Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

The Sciences

The Hope in History

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

A team of gem experts assembled at the Smithsonian Institution may have solved the mystery of where the 45.52-carat Hope diamond came from. If they are right, it was cut from the 69-carat French Blue, a diamond stolen during the French Revolution. The French Blue, in turn, was cut from the 115-carat Tavernier, named after the man who sold the Indian diamond to Louis XIV.

The Smithsonian research team made three-dimensional models of the gems, based on photographs of the Hope and historical drawings of the French Blue and the Tavernier. Using forensic geometry, which gem cutter Stephen Attaway calls “using geometric clues to solve a crime,” they found the three diamonds fit together perfectly.

Historians have long suspected the Hope and the French Blue were once one and the same, but evidence linking them was scant. The French Blue disappeared in 1792. But 20 years later, a suspiciously similar 45.52-carat blue diamond was put on the market. By 1839 it was in the collection of London banker Henry Phillip Hope. As gem cutter Scott Sucher puts it, “Lo and behold, seemingly out of thin air, the Hope diamond appeared.”

Still, the evidence is circumstantial. “We can’t conclusively prove [that the Hope was cut from the French Blue]; we can just show it’s more than likely,” Sucher says. “There’s still that little element of doubt even in my mind.”

    2 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In