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How much is the Hope Diamond worth?

We at the Smithsonian like to say that the Hope Diamond is priceless. Its size, color, and eventful history, as well as its long tenure at the heart of the Smithsonian's gem collection, make it a true American treasure. In any case, it's not for sale!

What can we say about the value of a gem like the Hope, if we're not going to commit to a specific number? A large part of a gem's value comes from its physical properties: color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. But other, less tangible factors can also increase the value of a gem. For example, as Pierre Cartier recognized a hundred years ago, an eventful, well-documented history is important, as are the tastes and means of an individual buyer. The price of an individual stone reflects the confluence of these and other factors.

Blue diamonds like the Hope are very rare, and the money being spent to purchase them is enormous. Several large blue diamonds have fetched tens of millions of dollars at auction in recent years:

YearDiamondPrice (USD)WeightColorSource
2014Zoe32.6M9.75 ctFancy Vivid BlueSotheby's
2014Winston Blue24.2M13.22 ctFancy Vivid BlueChristie's
2008Wittelsbach-Graff24.3M35.56 ctFancy Deep Grayish BlueChristie's

Less well-documented are private sales, where famous stones such as the Heart of Eternity and the Wittelsbach-Graff may have fetched even higher prices.

Creator Chip Clark
Photo ID 2009-49649
Source Smithsonian Institution

The Hope (right) and Wittelsbach-Graff (left) diamonds.

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