Thursday, June 13, 2013

Gemstones With A Curse

Can a hunk of rock, even one as beautifully faceted and polished as the Hope Diamond, really carry a curse?

I just know I probably wouldn't risk wearing it and I'm mad for jewelry. Currently I have two stories I'm working on that involve a specific gemstone - one can be used for black magic in Ancient Egypt and the other is only for good magic in an alternate paranormal universe. Today I was doing more research into the subject of cursed gemstones in support of  world building for these two novels and of course, being a writer AND doing research on shiny objects LOL, I got thoroughly sidetracked.

There does seem to be a common thread to the legends surrounding many of these stones, usually starting with their having been removed from the eye of an idol somewhere in India and ever thereafter bringing bad luck to those foolish enough to claim what should have belonged to the gods.

The Hope Diamond is probably the most famous, 45.52 carats of whopping brilliance. A French trader  by the name of Tavernier brought the stone to Paris from India in the late 1690's under murky circumstances, as part of an original stone weighing 112 carats! He sold the gorgeous blue diamond to King Louis XV but the bad luck seems to have really kicked in when Marie Antoinette, wife of Louis XVI may or may not have worn the stone in a necklace. Of course she ended up dead and the monarchy deposed in the French Revolution. The stone disappeared, reappeared, was bought and sold over the centuries...I have to say I didn't find any other compelling bad luck stories among the later owners. The gem finally went to the Smithsonian Institute, which seems to be doing ok. I've actually seen the Hope Diamond, through a lot of thick protective glass - stunning but not ominous.

Now the Delhi Purple Sapphire seems to be the one that might actually BE cursed. The last owner of the stone was Edward Heron-Allen, a friend of Oscar Wilde's and an extremely distinguished scientist. He claimed the stone was "trebly accursed and is stained with the blood, and the dishonor of everyone who has ever owned it." His last words about the stone, found in a note he scrawled when he sealed the gem up for safekeeping, were "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."  He left the gem to the London Natural History Museum in his will and was stringent that no member of his family was ever to touch it. Mr. Heron-Allen had placed the Sapphire in a series of seven boxes, surrounded with lucky charms! He was certainly a believer in the curse.

The family legend says that the stone was looted from a temple in India during the tragedies of 1857 and the man whostole it lost his money and his health shortly thereafter, as did the man's son. A friend who acquired the stone next killed himself. The Sapphire then came to Mr. Heron-Allen, who had so much bad luck fall upon him that he tried giving it away to a friend who was a singer. She immediately lost her voice. He took it back and gave it to someone else, who also had bad luck. Then Mr. Heron-Allen threw the stone into a canal. Three months later the canal was being dredged (by sheer coincidence?) and the stone was found and returned to him.

Even the Museum staff haven't been immune to this stone's curse as the man who was in charge of taking the stone to be displayed at a Heron-Allen Society scientific meeting found himself in the middle of the worst thunderstorm he'd ever seen in his life. Surviving that, the same man was assigned to conduct the stone to the society's meeting again the following year and was stricken with stomach flu. He didn’t make the third symposium either - kidney stones!

I don't know how large the Delhi Purple Sapphire is but its setting is carved silver, with mystical astrological symbols, and the main stone is offset by two small gems carved with scarabs. It looks a bit ominous to me!

I've never owned a ring or a gem that was cursed but there once was a statue I couldn't bear to keep in the house, not even overnight, it frightened me so much...maybe I'll share that story next month!

Some uncursed bling from my fashion jewelry box!


Jeffe Kennedy said...

Great pic! I've had creepy stuff like that, too. And, amusingly, I just finished a book with a cursed gemstone.

Veronica Scott said...

Finished writing it? Or reading it? Glad you enjoyed the post...I got thoroughly sidetracked in my book research LOL so I had to use the information for a good cause.