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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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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!

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Evolution of Diamond Shapes

Diamonds can be cut in a wide variety of styles. As the technology of diamond cutting advanced through history, cutters were able to improve light return of diamonds, as well as experiment with different diamond shapes.

Humans were originally unable to cut diamonds at all. Sometimes diamonds were placed in jewelry in rough form, as they came out of the ground. The Romans actually believed that cutting a diamond would cause it to lose its mystical power of protection over the wearer.

Ancient Roman ring with two uncut diamonds
Ancient Roman ring with two uncut diamonds. Photo Courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum.

Eventually people figured out that diamonds themselves could cut and polish other diamonds, and rudimentary cut styles began to evolve. One of the first cuts to become popular was the rose cut. This cut has facets which rise to a point on the top of the diamonds, while the underside is flat.

In the 1700s and 1800s when the bountiful mines of Africa were producing an immense amount of rough, diamond cutting took on a different role. People tried to make diamond shapes that reflect light and look beautiful in jewelry, developing the brilliant faceting style. The cuts that took precedence in this time included the Old Mine and old European cuts. These cuts were the precursors of the modern diamond cuts of today. The old mine cut developed into the cushion cut, and the old European was the predecessor of the modern round brilliant cut.

A cushion cut diamond halo engagement ring customized .from Adiamor
A cushion cut diamond halo engagement ring customized .from Adiamor

 

Around the turn of the century, diamond cutting technology took a major leap forward. The modern round brilliant cut was developed, which created so much fire and brilliance it became the most popular cut for the past century.

The Asscher and emerald cuts developed in the early 1900s reflected the geometric design ideals that defined the Art Deco era. These step cuts do not have as much flashy sparkle as brilliant cuts, but instead create hypnotic reflections, drawing you into the diamond.

3-Stone Diamond Engagement Ring from Adiamor
3-Stone Diamond Engagement Ring from Adiamor

 

Once the brilliant style of cutting was found to reflect so much light and create so much sparkle, people began to experiment with different shapes of brilliant faceting. During the twentieth century, cutters elongated the round to create ovals, formed square brilliants which became princess cuts, and cropped corners off those squares to create radiant cuts. Hearts, pear shapes and marquise cuts were other evolutions of brilliant cut diamonds.

Some cuts create certain visual effects. Rounds face up the largest and reflect the most light return (this makes sense if you think of a circular room full of mirrors; it would reflect more light than a room of any other shape). Any elongated shape also utilizes its carat weight well and appears large. Elongated shapes include rectangular radiants, emeralds, marquises, pears and ovals.

 

Cushion Cut Diamonds have vintage appeal, but can appear smaller than the Round Brilliant shape
Cushion Cut Diamonds have vintage appeal, but can appear smaller than the Round Brilliant shape

One shape which carries a lot of its weight in its depth, not its spread, is the cushion cut. While they give an old world, vintage-feel which attracts many, they do not appear as large as round brilliants of the same carat weight. For those who value the cushions’ pleasing shape and historical appeal, appearing large is not a priority. For those who want a diamond which spreads weight out more and looks larger, a different cut might be the right choice.

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History of Art Deco Jewelry Designs, Part 2

The history of art deco jewelry designs is filled with classic inspiration and contemporary style. But, where did the name ‘Art Deco’ come from?

Several events happened during the 1920s that influenced fashion and jewelry design. In 1925 the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (In English, the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts) was held in Paris. This event attracted artists of every variety to display their works, and drew immense crowds. The exposition showcased all the newest styles and art forms from across the world. The new style was geometric, linear, and often recalled classical styles in an updated way. The phrase “Art Deco” stemmed from the name of this exposition, and was given to this new style in the 1920s.

Paris Exposition Poster
Paris Exposition Poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922 had a major impact on all aspects of design. Bold geometric lines and the use of gold and inlay work became very popular in jewelry after seeing the striking designs like inlaid lapis and gold in Tut’s tomb.  Motifs like the stylized human form and abstracted forms from nature were incorporated into many designs.

