The ice blue fire of the stone once shone like a star on the forehead of an Indian temple statue until the day when it was ruthlessly torn out by a French adventurer. He would pay a high price for his actions and would later die painful death. The stone would become known as the Hope Diamond but what it brought most of its owners was despair.
While the Hope Diamond is regarded as the most beautiful and precious diamond in the world – at the same time it is to be the most dangerous. Since its theft from India a deadly curse is to live on within it. European kings, the richest woman in America as well as other owners all suffered terrible bad luck: They went bankrupt, were murdered, committed suicide or died in an accident.
This is the beginning of the dark story of a famous as well as notorious gemstone, which we know as Hope Diamond.
The Hope Diamond is believed to have come from the Kallur mine in the Golconda Region, on the river Kistna, in southwest India. In 1642 it appeared for the first time in Europe in the possession of a French merchant named Jean-Baptist Tavernier, who is said to have stolen it from the headband of the statue of the goddess Sita consort of the god Rama.
In 1668 he sold the stone – now known as the Tavinier Blue – for a significant amount to King Louis XIV of France. The diamond was originally 115 carats but was recut in the western style resulting in a 69 karat masterpiece called the “French Blue” which became part of the French crown jewels.
Jean-Baptist Tavernier was not able to enjoy his profit and, in the process of try to save his son from debtor’s jail, he himself lost much of his fortune. In the hope of making up for his loss, Tavernier traveled to India. It was here that the curse struck again and after he died of a raging fever his body was torn to bits by a pack of wild dogs.
The Sun King (Louis XIV) himself died horribly of gangrene caused by an infected wound and all of his legitimate children died in childhood, except for one. (Anne-Élisabeth, Marie-Anne and Louis-François all died before the age of two.)
Nicholas Fouquet, who worked for King Louis XIV, wore the gem to a special occasion and wound up spending 15 years in a prison at the fortress of Pignerol.
The diamond, on the other hand, was passed from one king to the next, and each of these kings suffered a tragic fate.
King Louis XV is said not to have much liked the gemstone and wore it rarely. Nevertheless the curse caught up with him and he contracted a virulent form of smallpox that turned every inch of his skin into a blackened scab of blood. His death was said to be excruciatingly painful.
King Louis XVI lost a large part of his empire and later fell out of favour with the people of France. Both he and Marie Antoinette wore the jewel and died on the Guillotine during the French revolution.
Princess de Lamballe was a courtier of Marie Antoinette and would often handle the Hope Diamond and the Order of the Golden Fleece. She was killed by a mob during the revolution in a most horrific fashion including being stripped, raped, beaten, tortured and eventually disemboweled.
The cursed diamond disappeared after the royal storehouse (the Garde-Meuble) was robbed in 1792.
There is a strong suggestion that it may have found its way to Queen Maria Louisa of Spain around 1800. The curse followed quickly and she lost popularity with the people of Spain becoming one of the most hated people in the land. In 1808 she and her husband were forced into exile shortly before Napoleon invaded Spain.
One version of the legend claims that Napoleon Bonaparte himself took the jewel from the Spanish around 1809 and from the moment he owned it all his military campaigns turned sour leading to the disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812 and his ultimate defeat in 1813 when Paris fell to his enemies. Napoleon would ultimately die as a prisoner on the island of St. Helena under mysterious circumstances after a horrible sickness – some say arsenic poisoning. It’s been suggested that the stone was stolen from Napoleon’s treasury around 1810 and sold for a pittance to a string of middlemen.
The Hope Diamond seems to have resurfaced in the possession of a Dutch jeweler known as Wilhelm Fals sometime around 1810. He drastically recut the diamond – possibly to disguise its origin. The larger piece would later become known as the Hope Diamond. This was soon stolen from him by his son Hendrik Fals who also murdered his fathered for good measure. The legend states that Hendrik sold the stone to a French diamond merchant called Francis Beaulieu for a fraction of its value and used the money to live a life of sin and debauchery. He was eventually driven mad by his own alcoholism, STD’s and guilt. Hendrik Fals killed himself in 1830.
The size and style of the gem made it difficult to sell in France where it might still be linked to the robbery of the Garde-Meuble. Together with an unknown French diamond cutter, Francis Beaulieu split off a small section of the stone and used this to fund a trip to London. He struggled to find someone he trusted to buy the gem and became ever more impoverished, paranoid and physically wasted. Eventually, he settled on Daniel Eliason a well-respected Hatton Garden jeweler. He showed Eliason the stone and offered it for 5,000 pounds (around £200,000 today). Eliason wanted time to think it over but when he went back the next day he found Francis Beaulieu dead on his bed. The stone was clutched in Beaulieu’s hand but the young man was dead of starvation. This was almost exactly 20 years after the robbery of the French Blue – just when the statute of limitations on the theft were expiring.
Some sources claim that Eliason sold the stone to King George III in 1814 where it became known as the ‘London Blue’. If this is true it was bad luck for King George III. His compulsive and unexplained madness returned and he was dead by 1820. Some say the stone passed to King George IV who kept it for ten years until 1830. During this time he became an alcoholic, possibly addicted to a heroin type drug called laudanum, so obese his cloths no longer fitted, partially blind from cataracts, mentally unstable and plagued by gout.