Friday, November 02, 2012

Music Friday: Long Islander Billy Joel Sings 'Lullabye'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you wonderful songs with jewelry, precious metals or gemstones in the title or lyrics. Today we honor Billy Joel, whose beloved Long Island is still struggling to recover from the devastation inflicted by super-hurricane Sandy. Many of Joel's songs refer to his childhood growing up in the working class town of Hicksville. Even as an adult, Joel still calls Long Island "home."

Joel will join Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Sting and Christina Aguilera in a benefit concert to aid the victims of the East Coast tragedy. Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together will be broadcast tonight at 8 p.m. EST on the NBC Universal family of channels. Proceeds from the live telethon will be donated to the American Red Cross, an organization providing shelter, food and other relief to those in the affected areas.

In keeping with our theme for Music Friday, we bring you "Lullabye," a heartfelt and beautiful composition inspired by Joel's daughter, Alexa Ray, who was only eight years old when the track was included in his "River of Dreams" album of 1993. Joel tells his daughter in the song, "Goodnight my angel now it's time to sleep. And still so many things I want to say. Remember all the songs you sang for me when we went sailing on an emerald bay."

The six-time Grammy Award winner and 23-time Grammy nominee is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has sold more than 150 million records worldwide.

If you have a little one in your household, please give him or her a big hug while sharing this wonderful song (see video below)... The lyrics are here if you'd like to sing along.

"Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)"

Music and lyrics by Billy Joel.

Goodnight my angel, time to close your eyes
And save these questions for another day
I think I know what you've been asking me
I think you know what I've been trying to say
I promised I would never leave you
Then you should always know
Wherever you may go, no matter where you are
I never will be far away

Goodnight my angel, now it's time to sleep
And still so many things I want to say
Remember all the songs you sang for me
When we went sailing on an emerald bay
And like a boat out on the ocean
I'm rocking you to sleep
The water's dark and deep, inside this ancient heart
You'll always be a part of me

Goodnight my angel, now it's time to dream
And dream how wonderful your life will be
Someday your child may cry, and if you sing this lullaby
Then in your heart there will always be a part of me
Someday we'll all be gone
But lullabies go on and on
They never die
That's how you and I will be

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Largest Faceted Gemstones in the World Are Members of the Topaz Family

It's time to shine our spotlight on Topaz, November's official birthstone. Did you know that two of the most famous gemstones in the world are high-profile members of the topaz family?

The El-Dorado Topaz, which weighs a whopping 31,000 carats (13.67 lbs.) currently holds the crown as the largest faceted gemstone in the world. Originally discovered in 1984 in mineral-rich Minas Gerais, Brazil, the pre-cut El-Dorado crystal tipped the scales at a mind-boggling 81.57 lbs.

The extraordinary loss of more than 80 percent of its weight during processing was attributed to the subpar material that had to be removed in order to yield a finished product with a perfect emerald cut, good clarity and yellowish-brown color.

The El-Dorado Topaz is part of the Special Exhibitions Gem Collection of the Programa Royal Collections Group, based in Madrid, Spain.

The American Golden Topaz, which is housed in the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., is the world's third-largest faceted gemstone at 22,892.5 carats – that's a pinch more than 10 lbs. Cut by Leon Agee over a period of two years from a 26 lb. stream-rounded cobble, the final product has 172 facets and a brilliant honey-gold color. Like its larger cousin, El-Dorado, this gemstone was discovered in Minas Gerais.

Photo by ZakVTA

The El-Dorado and American Golden topazes are super-sized examples of the popular family of gemstones that can be seen in a wide array of warm colors, including brownish-yellow, orange-yellow and reddish brown.

In addition to Brazil, topaz is mined in Mexico, Sri Lanka, Africa and China. Topaz is a talisman for the sign of Sagittarius and is the suggested gift for the 19th, 23rd or 50th anniversary.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ultimate Case for the New iPad Mini Is Bedecked in 3,328 Blue Sapphires and 50 White Diamonds

Apple's newest sensation – the iPad Mini - goes on sale Friday, and for a mere $329 you can be one of the first on your block to own this powerful, pint-sized tablet computer.

For an extra $700,000 you can purchase the ultimate accessory for your new tech toy – an 18-karat white gold case bedecked in 3,328 natural Ceylon blue sapphires weighing a total of 599 carats. Emblazoned on the center of the case is the iconic Apple logo encrusted with 50 round white diamonds weighing an additional 5 carats.

The Natural Sapphire Company – the same firm that in August revealed a $100,000 gem-covered case for the iPhone 5 – will be happy to customize your shiny, new iPad Mini case. Perhaps a ruby-outlined monogram beneath the logo would suit you?

