Friday, May 03, 2013

Music Friday: Kiss Performs 'Black Diamond' From the Band's 1974 Debut Album

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today's song, "Black Diamond," is a favorite of Kiss fans because it was often played to triumphantly close the band's concerts.


At the end of the song, Peter Criss and his drum platform would rise high above the other band members, as the surrounding stage would blaze with pyrotechnics. Often Criss would add to the theatrics by violently sacrificing his drum set to the concert gods. (See Criss in action in the video at the end of this post.)

Written by the band's rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley, "Black Diamond" was the final track of Kiss, the successful debut album released in 1974. The song features a sweet sounding acoustic intro sung by rhythm guitarist Stanley before transitioning to a rocking riff by drummer Peter Criss on lead vocals.

Known for black-and-white face paint and comic-book stage outfits, the original band members were Paul Stanley (Starchild), Gene Simmons (The Demon), Ace Frehley (Spaceman or Space Ace) and Criss (Catman).

Kiss is credited with worldwide sales of more than 100 million albums, spanning five decades. The band's original members joined for a reunion tour in 1996. It was the top-grossing act in 1996 and 1997.

Enjoy our 1970s Kiss flashback. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along. Don't forget to see the video from the band's 1975 appearance on "The Midnight Special."

"Black Diamond"
Written by Paul Stanley. Performed by Kiss.

Out on the street for a living
Picture's only begun
Got you under their thumb
Hit it

Out on the streets for a living
Picture's only begun
Your day is sorrow and madness
Got you under their thumb

Whoo, black diamond
Whoo, black diamond

Darkness will fall on the city
It seems to follow you too
And though you don't ask for pity
There's nothin' that you can do, no, no

Whoo, black diamond
Whoo, black diamond

Out on the streets for a living
Picture's only begun
Your day is sorrow and madness
Got you under their thumb

Whoo, black diamond, yeah
Whoo, black diamond

Thursday, May 02, 2013

It’s OK to Wear Your Jewelry Through Airport Checkpoints, Says TSA Spokesman

With summer vacations right around the corner and surveys showing that two out of three travelers are likely to bring their jewelry on vacation, we have fresh information and expert advice on the best way to take your precious possessions through airport security.


In most cases, it’s perfectly OK to wear your fine jewelry through the checkpoint station instead of removing it, according to Bob Burns, the official blogger for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

In a Tuesday blog post, Burns advised that as long as the jewelry is not really bulky, travelers should keep their precious possessions on their bodies as they walk through metal detectors or high-tech imaging devices.


“Chances are it won’t alarm, and if it does you can let our officer inspect it with you there,” he wrote. “It really doesn’t take long to inspect, unless you are blinged out like Mr. T.”

Burns said that in some cases, the security officer would ask the traveler to take off the jewelry. In that scenario, the traveler should avoid putting her valuables in the plastic bowls that typically hold smaller items such as pocket change and money clips. Instead, the fine jewelry should be placed in a carry-on bag.

“Bowls have been known to tip over on conveyor belts, seemingly sending small jewelry into another dimension where it is never seen again,” Burns quipped.

Under no circumstances should travelers pack their fine jewelry in checked luggage. Here’s real-life example of how doing so can turn out very, very badly...


Back in 2006, the Duchess of Argyll was flying back to Glasgow, Scotland, after a short stay in London. The 68-year-old dowager duchess had checked a bag containing more than $150,000 worth of jewelry, including a Victorian diamond tiara, Cartier brooch, emerald ring and pearl earrings.

Yes, the bag was lost.

The Duchess filed a complaint with the airport and police authorities, but the bag was never turned in… or at least that’s what the Duchess believed.

Apparently, the bag did resurface, but the airport auctioned the jewelry instead of making any effort to return the items to their rightful owner. The jewelry had been unloaded to a British diamond merchant for a mere $7,500 (exactly 5% of their value) and the proceeds were donated to charity.

In 2012, the Duchess spotted her Cartier brooch in a Scottish auction catalog and promptly hired a lawyer to investigate. Airport authorities were embarrassed by a lost-luggage saga with high-profile implications.

After offering to reimburse the diamond merchant for his cooperation, operators of Glasgow Airport successfully reunited the Duchess with her brooch and tiara. The emerald ring and pearl earrings are still missing.

A tough lesson learned.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Story of the $400 Million Bahia Emerald Is So Bizarre That It's the Subject of a TV Documentary

In honor of May’s official birthstone, we’d like to share with you the unbelievable saga of the $400 million Bahia Emerald, which is actually an 840-pound host rock protruding with emerald crystals weighing 180,000 carats. One of the many crystals in the formation is the thickness of a man’s thigh.


Some say it’s the largest and heaviest emerald ever found, but instead of residing in a famous museum or the showcase of a billionaire, the Bahia Emerald awaits its fate in a secured vault at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department while a complex custody battle winds its way through the California legal system.

The Bahia Emerald’s story is so bizarre and compelling (the mammoth rock spent two months underwater thanks to Hurricane Katrina during an ill-timed visit to New Orleans in 2005) that the National Geographic Channel aired an hour-long documentary about it back in January of 2012.


