Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Gemstone Tale

One of the London’s Natural History Museum great treasures is the Heron-Allen Amethyst also known as the Delhi Purple Sapphire.  This infamous stone has quite the spooky tale.
Some 37 years ago Peter Tandy, a young curator at the Natural History Museum, happened upon a jewel while working among the vast treasures of the museum. From a scientific perspective, the stone was nothing special, though its setting was rather bizarre, bound by a silver ring decorated with astrological symbols and mystical words with two scarab-carved gems attached. It was a typewritten note that was with the jewel, that caught Tandy’s eye. 
The note said “This stone is trebly accursed and is stained with the blood, and the dishonour of everyone who has ever owned it,” which had been written by Edward Heron-Allen, a scientist and the amethyst’s last owner.  
According to the Heron-Allen family, the Delhi Purple Sapphire had been brought to the United Kingdom by a Bengal cavalryman Colonel W. Ferris. He had recovered the amethyst in India, after it had been looted from the Temple of Indra in Cawnpore during the Indian Mutiny in 1857. Ferris and his son both lost all their money and their health after owning the jewel. A family friend committed suicide after possessing it for a short time. 
Heron-Allen when took possession of the amethyst in 1890 he was immediately struck with bad luck and misfortune. He gave the jewel away twice – both friends were consequently fraught with disasters. He tried to throw the amethyst into the Regent’s Canal to be rid of the cursed jewel. The Delhi Purple Sapphire was returned to him only  three months by a jeweler who had purchased it from a dredger.
By 1904, he had it locked away until after his death. However, even after the amethyst passed into the hands of the museum, it is still exerting a baleful presence on any that touched the jewel.
John Whittaker, the museum’s former head of micropaleontology, took the amethyst to the first symposium of the Heron-Allen Society. He encountered the most horrific thunderstorm he had ever experienced on the way home. The night before the second annual symposium he became violently ill with stomach flu and he didn’t make the third symposium due to a sudden kidney stone.
This interesting stone as of 2007 is now on display (for anyone who dares) a the London Natural History Museum What do you make of this?  Cursed or luck of the draw? Would you touch the Delhi Purple Sapphire?

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