Skip to main content.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Website Search Box
Search Item
{search_item}
Scroll left
Scroll right
1760
1770
1780
1790
1800
1810
1820
1830
1840
1850
1860
1870
1880
1890
1900
Plate from Mawe, 1823 showing several unusual diamonds. Both 4 and 5 are the Hope. The original caption read
1813-1823
Several British naturalists wrote about Eliason's blue diamond. A later account placed the diamond in the possession of George IV.
READ MORE
Portrait of Henry Philip Hope from 1823
1839
A blue diamond is described in the gem collection catalogue of Henry Philip Hope. The diamond thereafter bears his name.
READ MORE
Illustration of the Crystal Palace from Dickinson's Comprehensive Pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851, published 1854. The Crystal Palace, designed by architect Joseph Paxton, was 1,848 feet long and 484 feet wide.
1851
The Hope Diamond was displayed at the Crystal Palace for the Great London Exhibition
READ MORE

1839
Henry Philip Hope's gem collection

Henry Philip Hope (1774-1839) was a wealthy British banker with an affinity for fine art and precious gems. An 1839 catalogue of his gem collection mentions a large blue diamond weighing 45.5 carats. The diamond would take his name, becoming known as “Hope’s Diamond” or the “Hope Diamond.” The catalogue describes the diamond as “a most magnificent and rare brilliant, of a deep sapphire blue, of the greatest purity, and most beautifully cut” (Hertz 1839). It was set in a medallion with smaller, rose-cut, colorless diamonds surrounding it and a pearl that dropped from the bottom of the medallion as a pendant. Unfortunately, Hope does not record when or where he acquired the diamond in his 1839 catalogue.

Henry Philip Hope died in 1839, leaving his possessions to his three nephews: Henry Thomas, Adrian, and Alexander. In his will, Henry Philip Hope divided his money and property amongst the brothers, but did not leave instructions for the division of his gem collection. Given the immense value of his collection, the Hope brothers argued for years over who would inherit it. In 1849, after ten years of dispute, the brothers reached an agreement: the property went to Adrian, the Hope Pearl and around 700 precious gemstones went to Alexander, and the Hope Diamond and seven other gems went to Henry Thomas (Kurin 2006).

Gallery

1890 illustration of the Hope Diamond as it was set while owned by Henry Philip Hope
The Hope Diamond and Hope Pearl. Both once were part of the collection of Henry Philip Hope. They were reunited during the Allure of Pearls exhibit at the Smithsonian in 2005.
Portrait of Henry Philip Hope from 1823
Description of the Hope Diamond from Hertz 1939
An illustration of diamonds from Hertz 1839. The Hope Diamond is pictured in the upper left-hand corner.
Timeline adapted from Post and Farges 2014 and sources therein. Updated 23 October 2017.

[ TOP ]