Making her case for the over-the-top accessory, a blogger for the Natural Sapphire Company posted the following: "Don’t be just another drone on your hour-long commute fitting snugly in with the steel grey of our technological society. Be different, be unique… be conspicuously and resplendently beautiful!!!

The new iPad Mini is Apple's answer to Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire. The Mini is 7.87 inches tall and 5.3 inches wide, compared with the full-size iPad, which is 9.5 inches by 7.31 inches. Despite its small size, the iPad Mini is a multifunctional powerhouse, as users will be able to take pictures, surf the Web, play videos, read books and listen to music on a super light, pancake thin, exquisitely designed device.

According to reports, Apple is so confident in the initial success of the iPad Mini that 10 million units are ready to ship.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Class Ring Lost in a Lake in 1962 Is Reunited With Stunned Owner; Woman's Daughter Will Wear the Ring at Her Wedding

Back in 1962, a high school senior named Donna was vacationing in central New Hampshire when she lost her brand new class ring in Lake Winnipesaukee. Fifty years later, the woman, now living in Florida, was miraculously reunited with her beloved keepsake, thanks to the relentless efforts of a diving enthusiast named Brad Swain, according to

Swain, then about 20 years old, had found the ring while snorkeling in the lake in the early 1960s. It was a yellow gold class ring with a vivid blue stone. The initials inside were "DRD" and the embossed words encircling the stone read, "Beverly High School."

The Glastonbury, Conn., native had made an attempt in the mid-1970s to track down the rightful owner, but was stonewalled by Beverly High School (Mass.) officials who refused to release private information to an "unknown person." So the petite ring remained safely in Swain's possession for the next three-plus decades.

With the Beverly High Class of 1962 celebrating a milestone 50-year reunion in August, Swain, now 68, thought it would be a good idea to make one more attempt to find "DRD."

"I said to myself, 'Wouldn't it be neat to get the ring back to the owner before the reunion,'” Swain told

He used the Beverly High reunion website as a resource and, with the help of some Beverly High alumni, determined that "Donna" was the only graduating female from 1962 with those initials. They also revealed that Donna, whose last name was not revealed to maintain her privacy, was now living in Florida.

Swain now possessed Donna's married name, an address and a phone number, but the mystery was still not solved. The phone number was not active and the package he sent to her address was returned as undeliverable.

The class reunion came and went, and Donna didn't attend the function. Instead of giving up, though, Swain made one last-ditch effort to locate Donna.

Swain called the editor of the Beverly Citizen and successfully pitched a story about the 50-year-old class ring. "On October 9th, the editor called me back with news that a reader had contacted her with a number for the person in Florida," Swain told

Swain called Donna and chatted with her for 20 minutes. The stunned woman said she had owned the class ring only two weeks before losing it in the lake.

The good-natured Swain made the extra effort of having the ring professionally cleaned and polished before sending it down to Florida.

Needless to say, Donna was thrilled to get her ring back. According to Swain, she told him, "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

"She couldn't believe I took the time, after 50 years, to hunt down the owner,” Swain said, adding that he loved the challenge. "For me, it was fun," he said. "I enjoy the detective work of doing that kind of stuff."

According to Swain, Donna's daughter will wear the class ring with the blue stone at her wedding – in the tradition of wearing “something old, something borrowed and something blue."

Monday, October 29, 2012

'Sand Blasting on the Atomic Scale' Alters the Way the Eye Perceives the Color of Precious Metal

While gold in its natural state exhibits a distinctive gold color, metallurgists are able to create colored gold by alloying the gold with other elements. For instance, the addition of silver will color gold white, and the addition of copper will color it red.

Now, physicists at the University of Southampton in England are taking a whole new approach to colored metals by altering the way the human eye perceives the color.

By applying various hues to a basic image in Photoshop, we are able to simulate a scientific breakthrough that may affect the way we see gold jewelry in the future.

Described as "sand blasting on the atomic scale," this breakthrough surface patterning technique embosses tiny raised or indented patterns on the metal’s surface, which alters the way it absorbs or reflects light. The surface patterns are just 100 nanometers (.0001 millimeters) across.

Viewed through a microscope, we can see the various shades of gold that were created by altering the shape, height and depth of the embossed patterns. The surrounding surface is unstructured and therefore has the normal color of gold.

"This is the first time the visible color of metal has been changed in this way," professor Nikolay Zheludev, a specialist in nanophotonics, told "The colors of the objects we see all around us are determined by the way light interacts with those objects. For instance, an object that reflects red light but absorbs other wavelengths will appear red to the human eye."

The shape, height and depth of the embossed patterns determines how light behaves when it hits the metal and therefore what color is created, according to the professor.

Zheludev told the journal Optics Express that the new nano-etching technique could be rolled out for commercial jewelry production and is effective in altering the way we see the color of gold, silver or aluminum.

Are purple gold and orange silver in our future? Only time will tell...