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Hope Diamond

Complimentary for all registered attendees, the Academy of Osseointegration’s (AO) landmark event, it’s President’s Reception, will be held on Friday, March 15, 2019 at the National Museum of Natural History located on the National Mall in Washington, DC. This preeminent Smithsonian museum boasts the largest natural history collection and is the most popular natural history museum in the world.

One unique exhibit that will be on display at the Museum during AO’s President’s Reception will be the Hope Diamond, one of the Museum’s most popular permanent exhibits in the Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals. This exquisite, 45 carat deep blue diamond, which attracts millions of visitors annually, was donated to the Smithsonian Institution in 1958 by New York jeweler Harry Winston – who remarkably sent the precious stone via registered, First-Class Mail to the Museum!

However, the history and journey of the Hope Diamond dates back to 1668 when King Louis XIV of France purchased a spectacular blue diamond from explorer Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, originally a 112 3/16 carat diamond assumed to come from the Kollur Mine of the Golconda region of India. The crudely cut stone was then recut by the court jeweler in 1673 to a heart-shaped diamond just over 67 carats and became known as the “Blue Diamond of the Crown” or the “French Blue.”

The stone was subsequently reset again in 1749 into a ceremonial piece of jewelry for the Order of the Golden Fleece under the order of King Louis XV in 1749. Amidst the turmoil of the French Revolution in 1791, the French Crown Jewels, including the French Blue Diamond in the Order of the Golden Fleece was turned over to the revolutionary government, and moved to the Royal Storehouse. That following year, a group of thieves broke into the storehouse and the diamond was gone.

Twenty years later, a deep blue diamond was documented to be in the possession of London diamond merchant, Daniel Eliason, and strong evidence indicated it was the recut French Blue (it would take gemologists 46 years to confirm it to be the Hope Diamond). After being subsequently acquired by King George IV it was said to be sold to pay off the King’s debts to Henry Philip Hope, a wealthy British banker who featured it in his catalogue of gems, and after whom the diamond was named. The diamond then passed through Hope’s heirs, eventually being resold several times again mostly to pay off debts, including to Pierre Cartier who in turn sold it to Mrs. Evalyn Walsh McClean, of Washington DC at Cartier’s in Paris. She did not like the diamond’s setting and it eventually became the pendant on a diamond necklace as it is seen today.

Harry Winston purchased Mrs. McLean’s entire jewelry collection, including the Hope Diamond from her estate in 1949 and donated it to the Smithsonian as noted above nine years later. It is classified as a type IIb diamond, which ae semi-conductive and usually phosphoresce. The diamond, set in a pendant of 16 white diamonds and a necklace chain that includes 45 white diamonds, phosphoresces a strong red color when exposed to short wave ultra-violet light and its blue color is attributed to trace amounts of boron in the stone.

The full story and history behind the Hope Diamond can be found here and here.

Be sure to attend the Academy’s 2019 President’s Reception to view the National Gem Collection featuring the Hope Diamond in Winston Hall and several other permanent exhibits. Enjoy complimentary hors d’oeuvres and cocktails with your colleagues from around the globe while viewing other permanent exhibits in Oceans Hall and Mammals Hall, which will present the epic story of how humans have evolved over six million years, a one-of-a-kind interpretive exhibit of the world’s oceans, walk through time to explore scientists’ findings about America’s last dinosaurs, and more!

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