Oct 27, 2021 | 0 comments

Legend Has It: 4 Famously Cursed Jewels In History

by: richard haruni
Do you believe in curses?

As the frightful delights of Halloween makes its way back into our homes, there’s no better time to explore the dark reputation of these famously cursed gems: where they came from, the unfortunate events of owners past, where they are now, and who — if anyone, is the current owner.

 

The Koh-i-Noor Diamond

Also known as the “Mountain of Fire,” this diamond was the highlight of the royal throne of Shah Jahan in 1628 (the royal seat was covered in diamonds, emeralds, rubies and pearls, and was said to have cost four times as much as the Taj Mahal). When Delhi was invaded in 1739, the throne was looted and taken to present-day Afghanistan. Eventually the diamond made its way to England, but not before bringing terror and misfortune along the way. The trouble began in 1849, when 10-year-old Punjabi heir Duleep Singh was forced to give the diamond to the British in exchange for his mother’s freedom. While sailing to England, the entire crew suffered from a cholera outbreak but were denied entry from a nearby port, they had to continue head-first into a violent storm. Things didn’t improve when the diamond got to London: Queen Victoria was hit by a man with an iron-topped cane and got a black eye, and her former Prime Minister Robert Peel fell off his horse — then his horse fell on him, killing him.

The Koh-i-Noor diamond is part of The Crown Jewels, and was last seen on top of the coffin of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother at her funeral in 2002.

 

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The Black Orlov Diamond

Dark in colour as in reputation, this diamond has been associated with three identical deaths. The Black Orlov Diamond was first known as the Eye of Brahma, and the legend states that it was one of the eyes in a statue of the Hindu god. Once the diamond was stolen by a travelling monk, it became cursed. Later, the diamond was purchased by diamond dealer J.W. Paris, who jumped from a Manhattan skyscraper to his death in 1932. Fifteen years later, Russian ex-royals Princess Leonila Viktorovna-Bariatinsky died from suicide by jumping from the roof of a building, follolwed by Princess ​​Nadia Vygin-Orlov one month later — they both owned the Black Orlov Diamond at the time of their deaths. Attempting to exorcise the diamond’s reputation (and possible demons), the next owner Charles F. Wilson had the diamond re-cut to its current 67.5-carat size. There haven’t been any tragedies among owners since the 50s, and the diamond almost made a red carpet appearance when Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman was supposed to wear it to the Oscars in 2006, but changed her mind.

 

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La Peregrina Pearl

Known as one of the most symmetrical natural pearls, La Peregrina (the wanderer) was found off the coast of Panama in the mid 16th century by Don Pedro de Temez, who gave it to the future King Phillip II, who then gave it to Queen Mary I of England. La Peregrina’s curse brings bad luck to romantic couples — partly because the pearl absorbed so much bad energy from Queen Mary attending the executions of protestants.

Queen Mary and King Phillip hardly spent time together (King Phillip spent most of their marriage abroad), and when Queen Mary died he said he “…felt a reasonable regret for her death.” In 1969, the pearl made it to Richard Burton who bought it as a Valentine’s Day gift  for his wife Elizabeth Taylor. The Taylor-Burton relationship was as unstable as it was passionate (they both enjoyed screaming matches in public and private), with Taylor herself going through eight marriages in her lifetime. La Peregrina sold for $11 million when Taylor’s jewellery was sold after her death in 2011, and lives a quiet life with their current owner.

 

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The Regent Diamond


A gorgeous cushion cut at almost 141 carats, the Regent Diamond was originally found by a slave in 1698. Hoping to buy his freedom, the slave buried the diamond inside an open leg wound (the diamond was 410 carats in its pre-cut size), but it was found by an English sea captain who took the diamond and killed the slave. Thomas Pitt sold the diamond to King Louis XIV, where it became a part of the French crown jewels. The curse of the Regent Diamond took effect around the time of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, both of them being executed during the French Revolution. Later, Napoleon Bonaparte would add the diamond to the hilt of his double-edged sword, and he died in disgrace from exile. Other casualties of the curse include Louis XVIII (he died childless), and Charles X (he was forced to abdicate the French throne and died from cholera).

 

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While there isn’t any hard evidence that proves cursed jewellery caused the misfortune of the wearers, it does provide examples of how egregious acts (ie stealing) come with consequences — some of which can be deadly. Cursed or not, these jewels carry fascinating stories that have been passed on for centuries, which only make them all the more valuable.

For more posts on famous jewels (and the people who owned them), check the Haruni Fine Jewels blog regularly, or connect with us on social media to take a look at some of our latest creations, curse-free.

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