Behind the Beauty of Cursed Jewelry

Beauty can be deceiving. Some of the world’s most beautiful pieces of jewelry hide the possibility of something a little more sinister. The phenomenon of cursed jewelry is fascinating, if a little hard to swallow. Claims of supernatural danger associated with jewelry are largely unfounded, but it’s difficult to escape that slight echo of doubt — perhaps one of these brilliant gems really is a catalyst for disaster. Who can know for sure?

The following pieces of jewelry may not bring misfortune upon the wearer (or reader), but the legends attached to these jewels are pretty extraordinary, if not unsettling. Proceed with caution.

The Hope Diamond

According to legend, the Hope Diamond was stolen from a statue of a Hindu goddess, who cursed anyone who acquired the Diamond with a gruesome death or personal catastrophe. The Diamond was kept in the French royal family from the mid-1600s until it was stolen during the French Revolution. As a result, the beheading of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette may be attributed to the Hope Diamond curse. As the Diamond continued to change hands, suicide and murder followed in its wake. From gamblers to concubines, the Diamond left its mark on dozens of people enthralled by its value and beauty.

In 1911, Cartier sold the precious gem to Evalyn Walsh McLean, a D.C. socialite who was drawn to jewels with unlucky histories. Disaster visited her family when her son died in a car crash, her daughter committed suicide and her husband fell into insanity. The apparent conclusion of the Diamond’s curse occurred with its donation to the Smithsonian Institution in 1958, where it continues to attract admirers from all over the world.

The Delhi Purple Sapphire

Echoing the Hope Diamond’s origins, legend states that the Delhi Purple Sapphire (which is really an Amethyst) was stolen from the temple of a Hindu god. This was followed by a series of ruinous events for those in possession of the purple gem. The stone was brought to the U.K. by Bengal cavalryman Colonel W. Ferris, whose family shortly encountered a devastating loss of money and a decline in health.

Edward Heron-Allen acquired the Amethyst as its final owner in 1890. He claimed that, in a desperate attempt to escape the stone’s curse, he flung the gem into a canal — but it washed ashore and was returned to him several months later. More than a century passed when a member of the Natural History Museum was transporting the stone and soon found himself trapped in a furious, ominous thunderstorm.

The Black Orlov Diamond

Also known as the Eye of Brahma, the Black Orlov Diamond was allegedly stolen from the statue of the Hindu god Brahma. Noticing a pattern, here? These curses appear to be rooted in similar kinds of sensational storytelling, most likely in an attempt to generate popular interest and increase sales.

Nevertheless, it has been said that those in possession of the Black Orlov Diamond have encountered pretty horrific deaths. In 1947, Princess Nadia Vyegin-Orlov and Princess Leonila Galitsine-Bariatinsky committed suicide by leaping to their deaths. Several years later, an American jeweler committed suicide by jumping from a New York skyscraper. The stone was eventually cut into three separate pieces in an attempt to put an end to these disasters.

Cursed or not, the tragedies associated with these jewels still give us the chills. Of course, not all beautiful pendants are shrouded by dangerous pasts. Browse our collection to see for yourself.

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