Tag Archives: golden

Cursed Jewelry!

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Zounds!  We once (daringly) took a look at the world’s most notoriously cursed diamonds.  As the creepiest month of the year is upon us yet again, it’s time to broaden our spooky horizons and investigate some more infamously bedeviled jewelry items.  Behold, the conclusive list of cursed gems, jinxed gold and other ghostly rocks.

The Delhi Purple Sapphire 

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Everything about this dastardly stone is shrouded in mystery and conflicting lore…including it’s name.  It isn’t really a sapphire, rather it’s a piece of super high grade amethyst masquerading as the violent violet/precious cerulean gem.  Legend has it that the allegedly sacred stone was one of the many pieces that were pilfered from the Temple of Indra in Cawnpore, India.  The ransacking of this holy place occurred during the Indian Mutiny (one of many) in 1857.  Much like all of the sacrosanct artifacts that Indiana Jones was seeking, this gem turned evil after it was removed from it’s temple – and became determined to exact revenge on all of the successive heathens who would ever come in contact with it.  The first person to feel the wrath of the Delhi Purple was Colonel W. Ferris, the very man who transported it to England.  Soon after completing the voyage, he lost his entire fortune.  Having hardly a quid to his name, he passed the vile stone down to his son.  And guess what?  This unfortunate heir went bankrupt shortly after as well.  After a family friend, who was holding the stone for a spell, just up and flung himself off a bridge, the Ferris clan knew they had to be rid of it.

The next person to be plagued by the gem was Edward Heron-Allen, a thriving scribe at the time who bought the nefarious stone on a whim.  After a series of unfortunate events, Heron-Allen made the oh-so-generous gesture of trying to give it away to several of his pals.  Each one of these chums would give the stone back to him (probably cursing Heron-Allen under their breath) after their luck turned to excrement.  One example: a singer who, after only possessing the stone for a short while, completely lost her voice and would never to able to utter a single note again.  ‘Not-So-Fast’ Eddie then took the accursed rock and heaved it into the gloomy Regent’s Canal and watched it sink to the murky depths, finally relived to be rid of it.  …Or so he thought.  Nay, a few months later a jeweler, who knew the memorable stone belonged to Heron-Allen, came upon the jewel and sought out its rightful owner.  He gave it to him with a smile (likely expecting a reward), only to watch Edward’s face turn ghost-white.

Heron-Allen would then get the bright idea to send it to the Natural History Museum of London.  He did not want it displayed, rather kept hidden away, until three years after his death (guess he thought harm could still come to him after he was dead for two years?)  The stone’s dark power seems to be subsiding somewhat, as people who have been charged with transporting it have not died or befallen horrible fates as of late, other than a couple of intense snowstorms and debilitating flus.  In a somewhat ironic turn, the last person to move the stone was bequeathed with a horrible stone of his own during its stewardship: a kidney stone.

The Lydian Hoard

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The nomenclature of this treasure collection just doesn’t conjure up pleasant thoughts, does it?  A conglomeration of golden pieces, ranging from wearable jewelry to pots, plates, pans and other forms of regal cutlery, this heavy load of loot once belonged to King Croesus.  He reigned over Lydia from 560 to 547 BC (Lydia is the western portion of modern day Turkey).  His epic rule came to an abrupt end when a Persian King, Cyrus the Great, dethroned him (certainly Croesus didn’t think he was all that great).  It is uncertain if the curse on this gold began right after Croesus was so unceremoniously check-mated, as its whereabouts were largely unknown for roughly the next 2,500 years.  In 1965, Villagers who were poking about in the ground of Güre (a small town in the Uşak section of Turkey) stumbled upon the tomb of an anonymous Lydian Princess.  After yanking it open, they were delighted to find a shimmering expanse of golden goodies.  They probably weren’t too delighted once an ensuing havoc and ubiquitous madness were unleashed.  There were 150 prized relics extracted from the tomb, and each and every person who took part in the purloining of the gold would fall victim to a terrible fate.  Disease, famine and death spread through the village like a rapacious and conscious wildfire.  Whether the malevolent forces contained in the gold were avenging the death of Croesus or the unidentified, entombed Princess is unsure, but one thing is for certain; don’t buy any discount golden dinner-wear while visiting Turkey.

