Famous diamonds often carry curses, with legends surrounding the gems extending back for centuries. Myths credit diamonds with causing murders, suicides, and financial ruin - legitimate newspaper reports tell of people ruined after possessing or even just transporting a notorious diamond. It's not necessarily a mysterious or supernatural phenomenon; the rarest diamonds are priceless, inspiring thefts and battles, passion and jealousy.
Superstitions around curses have plagued famous diamonds until the present day. The Smithsonian Institution received a barrage of letters protesting its acceptance of the Hope Diamond in 1958, as many believed the Hope Diamond's curse would bring calamity to the nation. News reports at the time played up the legend of deaths and misfortunes linked to the dazzling blue stone. What's the truth behind these legendary jewels, and why are many of them so feared? Legendary and cursed diamonds capture the imagination and give these coveted stones much of their mystique. Does a diamond really have the power to kill, or is this an antiquated urban legend?
The stories of cursed and legendary diamonds teach us a few things:
- Never steal a diamond and leave the eyes of idols alone.
- You can't buy love, not even with an enormous diamond.
- No matter who finds a diamond, it ends up owned by royalty or celebrities.
- Never touch or trade in conflict diamonds.
- To get rid of a cursed diamond, sell it and use the proceeds for charity.
What do you think - is there truth to these nine famous diamond legends and curses?
9 The Spoonmaker's Diamond
At 86 carats, this rock ranks as one of the biggest diamonds in the world. One story surrounding the gemstone, however, suggests that a fisherman found it on a riverbank and when he offered it to a merchant, the swindler said it was worthless glass and gave the poor man three spoons for it. A sultan in the 17th century reputedly gained possession of it and many imperial women prized it above all other jewels. Turkey's Topaki Palace Museum houses the Spoonmaker's Diamond.
8 Orlov Diamond
A Russian imperial scepter once owned by Catherine the Great boasts this 189.60-carat gem. One legend says a French deserter stole the gem from the eye socket of a Hindu idol. In a romantic twist, Gregory Orlov - love-sick for Catherine the Great - bought the diamond to win her love. His hopes went unrealized, although she did give him a palace in St. Petersburg. Orlov died solitary and insane.
7 The Darya-i-Nur
This rare pink diamond's name means "Ocean of Light," but it bears a bloody history. In return for returning the Mughal's crown, Nader Shah from Persia gained possession of this diamond and other jewels. This was after his 18th-century invasion of northern India and massacre of Delhi's people. This 182-carat gem is on display at Tehran's Central Bank of Iran.
6 Regent Diamond
The Regent Diamond once graced Napoleon I's sword pommel and the crown of Louis XV. The doomed Marie Antoinette is believed to have worn it on a hat. In the rough, this beauty weighed 410 carats, and is now a 141-carat cushion-cut gem displayed in the Louvre. A grisly legend says a slave cut a large hole in his leg to smuggle it out of a mine in India. He made the mistake of trusting an English ship captain who drowned him to steal the diamond.
5 Black Orlov Diamond
This gem is also called "The Eye Of Brahma Diamond." An impressive 67.50 carats, it emerged from a mine in India in the early 19th century. The story goes that a thief pried it from its place in a statue of the Hindu god. Legend has it that three of the Black Orlov's owners committed suicide, inspiring tales that the ill-gotten diamond curses its owners.
4 Curse of the Blue Diamond
Deaths associated with a Saudi 50-carat blue diamond continue to make news. A Thai employee stole $20 million in royal jewels from a Saudi palace in 1989 and smuggled them to Thailand, heralding the murders of Mohammed Al-Ruwaili, a Saudi business man, and three diplomats who traveled to Thailand to investigate the theft - all those deaths remain unresolved. In March 2014, a Thai court tried five men including a senior police officer for the abduction and murder of Al-Ruwaili, but dismissed the case. In July, an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs called for justice in the case, according to Arab News. Thais reportedly believed 20 people associated with the stolen jewels met violent deaths. The whereabouts of the rare blue diamond remains unknown.
3 Koh-i-Noor Diamond
Koh-i-Noor means "Mountain of Light." According to the founder of the Mughal Empire in India, the diamond - 739 carats uncut - was stolen from Malwa's Rajah in 1306. It joined the Crown Jewels of Britain in 1877 upon the proclamation of Queen Victoria as Empress of India. This famous gem weighs 105.6 carats and rests in the Maltese cross on the crown made for the late Queen Elizabeth. A famed Hindu warning states that "he who owns this diamond will own the world, but will also know all its misfortunes. Only God or woman can wear it with impunity."
2 The Hope Diamond
The Hope Diamond's much earlier cut probably displayed a sun at its center when mounted on gold, according to the Smithsonian Institute. The diamond was owned by Louis XIV, known as the Sun King. Re-cuttings reduced it to 45.52 carats.
Legend has it that this diamond was an eye in a statue of the Hindu Goddess Sita, and its theft caused the curse. Various accounts hold it responsible for the beheadings of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, tragedies in the Hope family and even misfortunes of the mail carrier who delivered it to the Smithsonian."The King of Diamonds," Harry Winston, gave the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian in 1958. The Hope Diamond had toured America as part of Winston's Court of Jewels fundraisers for charity.
1 The Taylor-Burton Diamond
The 69-carat Taylor-Burton Diamond came from a 240.80 carat stone from the Premier Mine in South Africa in 1966, according to Ian Balfour in Famous Diamonds. Richard Burton bought the famous diamond from Cartier for $1.1 million in 1967. It was a grand - and expensive - gesture symbolizing their romance on a grand scale and this iconic diamond came to represent the tempestuous and eventually doomed nature of that same love. In 1978, after their second divorce, Taylor sold it. Taylor used funds from the sale of the diamond to build a hospital in Botswana, Africa, near the mine where the stone came to light.