Unearthed in Brazil in 2001, the rock has been a magnet for trouble starting the day it was pulled from the remote Bahia Mine and carried out of the rain forest by a team of pack mules.

According to the National Geographic documentary titled, “$400 Million Emerald Mystery,” the mules were attacked and killed by a pair of black panthers, so the hefty Bahia Emerald had to be lugged by a crew of men using a handmade stretcher.


The Bahia Emerald was flown from Brazil to its new home in California, but in 2005, the rock made a special trip to a secured vault in New Orleans so that a prospective buyer could view it. Hurricane Katrina struck two weeks later, leaving the vault and The Bahia Emerald under 16 feet of water. It took two months before it could be retrieved. Although the city was devastated, the rock came out unscathed.

Legal possession of the Bahia Emerald has changed hands several times, according to the official website for the rock. In one such instance, the Bahia Emerald was used as collateral for a cache of diamonds that failed to materialize. The owner of the diamonds claimed that he had been kidnapped by the Brazilian mafia, held hostage in an RV, and driven around Nevada for two weeks.

The stone was subsequently reported stolen in September 2008 from a secured vault in South El Monte in Los Angeles County, but was soon seized in Las Vegas by L.A.P.D. authorities after acting on a tip.

According to some reports, the Bahia Emerald was even involved in a $197 million banking transaction with the notorious Bernard Madoff before he was arrested for committing the largest financial fraud in U.S. history.

In protracted court battles, a whopping eight individuals laid claim to the Bahia Emerald. All parties have negotiated settlements with the exception of one — Anthony Thomas, who claims to have purchased the Bahia Emerald in 2001 for the sum of $60,000.

The Bahia Emerald is now famous for being embroiled in one of the largest custody/lawsuits in California history. It's still not clear who will get to keep the rock and where it will end up.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Charity Event Turns Into Embarrassing Nightmare for Woman Who Swallows the Diamond Grand Prize

Here’s a gem of a story that’s a little hard to swallow... A Tampa Women’s Club charity event on April 20 turned into an embarrassing nightmare for an 80-year-old attendee who accidentally gulped down the shiny bauble at the bottom of her $20 flute of champagne.


Guessing that she consumed one of the $10 CZs that propagated 399 glasses and not the $5,000 1.03-carat diamond grand prize that was dropped in one, Miriam Tucker remained mum, keeping her faux pas a secret for most of the event.

"I thought I'd drink a bit of champagne so I didn't have to stick my finger so far into the glass [to retrieve the stone]," Tucker told the Tampa Bay Times. "We were laughing and talking when I realized I swallowed it."


When it came time to identify the event's top prize, Tucker hoped that the diamond winner would be announced and she wouldn’t have to reveal her mistake. But the sponsors couldn’t find the real diamond. The electronic diamond tester registered “negative” for 399 stones. That’s when Tucker realized that she had to come clean.

“I thought, ‘Oh, now I’ve got to tell them I swallowed one,’” an embarrassed Tucker told ABC News affiliate WFTS, with her back to the camera.


Tucker was taken to a local hospital to determine if the diamond would show up in an X-ray, but it was not visible.

By some strange coincidence, Tucker had a routine colonoscopy scheduled for the next day. She told the gastroenterologist her improbable story and what he might encounter. Sure enough, he found the diamond in her large intestine.

Sealed in a biohazard bag, the well-traveled round brilliant diamond was taken to a local jeweler to be cleaned, tested and verified. It was then returned to Tucker, who plans to make the diamond part of a family heirloom.

She’ll be wearing the diamond as a pendant and then plans to hand it down to her 13-year-old granddaughter. “It’s an amazing story,” Tucker told the Associated Press. "The diamond will stay in the family with a story to go with it.”

Monday, April 29, 2013

Fancy Blue Diamond Ring Sells for $9.5 Million, Sets Auction Record at Bonhams

British billionaire Laurence Graff added still another famous colored diamond to his world-class collection last week when he placed the winning bid of $9.5 million at a packed house at Bonhams' Fine Jewellery sale in London and walked away with a 5.3-carat fancy deep-blue diamond ring.


The “Trombino” ring, which was designed circa 1965 by Bulgari, sold for nearly four times the pre-auction estimate and set a new world record for the highest price per carat ever paid for a blue diamond — $1.8 million.

The distinctive ring features a cushion-shaped blue diamond set horizontally. It is accented with pavĂ©-set brilliant-cut diamonds and courses of baguette-cut diamonds. According to Bonhams, less than 1 percent of all diamonds mined are blue diamonds.


Collectors from around the world clamored for the privilege of owning the ring. The auction house reported intense bidding from a packed sales room and 25 phone participants.

The victorious Graff also has the distinction of possessing the world's most expensive gemstone — a fancy intense pink diamond known as "The Graff Pink." The 24.78-carat diamond set the record at a Sotheby's auction in November 2010 when he bought it for a staggering $46.1 million — or $1.85 million per carat.


In December of 2008, Graff spent $24.3 million for the 31-carat fancy deep-blue Wittelsbach Diamond, and in November of 2012, he bought an exceptionally rare deep blue briolette diamond for $10.86 million. That diamond weighed 10.48 carats and was the product of the famous Cullinan mine in South Africa.