Silverware, estate jewelry and fine china and vases are some of the most common items to be passed down through generations. Though beautiful pieces, their seedy history is not always known at first. Some owners are quick to find out, but only when it is too late.
In the spirit of Halloween and all things spooky, Bellevue Rare Coins would like to reflect on the not-so-squeaky clean past of some well-known items. In no particular order:
Rich in history and controversy, the “Mountain of Light” dates back to ancient India when it was said to have been stolen from the God Krishna himself. Afterward, a curse was placed on the then 186-carat stone to bring aliment and sudden death to any man who wore the Koh-I-Noor. Only women and gods were believed to be immune to its curse. Sher Shah Suri is said to have died in a canon explosion shortly after coming into possession of the stone. His son, Jalal Khan, was then murdered by his brother in law some years later and it is rumored Khan died while clutching the diamond.
The stone fell into British hands after England seized control of the Punjab region of India. It has since only been worn by women of the British royal family and has been reduced in size to just under 109 carats. It predominately sits on display with the rest of the Crown Jewels only occasionally brought out to be worn by Queen Elizabeth II.
Given as a wedding gift during the late 15th century in Napoli, Italy, this vase was passed down through the generations within the family, bringing death to whomever becomes the unconscious owner. Presented to the bride as a gift, she is said to have been murdered on her wedding night, holding the vase in her arms. After a few more family members who owned the vase at one time or another passed or were murdered themselves, the vase was then discarded, buried with a note proclaiming, “Beware….this vase brings death.”
Caution thrown to the wind, the vase was auctioned to a pharmacist who died three months later of peculiar complications. His family rid themselves of the vase, selling it to a surgeon who didn’t believe in folklore or curses. Subsequently, he died at the age of 37, much like the pharmacist before him. His cause of death is unknown. Within a few years and a few more victims, the vase was buried in an undisclosed location, waiting to be discovered once more.
Delhi Purple Sapphire
What was once believed to be a large sapphire actually turned out to be one of the largest known amethysts to date. Stolen from an Indian temple during the mid-1800’s, the stone bestowed increasingly poor health and even worse financial trouble to the new owner. Before ownership of the stone was passed onto Edward Heron-Allen, the previous owner was quoted as stating, “This jewel is cursed and stained with blood and the dishonor of everyone who has ever owned it.”
Declaring grief and loss to himself and family from the curse of the stone, Heron-Allen donated the Delhi sapphire to the London Natural History Museum in 1943.
The Hope Diamond
With its striking color and jaw-dropping size, the Hope Diamond has intrigued and captured the attention of all who come into its presence for centuries. The Hope Diamond legend states that the curse was given life by a thief named Tavernier, who plucked the gem from a statue of the Hindu goddess, Sita, while travelling through India. Following this excursion, Tavernier made his way to Russia and was killed by a pack of rabid dogs. It is also believed that Marie Anoinette and Louis XVI were beheaded for not only their extravagance and mismanagement during the Reign of Terror but also for their ownership of this cursed beauty. There is a small bit of evidence to suggest that King George IV purchased the diamond just before his death and it was sold after to pay off debts.
Since then, all who have come into contact with this stone have suffered a gruesome, tragic death. In a possible effort to save lives, it now sits on display at the Smithsonian Institute.
Diamonds are often presented as a token of one’s undying love for the gifted, showcasing for those around the adorned how much this person, means to the giver. The opposite can now be believed true for those who were given the Black Orlov.
Also known as the “Eye of Brahma,” the Black Orlov was stolen by a monk from a Hindu shrine and sold to a woman who would coincidentally fall to her death within a number of months. At the turn of the 20th century, Princess Nadia Vygin-Orlov came into possession of the diamond. Fleeing Russia during the country’s revolution, the princess is said to have leaped to her death from a building in central Rome. Numerous attempts have been made to break the curse by reducing the size of the stone but each woman who has gained even a fraction of it has jumped to her death from an apparent suicide, prompting several to decline acceptance of their well intended gift.
For additional information or appraisals, please stop by any of our Bellevue Rare Coins locations located in the Great Seattle Area. Our friendly staff, armed with extensive knowledge will be more than happy to assist you!