysterious man, known as the "man in the iron mask" because he was never allowed to show his face. Some legends say he was the King's illegitimate older brother (and the true heir to the throne); others that he was the King's twin brother. The most believable to me is that he was the King's natural father - that he was a "sire" to the King's mother to help produce an "heir".

For all his troubles, what did the King get? None of his legitimate children survived, and he died a slow and painful death from gangrene.

Flawless clarity, Rare Deep Blue Color

Flawless clarity, Rare Deep Blue Color
Flawless clarity, Rare Deep Blue Color

No Light Shineth

In all the Universe

As glorious

As She

Tavernier Blue

French Blue

Hope Diamond

In Shimmering Grays

Magnificent Blues,

Or Scarlet Reds

She Shines in all Souls alike

Awaiting her Due

King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette - And their tortured Princess


The French Blue's curse behaved a bit differently with King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, his extravagant Queen. Losing two children to disease might not be attributed to the curse, as it was common in those days for children to die before reaching adulthood. The Queen had a reputation for being a bit frivolous, but that might have been all it was were it not for an unfortunate set of circumstances which came to be known as "The Diamond Necklace Affair". Strangely enough, this diamond necklace had nothing to do with the French Blue. It was actually never owned by the Queen. The controversy around the necklace resulted in a long trial, which ultimately exonerated the Queen and her court. However, the damage to her reputation was done. Was this the curse of the French Blue's doing?

Perhaps it was, and perhaps not, but here's the clincher. The French Revolution and the years of the "Reign of Terror" which followed were times of great despair for the Queen and King. King Louis XVI was killed early in the Revolution but the Queen endured quite a bit of terror: running for her life, hiding, and ultimately being caught and jailed. Before she was tried, her dear friend, the Princess de Lambellie, was brutally murdered by a mob of angry men who cut off her head, then paraded it on a staff by Marie Antoinette's cell. The Princess (also known as Maria Luisa of Savoy) was a companion to the Royal family, a caretaker of sorts for her "Last Dauphin", or Louis XVII. Young Louis was also brutally murdered while imprisoned. How much heartbreak and pain can one woman take? Her beloved son, the heir to the throne, was only 10 years old when he was killed. Marie Antoinette, the last Queen of France, was executed by guillotine on October 16, 1793.

Bad luck and death not only for the owner of the diamond but for all who touched it.

Thieves in the Night - Crown Jewels Stolen!


Here is where our stoney story gets a bit murkier. After the fall of the French Patriarch, the jewels were kept in storage for several years. Over the period of one week, several robbers took advantage of the weakly guarded Royal Storehouse (Garde-Meuble) and took away the most valuable possessions left by the Queens and Kings who previously ruled. This, of course, included our heroine, the beautiful "Blue".

There are tales told of what happened to the French Blue next, including a re-cutting and sale to the Queen of Spain, and a suicide of the man who did the re-cutting (following the diamond being stolen by his own son). Many of these tales are sketchy at best, and some we are certain were either complete fabrications or at the very least highly embellished versions, created by later owners to add to the mystique of the diamond.

I am choosing to leave these stories for the most part out of this compilation, not because they are not good, but because they are not believable enough to me without more documentation than I have been able to find in my research.

The diamond was stolen by thieves in the night, never to be known to the world again in the size and shape of the "French Blue". The re-cutting part, at least, we know is true. The next time we see her, she is quite a bit lighter and fixed in her permanent setting as we know her now.

King George IV - Did he or did he not?

Some accounts claim the diamond first emerged in London after its long hiatus in the hands of King George IV of England.

He certainly suffered ill fate. The King went from having the reputation of a stylish gentleman to physical and mental decay. One of his senior aids said this of the king "A more contemptible, cowardly, selfish, unfeeling dog does not exist",

George IV despised his wife Caroline, the Queen consort so much that he banned her from his own coronation. She died a few days later under suspicious circumstances, claiming she was poisoned by the king.

The king suffered from inflammatory arthritis, arteriosclerosis, and other ailments related to obesity.

..... but we do not know if he indeed ever owned the now infamous Blue Diamond.

Or, did he?

"In 1822 Sir Thomas Lawrence painted a portrait of King George IV of England in which the King is wearing the insignia of the Royal Order of the Golden Fleece set with a large blue stone, believed to be the French Blue"

Good God, what is this? boy, this is death.

King George IV June 26, 1830

On the Death Bed of Thomas Hope

Uttered by novelist Maria Edgeworth, a friend of the family

"I saw a figure sunk like La Harpe - in figured silk robe de chamber and night cap - death in his pallid shrunk face"

The Years of Hope - 3 Generations of relative calm

Henry Philip Hope
Henry Philip Hope

the Hope family, for whom the diamond is now named, seemed to get through their years of ownership without being tainted by the curse.

It's kind of strange. Soon after they acquired the diamond, Mr Hope died. Then when they sold it, it was from a string of bad luck. But the time in-between seemed "safe"

There were some bad times, but until Lord Francis Hope sold the diamond to pay of debts, mostly from gambling, the Hopes were peaceful owners. Perhaps the goddess had good feeling about the "Hopes"!

The MacLeans - If it is Unlucky for them, It will be Lucky for Me!

Evalyn Walsh McLean
Evalyn Walsh McLean

Evalyn Walsh McLean, millionaire heiress, purchased the Hope Diamond in 1911, declaring the rumors associated with the stone to be inapplicable to her. “Bad luck turns out to be good luck for me”, she would often say. As the son of a miner who did indeed “strike it rich”, one might see why she would feel that way!

Mrs. McLean and her publishing mogul husband Ned hosted lavish parties and had many famous friends. The dashing blue diamond enlivened Mrs. McLean’s ensemble quite often. Sometimes, she even hung the prized jewel around the neck of their Great Dane!

The extravagant McLean lifestyle was overshadowed by sadness and grief when their first born son Vincent was killed, hit by a car, in front of their house, at only 9 years old. Within the next ten years, the popular couple would be estranged. Ugly divorce proceedings, a mistress, and the family fortune in shambles, Mr. McLean would be declared legally insane and spend his last few years in an asylum.

Mrs. Mclean, probably in an effort to revive the family’s name, convinced their 19 year old daughter Evie to become wife #5 to Senator Robert Reynolds (The Senator was 57 at the time – old enough to be her grandfather!) Five years later, Evalyn would find her daughter dead from an overdose of sleeping pills.

Mrs. McLean died of pneumonia one year later.

Resting in Peace: 50 years and counting at the Smithsonian Institution

Resting in Peace: 50 years and counting at the Smithsonian Institution
Resting in Peace: 50 years and counting at the Smithsonian Institution

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