...the diamond's notorious past
Based on Evalyn's recollections of Pierre Cartier's story as told in her autobiography, Father Struck it Rich:
Jean Baptiste Tavernier


Pierre Cartier: "This diamond's history, as we believe it, begins in the sixteen hundreds, when a rather well-known merchant traveled the Orient in search of rare and precious gems. In 1668, this merchant – by the name of Jean Baptiste Tavernier – brought with him from India a large collection of jewels to sell to King Louis XIV,
Louis XIV of France
the extravagant Sun King of France. I'm certain you must have heard of him Madame..?

Now among Tavernier's jewels was a great blue diamond weighing over one hundred carats. The Maharajas of India, they preferred their diamonds very large. But King Louis was more interested in symmetry and brilliance than size. So Louis, he ordered the diamond to be re-cut into a heart shape that weighed about sixty-seven carats. He wore it as a pendant and called it 'the French Blue.'
insignia of the Royal Order of the Golden Fleece
Well, he passed it on to Louis XV, of course, and in 1749 the new King had the stone set in an insignia piece for the Royal Order of the Golden Fleece. And this he wore with great pride.

His son, King Louis XVI, was the next owner of the French Blue; and his infamous wife, Marie Antoinette, she loved that diamond.

But alas, in 1792, during the French revolution, all the crown jewels, including that diamond, they were stolen from the royal treasury. Now we do not know precisely what happened to the French Blue after the revolution, but we think it must have been smuggled out of France. Perhaps the English King George IV of England might have owned the stone; he was known to have an appetite for the biggest and most unusual of gems. But again, Madame, we cannot be certain..."

Lord Henry Philip Hope
Though Evalyn was growing impatient with eagerness to see the treasure sealed up in Cartier's package, shrewd salesman that he was, he did not open it. He just went on talking: "But we do know that in 1839, a blue diamond weighing over fourty-five carats appeared in the collection catalogue of Henry Phillip Hope, a most prominent London banker and diamond collector. Monsieur Hope, he called it 'the Hope Diamond,' but he included no record of this diamond's pedigree in the catalogue. We have come to believe, however, that a stone of such distinct size and color could only have been cut from the French Blue."
Evalyn could wait no longer and suddenly asked to see the stone. Cartier breathed quietly without movement for a long moment. "I suppose a Parisian jewel merchant who trades among the ultra-rich has to be more or less an actor," observed Evalyn. "Finally, he stripped away the wrappings and held before our eyes the Hope Diamond."


notorious past | savvy sales pitch | one-of-a-kind | becoming a legend
heart of gold | curses debunked | timeline

Mona Lisa
detail from Guernica
Lilies of the Valley Faberge Egg
Hope Diamond
Taj Mahal
scene from Borobudur

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