According to the legend, the Black Orlov is said to have taken its name from the Russian Princess Nadia Vyegin-Orlov who owned it for time during the mid-eighteenth century. It is a 67.50-carat cushion-cut stone, a so-called black diamond (actually, a very dark gun-metal color). It is reported to have belonged to a nineteenth-century shrine near Pondicherry, India, and to have weighed 195 carats in the rough. Unfortunately the Indian origin of this stone is almost certainly false. There is no documentation of Russia having had a princess by that name, or of India having produced any black diamonds of note. The stone has been exhibited widely, including at the American Museum of Natural History in 1951, the Wonderful World of Fine Jewelry & Gifts at the 1964 Texas State Fair, Dallas, and the Diamond Pavilion in Johannesburg in 1967.
The Black Orlov was owned by Charles F. Winson, New York City gem dealer, who valued it at $150,000. It is mounted in a modern diamond-and-platinum necklace. An alternate name is the Eye of Brahma Diamond. In 1969, the stone was sold for $300,000. It was resold in 1990 at Sothebys for $99,000. On October 11th, 2006, the necklace containing the stone figured as lot 33 in a Christie's Magnificent Jewels sale where it sold for $352,000. Its estimate had been $100,000 to $200,000.
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.
The historic gem stone is accompanied by authentication papers - and an alleged curse. At least three former owners took their own lives, including two Russian princesses. It originated in India in the early 1800's and was known as the Eye of Brahma. It reportedly was taken from the eye of an idol of Brahma at a shrine near Pondicherry, India. Its name apparently comes from Russian Prince Grigori Grigorievich Orlov who is said to have given it as a gift to his lover, Catherine the Great. In 1932 the diamond dealer who imported the stone to the United States, J.W. Paris, jumped to his death from a New York City skyscraper shortly after selling the stone. In 1947, two Russian aristocrats who separately owned the Black Orlov at one time or another, Princess Nadia Vyegin-Orlov and Princess Leonila Galitsine-Bariatinsky, committed suicide several months apart by jumping from buildings in Rome.