Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend
Diamonds truly were a girl's best friend for the notorious all-woman crime syndicate, "The Forty Elephants", that ruled London's West End from the late-18th century through the mid-20th century.
These dames initially specialized in shoplifting, but would go on to diversify their skills in the many ways to swindle an individual. These tactics included 'seducing' men into short term affairs, only to blackmail them later - extorting them for copious amounts of money and ruining countless reputations along the way.
The gang's leader was a woman by the name of Alice Diamond, also referred to as "Diamond Annie" and "Queen of the Forty Thieves". Alice's organization and expertise are what kept her band of thieves prolific with a notable longevity. Her tactics were even admired by her counterparts in the the all-male "Elephant Gang".
Alice Diamond lived up to her name by providing for her gang a lavish lifestyle - made possible by the extravagant earnings gotten from their swindling ways. These gals experienced decadent living on par with the era's movie stars, politicians and flappers. The gang's powerful influence was so far-reaching that they claimed territories and flexed their muscle by forcing other, smaller theft rings to pay a percentage of all of their takings to the Forty Elephants.
In their heyday, during the interwar period, their reach went beyond the "upscale" stores in their region to span across the country, targeting many other major shopping districts.
Slipping Through The Cracks
The Forty Elephants successfully evaded the law with multiple acquittals and minimal prison time due to lack of evidence. It has been speculated that the gang's many changes of leadership over it's lengthy dynasty finally caused the ultimate dissipation of remaining members around the mid 1950's.
To this day, no one really knows what became of the most notorious all-lady gangster organization. Some believe they went underground - and may still be performing their larcenous operations to this day.