The Secret Story of the Hope Diamond

Thursday, December 19, 2019

As ever more prestigious clients rolled into his New York boutique at the turn of the 20th Century, Pierre Cartier [grandson of Louis-Francois Cartier, founder of the eponymous jewelry brand] was insistent that the firm remain true to its original aim: “We must never lose our current reputation; in other words, we must sell only large jewels.”

It was with this in mind that, in 1910, he invested in a gemstone so large and important that it represented an enormous risk. If he couldn’t sell it, Cartier would be left with a dent in its cash flow that could severely hamper the entire firm. And yet Pierre was in no doubt that it was a risk worth taking. As he had discovered in America, the fame and size of one’s diamond was everything.

Sometimes jewels carry a story with them that impacts all their owners. The notoriously cursed 45-carat blue Hope Diamond, once known as the Tavernier Blue, was one of these. Since its discovery in the Kollur mine in seventeenth-century India by Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, a French gem merchant, many of those who had owned or even been close to the stone were said to have suffered terrible fates. [Its uplifting name is derived from the London banking family that owned the gem in the 1830s.]

If you were to believe the stories, the horrific endings linked to it included being torn apart by wild dogs in Constantinople, being shot onstage and, in the case of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI (who had enjoyed the diamond as part of the French crown jewels), famously being beheaded during the French Revolution.

For the fascinating secret history of the Hope diamond and how Pierre Cartier sold a cursed jewel, click HERE for the full story

Recent Content

The Queen's Brooch


One of the things I like most about my job is that I never know what to expect when the phone rings. That was the case one day in December 2016 when I received a call from a colleague inquiring about Canadian sapphires. The Government of Canada had decided they would like to present the Queen of England with a Canadian sapphire brooch to celebrate her Sapphire Jubilee. They issued a Request for Quotation to six jewellers. Four of them called me, all on the same day.

The only problem is, the government didn't check to see if there are any blue sapphire mines in Canada.

There aren't any blue sapphire mines in Canada.

Not to be daunted, I flipped through my Rolodex and called Dave. I knew Dave had a friend in the Slocan Valley who owned a mine that produced light blue corundum. After looking at the rough, it was too light for the Queen's brooch. Strike one.

My next call was to Brad. It took me awhile to get through to him as he is often out in the bush. I tracked him down and my persistence paid off. Brad is an interesting fellow. He is a geologist who has made it his life's mission to find every gemstone deposit in Canada. No one has done this before and if anyone can do it, Brad can. He loves exploring and prospecting in remote corners of the country.

One summer, Brad was camping and prospecting alone in the far north, in Nunavut. Late one night, in the light of the midnight sun, a polar bear came out of nowhere and charged him. He shot it between the eyes at close range - so close that it collapsed dead on top of him. Brad thought "Great, I stopped it from killing me when it was alive and now it's going to kill me when it's dead." Mature polar bears weigh an average of 1,000 pounds (450kg).

He managed to wriggle free and get back to his boat, then to the safety of the nearest village. In one of those villages along the coast of Nunavut in Canada's far north, he met two brothers who told him they had found blue stones nearby. They took Brad to the area of the deposit and Brad mapped it. The short prospecting season ended and Brad left, asking the brothers to let him know if they found more. They didn't.

In all, they found a handful of rough sapphire crystals, almost all smaller than one carat when cut, ranging from beautiful cornflower blue to colourless. They are the only true blue sapphires ever found in Canada. I bought the entire collection from Brad and worked with my client Hillberg & Berk to make the Queen's brooch with the sapphires. The Governor General of Canada presented the brooch to Her Majesty the Queen on July 19, 2017.

The overall look of the brooch is a snowflake to symbolize the Great White North. Each arm of the snowflake is the shape of a royal sceptre - a clever design touch from the top notch creative team.

The colour variation challenged the design team, but I asked them to use that colour variation as a strength, to make it a positive design feature. They came through in spades by graduating the colours from the centre to the tips. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, white to sapphire blue is also the colour gradation of a glacier from surface to core. Well done!


Watch this 1-minute video to see how the Queen's brooch was created!

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Our goal is to exceed your expectations and ensure you are happy with your gemstone purchases from us. Happy customers are repeat customers and our best advertisers!

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Checking in


Hello everyone. As we all come together at a distance to ride this out, I've been asked by several of you how best to put our time to good use. After the health of you and your family, one of the most important things is the health of your business. Now, more than ever, an online presence is helpful to keep in touch with your customers. You can continue to order gemstones through our website at, or call us at 1-800-387-1606 (USA and Canada). Call +1-416-944-3347 from overseas. A reminder that we have a special white-label website where you can show our entire inventory as your inventory at your prices at Email for your credentials to log in.

You can continue to order gemstones through our website at, or call us at 1-800-387-1606 (USA and Canada). Call +1-416-944-3347 from overseas. And a reminder that we have a special white-label website where you can show our entire inventory at your prices at Email for your credentials to log in.

I send this newsletter monthly and will send it out more frequently if timely news becomes available. Now is a great time to further your education and reach out to customers with useful information. Here are some resources for furthering your education and maintaining your business.

7 Tips For Working From Home 

What Does Hand Sanitizer Do To Jewellery? 

5 Tips For Keeping in Touch With Employees Working From Home 

What Should You Be Posting on Social Media Now? 

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