More than 200 million visitors have marveled at the beauty and majesty of the Hope Diamond since jeweler Harry Winston donated it to the Smithsonian Institution in 1958. What most of those visitors don’t know is that the Hope bears a complicated, multinational lineage that connects it with the stolen French Blue and an earlier incarnation called the Tavernier.
On Friday, the Smithsonian celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Janet Annenburg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals — and its most popular exhibit — by revealing replicas of what the Hope Diamond looked like before it was the Hope.
“After many years of work, we have revealed some new insights into the Hope Diamond’s origins,” said Jeffrey Post, chair of the Department of Mineral Sciences and curator of the National Gem and Mineral Collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. “With these remarkable replicas, we can now see the Hope Diamond as King Louis XIV saw it more than 300 years ago.”
The computer models, above, depict the history of the Hope Diamond, including (counterclockwise from top) the Tavernier, the French Blue and the Hope Diamond.
The cubic zirconia replicas are the result of a decade-long research project conducted by Post, in collaboration with Professor Francois Farges of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, and renowned New York-based lapidary, John Hatleberg. Eventually, they will go on display alongside the genuine Hope Diamond.
Researchers believe the Hope Diamond’s origin can be traced back to 1642, with the discovery in India of a beautiful blue rough diamond. It was crudely finished and weighed 115 carats when it was purchased in 1666 by French merchant Jean Baptiste Tavernier, at which time it became known as the Tavernier Diamond.
French King Louis XIV bought the Tavernier Diamond in February 1669 and ordered it to be recut. The result was a 69-carat heart-shaped stone that would be known as the French Blue.
In 1792, the French Blue was stolen from the royal treasury in Paris. Its whereabouts remained unknown until a large blue diamond appeared in 1839 in the collection of Henry Philip Hope, a London banker and gem collector. Post and his associates are confident that the antique cushion-cut Hope Diamond, at 45.52 carats, is derived from the French Blue.
In 2009, a 17th century lead replica of the French Blue was discovered at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris. It had been misfiled under the category of “lead specimens.” Scientists used computer modeling of the lead replica to simulate what the actual jewel looked like during the reign of Louis XIV.
“Because of the information that we have now, the technology that we have available to us and some skilled people, we can actually produce a replica for the first time that will show us what [the Tavernier Diamond], the French Blue diamond and, of course, the Hope Diamond look like side by side,” Post told WTOP.com.
Credits: Hope Diamond photo by Chip Clark/Smithsonian Institution. Computer model creator Stephen Attaway, photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution. Lead replica photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution.
NJ Officer Searches Breakdown Lane — on His Own Time — to Find Engagement Ring of Young Bride-to-Be
A police officer with a heart of gold searched the breakdown lane of Route 4 in New Jersey — on his own time — to find the engagement ring of a young bride-to-be.
Kimberly Garcia had lost her ring while changing a flat tire on the side of the busy highway in northern New Jersey, but didn’t realize it had slipped off until she got home on Sunday. The distraught 27-year-old, whose wedding is set for August 2018, filed a report with the Paramus Police Department and returned to the scene the same day with a group of officers.
Despite their best efforts, they were unable to find the ring.
Obviously moved by Garcia’s plight, Officer Jon Henderson was not ready to give up the search. On Monday, he returned to Route 4 during his free patrol time and meticulously scoured the breakdown lane where Garcia had been.
Before long, the officer had successfully located the ring and returned it to an ever-grateful Garcia.
The Paramus Police Department posted a photo of the officer and Garcia, whose brilliant smile reflects just how happy she is to have her engagement ring back on her finger.
The caption reads, in part, “The Paramus Police Department is ecstatic that Officer Jon Henderson was able to recover the lost engagement ring of Kimberly Garcia.”
The post earned 1,300 Likes, 113 Comments and 43 Shares on Facebook.
Noted Facebook user Don Pierce, “Awesome job! No surprise here. Paramus PD is a class outfit.”
Added Michael Dalton, “Excellent job!! Way to go above & beyond!!”
Bringing an amusing perspective to the story was Chris Balutis, who wrote, “I don’t know which is more impressive. That he took the extra time to locate her ring or that she was changing her own flat on the side of Route 4!”
Credit: Image courtesy of Paramus Police Department.
Graff’s $53M Purchase Reunites 1,109-Carat Lesedi La Rona With Her 373-Carat Sibling
British billionaire and diamantaire Laurence Graff paid $53 million for the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona, the largest gem-quality rough diamond discovered in more than a century. Graff’s purchase marks the poignant reunion of two of the world’s largest and most high-profile diamonds. You see, Graff had already paid $17.5 million for the 373.72-carat “chunk” that fractured from her sibling during the mining process.
