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Diamond Spotlight

Top 5 Most Famous Cursed Diamonds


Diamonds play a major role in contemporary culture as tokens of love and romance. Having made their way up to the surface from the core of the earth, most of the diamonds today are millions of years old! Throughout history they have captivated the minds and fantasies of many. They were first linked with betrothals and everlasting love when the Austrian Archduke Maximilian gave his bride-to-be a diamond in the fifteenth century. Since then, their rarity, durability, beauty, and value have made them the most sought-after stone in the world.

It’s only natural that a stone so rich with symbolism and history will also be at the center of an opposite, more darker association. Cursed diamonds dominate many myths and legends on famous cursed jewelry items and are believed to cause ill fate and hardship to those wearing them. Here are some examples of the more notorious diamond curses in history.

The Hope Diamond

This famous cursed diamond is believed to have originated in India and brought to the west by thievery. Its ownership records date back more than three centuries ago! Consider the ill fate of some of its more famous owners; Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI were both beheaded. Princess de Lamballe was lynched to her death by an angry mob. Jacques Colet committed suicide. Lord Francis Hope fell into bankruptcy and was forced to sell it. Musical actress May Yohe divorced and remarried several times till she died in poverty at age 72. And more recently, the McLean couple who acquired the diamond in 1911 from Pierre Cartier himself suffered a variety of catastrophes including divorce, mental illness and fatal pneumonia. In 1958 this fascinating gem was put on exhibit in Washington’s National Museum of Natural History where it is still on display today.

 Hope Diamond in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Washington DC

Hope Diamond in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Washington DC. Photograph by Mbalotia, distributed under CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

The Koh-i-Noor Diamond

This large, colorless diamond makes up a part of Queen Elizabeth’s famous Crown Jewls and is on display in the Tower of London. Like the other pieces of cursed jewelry on our list, it also originated in India. However, unlike the rest, its curse is believed to only affect the men who wear it, since every man who wore it has lost the throne. For this reason it hasn’t been worn by a male since the time of Queen Alexandra in the first half of the twentieth century.


The Black Orlov Diamond

This black beauty initially made up one of the eyes in a statue of a hindu god in Pondicherry, India and was stolen by a monk in the nineteenth century. Diamond dealer J.W. Paris brought it to the U.S in 1932 and went on to end his life by jumping from a New York skyscraper. Tragically, future owners of this cursed jewelry piece would also end up committing suicide; Russian princesses, Nadia Vyegin-Orlov and Leonila Galitsine-Bariatinsky, for example, both ended their lives by jumping to their deaths from buildings in Rome in the 1940s. This cursed diamond was finally cut into three separate pieces by a jeweler who claimed to have broken the curse by doing so.


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.

By Bin im Garten (Own work (own picture)) [Public domain or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The Soviet Union 1971 CPA 4069 stamp (Shah Diamond, 16th Century). Photograph by Bin im Garten, distributed under CC BY-SA 3.0 license.


Cursed Engagement Ring

Not all cursed jewelry belong to the rich and famous or to nobility. Some are a lot closer to home. The Huffington Post reported the findings of an online independent jewelry site that surveyed what is the least lucky engagement ring, or in other words, the most common style of engagement ring preferred by brides who end up divorced or separated. Not surprisingly, a potential diamond curse dominates this “unlucky engagement ring” too, since the result turned out to be a white gold band with a square-cut stone and diamonds surrounding it on the shoulder of the ring in both sides.

Image source: Huffington Post.

Image source: Huffington Post.

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