Saturday, November 10, 2012
On November 10, 1958, New York jeweler Harry Winston donated the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution. Also known as "Le bleu de France," the gem is very large at 45.52-carats and deeply blue to the naked eye because of trace amounts of boron in its crystal structure. (It exhibits red phosphorescence after exposure to ultraviolet light.) It was cut from a massive, crude precursor stone (the Tavernier Blue, 115 carats) from India, and sold around 1668 to King Louis XVI. Notorious for supposedly being cursed, the "most famous diamond in the world" passed through multiple owners in France, Britain and the U.S. Harry Winston bought it in 1949. He delivered it to the Smithsonian by sending it via registered U.S. Mail in a box wrapped in brown paper, insured at a cost of $145.29. Its value now exceeds $250 million.