Smithsonian Journeys Dispatches

Video: Birthplace of the Hope Diamond

Say you were on a game show and they asked you, “In what country did the Hope Diamond originate?”

Would you know the answer?

The answer is India, but the details are sketchy at best. It was most likely found in the very productive Kollur Mine located in south central India, which operated between the 16th century and the mid-19th century. The diamond was first owned in the mid-17th century by Jean-Baptiste Tavernier as a roughly cut 112 3/16-carat gem, where it was then known as the “Tavernier Blue” until it was sold King Louis XIV of France in 1668 with 14 other large diamonds and several smaller ones. It has been recut by different owners since then and is now 45.52 carats.

Eventually Golconda, India's Kollur Mine was depleted of its diamonds and interest shifted to mines in Brazil. But the Kollur Mine provided the world with several notable diamonds such as the Koh-i-Noor Diamond (meaning Mountain of Light), which is 105.6 carats and is part of the British Crown Jewels.

Today, The National Museum of Natural History has provided the Hope Diamond a home for the past 50 years, but the iconic gem has a long history, full of twists and turns. It’s surrounded by mythology, and has changed hands again and again over time. You can read more in Richard Kurin’s book The Hope Diamond: The Legendary History of the Cursed Gem.

See the original home of the Hope Diamond on our Mystical India Signature Tour.

If given the opportunity, would you wear The Hope Diamond?