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Concealing the theft of the French Crown Jewels

In Exotic Mineralogy, James Sowerby provides the following description of the French Blue: "a sky-blue [diamond], among the crown jewels of France, weighing 67 carats and two sixteenths” (Sowerby 1817). In his next sentence, he mentions another diamond, also blue, also quite large, that was at that time owned by a man named Daniel Eliason. We know now that Eliason's diamond (which will later be known as the Hope) was cut from the French Blue, but Sowerby makes no connection between the two diamonds.

By 1817, when Sowerby's book was published, twenty-five years had passed since the theft of the French Crown Jewels. Over forty years more passed before anyone published about a possible connection between the French Blue and the Hope Diamond. Why did it take so long for experts to link them? One possibility is that the theft itself was not widely known in Sowerby's time. It is likely that the individuals in charge of protecting the gems did not want the theft to be widely reported since this would advertise their failure and damage their reputation. In addition, the robbery occurred in a time before mass communication existed, when media was limited and functioned much differently than it does today. The theft of the crown jewels of France may thus not have been widely reported, explaining why Sowerby and others in London did not suspect a link between the two diamonds (Post and Farges 2014).

Creator Stephen Attaway
Source Attaway Gems

Computer models depicting the history of the Hope Diamond, including (counterclockwise from top) the Tavernier, the French Blue, and the Hope Diamond.

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