Gems said to be cursed seems to be an appropriate subject for the
Halloween season, and the number thirteen seems to be the appropriate
number of gems to include. So that's what we will do.
Gems said to be cursed always seem to be large, famous, and have been
owned by the very wealthy. Usually the stones are famous because of a
The curse said to be associated with a gem is often loosely connected
to a perceived tragedy in the life of a famous owner. Theft,
assassination, revolution, divorce... all of these events qualify as the
basis for a curse befalling a gem's owner.
The Queen's Opal
The Queen's Opal , also known as The Andamooka Opal was a gift from
the Government of south Australia to Queen Elizabeth II (the current British
The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II as monarch of the United Kingdom,
Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Union of South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon had
taken place on June 2, 1953.
A few months after her coronation, the Queen and her entourage set out on a
tour of her realm... to let her subjects see her, and be (relatively) close to
When she visited the south Australian region, she was presented with a
platinum and diamond necklace and earrings. The set featured the finest examples
of the gem native to the region - Opal. The necklace opal weighs 203 carats.
For centuries opal had been reputed to be a bad luck gem. That reputation was
bolstered in 1829 when Scottish historical novelist, playwright and poet Sir
Walter Scott published a novel titled Anne of Geierstein. The heroine in
the novel wore an opal in her hair, and of course, the opal was the cause of her
Young Queen Elizabeth wore the opal jewelry on a few occasions, but it has
not been seen in public for many years. Speculation persists regarding whether
the bad luck reputation of opal caused the Queen to retire these pieces.
The Black Prince's Ruby
The Black Prince's Ruby, also known as The Great Impostor,
is not even a ruby. It is a red spinel. Red Spinel, being the first cousin
to ruby, can be difficult to differentiate when identifying a water-worn
The Black Prince's Ruby was discovered in Central Asia
possibly a thousand years ago. Its history is pretty well known from the
Thirteen hundreds until now because it has been in the possession of British
royalty for most of that time..
The Black Prince (Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales)
acquired the gem under mysterious circumstances in 1367 from Don Pedro The
Cruel, ruler of Seville.
The Black Prince is said to be the only Prince of Wales to
never become King. He died before his father, King Edward III.
The Black Prince's Ruby weighs approximately 170 carats and
is now set in the Imperial State Crown.
The Delhi Purple Sapphire
The Delhi Purple Sapphire does not appear to be known by any other name.
However, it should be known as The Amethyst With a Curse.
That's right... The Delhi Purple Sapphire is actually an amethyst. Sapphire
(corundum) is many, many, times harder than amethyst (quartz). The two are
easy to differentiate, so it is unknown why the stone was - and is called a sapphire.
The Delhi Purple Sapphire's tale begins in the British colony of India.
During the revolt against British rule in 1857, it is said that a British
soldier plundered the stone from the Temple of Indra in Kanpur, India.
At some point the stone was set in a silver ring mounting. Was it already
in the ring when taken from the Temple? Possibly.
The gem was later taken to Great Britain by Colonel W. Ferris, a Bengal
Cavalryman. Was he the plunderer? Probably. At any rate, it is said that he
and his family soon encountered both health and money hardships.
The Delhi Purple Sapphire was given to Edward Heron-Allen in 1890. Edward
Heron-Allen was a prominent British writer, scientist and Persian scholar. It
is said that he complained of having bad luck immediately after receiving the
stone. He tried giving the gem to friends, but they soon returned it after
suffering various misfortunes. He even threw it into London's regents canal.
but it soon found its way back to him.
He soon kept the stone locked away in a box held by his bank, claiming it
was "accursed and is stained with the blood, and the dishonor of everyone
who has ever owned it".
After Edward Heron-Allen death in March, 1943, the gem was given to the
Natural History Museum in London - with the condition that the box was not to
be opened until at least 3 years after his death, and that under no
circumstances must his daughter ever touch or be in possession of it.
How do we know all this?
In 1943 England was embroiled in World War Two. For several years after the
war, the citizens were busy rebuilding their country. The Delhi Purple
Sapphire was forgotten for a time.
Some years later, a young curator at London’s Natural History Museum
found the typewritten note which was stored with the gem. The purple stone
itself was not especially impressive.
But the typewritten note was. It told of the gem's history, the curse, the
victims, and their woes.
The Star of India
The Star of India is a huge star sapphire. It weighs 563.35 carats.
