Most women wouldn’t accessorize diamonds with more diamonds. But most women aren’t socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean, who’s pictured here in 1932 wearing the famous Hope Diamond, set with 16 white diamonds suspended from a diamond and platinum strand and accompanied by a separate Cartier diamond necklace and diamond chain.
By her late teens, McLean already owned heaps of the sparkly stones. In 1911, at age 24, she paid Pierre Cartier $180,000 for the 45.52 ct. blue Hope. “McLean was almost always wearing the Hope Diamond,” says Jeffrey E. Post, curator-in-charge of the Mineral Collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., where the Hope is displayed. “She was flamboyant, making the news quite a bit. Her owning it established the diamond in the consciousness of the American people.” When she fell on hard times in the ’30s, the Hope was in and out of pawnshops. But it was in her jewel box when she fell gravely ill from pneumonia in 1947 and insisted on wearing it in bed. They say Custer died with his boots on. Well, McLean did him one better.