King Tut, Photograph by Kenneth Garrett, National Geographic Stock
King Tut, Photograph by Kenneth Garrett, National Geographic Stock

 

 

 

Palmolive Soap Ad, 1917, Image by Captain Geoffrey Spaulding, via Flickr
Palmolive Soap Ad, 1917, Image by Captain Geoffrey Spaulding, via Flickr

 

The advent of technology was another major influence on all aspects of design in the 1920s. Design such as the iconic Cartier Louis wristwatch were designed for the on-the-go timekeeping needs of aviators. Tennis and golf were popular for all genders, and sportier styles of clothes created the need for jewelry that would go with those clothes. Hefty brooches, delicate filigree, and multi-layered pearl chokers that looked appropriate with ruffled Edwardian blouses were now seemed far too old fashioned for the streamlined designs of the 1920s. Delicate platinum was still du jour, but in much more geometric lines.

Cartier Watch, Image Courtesy of Cartier.com
Cartier Watch, Image Courtesy of Cartier.com

www.cartier.us

Engagement rings were popular in the 1920s, but the diamond solitaire did not become the universal standard until a little bit later on in history. Diamond rings were popular, maybe set with three equal sized diamonds, and other gemstones were also a common choice for an engagement ring.

Art Deco 3-Stone Engagement Ring, Image Courtesy of laantiques.com
Art Deco 3-Stone Engagement Ring, Image Courtesy of laantiques.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For an enagement ring with geometric balance and detailing reminiscent of the Art Deco period with a timeless appeal, try this three stone pave setting R2557

3-Stone Diamond Engagement Ring with Pave Accents by Adiamor
3-Stone Diamond Engagement Ring with Pave Accents by Adiamor

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For some intricate pave set diamonds that would have made any artisan in the 1920s proud, take a look at this baguette and pave set ring: R2439

Emerald Cut Diamond Engagement Ring with Baguette Accents by Adiamor
Emerald Cut Diamond Engagement Ring with Baguette Accents by Adiamor

 

How did Art Deco decline in popularity?

(And for you Art Deco fans, why did it ever go away?!)

Check out the last installment, Art Deco #3 for the answers!

 

 

 

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What is the Significance of a Wedding Band?

Throughout history, the ring has been used to symbolize the bond of marriage. Although it wasn’t until the mid-20th century that both men and women started wearing rings (before that it was only women), they have long been used to show that a person is no longer on the market (so to speak). But there are actually quite a few points of significance concerning the giving and receiving of wedding bands. Here’s a little rundown of what that ring on your finger really means.

Historically speaking, there were certain monetary considerations tied up in marriages. Women generally had to be given over into marriage with a dowry (a sum of money or goods like livestock). This was to counter the increased expenditures of her new husband due to having another mouth to feed (or several, once children started to be born), but it was also to give the couple a fresh start in life. In addition, a woman came with their own contributions, mainly in the form of a hope chest which she would have filled with needlework and other valuables from the time she was a child. Interestingly, the ring was not only given as a symbol that a woman was no longer available for courtship, but also as an item of value that could one day be added to a daughter’s dowry to make her more desirable.

But that was just business. These days, the ring is more a symbol of love than wealth (although wedding bands are made from precious metals, giving them inherent monetary value). During WWII, men and women began exchanging rings, probably so that soldiers going off to war would have something to remind them of their love awaiting their return. Of course, the jewelry industry probably supported this move, although there is no evidence that they were responsible for starting it.

Finally, there is the unbroken circle to consider. Even ancient cultures considered a circle to be symbolic of eternity and strength, both aspects of a strong marriage. And while the wedding band did not necessarily stem from religion, many religious ceremonies now include wedding bands simply because the circle holds special significance within their dogma. For the happy couple exchanging rings, these metal bands can be considered to signify commitment, longevity, prosperity, and any number of other positive influences on the relationship. In truth, the value of a wedding band has a lot more to do with what the individual endows it with, rather than what history and culture have to say on the matter.

