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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 September 2005, 08:16 GMT 09:16 UK
'Cursed' black diamond on display
Black diamond
A "cursed" black diamond, which has seen three former owners commit suicide, is to go on display in the UK for the first time.

The Black Orlov, also known as The Eye of Brahma, was said to have been removed from a Hindu idol in India.

This sacrilege allegedly led future owners of the precious stone to suffer violent deaths.

The 67.5-carat gem will go on show at the Natural History Museum's Diamonds exhibition from Wednesday.

The diamond's history is unclear, but legend tells of a monk removing the original rough 195-carat diamond from the eye of the Idol of Brahma at a shrine near Pondicherry.

I've never felt nervous about owning the Black Orlov
Present owner Dennis Petimezas

In 1947, Princess Nadia Vyegin-Orlov and Princess Leonila Galitsine-Bariatinsky - both said to be former owners of the Black Orlov - leapt to their deaths in apparent suicides.

Fifteen years earlier, JW Paris, the diamond dealer who imported the stone to the USA, had jumped to his death from one of New York's tallest buildings shortly after concluding the sale of the jewel.

In an attempt to break the curse, the diamond was re-cut into three separate gems and has since been owned by a succession of private owners, all of whom seem to have escaped the curse.

"In the middle of the 20th Century, the media christened it the 'Evil Death Gem' but I've never felt nervous about owning the Black Orlov," said Dennis Petimezas, the current owner.

"I've spent the past year trying to discover everything I can about the stone's melodramatic history and I'm pretty confident that the curse is broken."

Alan Hart, exhibition curator said: "The intriguing legend of the Black Orlov highlights the powerful way that diamonds have captured human imagination for thousands of years.

"This jewel's beauty and apparent infamy make it a fitting addition to the world's biggest diamond exhibition."

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