Hope: Adventures Of A Diamond

Written by Marian Fowler
Review by Margaret Barr

Written in a light, entertaining style yet containing a wealth of detail, Fowler’s latest nonfiction work charts the history of the notorious and legendary blue diamond. As skillfully as a jeweler uses a loupe to seek the imperfections of a stone, the author scrutinizes the factual record, and in so doing corrects a mythology many centuries in the making.

The known personalities associated with the gem are depicted in all their glory and their greed. Jean Baptiste Tavernier, a 17th century French merchant, conveyed it from its native India to the court of France, selling it to Louis XIV–whose successor created an unusual setting for it, assisted by his mistress, Madame de Pompadour. Stolen during the Revolution, the diamond later surfaced in England in the possession of the Hope family, with whose surname it has permanently been linked.

Whether locked away by 19th century collectors, fought over by millionaires’ heirs, or adorning the flamboyant flapper Evalyn Walsh McClean, who blamed the diamond for her endless misfortunes and tragedies, the Hope’s true history is utterly fascinating, far more so than the fabrications it inspired. Cut and re-cut through the centuries, most recently by the late Harry Winston, the well-travelled diamond made its final journey to Washington, DC, courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service. Anyone who has visited its very public shrine at the Smithsonian Institute, as well as those who haven’t, will be equally entertained and educated by Hope.