Cursed Stones: VOL. 1
In honor of the conclusion of stories a decade in the making, I thought it would be fun to revisit an older series I listed before. These are real gemstones that have storied histories, sometimes involving theft and murder, and all of which are considered to be truly cursed. How will Avengers: Endgame turn out? We will find out soon enough. But in the meantime, you can find out what happened to these gems, and learn more about the legends that surround them. The six gemstones are broken into two volumes of three stories, because it is always safer to keep them all apart, as Thanos has demonstrated.
A remarkably impressive fiery-red stone, the Black Prince’s Ruby is also known as ‘the great imposter’ because isn't a ruby at all, but a large red spinel. A spinel is a hard, glassy mineral that crystallizes into various shades, including bright red like a ruby, but are aren’t as highly valued. This stone is believed to be one of the biggest uncut spinels in the world, although it has been well polished in lieu of a proper cut. With such a rich glowing deep red color, it’s easy to understand the error, especially as Spinel and Ruby weren’t identifiable as separate stones until 1783. However, this gem is less known for its beauty that it is for its blood trodden history built on deceit and the desire for power.
The gem is thought to have originated from somewhere in present-day Tajikistan, an area historically known as Badakhshan. In the 14th century, the neighboring territories were at war and Don Pedro the Cruel, ruler of Castile, was winning. The Sultan of Granada sought to surrender to Don Pedro and Don Pedro is said to have welcomed him to Seville. When the Granadian party arrived, Don Pedro had the prince’s servants killed and murdered the Sultan himself, earning him his ‘cruel’ moniker. On searching the body of the Sultan, Don Pedro found the peerless ‘ruby’ and kept it for himself.
When Don Pedro’s half-brother mounted an attack on the throne, Don Pedro enlisted the help of Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales. Edward’s successes in the early years of the Hundred Years’ War earned him the nickname ‘the Black Prince’. The combined might of their armies easily defeated his brother’s challenge to the throne. So grateful was Don Pedro, he handed the ‘ruby’ to the Black Prince, albeit reluctantly by some accounts.
A couple of years later, Don Pedro was defeated and killed by his brother. Then in 1370, Prince Edward’s eldest son died at five years old, and in 1376 Edward himself died, never taking the throne that he was in line to inherit. Richard II instead inherited the throne and the stone; but was deposed by his cousin and murdered. This cousin was Henry IV, who himself died slowly and in great pain from an unknown disease. The gem passed to Henry V, who was wearing the gem on his helmet when he was struck with an axe at the Battle of Agincourt, though he survived. Legend has it that Richard III was wearing the ‘ruby’ at the final battle of the Wars of the Roses, where he was killed.
The gem was passed along to Henry VIII and his daughter, Elizabeth I, until King Charles I was beheaded for treason in 1649 and the stone was sold. Charles II bought the stone back from an unknown party, but nearly lost it when the infamous Irish colonel Thomas Blood attempted to steal the crown jewels from the Tower of London in 1671. The stone has mostly been used for ornamental purposes in crowns ever since.
The Black Prince's Ruby currently resides in pride of place on the front of the Imperial State Crown of the British Crown Jewels, which is worn annually at the State Opening of Parliament by Queen Elizabeth II. If you notice that a smaller gemstone that appears to sit atop the gem, this is a ruby that is placed to conceal a drill hole from a time when the gem was worn as a pendant.
The Delhi Purple Sapphire was believed to have been looted from the Temple of Indra during the Indian Mutiny of 1857. As the temple was devoted to the Hindu god of war and weather, and it is strongly believed that through its theft from the ancient idol, a curse was cast. The Sapphire was brought to England by Colonel W. Ferris, a Bengal Cavalryman.
Soon after returning to England, the entire Ferris family was overcome by health and financial troubles. They blamed their problems on a series of failed investments made by Mr. Ferris and his son, which left the family in near financial ruin. Things took a turn for the worse when a friend of the Ferris family unexpectedly committed suicide whilst in possession of the sapphire.
