Aiken and The Hope Diamond

hope diamondThe Hope Diamond is a 45.52 carat stone shrouded in mystery. Speculation swirls regarding its origins. It wasn’t known as “The Hope Diamond” until the 20th century, and its journey around the globe has only added to its mystique and legend. The Tavernier Blue Diamond, the entire 115 carat stone from which it is thought the Hope was taken, was a coarsely-cut, triangular-shaped stone.  

A French merchant named Jean-Baptist Tavernier returned to Europe from his travels in India 1640 and 1667 with his magnificent treasure. Gem historians surmise that the diamond was mined from the Kollur Mine in the Guntur district of Andhra Predesh, India. 

From the Eye of a Hindu Idol

One of the most interesting tales about the stone is that Tavernier may have pried it from one of the matching blue diamond eyes of a Hindu idol. As punishment for his great disrespect, the temple priests cast a terrible curse upon all who come into possession of the diamond. This idea has been largely debunked by historians mostly on the premise that the matching blue diamond eye has never surfaced. 

In 1669, King Louis XIV of France bought the Tavernier Blue and had it cut down from its original 115 carats to 67 1/8 carats. From that time it was called the Blue Diamond of the Crown, or simply “The French Blue.” At the urging of his wife, Marie Antoinette, King Louis XVI had the French Blue set into a more elaborate jewelled pendant for the Order of the Golden Fleece. Although she never actually wore it, Marie Antoinette is cited as one of the most famous victims of “the curse.” 

Eventually, the name “The Hope Diamond” was given to it when it became part of a large gem collection owned by Henry Philip Hope. Evalyn Walsh McLean acquired the diamond in 1910 after Pierre Cartier dazzled her by placing the stone in a platinum setting surrounded by a row of sixteen alternating “Old Mine Cut" and pear-shaped diamonds. 

Evalyn was the only daughter of an Irish immigrant who became a multimillionaire when he struck it rich in the silver mines of Colorado. She married Edward Beale McLean in 1908 and became heir to the Washington Post and Cincinnati Enquirer publishing fortune. 

A Diamond for the Dog

Although they divorced in 1929, Evalyn never parted with her “blue.” As a winter colonist in Aiken, she wore the massive diamond as decoration on her gowns and her swimsuits alike, whether she was appreciating art, attending concerts or digging weeds out of her garden. It even adorned her dog’s collar. People who knew Evalyn said that she was always misplacing it, only to recruit the help of friends and family into a “game” of finding it again. 

Mrs. McLean’s heirs sold it to Harry Winston, who in turn donated it to the Smithsonian Institution. Today the Hope Diamond is in the permanant collection at the Smithsonian in the National Museum of Natural History, where millions of people visit it each year. In 2009, the Smithsonian celebrated a half-century of public viewing by giving the stone a new setting that was selected by vote online.

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Evalyn Walsh
McLean

Evalyn

Evalyn Walsh McLean acquired the diamond in 1910 after Pierre Cartier dazzled her by placing the stone in a platinum setting surrounded by a row of sixteen alternating “Old Mine Cut" and pear-shaped diamonds. 

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Aiken Regional Medical Centers is owned and operated by a subsidiary of Universal Health Services, Inc.(UHS), a King of Prussia, PA-based company, that is one of the largest healthcare management companies in the nation.        

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Aiken, SC 29801
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