They're beautiful but deadly. Here is a collection of terrifying accessories that have killed their owners, or driven them mad — at least according to legend. From the Hope Diamond, to a stone that was almost worn to a recent Academy Awards, here's our list of the most cursed pieces of real-life jewelry.
The Hope Diamond
Tantalizing beauty, rare color and impressive size are just trivial attributes of this most notoriously infamous diamond Jewelry.
Arguably the most famous and most cursed precious gemstone in history. Rumor has it the original stone was stolen from a Hindu idol and acquired by Jean-Baptiste Tavernier.
The Hope Diamond has been blamed for a laundry list of tragedies, including but not limited to: beatings, stabbings, murder, insanity, and suicide. In fact, King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette owned the fancy blue diamond during the French Revolution and their beheadings.
The last person to privately own the diamond – an American socialite named Evalyn McLean – had her daughter die of an overdose, her son die in a car crash, and her husband leave her for another woman. The trustees of her estate sold the Hope Diamond to Harry Winston, who eventually donated it to the Smithsonian. It remains there to this day, so you can view the Hope Diamond’s rare, deep blue coloring whenever you’d like.
The Black Orlov Diamond
Also referred to as "The Eye Of Brahma Diamond" this stone was allegedly stolen from one of the eyes in a statue of the Hindu god Brahma in Pondicherry by a monk. Which would explain the curse, and the many suicides to follow the owners of this black diamond.
In 1932, a diamond dealer took the Black Orlov to New York City to try and find a buyer for the famous stone. He killed himself by jumping from a skyscraper just a few months later.
The next owners were two Russian princesses, Nadia Vyegin-Orlov (whom the precious stone was named after) and Leonila Galitsine-Bariatinsky, who both committed suicide (months apart) by jumping to their deaths from buildings in Rome in 1940.
The diamond was later cut into three smaller pieces in an attempt to break the curse by Charles F. Winson. Most famous is 67.5 carat Black Orlov pendant set into 108 diamond setting suspended from a 124 diamond necklace that has been displayed at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and the Natural History Museum in London and many more.
The actress Felicity Huffman was supposed to don the necklace at the 2006 Academy Awards, but mysteriously decided against it. Smart move.
The Koh-i-Noor Diamond
“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.” With such an ominous warning in old Hindu transcripts regarding this fine stone, one can only be too cautious about it.
The allure is not just that this huge diamond stands tall in the British Royal Crown, now displayed at the Tower of London, but the tantalizing history that follows it. Fought over by rulers all over the world, the Koh-i-Noor has a particularly bloody history. Its early history is 5,000 years long, where it was captured and re-captured by India, Persia, the Afghans, and the Sikhs. The Koh-i-Noor’s curse is rumored to only affect men; women are immune to its bad luck.
The whopping 739 carat rock in uncut form has traversed many hands; from the memoirs Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire in India, it once belonged to Rajah of Malwa but stolen in 1306.
The British Royal family acquired it in 1950 with the reign of Queen Victoria and since then it has only been worn by women of the royal family, including Queen Alexandra of Denmark, Queen Mary of Teck and the late Queen Elizabeth to heed the legend.
The Delhi Purple Sapphire
This jewel was discovered just 30 years ago by Peter Tandy, curator at the Natural History Museum in London. Found inside the museum's "mineral cabinets" the gem was supposedly sealed up in several boxes, surrounded by protective charms and came with a warning:
“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.”
Many suspect the gemstone (which is not technically a sapphire) was part of the looted treasure stolen from Temple of Indra in Cawnpore during the bloody Indian Mutiny of 1857. The cursed quartz was brought into England by Bengal Cavalryman Colonel W. Ferris, who eventually went bankrupt, as did his son (after he inherited the stone).
It was then purchased by writer Edward Heron-Allen, who later claimed it brought him nothing but bad luck. So he gave it away to friends, who promptly returned it after experiencing mountains of misfortune including a singer who lost her singing voice (forever!) after possessing the stone. Gem Select even claims that Heron-Allen threw the Delhi Purple Sapphire into Regent's Canal, only to have it returned a few months later (after a dealer bought it from a local dredger). The jewel was eventually sealed up and sent away to the family banker with the instructions that it should stay forever locked away until Heron-Allen's death. Only after three years after his death would his banker be allowed to donate it. And under no circumstances was Heron-Allen's daughter ever allowed to touch or possess the stone.
