Friday, September 06, 2013

Music Friday: Pink Floyd's Epic ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ Is a Tribute to Troubled Band Member

Welcome to Music Friday when we feature fabulous songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today we’re privileged to present Pink Floyd’s epic 1975 masterpiece, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.”

Written as a tribute to former band member Syd Barrett, who was forced to leave the group after suffering a mental breakdown, the song includes the famous opening line, “Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun. Shine on you crazy diamond.”


A founding member of Pink Floyd, Barrett was the group’s lead vocalist, lead guitarist and primary songwriter during the band's early years. He is also credited with naming the band. It wasn't long, however, before mental illness and drug abuse took its toll. His behavior became erratic. Concertgoers reported that he would sometimes get on stage and not play a single note. Other times he would play the same note over and over. His stint with Pink Floyd lasted only three years and he was forced to leave the band in 1968.

Running a shade over 26 minutes, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” was originally intended to fill the first side of the concept album, Wish You Were Here. Ultimately the band members decided it was best to split the song in half and allow it to bookend the album.

Wish You Were Here turned out to be a huge commercial success with more than 13 million copies sold. Rolling Stone magazine anointed it as one of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time."

Although the original song runs 26+ minutes, we’ve found an abbreviated clip that focuses on the powerful lyrics that tie into our Music Friday theme. And it runs just 2:41. Enjoy.

“Shine On You Crazy Diamond”
Written by Roger Waters, David Jon Gilmour and Rick Wright. Performed by Pink Floyd.

Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Now there's a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
You were caught on the crossfire of childhood and stardom,
Blown on the steel breeze.

Come on you target for faraway laughter,
Come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!
You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon.
Shine on you crazy diamond.

Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Well you wore out your welcome with random precision,
Rode on the steel breeze.

Come on you raver, you seer of visions,
Come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Second Headliner Added to Sotheby’s Oct. 7 Sale; Egg-Sized Gem Is Dubbed ‘The Greatest White Diamond Ever to Appear at Auction’

It looks like Sotheby’s will be celebrating its 40th year in Asia with not one — but two — record-breaking diamonds at its Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite auction October 7.


We previously reported that “The Premier Blue,” a 7.59-carat round flawless fancy vivid blue diamond, would be headlining the event. Yesterday we learned the newsworthy blue diamond would be sharing top billing with an astonishing egg-sized gem that Sotheby’s is calling “the greatest white diamond ever to appear at auction.”

The as-yet-unnamed D-color flawless 118.28-carat oval diamond carries a pre-sale estimate of $28 million to $35 million. If it achieves only the low estimate, it will break the current record for the highest price ever paid at auction for a white diamond. The current record holder is the Winston Legacy, a 101.73-carat D-Flawless pear-shape gem that was sold at Christie’s in May for $26.7 million.


The Premier Blue carries a pre-sale estimate of $19 million. If the internally flawless 7.59-carat gem is sold for that amount, it will establish a new auction record at $2.5 million per carat, the highest per-carat price ever paid for any diamond.

The unnamed white diamond was revealed at a Manhattan media event yesterday. A newcomer to the auction scene, the diamond was discovered as a 299-carat rough in an undisclosed southern African nation in 2011. The resulting 118.28-carat finished product is a sight to behold. Sotheby's calls it the greatest white diamond to be offered at auction in terms of size, quality, polish and color. The auction winner will also get the privilege of naming the diamond.

“We have made a concerted effort to make this a wonderful sale to celebrate Sotheby’s 40 years in Asia,” Chin Yeow Quek, the chairman of Sotheby’s jewelry division in Asia, told Quek added that he hopes the October sale — bolstered by its two headliners — will set a record for the largest jewelry auction ever in terms of total sales.

Three other white diamonds weighing more than 100 carats have been auctioned by Sotheby's — in 1990, 1993 and 1995.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Patriots’ Owner Robert Kraft Says Russian President Vladimir Putin Swiped His 2005 Super Bowl Ring; Sen. John McCain Makes Plea to Get It Back

Russian President Vladimir Putin is on the hot seat for allegedly swiping New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft’s $25,000 diamond-encrusted 2005 Super Bowl ring.

Although the incident took place eight years ago during a St. Petersburg business summit, Sen. John McCain stoked the issue on Tuesday when he suggested on CNN that the Russian delegation coming to Washington later this week to talk about Syria should return the prized ring.


"I was thinking this morning the worst thing you could do in the Old West was to steal another man's horse,” McCain told CNN. “I would think in New England the worst thing you can do is steal another man's Super Bowl ring."


