Cursed Gems and Jewelry Superstitions

February 21, 2019 4 min read

jewelry superstitions

Can jewelry bring bad luck or predict the future?  History is peppered with lore about cursed gems, talismans, and rules for wearing your jewelry.  Read on to learn about famous jewelry superstitions and where they come from.

The Curse of the Koh-i-Noor Diamond

One of the most infamous gems is the Koh-i-Noor diamond.  It first shows up in written record in 1628, when India was under the rule of the Islamic Mughal dynasty.  The Mughal ruler commissioned a grand throne entirely encrusted with rubies, garnets, emeralds, pearls, and of course, diamonds.  Among the many gems was the large Koh-i-Noor diamond.  India prospered under Mughal rule until 1739, when a Persian invasion started a fierce and bloody war that completely depleted the treasury.  Persian ruler Nader Shah took the Koh-i-Noor diamond from the throne and wore it on a bracelet.  The gem would continue to pass between rulers for nearly a century, leaving a Game of Thrones like bloody trail (one ruler blinded his own son, while another had his head “coronated” in molten gold).

Koh-i-Noor diamond

The Koh-i-Noor diamond, before it was recut, set into its first jewelry setting.

Although the Koh-i-Noor diamond was eventually brought back to India by Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh in 1813, its homecoming was relatively short-lived.  The British asserted control over India in 1849, and claimed the diamond for themselves.  After being re-cut to half its size at the behest of Prince Albert, it was added to Queen Victoria’s collection and would eventually become one of the crown jewels.  There can be no doubt that the history of the Koh-i-Noor is stained with violence, and it’s little wonder why the diamond is considered cursed.

unlucky opals

Why Opals are Considered Unlucky

Despite the undeniable beauty and uniqueness of opals, there are still some who refuse to wear them because of their unlucky reputation.  Some believe that opal engagement rings result in a doomed marriage, or that only those who were born in October can wear opals without incurring bad luck.  As we discussed in our previous blog post about opals, this superstition can be traced to 1829, with the publication of Sir Walter Scott’s Anne of Geierstein, featuring a tragic character who’s unfortunate fate was sealed by the opal she wore in her hair.

Not only is this influential tale completely fictitious, it goes against centuries of belief in opals as a symbol of love and hope.  It is possible that the fragile nature of opals has contributed to their bad reputation, but with a little care, your opal jewelry will have a long life and bring you joy with its beauty.  What could be unlucky about that?

good luck charms

Good Luck Charms

Charms or talismans have been used since ancient times to ward off evil and bring good luck to the wearer.  The Ancient Egyptians attributed great importance to symbols, such as the Eye of Horus, for their powers of protection.  Today, most people think of horseshoes or four leaf clovers when they think of good luck charms.  The lucky horseshoe originates from the Celts, who believed hanging a horseshoe over the door would keep away the goblins who tried to cause them harm.  Four leaf clovers also have Celtic origins as good luck charms, and were believed to ward off evil spirits.

talisman charms

Evil Eye Jewelry

The Evil Eye is one of the most universal symbols, crossing many cultures and religions, and spanning thousands of years.  Evil eye jewelry, or nazar, is believed to ward off the true “Evil Eye”, a curse inflicted by an envious glare.  With origins in Ancient Mesopotamia, eye amulets can be found throughout history, including Ancient Egypt (the Eye of Horus), the Ottoman Empire (the nazar), Italy (the cornicello and the fist), and in the religions of Judaism and Islam (the Hamsa).  Evil eye jewelry in the form of the nazar is often made of blue glass.

engagement ring superstitions

Wedding Jewelry Superstitions

There are endless superstitions surrounding engagements and weddings.  One of the more common ones is the belief that it is bad luck for a person to try on someone else’s wedding ring, and that the wearer will take away the married person’s good fortune, causing the marriage to suffer.  This superstitious belief is likely attached to the wedding ring’s purpose as a symbol of the marriage, although that is no reason to prevent your friend from admiring your ring!

pearl superstition

Another jewelry superstition is that it is bad luck to wear pearls on your wedding day, because they can represent tears in the marriage to come.  Conversely, others believe wearing pearls on your wedding day can prevent the bride from shedding tears.  In fact, the Ancient Greeks associated the pearl with love and marriage, making them a perfect choice for a bride to wear.

wedding band pregnancy test

Wedding bands also carry the superstition of being able to predict a baby’s gender.  The practice involves the pregnant mother laying down, while someone dangles her wedding band tied to a string over her belly.  If the ring swings from side to side, the baby is a boy, and if it swings in a circle, the baby is a girl.  It’s difficult to trace the origins of this superstition, but it is well known in the Western world.

Superstitions are a hard thing to shake, but they shouldn’t influence how you wear your jewelry.  Remember that how you feel when you wear the piece will influence your experience with it.  Simply put, if your jewelry makes you happy, it’s lucky!

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