The Black Orlov Diamond

This dark steely grey stone is a cushion cut, 67 carat diamond. The Black Orlov has been exhibited at several exhibitions including the State Fair of Texas in 1964, The Carnegie Museum and the American Museum of Natural History.

When Charles Winson owned the gem he valued it $150,000. The New York jeweler began showing the black diamond in the early 1950's. In 1969 Winson sold it for $300,000. It has since been bought and sold several times. The latest being at Sotheby's in 1990 for $99,000 and again in 1995 by the auction house for for $1.5 million.

The history of the stone has been shrouded in mystery. Legend is that once the black diamond was called The Eye of Brahma. It was supposedly an uncut stone of 195 carats. This stone was set into an idol in the vicinity of Pondicherry, India and stolen by a monk. Some say that black is a bad luck color for Hindus and they would never have put a black stone on an idol. Research shows that in the Hindu belief of the 3 eyes - one is the sun and one is the moon, on opposite sides of the head. The sun represents the light and the moon, the dark. So it may have been that a black diamond would have been used for the "moon eye."

Back to our Black Orlov Diamond - legend also says that it once belonged to the Russian Princess Nadia Orlov. Many sources disregard this by saying there never was a princess by that name.

What I have found is that there WAS a Russian Princess by the name of Nadezhda Petrovna Orlov. Now the familiar name Nadia is often associated with the more formal Nadezhda. So, there is possibility.

Nadezhda Petrovna Orlov fled Russian after the revolution and may have sold jewels to fund the journey - as many of the nobility did. Many jewels were being sold at the time of the Russian Revolution.

I would also like to put forward my theory that the Orlov family had estates on "the Black Lake" and also bred horses known as Black Orlov's. It doesn't seem a stretch that the Black Orlov may have well indeed belonged to a Russian Princess Orlov.

It should be noted that another large diamond, known as The Orlov, was purchased by Prince Orlov as a gift for Catherine the Great. This diamond also has a legend of being stolen from an idol in India. Perhaps the history of the 2 Orlov diamonds became muddled over time.


Today unsubstantiated rumors of a curse on the Black Orlov Diamond are being spread. The owner and diamond dealer who purchased the black diamond in 2004, Dennis Petimezas, currently has the diamond on tour. He "says" he has researched the diamond and claims:

"In 1947 Princess Nadia Vyegin Orlov and Princess Leonila Galitsine Bariatinsky - both former owners of the Black Orlov - leapt to their deaths in apparent suicides. Fifteen years earlier, J.W. Paris, the diamond dealer who imported the stone to the USA, jumped from one of New York's tallest buildings shortly after concluding the sale of the jewel."

No such events can be found however. Princess Leonilla Bariatinska lived to the ripe old age of 102, d -1918 in Switzerland. And the Princess (Nadia) Nadezhda Petrovna Orlov lived to be 90 years, d - 1988 in France. We can find no mention anywhere of a jeweler who jumped in New York.

One can only suppose (until such time as concrete evidence can be shown) that the current "hype" by the owner of the Black Orlov is to promote his loaning it be worn at the Oscars.



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