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The Dark Side of Black
Part 1 of 2

The Black Orlov, also known as The Eye of the Brahma, is a diamond reputed to be cursed. Three past owners - two Russian princesses and a New York diamond dealer - were alleged to have committed suicide by jumping off tall buildings. According to legend, the original 195 carat diamond was removed from the eye of the idol of Brahma at a shrine near Pondicherry, India. The diamond was supposedly then refaceted into its present cushion cut 67.5 carat without any further mishaps to successive owners. Or so the story goes.

The diamond has certainly been widely exhibited over the years including a much publicised trip to the Oscars in 2006 worn by the "Desperate Housewives" actress, Felicity Huffman. The photo below was taken in 2005 when the Black Orlov was on display at London's Natural History Museum. The story of the curse certainly makes for good press. But is it true?

Like a good April Fool's joke ( it was no coincidence I scheduled this post for today), the story does not hold up on closer inspection. The first glaring clue is the "taken from an Indian idol" angle. So many legendary diamond stories begin with that same tale. But in truth, nobody knows for sure the early history of many of these gems.

Also, black diamonds known as carbonado are found in Brazil and the Central Republic of Africa, not India. The Portuguese in 18th century Brazil gave them that name because black diamonds reminded them of charcoal. Black diamonds oddly aren't found in kimberlite rock areas where other diamonds are located. So their origin and how they were formed were a mystery until 2006 when scientists determined they came from outer space! Carbonado diamonds were created in stellar supernovae explosions and arrived on Earth as meteorites. The truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

Diamond Legend Info did some research into the people who supposedly leapt to their deaths and reported :

"No such events can be found however. Princess Leonilla Bariatinska lived to the ripe old age of 102, d -1918 in Switzerland. And the Princess (Nadia) Nadezhda Petrovna Orlov lived to be 90 years, d - 1988 in France. We can find no mention anywhere of a jeweler who jumped in New York."

They also speculated about the possible confusion with another Orlov diamond which was a gift to Catherine the Great of Russia by her lover, Gregory Orlov (see my past biography on her here).

References
Natural Color Diamond Encyclopedia's The Black Orlov
Internet Stones.com's Black Orlov Diamond
BBC's 'Cursed' black diamond on display

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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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4 comments:

  1. Fascinating! Thanks for providing the details.

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  2. Well that sure kicked the stuffing out of that good tale. Reality just doesn't measure up to imagination.

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  3. Amazing gem! I'm sure I would never have the right clothes or hair to match it!

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  4. its odd how we as humans have such an attraction to something mined out of the ground. i still love this diamond, in NZ black is every seasons color (lol), im sure id find a way to integrate it!

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