Browse all objects from the National Gem Collection currently viewable online. Sort by mineral, collection, country, or setting.
Hope Diamond [G3551]
DiamondDiamonds, like soot, are made of carbon. In a diamond, chains between atoms tightly link to form the hardest material known. In fact, the word diamond comes from the Greek word adamas, which means invincible. Add diamond's fiery brilliance to this extreme hardness and you have a magnificent gem-the April birthstone. Colorless diamonds are few and far between, and valuable as a result. Most diamonds are naturally tinted pale yellow or brown. Fancy diamonds-those with deep shades of yellow, blue, pink, and red-are very rare and highly prized. It is estimated that such fancy colors occur in only one in every 100,000 diamonds.
Hover over color tiles above to learn what this object tells us about the history of the Earth
About this object
The Hope Diamond is renowned for its rare color and rich history. It was formed more than a billion years ago at a depth of about 150 km. The diamond was brought to the earth’s surface by a volcanic eruption. The rare blue color of the jewel is attributed to light interaction with an impurity in the diamond’s atomic structure. As the diamond grew, a few atoms of boron entered the crystal structure and substituted for some of the carbon atoms. In 1668, a French gem merchant, Jean Baptiste Tavernier, sold a 115-carat blue diamond to King Louis XIV of France. The diamond came from India and was faceted in a somewhat triangular shape. It was recut in 1673 resulting in a 69-carat stone known as the “French Blue.” During the French Revolution in 1792, it was stolen, recut again, and did not reappear until 1812 in London. Evidence suggests that King George IV of England purchased the diamond around 1821. Sometime after George IV’s death in 1830, the diamond was purchased by a London banker and gem collector, Henry Philip Hope, whose name it bears today. In 1839, the first reference to the 45.5-carat blue diamond was found in the gem collection catalogue of Henry Philip Hope. In 1901, after undergoing many more ownership changes, the diamond was sold to a series of merchants, including Pierre Cartier in 1909. In 1912, Cartier sold the Hope Diamond to Evalyn Walsh McLean, a Washington, D.C. socialite. Finally, in 1949 Harry Winston purchased the diamond from Mrs. McLean’s estate, including it in his “Court of Jewels” exhibition, which toured the world for charity. In 1958, Harry Winston donated the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution, where it remains today. The Hope Diamond’s historic setting is a platinum pendant necklace with 16 colorless cushion-cut and pear-shaped diamonds surrounding the gem, suspended from a chain containing 46 alternating round and pear-shaped colorless diamonds. It was examined by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in 1997 and graded a natural fancy deep grayish blue diamond with a clarity grade of VS-1. The Hope Diamond is a cushion antique brilliant cut that weighs 45.52 carats and is one of the largest, rarest, most important blue diamonds in the world. It is on display in the Harry Winston Gallery at the National Museum of Natural History and is the most visited item on exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution.
denotes specimens currently on exhibit
[ TOP ]