With Halloween in just a few days, it’s time to delve into the spookier side of diamonds. Throughout history, gorgeous and high-value pieces of jewelry have always generated a great deal of buzz. Huge, dazzling gemstones have a way of starting both rumors and conflict. Combine the two, and you have yourself a cursed stone.
Each cursed loose diamond or gemstone comes with its own unique and intriguing folklore. Read on for the stories behind several legendary cursed diamonds.
The Hope Diamond
The Hope Diamond. Photo credit: Wikipedia.
I couldn’t write a cursed diamond overview without mentioning the Hope Diamond. Arguably the most famous and most cursed precious gemstone in history, this 45.52-carat sparkler has a long and storied past. The Hope Diamond has been blamed for a laundry list of tragedies, including but not limited to: beatings, stabbings, murder, insanity, and suicide. In fact, King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette owned the fancy blue diamond during the French Revolution and their beheadings.
The last person to privately own the diamond – an American socialite named Evalyn McLean – had her daughter die of an overdose, her son die in a car crash, and her husband leave her for another woman. The trustees of her estate sold the Hope Diamond to Harry Winston, who eventually donated it to the Smithsonian. It remains there to this day, so you can view the Hope Diamond’s rare, deep blue coloring whenever you’d like.
The Black Orlov
The Black Orlov Diamond. Photo credit: London Museum of Natural History.
A 67.50-carat black diamond, the Black Orlov is also known as the Eye of Brahma Diamond. This is because the stone is rumored to have been stolen from an ancient statue of the Hindu god Brahma. As is the story with many cursed diamonds, the theft is what began the Black Orlov’s curse.
In 1932, a diamond dealer took the Black Orlov to New York City to try and find a buyer for the famous stone. He killed himself by jumping from a skyscraper just a few months later. Similarly, Princess Nadia Orlov – another one of the diamond’s namesakes – killed herself by jumping off of a building while in possession of the diamond.
Nowadays, the Black Orlov is the center stone of a diamond pendant, and the diamond dealer who owns it swears the curse is broken.
The Queen Mother’s coronation crown, featuring the Koh-i-Noor Diamond.
Fought over by rulers all over the world, the Koh-i-Noor has a particularly bloody history. Its early history is 5,000 years long, where it was captured and re-captured by India, Persia, the Afghans, and the Sikhs. The Koh-i-Noor’s curse is rumored to only affect men; women are immune to its bad luck. Eventually, British soldiers stole the 109-carat loose diamond from the Sikhs.
Today, it rests in the coronation crown of the Queen Mother. Interestingly enough, the Koh-i-Noor is still hotly contested: Afghanistan, Iran, and India have all claimed to be the stone’s rightful owners.
The Delhi Sapphire
The Delhi Purple Sapphire. Photo credit: Adiamor.
Actually an amethyst, the fable of the Delhi Sapphire begins with a British soldier stealing the semi-precious gem from the temple of Indra, the Hindu god of war. The soldier who stole it experienced a stretch of bad luck, so he gave it away to a scientist, John Heron-Allen. Immediately struck by misfortune, Heron-Allen tried giving the stone away twice but was unsuccessful.
In a last-ditch effort to get rid of the bad luck and health problems that he believed the amethyst was causing, Heron-Allen threw the Delhi Sapphire into the Regent’s Canal in London. However, even tossing the amethyst into a canal wasn’t enough to escape its curse! A few months later, a jeweler returned the Delhi Sapphire to Heron-Allen, who quickly locked it away in storage until his death.
Today, the Delhi Sapphire is on display at the London Natural History Museum, with strict instructions not to be touched with bare hands.
The Sancy Diamond
The Beau Sancy, a copy of the Sancy Diamond.
The Sancy is a 55.23-carat pear shaped diamond with a pale yellow hue. Like some of the other cursed diamonds on this list, the Sancy Diamond was allegedly stolen from India. A French soldier sold the Sancy to King James I of England, who actually wore it as a good luck charm. The Sancy Diamond is believed to be cursed because it has disappeared and reappeared so many times in its history.
At one point, the diamond was “stolen” from a messenger and believed to be lost to thieves. However, the Sancy was found just a few days later in an unexpected place. Medical examiners discovered that the diamond was inside of the messenger’s stomach during his autopsy. He had swallowed it so that the robbers who murdered him would not steal it.
The Regent Diamond
The Regent Diamond
Famous for decorating Napoleon’s sword, the 140.64-carat Regent Diamond has a faint blue hue. The diamond originally rose to fame after it was – you guessed it – stolen from India. The slave who stole the Regent from India’s Golconda Mine is the origin of its curse.
To swipe the diamond, the slave had to hide it in an open wound on his leg. He then hopped a ship for Europe in hopes of selling the diamond, but the ship’s captain got word that the slave was carrying an extremely valuable gemstone. The ship’s captain murdered the slave and sold the diamond himself, starting its long history of being handed down through generations of French royalty.
Nowadays, Regent Diamond can be found not in a slave’s leg wound, but rather on display at the Louvre, along with the Sancy Diamond mentioned earlier.
The Taylor-Burton Diamond
The Taylor-Burton Diamond, worn by Elizabeth Taylor.
While any diamond or gemstone that Elizabeth Taylor received from a husband could carry “the curse of divorce”, the most notorious item in her famous fine jewelry collection is probably the Burton-Taylor Diamond. Famously worn by Taylor as the center stone on a diamond pendant, the diamond is pear shaped and weighs 69.42 carats. The Taylor-Burton Diamond is known as “the first million dollar diamond”, due to its unprecedented value.
After Taylor and Burton’s second divorce, the actress auctioned the diamond for $5,000,000. The proceeds from the auction funded the construction of an orphanage in Botswana. Ever the trailblazer, Elizabeth Taylor took the bad memories from her “cursed” diamond and turned them into an opportunity to help others.