The Hope Diamond, the worlds most famous diamond, began another chapter in its already illustrious history. For the first time the diamond is on display at the Smithsonians National Museum of Natural History
in a setting other than its historic Cartier-designed setting.
The new temporary setting, Embracing Hope, was designed by Harry Winston Inc. and unveiled and placed on public display Nov. 18. The event marks the 50th anniversary of the Hope Diamonds donation to the museum in 1958 and the 100th anniversary of the museum. The new exhibit also coincides with the world premiere of the Smithsonian Channel documentary film, Mystery of the Hope Diamond, which debuts Nov. 21.
More than 100,000 people selected the stunning new design in an online vote sponsored by the Smithsonian Channel. Master craftsmen at Harry Winston Inc. then spent eight months creating the setting. The new platinum setting surrounds the legendary deep-blue diamond with an extraordinary 340 baguette diamonds totaling 60 carats. It will be on display for a limited time, after which the Hope will be returned to its historic setting.
As a part of this celebration, Harry Winston Inc. announced that it will make a $1 million donation to support gem and mineral sciences education at the Smithsonian through its new Harry Winston Hope Foundation.
We feel privileged to be a part of the Hope Diamonds historic journey and are happy to have this unique opportunity to do something special with the diamond to commemorate the anniversary of Harry Winstons gift, said Jeffrey Post, curator of the National Gem Collection. It is due to the generosity and support of donors like Harry Winston that we have been able to build such an esteemed collection and make it available to the American public.
When distinguished jeweler Harry Winston gave the Hope Diamond to the museum in 1958, he made a lasting gift to the American people that has since become one of the most renowned museum icons in the world. The gem inspires more than 7 million visitors a year with its fascinating scientific story, historical significance and intriguing tales of a curse. It is the most visited and most popular object in the entire Smithsonian.
Looking back on the past 100 years of the museums history, it is undeniable that the arrival of the Hope Diamond is one of the most important historical landmarks, said Cristián Samper, director of the museum. Without it, the National Gem Collection wouldnt be what it is today, one of the largest and most important gem collections in the world. It is fitting that we celebrate that milestone with another, the unveiling of the Hope Diamond as visitors have never seen it before.
The Smithsonian Channels documentary, Mystery of the Hope Diamond, is narrated by Academy Award Winner Kim Basinger and includes footage of model Hilary Rhoda who wore the necklace for a photo session. The high-definition film follows the famous gemstone from its geological formation to its origins in a mine in India about 350 years ago to its mysterious journey though Europe and its final home at the Smithsonian. The unveiling of the diamond in its dazzling new design coincides with the films world premiere Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. EST.
Hollywood couldnt make up a drama like the story of the Hope Diamond, said David Royle, executive vice president of Programming and Production for the Smithsonian Channel. Its a fantastic mix of jaw-dropping beauty, mythic curse, untold wealth, larger-than-life characters and cutting-edge science. Were proud to tell the definitive story and share it with the American people.