The Hope Diamond on display at the Smithsonian [wiki] may not belong to us.
France’s National Museum of Natural History say they can show beyond reasonable doubt that the Hope Diamond, once owned by King Louis XIV, was looted in the French Revolution.
“The evidence corroborates a scenario under which the diamond, after being stolen in Paris in 1792, was swiftly smuggled to London, where it was recut. The Blue Diamond came from a massive, 115.6-carat blue-tinged stone mined in the kingdom of Golconda, in India’s Hyderabad state. In the mid-17th century, a French adventurer by the name of Jean-Baptiste Tavernier purchased the stone from Golconda’s ruler and then sold it on to Louis XIV.
“After Louis XVI tried to flee revolutionary France, the French crown jewels were sequestered by the revolutionary regime and held in a mansion on the Place de la Concorde in Paris, where they were stolen in a five-day spree by a gang in September 1792. From then on, the Blue Diamond was never seen or heard of again.
“But suspicions began to be aroused in 1812, when a massive blue stone of 45.54 carats was attributed to a London diamond merchant, Daniel Eliason. Its next known owner was a British banker, Henry Philip Hope. The diamond showed up in his catalog, but with no details of its provenance. After Hope’s death, the gem was bequeathed to his nephew and ultimately the nephew’s grandson, who sold it to pay off debts.
“In the 20th century, it passed into American hands and eventually was donated by Harry Winston Inc. of New York to the Smithsonian in 1958.”