The Sancy Diamond
The Sancy is a 55.23-carat pear shaped diamond with a pale yellow hue. Like some of the other cursed diamonds on this list, the Sancy Diamond was allegedly stolen from India. A French soldier sold the Sancy to King James I of England, who actually wore it as a good luck charm.
The Sancy Diamond is believed to be cursed because it has disappeared and reappeared so many times in its history.
At one point, the diamond was “stolen” from a messenger and believed to be lost to thieves. However, the Sancy was found just a few days later in an unexpected place. Medical examiners discovered that the diamond was inside of the messenger’s stomach during his autopsy. He had swallowed it so that the robbers who murdered him would not steal it.
The Lydian Hoard
The Lydian Hoard is a collection of elaborate jewelry, plates, pots and other golden pieces. But the brooch and necklace from the Hoard have caused its owners nothing but trouble.
A part of King Croesus' treasure, the loot dates back to 547 B.C. But in 1965 (when it was discovered in an dig in the village of Güre) is when the real trouble begins. The treasure was found in the tomb of an unknown princess, and promptly looted by just about everyone.
Over 150 relics were ransacked. Almost all the looters met with sickness, bad luck and death.
The Regent Diamond
Famous for decorating Napoleon’s sword, the 140.64-carat Regent Diamond has a faint blue hue. The diamond originally rose to fame after it was – you guessed it – stolen from India. The slave who stole the Regent from India’s Golconda Mine is the origin of its curse.
To swipe the diamond, the slave had to hide it in an open wound on his leg. He then hopped a ship for Europe in hopes of selling the diamond, but the ship’s captain got word that the slave was carrying an extremely valuable gemstone. The ship’s captain murdered the slave and sold the diamond himself, starting its long history of being handed down through generations of French royalty.
Nowadays, Regent Diamond can be found not in a slave’s leg wound, but rather on display at the Louvre, along with the Sancy Diamond mentioned earlier.
The Shah Diamond
This rough-looking lasque-cut diamond has a dark and violent history. Ever since the 16th century it has been at the center of many usurps and invasions, with each new shah and conqueror seizing it from his predecessor and transferring it to their own headquarters.
As a result, this diamond has made its way from India, to Persia, to Moscow.
Three shahs have even engraved their names in it, making it even more mysterious and unique. This cursed diamond is displayed today in the Kremlin building, along with the Orlav diamond, where they are both exhibited as one of the seven famous gems.
La Peregrina Pearl
La Peregrina (literal translation “the pilgrim” or “the wanderer”) has most certainly wandered the hands of many rich, royal and famous. Never has history seen such a tumultuous token of love for the possessor suffers heartbreak.
Discovered in the Gulf of Panama in 16th century, this large pearl was a gift from King Philip II of Spain to his betrothed Queen Mary of England before their marriage as a token of his love in 1554.
Queen Mary also nicknamed Bloody Mary, for ordering execution of hundreds of Protestants during her reign, was abandoned by King Philip and died without an heir. After her death La Peregrina was given by the king to Elizabeth I, Queen Mary’s half sister, when he proposed to her.
It remained with the Spanish Royalty until Napoleon Bonaparte seized the Spanish crown and the pearl.
The Pearl came in to much lime light because of its legendary owner, the glorious Elizabeth Taylor. It was Valentine’s gift from then husband Richard Burton. We all know her infamous scandalous romantic liaisons which seem to never last for long. And while she got married for total eight times the pearls remained with her throughout her topsy-turvy relationships.
Black Prince’s Ruby
They might call it a ruby but this fiery red rock isn’t a ruby at all. It in fact is a large spinel, a hard glassy mineral worth much less than a ruby gemstone, giving it its infamous name “The Great Imposter”.
This blood red ruby has a bleeding yet glorious history. The first record dates back to 14th century when it was pillaged by Don Pedro the Cruel, emperor of Seville, Spain from the Moorish Kingdom of Granada. From one conqueror to another the “ruby” was next famously owned by the Black Prince – Edward of Woodstock, so known because of the his success in the battlefield during the Hundred Year’s war. The next conqueror with yet another success at war was King Henry V who had set the Black Prince’s Ruby in his helmet and wore it when he defeated the French at the Battle of Agincourt. The gem passed on to British Royalty who almost lost it twice but now is sits regally at the dead-center of the Imperial State Crown of England exactly above the Koh-i-Noor Diamond.
With such scandalous and blood trodden history build on castle of lies, deceit and desire for power, is it much of a surprise that these fine piece of gemstones jewelry carry with them bad luck and ill will?