Feature Gems & Gemology, Spring 2009, Vol. 45, No. 1

The French Blue and the Hope: New Data from the Discovery of a Historical Lead Cast

A lead cast of the French Blue diamond, a mythic item in the French Crown Jewels, was recently found in the mineral collection of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (MNHN) in Paris. The details of this diamond—stolen in 1792 during the French Revolution—have up to now been known only from a drawing of an insignia of the Golden Fleece belonging to King Louis XV that was published in 1889 and, more recently, from an unpublished rendering dated as early as 1749. Computer modeling of the French Blue from a laser scan of the lead cast revealed details of the cut that could not be inferred from these drawings. Models of both the lead cast and the Hope diamond confirm that the latter could have been recut from the French Blue. The additional discovery of the catalog entry associated with the lead cast at the MNHN suggests that Henry Philip Hope may have owned the French Blue diamond after its 1792 theft and before it was recut.