Black Prince’s Ruby

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Yet again, another doom spreading gem with an incorrectly assigned title; it’s a spinel, not a ruby.  Weighing in at 170 carats, it’s hard to miss this precious stone (which is a good thing, because it wants to kill you).  Much like its deep red hue, the gem’s past is quite bloody in tone.  Its first appearance in the record books came thanks to Spanish King Pedro of Castile (known to his buddies as “Pedro the Cruel”), when he murdered the original guardian of the stone in 1367.  Severely needing the help of Edward, the Prince of Whales, Mr. Cruel gave the Brit the dazzling crimson stone as payment.  Edward was known as the Black Prince because he wore all-black-everything armor.  The stone’s curse was unleashed at this point, as ole Pedro would die at the hands of his own brother not long after (apparently a real dysfunctional Cain/Abel relationship there).  Nevertheless, Eddie the Black transported the gem to England and it became a part of the royal crown jewels.  It mysteriously survived the epic shakedown that Charles I’s empire underwent at the power hungry hands of Oliver Cromwell.  Charles the First would lose his crown, his whole head actually, yet the gem curiously lived on.  A man – coincidentally named Colonel James Blood – would attempt to snatch the stone from the London Tower, only to meet his own bloody fate…  (well, he supposedly survived, but barely.)

La Peregrina Pearl

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Pearls look so pure and innocent, don’t they?  One would never suspect that they could be responsible for the utter devastation of an entire royal family.  Well, that seemingly is the case with the La Peregrina Pearl.  Translated from Spanish to “The Pilgrim,” this massive creme colored orb has left a wake of shattered dreams and tainted memories in its past (much like many a pilgrim).  When Phillip II of Spain was set to marry the Queen of England, one Mary Tudor, in 1554, everything was going as smoothly as, ahem, a pearl.  In fact, the whole world seemed as if it were their oyster – that is, until Phillip gave the recently discovered pearl to his betrothed as a wedding present.  Phillip suddenly changed his newlywed mind about Mary (she now repulsed him), and he set sail for what was only supposed to be a 3 hour tour…  He was scarcely seen again by his once beloved, and she died a few years later.  Keeping the evil bulb in his possession, Phillip would marry two more unlucky dames, who would befall similarly horrific ends.  These women were both meant to be brides to Phillip’s heir, Carlos, but the poor boy was stricken with insurmountable mental and physical issues.  Phillip’s clan was known as the “Spanish Hapsburgs,” and by the time the 18th century had rolled around, they were completely wiped out by voracious maladies.  History attributes this to excessive inbreeding amongst said royalty (kissin’ cousins syndrome), but many believe the family’s downfall to have been spurred on by the poisonous pearl.  This prized artifact would eventually be given to Elizabeth Taylor as a wedding present, and we all know how her marriages ended… Perhaps, as the pearl was formed, in the mouth of a mollusk under the inky sea, some dismal energy became trapped inside; ensconced in numerous coats of invertebrate mucus.  We’ll never truly know for sure…but probably best to avoid purchasing any gigantic vintage pearls on eBay.

At the end of the day, all some people want is a beautiful gem to call their very own…just be careful what you wish for.

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-Joe Leone 

Alluring Jewelry Terms

(Starting with “A”)

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This is the first installment of a multi part series on the etymology of some of the more esoteric, unconventional and ancient phrases in the wondrous world of precious metal and gemstone-based jewelry.

À jour – much like ‘soup du jour,’ this term is extra fancy, and extra French; it means “to the day,” and is as delicious as a lobster bisque.  À jour is a type of jewelry setting that became intensely popular in the 1800’s (just like the sexy steam locomotive and the scintillating stereoscope) where the back of the piece is left open.  This is so the sun can hit it with luscious light and BAM: instant solar style, as the jewel shimmers with glowing glee and bright alacrity.

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À la mercure – Ok, this one can be mercurial (and lethal).  Like the name suggests, we’re dealing with actual mercury here.  It’s a type of ‘gilding’ where you meld gold and mercury into a deadly stew and then gently apply it to a jewelry piece (like you would with White-Out to a sensitive document).  Then you burn the heck out of it with a torch or, in a pinch, a lighter with a saucy burlesque dancer etched on to it.  The heat from the fire sizzles the mercury away, leaving behind a smooth golden finish (just don’t breathe while doing this, kids!)

