Monday, February 24, 2020

Couples Spent an Average of $5,900 on Engagement Rings in 2019, Reports The Knot

Couples spent an average of $5,900 on their engagement rings in 2019, according to The Knot's 13th Annual Real Weddings Study. That amount reflected a budget increase of about 4% compared to 2018. The engagement ring continues to be the second-highest-priced item on the list of all wedding expenses (the venue is #1).

Overall, the average cost to host a wedding ceremony/reception in 2019 remained steady at $28,000, although expenditures varied widely by region. Couples in midwestern locales, such as Columbus ($23,500) and St. Louis ($24,000) reported wedding day costs below the $25,000 threshold, while their counterparts in large northeastern cities, such as Boston ($38,600), Washington, DC ($34,700) and Philadelphia ($34,300) reported day-of wedding costs that were significantly higher. The most expensive place in the U.S. to host a wedding in 2019 was Manhattan, where the average outlay was $83,000.

More than half (51%) of survey respondents said they married someone with a different background (race, religion, ethnicity or geographic location). Many of these couples embraced that diversity by asking their wedding planners, DJs or other wedding professionals to find interesting ways to fuse their respective traditions into the celebration.

From Guatemalan coffee to Chinese-crafted candy boxes, many couples selected wedding favors that reflected something unique about them (Nearly 6 in 10 said they distributed party favors).

While couples continued to embrace long-standing wedding traditions, such as the first dance (90%) and cutting the cake (82%), they also continued to break new ground. The concept of couples writing their own vows is now embraced by 44%.

Exactly 72% of those surveyed said their top priority was ensuring their guests were taken care of and had a good time. Besides the expected food, drink and music, nearly half of all couples provided fun entertainment and activities, such as photo booths, cigar-rolling stations and craft margarita bars, to name a few.

Here are some other highlights from The Knot's 2019 Real Wedding Study...

• Average length of an engagement: 15 months (up from 13.6 months in 2018)
• Average marrying age: 32 years (up from bride, 29.1, and groom, 30.5, in 2018)
• Most popular color: dark blue (this color was second to ivory/champagne in 2018)
• Average guest count: 131 (down from 136 in 2018)
• Percentage that have a destination wedding: 21% (down from 23% in 2018)

The Knot's 13th Annual Real Weddings Study reflects the experiences of nearly 27,000 couples married in 2019.

Credit: Image by Bigstockphoto.com.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Music Friday: Marty Raybon Tells the Story of a Young Couple's 'Cracker Jack Diamond'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, country music artist Marty Raybon tells the story of how a trivial prize in a box of caramel corn became a powerful symbol of a couple's eternal love.

In "Cracker Jack Diamond," Raybon describes a summer scene in a rural town, where a 14-year-old boy is trying to earn a few bucks by mowing lawns. The young man happens upon a property where the weeds are tall, and on the porch is a young girl eating ice cream. Instantly smitten, the young man digs into the pocket of his grass-stained jeans and pulls out some week-old caramel corn and a plastic ring. He places the ring on her finger and she is delighted.

Raybon sings, "Just like a Cracker Jack Diamond / You never know when your gonna find one / They found love from that day on / The hand of fate put them together / Their hearts will stay forever young / Like a Cracker Jack Diamond."

Five years later, the young man — now 19 years old — has saved up enough money to pay for the preacher and a diamond ring. He takes his girlfriend to the same porch where they met and she accepts his marriage proposal.

Later in the song, the couple is now elderly, but the woman still has a fondness for the Cracker Jack Diamond.

Raybon sings, "Once a year she takes it out but it don't fit her hand / She wears it in her heart / That's where it all began."

(For more than a century, Cracker Jack fans, young and old, have been excited to find the prize buried in their box of caramel corn. Over time, these prizes have included plastic figurines, booklets, stickers, temporary tattoos and... rings.)

"Cracker Jack Diamond" was released in 2000 and appeared on the artist's solo album titled, Marty Raybon (2000). The song reached #63 on U.S. Billboard Country chart.

Raybon is best known as the frontman and lead singer for the country band Shenandoah, which he founded in Muscle Shoals, Ala., in 1984. In 1997, he left the band to pursue a solo career, but rejoined Shenandoah in 2014. Raybon, now 60, continues to tour actively. The band will be making appearances in Nashville, Tenn.; Milwaukee, Wisc.; Vero Beach, Fla.; Annapolis, Md.; Granger, Texas; Greenville, Texas; Indio, Calif.; Dunlap, Tenn.; Fort Myers, Fla.; and Fulton, Mo.

