Cursed Decadence: Four Exquisite Jewels that Just Might Cost Your Life

Diamonds, rubies, pearls, and sapphires.  We stare at their beauty and lose ourselves in the light caught in their facets.  We adorn our bodies with them to draw attention to ourselves and to display our rank and establish social dominance.  For some, the value of a beautiful diamond is priceless, but over the course of time certain jewels have surfaced that demand more than most are willing to pay.  Take a look at these beautiful and deadly cursed jewels.

The Koh-i-Noor Diamond

It seems the Koh-i-Noor diamond has always been surrounded by mystery and controversy.  The stunning 186 carat jewel was presented to the British monarchy by India in the 1850, at least that’s the official story.  Many in India claim that the jewel was actually taken and as recently as last year, there were still attempts made to return it to its home.

It is said that no male has ever been able to wear the jewel without losing his titles, his throne, and his life, though tracking down information about actual instances where this has happened are almost impossible to find.  Nevertheless, it seems that the monarchy has honored the pronouncement that the diamond can only be safely be worn “by God or woman”.  No man has worn or displayed the diamond since it was brought to Britain.

The gemstone can currently be seen on display in the Tower of London where it resides full time except for the rare occasion when a female monarch uses it during official ceremonies.

The Black Orlov Diamond

Allegedly stolen from a statue of the Indian god Brahma (will people never learn?), this exquisite gemstone is seriously deadly.

After its theft, the stone changed hands many times before it fell into the ownership of J.W. Paris, a diamond merchant in New York City, in 1932.  Shortly after its acquisition, Paris jumped to his death from the roof of one of the city’s tallest buildings.  Shortly after, the diamond was purchased by two Russian princesses.  Leonila Galitsine-Bariatinsky and Nadia Vygin-Orlov (for whom the diamond has been named) both jumped to their deaths months apart from each other after the purchase.

The diamond was eventually purchased by Charles Winson who cut the diamond into three pieces, claiming this would break the curse.  It seems to have worked so far, as there have been no deaths associated with the diamond since.  However, the reputation lives on, as well.  It was reported that Felicity Huffman intended to wear the diamond to the Oscars a few years ago, but she changed her mind at the last moment.

The diamond has been on display in various museums around the world.

The Hope Diamond

Of course we’re going to talk about the Hope Diamond!

Perhaps the most famous of all the cursed gems in the world, the Hope Diamond currently resides in the Smithsonian.  Little is known about its true origins but stories abound about stolen gems and Hindu gods.  What we can do is track a line of owners who have suffered under the influence of the diamond.  Beheadings, suicides, insanity, and any number of other ailments followed the diamond across Europe and into the U.S.

Still, when it was presented to Mrs. Evalyn Walsh McLean in 1910, she succumbed to its beauty and purchased the diamond after having it reset.  Though tragedies befell her family she held onto it until her death 1947 after which it was purchased by Harry Winston, Inc. and was eventually donated tot he Smithsonian Institute.  It has only left the museum four times since the donation.

Stories have been told, movies have been made, and countless books have been written about this beautiful and dangerous gem.  It’s not hard to see why…

The Cursed Spanish Opal

Photo from Tronks and Co.

Once upon a time, King Alfonso XII fell in love with Virginia Doini of Italy.  After a whirlwind courtship, he proposed.  However, at the last moment, he cancelled their engagement in order to marry Maria Mercedes of Orleans to strengthen his royal ties.  Doini was heartbroken, but she still presented the newlywed couple with a gold ring with a beautiful opal setting.

Maria loved the jewel and she wore it often. That is until she died only five months after the marriage.

After her death, King Alfonso gave the ring to his grandmother.  She, too, died shortly after receiving the ring.  After the second death, the King gave the ring to his younger sister, Maria del Pilar.  Tragically, she also died of a mysterious illness shortly after receiving the ring.  Still, the ring was passed on to Alfonso’s sister-in-law who died shortly thereafter, though she claimed she did not believe in silly curses.

After all of these deaths, the king decided to wear the ring, himself, as penance.  He died only a few years later at age 28.  His new wife, and now widow, sent the ring to be blessed hoping to break the curse.  She also had the opal placed in a new setting as a necklace.  The blessing appears to have worked.  No other mysterious deaths were attached to the opal.

 

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