The black orlov diamond, also called the Eye of Brahma, was stolen from a Hindu shrine by a monk. The gem was passed down to multiple female owners, many of whom took their own lives. At least two of the women who took possession of the black orlov lept to their deaths from a tall building. After the jewel was sold to a jeweler in New York, the curse is said to have been broken, which is good for future owners but does no good for the previous victims of the stoneís bad luck.
The Black Orlov Diamond, also known as the Eye of Brahma Diamond, weights 67.50 carats and was once part of a much larger uncut 195 carat diamond which can be traced back to 19th century India. Legend has it that the uncut stone originally featured as one of the eyes in a statue of the Brahma, the Hindu God of creation, which stood in a shrine in the southern city of Pondicherry. It is believed that here the diamond was stolen from the statue by a travelling monk after which it became cursed.
Whilst many are sceptical about the existence of such a curse and its beginnings are thought to be little more than folklore, the journey of the diamond from here on is still one shrouded in mystery, drama and death.
In 1932 the diamond found its way to the United States, imported by a European diamond dealer named Mr J.W. Paris who was in search of a buyer. Little is known about J.W. Paris but within a week of arriving in New York he had sold the diamond, and shortly after, on April 7th of that same year, he made his way to the top of a Manhattan skyscraper, in the heart of 5th Avenue, and jumped to his death, becoming what some say to be the first known victim of the diamond's curse.
It is rumoured that J.W. Paris had been suffering from extreme anxiety due to business worries, and that two letters were found in his possession at the time of his death, one addressed to his wife and the other to a fellow jeweller, but no details of either contents were ever made public.
Going back to the turn of the 20th Century, the diamond was in the possession of a royal Russian heir named Princess Nadia Vygin-Orlov. It is from here the black diamond gets its name, but after a much later incident from where the legend is born.
During the 1917 Russian revolution Princess Nadia fled Russia to the safety of Rome, Italy, as did many Russian royals at the time. It was some time later, December 2nd 1947 to be precise, some 15 years after the tragic death of J.W. Paris, when Princess Nadia leaped to her death from a building in central Rome, in what was believed to have been a suicide. At the time of her death the Princess was the wife of a Russian Jeweller, but little more is known as to why she took her own life.
The Black Orlov Diamond with necklaceOnly one month previous to Princess Nadia's death another member of Russian royalty, Princess Leonila Viktorovna-Bariatinsky had leaped to her death, in what again was believed to be a suicide. At the time of her death Princess Leonila was married to Royal Navy Officer Prince Andre Glinstine, but no further details are on record as to what brought about her fatal jump, although it was later discovered that previous to her death she had been the owner of this now infamous precious stone, the Black Orlov Diamond.
Along with the Black Orlov, a second diamond was said to have haunted the Orlov family, one which went on to be known as the White Orlov Diamond. The White Orlov was a 180.60 carat white diamond which was passed on to Catherine the Great by her secret lover, Count Grigori Grigorievich Orlov.
At the time Count Grigori was thought to be completely infatuated by the Grand Duchess Catherine, and had given the diamond as a symbol of his devotion to her, with desperate hope to steal her away from her then husband, Emperor Peter III. Once the diamond had been accepted, Count Grigori plotted the assassination of Peter III, lifting Catherine to become the Empress of Russia, later to be known as the longest ruling female leader of the country.
But things didn't end well for Count Girgori and he was spurned by Catherine. Girgori left Russia but struggled to deal with his unrequited love for the now Russian leader, and in 1781 Count Grigori returned home, where he went insane and died in Moscow the following year.
In the 1950s, in an attempt to finally break the curse, the diamond was re-cut by an Austrian Jeweller, at the request of it's then owner, Charles F. Wilson. The cutting itself took two years but it was deemed a successful venture in terms of shedding the precious stone of its demons.
The diamond has since passed through the hands of several private dealers, none of whom have yet to have been affected by the curse. The 67.50 carat Black Orlov currently sits in a 108-diamond brooch, suspended from a 124-diamond necklace, and has even made an appearance at the Oscars, being worn by actresses Felicity Huffman, star of the hit TV series and movie Desperate Housewives.
Delhi Purple Sapphire curse
The curse of the Delhi purple sapphire was brought to light when the curator of a London museum uncovered the stone, with a note attached about its curse. As early as the mid-1800s, when the stone was originally looted from an Indian temple, the stone brought poor health and financial troubles to its owner. For instance, when author Edward Heron-Allen owned the gemstone he had so many unfortunate things happen in his life that he threw it into a canal, only to have it returned after a drudger found it and knew that he was the owner. He eventually sent it to the museum with the instructions that no one should touch it until three years after his death.
