It may be a girl’s best friend, but just like any coveted treasures from the old world, some diamonds are not immune to rumors of curses and bad luck – mainly, those who have a long history behind them. Whether these things really do carry bad luck or not, you got to wonder how much these diamonds will fetch on Sotheby’s auction. So let’s take a look at some of these historically dreaded diamonds.
The Shah Diamond
This one was discovered in India in 1450’s, where one of the oldest recorded diamond mines were operated. The diamond weighs around 88.7carats, and is coveted for its crystalline clarity – a rare quality during those times, since that they didn’t have such an advance way to cut and polish these gems as much as we did. It was claimed, lost, and retrieved by three different Shahs (King of Kings, Persian Emperor) by means of war, bloodshed, and other unfortunate events. It was eventually taken to Kremlin as a gift to pacify the Russians after one of their diplomats, Alexandr Griboyedov, was killed in Persia.
This one has some mythology wrapped around in its origins. According to the legend, the “Mountain of Light” was stolen from the god Krishna while it was sleeping. Like the Shah Diamond, this gem has been fought over and looted as spoils of war by different civilization throughout the ages. It was claimed by Hindu, Persian, Rajput, Mughal, Turkic, Afghan, Sikh, and finally, British rulers. It was last looted by Britain’s East India Company, and soon became part of the British Crown Jewels when Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India in 1877. The Diamond is currently set in the crown of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, and is in display in the Tower of London.
Also known as “The Eye of Brahma”, this black diamond was discovered in India in the 1800’s. Just like the Mountain of Light, the Eye was apparently discovered in a Hindu idol at a shrine near Pondicherry, India, where it was stolen by a Hindu monk. This apparently prompted malicious spirits to embrace the gem, as well as its owners. The name Black Orlov was taken from Princess Nadia Vyegin-Orlov, the name “Black” was used mainly to differentiate it from the ”Orlov Diamond”, a white 189.6carat diamond with its own impressive history. According to an Associated Press article, Orlov apparently committed suicide by jumping out from a building in Rome, Italy, on Dec. 2, 1947, after escaping from the Russian Revolution and selling her family jewels. Russian Princess Leonila Galitsine-Bariatinsky also previously owned the jewels. In a disturbing coincidence, she committed suicide a month before Orlov did. Even 15 years before Leonila and Nadia’s suicide, J.W. Paris, a jeweler, once tried to import the Diamond to the United States. He committed suicide after sealing the deal. The curse was apparently broken when Charles S. Winson, another Jeweler located in New York, bought the diamond on a Friday, 13th of May in the year 1949.
The Hope Diamond
The Hope diamond is probably the most popular diamond ever, being the second most visited artwork in the world next to Mona Lisa. The curse on this rare large blue diamond apparently started after it was taken out of the eye socket of a statue of Sita, a Hindu goddess. Just like the previous diamonds, this action induced a curse that would carry death and misfortune for those who owned the Diamond. It was first acquired by French Jeweler Jean Baptiste Tavernier. There are two stories circulating about how he acquired the diamond. He apparently traveled throughout India and bought the diamond, which was allegedly taken out of the Kollur mine in Golconda.
According to legend, he was the one who actually took the jewel out of the statue’s eyes, and was later torn apart by wild dogs in Russia after he sold the jewel. Historical records say that Tavernier returned to France in 1668 with the diamond and later sold it to King Louis XIV, together with other diamonds. After he was made a nobleman by the king, he died in Russia at the age of 84 due to unknown causes. Owners who were apparently cursed are King Louis XVI (beheaded), Marie Antoinette (beheaded), Daniel Eliason (bankrupted), Lord Francis Hope (bankrupted), May Yohé (divorced several times, died poorly), Sultan Abdul Hamid of Turkey (overthrown), Edward Beale McLean and Evalyn Walsh McLean (divorced, Edward had brain disease; Evalyn died due to pneumonia),
Therese Shaw is big fan of trivia and factoids and believes that someday, this stored knowledge will come in handy. It certainly has helped every now and then in her job as a freelance writer for Brillance.com, a site to go to if you want to know more about diamonds and other gems.