Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Blackened Wedding Ring Pulled From the Ashes Inspires Wildfire Survivor to Propose All Over Again

A blackened wedding ring recovered from the ashes of their lost home symbolizes a new beginning for Southern California wildfire survivors Julie and Don Myers.

The Ventura County couple was forced to flee their home when the fast-moving, wind-whipped fires tore through their neighborhood.

When fire officials allowed them to return to their property, Julie and Don found their home and all their possessions reduced to a smoldering heap of ash and rubble.

The couple did maintain one glimmer of hope, however. Somewhere in the rubble was a fire safe that contained a few important possessions, including Julie's original wedding ring. Don had given her a new ring to commemorate their 25th anniversary and the original ring had been put away for safekeeping.

After sifting through the ashes with the assistance of local firefighters, Don was able to find the safe. Everything in the safe was "unrecognizable," according to Julie, except for her slightly charred ring.

"It was truly amazing that he found it, I thought we had lost it forever," Julie told GoodHousekeeping.com.

In a spontaneous expression of his love, Don got down on one knee and used the original ring to propose to Julie all over again.

The ring represents a fresh start for the couple — a symbol of their resilience and a brighter future.

How the ring survived in the fire safe has a lot to do with the temperature of the wildfire blaze and the performance of the safe. Although the blaze was likely as hot as 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit, an average fire safe can protect its contents up to a temperature of 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit.

Even without the safe, the gold and diamond ring may have survived because the melting point of the precious metal is about 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit and the ignition temperature of a diamond is about 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit. (Yes, diamonds can burn.)

The Thomas Fire that destroyed the Myers' home is one of six fires that have consumed 1,000 structures in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. The footprint of the fires is larger than the cities of New York and Boston combined, reported CNN.

Credits: Images by Julie Myers.

Monday, December 11, 2017

'Ultra Violet' Is Pantone's 2018 Color of the Year and We're Excited by the Possibilities

"Ultra Violet" is Pantone's 2018 Color of the Year and we're excited by the possibilities. While Pantone says the vibrant color communicates originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking, we see the Color Institute's pick as a great reason to shine the spotlight on some of our favorite gemstones, including amethyst, tanzanite, iolite, spinel and violet sapphire.

We're expecting jewelry designers to pepper their 2018 lines with ultraviolet accessories to complement the arrival of ultraviolet fashions.

A fabulous representation of "Ultra Violet" is seen in the "Tiffany Amethyst Necklace," a piece that June Rosner and Russell Bilgore donated to the Smithsonian in 2007. The 56-carat square cushion-cut amethyst is set in an 18-karat yellow gold necklace designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, circa 1915.

Each year since 2000, the color experts at Pantone have picked a color that reflects the current cultural climate. Typically, Pantone’s selection influences the worlds of high fashion, beauty, housewares, home and industrial design and consumer packaging.

Pantone calls Ultra Violet a dramatically provocative and thoughtful shade of purple, suggesting the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead and the discoveries beyond where we are now. Pantone says Ultra Violet is nuanced and full of emotion. It's a color that symbolizes experimentation and non-conformity, spurring individuals to imagine their unique mark on the world and push boundaries through creative outlets.

Among the musical icons who used shades of ultraviolet to express their individuality were Prince, David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix, noted Pantone.

Ultra Violet also has a calmer, spiritual side. For example, purple-tone lighting has been used in meditation spaces because the color is said to have the ability to inspire connections. Ultraviolet is also said to offer a higher ground to those seeking refuge from today's overstimulated world.

“The Pantone Color of the Year has come to mean so much more than ‘what’s trending’ in the world of design," said Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute. "It’s truly a reflection of what’s needed in our world today.”

The process of choosing the annual color takes about nine months, with Pantone’s trend watchers scanning the globe’s fashion runways and high-profile events for “proof points” until one color emerges as the clear winner.

A year ago, Pantone's Color of the Year was "Greenery," a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring.

In 2016, Pantone blended two shades — Rose Quartz and Serenity Blue — to create its 2016 Color of the Year. Together, the mineral pink and tranquil blue combined to communicate a sense of wellness and peacefulness, with a dash of gender equality.

