1839Henry 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).
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