The Hope Diamond is one of the most famous chunks of mineral in the history of the world, and the mystery of the Hope Diamond Curse is a big part of that. What is the curse of the Hope Diamond? To some, it’s an eerie and unexplainable pattern that sees those who come into close contact with the $250 million jewel experience misfortune, tragedy, and, often, death. To others, it’s an overblown and exaggerated myth made up of specious stories and spurious connections. As it often is, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
The Hope Diamond, which first entered history in the 17th century, has been around for a long time, and it has been owned by individuals who have experienced great tragedy; however, it’s also been owned by plenty of people who haven’t. In between, it’s been alleged to have been owned by a number of people for which there is no evidence of ownership, in a bid to deepen the mystery of the supposed curse. In the end, the saga of the Hope Diamond is likely nothing more than proof that bad things can happen to rich people, too.
The exact origins of the jewel that would become the Hope Diamond are shrouded in myth and mystery, but it was definitely taken out of India in the 17th century by Jean-Baptiste Tavernier. Some accounts describe Tavernier as buying the rock, which would become known as the Tavernier Blue, while others have him stealing it, which does seem more likely. The most spurious sources have Tavernier dramatically stealing the diamond from an ancient and cursed temple, before being set upon by wild dogs, but that’s definitely not true. Tavernier made it back to France and lived into old age.
Tavernier sold the Tavernier Blue in 1668 to King Louis XIV, the French monarch of the time. He had it recut and dubbed it the Blue Diamond of the Crown of France, normally shortened to “French Blue.” While Louis XIV was a popular leader, known as the Sun King, the arrival of the diamond marked the beginning of the end for his dynasty. Louis XIV would go on to outlive all his children, making his successor a contentious issue - in fact, so many members of his family died that the next person to inherit the throne after him was his great-grandson. That was only the start of bad times to come for the French monarchy.
The French Blue is alleged to have been worn at one point by Nicolas Fouquet, the superintendent of finances in France under Louis XIV. While it’s unclear whether or not Fouquet, who was in charge of protecting the crown jewels, ever actually wore the jewel in question, the downward spiral of his life is not in any doubt. Fouquet fell out of favor with the French monarchy and was eventually imprisoned for life. In fact, there is some speculation that Fouquet is the real identity of the infamous Man in the Iron Mask.
Marie Antoinette is one of the most famous figures in French history, even if she never really did say, “Let them eat cake.” Antoinette and her husband, Louis XVI, lost their lives during the course of the French Revolution, and some sources blame the curse of the Hope Diamond for their fate. Antoinette was reported to have worn the French Blue on multiple occasions, although other sources claim that the diamond was really more of a display piece in those days. In any case, Antoinette met with the guillotine in 1793.