Here are the most recent Pantone Colors of the Year…

PANTONE 15-0343 Greenery (2017)
PANTONE 13-1520 Rose Quartz (2016)
PANTONE 15-3919 Serenity (2016)
PANTONE 18-1438 Marsala (2015)
PANTONE 18-3224 Radiant Orchid (2014)
PANTONE 17-5641 Emerald (2013)
PANTONE 17-1463 Tangerine Tango (2012)
PANTONE 18-2120 Honeysuckle (2011)
PANTONE 15-5519 Turquoise (2010)

Credits: Color of the Year images courtesy of Pantone. Tiffany Amethyst Necklace image by Chip Clark/Smithsonian.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Music Friday: Diamond Bracelet and Diamond Ring Top Ashanti's Holiday Wish List in 'Hey Santa'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you festive songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Ashanti tells jolly old St. Nick what she wants for Christmas in her 2003 holiday tune, "Hey Santa."

In the first verse, she asks for "something sweet," such as chocolate Kisses or candy canes. Then, Ashanti steps up her game in the second verse, as her request for "something new" includes a diamond bracelet or diamond ring.

(In a nod to the 1953 classic, "Santa Baby," Ashanti echos Eartha Kitt's call for a baby blue convertible.)

She sings, "Hey Santa, can you bring me something new / (Something new, something, something new)? / Like a diamond bracelet or a diamond ring / How about a shiny new, baby blue, convertible? / Hey Santa, can you bring me everything?"

Written by Ashanti and Irving Lorenzo, "Hey Santa" was released as the third track from Ashanti's Christmas. The album, which included an equal mix of original songs and covers of holiday classics, peaked at #43 on the Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Ashanti performed "Hey Santa" during the tree-lighting festivities at New York City's Rockefeller Center.

Born Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas in 1980, the singer-songwriter, record producer, dancer and actress is named after the 17th century Ashanti Empire, in what is now modern-day Ghana. In that kingdom, women held positions of power and influence, and Ashanti's mother believed the name might help inspire her daughter to achieve greatness.

That strategy seems to have worked to perfection, as Ashanti joined a gospel choir at the age of six and scored her first recording contract at the age of 14. The Glen Cove, N.Y., native won a Grammy Award in 2003 and went on to become the first female artist to occupy the top two positions on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart simultaneously with "Always on Time" and "What's Luv?" She has also nabbed eight Billboard Music Awards and two American Music Awards.

Please check out the audio track of Ashanti singing "Hey Santa." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Hey Santa"
Written by Ashanti Douglas and Irving Lorenzo. Performed by Ashanti.

Hey Santa, can you bring me something good
(Something good, something good)?
Hey Santa, can you bring me something sweet
(Something sweet, something, something sweet)?
Like chocolate kisses or candy canes.
Gumdrops or butterscotch, fruity flavor, chewy rings.

Hey Santa, can you bring me something nice
(Something nice, something nice)?
Hey Santa, can you bring me something new
(Something new, something, something new)?
Like a diamond bracelet or a diamond ring.
How about a shiny new, baby blue, convertible?
Hey Santa, can you bring me everything?

Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh?

Hey Santa, can I sing this song to you
(Sing to you, sing to you)?
Hey Santa, can you make my wish come true
(Make it true, make it, make it true)?
Can you fill my stocking with lots of treats?
Boxes with red and green, underneath the Christmas tree?
Hey Santa, can you bring me everything?

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

5.69-Carat Fancy Vivid Blue Diamond Fetches $15.1 Million at Sotheby's New York

A 5.69-carat fancy vivid blue diamond fetched $15.1 million at Sotheby's New York yesterday, making it the top lot of the day and advancing the narrative that aficionados are eager to pay top dollar for blue diamonds that carry the ultra-rare "fancy vivid" classification.

The hammer price, which is equivalent to $2.66 million per carat, came in slightly above the pre-sale high estimate of $15 million.

The emerald-cut gem, which is set in a platinum ring and flanked by two baguette-shaped diamonds, has a VVS1 clarity grade. The auction house pointed out that the stone — if recut — has the potential to be internally flawless.

