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Is the Delhi Purple Sapphire Really Cursed? Part 4 Haunted Diamonds Series

While not a diamond, the infamous cursed gemstone known as the Delhi Purple Sapphire has a history of misfortune and tragedy for those

The Delhi Purple Sapphire
The Delhi Purple Sapphire

who have been unfortunate enough to have owned it. Mistakenly thought to be a sapphire, the colorful but otherwise unremarkable oval shaped amethyst is mounted in a blackened silver setting, covered with astrological and alchemical symbols along with two carved scarab beetle gemstones.

The origin of this haunted gemstone starts in India, where it was said to have been looted from the Temple of Indra during the murderous Indian Mutiny of 1857 by a Bengal calvaryman named Colonel W. Ferris. Ironically, the temple honored the Hindu deity of war and weather. Ferris stole the

The Temple of Indra
The Temple of Indra

amethyst from the temple, and took it home with him to England, where he and his son, who inherited the gemstone after Ferris’ death, were afflicted with many difficulties, including health and financial ruin. A family friend who took possession of it committed suicide while the gemstone was in his possession. In a macabre twist, the friend willed the gemstone back to Ferris’ son.

The amethyst was later acquired by the unwitting Edward Heron-Allen in 1890. A celebrated author, scientist, scholar and friend to Oscar Wilde, he was perhaps the least likely of owners of the Delhi Purple Sapphire to succumb to the curse. Immediately after acquiring the amethyst, he was beset by misfortune after misfortune. He tried to get rid of the stone several times, by giving it away to two of his friends. One was a singer who lost her voice, the other similarly beset with misfortune.  Both immediately gave the amethyst back to him as quickly as they could to relieve themselves of the cursed stone. In his fear, Heron-Allen threw it into the dark and

Edward Heron-Allen
Edward Heron-Allen

dirty waters of Regent’s Canal to rid himself of it. A mere three months later, a dredger discovered the amethyst who then sold it to a jeweler. The jeweler recognized the gem and returned the amethyst to Heron-Allen, whose belief in the curse only intensified.

He had the gemstone locked away in seven different boxes, sealed with protective charms and sent it to his banker with instructions to never open the box. After his death, his family bestowed the gem to the London Natural History Museum. Heron-Allen had included a note in the boxes which read “This stone is trebly accursed and is stained with the blood, and the dishonor of everyone who has ever owned it.” 

 “Whoever shall then open it, shall first read out this warning, and then do as he pleases with the jewel. My advice to him or her is to cast it into the sea.”  

The curse apparently did not end with the museum’s ownership. John Whittaker, who was Dark_stormin charge of transporting the gem to the first symposium of the Heron-Allen society, experienced several problems when traveling with the stone. First he was stuck while driving in an incredibly violent thunderstorm. “the sky turned black and were overtaken by the most horrific thunderstorm I’ve ever experienced…we considered abandoning the car and my wife was shouting ‘Why did you bring that damned thing??” On the eve of the second annual symposium he was incapacitated by a violent case stomach flu, and he was unable to attend the third symposium due to kidney stones.

Undeterred by the curse, the Natural History Museum of  London decided to display the amethyst as part of their precious gemstone collection at the Vault in 2007.

The Delhi Sapphire on Display
The Delhi Sapphire on Display

To this day, none of Heron-Allen’s descendants will touch the gemstone.

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Is the Hope Diamond Cursed? Part 3 Cursed Diamonds

The macabre stories and legends surrounding the supposedly cursed Hope Diamond have become hopelessly intertwined with its factual history throughout the years. However, in the spirit of the coming Halloween holiday, we’ll stick strictly with the spooky stuff…

Jean-Baptiste Tavernier came into possession of the richly colored “violet blue” diamond in 1653. The legend goes that he plucked the 115.16 carat diamond from the eye of an Indian idol. When the monks discovered the theft of their precious gem, they placed a curse on the diamond so that whoever should own it, or even come into contact with it would suffer serious misfortune, or even death. Tavernier himself is said to have gotten extremely ill after he stole the diamond and later, violently torn apart by a pack of wolves in Constantinople during his retirement to Russia. Other accounts have Tavernier living to old age and dying peacefully at 84 years old, however neither story has been authenticated.

