I decided to take a break in our schedule of the A-Z Gemstones Uncovered for this Halloween Spook-tacular Special! I've scoured the internet, learnt lot about some gruesome gems, so here I am to present my top 5 Cursed Spooky Jewels. There are some really dozy's among these jewels, whether fictitious, elaborated or true they will get you wondering about the power behind these artefacts and how it all began...
So let's begin.
1. The Black Prince's Ruby
If you've ever seen coronation photographs, chances are you've seen this one a bunch of times. Weirdly, this "ruby" isn't actually a ruby at all but a fiery red spinel. As rubies are significantly worth more than spinels, the Black Prince's Ruby has also become well known as "The Great Imposter".
Records take us as far back as the 14th Century, where it belonged to the Sultan of Granada. The stone was supposedly found near or on his corpse by no other than a guy called Pedro the Cruel, King of Castile. Soon after Pedro the Cruel "found" this "ruby" his reign was attacked, he appealed to Edward the Black Prince, a reputable knight, for help. The war was a success, and for his gratitude Pedro gifted Edward the stone.
The Black Prince, otherwise known as Edward of Woodstock got his namesake from his success on the battlefield during the Hundred Years' War. Unfortunately during the time, he helped out Pedro the Cruel he contracted a mysterious disease and died nine years later.
In 1415, King Henry V held possession of the Black Prince's Ruby, having it set in his battle helmet alongside real rubies. He wore the helmet when he defeated the French forces at the Battle of Agincourt. He didn't come away from this battle lightly, not only was he hit with a mighty blow from an axe on his head but he was thrashed so much by others that a portion of his helmet broke away. However, both he and the ruby survived. It's rumoured that Richard III was wearing this helmet when he died during the Battle of Bosworth.
The ruby was passed on to many hands in British royalty, including Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth I. When Oliver Cromwell took over after King Charles I's beheading in 1649, he sold the ruby. Most of the treasures he got rid of were either melted down or sold on by order or the commonwealth. Miraculously the ruby was not among those destroyed and King Charles II was able to buy it back from an unknown source in 1660. However, the drama was not over, in 1671 notorious Colonel Blood attempted to steal the State Crown it was set into from the Tower of London. Unbelievably, King Charles II only pardoned Colonel Blood for his actions.
Many believed the curses continued. In 1841, the crown was almost destroyed in a fire. Its saviour was the police inspector on call that day. As the Tower of London burned, Pierse broke through the iron bars with a crowbar to rescue as many objects as he could. Furthermore, during World War II, the crown was in danger again, as Hitler's bombers almost hit the Tower.
Currently, the curse seems to be on hold, or at least the destruction which follows it does. Currently, the Black Prince's Ruby is set front-centre in the Imperial State Crown of England which, can be seen at the Tower of London, England, among the rest of the Crown Jewels.
2. The Hope Diamond
Legends speak of a curse that bestows the owner of the Hope Diamond, beginning when the beautiful blue gem was stolen from an idol in India. Not only does this curse affect the owner of the diamond giving them bad luck but for all who touched it.
Some believe the legends behind this diamond are fabricated to increase the interest and worth of this mysterious stone, but others truly believe in its curse. So let's look into what we do know...
Arguably this is one of the most famous diamonds in the world. The story begins in the mid-1600s with French merchant traveller, Jean Baptiste Tavernier, acquiring a 112.5ct diamond, from the Golconda region of India. Arriving back in France in 1668, he was invited by King Louis XIV to visit him at court to show him the diamonds and describe his travels. Louis XIV brought the large, blue diamond along with 44 large diamonds and 1,122 smaller ones. Tavernier was made a noble and later died in Russia at the age of 84.
In 1673, King Louis XIV had the diamond recut and officially named it the "Blue Diamond of the Crown", he would often wear it on a long ribbon around his neck. After his death in 1715 and subsequent years later, Louis XIV's great-grandson, Louis XV became king and ordered the crown jeweller to make a decoration from the Order of the Golden Fleece, using the blue diamond and spinels which were thought to be rubies at the time. Once Louis XV died, his grandson Louis XVI became king with Marie Antoinette at his side as Queen. In 1791 the diamond was stolen from the couple, at the time the diamond had been placed in the royal storehouse but evidently it was not well-guarded. Both ended up being beheaded during the French Revolution. By the curse or not? Only you can decide.
