Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: Our speakers today are regulars at the Salon, every year at this time. Duchess Liz of Trikassi and Lady Oriella present topics related to the annual Royal Ascot event in support of Relay For Life, and they are back this year with ‘Notorious Jewels!’, with the assistance of Prince Jacon of Antiquity.
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: Damen, the floor is yours.
Liz Wilner: Welcome everyone!
Liz Wilner: Today, we will explore various jewels that have quite sordid histories … curses, death, extreme bad luck, and various other maladies have befallen those who either possess or wear these gorgeous examples of extreme bling
Liz Wilner: Over the centuries, important jewels have been known to contribute to salacious scandals and the downfall of dynasties — even death. Here are eight sparkling tales worthy of a Greek Tragedy.
Liz Wilner: Also, we have on display some wonderful replicas courtesy of His Highness Jacon Cortés de Bexar, Crown Prince of Antiquity.
Liz Wilner: First, we will look at The Hope Diamond
Liz Wilner: Named for the Hope family, who owned the diamond in the mid 19th century. Weighs 45.52 carats.
Liz Wilner: Most likely originated from the Kollur Mine of India in the 17th century. About the size of a walnut, this stone has changed hands on many times, was stolen several times, and disappeared for decades before it was eventually found, recut, and reshaped.
Liz Wilner: Throughout its history, it famously wreaked havoc on many of its unfortunate owners. According to legend, a thief picked out the stone from the eye of a Hindu statue, a very bad omen and, perhaps, the origin of its curse. Here’s a list of just a few who owned this diamond and their unfortunate fates:
Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI – Beheading
Princess de Lamballe – Beaten to death by a mob
Jacques Colet – Suicide
Surbaya – Stabbed to death by her royal lover, who had gifted her the stone
Simon Montharides – Died in a carriage crash with his entire family
Heiress Evalyn Walsh McLean, lost several members of her family after buying the stone, including a son, who died at age nine, and a daughter at age 25.
Liz Wilner: After Evalyn’s death, her surviving children sold the stone to Harry Winston, who famously mailed it to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. for $2.44 in postage. Supposedly, the mailman who delivered the stone to the museum soon after had his leg crushed in a truck accident.
Liz Wilner: Today, the cursed stone is safely housed at the Smithsonian Museum, where it remains the museum’s most popular attraction—and where it “hopefully” can’t cause any harm.
Liz Wilner: The Koh-I-Noor Diamond
Liz Wilner: Weighing in at 186 1⁄16 carats, it can be seen in the Tower of London on display as part of the Crown Jewels. Throughout history the gem traded hands among various Hindu, Mongolian, Persian, Afghan and Sikh rulers, who fought bitter and bloody battles to own it.
Liz Wilner: According to legend, a Hindu description of the Koh-i-Noor warns 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.”
Liz Wilner: The diamond was taken from India in 1850 and given to the British Royal Family.
Liz Wilner: Currently it is set into the Crown of Queen Elizabeth. According to the warning, the Queen, being a woman, is safe. Every man who has worn the jewels however has lost the throne!
Liz Wilner: The Black Orlov
Liz Wilner: Also known as “The Eye of Brahma Diamond” because the stone was allegedly stolen from one of the eyes in a statue of the Hindu god Brahma.
Harperlass: the ownership of the Koh i Noor is still under dispute I think
Liz Wilner: That might explain the curse, and the suicides that follow the owners of this black diamond.
Liz Wilner: J.W. Paris brought the diamond to the US in 1932, and jumped to his death from a skyscraper in New York.
Liz Wilner: The next owners were two Russian princesses, Nadia Vyegin-Orlov and Leonila Galitsine-Bariatinsky, who both committed suicide (months apart) by jumping to their deaths from buildings in Rome.
Liz Wilner: The diamond was then cut into three different pieces by a jeweler who thought that dividing the stone would break the curse.
Liz Wilner: The Delhi Purple Sapphire
Liz Wilner: Discovered some 30 years ago by Peter Tandy, curator at the Natural History Museum in London.
Liz Wilner: It was found inside the museum’s “mineral cabinets”, supposedly sealed inside several boxes, surrounded by protective charms.
Liz Wilner: It came with a warning: “Whoever shall then open this 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.”
Liz Wilner: Not technically a sapphire, it is suspected to be part of a looted treasure stolen from Temple of Indra in 1857.
Liz Wilner: The stone was brought to England by Bengal Cavalryman Colonel W. Ferris, who eventually went bankrupt. His son, who inherited the stone, also went bankrupt.
Liz Wilner: The gem was then bought by writer Edward Heron-Allen, who later claimed it brought him nothing but bad luck.
Liz Wilner: Heron-Allen gave it away to friends, who promptly returned it after experiencing their own misfortunes.
Liz Wilner: The jewel was eventually sealed up and sent away to the family banker with the instructions that it should stay forever locked away until Heron-Allen’s death and under no circumstances was Heron-Allen’s daughter ever allowed to touch or possess the stone.
