History’s Mysteries – 6 Most Notoriously Cursed Gemstones of All Time
January 30, 2015, Senior Editior
Diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, rubies; don’t we all covet them. And all along in the world history, famed gemstone jewelry has a story to tell, not just of beauty, glamour and glitz; but power, mystery and intrigue, and sometimes misfortunes they bring onto the owner.
“Nothing is as wretched or foolish as to anticipate misfortunes. What madness is it to be expecting evil before it comes.”
Ah well! But some adversities have known to befall on those who have merely possessed a seemingly innocent piece of jewelry. So it wouldn’t be too far-fetched for a person owning such accursed gemstones or diamond to foresee a disaster would it? Take The Blue Diamond, for instance. Such is the bizarre mystery behind it that some question its mere existence.
As the story goes, in 1989 a janitor siphoned off, from the Prince Faisal bin Fahd’s bedroom, quite a few pieces of jewelry to Thailand. When thief was eventually caught and jewels returned to the royal family, they reported the magnificent royal Blue Diamond to be missing. Unfortunately, the thief had pawned some jewels before he was nabbed by the police. Here the story gets peculiar; Chalor Kerdthes, the officer in charge of the original investigation, ordered execution of the Thai jeweler who was believed to be making imitations of the Royal jewelry and was also said to hold the Blue Diamond for a while. This very officer in turn was sentenced to death later. Allegedly, every person involved with the robbery and its investigation had either disappeared or was found dead. Cursed are those, who are believed to possess the Blue Diamond by illegal means. After all this time the whereabouts of the prized stone still remains a mystery. Intrigued, are you? Or perhaps you are afraid?
If not already, let us take you on a journey of history’s five most notoriously cursed gemstones and diamonds of all time:
Tantalizing beauty, rare color and impressive size are just trivial attributes of this most notoriously infamous diamond Jewelry. Cursed with debt, misery and death; is it a wonder that people are afraid of it? In fact, President Eisenhower received amply mails urging him to have Smithsonian refuse the accursed stone when it was donated by last owner Harry Winston, scared that the stone might bring bad luck on the whole country. Considering its bloody history it’s hardly a surprise! Mined from Golconda mines, India in 17th century the rare 112.19 carat diamond was sold by French merchant Tavernier to King Louis XIV of France in 1668. Though many believed the rock was stolen by the merchant. It later passed on to Louis XVI who gifted it to his beloved Marie Antoinette. Their tragic love affair ended when Louis VIX and Antoinette were executed for trying to flee France. Marie Antoinette was rumored to be wearing the jewel when she was beheaded. Here from begins the bloody trail of the accursed stone and every hand the deadly beautiful stone passed on to suffered tragic losses. From King George IV of England, the namesake owner Henry Philip Hope, Joseph Frankels and Sons of New York City to Evalyn Walsh McLean, an American mining heiress and socialite; every possessor of the Hope diamond had to sell it off to cover enormous debts suffered while in possession of the stone. It’s only with Smithsonian Museum that Hope remains curse-free, at least for now. Is the curse finally broken or bidding its time, who knows?
Like all the sinister stories revolving cursed gemstones; it began with theft of the diamond from a sacred shrine of Lord Brahma in Pondicherry. The 195 carat gunmetal gray colored diamond was supposedly removed from the eye of the statue of Hindu God of creation and wisdom by a monk. It was later found in possession of Russian princess Nadezhda Orlov, whom the precious stone was named after. Though never been substantiated, rumor has it that the princess Leonila Galitsine-Bariatinsky and Nadia Vygin-Orlov, owners of the ominous stone committed suicide by jumping to death in 1940. Even the dealer J. W. Paris from whom the diamond passed on to the Russian princess also committed suicide jumping off a skyscraper in New York. The diamond was later cut into three smaller pieces in an attempt to break the curse by Charles F. Winson. Most famous is 67.5 carat Black Orlov pendant set into 108 diamond setting suspended from a 124 diamond necklace that has been displayed at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and the Natural History Museum in London and many more. It seems the trick worked and the curse is finally broken.
