The famous Hope Diamond, the stone of legend and curse. It was thought to be originally from India and at one time was part of the Crown Jewells of France, known as the "French Blue". It disappeared during the Revolution turning up 20 years later, cut down to this size.
It is supposed to be cursed but it's generally thought that Pierre Cartier played this up when trying to sell the jewell to Evalyn Walsh McLean. She liked gems with a history but she didn't like the setting so after the sale, the diamond was mounted as a headpiece on a three tiered circlet of large diamonds. Later it was made into a pendant and attached to the diamond necklace as it is today. It was owned by the Hope family for most of the 19th Century.
If it wasn't cursed then Evalyn was certainly an unlucky woman. Her husband left her and died in an asylum and two of her children died young.
Jeweller Harry Winston bought the diamond after her death in 1947 and donated it to the Smithsonian in 1958. Last year, for the fiftieth anniversary of that donation, the diamond was removed from it's setting.
Three new modern settings were drafted and the final selection was decided by public voting. It will be unveiled in April, 2010.
The first design by Maurice Galli is called a Journey of Hope symbolizing the American experience of uniting Hope and Opportunity.
Gallli's second design, Embracing Hope, has three ribbon rows of of baguette diamonds hugging the Hope in the centre.
Rie Yatsuki created the third design, Renewed Hope. The dangling diamonds recall the flow of water in nature.
After a limited time in its new setting, the Hope will be returned to its heritage setting.
The diamond was thought to be unique in emanating a strong reddish-orange glow after being exposed to ultra violet light. Researchers discovered that almost all blue diamonds glow after exposure. These blue diamonds get their colour from traces of Boron and this interacts with nitrogen and UV to give the stones a glow of bluish-green overlaying a red phosphorescence.
With the difference between colour and duration of glow, researchers can use this as a diamond fingerprint to distinguish between fake and real stones. It could track stolen diamonds even if they've been re-cut.
The Hope Diamond weighs 45.52 carats.
It has a length of 25.60mm, a width of 21.78mm and depth of 12.00mm.
It's a cushion cut antique brilliant with a faceted girdle and extra facets on the pavillion.
Its clarity classification is VS1 with a whitish graining.
Its colour is a fancy dark grayish blue.
In its pendant shape, it is surrounded by 16 white pear-shaped and cushion cut diamonds. The necklace chain contains 45 white diamonds.