Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Lady Gaga Wore the 128-Carat 'Tiffany Diamond' During a Post-Oscar Run to Taco Bell

On Friday, Lady Gaga dished the tasty 2019 Oscars backstory of how the $30 million, 128.54-carat "Tiffany Diamond" that she wore during the awards ceremony remained on her neck during a Madonna-hosted afterparty — and a late-night excursion to Taco Bell.

During her virtual appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Gaga described the celebration after scoring her first Oscar for Best Original Song.

“I didn’t know what was going to happen that night — I was just so happy to be there,” the 34-year-old singer-actress told the host. “My sister and I were barreling through champagne backstage, and when we left, I didn’t tell anyone, and I still had the diamond on.”

The extraordinary cushion-cut sparkler, which normally resides on the main floor of Tiffany’s Fifth Avenue flagship store, has been worn by only three women during its 143-year history. The fancy yellow diamond made its first public appearance on the neck of Mrs. E. Sheldon Whitehouse at the 1957 Tiffany Ball. Actress Audrey Hepburn famously wore it in 1961 publicity posters for the motion picture Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

And, in February 2019, Gaga and The Tiffany Diamond turned heads at the 91st Academy Awards. Tiffany's security team was on hand throughout the evening to keep a watchful eye on the famous stone.

“Everyone freaked out that I was still wearing [the necklace],” Gaga said. “When I went to Madonna's house, security guards were side-eyeing me."

Gaga was finally separated from the mammoth diamond when she and her entourage sought a late-night snack at a fast-food drive-thru.

“When we were heading to Taco Bell, my car was pulled over and Tiffany's security politely removed [the necklace] from my neck,” Gaga said.

The 128.54-carat yellow diamond was cut from a 287.42-carat rough stone discovered in the Kimberley diamond mines of South Africa in 1877 and acquired the following year by Tiffany’s founder, Charles Lewis Tiffany.

The rough stone was brought to Paris, where Tiffany’s chief gemologist, Dr. George Frederick Kunz, supervised the cutting of the diamond into a cushion-shape brilliant with an unprecedented 82 facets — 24 more facets than the traditional 58-facet brilliant cut. The stone measures slightly more than an inch across.

In 1961, the diamond was set in a ribbon rosette necklace to promote Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In 1995, it was part of a brooch called Bird on a Rock, which was exhibited at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

The Tiffany Diamond necklace worn by Gaga was designed in 2012 to mark Tiffany’s 175 anniversary celebration. The platinum necklace features an openwork motif of sun rays glistening with 481 diamonds totaling more than 100 carats.

Credits: Academy Awards screen capture via YouTube.com/ABC; Bird on a Rock image by Shipguy [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, June 01, 2020

12-Carat Blue Diamond Headlines Christie's First Live Auction Since Outbreak

A marquise-cut, 12.11-carat, fancy intense blue diamond will be headlining Christie's first live auction since the COVID-19 outbreak. The internally flawless diamond is expected to fetch between $8.3 million and $12.2 million at Christie's Hong Kong on July 10, with previews running from July 4-7.

Flanked by two side stones and set on a diamond band, the stunning blue diamond is secured by six yellow gold prongs.

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

The Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels sale, which had originally been slated for June 2, signals a return to some normalcy for the famous auction house. Christie's had been promoting online auctions as a substitute for its high-profile onsite events.

In an article titled, “10 Jewels That Made History — and Changed the Market,” Christie's highlighted a 28.86-carat, emerald-cut diamond that will be offered at its Jewels Online sale, June 16-30. The D-color gem carries a high estimate of $2 million and is being touted as the highest-valued lot ever offered for sale online at Christie’s.

July's live auction will include four other high-profile lots...

• Posted with a high estimate of $1.2 million is a 6.06-carat ruby and diamond ring. The ruby is of Burmese origin and boasts the highly desirable "pigeon's blood" color. Surrounding the center stone are eight oval white diamonds and smaller pink stone accents.

• An exceptional jadeite bangle is expected to sell in the range of $1 million to $1.5 million.

• Two Kashmir sapphires are the stars of a diamond necklace that could yield as much as $1 million. The sapphires weigh 12.81 carats and 6.50 carats, respectively.

• These jadeite hoop and ruby earrings carry a high estimate of $748,000.

Credits: Images courtesy of Christie's.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Music Friday: Katy Perry's 2010 Ballad Urges Young Women to Shine Like a 'Pearl'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, pop star Katy Perry encourages young women to aspire to greatness in her 2010 ballad, "Pearl."

On her YouTube channel, Perry explained that "Pearl" is a song she wrote for anyone who's been held down — by friends, or relationships or family members.