The next owner was an author in 1890, Edward Heron-Allen. Heron-Allen spoke of an such an immediate series of misfortunes and bad luck, that while he was not superstitious, he began to believe that the sapphire was terribly cursed. He had even gifted the stone twice to friends who were interested in owning it, and in both incidences those friends met with bad luck and returned the stone to him. He even claimed to have thrown the sapphire into a canal, only for it to reappear in his possession three months later. It had been found by a dredge who sold it to a jeweler, who recognized the stone and returned it to Edward.
In 1904, after the birth of his first daughter, Edward sealed the gem inside a box and shipped it to his bankers with set instructions. The sapphire was to be bestowed to the Natural History Museum, under the condition that the box was not to be opened until at least three years after his death. They were also instructed that under no circumstances must his daughter ever touch or be in possession of the stone.
After Edward’s death, the museum received the box containing the gem and put it to one side, as per his request. Sometime later, long after the box had been opened, a type written note was found with these final words, "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".
In 2004 the gem was in the possession of John Whittaker, a member of the Natural History Museum who was tasked with transporting the purple sapphire to an event. On their journey, Mr Whittaker and his wife were engulfed in a dramatic thunderstorm, which trapped them in their car. Mr Whittaker claimed it to be the most horrific experience of his life. When Mr. Whittaker was tasked with transporting the Sapphire a second time, he fell violently sick with a stomach issue, and then a third time he fell in pain, finally passing a kidney stone.
It is believed by some that sapphire carries the spiritual power of enlightenment, inner peace, and to hold healing properties for rheumatism and mental illness. However, despite its name, the Delhi Purple Sapphire is in fact, an amethyst.
The Regent Diamond has a pale-blue tint, matchless brilliance, and is widely considered the most beautiful and one of the purest diamonds in the world. However, due to numerous scandals and the misfortune of those who have been in possession of the stone, the Regent Diamond is also believed to be cursed.
Found in 1698 by a slave in a mine located in the Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, India, the uncut diamond was a massive 410 carats. Upon discovery, the slave smuggled it out of the mine by hiding the diamond in a large self-inflicted wound on his leg. The slave conspired with an English sea captain to smuggle it away on his ship, but the captain then stole the diamond, drowned the slave, and sold it to an Indian merchant named Jamchand.
An English governor named Thomas Pitt bought the diamond and named it after himself. The original story of how the stone was acquired had tarnished Thomas Pitt’s reputation, as well as the reputations of his descendants. It also put his life in danger, as he had a number of enemies who wished to steal it from him. Pitt’s Diamond, as it was known at the time, was sent back to England in 1702, under the care of Thomas Pitt’s eldest son.
He had the diamond cut to its current size of 140.64 carats and sold it to the French Regent Philippe II of Orleans in 1717. The diamond was renamed as the Regent, and the French royal family showed it off in several settings, including in the crown of King Louis XV. Several secondary stones were produced from the cut, which were sold to Russia’s Peter the Great.
Throughout its history, the Regent diamond has been worn by several members of the French royal family. In 1722, it was set into the coronation crown of Louis XV, where it remained until 1775, when it was set into a new crown for the coronation of Louis XVI. Upon being removed from this crown, it found its way onto a hat worn by Marie Antoinette. During the French Revolution, both Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were decapitated.
In 1792, the Regent was stolen, but was located a few months later, rediscovered among some roof timbers in a Paris attic. The stone was later pawned to a Berlin jeweler to help raise funds for the French army. Napoleon Bonaparte claimed the diamond in 1801, having it set in the handle of his two-edged sword.
Following his death in 1821, his widow, Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria, brought the diamond with her to Austria, but it was later returned to France as a present. The Regent then graced the crowns of Louis XVIII (exiled twice and ultimately died childless), Charles X (forced to abdicate the throne and died a horrible death of Cholera), and Napoleon III (died in exile).
Currently, the diamond remains set in a diadem designed for the French Empress Eugenie and is on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
CONTINUED IN VOL. 2