A new setting for the Hope Diamond

When I first heard of this, I thought it had to be a hoax. One of those stories serious news outlets like to run on April 1st. But no, this is the end of August, and apparently this is true: the Smithsonian Institution intends to remove the Hope Diamond from its current setting!

Hope diamondThe Hope is of course the former “French Blue” purchased by Louis XIV for the gem dealer Tavernier, stolen during the French Revolution, “discovered” in London twenty years later, finally acquired by Harry Winston and donated to the Smithsonian, where it is now one of the star attractions.

First, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this acquisition, the Smithsonian intends to display the fabled gem in the nude, so to speak. A wonderful idea, because it will allow the public to admire the Hope in all the splendor of its vibrant blue color, currently darkened by the dismal Cartier setting. Then it will be set into a necklace for a few months, and then – sigh – put back into the Cartier setting.

For an interview of Jeffrey Post, curator in chief of the National Gem and Mineral Collection, and a slide show displaying the three proposed settings, follow this link to NPR. Note how Mr. Post refers to the Cartier setting as the “historic” setting. In fact, it is only the most recent. I must say I like any of the three new settings far better, with a marked preference for the first one, reminiscent of the Indian origins of the stone. In any case, all of the proposed settings would free the Hope of its white diamond enclosure, and do justice to its extraordinary color.

And what of the curse of the Hope Diamond? Here I agree with Mr. Post: it was simply astute, and successful salesmanship on the part of Pierre Cartier.

We are supposed to be able to vote for our favorite setting, but the link at the bottom of the NPR article does not work for me. Too bad…

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