Precious gemstones hold more than glitz and fame. They also hold mystery and misfortune. Some gemstones are infamous for attracting bad luck to their owners. Others are surrounded by myths and evil stories. Let’s take a journey through these gorgeous gems and the sinister tales they hold.
The Hope Diamond – The Curse of Debt
The history of the Hope Diamond traces back to the 17th century. Being mined in Golconda, India, it was first purchased in its original weight of 112.19 carats by the French merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier and was named Travenier Blue in 1666.
The diamond was cut and yielded and sold to King Louis XIV of France later in 1668 who had it recut and set in gold.
In 1792, after Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette tried to flee France and were guillotined in 1793, the diamond was stolen from the French Royal Treasury.
Then the stone was owned by King George IV of England but was sold to settle his enormous debts after his death in 1830. It was sold through private channels and was bought by a London banker Henry Philip Hope, from whom the stone got its name. The mysterious diamond passed down to Hope’s family members until it was sold again to pay off their debts.
The stone was bought by a London dealer, who quickly sold it to Joseph Frankels and Sons who had to resell it later to cover their debts.
In 1909, the diamond was bought by Pierre Cartier and sold to an American mining heiress Evalyn Walsh McLean.
After purchasing the Hope McLean had many misfortunes: her son died in a car accident, her daughter died of a drug overdose, then her husband passed away and the family was forced to sell their newspaper, the Washington Post, after their bankruptcy.
In 1947, after McLean’s death, Harry Winston purchased her entire jewellery collection.
In 1958, Winston donated the Hope Diamond to the National Museum of Natural History, where it remained on the permanent exhibition to this day and is reported to be insured for $250 million.
The Koh-i-Noor Diamond – Gentlemen Beware
Like the Hope Diamond, the Koh-i-Noor Diamond (mountain of light in Persian) is believed to be mined in Golconda, India.
The first mention of this stone appears in the memoirs of the founder of the Mughal Empire Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur. According to his memoirs, the stone of 739 (!) carats in its original uncut form, was stolen from Rajah of Malwa in 1306.
Throughout history, the gemstone traded hands among Hindu, Persian, Mongolian, Afghan and Sikh rulers, who fought in bloody battles to own it.
According to folklore, he who owns the Koh-i-Noor Diamond will own the world but will also know many misfortunes. Only God and a woman can wear it safely.
The stone was acquired by the British in 1849 and given to Queen Victoria in 1850. Since then the diamond has only been worn by female members of the British royal family.
Being one of the largest diamonds in the world, weighing 105.6 carats, nowadays, the gem is set as one of the jewels within a British monarchy crown and is kept at the Tower of London Jewel House.
It worth mentioning, that India and Pakistan have both been trying to get the diamond back since the two countries gained independence from the UK in 1947, while the British government insists the gem was obtained legally under the terms of the Last Treaty of Lahore.
Cover image credit: Alinavd Meulen