Haunted Gems: The Delhi Purple Sapphire

Have you heard of the tale of the haunted Delhi  ? Or perhaps the famous (or infamous) Hope Diamond? If not, you’re in for a treat rather than a trick: for the rest of the week, we’re going to be focusing on haunted gems! Sit back and keep the lights on, because these gems slip past the bizarre and delve straight to the genuinely disturbing.

The Hindu god, Indra

The Hindu god, Indra

Our story begins back in the year 1857, during the period known as the Indian Mutiny. The gem rested as an offering and prize within the temple of Indra, the Hindu god of War and Weather. As it so happened, during the warring of the Indian Mutiny English Colonel W. Ferris looted the gem from the temple. The subsequent years following the theft and the Mutiny, Ferris’ health took a turn for the worse, his finances dwindling alongside it. This same fate befell his son who inherited the sapphire after his father passed away, further sinking the family down into squalor.  But the story isn’t near finished yet! In fact, a friend of the family, who temporarily held onto the stone, spontaneously committed suicide while in possession of the stone.

And yet, there’s more. In 1890, the stone came into the possession of Edward Heron-Allen, an intelligent, respected socialite. Heron-Allen had heard of the stories and rumors that surrounded the purple sapphire and believed them to be merely stories, but quickly changed his tune almost as soon as he came to own the stone. Bad luck ran rampant throughout his life, as well as those of his family and friends. It was, according to him, “stained with the blood, and the dishonor of everyone who has ever owned it.” He even tried to rid himself of the gem by throwing it into a canal, only to have it returned to him a short time later by a friend who was a dealer, he having bought it from someone dredging the canal.

The Purple Sapphire of Dehli
The Purple Sapphire of Dehli

When his daughter was born, he knew he had to rid himself of the stone, lest its curse befall her as well. Locking the sapphire in seven boxes surrounded by good luck charms, Heron-Allen stashed it away in the vault of London’s Natural History Museum for almost 70 years. It was there, in 1974, that a curator found the stone. And, despite the hand-written note warning about the gem, he decided to put the sapphire on display. It wasn’t until 2000 that the stone’s curse struck again: one of the former heads of the museum took the stone to the first conference of the Heron-Allen society, and was caught in a sudden, wicked storm en-route. As if he hadn’t learned his lesson the first time,  he became ill with a stomach bug the second time he tried. The third time gave him a kidney stone!

To this day, the stone resides in the Natural History Museum, waiting for the next poor soul to try to claim what may very well rightfully belong to the gods.

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