Monday, July 26, 2021

Super Bowl Champ Tom Brady Just Received the 'Most Incredible Ring That's Ever Been Made'

Seven-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady couldn't be more impressed with his brand new Tampa Bay Buccaneers championship ring — a spectacular, commemorative piece featuring 319 diamonds and an innovative twist-off top.

“They’re not so much rings, they’re more like trophies that you wear on your finger,” the age-defying quarterback said in a video posted by the Buccaneers. “This is by far the most incredible ring that’s ever been made.”

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' players, coaches and staff received their championship rings during a private ceremony in Tampa on Thursday. The next day, Brady turned to Twitter to show off his growing collection of Super Bowl bling and captioned his photo, "How it started vs How it’s going."

Now entering his 22nd NFL season, Brady won his first six Super Bowl rings with the New England Patriots. Brady will turn 44 on August 3.

The most surprising element of the Buccaneers' Super Bowl LV ring is a twist-off top that reveals a hand-engraved, three-dimensional replica of Raymond James Stadium. According to the team, those two features – the removable top and the stadium tableau – have never before been included in a Super Bowl ring. Both are meant to celebrate the 2020 Buccaneers becoming the first team ever to win the Super Bowl at their own home stadium.

(Unlike most other sports, the NFL picks its Super Bowl host cities years in advance. For instance, 2022 Super Bowl will take place at the Rams' home stadium in Inglewood, CA, and the 2023 Super Bowl is set for Cardinals' home stadium in Glendale, AZ)

The twist-off top has a number of neat elements. When the top is flipped upside down, the players can read a laser-etched inscription titled "HISTORIC," along with a description of the unusual home-field Super Bowl victory. In the interior of the ring, a single diamond is set on the handcrafted replica of Raymond James Stadium. That diamond represents the tunnel where Buccaneers players entered during Super Bowl LV. Around the top of the stadium on each of the four sides are displays of the four game scores from Tampa Bay’s postseason run – victories against the Washington Football Team, New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs.

“We knew that this ring had to be completely unique and representative of the special journey this team took to the championship,” said Buccaneers Co-owner Darcie Glazer Kassewitz. “We know it will be an emotional touchstone for everyone involved for many, many years to come.”

On the top of the 14-karat yellow and white gold ring are two Lombardi Trophies – representing the franchise’s two Super Bowl Championships – and the team’s signature flag logo, carved from a red stone. The 319 diamonds represent the 31-9 final score in Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl LV victory. The total weight of the diamonds is 15 carats.

Above and below the trophies are the words “World Champions,” which are diamond encrusted. Those two words are connected along the edge of each side by eight baguette-shaped diamonds, representing the franchise-record eight-game winning streak to end the season.

The Buccaneers chose celebrity jeweler Jason of Beverly Hills to design the Super Bowl rings.

“Super Bowl rings are known for being the biggest and having the most carat weight, but eventually you can’t go bigger, and you have to go better,” said Jason Arasheben, CEO of Jason of Beverly Hills. “Defying NFL tradition, the Buccaneers commissioned us to redefine what an NFL Super Bowl ring looks like. Our team did a tremendous job pushing the limits of design and incorporating several key storylines from the season into this ring. I am beyond proud.”

The left side of the ring displays each individual’s name, the jersey number and the team’s motto, “One Team, One Cause.”

The right side features the Buccaneers logo and the Super Bowl LV logo, flanked by the score of the game, with 2020 – representing the season – listed below. The four diamonds on the Super Bowl Trophy represent the team’s four playoff wins. The final feature is found inside the band, where the phrase “Trust, Loyalty, Respect” is inscribed.

Credits: Ring images courtesy of Jason of Beverly Hills. Tom Brady image via Twitter / TomBrady.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Music Friday: Shawn Colvin Finds Her Voice in 1989's 'Diamond in the Rough'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, Grammy Award-winning Shawn Colvin overcomes self-doubt and finds her voice in the 1989 autobiographical release, "Diamond in the Rough."

