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.
1. The Hope Diamond
This is easily the most memorable of all ostentatious jewelry, and just about everyone who owned a piece of this jewel either went bananas or was RIPPED APART BY WILD DOGS (so they say). Rumor has it the original stone was stolen from a Hindu idol and acquired by Jean-Baptiste Tavernier. (Funny story A LOT of these gems were allegedly stolen from far East religious idols which could either be just another sign of English imperialism or a lack of originality in cursed stone origin tales). Tavernier would later be eaten by dogs [EDIT NOTE: Tavernier was, in fact, NOT eaten by wild dogs that is a rumor I was tricked. I blame the diamond]. Here's a list of just a few of the folks who owned this diamond and what happened to them: Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI (beheaded), Princess de Lamballe (beaten to death by a mob), Jacques Colet (suicide), Surbaya (stabbed to death by her royal lover who gifted her the stone) and Simon Montharides (died in a carriage crash with entire family).
And then there's the story of Mrs. Evalyn McLean, who purchased the Hope Diamond from Cartier in 1911. Claiming she could reverse any curse McLean threw lavish "finding the Hope" parties where she would hide the gemstone somewhere in her estate and invite guests to look for it. Sadly the gem would get its hold of the family. In the end McLean's son was killed in a car crash, her daughter died of an overdose, and her husband would leave her for another woman and eventually die in a sanitarium.
2. The Black Orlov Diamond
Gorgeous, but we wouldn't touch this stone without gloves on either. 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. Which would explain the curse, and the many suicides to follow the owners of this black diamond.
J.W. Paris (who is the one responsible for bringing the diamond to the US in 1932) jumped to his death from a skyscraper in New York. The next owners were two Russian princesses, Nadia Vyegin-Orlov and Leonila Galitsine-Bariatinsky, who both committed suicide (months apart) by jumping to their deaths from buildings in Rome. From there it was cut into three different pieces by a jeweler who proclaimed the division would break the curse. And maybe it did, because we haven't heard much from this stone until actress Felicity Huffman was supposed to don the necklace at the 2006 Academy Awards, but mysteriously decided against it. Smart move.
Image from London Museum of Natural History.
3. The Koh-i-Noor Diamond
This 186 1⁄16 carats, diamond can be seen in the Tower of London on display as a massive part of the Crown Jewels. The diamond was taken from India in 1850 and given to the British Royal Family. Today, it's currently set into the Crown of Queen Elizabeth (which is the crown that is on display). Thankfully for these royal women the curse only affects the men who wear it. Every man who has worn the stone has lost his throne. Which may be why it's never been worn by a male since Alexandra placed it on her head.
Pictured is Queen Alexandra with the Stone in the middle of the crown. Via The Odd Emporium.
4. The Real Life "One Ring to Rule Them All"
Potentially the ring that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to invent the One Ring of Middle Earth. Possibly, maybe. The ancient Roman ring bears the inscription (in Latin) "Senicianus live well in God." That inscription ties it to a Roman tablet inscribed with a curse on the man who stole it. So don't steal it. Read more about the ring here in our past posts.
Image from the National Trust.
5. 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.
6. 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.