Science

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Hope Diamond’s Red Glow Explained

June 01, 2008 04:00 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The storied Hope Diamond glows red when exposed to ultraviolet light. This once mysterious phenomenon unlocks the unique identity of individual diamonds.

30-Second Summary

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One of history’s most celebrated giant gems, the 45.52-carat Hope Diamond has revealed to scientists a way to "fingerprint" naturally blue diamonds.

In the future, gemologists will be able to recognize particular diamonds by the length and the color of the glow they emit under UV light.

The featured attraction of the Smithsonian Institution’s United States Gem Collection, the Hope Diamond has a background rich in legend.

French gem trader Jean-Baptiste Tavernier found the stone in Golkonda, India, in the early 1660s. Supposedly, it was prised from the eye socket of the Hindu goddess Sita. On discovering the theft, the shrine's priests put a curse on its future owners.

The stone flitted between European royal houses and through the upper-crust of America’s Gilded Age.

In 1958, famed jeweler Harry Winston donated the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution by mailing it in a brown paper bag.

Gemology Web site Rockcollector.co.uk says in reference to the legendary curse, “No misfortune appears to have struck the postman, though there are those who will claim that the U.S. mail has been going downhill ever since.”

Headline Links: ‘Hope Diamond’s Red Glow Explained’

Background: Other famous jewels

Historical Context: Fact and fiction

Reference Material: The Smithsonian

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