Liz Wilner: After his death, Heron-Allen’s daughter donated the stone to London’s Natural History Museum in 1943. She gave them a letter that her father wrote cautioning future owners against directly handling it.
Liz Wilner: La Peregrina Pearl
Liz Wilner: Discovered in the Gulf of Panama during the 16th century, it is one of the largest found pearls in the world weighing in at 50.6 carats.
Liz Wilner: King Philip II of Spain gave the pearl to Queen Mary of England before their marriage in 1554. He later abandoned her and she died in 1558 without an heir.
Liz Wilner: She was nicknamed “Bloody Mary” after her death because of the Protestants she ordered to be executed during her five-year reign.
Liz Wilner: Following the queen’s death, La Peregrina Pearl was returned to King Philip II, who then proposed to Mary’s younger half-sister, Elizabeth.
Liz Wilner: The pearl was worn by Spanish royalty until the 19th century, when Napoleon Bonaparte invaded and the French seized the Spanish crown — and the pearl.
Liz Wilner: La Peregrina Pearl was passed down to members of the Bonaparte family, but was ultimately sold to Lord James Hamilton in 1873.
Liz Wilner: It was then sold at a Sotheby’s auction in 1969 to Richard Burton, who gave it to his wife, Elizabeth Taylor, as a Valentine’s Day present. The couple married and divorced twice — with their second marriage lasting only nine months. Elizabeth Taylor held on to the pearl and married a total of eight times.
Liz Wilner: The Star of India
Liz Wilner: Originally mined in Sri Lanka over 300 years ago, the deep blue, oval star sapphire weighing 563.35 carats was donated to the American Museum of Natural History by J. P. Morgan in 1900.
Liz Wilner: On October 29, 1964, the famous golf-ball-sized stone was stolen along with several other gems.
Liz Wilner: The thieves had unlocked a bathroom window during museum open hours, climbed in that night, and found that the sapphire was the only gem in the collection protected by an alarm — and the battery for that was dead. The stones stolen were valued at more than $400,000.
Liz Wilner: Within two days the culprits were arrested: Jack Roland Murphy (also known as “Murph the Surf”), Allan Kuhn and Roger Clark; however the gems had already been handed off.
Liz Wilner: I giggled at the one robber…Murph the Surf
Liz Wilner: In January 1965, in a bid for leniency, Kuhn led authorities to a bus locker in Miami where the uninsured Star of India and some of the other stolen stones were recovered.
Liz Wilner: can you imagine? in a bus locker!
Liz Wilner: next up we have The Sancy Diamond
Liz Wilner: For some, the pear-shaped Sancy diamond is believed to have a vicious curse that brings violent death on anyone who owns the gem.
Liz Wilner: Alternatively, some say it lends invincibility, provided it was acquired under honest circumstances
Liz Wilner: The diamond is said to have been mined in Golconda, India and reached Europe by the 14th century
Liz Wilner: where it was set in the crowns of several French and English kings
Liz Wilner: Many of these kings—including Burgundy’s Charles the Bold, England’s Charles I, and France’s Louis XVI
Liz Wilner: suffered gruesome deaths not long after coming into contact with the gem.
Liz Wilner: The alleged curse even extended to their underlings
Liz Wilner: According to one legend, a courier who was transporting the gem for Henry IV
Liz Wilner: was robbed and murdered and the stone recovered from his stomach during the autopsy. (He had swallowed it for safekeeping).
Liz Wilner: The gem was stolen during the French Revolution, but later recovered
Liz Wilner: and is now on display at the Louvre, where its greatest danger now seems to be causing minor injuries resulting from neck-craning and tourist jostling.
Liz Wilner: careful, ladies when you ask for major bling! lol
Liz Wilner: The Regent Diamond
Liz Wilner: The Regent Diamond is white with blue tint diamond, weighing in at 140.6 carats, is owned by the French State.
Liz Wilner: Like most of the other gems we have discussed, the Regent diamond (also sometimes called the Pitt diamond) was mined in India, in the early 1700s
Liz Wilner: In a morbid twist, the gem is supposed to have been stolen from the mine by a slave
Liz Wilner: who hid it inside a self-inflicted wound in his leg.
Liz Wilner: The slave and an English sea captain then planned to smuggle the gem out of the country,
Liz Wilner: but the captain had other ideas
Liz Wilner: he drowned the slave and sold the jewel
Liz Wilner: and as the story goes, the slave laid a curse on the gem as he was dying.
Liz Wilner: Thomas Pitt, English governor in Madras
Liz Wilner: bought the pale-blue diamond and sold it to the French Regent Philippe II of Orleans in 1717, which is how it has its present name.
Liz Wilner: It was stolen, as well as the Sancy, during the French Revolution, but recovered a few months later.
Liz Wilner: The ill-fated Napoleon I later had it set in the handle of his sword
Liz Wilner: Both the sword and the Sancy have been on display at the Louvre since 1887.