Jean Baptist Tavernier
Jean Baptist Tavernier.

The Tavernier Blue, as the Hope Diamond was called at the time, was sold to King Louis XIV by Tavernier himself. The king had the diamond recut in 1673 to improve its color and

The Hope Diamond
The Hope Diamond

appearance, and the diamond became known as the “French Blue”. King Louis later died of a gangrenous infection, and every legitimate child of his except one all died during their brief childhoods.

Later, King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette inherited the French Blue, and their young lives ended at the guillotine during the French Revolution. Marie-Louise, the Princess de Lamballe, a member of Marie Antoinette’s court and closest confidant, once wore the diamond and was later ripped apart by an angry mob, decapitated and disemboweled; later her head was impaled on a spike and set outside of Marie’s prison window.

The diamond, along with the rest of the French Crown Jewels, was stolen during the rioting and chaos of the Revolution. While the Crown Jewels were eventually recovered, the French Blue disappeared for 20 years. The next in a long line of grisly deaths was Wilhelm Fals, the Dutch jeweler who recut the diamond when it reappeared in England two decades later. The jeweler was murdered by his own son, who then killed himself. Later, financier Henry

Henry Philip Hope
Henry Philip Hope

Philip Hope bought the recut diamond in 1839, and renamed it the Hope Diamond. His descendant, Lord Francis Hope was ruined financially after a lifetime of indulgences, and was forced to sell the diamond to pay his debts- he died, broke and alone.

The diamond traded hands many times for the next few years, leaving behind a trail of death and destruction. Among the many owners who owned it were Simon Frankel, a jewelry broker from New York, who bought the diamond in 1901, and suffered severe financial difficulties throughout the Depression. The next owner, Jacques Colot, went insane and committed suicide. Prince Ivan Kanitovski owned the diamond after that, but was murdered by Russian revolutionaries… his paramour Mademoiselle Lorens Ladue borrowed the Hope Diamond from her lover, Ivan, who murdered her in a fit of passion. The next owner, Simon Maoncharides, a Greek jewelry broker, drove his car off a cliff, killing himself, his wife and all his children.

 

The Curse of the Hope Diamond Movie Poster
The Curse of the Hope Diamond Movie Poster

Many others perished after owning the diamond, but perhaps its most famous owner, Evalyn Walsh McLean suffered the most tragedy. Before owning the diamond, it was said this heiress lived quite a charmed life. Upon purchasing the diamond from Pierre Cartier in 1912 however, her life turned to ruin. Whilst in her possession, she wore the diamond everywhere, and there are stories that she even had the diamond fixed to her

Evalyn Walsh Wearing the Hope Diamond
Evalyn Walsh Wearing the Hope Diamond

beloved dog’s collar, who then wore it around the apartment. Tragically, her mother in law died, and then her 9 year old son died in a horrific automobile accident. Next, her daughter died of a drug overdose at 25 years old, and then her husband left her for another woman, only to wind up in an insane asylum. Mrs. Walsh was eventually forced to sell her family’s newspaper, The Washington Post, and then died shortly after her daughter’s death… perhaps of a broken heart, destitute and alone. Evalyn’s surviving children sold the diamond to jeweler Harry Winston. Not even a decade later, Winston mailed the diamond to the Smithsonian for $2.44 in postage and insured for $155.00! Very mysterious…

The mailman who delivered the diamond may have been the last to have been directly touched by the Curse. His name was James Todd, and shortly after delivering the diamond, his leg was crushed when he was hit by a truck, and his wife and dog died not long after that fateful day. In addition, he lost his home in a tragic fire.

