The Hope Diamond Mystery

I love mysteries, but I hate to wear jewelry. While I was buying some ruby earings and necklace for my wife Suzanne yesterday, my mind drifted towards the story of this diamond. The history of the stone which was eventually named the Hope diamond began when the French merchant traveller, Jean Baptiste Tavernier, purchased a 112 3/16-carat diamond. This diamond, which was most likely from the Kollur mine in Golconda, India, was somewhat triangular in shape and crudely cut. Its color was described by Tavernier as a "beautiful violet."

Tavernier sold the diamond to King Louis XIV of France in 1668 with 14 other large diamonds and several smaller ones. In 1673 the stone was recut by Sieur Pitau, the court jeweler, resulting in a 67 1/8-carat stone. In the royal inventories, its color was described as an intense steely-blue and the stone became known as the "Blue Diamond of the Crown," or the "French Blue." It was set in gold and suspended on a neck ribbon which the king wore on ceremonial occasions.

King Louis XV, in 1749, had the stone reset by court jeweler Andre Jacquemin, in a piece of ceremonial jewelry for the Order of the Golden Fleece (Toison D'Or). In 1791, after an attempt by Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette to flee France, the jewels of the French Royal Treasury were turned over to the government and placed in the national archives. During the period of 10th, 11th, 14th, and 16th of September 1792 looters stole the crown jewels including the French Blue diamond.

Out of the 24 million pounds (English money) only 600,000 pounds remained. An investigation was held. However for what ever reason, of the 17 arrested, 5 were acquitted, 7 received short sentences and 5 went to the guillotine. many of the thieves were even allowed to keep some of the diamonds. All this had been done under the guidance and authority of Danton, Minister of Justice.

At the same time, the Duke of Bruswick was fast approaching Valmy in command of the army of Prussia. Brunswick was the preeminent general of Europe. Bruswick had been in converstation with Dumouriez revolutionary commanding General of the French and a delegate from the commune Carra. Carra was chosen by the commune on 17 September, the same date as the theft from the national archives was discovered. Carra was a freemason, and friend of Bruswick. Carra was also a friend of Danton. Carra is known to have spoken to Dumouriez, it is not known if the the Duke of Bruswick had spoken to his friend and fellow freemason.

On 20 September the battle of Valmy was fought. Or as it is sometimes called the canonade of Valmy because no infantry were actually engaged, either by the Prussians under the Duke of Bruswick, or the revolutionary army of Durmouriez. In a battle which should have spelled the extinction of the revolution, rescue and restoration of the French crown, each side bombarded each other for 2 hours and then the Prussians, turned and marched away. When the King of Prussia questioned as to why they had not attacked, the Duke of Bruswick replied, "We will not give battle here, under any circumstances." Two days later an armistice was concluded between Dumouriez and Bruswick. There were only 500 casualties at Valmy.

14 years later the Duke of Bruswick died in battle against the self same French Army at the battle of Auerstadt among his estate was the Blue Diamond of the Golden Fleece, minus a 40 carat fragment. Earlier, in 1795 the Duke's daughter Caroline had married the Prince of Wales, the future King George IV of England. The marriage was unhappy to say the least possibly because the Prince was already married to a Catholic woman among other reasons. Upon his accession to the throne the 40 carat fragment of the Blue Diamond was placed. The marriage between The now King George IV and Caroline was dissolved. She departed England in possession of the 40 Carat Blue Diamond.

Eventually the Blue Diamond found it's way to an American named Hope. It now resides in The Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. The other 75 Carat passed to the son of the Duke of Brunswick's son, who upon his overthrow by revolution travelled through out Europe with this and other diamonds in a suitcase. Dying in Geneva in 1871 he bequeathed the Blue Diamond to that city. Geneva sold it a banker named Lyon who died still in possession of it in 1963.

So here is the mystery. DidDanton, through Carra bribe the Duke of Bruswick to throw the invasion of France by Prussia? It appears so. To whom does the Hope Diamond belong, the United States or the descendants of King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette from whom it was originally stolen?

An interesting story of how the Diamond was formed and looked, is here.

The Wiki entry on the Hope may be found here.

More information on this subject my be read in The Fatal Friendship, Stanley Loomis, Garden City, NY. 1972

de Brantigny

No comments: