Named for Henry Philip Hope, the diamond has been known by other names, including Bijou du Roi, Le Bleu de France, and Tavernier Blue. The Hope Diamond is believed to have come from the Kollur Mine in Golconda, India. It was purchased by Tavernier in the 1600s. At that time, it was a rough triangular stone weighing in at 112 carat. It was trimmed down to 67 carats in 1673 by Louis XIV’s court jeweler.
After a series of unfortunate events, the diamond was stolen in 1792. It was not seen again until 1812 by a diamond merchant in London named Daniel Eliason. At this point in time, the stone weighted 44.25 carats, suggesting the stone had been altered during its absence. It was returned to the crown and eventually was sold to Henry Phillip Hope to pay off the debts of George IV. When Henry Phillip Hope passed away in 1839, the stone was passed down first to his nephew, and then to his nephew’s grandson.
Harry Winston eventually acquired the stone and it remained in his collection until he donated it to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. The Hope Diamond is visited by tens of thousands at the museum each year.
The diamond that would go on to be known as the Golden Empress was mined at the Letšeng diamond mine. The mine has a long history of uncovering notable stones in its 60 years of operation, with a high percentile of these stones weighing in over 10 carats. Other famous stones include the 601 carat Lesotho Brown, which was mined in 1960. In more recent history a 198 carat white diamond was found in 2014. The mine has also produced four of the top 20 largest white diamonds on record. Of the top 20 biggest white diamonds on record, the Letšeng has produced four.
A familiar source was tapped for cutting the stone. Laurence Graff was called upon for his experience with colored stones, including a 47.39 carat yellow diamond named the Star of Bombay. Cutting colored diamonds requires a different skillset than that of their colorless counterparts as they are softer, meaning that extra precision is required.
The 299 carat rough went on to form six pear cut and two brilliant cut stones. The first of these was a marquise cut diamond that weighed in at 21.34 carats. The Golden Empress was the showcase of the lot, with a final weight of 132.55 carats. It was rated as a Fancy Intense Yellow. Only one in ten thousand diamonds receives this grading. The Empress went on to be set in a necklace of 31 other Fancy Intense yellow diamonds, a dazzling showcase of the beauty of colored diamonds.
What is your favorite of these diamonds? Arpege Diamonds will continue to explore the most famous diamonds in history with our Famous Diamond Series. Do you have a suggestion for future articles? Let us know below!
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