Colvin uses jewelry and diamond imagery to describe an epiphany moment when she regained the confidence to pursue a music career.

Colvin begins the song by describing herself as an upbeat, self-assured, ambitious youngster.

She sings, "As a little girl I came down to the water / With a little stone in my hand / It would shimmer and sing / And we knew everything / As a little girl I came down."

But then self-doubt set in and Colvin's dreams became shrouded in darkness and despair.

She sings, "Heaven only knows what went wrong / There is nothing so cruel than / to bury that jewel / When it was mine all along / I'm gonna find it."

In the end, she finds her voice and achieves her dream of becoming a successful singer/songwriter. She compares that dream to a diamond in the rough: "You're shining I can see you / You're smiling that's enough / I'm holding on to you / Like a diamond in the rough"

Written by Colvin and John Leventhal, "Diamond in the Rough" appeared at the second track of Colvin's debut studio album, Steady On.

"Diamond in the Rough" also became the title of the artist's painfully honest 2012 memoir, in which she recounts her bouts of self-doubt and depression.

Born in Vermillion, SD, in 1956, Colvin learned to play the guitar at the age of 10 and honed her vocal skills as a member of her church's choir. She performed in all of her school's musicals and started singing in clubs as an 18 year old. As a college student performing at bars near Southern Illinois University, Colvin would earn $30 for four 45-minute sets.

After moving to New York City and performing in off-Broadway shows, Colvin was featured in Fast Folk magazine, which led to a gig singing backup on the song "Luka" by Suzanne Vega. Colvin toured with Vega, opening the door for a contract with Columbia Records.

Colvin is best known for her 1997 smash hit, "Sunny Came Home," which won the 1998 Grammy Awards for both Song and Record of the Year.

The artist will be starting a coast-to-coast, eight-month tour on September 29, with appearances in 25 states.

Please check out Colvin's live performance of "Diamond in the Rough." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along…

"Diamond in the Rough"
Written by Shawn Colvin and John Leventhal. Performed by Shawn Colvin.

As a little girl I came down to the water
With a little stone in my hand
It would shimmer and sing
And we knew everything
As a little girl I came down

But in a little while I got steeped in authority
Heaven only knows what went wrong
There is nothing so cruel than
to bury that jewel
When it was mine all along
I'm gonna find it

You're shining I can see you
You're smiling that's enough
I'm holding on to you
Like a diamond in the rough

Every now and then
I can see that I'm getting somewhere
Where I have to go is so deep
I was angry back then and you
know I still am
I have lost too much sleep
But I'm gonna find it

You're shining I can see you
You're smiling that's enough
I'm holding on to you
Like a diamond in the rough
Like a diamond in the rough

In my dreams I go down by the water
With a little girl in my arms
And we shimmer and sing
And we know everything
In my dreams I go down

You're shining I can see you
You're smiling that's enough
I'm holding on to you
Like a diamond in the rough
Like a diamond in the rough

Credit: Screen capture via / eTown.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Jewelers Love to Work With Beautiful Diamonds, Scientists Prefer Ugly Ones: Here's Why

A gem-quality, flawless diamond is made from pure lattices of carbon. This elemental purity contributes to a diamond's unrivaled brilliance when set in fine jewelry, but offers little information about its age or origin.

Imperfect diamonds, on the other hand, can harbor tiny pockets of complex fluids that reveal the history of how they evolved. So, when Yaakov Weiss, an adjunct scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, needed 10 diamonds to study, he asked De Beers for some sad-looking specimens. The uglier, the better.

"We like the ones that no one else really wants," said Weiss.

Specifically, he was looking for fibrous, dirty-looking specimens containing solid or liquid impurities that disqualify them as jewelry, but provide a trove of valuable chemical information for scientists.

By studying the ugly diamonds, Weiss and his team have devised a way to solve two longstanding puzzles: the ages of individual fluid-bearing diamonds, and the chemistry of their parent material.