The 14-karat white gold ring commemorating the Patriots’ 2005 Super Bowl XXXIX victory is adorned with 124 diamonds, the most of any of the 46 Super Bowl rings. The diamond total weight is 4.94 carats and the oversize ring tips the scales at about a quarter pound.


Videos and still photographs of the 2005 St. Petersburg event show Putin holding and admiring Kraft’s ring during a photo op and even trying it on. What happened next is a matter of interpretation.

Speaking at a New York gala in June, Kraft recounted, "I took out the ring and showed it to [Putin], and he put it on and he goes, 'I can kill someone with this ring.' I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out."


The Patriots’ owner said that back in 2005 he was pressured by the Bush White House to avoid an uncomfortable diplomatic situation by affirming that the Super Bowl ring was a gift for Putin. Kraft issued a statement at the time saying he decided to gift the ring as a symbol of the respect and admiration he had for the Russian people and the leadership of President Putin.

Putin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, who was present during the alleged pocketing, saw the incident much differently. In June, he said, “What Mr. Kraft is saying now is weird. I was standing 20 centimeters away from him and Mr. Putin, and saw and heard how Mr. Kraft gave this ring as a gift."

Kraft’s Super Bowl ring was reportedly handed over to the Kremlin library, where many gifts of the state reside. Curiously, when asked about the possibility of returning the Super Bowl ring, Putin at first had trouble remembering the incident and then offered to have a replacement ring made.

“You know, I don’t remember either Mr. Kraft, or the ring,” Putin said, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.

“But if it is such a big treasure for Mr. Kraft and the team, I have a suggestion,” he said. “I will ask one of our businesses to make a really good and big [ring], so everyone will see it is a luxury piece, made of quality metal and with a stone, so this piece will be passed from generation to generation in the team.”

“This would be the smartest solution partners can ever achieve while tackling such a complicated international problem,” Putin sarcastically added.

Why he is unwilling or unable to return the original Super Bowl ring is still a mystery.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

‘Blue Giant of the Orient,’ the World’s Largest Faceted Blue Sapphire at 486 Carats, Is Shrouded in Mystery

In honor of September’s official birthstone, we aim our spotlight on the “Blue Giant of the Orient,” a gem that’s not only the largest faceted blue sapphire in the world at 486.52 carats, but also one that is shrouded in mystery. Very little is known about the cornflower-hued cushion-cut gemstone as it was out of the public eye for nearly 100 years.


Discovered in Sri Lanka in 1907 and sold to an anonymous American collector that same year, the intense medium-blue gemstone remained quietly under the radar until May 2004, when it unexpectedly appeared in a Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction catalog.

Curiously, the amazing gem, which was billed by Christie's as the largest faceted sapphire ever to be offered at auction, failed to entice any bidders at the Geneva event even though it had been estimated to sell for $1 million to $1.5 million — a relative bargain by today’s standards.


Shortly after the auction, however, Christie’s was able to strike a deal with an anonymous British buyer who paid $1 million for the world-famous sapphire. The gem, which displays full color saturation, is set in a platinum brooch with a pavĂ©-set diamond surround.

After the Christie’s event, the Blue Giant of the Orient vanished from public view once again and hasn’t been seen since.

The very early history of the Blue Giant was well documented. An August 1907 story in the Sri Lankan Morning Leader announced that a "moonstone sapphire" worth £7,000 ($10,903) had been mined in Sri Lanka’s Ratnapura district. A leading exporter, O.L.M. Macan Marker & Co., purchased the rough sapphire, which weighed more than 600 carats.


Local cutters worked the rough stone into a finished gem weighing 466 carats. Some experts believe that the 20-carat discrepancy between the weights noted by the 1907 newspaper report and that of the 2004 Christie’s auction catalog reflected either an error in the accuracy of the weighing equipment of the time or a simple recording error. The newspaper noted that the gem’s finished size was 2 1/2 inches long, 1 ¾ inches wide and ¾ of an inch its thickest point.

Interestingly, the world’s first-, second- and third-largest faceted blue sapphires are all of Sri Lankan origin. These are the Blue Giant of the Orient, the 422.99-carat Logan Blue Sapphire and the 400-carat Blue Belle of the Orient.

Blue sapphire, which is a member of the corundum family, gets its striking color from the displacement of aluminum atoms with those of titanium and iron in the gem’s crystal lattice structure. It is one of the most coveted and valuable of all gemstone varieties.