#5 - The French Blue

Posted on Thursday, December 21st, 2017 at 8:25 pm by LaLonde Jewelers

 In the year 1666, a French gem dealer on one of his five trips to India, purchased or stole a 112+ carat grey blue triangular rough diamond.

His name was Jean Baptiste Tavernier the stone was known as the Tavernier Blue. It was then sold to King Louis XIV who had it cut into a 69-carat triangular diamond known as Le bleu de France or The French Blue. The stone was said to be cut into facets resembling the sun, in honor of Louis XIV the Sun King.

The stone was passed down to Louis XV to Louis XVI, who tried to flee France during the French Revolution that started in 1789. The common people of France no longer supported the spending and opulence of the French Monarchy. In 1792 the Revolutionary regime sequestered the French crown jewels which included the French Blue.

The diamond disappeared, and the stone known as the French Blue was never seen again.

It has been wildly believed, that after 20 years (the same amount of time for the statute of limitation to take effect for that crime), an oval cushion shaped stone miraculously surfaced in London weighing 45.54 carats. It was the same color as the French Blue stone, although they say not as lively. Many at the time believed the two stones to be the same.

It is believed to have been owned by King George IV of the United Kingdom. In 1830, upon his death, the stone is believed to have been sold to pay some debts.

In 1839 the diamond was acquired by a London banker, Thomas Hope, for approximately $75,000. You may have heard the name before, the infamous Hope Diamond.

The diamond went through several Hope family members and was eventually sold to a New York diamond dealer, Simon Frankel in the $200,000 range (approx. $5.5 million today!).

In 1911, the diamond went through Pierre Cartier to Evalyn Walsh McLean of Washington D.C., later bought by New York diamond merchant Harry Winston in 1947.

Eventually, in 1958, Winston gave the stone to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., known as specimen #217868.

Winston donated the Hope thinking that it would help the United States to establish a gem collection. It was noted that Winston’s gift, according to Smithsonian Curator, Dr. Jeffery Post, contributed to additional gifts being received by the museum.

In analyzing the diamond, the Smithsonian strongly believes the Hope Diamond was in fact cut from the famous French Blue.

According to Dr. Jeffery Post, the stone gets its color from Boron. The combination of Boron and Nitrogen give a red glow after exposure to short wave ultraviolet light. The diamond produces a brilliant red phosphorescence (glow in the dark effect).

Now I have had the pleasure to meet Dr. Jeffery Post and his team of scientists at the Smithsonian. I strongly urge people to donate rare items of Gemology or Geology to enhance the United States gem collection.

Written by Daniel J. LaLonde

© LaLonde Jewelers 2017