A New Myth of the Hope Diamond, April’s Most Famous Birthstone

With almost magical hardness, limpid water-like purity, and ability to shatter light into rainbow colors, it’s hardly surprising that diamonds have attracted a wide variety of myths over the centuries.

ABOVE: The Hope Diamond, a large, 45.52-carat (9.104 g), deep-blue diamond. Dated 2014 (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

One of the great myths about diamonds is that of the cursed Hope Diamond, now owned by the Smithsonian Institution. It seems that most large famous diamonds acquire a curse at some point in their history, and the Hope is no different. There is one man, however, who made that curse work for him: famed New York diamond dealer Harry Winston, who once owned the Hope and donated it to the Smithsonian.

I read or heard this story many years ago and am unable to verify the specifics. I suspect the story might not even be true. (Someone at Harry Winston will probably set me straight.) * But some stories should be true, and this one goes something like this. . . .

Harry Winston and the Hope Diamond

The Hope Diamond on the December 1991 cover of Lapidary Journal

The Hope Diamond on the December 1991 cover of Lapidary Journal

Winston and his wife were in London. In the prehistoric days of transatlantic flight, like many parents, they planned to take separate flights home so that should tragedy strike, their children would not lose both parents. Mrs. Winston flew first.

Somehow word spread on the plane that Mrs. Winston, whose husband owned the cursed Hope Diamond, was on the plane. This totally freaked out one of the passengers. When the plane stopped for refueling in Jamaica (I said this happened in prehistory), the frightened woman got off the plane in order to avoid the watery death she was sure was in her future if she stayed on the plane.

Mrs. Winston, on arriving home, cabled her husband, who caught the next plane. It had been a grueling European trip, and Winston simply wanted to sleep on the way home. But when the plane stopped for refueling in Jamaica, a very chatty woman got on and sat next to him. She proceeded to tell him and everyone else how she had been on the same plane as Mrs. Winston and had narrowly cheated death. She could not stop talking about it and would not let Winston sleep, so he took the opportunity to introduce himself.

Certain she was fated to die, the woman didn’t say another word the rest of the flight, allowing Winston to sleep.

Now shouldn’t that story be true?

* (Editor’s note: Attempts to speak with Harry Winston representatives were denied.)


Sharon Elaine Thompson is a GG and FGA who has been writing about gemstones (like diamonds) and jewelry for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist since 1987. She also writes a line of birthstone romance novels under the name Liz Hartley.

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