Skip to main content.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Website Search Box
Search Item
{search_item}
Scroll left
Scroll right
1860
1870
1880
1890
1900
1910
1920
1930
1940
1950
1960
1970
1980
1990
2000
Pierre Cartier with his wife and daughter
1910
The French jewelry house Cartier purchased the Hope Diamond and began seeking a buyer.
READ MORE
Evalyn Walsh McLean wearing the Hope Diamond as a pendant on a diamond necklace.
1912
Pierre Cartier sold the Hope Diamond to Ned and Evalyn Walsh McLean for $180,000. Before he made the sale, he commissioned a contemporary setting to make it more appealing to the McLeans.
READ MORE
Evalyn Walsh McLean’s jewelry: 74 pieces purchased by Harry Winston, Inc. The Hope diamond necklace is upper left and the Star of the East Diamond necklace is upper right.
1947-1949
Evalyn Walsh McLean passed away in 1947 at the age of 60. Two years later, the Hope Diamond and the rest of her jewelry collection were purchased by Harry Winston, Inc.
READ MORE

1912
The McLeans buy the Hope Diamond

In 1912, Pierre Cartier sold the Hope Diamond to an American couple, Ned and Evalyn Walsh McLean. The sale was the result of two years of work.

Pierre identified the McLeans as potential buyers shortly after Cartier purchased the Hope Diamond. Both Evalyn and Ned were heirs to American fortunes, Evalyn's from mining and Ned's from newspapers. They were previous, big-spending clients of Cartier, having purchased the 94.8-carat Star of the East Diamond from Cartier in 1908 while they were on their honeymoon. Pierre arranged to meet with them in 1910 while they were on vacation in Paris. He presented his embellished tale of the Hope Diamond’s extraordinary provenance to the McLeans, including the curse that brought bad luck to all who owned it. Evalyn was fascinated with the story and told Pierre that she believed objects that brought bad luck to others would bring good luck to her. Despite her interest, she initially declined to purchase the blue diamond because she did not like its setting (McLean 1936).

Pierre, a persistent man, did not let an old-fashioned setting prevent him from securing the sale. He took the Hope Diamond to New York, where he had it reset into a contemporary mounting. In the new mounting (essentially the same mounting it is in today), the Hope was framed by 16 colorless diamonds and could be worn as part of a head ornament or a diamond necklace. Pierre returned to Washington and left the newly set Hope with Evalyn and Ned over a weekend.

Pierre's strategy was successful—Evalyn adored the Hope Diamond, and several months later agreed to purchase it from Cartier, settling on a price of $180,000 (Patch 1999) plus the return of an emerald and pearl pendant with diamond necklace that she no longer wanted (McLean 1936). The Hope Diamond became Evalyn Walsh McLean’s signature in the high society of Washington, D.C. She wore it frequently, layered with her other important gems and jewelry, to events and the lavish parties she hosted. Evalyn would even let her Great Dane, Mike, wear the Hope Diamond on his collar.

Timeline adapted from Post and Farges 2014 and sources therein. Updated 23 October 2017.

[ TOP ]