Posted on October 30, 2013 by

Is The Hope Diamond Cursed?

The Hope Diamond is notorious for being cursed.  All those who own or wear it will meet with misfortune and tragedy.  But how true is the curse?

the Hope diamond

The Hope Diamond, credit:


The Hope Diamond Curse


The House of Bourbon was brought down during the French Revolution while the Hope Diamond was in King Louis XVI‘s possession.  But revolutions were all the rage in the 1700’s, so did the ending of a centuries old dynasty have to do with owning a diamond?  Probably not.


Then there’s Henry Pelham Alexander Pelham-Clinton, 6th Duke of Newcastle, who married Hope’s daughter and was bequeathed the mammoth blue diamond.  He may have fled England for gambling debt, but that was pre-Hope diamond ownership.  As a matter of fact, with his marriage to Henrietta Hope, he not only became owner of the Hope diamond, but had all his debts paid for and lived another 18 years.  Together with Henrietta he had 5 children.  (I suppose some may consider that a curse.)


Up next is Francis Pelham-Clinton-Hope, 8th Duke of Newcastle.  Francis married the beautiful actress May Yohe in 1894.  The two of them lived so extravagantly that they filed for bankruptcy only two years later.  They got by on the generosity of friends, travelling the world and couch-surfing royalty style.  An affair between May and one of their generous friends brought their marriage to an end.  Francis was given permission by the court to sell the Hope Diamond to pay off some of their debts.  With the Hope Diamond out of their hands, May had a series of unsuccessful marriages and died in poverty.  Meanwhile, Francis remarried, had 3 children, and lived happily ever after.


For those keeping score, that’s 2 of 4 for cursed owners.


So…where did this curse originate and why is it so well known? The first recorded mention of the Hope Diamond’s curse is in a February 1912 New York Times article titled “Wealthy Purchasers of Famous Stone to Retain It Despite Sinister Reputation.”


nytimes article 1912 about hope diamond curse

February 1912, NYTimes article about the Hope Diamond curse


This was followed by May Yohe’s playlet “The Hope Diamond Mystery” in the 1920’s and a Hollywood action serial by the same name.


May Yohe performance about Hope Diamond Mystery                         Hope Diamond Mystery movie


The Hope Diamond made its way from Cartier to the McLeans to Harry Winston and finally to the Smithsonian Institute.  You can make the call whether you think it’s cursed or not.  You can read more about the Hope Diamond Curse in this Live Science article, but before you decide whether to believe it or not, take a look at this one last image.


Hope Diamond's red phosphorescent glow

Hope Diamond glowing phosphorescent red, credit:


That’s your maybe-cursed-maybe-not-cursed Hope Diamond, glowing a bright, blood red.  Some diamonds have fluorescence when exposed to UV light.  Even fewer diamonds have phosphorescence–a glow just after the UV light is turned off.  The Hope is the only blue diamond in the world known to glow a bright bloody red.


Cursed?  Maybe not.
Spooky?  Absolutely.  


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