Precious stones like diamonds, rubies, and sapphires hold more than just the surfaced glitz and fame. For time immemorial, unearthed gemstones have always been the object of many a man’s desire. Gems have always been associated with power and royalty. In ancient Rome, it was believed that diamonds repelled poison, and amethysts warded off drunkenness.
In India, most gems are embedded in pendants and rings and worn to bring good luck. However, some gems are known for their notoriety and are clouded in mystery and myth. Beautiful and deadly, here is a collection of terrifying accessories that, according to legend, have either killed their owners, or driven them mad. Read on.
- THE HOPE DIAMOND
One of the most ostentatious pieces of jewelry to have existed, the Hope Diamond was rumoured to have been stolen from a Hindu idol and acquired by one Jean Baptiste Tavernier. The rare blue diamond which weighed about 44.52 carats – was sold to Louis XIV of France in 1668. The diamond was then cut up and became a part of the crown jewels. After that, it disappeared for about 20 years during the revolution and resurfaced only to be re-cut and sold to English banker Henry Hope.
Taking on the Hope’s family name, it became an heirloom until it was lost in gambling debts in the early 1900’s. It was then acquired by the French jeweler Cartier who sold it to American heiress Evalyn Walsh McLean in 1911. During the time that Evalyn possessed the diamond, her husband became mentally ill and had to be institutionalized, her son died in a car crash, and a young daughter committed suicide. Now, all these events could have taken place otherwise even in the absence of the stone but who doesn’t like a good story!
Later, the stone was donated to the Smithsonian Museum and that is where it sits even today, not causing any more disasters unless you count their current administration.
- THE BLACK ORLOV DIAMOND
“The Eye of Brahma Diamond” or more famously known as the Black Orlov Diamond was allegedly stolen by J.W. Paris, from one of the eyes in a statue of the Hindu god Brahma in Pondicherry. The stone was bought to the US in 1932 by Paris who then jumped to his death from a skyscraper in New York.
Suicide was to be the form of death for its next owners who were two Russian princesses. Both committed suicide (months apart) by jumping to their deaths from buildings in Rome. After this incident, the stone was cut into three different pieces by a jeweler who proclaimed the division would break the curse. And maybe it did, because we haven’t heard anything so far.
- THE KOHINOOR DIAMOND
Said to have been extracted from the Kollur mine in Golconda, the Kohinoor Diamond weighs about 105.6 carats. As legend has it, the Kohinoor Diamond or the Mountain of Light was stolen from Lord Krishna whilst he slept.
The Kohinoor diamond first finds mention in Moghul chronicles and found its way to many a Persian emperor. When the Britishers invaded India, the diamond was handed over to the British East India Company as part of a settlement. Queen Victoria had it cut from 186 carats to its current 109 carats and had it set in a tiara. Since then, the stone has adorned many a coronation crowns and remains on display in the Tower of London with the rest of the Crown Jewels.
- THE BLACK PRINCE’S RUBY
From what it may seem to be, the Black Prince’s Ruby isn’t actually a ruby but a large, glassy mineral that crystallises into various shades, including fiery red. Mined from Badakshan, present day Tajikistan, the ruby was first recorded in the 14th century, when King Pedro “The Cruel” murdered its owner for it. It was later to be handed to Prince Edward of Wales as a token of payment when Edward rescued Pedro from his enemies. Edward was known as the Black Prince because of his black armour, who then took the ruby with him to England where it has since remained at the front of the Imperial State Crown.
- THE DELHI PURPLE SAPPHIRE
We saved the most cursed one for the last. Discovered by Peter Tandy, curator at the National History Museum in London, approximately 30 year odd years ago, the Delhi Purple Sapphire was found sealed up in several boxes and, wait for it.
It was surrounded by protective charms and came with a warning:
“Whoever shall then open it, shall first 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.”
Many suspect that the gemstone which was not technically a sapphire was part of a looted treasure stolen from the Temple of Indra in Cawnpore during the bloody Indian Mutiny of 1857. The cursed quartz found its way into England in the hands of Bengal Cavalryman Colonel W. Ferris who went bankrupt and so did his son.
It was then purchased by writer Edward Heron Allen who claimed that it brought him nothing but bad luck. He gave it away to friends who then promptly returned it as it didn’t do them any good either. Heron couldn’t find a way to get rid of it as it kept coming back to him. It was then sealed up and sent away to the family banker with the instructions that it should stay locked away.