Look, but don’t touch! These gems are lovely to look at, but they are rumored to have caused all manner of sorrows for their owners throughout history. It has been suggested that some of the stories about the curses were exaggerated to increase the mystique surrounding the jewels and therefore increase their value. Whether you believe in curses or not, these jewels all have fascinating histories.
The Hope Diamond
Probably the most famous of all cursed jewels, the notorious Hope Diamond was possibly stolen from a Hindu idol by Jean-Baptiste Tavernier. Tavernier brought the jewel back to France where it was acquired by the royal family. The first French king who owned it died a painful death and all but one of his legitimate heirs died in infancy. The jewel was passed to many members of the royal family and court. All who wore it died tragically – in a carriage crash, by suicide, by an angry mob. One wearer was stabbed to death by her lover. Its most famous owners, Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI, were beheaded. In fact, Marie was supposedly wearing the jewel when she was led to the guillotine. The jewel changed hands many more times before being purchased by Philip Henry Hope, the diamond’s namesake. Hope was luckier than some of the diamond’s previous owners – it only caused him to go broke. It created more trouble for its last few owners before it was finally acquired by the Smithsonian Institute.
The Delhi Purple Sapphire
This jewel is actually an amethyst, and it was supposedly stolen by a British soldier from an Indian temple dedicated to the Hindu god of war. The soldier experienced nothing but bad luck after the theft, so he decided to give the jewel to a scientist he knew by the name of John Heron-Allen. The unlucky scientist had similar misfortunes and poor health after coming into possession of the jewel and eventually decided to cast it into a London canal to get rid of it. Unbelievably, it was retrieved a few months later and returned to him. Eventually, it was acquired by the London Museum of Natural history, where it is on display today.
The Black Orlov Diamond
Also known as the Eye of Brahma Diamond, this gem was supposedly stolen from an ancient Hindu statue of the god Brahma. Two of the jewel’s owners, a New York gem dealer and a princess (Nadia Orlov) committed suicide by jumping off skyscrapers shortly after coming into possession of the diamond.
The Koh-i-Noor Diamond
Many battles were fought to possess this beautiful jewel, and many eastern rulers possessed it, at least for a little while. However, every king who ever wore it lost his throne. It is said that only women can wear it without fear, and a number of successful queens, including the first Queen Elizabeth, have done so. It is now part of the crown jewels of England and can be seen at the Tower of London.