The fascinating story of the Delhi Purple Sapphire is one that was virtually unknown until fairly recently, when a curious young curator at Londonís Natural History Museum stumbled upon a type written note which was stored with the gemstone. The stone itself was neither rare nor particularly valuable, set in a rather unattractive silver ring and decorated with mysterious alchemical and astrological signs, it was in fact the strange note which began to unravel the gem's enthralling journey, and a dark tale of a curse and its victims.
Purple sapphires are an often misunderstood and underappreciated gem. They are in fact quite extraordinary and far rarer than the more traditionally recognised blue sapphire. Unlike most blue and pink sapphires which need to be heat treated in order to obtain their best color display, purple sapphires very rarely require any heat treatment and are able to naturally change color in different lighting.
Purple Sapphire from GemSelect.comSapphires are the non-red variety of corundum, with the red corundum being ruby, and are traditionally given as wedding anniversary gifts during the 5th, 23rd and 45th years of celebration, with the star sapphire given for the 65th year. Sapphires are also a pretty tough and durable gem, being the second hardest natural mineral and registering 9.0 on the Mohs scale of hardness.
Whilst it is generally believed sapphire carries the spiritual power of enlightenment and inner peace, and is even believed to hold healing properties for rheumatism and mental illness, the Delhi Purple Sapphire is one that has so far given few advantages to its owners..
And so the curse began..
The earliest known whereabouts of the Delhi Purple Sapphire was thought to have been in India, where it was looted from the Temple of Indra during the horrific Indian Mutiny of 1857. The temple itself was ironically that of the Hindu god of war and weather, and it is strongly believed that through its theft from the ancient idol a curse was cast.
The Sapphire was brought to England by Colonel W. Ferris, a Bengal Cavalryman who would go on to regret taking the precious stone home with him. Soon after returning to England the entire Ferris family seemed to be beset by health and financial troubles, they particularly blamed the curse on a series of failed investments made by Mr. Ferris and his son, which left the family in near financial ruin. Things took a grave turn for the worse when a friend of the Ferris family unexpectedly committed suicide whilst in possession of the sapphire.
It was an author, Edward Heron-Allen, who became the next owner of the gem, in 1890. Heron-Allen (who was a close friend of Oscar Wilde), spoke of an immediate series of misfortunes and bad luck which led him to believe that the sapphire was "trebly accursed".
A well educated and well respected man who had academic success in a number of fields, including science, Heron-Allen was not a someone who bought into mythology or superstition easily, but he was adamant that the sapphire stone he had acquired was cursed. He had even gifted the stone twice to friends who were interested in owning it, and in both incidence those friends met with bad luck and returned the stone to him.
Heron-Allen even claimed to have thrown the sapphire into the dark and dirty Regent's Canal only for it to reappear in his possession some 3 months later after being found by a dredger. The jeweller who bought the gem from the dredger recognised the precious stone and returned it to Mr. Heron-Allen who was astonished, and surer still of the powerful curse attached to it.
Finally in 1904, after the birth of his first daughter, and after some 14 years in possession of the Delhi Purple Sapphire, Heron-Allen sealed the gem inside a box and shipped it to his bankers with set instructions for it to be locked away until after his death.
Heron-Allen later bestowed the sapphire to the Natural History Museum, under 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.
In 1943, after the death of Edward Heron-Allen, the Natural History Museum received the box containing the gem and put it to one side, as per his request. Sometime later, long after the box had been opened, a type written note was found which detailed this somewhat chilling history.
Heron-Allen ended his note with these final words, "Whoever shall then open it, shall first read out this warning, and then do as he pleases with the jewel. My advice to him or her is to cast it into the sea."
The curse continues?
In 2004 the gem was in the possession of John Whittaker, a member of the Natural History Museum who was tasked with transporting the purple sapphire to the Heron-Allen society for an event. During the journey Mr. Whittaker and his wife were trapped in their car, engulfed in a dramatic thunderstorm, one he claimed to be the most horrific he had ever experienced.
Whittaker was tasked with transporting the Sapphire a second time, after which he fell violently sick with a stomach bug, and then a third time, when just before he was due to take the gem he fell in pain, finally passing a kidney stone.