"It opens a window, well, let's say, even a door, to some of the really big questions" about the evolution of the deep earth and the continents, said Weiss, the lead author of the study and senior lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "This is the first time we can get reliable ages for these fluids."

The findings were recently published in the journal Nature Communications.

It is generally believed that most diamonds form 150 to 200 kilometers (93 to 124 miles) under the surface and are carried upwards by powerful volcanic eruptions called kimberlites.

Until now, most researchers have tried to determine the age of diamonds by concentrating on solid inclusions, such as tiny bits of garnet. But using solid inclusions as an indicator of age can be inaccurate because the inclusions may or may not have formed at the same time as the diamond itself.

Encapsulated fluids, on the other hand, are the "real thing," according to the study — the stuff from which the diamond itself formed.

Weiss and his colleagues found a way to date the fluids by measuring traces of radioactive thorium and uranium, and their ratios to helium-4, a rare isotope that results from their decay.

Based on this method, the team identified three distinct periods of diamond formation in South Africa, where all 10 specimens originated.

The team believes that the oldest specimens took form between 2.6 billion and 700 million years ago. Fluid inclusions from that time show a distinct composition extremely rich in carbonate minerals.

The next diamond-formation phase spanned a timeframe of 550 million to 300 million years ago. The liquid in these inclusions was high in silica minerals.

The most recent known phase took place between 130 million years and 85 million years ago, according to the researchers. The fluid composition in these specimens was high in saline compounds containing sodium and potassium.

This suggests that the carbon from which these diamonds formed did not come directly from the deep earth, but rather from an ocean floor that was dragged under a continental mass by subduction.

The scientists highlighted another intriguing find: At least one diamond encapsulated fluid from both the oldest and youngest eras. This shows that new layers can be added to old crystals, allowing individual diamonds to evolve over vast periods of time.

Weiss noted that his team's methods could be applied to specimens unearthed in other diamond-producing areas of the world, including Australia, Brazil, Canada and Russia. He said that the goal is to disentangle the deep histories of those regions and develop new insights into how continents evolve.

Credit: Image by Yaakov Weiss.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

TSA Officer Helps Reunite Honeymooners With Engagement Diamond Lost at JFK Airport

A long-delayed honeymoon to an exotic destination got off to a rocky start when a young couple lost their engagement diamond while going through security at JFK International Airport in New York City.

The Queens, NY, couple was excited to finally take off on their tropical honeymoon to Guam — a trip that had to be rebooked due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. The Durranis successfully passed through Terminal 7's security checkpoint and then stopped to get coffee on the way to their gate when the new bride realized her brand new diamond was missing from its setting.

“My wife was crying hysterically as we did not know what happened, nor did we know how to approach the situation,” Amir Khan Durrani wrote in an email to TSA.

Amir ran back to the security checkpoint and alerted the TSA officers of the missing diamond.

“Everyone was extremely kind and helped me as much as they could to locate the lost diamond,” he said. “Everyone present helped look for the diamond to no avail.”

The heartbroken couple boarded their international flight, wondering if they would ever see their engagement diamond again.

Long before they landed in Guam, an eagle-eyed TSA supervisor had already saved the day.

Standing at his supervisory podium at the Terminal 7 checkpoint, TSA Officer John Killian was surveying the flow of travelers moving through security when something caught his eye.

“That’s when I spotted the sparkle and thought to myself, ‘No way that could really be it.’ I walked over and picked it up.”

The stone was on the floor between the metal detector and the X-ray machine.

“The shine caught my eye,” he said. “I was like, ‘Wow, I just found this diamond!’”

By the time the Durranis landed (the flight to Guam requires a stop-over and takes nearly 24 hours), there was a text message and voice mail from the TSA.

The Durranis forwarded a photo of the engagement ring to the TSA at JFK, and the center stone matched the recovered diamond exactly.

“Our trip went from a chaotic moment to one at peace,” Durrani wrote in an email thanking the TSA team for their honesty and professionalism. “I would like to commend everyone and their efforts for finding our diamond and safekeeping it before our return back to New York. I want to mention deep down in my heart, that this moment put us in relief. I hope everyone understands how much this meant to my wife and me.”

