Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Friday, January 27, 2017

Legendary Gems — Beautiful, Treasured…and Cursed?

By Tara Kingston

For centuries, precious jewels have been treasured for their beauty and scarcity. Gems such as crimson rubies, rich blue sapphires, and sparkling diamonds adorn the crowns of royalty and have been passed down through families as cherished heirlooms. But is it possible that some of the most legendary gemstones actually brought misfortune to their owners? Is it conceivable that a gleaming stone could actually bring tragedy upon the one who possesses it? Here’s a look at some gems that are rumored to carry a curse:

The Hope Diamond

Marie Antoinette Before Her Execution
Steel Engraving - Marie Antoinette before her Execution
Were Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette victims of the curse rumored to follow this legendary blue diamond? Evidence suggests the stone known as the Hope Diamond was recut from the French Blue, a sixty-seven carat gem that had been part of the French crown jewels. During the French Revolution, the priceless diamond was stolen from the royal treasury, while Louis XVI and his wife, Queen Marie Antoinette, went to the guillotine in 1793. The gem was believed to have resurfaced in London in 1812, recut to 45.54 carats.

Evalyn Walsh McLean
Evalyn Walsh McLean

Decades later, American heiress Evalyn Walsh McLean acquired the diamond in 1910. She suffered great tragedy after the purchase, including the death of two of her children. After Mrs. McLean’s death in 1947, the diamond was purchased by Harry Winston, who later donated the jewel to the Smithsonian Institution.

The Koh-I-Noor Diamond

Koh-I-Nopr Diamond
Koh-I-Noor Diamond
This massive diamond (105.6 carats) was rumored to have served as the eye of an idol of a Hindu goddess. Dubbed the Koh-I-Noor diamond, which is Persian for “Mountain of Light”, the gem was acquired by England as part of the British annexation of Punjab.  According to legend, a Hindu curse brings misfortune upon any male in possession of the stone. Perhaps in the spirit of playing it safe, the jewel has never been worn by any male among the British Royals. The gem was
Queen Mary's Crown
Queen Mary's Crown
placed in the crown used for the coronation of Queen Alexandra in 1902 and later mounted in Queen Mary's crown. The jewel was placed in the Queen Mother’s crown in 1947, where it remains to this day. The crown and the diamond are on display in the Tower of London. 

The Black Prince’s Ruby

Imperial State Crown
Imperial State Crown
A red spinel dubbed the “Great Imposter”, the Black Prince’s Ruby is mounted in England’s Imperial State crown. Named for Edward of Woodstock, the fourteenth century “Black Prince”, the gemstone is rumored to have brought tragedy upon historical figures including the Sultan of Granada, who was in possession of the stone when he was murdered, Henry V, who nearly died at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, and Richard III, who died in the Battle of Bosworth. 

Many other rare gemstones including the Star of India, the Black Orlov diamond, and the Sancy diamond are associated with deadly curses. So, what are your thoughts—are these legends based in truth or mere superstition?

To learn more about these gems:


All photographs and historical images are in the public domain.

About The Author: 
The Highlander Who Loved Me Cover
To Purchase or Read An Excerpt
Award-winning and Amazon.com bestselling author Tara Kingston writes historical romance laced with intrigue, danger, and adventures of the heart. A Southern belle-out-of-water in a quaint Pennsylvania town, she lives her own love story with her real-life hero in a cozy Victorian. The mother of two sons, Tara's a former librarian whose love of books is evident in her popping-at-the-seams bookcases. It goes without saying that she’s thankful for the invention of digital books, thereby eliminating the need for yet another set of shelves. When she's not writing, reading, or burning dinner, Tara enjoys cycling, hiking, and cheering on her favorite football team. 

Click the links to connect with Tara at www.tarakingston.com and on

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Three Sheets to the Wind

Lift your mug and toast with me. Today’s post is about what pirates loved to do best—drinking.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “three sheets to the wind” and know it means to be very drunk. But did you know that this expression is seafaring in nature?

It’s true, but its actual origin is likely not what you might guess. Three sheets to the wind, like flapping sails, that’s what you’re thinking, right? Typical landlubber mistake.  Sheets don’t refer to sails at all. Nope. Instead, the sheets are the ropes that hold the lower corners of the sails in place. If the sheets (ropes) are loose, then the sails will not be drawn tight in the wind. They’ll flap. Flapping sails will cause a ship to stagger—much like a boozy, moon-eyed drunk.

If that isn’t fascinating enough, sailors used a scale to rate drunkenness. Because we all need to know our state of inebriation.
  • One sheet = slightly buzzed, just enough to start trouble
  • Two sheets = drunk, tendency to fight or sing karaoke
  • Three sheets = sloppy, can hardly stay upright, “I love you, man” plastered
  • Four sheets = out cold
In Dead Man’s Kiss, pirate captain Valeryn Barone had drowned his sorrows and became so belligerent drunk, somewhere between three and four sheets, he wound up in a fight to what he hoped would be his death. Instead, he got something much worse.
Click HERE for your copy!

Forced to make a bargain…
One drunken night in Cuba lands Captain Valeryn Barone in a life or death situation. To escape the gallows, Valeryn must agree to a bargain only a fool would make: Escort the tempting and tenacious niece of his captor across the Caribbean or lose his ship, his crew and his life! The caveat? The beautiful Spanish woman must remain untouched for the entire voyage.

Determined to get what she wants…Catalina Montoya will stop at nothing to get what she wants—even when trouble is certain. Sent to live with her uncle after a scandalous affair, Catalina intends to concentrate on her dream to become a renowned naturalist. She never expected her uncle would send her with a notorious pirate to further her studies. Worse, she never expected to want the devilishly handsome pirate more than anything else.

It’s a battle of wills…Now Catalina only has 8 weeks to seduce Valeryn and collect her specimens before he returns her to her uncle. And Valeryn has 8 weeks to secure his redemption. Except neither would be that lucky. Not when ruthless enemies threaten to destroy them at every turn. Can Valeryn save those that foolishly depend on him? Can he resist Catalina’s heart? Does a dead man walking even have a chance?

So the next time you’re throwing back the grog, wine, or spirits you can astound your mates with your amazing drinking knowledge. This has been a Public Service Announcement brought to you by the resident rum-swilling pirate wench.

About the Author
Jennifer is the award-winning author of the Romancing the Pirate series. Visit her at www.jbrayweber.com or join her mailing list for sneak peeks, excerpts, and giveaways.