Uncommon Knowledge: Who cursed the Hope Diamond?
Sometime around 1650, French jeweler Jean-Baptiste Tavernier emerged from the Indian subcontinent with an exceptionally large, brilliant blue diamond. It was whispered that he had stolen it from the eye of an idol, and that the goddess’s curse followed all those who owned or wore the gem. In 1911, the New York Times published a lengthy list of those whose lives had been blighted by what had come to be known as the Hope Diamond: royalty deposed, reputations ruined, and many a grisly demise. Then, as now, this makes for an exciting story—which helped to drive newspaper sales, while raising the value of the diamond for its alive-and-well owners. In fact, with only a couple of exceptions, the diamond has been safely passed between nobles, collectors and socialites for three-and-a-half centuries, with each owner embellishing the jewel’s story to burnish their own reputation.