This star sapphire is unique in ways other than being among the largest in
Its grayish-blue color is pleasing,
it exhibits the star effect on both sides of the stone
The rays of the star are near perfect.
Industrialist and banker John Pierpont (J.P.) Morgan was also a collector
and philanthropist. He commissioned George Kinz to assemble a world-class gem
collection for exhibition at the Exposition
Universelle of 1900 in Paris, France.
George Kunz, a self-taught mineralogist, was probably "the"
leading expert on gemstones in the United States. Kunz assembled an extensive
collection of gems from around the world.
The Star of India was included in the collection, and was a highlight of
the Paris exhibit. After the Exposition the Morgan gem collection was donated
to the American Museum of Natural History.
In 1964 the American Museum of Natural History was the victim of three amateur,
but successful, jewel thieves. The Star of India was one of the gems stolen.
The thieves were caught and the Star of India was eventually recovered.
The curse associated with this gem is directed at any jewel thieves that
might endeavor to lay their hands on it.
The La Peregrina Pearl
The La Peregrina Pearl is among the largest gem pearls known to exist. It is
famous for its 500 year history, and for the curse said to accompany the
The La Peregrina Pearl was found by an Indian(?) slave in the early 1600's along
the coast of the Spanish colony of Panama. The pearl quickly made its way into
the possession of the colony's administrator. The pearl was taken to Spain and
presented to future king Felipe II. Felipe married Queen Mary
of England in 1554, and gave the pearl to Mary at that time. Felipe became King
Felipe II in 1556.
Felipe and Mary were not together long, for it is said Felipe found her less
than desirable. He soon left on an extended tour of his Spanish kingdom. Queen
Mary became known as Bloody Mary because of her execution of Protestants. Mary
died in 1558.
The La Peregrina Pearl was returned to Spain, apparently upon the death of
Queen Mary. It stayed with the Spanish crown jewels for generations.
Joseph-Napoléon Bonaparte became King of Spain in 1808. His reign led to a
Spanish revolt against French rule. Joseph-Napoléon Bonaparte abdicated the
Spanish throne in 1813, taking some of the crown jewels with him, including the
.La Peregrina Upon his death in 1844 he willed the La Peregrina to his
nephew, the future French Emperor Napoleon III.
Napoleon lost a war with Russia in 1870, and went into exile in England.
While in exile he sold the La Peregrina to James
Hamilton, the future Duke of Abercorn. The pearl remained in the possession of
the Hamilton family until they sold it through Sotheby's in London.
Richard Burton bought the La Peregrina for $37,000, and gave it to his
wife, Elizabeth Taylor. In 2011 Taylor's estate sold the pearl at a Christie's
auction to an anonymous buyer for 11.8 million
The curse apparently only proved fatal for Queen Mary.
Numerous other colored gems have old legendary curses attached to them. Many
of these have been out of the public's view for several centuries in private
collections and royal treasuries. When the gems are out of circulation for an
extended period, folkloric stories about them tend to die out.
Diamonds are well represented among gems with legends and curses. Large
diamonds make the stories even better. Many seem to have been the eye of some
Idol in an Indian shrine or temple, from which they were stolen... causing a
curse to be placed on that gem.
The Great Star of Africa Diamond
The Great Star of Africa diamond, also known as the
Cullinan I Diamond, is a 530 carat, pear-shaped white diamond. It measures 58.9
× 45.4 × 27.7 mm, and has 76 facets, including the culet facet.
Cullinan diamond was discovered in the Transvaal region of what is now South
Africa. (Transvaal is a region north of the Vaal River). The rough Cullinan
diamond weighed an amazing 3,106 carats, or 1.37 pounds. It was... and still is,
the largest gem quality diamond ever found.
The Great Star of Africa diamond was the first stone cut
from the rough Cullinan diamond. It was presented to King Edward VII of England
in 1908. Edward had the stone mounted in the Sceptre with the Cross (aka, the
Royal Sceptre of King Edward VII). It is part of the British crown jewels,
currently housed in the Tower of London.
King Edward VII reigned from 1901 until his death in 1910.
It was the beginning of a new century, and many changes were in store. Some
good, and some not. The industrial revolution, the rise of socialism, and other
significant changes in technology and European society were under way. Edward
was liberal in many of his views, but he was not a progressive/socialist. Edward
died in the midst of a constitutional crisis involving the House of Lords
rejecting the budget proposed by the House of Commons.
The curse, such as it is, is said variously to be the
curse of socialism, or the curse of royal privilege.