Lucara Diamond Corp. and Graff closed the deal with a handshake after more than a year of negotiations. The 79-year-old founder of Graff Diamonds had purchased Lesedi La Rona’s smaller sibling at Lucara’s Exceptional Stone Tender in May. That price was $46,827 per carat, just slightly lower than the $47,777 per-carat price paid for Lesedi La Rona.
“We are thrilled and honored to become the new custodians of this incredible diamond,” noted Graff in a statement. “Our highly skilled team of master craftsmen will draw on many years of experience of crafting the most important diamonds, working night and day to ensure that we do justice to this remarkable gift from Mother Nature.”
What the tennis-ball-sized Lesedi La Rona will ultimately yield after the cutting and polishing process is still a mystery.
“The stone will tell us its story. It will dictate how it wants to be cut and we will take the utmost care to respect its exceptional properties,” Graff added. “This is a momentous day in my career, and I am privileged to be given the opportunity to honor the magnificent natural beauty of the Lesedi La Rona.”
The largest gem-quality rough diamond of all time is the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond. It was discovered in South Africa in 1905 and eventually cut into nine major pieces and 96 smaller brilliant-cut diamonds. The largest of the polished diamonds, the Great Star of Africa, weighed 530.4 carats and is now part of the British Crown Jewels.
Back in June of 2016, Lucara Diamond Corp. was confident that Lesedi La Rona, which means “our light” in Botswana’s Tswana language, would fetch at least $70 million when it went under the hammer during a stand-alone sale at Sotheby’s London.
The diamond went unsold when bidding stalled at $61 million. Then, in the summer of 2017, Lucara officials lamented that Lesedi La Rona might be “too big to sell” and contemplated slicing it into smaller parcels.
At first blush, it appears as if Graff made a great deal at $53 million. By comparison, the 813-carat Constellation — also sourced from Lucara’s Karowe mine in Botswana and nearly 300 carats lighter — sold for $63 million in May of 2016. In fact, Lesedi La Rona, the Constellation and the Graff “chunk” were all found within 72 hours of one another in November of 2015.
All three stone are rated Type IIa, the purest of all diamonds because they are composed solely of carbon with virtually no trace elements in the crystal lattice.
Graff is no stranger to the world of magnificent diamonds. In 2006, he bought the 603-carat uncut Lesotho Promise for $12.4 million. Also among his treasures are the D-flawless 102.79-carat Graff Constellation, the 118-carat vivid fancy yellow Delaire Sunrise diamond and the internally flawless 23.88-carat Graff Pink.
Credits: Images courtesy of Graff Diamonds, Lucara Diamond Corp.
Engagement Ring Lost While Baking Cookies Turns Up 50+ Years Later During Kitchen Renovation
Herman’s Hermits were on the radio, Lyndon B. Johnson was in The White House and Audrey Musgrove was on her hands and knees looking for an engagement ring she would never find in the kitchen of her brand new home in Sully, Iowa.
The year was 1965, and the young mom had taken off her bridal jewelry prior to mixing up a batch of cookies with her son. She had placed the rings against the backsplash, but when she returned later to retrieve the rings, the engagement ring was gone.
If the ring had fallen from the backsplash, it had to be in the kitchen — somewhere — but despite hours of searching, Audrey and husband, Don, came up empty.
“We hunted everywhere, but didn’t find it,” Audrey told hometownpressia.com. “We had no way to know for sure, and removing cabinets at the time didn’t seem logical.”
She accepted the harsh reality that the engagement ring was likely gone forever.
She did joke, though, that 100 years from now somebody would be tearing down the house and maybe they’d find the ring.
More than 50 years passed and the Musgroves, in 2016, moved into a new Sully home more suited to their senior lifestyle. She has worn the wedding band every day for 59 years, but never replaced the engagement ring.
Earlier this year, the new owners of the Musgrove home, George and Kimberley Mould, embarked on a total kitchen renovation. When they removed the island cabinet, a pristine engagement ring winked up at them. The startled homeowners contacted their real estate agent, who, in turn, tracked down the Musgroves. Audrey provided a detailed description of the missing ring, and the real estate agent confirmed it was hers.
“I had asked about picking the ring up, and since [the Moulds] were at the house working, they said to ‘Come on over,’” Audrey Musgrove told hometownpressia.com. “We both went to the house to get it. We were so excited, and I think they were also excited as Kimberley gave me a big hug when she handed me the ring. It was in perfect condition!”
Audrey Musgrove is still having trouble wrapping her head around the fact that her engagement ring is back on her finger.
“I still can’t believe it and have to look at it every once in a while to believe it is really there,” she said.