After moving around a bit, the diamond was documented in the collection of Henry Philip Hope in 1839, where it officially became known as The Hope Diamond. Following the death of Hope in the same year, the diamond was passed to Henry Thomas Hope. Over the next 70 years, the stone passed through many hands, being sold once the owner needed to pay off debts but in 1909 it ended up in the collection of Pierre Cartier. In 1910, the Hope Diamond was shown to Mrs Evalyn Walsh McLean of Washington D.C. but she did not like the setting, after changing it to a headpiece, it was finally sold to her in 1911. When McLean's mother-in-law heard about the diamond she was aghast and persuaded McLean to send it back to Cartier due to the sordid tales of the curse. However, Cartier sent it right back and then sued to get their promised fee. After this McLean wore the diamond constantly, she saw it as a good luck charm and apparently refused to take it off even for an operation. However everyone else only saw the curse's affect; McLean's first son, Vinson, died in a car crash at 9 years old. Then her daughter committed suicide at 25. In addition to this, her husband was declared insane and was committed to a mental institution until his death in 1941. McLean's flamboyant ownership of the stone lasted until her own death in 1947. Harry Winston Inc. of New York City ended up purchasing McLean's entire jewellery collection from her estate in 1949. After being shown at various exhibitions it was donated to the Smithsonian Institution in 1958. It became their star attraction and has only left the museum four times since it was donated. The stone is still on display today a part of the National Gem and Mineral Collection in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
Some believe these stories are real and others believe they were totally fabricated to drive up the worth and interest in the stone. What do you believe?
3. The Strawberry Leaf Tiara
I know what you're thinking. How could something with such a sweet-sounding name possibly be cursed and evil? But trust me when I say some of the most beautiful things in life are shrouded in darkness and this one is no different. Let's dive in.
The story begins with the engagement of Prince Albert's (Queen Victoria's husband) third daughter. As a jewellery fan, he wanted to design a gift for her himself. However, tragedy struck before the wedding even occurred. Prince Albert passed away in 1861. Queen Victoria decided to share the news that her husband had been creating a gift with the House of Garrad (the Royal Jewellers) before his passing with her daughter.
Princess Alice wore the tiara on her wedding day. She was seen wearing it regularly within her role as Grand Duchess consort of Hesse and by Rhine. But tragically in 1878, exactly 17 years to the day her father passed, Princess Alice passed away at the age of 35 while nursing her family through diphtheria. Three of her children tragically died during this time as well.
The tiara next resurfaced with Grand Duchess Victoria Melita, who married Alice's son Ernst. The curse supposedly continued, their marriage was unhappy and both wanted to end it however Queen Victoria would not let them as they shared a child. When Queen Victoria died in 1901, the couple divorced, 2 years later their child died of typhoid.
Ernst got remarried, to Eleonore of Solms-Hohensolms-Lichs in 1905 who also wore the Strawberry Leaf tiara. They had two children together and things seemed to be well, until Ernst's death in 1937. A short time after his passing, Eleonore lent the tiara to her daughter-in-law, Cecile Grand Duchess consort of Hesse and by Rhine. However one month after the death of Ernst in November 1937, the Hesse family underwent more tragedy. The family got on a plane, flying to London, to attend the wedding of Prince Louis and Margaret Geddes. Cecilie was heavily pregnant and went into labour during the flight, the pilot attempted to land the plane in Belgium for the emergency but horrifically they crashed, killing everyone on board. The tiara was onboard with them, it was later found in a lockbox that turned up in the wreckage, along with other royal jewellery. It was unscathed.
After the death of his family, Prince Louis came and collected all the belongings he'd inherited with his one surviving niece, the tiara being amongst the inheritance. His niece lived in his care for two years before dying from meningitis.
Since these series of unfortunate events, the tiara has not been sighted being worn. From 1997-2002, the whereabouts of the tiara were unknown until it appeared in the book, Tiaras: A History of Splendor by Geoffrey Munn, who credited the photo to the Foundation of the House of Hesse.