The Koh-i-Noor Diamond
The Koh-i-Noor Diamond is also known as the "Mountain of Light diamond" and
the "the Diamond of Bābur". It may have been in the possession of
humans for 5000 years. A large diamond is known to have been referred to in
writings of that period.
The Koh-i-Noor Diamond is thought to be of Indian origin. The exact source of
the stone is uncertain, although some with an agenda declare its origin with
A large diamond was mentioned by Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur.
(Babur was the first Mughal emperor in what is now India.) Babur owned the
diamond at that point, and he wrote in his memoirs that "the diamond was
stolen from the Rajah of Malwa in 1306". When stolen,the diamond was housed
in a temple... as the eye of a Hindu goddess.
It was probably stolen by the army of a South Asian Muslim
dynasty (Turkic Khilji dynasty) known to have raided at that time and in that
region. The fact that Babur ruled the successor dynasty a couple of centuries
later is further circumstantial evidence that this was the case.
The diamond passed through numerous hands... and lands,
over the next five centuries. Among these lands were Persia, Afghanistan, and
back to (Punjab) India.
In 1849 the British took possession of the famed stone
weighing 105.6 carats. The legal agreement imposed by the British occupation
contained this statement…
“The gem called the Koh-i-Noor which was surrendered by
Shah Shuja-ul-Mulk to Maharajah Ranjit Singh and then surrendered by the
Maharajah of Lahore to the Queen of England.”
The Koh-i-Noor Diamond has been a part of the British crown jewels since that
time. It is occasionally worn - but only by female royalty. According to a Hindu
legend "he who owns this diamond will own the world, but will also know all
its misfortunes. Only God or woman can wear it with impunity."
The Orlov Diamond
The Orlov Diamond is unusual in shape and color, as well
as size. It is shaped like "a hen's egg, sliced through the middle".
The gem weighs just under 190 carats, is of exceptional clarity, and the color
is described as exhibiting a slight bluish-green tint.
The Orlov Diamond appeared in Amsterdam without a pedigree
in the mid-1700's. The stone passed from dealer to dealer until it was purchased
by Count Grigory Orlov. The Russian Count Orlov was a former lover of a young
lady who was to become Empress Catherine II (Catherine the Great) of Russia.
Orlov presented the diamond to Catherine, who named the gem in his honor, and
had it mounted in the Imperial Sceptre, where it remains today.
There is no known curse associated with the Orlov Diamond.
However, there is a curse associated with a diamond believed by many to be the
same gem in a former existence - The Great Mogul Diamond.
The Great Mogul Diamond is reputed to have been recovered
from a Southern India diamond field around the year 1650. This diamond is said
to be the largest ever found in India at 787.5 carats in the rough.
The Great Mogul found its way into the possession of Shah
Jahan, the 5th Mughal emperor. He employed a lapidary named Ortensio Borgio to
cut the stone. Borgio's judgment was poor. He ground the stone down to remove
some inclusions... and ground way almost two-thirds of the rough stone's weight.
Jean Baptiste Tavernier a famed French gem merchant was allowed to examine
the gem several years later. He described it as weighing 282 carats, having a
bluish tinge, and "is of the same form as if one cut an egg through the
middle". He also sketched it, detailing its rose cut facets.
The Great Mogul Diamond became the object of raids,
plunder, and untimely deaths to various owners until it disappeared from
history. Apparently the curse disappeared with the gem.
It is strongly suspected that the 282 carat Great Mogul
Diamond became the 189.6 carat Orlov Diamond, based on size, shape, and color.
The Black Orlov Diamond
The Black Orlov Diamond gets its name from Princess Nadezhda Vygin-Orlov,
presumably a twentieth century relative of Count Grigory Orlov. The gem in its
current form is described as a 67.5 carat, gun metal gray, cushion cut diamond,
set in a diamond necklace.
The Black Orlov Diamond is also known as The Eye of Brahma Diamond. That's
because it is rumored to have been one of the eyes in the four-faced statue of
Brahma, the Hindu God of Creation. Here again, the gem was supposedly stolen,
causing a curse to be visited on those who would posess it. At that time, The
Eye of Brahma Diamond weighed 195 carats in its rough form.