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The Importance of Passing Jewelry to Loved Ones

Over the span of your life, you will likely collect quite a bit of fine jewelry. Although hard times may force you to sell some of it, you will almost certainly keep treasured pieces to pass down to children and their spouses one day. Whether it is your grandmother’s engagement ring, your mother’s pearl necklace, or your own wedding set, the value of these items cannot be measured solely by the dollar amount they might fetch on the market. So before you think about selling anything, consider what a hand-me-down of this nature is worth.

From time immemorial, it has been the practice to pass on treasured possessions to family members as way to keep wealth in the family. Hundreds of years ago, valuables like jewelry were often hard to come by and may have been the only item of quantifiable worth a family possessed (although an item like a lace wedding dress might have been just about as valuable). Today, most societies operate on a currency-based system, making marked paper the most sought-after possession. And yet, jewelry is still considered to have an extremely high value, especially when it contains large or rare stones and precious metals. While living members of your family will have to pay taxes on any money you bequeath to them (aside from certain non-taxable gifts), you can turn over your jewelry before you die as a way to give them something that possesses monetary value without forcing them to pay for it.

But even beyond giving your heirs something that they could trade for cash, you must consider the sentimental value that many jewelry items hold. Likely your children and grandchildren will want to choose certain pieces from your collection that are dear to their heart. Often the first child to wed will receive an engagement ring that formerly belonged to an older family member, while your own ring may go to your grandchild or great-grandchild. In this way, special items are kept in the family along with a sense of history and belonging to something greater than oneself. It’s sort of neat to think the ring your grandmother wore, the one that now rests on your finger, will one day be worn by your grand-daughter, thus making the item worth far more than its intrinsic value. When viewed in this light, it becomes clear that the passing of jewelry is more than just a way to keep wealth in the family. It is a method to preserve the memory of those who have gone ahead.

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How Old Are Your Diamonds?

Diamonds throughout the ages have symbolized wealth, strength, unsurpassed quality, and social status. Through time and different civilizations, diamonds may have been called different names, but a diamond by any other name still represents the same thing. Diamonds are the world’s hardest naturally occurring substance and provide beauty in the form of jewelry and industry in the form of various saw blades. They are formed deep within the earth, in the mantle layer which is roughly 125 miles below the earth’s surface. But the most intriguing question is not really how diamonds are formed, but how old they actually are.

Studies done in the diamond mines of South Africa, where diamonds are most abundant, have concluded with some very interesting facts about the origin and future of diamonds. Researcher Dr. Steve Shirey indicates that there have been three time period’s in our planet’s history when diamonds were formed. The oldest diamonds were formed along with the earth over 3.3 billion years ago. The next phase followed about 2.9 billion years ago. The youngest of all diamonds are still a massive 1.2 billion years old, which far surpasses any age of human civilization by a long stretch. Nevertheless, whether the diamond was created 3.3 billion years ago, or 1.2 billion years ago, diamonds are no longer being produced in the same way that they used to be. Scientists suggest that this may be due to the earth being cooler, or perhaps rock composition being different billions of years ago.

For those fearing a diamond extinction, don’t fret just yet. Diamonds are not exclusive to earth and there has been plenty of evidence to suggest that many planets are quite capable of producing diamonds. Scientists theorize that there may be diamonds found on Neptune and Uranus. The two planets contain a great deal of methane gas, which when focused with intense heat can produce diamond dust. Furthermore, a discovery of a mass of crystallized carbon, that was previously a star in our galaxy, is understood to be a true diamond. It is estimated to be 2,500 miles across and weighing in at 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 carats! Unfortunately, it’s fifty light years away, but the fact that it exists provides further evidence of diamonds’ existence elsewhere.

The universe is theoretically able to harvest diamonds, but currently there is a diamond shortage here on earth in relation to the products’ high demand. There is still plenty of work to be done by way of discovering and excavating new diamonds. While the earth may not produce diamonds like it did billions of years ago, there are still plenty of diamonds yet to be discovered right under our noses.