Durrani specifically singled out Officer Killian.

“Thank you so much to all the staff present and especially to officer John Killian,” he wrote. “I might not ever meet you, but you had an impact on us at that moment and I will never forget it. I wish you all the best for your efforts and honesty.”

John Bambury, TSA’s Federal Security Director at JFK, noted that travelers often leave items behind at the security checkpoint, but this situation was much different.

“We frequently return a jacket, a Teddy bear or a set of keys that have been left at one of our checkpoints,” he said. “But returning a lost diamond will certainly be one we will always remember.”

Credits: Images courtesy of the TSA.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Music Friday: Sade Sings About a Jewel Box Life, Diamond Nights and Ruby Lights

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you spectacular songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, we feature the silky, soaring vocals of Grammy-award-winning Helen Folasade Adu, better known as Sade. In the original version of her 1984 hit, “Smooth Operator,” she employs all three Music Friday qualifiers to tell the story of a globetrotting playboy.

The original, longer version of the song features a spoken-word intro that includes the phrase, “Jewel box life, diamond nights and ruby lights.” Because the song ran about five minutes, many radio DJs chose to use the abbreviated version (about a minute shorter) that deletes the spoken lead-in and starts, instead, with the familiar instrumental saxophone solo and line, “Diamond life, lover boy.”

Later in the song, Sade uses a precious-metal metaphor: “A license to love, insurance to hold. Melts all your memories, change into gold.”

As the second single from Sade's debut studio album, Diamond Life, “Smooth Operator” became her biggest U.S. hit, topping out at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #1 on the Billboard US Adult Contemporary chart. It was also an international sensation, charting in 14 countries. Diamond Life would go on to sell more than 10 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums of the 1980s.

Born in Ibadan, Nigeria, Sade moved to Essex, England, to live with her grandmother after her parents separated when she was four years old. She took a three-year course in fashion design at London's Saint Martin's School of Art and modeled briefly before joining a band called Pride as a backup singer.

Within a short time, she was offered the opportunity to perform her song, "Smooth Operator," which attracted the attention of record companies. She formed her own band called Sade and, in 1983, scored a recording contract with Epic Records. Just one year later, she would become an international sensation with the release of Diamond Life.

The 62-year-old singer-songwriter is one of the most successful female solo artists in British history, having sold more than 110 million albums worldwide. In 1986, Sade earned a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. In 2012, she took the 30th spot on VH1’s list of the 100 Greatest Women in Music.

Please check out the video of Sade's live performance of “Smooth Operator.” (Yes, it’s the preferred long version). The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.

“Smooth Operator”
Written by Sade Adu and Ray St. John. Performed by Sade.

He's laughing with another girl
And playing with another heart
Placing high stakes, making hearts ache
He's loved in seven languages
Jewel box life, diamond nights and ruby lights, high in the sky
Heaven help him, when he falls

Diamond life, lover boy
He move in space with minimum waste and maximum joy
City lights and business nights
When you require streetcar desire for higher heights

No place for beginners or sensitive hearts
When sentiment is left to chance
No place to be ending but somewhere to start

No need to ask
He's a smooth operator
Smooth operator, smooth operator
Smooth operator

Coast to coast, LA to Chicago, western male
Across the north and south, to Key Largo, love for sale

Face to face, each classic case
We shadow box and double cross
Yet need the chase

A license to love, insurance to hold
Melts all your memories and change into gold
His eyes are like angels but his heart is cold

No need to ask
He's a smooth operator
Smooth operator, smooth operator
Smooth operator

Coast to coast, LA to Chicago, western male
Across the north and south, to Key Largo, love for sale

Smooth operator, smooth operator
Smooth operator, smooth operator
Smooth operator, smooth operator
Smooth operator, smooth operator
Smooth operator, smooth operator

Credit: Photo by Thilo Parg, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.