Today, it would appear that the curse of the Hope diamond lies dormant. The diamond resides at the Smithsonian museum with no current reports of tragedy befalling

Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian
Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian

the museum workers there. It may be that the diamond isn’t cursed at all, and many of these accounts, such as that of Tavernier have not been authenticated, however, it would behoove any caretaker of this bloody and beautiful gem to be very careful indeed…

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What are the Most Cursed Diamonds in the World? The Orlov Part 2

In the spirit of the spookiest month of the year, we are running a series of articles exploring the world’s most cursed diamonds. This post is devoted to the infamous Black Orlov Diamond, and its counterpart, the White Orlov. Both diamonds were said to have been stolen from the eye of an Indian idol, but only one of them has been involved in multiple suicides…

There are two historical diamonds associated with the name ‘Orlov’ and each has its own complicated history and supernatural legends. The White Orlov diamond has a rich and varied history, much of which is shrouded in legend. While not ‘cursed’ in the way that brings bad luck to its owner, this diamond has mystical associations and its ownership has been fraught with deceit and drama. The Black Orlov diamond is a black diamond whose history shows remarkable similarities to the white Orlov, but has a more classic curse which brings death and misfortune to all who possess it. It is also known as the Eye of Brahma.

The white Orlov is now part of the Diamond Fund of the Moscow Kremlin. The Kremlin

The White Orlov Diamond
The White Orlov Diamond

lists it as weighing an incredible 189.62 ct, but this is technically an estimate as it has not been officially weighed for many years. It is cut in a modified rose-cut, and it’s shaped has been described like half an egg. The cut features a flat back, with facets rising up to a point in on the top of the diamond. This was how most diamonds were cut before many of the modern cut styles were developed. The Orlov is one of the few historical diamonds that has not been re-cut in a more modern brilliant style.

There are many myths surrounding the Orlov’s origin and history. One story is that the diamond was once an eye in a statue of a deity in southern India. The statue was located in the heart of a private, secure temple with seven enclosures. No Christian was ever allowed past the fourth enclosure. A French deserter supposedly gained access to the inner temple by pretending to worship there for years. Once he had proven himself and was able to enter the center enclosure, he stole the diamond. Around 1750, the deserter fled to find protection and a buyer with the British army. Whether this origin story is true or not, the diamond was originally from India and did come to Europe in the mid-1700s.

The diamond passed through the hands of many merchants, and eventually found itself in Amsterdam, where Count Grigory Grigorievich Orlov purchased it. This owner gave the diamond its name. Count Orlov ended up giving the diamond to Catherine the Great of Russia in an effort to regain her affections after she ended their years-long affair. She had her royal jewelers create a scepter which prominently featured the Orlov diamond. It has stayed in this setting until today.

The Black Orlov diamond’s story follows a similar trajectory. The following are several

The Black Orlov Diamond
The Black Orlov Diamond

stories about the diamond’s history. Its journey started in India, where it was said to have be an eye in a statue of the Hindu deity Brahma (hence the alternative name “The Eye of Brahma”).  It was stolen from a temple in Pondicherry by a monk. This way of removal from the temple is supposedly what caused the curse upon any owner of the diamond.

Statue of Brahma
Statue of Brahma, courtesy of kings 1912

Eventually the diamond came into the possession of the diamond dealer J.W. Paris, who committed suicide in New York, shortly after selling the precious jewel. Later, in the 1900s, the diamond was owned by two separate Russian princesses, Leonila Galitsine-Bariatinisky and Nadia Vygin-Orlov (who gave the diamond its current name). They both ended up committing suicide after owning the diamond. Each suicide was eerily similar, as they all involved leaping to their deaths from the top of a tall building.

Before you get too upset about all these deaths, keep in mind these stories of the Black Orlov are just that, stories. There are conflicting reports stating that there was never any Russian princess with the name Nadia Vygin-Orlov. Leonila Galitsine-Bariatinisky died of natural causes in 1918 at 102 years old. The myths surrounding famous diamonds are almost always exaggerated and enhanced as the fame of the diamond grows.

The Black Orlov was recut to its current size of 67.5 carats in the mid-1900s under the ownership of Charles F. Winson. It now has a more modern cushion-like shape. The diamond is owned today by Dennis Petimezas, who says he is “pretty confident” the curse is broken, and he has no fear of it. The Black Orlov is often displayed museums like the American Museum of Natural History and the Natural History Museum in London.