4. The Black Orlov Diamond
Our next story features the Black Orlov Diamond, otherwise known as the Eye of Brahma Diamond. This diamond was traced back to the 19th century in India. Legend has it that the stone, previously uncut, featured as one of the eyes in a statue of Brahma, the Hindu God of creation, located in a shrine in the city of Pondicherry. It is believed the stone was stolen by a travelling monk, causing the curse. The monk was supposedly murdered following this.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the diamond belonged to Princess Nadia Vygin-Orlov, the source of the diamonds namesake. During the Russian Revolution in 1917, Princess Nadia fled to Italy for safety along with numerous other Russian royals.
In 1932, the diamond was imported into the United States by the European diamond dealer, J.W. Paris who was looking for a buyer. There isn't much known about Paris, but it's said he was able to sell the diamond within a week of arriving in New York. In the same year, on April 7th, he made his way to the top of a Manhatten skyscraper in the heart of 5th Avenue and jumped to his death. He is now known as the first victim of the diamond's curse.
In 1947, 15 years after the tragic death of J.W. Paris, Princess Nadia leapt to her death from a building in Rome in what was believed to be a suicide due to heartbreak. And only one month after Princess Nadia's death, another member of Russian royalty, Princess Leonila Viktorovna-Bariatinsky leapt to her death too. Again believed to be a suicide. Later it was discovered that she had previously been an owner of the Black Orlov Diamond.
Now, here's something bizarre... The identities of these two princesses are somewhat dubious. The only person found with the name Princess Leonila Galitsine-Bariatinsky died in 1918, at the age of 102 in Switzerland. And there was a Princess Nadezhda Petrovna Orlov who did live in Europe at this time, however, she would have been in her late eighties. And the source of how the diamond was stolen? Again, questionable but most things are dating back so far with minimal records. Some gemologists argue that India is an unlikely place for this story to begin as it is not known to produce black diamonds, and some people point out that Hindus are not particularly fond of the colour black so this doesn't quite add up to why it would be in a shrine either.
Whether the story is true or not, the mystery behind it still feels everlasting. In the 1950s, Charles Wilson purchased the stone and decided to break the curse by cutting it into three pieces. The Black Orlov Diamond we know of today is the only one currently attributed for, and the whereabouts of the other two diamonds are yet another strange mystery.
5. The Koh-i-Noor Diamond
If you're a man, watch out! This curse is sexist and coming for you only.
According to folklore, a Hindu description of the diamond warns "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."
War, blood, and destruction have followed this gem throughout history as its traded hands throughout Hindu, Mongolian, Persian, Afghan and Sikh rulers who literally fought to own it. With every gruesome battle/coups that led to the "prize" of this diamond, even more power and lives were lost after. Here's a little run down of all the collapsed Empires, supposedly at the hand of the Koh-i-Noor diamond:
The Kingdom of Golconda
The Khilji Empire
The Tughlaq Empire
The Lodhi Empire
The Mughal Empire
The Maratha Empire
The Kindom of Persia
The Durrani Empire
The Afghan Khanate
The Sikh Empire
After the collapse of the Sikh Empire, the diamond was acquired by the British East India Company, but only 7-8 years following the looting of this jewel the revolt in 1857 destroyed the company from its roots. Violence, murder, torture, treachery, mutilations all supposedly followed this stone with brothers fighting with each other and sons overthrowing their fathers. The curse of the Koh-i-Noor diamond was fully set in and people were undeniably cautious.
After the British annexation of Punjab in 1849, the diamond was given to Queen Victoria the following year. Due to its notorious curse, only women since have worn this diamond including Queen Alexandra of Denmark and the Queens Mother, Queen Elizabeth. From the reign of Queen Victoria, the Koh-i-Noor diamond has always been passed onto the wife of the male heir to the throne.
In 1936 the stone was set into the crown of the Queen's Mother for her coronation as Queen consort. Today, the diamond is on public display in the same crown, located in the Jewel House at the Tower of London.
The governments in India, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan have each claimed ownership of the Koh-i-Noor diamond and have demanded its return since India became independent in 1947. However, the British government insists the gem was obtained legally under the terms of the Last Treaty of Lahore and has rejected all claims citing otherwise.
So. That was a lot. Do you believe in the curse of these gems or think they're all made up stories to increase desire? The only thing for certain is that these gemstones have a deep murky history surrounded by mystery with Diamonds and Europe supposedly at the heart of it all.
Stay away from cursed jewels and keep those positive vibes, Eilatan x