Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 49
ous to others, and even turned over
$100,000 for ransom in the Lindbergh baby kidnapping.
I reached out to Joseph after learning
about Asheville's connection to the
Hope Diamond. He very graciously
offered information about his family and even got a bit choked up saying, "As long as I can touch people's
lives with a story as to what kind of
a lady Evalyn was, I did my job."
Even though Evalyn Walsh
McLean died before he was born,
Joseph knows her very well. He's
immersed himself in family history
and has penned "The Hope Diamond" and wrote the foreword for
"Queen of Diamonds: The Fabled
Legacy of Evalyn Walsh McLean."
He also created Fable Fragrances, inspired by the Hope Diamond.
Evalyn enjoyed wearing the
Hope Diamond (she even wore it on
her death bed), but she also freely
allowed others the pleasure of experiencing it. Joseph said she would
loan it out for charity events or to
brides so they would have "something borrowed, something blue."
He also said, "She allowed people
to wear it so they'd know what it
Far left: Evalyn Walsh McLean, wearing
the Hope Diamond, bought the gem in
1912 for $180,000.
Left: Evalyn McLean married Senator Bob
Reynolds in 1941. She was 19 and he was
57; her first marriage, his fifth. Their only
child: Mamie Spears Reynolds Gregory.
Library of Congress, Prints and PhotograPhs division, Washington, d.C. 20540
Hope Diamond she was injured seriously in an automobile crash which took
the life of her brother, Vinson Walsh.
Then, a few years after her marriage to
Edward Beale McLean, son of the multimillionaire publisher of The Cincinnati Enquirer, their firstborn-called
Vincent for her brother-was killed beneath the wheels of a car. By this time
Mrs. McLean was the owner of the Hope
Diamond. Friends, mindful of the legends of the stone's curse, pleaded with
her to get rid of the gem. But she refused.
She fretted for a time about the legend
of the curse. Then she took the gem to a
priest and had it blessed. From that day
on Mrs. McLean appeared impervious to
the claims of the stone's fateful power,
despite the misfortunes which subsequently beset her. But her own marriage
broke up in tragedy worthy of Hope Diamond lore. Mrs. McLean charged her
husband with adultery and he eventually died in a mental institution, his fortune depleted."
Evalyn Walsh McLean's father,
Thomas Walsh, struck it rich in the
Camp Bird Gold Mine in Colorado
and then she also married into great
wealth. Her closest friends ranged
from presidents to movie stars. She
threw lavish parties, was very gener-
Courtesy of reynoLds Mansion bed & breakfast inn
Above: At home in Asheville, Mamie
Reynolds stands behind one of her
young cousins. Her father, Senator Bob
Reynolds, is seated.
felt like-glamorous, beautiful, exquisite. She allowed people to touch
it and wasn't afraid to let people put
it on or use it. She let a little girl like
my mother teethe on it and play
with it in the sandbox, and would
let her Great Dane, Mike, wear it
around the house. She knew she
was going to get it back."
The Smithsonian's timeline of the Hope
Diamond begins in 1668 when King
Louis XIV of France bought a spectacular blue gem from Jean-Baptiste
Tavernier. It was apparently 112
carats when he acquired it, but he
had the gem recut into a 67.5-carat
heart-shaped diamond known as
the French Blue. In 1749, King Louis XV had the diamond set into the
Order of the Golden Fleece by Parisian jeweler Pierre-André Jacqumin.
King Louis XVI and Marie Antoiniette were captured in 1791 while
trying to leave France during the
French Revolution. The revolutionary government took control of the
royal jewels-including the French
Blue Diamond-and housed them
in the Garde-Meuble.
The jewels were stolen in 1792
during a five-day looting spree.
November/December 2017 49