Cursed Gemstones: The Black Orlov

Oct 24, 2016

It’s not unusual for extraordinary gemstones to be the subject of curious stories and legends that detail its origins and properties. However, there are a few gemstones that standout from the rest as being “cursed.” In the spirit of Halloween, we’ll take a look at The Black Orlov and the unique history that has made it world-famous.

Extraterrestrial Black Diamonds

The Black Orlov, also known as “The Eye of Brahma,” is a 67.50-carat diamond gemstone and the 7th largest known black diamond in the world.[1] Black diamonds are incredibly rare and unique from traditional clear diamonds because they contain no mantle-derived inclusions and have a significantly low carbon isotope value. With isotopic dating, the significantly low carbon isotope value of black diamonds has led the greater scientific community to age most specimens at around 3 billion years old.

One theory by Joseph Garai and Stephen Haggerty of Florida International University suggests that the lack of mantle-derived inclusions and great age of black diamonds are evidence of an extraterrestrial origin.[2] The theory suggests that the presence of hydrogen within black diamonds indicates an origin in a hydrogen-rich space. Of the many geological locations where diamonds are mined, not a single black diamond has ever been found outside of Brazil and the Central African Republic.[3] It is believed that black diamonds came to Earth in a massive asteroid after being formed within a stellar supernova, which would explain their concentrated mining locations.[4]

The Mysteries behind the Black Orlov

Adding to the mystery of the Black Orlov is its extensive history of misfortune befalling its owners. According to legend, the Black Orlov is believed to be “The Eye of Brahma” – a 195-carat gemstone that was stolen from the statue of a Hindu God near Pondicherry, India.[5] Stealing a gemstone from the statue of a Hindu God is considered sacrilegious. As a result, the Hindu priests who lived in the temple placed a violent curse on the owner of the gemstone.

In the Hands of Russian Royals

The legend claims the Black Orlov found its way into the hands of a Russian Princess by the name of Nadia Vyegin Orlov, who would own the black diamond until the Bolshevik revolution of October 1917. It was rumored that the princess would jump off a building to her death in 1947. Yet, there are no records of Russia having a Princess by that name.[6]

Tragedy in the United States

Records show that the Black Orlov was acquired from an unknown source in 1932 by J. W. Paris, a renowned diamond dealer who lived in New York City.[7] Unfortunately, after selling the diamond that same year, J. W. Paris would be the first confirmed tragedy connected to the Black Orlov as he committed suicide by jumping off a skyscraper.

Before J. W. Paris’s death, the Black Orlov was sold to Charles F. Winson. The Black Orlov was then cut, from 195-carats to the 67.50-carats we see today.[8] Some believe the cut to this weight was made in an attempt to break the curse from the gemstone. However, black diamonds are highly porous and the stone was known to lack a cleavage plane, leading to an extreme loss in weight.

The Black Orlov would exchange hands with private dealers for several decades until 2006 when it was bought by its current owner Dennis Petimezas. The Black Orlov now sits in a 108 diamond brooch and was worn by actress Felicity Huffman at the Oscars in 2006. Currently there have been no further reports of tragedies connected to the Black Orlov.[9]


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[1] “’Cursed’ black diamond on display”. BBC News.
[2] Cheryl D. “Diamonds from Other Space”. National Science Foundation.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Lionel and Patricia F, Secrets of the World’s Undiscovered Treasures, (Michigan: Body, Mind & Spirit, 2009), 203.
[6] “The Black Orlov Diamond”. Gauk ArtiFacts.
[7] Ibid.
[8] “The Black Orlov Diamond”. Gauk ArtiFacts.
[9] Louise J. “Curse of the ‘Eye of Brahma’ Comes to London”. Independent.