Famous jewels and their often even more famous owners have fascinated mankind since the dawn of time. But all that glitters, isn’t always gold and certainly not always has brought joy to its owners.
Myths about fateful jewels span from ancient kings losing their empires over cursed stones, Russian princesses taking their lives to fortunes lost and gone, all over some of the most breathtaking treasures nature has to offer.
In today’s feature, called MYKU Mysteries, we explore some of the world’s most bone-chilling tales of haunted gems. While some of these rocks are certainly associated with great misfortunes, professional fact-checking has revealed that some of these tales seem a little too imaginative to be true or have been heavily sensationalized. Nevertheless, we all love a good story, for ourselves and to share with friends at your next dinner.
5. The Hope Diamond
No collection about iconic cursed gems would be complete without the tale of the famous Hope diamond. The brilliant blue stone was acquired by French merchant, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier in India, during the 17th century. Upon his return to France, he sold the stone, then known as ‘The French Blue’, to no other than King Louis XIV. During the turbulent times of the French Revolution, the stone disappeared until a deep blue diamond appeared in London in 1812, very similar to ‘The French Blue’. It turned out to be the recut ‘French Blue’, which was bought by collector and banker Henry Philip Hope, which is how the diamond got his name.
After staying within the family collection for some time, the stone was sold and landed in the possession of Pierre Cartier in 1909. Cartier was not only a gifted jeweler but a seasoned salesman too. He convinced American heiress Evalyn Walsh McLean to purchase the extraordinarily expensive diamond by telling her the tale of its tragic former owner, the French King.
Evalyn Walsh McLean
McLean was convinced that this magnificent stone would bring her luck despite the Hope diamond’s previous owner literally losing his head on the guillotine. Perhaps she should have thought more carefully. Some time after the stone entered her possession, misfortune stroke. Her son died in a car accident, her husband ran off with his mistress and their fortune. The misfortune did not stop here. Her family’s newspaper went bankrupt and her daughter died from an overdose of sleeping pills. She soon became an alcoholic and died in the following year. Her priced jewels were sold to pay for the debts of her estate.
4. The Koh-i-Noor Diamond
You may have heard of the Koh-i-Noor Diamond (‘Mountain of Light’ in Persian) before, as it is the centerpiece of the Queen Mary’s Crown of the Queen (Yes, THE Queen) of England today.
The stone is rumored to originate from India’s Golcondas mine, where some of the world’s most breathtaking gems were found. The Koh-i-Noor is known for changing its owners frequently throughout history, due to the murder of its previous owner. In 1849 this precious stone was presented to Queen Victoria, who was then the Sovereign of India. During its long journey to England, many unfortunate incidents happened such as cholera broke out and the ship almost sank in the storm. Many of the crew lost their lives but the stone finally made it to London.
Queen Victoria Koh I Noor
Today, the jewel is displayed at the Tower of London as part of the crown collection. Legend has it that a Hindu curse was placed upon the diamond, saying that ‘only women can wear the diamond without harm. If men should wear it, they will encounter great misfortune’. This belief has caused none of Britain’s male heirs to the throne to wear the Koh-i-Noor diamond crown.
3. The Delhi Purple Sapphire
Remember when we said some of these stories seem ‘too good to be true’? This certainly applies to this fateful gem, the Delhi Purple Sapphire. To begin with, despite its name, the stone is in fact an amethyst, not a sapphire.
Legend tells that the stone was stolen in 1855 from the treasures of the Temple of the God Indra in Cawnpore (India) by Colonel W. Ferris of the Bengal Cavalry. Upon possessing the stone, the poor Colonel’s health and finances took a tragic downturn.
The stone was then passed through the hands of his son and several others, all finding their end in suicides, financial ruin and misfortune. Its last private owner, writer Edward Heron-Allen instructed his banker to place the stone inside 7 boxes and lock it away for no one to see. Only 33 years after Heron-Allen’s death was the stone allowed to see the light of day again and, according to a letter by Heron-Allen, it should then be thrown far out into the sea.
None of this happened in the end. Heron-Allen’s daughter took the stone out of the bank less than one year after her father’s death and donated it to London’s Natural History Museum. Edward Heron-Allen was known to be an excellent storyteller and author, and it just so happened that he published a short novel called ‘The Purple Sapphire’. May this have been a genius coup of PR or may there be some truth to the stone’s curse? No matter the verdict, the Delhi Purple Sapphire remains a captivating rock with a mysterious aura.
2. The Black Prince’s Ruby
Just like the Koh-i-Noor Diamond, this gem is part of the collection of the English Royals. If you look at coronation images, you surely can’t miss it as this ruby is the big blood-red stone in the center of the Imperial State Crown. Just like the Delhi Purple Sapphire, the stone’s name is misleading, because the Black Prince’s Ruby is in fact a different kind of stone, called Red Spinel, which is worth far less than ruby.
Ruby or not, this gem’s history is bloody and gruesome. It has been in the possession of England’s rulers since the 14th century, beginning with Edward of Woodstock, who was known as ‘The Black Prince’. Before it came to England, the stone was found in the tomb of the Sultan of Granada, taken off his corpse by Pedro, King of Castile (also known as Pedro the Cruel). Shortly after, Pedro was attacked by his half-brother to take over the crown. Pedro appealed to Edward, a famous knight at that time for protection, who then in return received the fateful stone. Only nine years later, Edward should find his gruesome end through a mysterious disease he contracted around the time he received the jewel.
Edward the Black Prince
Passed on through Britain’s royal rulers, Henry V wore the ‘ruby’ in the Battle of Agincourt where he nearly died and Richard III wore it during the Battle of Bosworth where, you may have guessed it, was killed. Since it was set into the Imperial State Crown, there were incidents of fires and bomb attacks in the places, where the crown was at the time.
May this be a curse of nearly-fatal tragedies? One never knows, but it all may have started when King Pedro disturbed the peace of the Sultan of Granada’s tomb.
1. The Black Orlov
Just like some of the other stones here, the origin of ‘The Black Orlov’ is mysterious. Some say it was stolen by an Indian monk from a shrine where it served as the eye of an idol of the god Brahma. This is where its curse was born.
Princess Nadezhda Orlov
Throughout history, the stone’s origin was forgotten and it came into the possession of a Russian noblewoman, named Nadia Orlov. Legend goes that Nadia fell into depression shortly after acquiring the stone and soon took her own life by jumping off a building. The stone was then acquired by an American diamond dealer named J.W. Paris, who brought the stone back with him to the US and, shortly after his return, committed suicide by jumping off from one of New York’s tallest skyscrapers in 1932.
Many books have been written about the Black Orlov and the tragedies it brought to its owners. Some say that it’s unlikely the stone originated from India since there are no significant findings of black diamonds in India, but who knows, maybe the stone was brought there by another unfortunate soul?
Since then, the stone has been set in a spectacular necklace and owned by several private individuals since the late 1960s. None of the owners are known to have suffered the same fate. Maybe the curse has vanished over time or is waiting for its next victim?
Not matter if you believe in cursed jewels or not, history has shown that nature’s treasures have always fascinated people and inspired their imagination.
At MYKU, our aim is to captivate the beauty of some of nature’s most spectacular wonders. We hope the joy of wearing our unique timepieces will inspire you to tell your own story as every piece of our timepiece is truly one-of-a-kind. Get inspired, check out some of our latest timepieces here.