As it's Friday the 13th, a day that is notorious for being unlucky or cursed, I thought I would tell you about some gemstones that are supposed to be cursed. Tales of death, destruction and ill-fortune have followed these gemstones for hundreds of years...
The Hope Diamond
This is the Hope Diamond, a rare blue 45.52 carat beauty. In 1668, French traveller Jean-Baptiste Tavernier bought a brilliant blue diamond in India. He sold the gem to King Louis XIV and it stayed with the French Royals in various settings. In 1792, the French crown jewels were looted and the "French Blue", as it was known, disappeared into history. In 1812, a diamond with very similar characteristics was in the hands of a London diamond merchant called Daniel Eliason. According to the Smithsonian, "Strong evidence indicated that the stone was the recut French Blue and the same stone known today as the Hope Diamond" It would appear that the gem was then owned by King George IV but sold after his death to pay his HUGE debts. The next known owner of this beautiful gem is London gem collector and banker Henry Philip Hope. From the Hope family, the diamond then passed through a number of other families before being bought by Pierre Cartier in 1909. He sold it to the socialite Evalyn Walsh McClean who claimed she could reverse the curse. She threw lavish "Find the Hope" parties, the diamond was hidden on her estate and guests searched for it. But things started going wrong for Evalyn ~ her son died in a car accident; her husband left her for another woman; the family newspaper, The Washington Post, went bankrupt; her daughter died and the following year, so did Evalyn. Her entire jewellery collection was sold off to pay off her debts. Harry Winston bought the entire collection and donated it the the Smithsonian where the curse appears to be dormant!
This stunning diamond can be found in our Queen's crown and reputedly discovered in the Golcondas mine in India. From there it is said it served as an eye for a Hindu Goddess statue before coming in to the possession of Shah Jahar (the emperor who built the TAj Mahal) who incorporated it into the Peacock Throne. But his one staged a coup and had his father imprisoned. Not long after, the Koh-I-Noor was reduced down to 186 carats from what apparently was nearly 800 carats! Various local rulers were in possession of the stone, many met a bloody end. In 1849, the stone was then sent to Queen Victoria but the trip wasn't plain sailing! It is said that there was an outbreak of Cholera on the ship and went it docked at a Mauritius port, the locals threatened to set fire to it if they didn't leave; a storm raged for 12 hours; it was almost lost when it left in a waistcoat pocket for six months! Today, it is on display in the Tower of London and supposedly carries a Hindu curse that says only a woman can wear it. Any man that wears it will know its misfortunes and so no male heir to the throne has ever worn it.
Delhi Purple Sapphire
Last but not least is the Delhi Sapphire which is not actually a sapphire but an amethyst. Colonel W. Ferris was a Bengal cavalryman who bought the gem to the UK in 1857 from India where it had been looted from the Temple of Indra. Ferris and his son lost all of their money and their health after owning the gem. In 1890, a scientist named Edward Heron-Allen became the next owner and was struck by so much misfortune and bad luck that he gave the Delhi sapphire away twice to friends. Both friends were then beset with disaster and gave the gemstone back to Heron-Allen, who then apparently threw it in the Regent's canal, only for it to be picked up by a dredger and returned via a jeweller who recognised it as belonging to Heron-Allen! In 1904, the gem was placed in seven boxes, surrounded by charms and deposited in a bank safe with a letter of warning. Instructions were left that the box would not be opened until 33 years after his death in 1943 but his daughter sent the box to the Natural History Museum where it sat for 30 years. The letter of warning advised "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 Delhi Sapphire is on display in the Museum, it is said that it still makes it's presence known.....John Whittaker, the former head of micropaleontology , took the Delhi Sapphire to the first symposium of the Heron-Allen Society. He encountered the most horrific thunderstorm he had ever experienced on the way home. The night before the second annual symposium he became violently ill with stomach flu and he didn’t make the third symposium due to a sudden kidney stone!