Liz Wilner: On my left…you will see a beautiful replica of the Hope Diamond…in both necklace and brooch form
Liz Wilner: quite the piece! if it didn’t bring such awful luck
Liz Wilner: to my right…this is the Affair Diamond necklace
Liz Wilner: quite the scandal
Liz Wilner: Marie Antoinette was falsely accused of defrauding France by allegedly purchasing this necklace
Liz Wilner: but…as it turns out…a greedy jeweler forged her signature on the sales slip!
Liz Wilner: this is one small part that lead to her death
Liz Wilner: And that ends our presentation…Thank you all for listening.
Liz Wilner: Please keep an eye out for notices about the upcoming Royal Ascot Exhibit beginning June 1…all about Royal Jewels!
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: Duchess, which gem intrigued you most while you researched?
Liz Wilner: oh…the Hope Diamond…were it to be sold today…is estimated to be worth over 140 million
Liz Wilner: so…at least for me…I’m safe from it’s curse!
(After-chat about our favorite gemstones follows)
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: What stones does everyone prefer for your jewellery, affordable or not?
Rory Torrance: just what is it about jewels that makes them so seductive to the human eye? i must admit to a definite fascination.
Liz Wilner: most likely, Cornelia 🙂
Zaida Gearbox: saphires
Ceejay Writer: I only wear earrings. And I don’t want lobes down to my knees.
Zaida Gearbox: if i have to have a stone at all
Ceejay Writer: But my favorite is turquoise, really.
Liz Wilner: I love rubies and diamonds…rubies because they are my birthstone 🙂
Zaida Gearbox: but i mostly only wear earrings too
Harperlass: amethyst and sapphires for me….and jasper
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: I know of some groups, Fraulein Ceejay, where long lobes are a beauty feature.
Oriella Charik: Blue for me
Ceejay Writer: My birthstone is topaz though, so I lean a bit towards it.
Cornelia Rothschild: Quartz — it keeps me going, after all. But to wear… morganite and blue topaz.
Mary Layton: I quite like opals
Zaida Gearbox: saphire is mybirthstone
Ceejay Writer: Baron….. You like long lobes and you cannot lie?
Zaida Gearbox: opals are lovely but they’re so delicate
Harperlass: lol Ceejay
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: Not I.
Harperlass: I also like opals
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: I am, after all, an explorer and have seen much.
Liz Wilner: ooo…opals have a long history of bad luck…unless an opal is your birthstone!
Harperlass: and they are so different
Zaida Gearbox: garnets are nice
Rory Torrance: yes opals are so unique!
Liz Wilner: I have a lovely peridot ring…I love the grass green color
Ceejay Writer: I think I like turquoise so much because it plays well with my favorite metal – silver.
Liz Wilner: turquoise is lovely…and so many shades of it too!
Liz Wilner: most popular is the light blue
Mary Layton: I had some small opals gifted to me, I wanted to have them set in a ring with sapphires and took them to a jeweller who held them for me while they located a designer to create the ring…big mistake…I went back to get them as I’d found someone who could design and make the ring I wanted…they’d “lost” them.
Liz Wilner: but there is red turquoise
Ceejay Writer: I have a few bright teal-ish pieces I love.
Liz Wilner: oh no Mary!
Wildstar Beaumont: “lost” them … hmm
Harperlass: they would have needed to be responsible for the replacement then
Rory Torrance: there are many strange and interesting gem colors! not all sapphires are blue, not all diamonds are white… etc
Mary Layton: yeahhhh
Liz Wilner: Rory…there are gorgeous pink sapphires
Rory Torrance: oooh
Liz Wilner: and yellow too
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: Sapphires can be found in a veritable rainbow of hues.
Liza Blackwood: it depends on the mineral content and if there is a mieral contaminant, like rose and yellow diamonds for instance
Liz Wilner: torumaline is very pretty as well
Zaida Gearbox: the hope diamond is blue
Mary Layton: You’d think….except I’d lost the receipt they’d given me in a move and they wouldn’t honour my claim…even though they admitted that I’d left them with them…
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: Diamonds as well, ja.
Cornelia Rothschild: I recently purchased rings of hematite fire quartz… the result looks like blood splatters on the quartz, great for my horror-loving friend.
Liz Wilner: damn, Mary…that’s awful!
Zaida Gearbox: and i read rubies are just red sapphires
Mary Layton: I do love green tourmalines – a friend had a ring with one, and it was mesmerising!
Rory Torrance: tourmaline is a lovely stone
Wildstar Beaumont: tourmaline is kind of popular these days
Harperlass: it is an interesting stone
Liz Wilner: A ruby is a pink-ish red to blood-red colored gemstone, a variety of the mineral corundum (aluminium oxide). Ruby is one of the most popular traditional jewelry gems and is very durable. Other varieties of gem-quality corundum are called sapphires.
Liz Wilner: from wikipedia
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: When is your event, Duchess?
Liz Wilner: June 1st opens Ascot Season with our exhibit that runs through JUne 30
Liz Wilner: June 13th-19th is Royal Ascot Week 🙂
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: Danke, Fraulein.