The Black Orlov Diamond: Monday Mystery Part 4

Oct 15, 2012

It seems as though all the best cursed gemstones come from India. The Black Orlov, also known as the Eye of Brahma Diamond, is a 67.50 carat black beauty believed to come out of India in the 19th century. The original diamond was said to have been an un-cut 195 carats, but even at its current state it remains the largest black diamond to date.

Legend says that the Black Orlov originally served as one of the eyes in a statue of Brahma, the Hindu god of creation in Pondicherry. The diamond was stolen from the statue by a traveling monk and the stone has remained cursed since. After that point, the diamond’s history gets slightly obscured.

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The diamond was brought to the United States by diamond dealer J.W. Paris in 1932. Not long after, he was said to have committed suicide by jumping off a skyscraper in New York City. In the early 1900s, two women were owners of the diamond, Princess Nadia Vygin-Orlov (for whom the diamond is named) and Leonila Galitsine-Bariatinsky. Both of these women were also to have said to committed suicide by jumping as well.

Charles F. Winson later purchased the diamond and had it set into a brooch with a halo of 108 round-cut diamonds. It is said that he cut the diamond into a smaller size so as to detract from the diamond’s terrible curse. The brooch hangs from a strand necklace of 124 diamonds. Later the diamond was bought by Dennis Petimezas in 2004 who was quoted as saying that he was “pretty confident that the curse has been broken.” Today, the Black Orlov diamond is part of the proud collection of the American Museum of Natural History, along with the Delhi Purple Sapphire.

However, it is highly debatable today how much of the Black Orlov’s story is true. Most black diamonds come from Brazil and Africa, rather than India. Most Hindus consider the color black to be an unfavorable color. History also indicates that Leonila Galitsine-Bariatinsky lived to a ripe old age of 102 and while most historians doubt the existence of a Princess Nadia Vygin-Orlov, there was a Nadezhda Petrovna Orlov. This woman is recorded to have left Russian after the revolution and it is possible she may have sold jewels in order to pay for the journey.

Whether the story is true or not, the rule of thumb appears to remain that all famous diamonds have some degree of notoriety. After all, if assured death or a cursed life doesn’t discourage a thief, not much else will.

See Part 1Part 2, and Part 3 of the Monday Mystery series.

Established in 1912, the King family has owned and operated King Jewelers for five generations while building an outstanding reputation steeped in quality, value, and first-class service. Today, King Jewelers has brick-and-mortar stores located in Aventura, FL and Nashville, TN, both of which have won numerous regional and national awards of distinction. Offering a magnificent selection of fine jewelry collections including the hottest Italian designs, estate jewelry, colored gemstones and fancy-colored diamonds, as well as luxury European timepieces, King Jewelers prides itself in being one step ahead of the trend. In addition, King Jewelers offers on-site jewelry and watch repairs, custom design services, appraisals, estate buying, and corporate gift programs. For more information, visit


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