"[The song] talks about a girl who used to be a pearl, and how she became a shell of herself," said Perry. "She let this person rule her world and she's kind of a skeleton now. Her rainbow is a flat shade of grey."

She added, "It's a really important message to send to be confident in who you are and your relationships. And to love yourself most importantly before anybody else loves you."

Perry sings, "Oh, she used to be a pearl / Yeah, she used to rule the world / Can't believe she's become a shell of herself / 'Cause she used to be a pearl."

Written by Perry, Greg Wells and Tricky Stewart, "Pearl" was the last song added to Perry's chart-topping Teenage Dream album.

Perry told MTV News that she felt that the nearly completed Teenage Dream was missing something, so she and her writing partners added one more tune that completed her album in just the right way.

"And it was kind of just like, 'All right, now I have this crown, and I have all these jewels, and I can put these little jewels into the crown, and I feel like it's a complete presentation, something I'm really proud of.'"

Teenage Dream was a tremendous success, charting in 28 countries, including #1 on the US Billboard 200 album chart and #1 on the Canadian Albums Chart. The album and its singles earned Perry seven Grammy Award nominations, including Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Album and Record of the Year.

Born Katheryn Elizabeth “Katy” Hudson in Santa Barbara, Calif., the singer changed her name in the early 2000s so she wouldn’t be confused with actress Kate Hudson. The daughter of Christian pastor parents, Perry grew up singing in a church choir, where she developed an affection for gospel music. Perry was dropped by two record labels before going on to sign with Capitol Music Group in 2007.

Over the past decade, the 35-year-old Perry has become one of the most successful musical artists of all time, having sold more than 18 million albums and 125 million singles globally.

Trivia: Perry's "Pearl" may have been inspired by her "wonderful" paternal grandmother, Ann Pearl Hudson, who sadly passed away in March at the age of 99.

"When my fighter spirit comes out, that’s Ann," Perry wrote in an Instagram tribute.

Please check out the audio track of “Pearl.” The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Pearl"
Written by Katy Perry, Greg Wells and Tricky Stewart. Performed by Katy Perry.

She is a pyramid
But with him she's just a grain of sand
This love's too strong like mice and men
Squeezing out the life that should be let in

She was a hurricane (-cane, -cane, -cane)
But now she's just a gust of wind
She used to set the sails of a thousand ships
Was a force to be reckoned with

She could be a Statue of Liberty
She could be a Joan of Arc
But he's scared of the light that's inside of her
So he keeps her in the dark

Oh, she used to be a pearl
Yeah, she used to rule the world
Can't believe she's become a shell of herself
'Cause she used to be a pearl

She was unstoppable
Moved fast just like an avalanche
But now she's stuck deep in cement
Wishing that they'd never ever met

She could be a Statue of Liberty
She could be a Joan of Arc
But he's scared of the light that's inside of her
So he keeps her in the dark

Oh, she used to be a pearl
Yeah, she used to rule the world
Can't believe she's become a shell of herself
'Cause she used to be a—

Do you know that there's a way out,
There's a way out
There's a way out
There's a way out?

You don't have to be held down,
Be held down
Be held down
Be held down

'Cause I used to be a shell
Yeah, I let him rule my world, my world

But I woke up and grew strong
And I can still go on
And no one can take my pearl

You don't have to be a shell, no
You're the one that rules your world, oh
You are strong
And you'll learn that you can still go on

And you'll always be a—a pearl

She is unstoppable

Credit: Image by nikotransmission from Sammamish, WA, USAuploaded by C.Jonel / CC BY

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Dream Continues: Popular Crater of Diamonds Park Reopens in Murfreesboro

Reservations were limited and visitors needed to bring their own tools, but the good news is that Arkansas' field of dreams — the Crater of Diamonds State Park — reopened on Friday, May 22, just in time for the Memorial Day weekend.

The 37½-acre search field in Murfreesboro is actually the eroded surface of an ancient diamond-bearing kimberlite pipe. Treasure hunters test their luck at the only diamond site in the world that's open to the general public.

More than 29,000 diamonds have been found in the crater since it became a state park in 1972.

“We are pleased to be able to welcome people back to search for diamonds at the Crater of Diamonds just in time for the Memorial Day weekend,” said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. “It is one of the most popular destinations in our system of state parks, and we have had many questions from people who are anxious to again have the opportunity to find and keep their very own gem.”

Due to health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the popular tourist destination will be limiting attendance and enforcing some restrictions.

The number of daily visitors has been capped at 500, and all of those tickets may be booked online. Be sure to check this site for ticket availability. It's very likely that the daily tickets will be sold-out and walk-up tickets will be unavailable.

Visitors are encouraged to bring their own diamond mining tools, because there are no rentals at this time. Even though prospectors have found plenty of gems on top of the soil, most diamond hunters like to do a little digging. They use a range of simple tools, from small flowerbed trowels to full-size shovels. Some bring their own sifting screens.