By the 1920's the Black Orlov had shown up in Europe. In 1932, European
diamond dealer J. W. Paris brought the diamond to New York City. Soon after
successfully selling the diamond, he committed suicide by jumping from a
Post World War Two, the diamond was again in Europe. This time in the hands
of exiled Russian Royalty in Rome. In 1947 two successive owners of the diamond
perished within a month. Both were exiled Russian princeses.
As the story goes, in November, 1947,Princess Leonila Viktorovna-Bariatinsky
fell to her death from a building in Rome. That tragic incident was followed by
Princess Nadia Vygin-Orlov leaping to her death on December 2, 1947, also from a
building in Rome. Both acts were ruled suicides.
From that time The Eye of Brahma Diamond has been renamed The Black Orlov
Diamond. The name change is part of another mystery... Princess Nadia
Vygin-Orlov never existed according to official records.
Is the curse a deliberate fabrication? Did any of the supposed victims of the
curse ever exist? If so, did they die in the manner reported?
The Regent Diamond
The Regent Diamond is another of the large, fine Indian
diamonds. It too, is said to be cursed because it was stolen. The gem is
described as being 140.64 carats, cushion cut, with a slight bluish tinge.
The stone is believed to have been found by a slave
working in a southern India diamond mine in the year 1701. The rough weight of
the stone was about 410 carats.
The curse began when the slave who found the stone successfully
stole it. The legend says he made a deal with a sea captain to take him to
another country, where the stone would be sold and the money divided. Predictably,
the sea captain became greedy, murdered the slave - and stole the stolen
The diamond was sold and resold. In 1702 the stone was
purchased by Thomas Pitt, the Governor of Madras, a trading region of the East
India Company. Pitt had the rough stone cut into the beautiful gem shown above.
The gem was named The Pitt Diamond from about 1705 until
In 1717 the diamond was sold to Philip II, Duke of
Orleans, and Regent
With this sale it became known as The Regent Diamond. It
has retained this name since that time.
This diamond became an important part of the French crown
jewels. It was looted from the Royal Treasury in 1792 during the French
Revolution, but was later recovered.
Today, the Regent Diamond is on display at the Louvre.
The Sancy Diamond
The Sancy Diamond is described as a 55.23 carat, off-white
(or yellow tinge), double-crown, shield shaped diamond, mounted in a white gold
Where most diamonds are cut with an upper portion (crown)
and lower portion (pavilion) - this diamond is much wider than it is deep. You
could describe it as having a front and back, or two sides.
The Sancy Diamond is one that earned its reputation as a
gem with a curse over time, as several owners met with a tragic fate.
The gem is presumably of Indian origin. Until diamonds
were discovered in South Africa in the 1860's, India had the most and best
diamond mines in the world.
The Sancy Diamond's existence was documented as far back
as the 1470's, when it was in the possession of Charles the Bold, the last Duke
of Burgundy (in present day France). After his untimely demise, the stone was
passed to his cousin, Manuel The Fortunate, King of Portugal and the Algarves.
Judging by the name, King Manuel The Fortunate must have been immune to any
Sometime later Spain was about to force Portugal under Spanish rule,
whereupon a Portuguese nobleman fled the country with many of the Portuguese
crown jewels. He sold the gem about to become known as The Sancy Diamond to a
French diplomat known as Nicolas de Harlay, seigneur de Sancy. Best I can tell,
that means he was Nicolas of the House of Harlay, Lord of Sancy.
Over the next couple of centuries the gem was owned by Russian, Indian,
English, and French Royalty, private collectors, and a Catholic Cardinal. The
diamond is include in the 1605 Inventory of Jewels kept in the Tower of London
with this description... “one fayre dyamonde, cut in fawcetts, bought of
The Sancy Diamond is known to have been among the French
crown jewels looted during the 10 year French Revolution. The gem resurfaced in
In 1906 the gem was purchased by William Waldorf Astor, 1st Viscount Astor.
The British Astor family owned the gem until 1978. It was sold to the Louvre
Museum in Paris.
The Sancy Diamond is on display in the Galerie d'Apollon, along with other
fine and famous gems.
The Taylor–Burton Diamond
The Taylor–Burton Diamond was described as a 69.42
carat, pear shaped diamond of the finest color and clarity.
The 241 carat rough diamond crystal that yielded this fine
faceted stone was unearthed in 1966 at the famous Premier Mine in South Africa.
