The Famous Hope Diamond was discovered in India as a rough crystal apparently weighing 112 carats. It first came to light when the noted 17th Century French traveller Jean Baptiste Tavernier was approached in India by a slave who had in his possession an intriguing steel blue stone which at first seemed to be a large sapphire, but the experienced Tavernier soon realized it was a diamond. In fact is was the largest blue diamond in the world.
According to legend, the diamond was stolen from the eye of an idol in a temple on the coleroon River in India. The fate of “the other eye” has never come to light. The diamond disappeared, and for many years it was not heard from at all, but in 1830 a large steel blue diamond weighing 44.50 carats appeared on the market in England and was purchased by Henry Thomas Hope, an English banker.
The diamond was shown at a The London exhibition in 1851 and was insured for a million dollars (roughly $25 million today), but this was the largest known diamond of it’s type in the world.
It was later inherited by a descendant, Lord Francis Pelham Clinton Hope who eventually went bankrupt and again the diamond vanished, only to be discovered by the estate trustees after it had been sold as a piece of costume jewellery!
In 1949, Harry Winston purchased the McLean collection which contained not only the Hope Diamond, but the Star of the East Diamond as well. He later gave it to the nation, and it is now on display in Washington D.C.