Skip to main content.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Department of Mineral Sciences

Hope Diamond Home

WEIGHT: 45.52 carats
CLARITY: VS1. Whitish graining is present.
COLOR: Natural fancy deep grayish-blue
CUT: Cushion antique brilliant with a faceted girdle and extra facets on the pavilion.
   Length: 25.60 mm
   Width: 21.78 mm
   Depth: 12.00 mm
Hope Diamond

Today, like every day, thousands to tens of thousands of visitors will press into the Harry Winston Gallery of the Smithsonian’s Geology, Gems and Minerals exhibition to experience the beauty, magic and mystery of the Hope Diamond, making it, perhaps, the most visited museum object in the world. What is it that has elevated the Hope Diamond to such an iconic status? In addition to being the must see at the Smithsonian Institution, it is recognized around the world, and is even used by media in our society as the ultimate example of value and perfection. Many assume that the Hope Diamond is the world’s largest diamond, which of course it is not. The expectation is to see something about the size of a softball, and what they see instead is a 45.52 carat, walnut-sized gem. And then there is the color; who ever heard of a blue diamond? But obviously this diamond must have some things going for it. In fact, once they get past the “it’s not the biggest” disappointment, most people have to admit that it is one of the largest diamonds they have seen. And when they learn that dark-blue diamonds are very rare, and very valuable, and that the Hope is one of the largest known, the respect level quickly rises. No doubt the fact that it has been viewed by more than 100 million people since Harry Winston gave it to the Smithsonian Institution in 1958 also contributes to its fame. Others are intrigued to learn that the Hope diamond was cut from a crystal that was born of unimaginable heat and pressure 100 miles deep in the earth, where no human has ever visited or ever will. Diamonds are also time travelers, having witnessed hundreds of millions to billions of years of Earth’s history, and more recently the lives of those that have cut, sold, and worn them. The Hope Diamond’s recent history, as recounted in the timeline on this web site, includes a stint in the French Crown Jewels, a daring theft, two recuttings, an English King, a wealthy American socialite, a bit of mystery and a curse or two. The beauty of a diamond is undiminished with time. They accumulate history. And of course, the next chapter of the Hope Diamond’s story is happening now. How will it end? No one knows, but for now it sits quietly in its display vault, slowly turning, and watching…

Despite its long history in the public eye, the diamond still prompts many questions. Was the Hope Diamond cut from the great French Blue Diamond that was stolen during the French Revolution in 1792? Are there other blue diamonds that were cut from the same original parent stone as the Hope Diamond? Why does the Hope Diamond emit an intense ember-orange glow after exposure to ultraviolet light? Recent research highlighted elsewhere on this web site has attempted to unlock these and other secrets of the Hope Diamond. A 3-D computer modeling study explored the cutting history of the Hope Diamond and investigated whether other diamonds could have been cut from the Hope Diamond parent stone. A second project used a variety of spectroscopic methods to probe the luminescence behavior of the Hope Diamond, including the orange phosphorescence, and compare it to more than 70 other blue diamonds. In addition to providing insights into the cause of the phosphorescence, the study suggested that the particular phosphorescence behavior of a blue diamond might serve to uniquely identify that stone.

[ TOP ]