The rough crystal was purchased by "Jeweler To The Stars" Harry
Winston. The primary gem yielded was a pear shaped flawless beauty weighing
It was purchased from Harry Winston, Inc., in 1967 by
Harriet (Annenberg) Ames of New York City. The gem was set in a platinum ring
mounting. The crime rate in New York City was getting out of hand in those days,
and the diamond became a curse to its owner. She feared for for her safety, so
she rarely wore it.
In 1969 the diamond was sold at auction by Parke-Bernet
(now Sotheby’s). The auction attracted a number of wealthy individuals and
companies, including Aristotle Onassis, Harry Winston, and Richard Burton. The
buyer turned out to be a representative of the jewelry firm Cartier.
For the first few years of its existence as a gem it went
unnamed. After the purchase at auction in 1969, it became the Cartier Diamond.
It would become the Taylor–Burton Diamond late in 1969, when Burton finally
was successful in purchasing it.
The Taylor–Burton Diamond was removed from the ring
mounting and a spectacular diamond necklace was created for it.
Taylor and Burton were married and divorced twice between
1964 and 1974. The diamond had again become a curse. In addition to its
association with her failed marriages to Burton, the insurance carrier's
requirements that she be accompanied by armed guards when wearing the stone
became onerous. After her 1974 divorce, Taylor sold the diamond to New York City
jeweler Henry Lambert.
The Hope Diamond
The Hope Diamond is by far the most famous diamond in
America. It is described as... a dark grayish blue,
antique cushion cut diamond, VS1 in clarity, weighing 45.52 carats. It is
surrounded by white diamonds and set in a diamond necklace
The Hope Diamond first appeared in the 1839 catalogue of
gems and pearls collected by Henry Philip Hope. The extraordinary
diamond had no known history. Henry Hope was a member of a wealthy family
that owned banking interests in London and Amsterdam.
Henry Hope became a brilliant
collector of art and gemstones. Following Hope's death in 1839, the diamond became
the property of Henry Thomas Hope, his nephew. In 1901 grandson Lord Francis
Hope sold it. The diamond was then sold and resold several times, including the
sale to Pierre Cartier in 1909.
Cartier remounted the gem and sold it to Evalyn
Walsh McLean, an American mining heiress in 1911. Mrs. McLean owned the gem
until her death in 1947. Harry Winston purchased the Hope Diamond and
Mrs. McLean's entire - and extensive jewelry collection in 1949.
For the next ten years Harry Winston Inc. exhibited the diamond at events
around the world, attracting visitors and raising money for charities. In 1958
Harry Winston gifted the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution.
That is the known history of this famous diamond.
Many "authorities" believe this diamond was once the Le bleu de
France, or the French Blue diamond. That is the source of the curse. Here
again the story begins with a large blue diamond used as an eye in an Indian
idol. It was stoles... and the curse began. The diamond made its way to the
French crown jewels, leaving death and ruin in its wake. The French Blue was
stolen during the French Revolution, never to be seen in that size and shape
If the Hope Diamond is the French Blue diamond re-cut to hide its origin, the curse
seems to have been depleted..
Gems said to be cursed are fun to hear about... but owning gems
is even more pleasurable.
We have other shapes, sizes, and
shades of gems available.
We keep gem prices low by buying quality gemstone rough
worldwide, and having the rough material cut by our gem cutters in Asia.
Gem Industry News
The Taliban is Involved in
the Gold and Lapis Trade
Mining on the mountain
A United Nations Security Council report on Afghanistan issued in August
reports that the Taliban is mining gold and controls access to a Lapis Lazuli
The Taliban forces are in a position where they can generate funds from these
mines. These funds would, no doubt, help finance their battles against Afghan
and NATO International Security Assistance Forces.
Anyone needing top quality Lapis Lazuli cabochons can contact me. We still
have a number of cabs available from a large purchase we made several years ago.
The sluggish economy presents an opportunity for
independent jewelry dealers to serve their existing customers and recruit new
customers this holiday season. Now is the time to plan and arrange
Most home-based jewelry dealers rely heavily on
recommendations from existing customers for new customers and sales.
Your customer base and sales can be increased
significantly by a little innovative marketing. For instance, organize a
couple of guys-only jewelry parties at friends houses.
Have the host invite his friends. They will
become your customers because you offer good deals (low overhead means low
prices on quality jewelry).
Your cost for the snacks and drinks should be paid for
with a single sale. Offer the host an incentive... $$ off a piece of
jewelry for him (sell it to him at your cost).
Be The Quality Jewelry Discounter.
Do you enjoy jewelry and gems?
Do you enjoy talking with friends and friends