November 9, 2007 The History and Curse of the Hope Diamond To Be Discused at the Library on Nov. 16

Press Contact: Erin Allen (202) 707-7302
Public Contact: Center for the Book (202) 707-5221
Contact: Request ADA accommodations five days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or
Request ADA accommodations five business days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or

They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Yet, one such gem has been more foe to those it has touched, allegedly cursing some of them to their demise. From the diamond mines of India and royal palaces of Europe to the jewelers of Fifth Avenue and halls of the Smithsonian, Richard Kurin uncovers the mystery and the true story of the world’s most infamous bauble. Kurin, director of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, will discuss and sign his book “Hope Diamond: The Legendary History of a Cursed Gem” at 1 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 16, in the Mary Pickford Theater on the third floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. Part of the Books and Beyond series hosted by the Center for the Book, the event is free and open to the public; no tickets are required. The program is co-sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution Libraries. A cultural anthropologist, Kurin has spent more than a decade learning about the history of the legendary gem. From its discovery in 17th-century India through its donation to the Smithsonian in 1958 by the jewelry firm of Harry Winston Inc., the Hope Diamond has been shrouded in mystery and steeped in intrigue. Kurin’s groundbreaking work moves between ancient religion and modern magic, royal power and class rivalry, revenge and greed, to bring the story up to the present. A former Fulbright fellow with a doctorate from the University of Chicago, Kurin joined the Smithsonian staff in 1985. As the director of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, he oversees the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and other cultural heritage programs. On October 1, he became the Smithsonian Institution’s acting undersecretary for history and culture. The Center for the Book was created by law in 1977 to use the resources of the Library of Congress to stimulate public interest in books and reading. For information about its program, publications and national reading promotion network, visit


PR 07-229
ISSN 0731-3527