Billed as Shenandoah Featuring Marty Raybon, the band has released nine studio albums and charted 26 singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

Trivia: Cracker Jack was introduced in 1896 with the slogan, "The More You Eat The More You Want."

Please check out the video of Raybon's performance of "Cracker Jack Diamond." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Cracker Jack Diamond"
Written by Ronny Scaife and Neil Thrasher. Performed by Marty Raybon.

Well he spent that summer walkin' door to door
With a can of gas and an ol' lawn mower
That's a sure fire way to make a buck when you're 14

Well he walked the block with no luck at all
Then he spotted a place where the weeds were tall
With a young girl sitting on the front porch eating' ice cream

Deep in the pocket of his grass stained jeans
Was some caramel corn and a plastic ring
Leftover from the week before
Momma didn't wash them thank the lord

Just like a Cracker Jack Diamond,
You never know when your gonna find one
They found love from that day on
The hand of fate put them together,
Their hearts will stay forever young
Like a Cracker Jack Diamond

Well it's been five years since he gave her his prize
Now the sparkle's gone, but not in their eyes
And he's wanting to tell her what's been on his mind lately

He said, girl I ain't rich but I've been saving up
A little ever day 'til I had enough
Before he could finished she said, you know I will baby

Deep in the pocket of his holey jeans
Was money for the preacher and a diamond ring
He took her back to that old front porch
Slipped it on her finger and he thanked the Lord

Just like a Cracker Jack Diamond,
You never know when your gonna find one
They found love from that day on
The hand of fate put them together,
Their hearts will stay forever young
Like a Cracker Jack Diamond

Once a year she takes it out but it don't fit her hand
She wears it in her heart
That's where it all began

Just like a Cracker Jack Diamond,
You never know when your gonna find one
They found love from that day on
The hand of fate put them together,
Their hearts will stay forever young
Like a Cracker Jack Diamond...

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Soft Drink Giant Is Giving Away an Engagement Diamond Lab-Grown From Crystal Pepsi

The 1.53-carat diamond at the center of Pepsi's Engagement Ring Giveaway was formed in a lab with carbon derived from its short-lived spinoff, Crystal Pepsi.

Soft-drink fans may remember that Pepsi tested the crystal clear version of its ubiquitous carbonated beverage in 1992, and then pulled the plug on the nationwide rollout a year later. Crystal Pepsi (basically regular Pepsi without the caramel coloring) was revived in limited releases from 2015 through 2018.

For this promotion, the folks from Pepsi claim to have boiled down Crystal Pepsi "to its most basic carbon form," resulting in a powder that was used to create a lab-grown diamond.

Set in platinum, the truly one-of-a-kind round brilliant-cut diamond will soon adorn the left hand of the contest winner's significant other, just in time for National Proposal Day, which takes place on March 20. Pepsi says the ring is valued at $3,000.

On Pepsi's official Twitter page, the company wrote: "Propose how you’d propose for a chance to do it with The Pepsi Engagement Ring - the only ring made with real Crystal Pepsi. Really."

Contestants must tweet their proposal, along with up to four photos and one 30-second video, using the Twitter handle @Pepsi, and the hashtags #PepsiProposal and #Contest.

The winner will be chosen by a panel of judges based on originality, quality and marketability appeal.

“How do you make your passion clear to the one you love most?” the company stated in a 34-second promotional video that was posted to Twitter. “You could propose with the thing you love most: Pepsi.”

The romantic clip, which features newly engaged couples, ends with a closeup of the Crystal Pepsi rock and the tagline, “A ring with taste.”

The contest runs through March 6 and a winner will be selected during the week of March 16.

Credit: Image courtesy of Pepsi.

Monday, February 17, 2020

172-Carat Parallelogram-Shaped Amethyst With 'Staircase Cut' Resides at Smithsonian

One of the world’s most unusual examples of February’s birthstone is this 172.23-carat parallelogram-shaped amethyst that boasts a fancy "staircase cut" on the pavilion. (That's the slanted lower portion of the gem just below the girdle).

Sourced at Hallelujah Junction, Nev., just 30 miles north of Reno, this impressive stone is the first from that locality to join the National Gem Collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

The Smithsonian's mineral and gem collection consists of approximately 350,000 mineral specimens and 10,000 gems, making it one of the largest of its kind in the world.

While amethysts traditionally have been sourced in Brazil, Uruguay, Zambia, Mexico, Italy and Germany, the U.S. and Canada are also credited with producing some of the finest-quality purple stones.