The park staff provides complementary identification and registration of diamonds found at the park.

Face coverings will be required for all persons present in the Visitor Center, Diamond Discovery Center, North & South Sluice Pavilions and all four sun shelters. Children under the age of 10 are not required to wear face coverings. Hand sanitizer will be available for guests in the Visitor Center.

To keep a safe distance in the search field, guests/associated groups will be asked to keep a 12-foot distance between other guests/associated groups, unless they are wearing face coverings.

The mining area is now open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Visitor Center closes at 5 p.m. Ticket prices are $10 for adults, $6 for children 6-12, and kids under 6 get to search for free.

In an average year, amateur diamond hunters will find more than 600 diamonds in all sizes, colors and grades.

In 1990, Shirley Strawn discovered a 3.03-carat diamond near the East Drain section of the park. That rough gem was transformed into a world-class, 1.09-carat round brilliant-cut sparkler, and became the first diamond from the Arkansas state park to earn a perfect grade of “Triple Zero” (Ideal cut/D color/Flawless) from the American Gem Society.

The find was so momentous that the State of Arkansas purchased the diamond, now known as the “Strawn-Wagner” diamond, for $34,700 and made it the centerpiece of the park’s special exhibit. There’s even a prominent marker in the East Drain section of the park to show exactly where it was found.

Credits: Photos courtesy of Arkansas State Parks.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Nationals' 2019 World Series Rings Feature 257 Gemstones and One Baby Shark

The Washington Nationals unveiled the design of their 2019 World Series rings during a video presentation on Sunday night. Featuring 257 gemstones weighing a total of 23.20 carats, the 14-karat white and yellow gold rings document the team's unlikely road to the championship after starting the season with a 19-31 record.

The team had been enduring a miserable slump when outfielder Gerardo Parra chose "Baby Shark" as his walk-up song. Parra picked the popular children's song because his two-year-old daughter loved it, and so did the fans. The adorable tune — "Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo"— had a way of galvanizing the energy in the stadium and the players used that energy to finish the season 96-69.

As a nod to the song that helped to turn their season around, the Nationals asked ring designer Jostens to include a baby shark holding a yellow gold trophy on the inside of the band. To the right of the shark are the team logos of each of the opponents the Nationals defeated during their postseason journey, along with the results of each series.

The rest of the ring is brimming with symbolism, as well.

The ring top features the team's "W" logo, crafted from 30 custom-cut genuine rubies framed in yellow gold. The number 30 was chosen because that's how many runs the team scored in the four World Series games in which they were victorious.

The logo overlays a ground of 58 pavé-set diamonds, and is circled with the words WORLD CHAMPIONS and 32 custom-cut genuine sapphires. The  number 32 represents the sum total of the team's 2019 walk-off wins (7), shutout wins (13), longest winning streak (8 games), and playoff rounds won (4).

An additional 108 diamonds are featured along the ring top, representing the number of regular season and postseason wins (105), plus one diamond for the World Series Championship, and an additional two diamonds as a nod to the duality of the franchise's history. The Washington Nationals originated as the Montréal Expos. The top and bottom edges of the ring top each feature 12 princess-cut rubies, representing the total number of postseason wins.

On the left side of the ring in raised yellow gold is the player's name. Beneath the player name, also in yellow gold, is the nation's flag waving majestically, along with the 2019 championship year date.

In the foreground, in contrasting white gold, are some of the U.S. capitol's most iconic buildings and monuments, including the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Capitol building and Jefferson Memorial. The bottom of the ring's left side serves to display the player's number, set in diamonds.

During the postseason, the team's motto was "Stay in the fight." The evolution of that motto is featured on the right side of the ring: "Fight Finished." Below, the stripes of the American flag fill the sky above Nationals Park behind the coveted Commissioner's Trophy, complete with the Nationals wordmark logo.

Also appearing on the right side are four diamonds set upon a star base, as well as a custom-cut, star-shaped ruby. The five stars represent the incredible five elimination games won by the Nationals in the postseason. The four diamonds on the stars represent the four previous National League East titles earned by the Nationals, while the red star signifies their World Series Championship.

The team's mantra of "Go 1-0 Everyday," appears along the ring palm.

In all, the ring features 170 round diamonds (4.20 carats), 31 custom-cut rubies and 24 princess-cut rubies (7.25 carats) and 32 custom-cut genuine sapphires (11.75 carats).

The team voted to receive their rings when they can be physically united. The Nationals had originally planned to host a ring ceremony before the team's second home game on April 4, but the season has been delayed due to the coronavirus.

Credits: Images courtesy of Jostens.