The Black Orlov Diamond
The Black Orlov Diamond
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What are the Most Haunted Diamonds in the World? Part 1

The Koh-i-Noor Diamond
The Koh-i-Noor Diamond

In the spirit of the upcoming Halloween festivities, we thought a series on Haunted Diamonds would be fun. First in this series, the Curse of the Koh-i-Noor Diamond!

The history of the rulers who have owned the Koh-i-Noor diamond is filled with treachery, murder, torture and betrayal. The legend of the Koh-i-Noor stretches back thousands of years to its first mention in a Sanskrit writing nearly 5,000 years old. Its first authenticated mention was in 1306 when it was stolen from the Raja of Malwa, whose family had owned the astonishing 793 carat diamond for hundreds of years. Originally named Samantik Mani (Prince Among Diamonds), the Koh-i-Noor gained its infamous name from Persian general Nadir Shah in 1739. Supposedly he cried out, “Koh-i-Noor!” (‘Mountain of Light’) upon discovering the diamond hidden within the folds of the Mughal Emperor Mohammed Shah’s turban.

Hindu Curse

It is said that any man who has ever worn the Koh-i-Noor has fallen from power or suffered serious misfortune. The first recorded instance of the Curse of the Koh-i-Noor

General Nadir Shah
General Nadir Shah

involves Prince Humayun, who received the diamond and suffered with ill luck for the rest of his life. His heir, Sher Shah Suri, came into possession of the diamond and died shortly thereafter, the victim of cannon fire. Sher’s son, Jalal Khan inherited the Koh-i-Noor and was then murdered by his brother-in-law. Prince Humayun’s great grandson, Shah Jahan (builder of the great Taj Mahal) had the diamond mounted on the Peacock Throne, which was the Mughal throne of India. The Shah was betrayed and imprisoned by own his son. The legend tells that the Shah would only be able to see his beloved Taj Mahal by viewing its reflection in the diamond. His son, Aurangazeb then took the diamond to Lahore, where it stayed until 1739, when general Nadir Shah invaded India and claimed ownership of the diamond.

The historical origin of the Koh-i-Noor diamond is not certain. It was most likely originally mined in the Golconda mines of India, from which also issued the famous (and cursed) Hope Diamond. Eventually, the British Crown came into possession of the Koh-i-Noor after Ranjit Singh, the last Indian owner of the diamond, died. This was not a provision of Ranjit Singh’s will, and even at the time the secretive transfer of the diamond to the East India Company in

Queen Victoria wearing the Koh-i-Noor as a brooch
Queen Victoria wearing the Koh-i-Noor as a brooch

London caused controversy because it was seen more as an ill-gotten spoil of war rather than a true gift to the British Crown. The diamond was presented to Queen Victoria in July of 1850.  She wrote:  “The jewels are truly magnificent. They had also belonged to Ranjit Singh and had been found in the treasury of Lahore…. I am very happy that the British Crown will possess these jewels for I shall certainly make them Crown Jewels”. 

In the Great Exhibition in 1851 the Koh-i-Noor was displayed for the public. Crowds lined up to see it, but unfortunately the overall reaction was one of disappointment. The diamond was moved to a different case to catch more sunlight, but it still underwhelmed its viewers due to its rough rose cut. In 1852, Prince Albert had the diamond recut into a brilliant oval shape in order to improve its light performance and color. The Koh-i-Noor diamond is now 105.60 cts and is currently

The British Crown containing the Koh-i-Noor Diamond
The British Crown containing the Koh-i-Noor Diamond

set in the Crown of Queen Elizabeth. The Royal Family, perhaps themselves wary of the curse, have decreed that only the females of the family could inherit the diamond, and the Koh-i-Noor should only go to the wife of any male British heir. Today it remains part of Britain’s Crown Jewels, and may be viewed at its resting place in the infamous Tower of London.

Check back next time for more stories about Haunted Diamonds!