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Aiguilettes – now commonly known as the name given to Christina Aguilera’s children, aiguilettes originally referred to thin little strips of material that held ribbons in place on women’s dresses in the 1400’s.  These stylishly ‘sharp’ items (derived from the French word for needle, “aguille”), became more and more fashionable and were eventually constructed from gold and featured various glittering gems.  They usually appeared in pairs, forming a small “v” or “bird in the distance in a painting” shapes.

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Allochromatic – just like the Allosaur that gets eaten in Jurassic World, this term has epic connotations.  The phrase “allochromatic” is applied to gems that exhibit a certain color…that is not what their chemical components dictate it should actually look like, but rather a hue which is purely visible due to the impurities therein.  Confused?  Good.  Here’s a nice example of allochroma in action: the highly valuable gemstone Sapphire.  Now, sapphire is blue, right?  Dead wrong! (as if you’ve been huffing mercury)  Sapphire is naturally a clear gem in it’s unadulterated state.  However, typically when it forms, iron and titanium particles get in there, alloying the true chemical composition.  These dirty little elements are what give sapphire that azure allure we know and heart.

Alluvial – this one is a little slippery: literally.  The phrase is really just an adjective meaning “deposited by water,” and in the jewelry universe this refers to precious metals (gold, silver, the Lord of the Rings ring) left behind in riverbed rocks.

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Amorphous – Honey Boo-Boo and Momma June jokes aside, amorphous things have no form at all.  What this means in gem terms, is that they are devoid of a “crystal structure.”  Popular gemstones such as amber and opal are amorphous, making them both great gifts for someone whom you want to express the message “Our love has no…form.”

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Arabesque – those who frequent hookah lounges will be familiar with the ornate and intricate style that is Arabesque.  Jewelry with extensive filigreed is often in the Arabesque category, which was definitely #trending during the 1500’s with the Renaissance art crowd.  Arabesque designs feature a lot of flowing flowers, hearts and in some rare cases, shawarma samples.

Archaeological Revival – this term is sort of self explanatory, but cool nonetheless.  When art loving Europeans of the 1700’s began digging stuff up from the Roman and Egyptian Empires, they fell in love with the style and started replicating it like mad.  Wearing a Cleopatra inspired golden asp headpiece became totally en vogue with the bourgeoisie crew.

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Argentan – if you receive a shiny silver gift with an intaglio on it proclaiming this word, then you have a right to be miffed.  It means that the metal is masquerading as actual silver, but, sadly, is not.  This information can be extremely useful when deciding whether or not to melt jewelry pieces down into bullets to combat attacking werewolves.

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Armilla – is just a super fancy word for an ‘armlet’ – a bracelet for the upper arm.  These have been around since the times when people fought lions with their bare hands for the entertainment of the masses (usually on the TNT network).  Roman soldiers wore these to signify rank, as well as for an excuse to show off their biceps.  Today, hordes of  inebriated girls wear them at Coachella.

Assay – is not that thing you had to write to get into college.  Assay is the procedure that jewelry items undergo to analyze the precise content of the precious metal they contain.  The results are often stamped right on the little guys (ie – “24 kt gold” or, in some less than fortunate cases, “100% tin foil”).

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Asterism – akin to the mighty asteroid, soaring through the cosmos, the concept of asterism is equally ephemeral and can scorch you if you attempt to grasp it.  …Well, not really.  It just signifies a star-like shape that forms when light hits certain, inclusion laden gems and then reflects out in said stellar fashion.  Basically, it’s like looking at a jewel-born asterisk*

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Aventurescence – if you are a gem and you possess this quality, it means you are ready for adventure!  …Or something to that effect.  When stones have aventurescence, they have an entirely unique brand of sparkle to them.  Gems that exhibit this property are chocked full of various mineral inclusions that are too hard to spell or pronounce (and in some cases, sound completely inappropriate).  Not a believer?  Just try to say “fuchsite” in polite society and see what happens.

-Joe Leone 

Anniversary Gemstone Gift List: Years 15 – 65

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photo via Queensbee.ru

Whew!  So you’ve successfully survived the first 10 years together.  Bravo.  Now it’s time for the big ones: anniversaries 15 through 65.  Here is an exhaustive list of the gems and precious materials ascribed to each year.
Continue reading Anniversary Gemstone Gift List: Years 15 – 65