"Fancy Vivid" is the ultimate color classification for blue diamonds. Those that display lower levels of color saturation may be rated "Fancy Intense," "Fancy," "Fancy Light" or "Light," according to the Gemological Institute of America. Blue diamonds owe their color to the presence of boron in the chemical makeup of the gem.

Back in May of this year, the “Oppenheimer Blue” — a 14.62-carat fancy vivid blue diamond — fetched an astounding $57.5 million at Christie’s Geneva. The Oppenheimer Blue’s per-carat price of $3.93 million came up just shy of the record of $4.03 million held by the 12.03-carat Blue Moon of Josephine, another magnificent blue diamond that sold for $48.5 million at Sotheby’s Geneva in November of 2015.

A second highlight of yesterday's Sotheby's auction was a sapphire-and-diamond bracelet by Van Cleef & Arpels. The piece carried a pre-sale estimate of $1 million to $1.5 million, but eventually yielded $3.16 million — more than double the high estimate. Designed circa 1935, the bracelet has five sugarloaf Ceylon cabochon sapphires weighing approximately 193.73 carats.

Among the disappointing lots were two that failed to meet Sotheby's reserve price and remained unsold. One was a 110.92-carat round diamond, which had been touted as the largest round diamond to be offered at auction. The diamond boasted a VS1 clarity, but an L color (faint brown). Another high-profile, unsold lot was a 5.24-carat, fancy intense orangy-pink diamond that was expected to sell in the range of $1.8 million to $2.2 million.

Credits: Images courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Diver Recovers 'Priceless' Engagement Ring From the Murky Depths of Lake Travis in Texas

A juicy hamburger served at the Gnarly Gar floating restaurant on Lake Travis in Texas nearly cost Hannah Austin her engagement ring last Sunday. The Colorado Springs native was enjoying a casual lunch with her family at the open-air eatery near Austin when she took off her "priceless" family heirloom and rested it on the table so it wouldn't get messy.

A moment later the unthinkable happened. Her husband, Chris, accidentally knocked the ring off the table and it disappeared through a gap in the decking.

When staffers of the Gnarly Gar removed a few planks to get a better view of where the ring may have landed, they realized that it narrowly missed the dock below and, instead, plopped directly into the lake.

“I was terrified and felt stupid for taking my ring off over a lake,” Hannah Austin told the Austin American-Statesman.

She added that the ring was "priceless" and "irreplaceable" because it was custom made with diamonds from her mother’s wedding ring and her great-grandmother’s engagement ring.

Restaurant staffers recommended that the Austins enlist the help of Robert Weiss, owner of Lake Travis Scuba. Just this year, Weiss and his team have recovered more than $100,000 worth of lost items, including pricey cell phones, sunglasses and jewelry.

When Weiss arrived on the scene, his first task was to drop a weighted line through the decking and into the lake. Because the ring is a solid, relatively heavy object, it should have descended straight to the bottom. Weiss dove into the lake and followed the line about 60 feet before it got so dark that he needed to use his search light. At this point, his visibility was only about five feet.

Weiss touched bottom at exactly 74 feet and started a search in ever-widening circles around the downline marker.

“On my third pass I saw something sitting in the mud and I reached in, and there it was,” he told the Austin American-Statesman.

It took him only 10 minutes to find the ring.

The astounding video, below, shows underwater footage of Weiss' impressive discovery, as well as his slow ascent to the surface, where he reunites the ring with an overwhelmed Hannah Austin.

"Hannah was overjoyed to be reunited with her wedding ring," Weiss said. "She fell to her knees crying."

“I thought there was a 90 percent chance it had got eaten by a fish or just drifted away,” said Hannah Austin.

“It was kind of like this miracle moment,” added Chris Austin.

The Austins of Colorado now have a wild story to tell about their trip to Lake Travis, which happens to be 22 miles from the capital city of Austin.

Hannah Austin also told local NBC-affiliate KXAN that she will never remove her engagement ring again, no matter how messy her meal gets.

Credits: Images courtesy of Robert Weiss, Lake Travis Scuba.