Amethyst is the most coveted variety of quartz, which is clear in its pure state. Amethyst gets is purple color from a few atoms of iron displacing some of the silicon in the gem’s molecular structure. These traces of iron can give amethyst a wide range of colors, from almost white to deep purple.

Coveted for thousands of years, Amethyst is one of the oldest recorded gemstones. They’ve been recovered from ancient Egyptian tombs and were prized by the Greeks, Romans, Babylonians and Hebrews.

Amethyst gets its name from the Greek word “amethystos,” which literally means “not to intoxicate.” Apparently, the Greeks believed amethyst could reverse the effects of drunkenness. Medieval soldiers wore amethyst to protect themselves in battle. Other cultures believed February’s birthstone would bring good fortune, inspire their intellect, heal their illnesses or bolster their immune systems.

The color rating of an amethyst is determined by its hue, tone and saturation. Hue is the color; tone is relative lightness or darkness of the color; and saturation relates to the color’s intensity, from dull to vivid.

Credit: Photo by Greg Polley / Smithsonian.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Music Friday: Nissan Ad Boosts Exposure of 'Gold,' Andreya Triana's 2015 Release

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Andreya Triana's 2015 release, "Gold," gets a big boost when Nissan features the song in its commercial for the 2020 Versa.

In this tune about learning to appreciate the simple things in life, Triana finally opens her eyes and is fascinated by the beauty of the world around her.

She sings, "It all feels like gold, gold to me / It might not be diamonds, but it shines for me / It all feels like gold, gold to me / It ain't lost in silence, it's all good to me."

Although "Gold" was originally released on Triana's second studio album, Giants, in 2015, the song got a big boost more than four years later when Nissan used the track in its 60 second commercial for the 2020 Versa. The car's tagline states, "This is tech for a world that never stops."

In the commercial titled "Good Morning, Goodnight," we are introduced to a successful, modern millennial couple making the most of their conflicting work schedules. It's not a diamond-level lifestyle, but it's still gold to them.

The opening scene shows a young medical professional finishing up his shift at 5 a.m. at a local hospital. At the same time, his significant other is waking up to an alarm clock to start her busy day. She gets ready for a pre-dawn jog and adjusts her headphones. He gets into his Nissan Versa and plays his favorite tune. Both the guy and gal are listening to Triana's "Gold." As he arrives home, she is dressed for work and waiting on the driveway. They exchange a warm hug and he says, "Good morning." She says, "Bye." He hands her the keys to the Versa and off she goes.

Hailing from South East London, Triana honed her singing talent by doing open-mike nights as a 17-year-old. In 2006, she earned a coveted spot at the Red Bull Music Academy in Australia, where she developed her improvisational styling and made connections with top producers and musicians. In 2010, she released her debut album, Lost Where I Belong.

The artist will be touring the UK throughout March.

Please check out the videos of Triana performing "Gold." The first is the Nissan Versa commercial, and the second features the full track. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Gold"
Written by Dee Adam, Alex "Cores" Hayes, Andreya Triana and Hannah Vasanth. Performed by Andreya Triana.

Lord only knows this heart is free
A brand new day is at my feet
Now sing it low, low and sweet
I give it more soul, I give it all of me

It all feels like gold, gold to me
It might not be diamonds, but it shines for me
It all feels like gold, gold to me
It ain't lost in silence, it's all good to me
Sing it
Yeah, yeah, gold
Yeah, yeah

Simple things that light me up
What a beautiful world, and I see the love
And everything, and everyone
When I'm digging softly
Oh the time will come

It all feels like gold, gold to me
It might not be diamonds, but it shines for me
It all feels like gold, gold to me
It ain't lost in silence, it's all good to mev Sing it
Yeah, yeah, gold
Yeah, yeah

Open my eyes, I see there's so much beauty
There's so much more then I ever believed
Hard touching the sky when the angels keep falling
And it's all good to me, it's all good to me

It all feels like gold, gold to me
It might not be diamonds, but it shines for me
It all feels like gold, gold to me
It ain't lost in silence, it's all good to me
Sing it
Yeah, yeah, gold
Yeah, yeah, gold

It all feels like gold, gold to me (Yeah, yeah)
It ain't lost in silence, it's all good to me (Yeah, yeah, gold)
It all feels like gold, all gold to me (Yeah, yeah)
It ain't lost in silence, it's all good to me (Yeah, yeah, gold)
It's all good to me

All good to me
All good to me
So good to me

The 2020 Nissan Versa commercial here...

Full audio track here...


Credit: Image by NathanCroftonBond [CC BY-SA].