Famous Gems and Beaded Jewelry: The Curse of the Black Orlov Diamond
Let’s add the Black Orlov Diamond to the growing list of gems and beaded jewelry rumored to be stolen from Indian statues. I’ve featured several others on this blog.
The Black Orlov is also known as the Eye of Brahma, since legend has it that a renegade monk stole it from a statue of Brahma. At the time it was 195 carats, before being cut down to 67.50 carats, faceted, and set in beaded jewelry.
The curse—if there is one—was probably set when the dark, gun-metal gray gem was stolen from the idol—if it was ever part of one!
The Black Orlov’s history is mysterious until 1932, when a European dealer of diamonds and beaded jewelry named J.W. Paris imported it to New York, where he was based. Not long after the gem arrived, J.W. Paris went to the top of one of the tallest buildings in Manhattan, and jumped to his death. Rumor has it that Paris left two letters, one to his wife and another to an associate in the beaded jewelry business, and that he was suffering from business anxieties. Whatever his reasons for taking his own life, it was the beginning of a trend involving the Black Orlov.
In the 1940’s, the Black Orlov Diamond was owned by Russian princess Leonila Galitsine-Bariatinsky. She was the wife of a Royal Naval officer. Maybe Princess Leonila detected some bad energy around the gem, but still wanted to keep it in the family, because it soon passed to another Russian princess, Nadia Vygin-Orlov, whom the Black Orlov is named for. This princess was married to a Russian purveyor of gems and beaded jewelry. Legend has it that both ladies jumped to their deaths within a month of one another in 1947. No one knows why.
Later in the 20th century, Charles F. Winston bought the Black Orlov, cutting it into three pieces, hoping that this might break the curse. Maybe he succeeded, because the biggest chunk of the Black Orlov, set in beaded jewelry necklace of 124 diamonds, hasn’t been connected with any more deaths.
In 2004, diamond dealer Dennis Petimezas purchased the Black Orlov. He’s “pretty confident that the curse is broken.” The diamond beaded jewelry has been worn by several high-profile figures, including celebrities like Felicity Huffman, who wore it to the Oscars.
Maybe we should keep our eyes on Felicity for suicidal building-jumping tendencies.