The Hope Diamond was originally owned by Tavernier, the French traveller, already mentioned. Born in Paris in 1605, he spent some years in the East, traded extensively in precious stones, and accumulated a vast fortune. In the year 1668 the gem, subsequently known as "the Hope Diamond," was sold by Tavernier in a parcel of fine diamonds to Louis XIV, the Grand Monarque. Tavernier was soon after robbed by his son of an immense sum of money; left destitute, at the age of eighty-one he died in exile. The King's haughty and arrogant favourite, the Duchesse de Montespan, prevailed upon her Royal lover to allow her to wear the dazzling gem at a Court Ball. From that hour she lost her fascination for the fickle monarch, and the circumstances of her fall confirmed the sinister superstition as to the fateful nature of the blue diamond. Most beautiful and most unhappy of all its wearers was Marie Antoinette. She not only wore it herself, but lent it to her dearest friend the Princesse de Lamballe.
When Madame de Lamballe's head was paraded on a pike by the revolutionary mob, and shown to the King and Queen - then practically prisoners - and when subsequently the ill-fated Louis XVI perished on the guillotine, and finally was followed by his Queen, who was driven slowly to the scaffold so that she should be made to "drink long of death," the superstitious remembered the reputed curse which the blue diamond was said to bring upon its possessors. For thirty years after this the ill-fated diamond was lost to the public gaze, until it was found in the possession of a lapidary of Amsterdam, whose son stole it from his father and disappeared, Fals, the gem-cutter, dying in absolute want. The son gave the jewel to a Frenchman named Beaulieu, and after disposing of it committed suicide. Francois Beaulieu brought the gem to London and sold it to a dealer named Daniel Eliason, Beaulieu himself dying the next day mysteriously.
Mr. Henry Thomas Hope was the next purchaser, paying Eliason the sum of £18,000 for it. The stone remained in the Hope family until 1901, when Lord Francis Hope (who had married and divorced an actress) sold it to a diamond merchant, who resold it to an American, who, becoming financially embarrassed, disposed of it to M. Jacques Colot. He in his turn disposed of it to a Russian Prince who was stabbed; and the French dealer from whom he purchased it ended his own life. Next a Greek merchant met with a violent death after selling the diamond to Abdul Hamid, the ex-Sultan of Turkey, who narrowly escaped with his life after losing his throne. A firm of New York jewellers next bought the sinister gem, and although a story was circulated that they had disposed of it to a gentleman who had gone down in the ill-fated Titanic, it is believed to be, at present, in the possession of Mr. McLean, an American millionaire, to whom so far nothing untoward has happened.
The preceding paragraph was written in 1914, and in May, 1919, further proof was given of the strange fatality that accompanies this stone in the announcement in all European papers of the death of Vincent Walsh McLean, aged eleven years, who was accidentally killed by a motor-car whilst playing in the road (having escaped from his nurse) near his father's estate.
Great importance was attached by the Hindus to the original shape of a diamond, a triangular stone being thought to cause quarrels, a square diamond terrors; but a six-cornered stone was thought to bring the best of good fortune and to renew the strength in old age.