La Peregrina (literal translation “the pilgrim” or “the wanderer”) has most certainly wandered the hands of many rich, royal and famous. Never has history seen such a tumultuous token of love for the possessor suffers heartbreak. Discovered in the Gulf of Panama in 16th century, this large pearl was a gift from King Philip II of Spain to his betrothed Queen Mary of England before their marriage as a token of his love in 1554. Queen Mary also nicknamed Bloody Mary, for ordering execution of hundreds of Protestants during her reign, was abandoned by King Philip and died without an heir. After her death Le Peregrina was given by the king to Elizabeth – I, Queen Mary’s half sister, when he proposed to her. It remained with the Spanish Royalty until Napoleon Bonaparte seized the Spanish crown and the pearl. The Pearl came in to much lime light because of its legendary owner, the glorious Elizabeth Taylor. It was Valentine’s gift from then husband Richard Burton. We all know her infamous scandalous romantic liaisons which seem to never last for long. And while she got married for total eight times the pearls remained with her throughout her topsy-turvy relationships.
It’s not many times that we see a person of science to believe in curses and bad luck, but there you go. Scientist and writer Edward Heron-Allen, owner of the Delhi Purple Sapphire diamond, believed that the gemstone was accursed and stained with the blood, and the dishonor of everyone who has ever owned it. In fact such strong was his suspicion of it alleged powers that he kept it locked away in seven boxes with good luck charms surrounding it. He also warned any subsequent owner from directly handling the jewel. Talk about being over-cautious! It seems curse came upon the jewel; plush purple-hued amethyst, when a British office stole it from the temple of Indra, Hindu God of war and weather, during the Indian Mutiny in 1857. The subsequent holder Colonel W. Ferris who brought the stone to England also seems to have suffered quite a few woes. Is it the wrath of Gods unto the men for dishonoring them?
“He who owns this diamond will own the world, but will also know all its misfortunes. Only God or woman can wear it with impunity.” With such an ominous warning in the age old Hindu transcripts regarding this fine stone, one can only be too cautious about it. The allure is not just that this huge diamond stands tall in the British Royal Crown, now displayed at the Tower of London, but the tantalizing history that follows it. The whopping 739 carat rock in uncut form has traversed many hands; from the memoirs Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire in India, it once belonged to Rajah of Malwa but stolen in 1306. Since then it traded hands of a range of Hindu, Mongolian, Persian, Afghan and Sikh rulers but none could hold it for long and leaves a blood trail of war and deceit. The British Royal family acquired it in 1950 with the reign of Queen Victoria and since then it has only been worn by women of the royal family, including Queen Alexandra of Denmark, Queen Mary of Teck and the late Queen Elizabeth to heed the legend.
They might call it a ruby but this fiery red rock isn’t a ruby at all. It in fact is a large spinel, a hard glassy mineral worth much less than a ruby gemstone, giving it its infamous name “The Great Imposter”. This blood red ruby has a bleeding yet glorious history. The first record dates back to 14th century when it was pillaged by Don Pedro the Cruel, emperor of Seville, Spain from the Moorish Kingdom of Granada. From one conqueror to another the “ruby” was next famously owned by the Black Prince – Edward of Woodstock, so known because of the his success in the battlefield during the Hundred Year’s war. The next conqueror with yet another success at war was King Henry V who had set the Black Prince’s Ruby in his helmet and wore it when he defeated the French at the Battle of Agincourt. The gem passed on to British Royalty who almost lost it twice but now is sits regally at the dead-center of the Imperial State Crown of England exactly above the Koh-i-Noor Diamond.
With such scandalous and blood trodden history build on castle of lies, deceit and desire for power, is it much of a surprise that these fine piece of gemstones jewelry carry with them bad luck and ill will? Some legends surrounding these artifacts might be hyped for the curses they carry but it sure makes for an intriguing bed time story.