Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Spaniel Sniffs Out $20K Diamond That Went Missing for 4+ Months After Being Dropped From Space

An English Springer Spaniel named Rosie is being credited with accomplishing something no other man nor beast in the U.K. could do — and that was to locate a 1.14-carat diamond that was dropped from space 4+ months ago as part of a publicity stunt that went awry.


Back in mid-August, we told you about a zany promotion, where a $20,000 cushion-cut diamond was launched into space via helium balloon and then parachuted to earth once the balloon burst under pressure at 100,000 feet.


Online retailer 77 Diamonds planned to give consumers hints as to the whereabouts of the diamond using #diamondinthesky on Twitter. The person who was to eventually find the diamond was allowed to keep it.


Unfortunately, the diamond’s tracking device malfunctioned during the gem’s 150-minute, 60-mile round-trip into space and back again.


The helium balloon had launched from Derbyshire, U.K., but the diamond company was not quite sure where it landed. The company told treasure hunters that the diamond was likely within a five-mile radius of Lea, a small town about 150 miles north of London.


Thousands of people scoured the countryside for weeks, but the diamond — which was safely nestled inside a red foil box and attached to a bright orange parachute — was nowhere to be found. As weeks turned into months, treasure hunters gave up on the search.

And this is where Rosie and her owners, Allan and Pat Bell, rejoin the story. The group was walking along a country path in Brattleby — about 10 miles east of Lea and well outside the presumed drop zone — when Rosie darted under a hedge and dragged out a muddy prize, according to

At first, the Bells didn’t realize exactly what Rosie had found. They left the tangled mess at the side of the path and decided to collect it on the way back. On their walk back, they inspected Rosie’s discovery more carefully.

“I looked a bit closer and saw the package had an orange parachute underneath it and details of who to contact written on it – and I knew it must be the diamond,” the 75-year-old Allan Bell told

Pat Bell added, “I couldn’t believe it when we opened it up. You could have knocked me down with a feather.

The retired truck driver and his wife of 25 years will look to sell the diamond and use the funds to go on a Mediterranean cruise to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary.

Rosie will be rewarded with a rib-eye steak.

Allan Bell image: YouTube/Stone; Other photos: Courtesy 77 Diamonds/Stian Alexander

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Santa Delivers Heartfelt Marriage Proposal on Behalf of U.S. Soldier Stationed in Afghanistan

Even though Sgt. Clint Underhill is stationed a half a world away in Afghanistan, he was still able to deliver a wonderful Christmas marriage proposal to the love of his life, Kimberly Roberts, with a little help from Old St. Nick.


Roberts’ parents, who were in on the surprise, had a bit of trouble coaxing their daughter to visit Santa at the Eastland Mall in Evansville, Ind. But, once she was safely on Santa’s giant-size green chair, she revealed that her Christmas wish was for her boyfriend to return home safely from Afghanistan.

With an audience of holiday shoppers watching in amazement, Santa handed Roberts a large bouquet of red roses. Then he dropped to one knee and read the words penned by the romantic soldier.

“Kimberly, our time together so far has been nothing short of amazing,” Santa read. “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t realize how lucky I am to have you to be in my life.”


Acting as Underhill’s surrogate, Santa asked Roberts for her hand in marriage. She accepted the ring, said "Yes," and the mall patrons screamed with delight.

Despite the countless requests Santa has heard through the years, he told CNN that this was the first time he was asked to deliver a long-distance marriage proposal.


Sgt. Underhill told CNN that he wanted to give Roberts the proposal she wanted. "I talked with her mom, and that's pretty much how it all started," he said.

Roberts was thrilled with the surprise. “Definitely the best present I could ever ask for," she told CNN. "I'm so excited."

The young woman did have a bit of explaining to do when her nieces didn’t quite grasp the fact that Santa was acting on behalf of her fiancé. "[They] thought I was going to be Mrs. Claus when they saw the video, so it was definitely amazing," she said.

Sgt. Underhill is scheduled to return from Afghanistan in June. Although the couple has yet to set a date for the wedding, it is certain that Santa will get an invitation to the big event.

"Are they going to have cookies along with the cake?" the witty Santa asked a reporter from CNN.

Check out the video below…

Images: Facebook/The Eastland Mall; Facebook/Kimberly Roberts

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Miracle: World War II Bracelet Returns Home After Being Lost for 70 Years

The widow of war hero Warren McCauley received a very special gift this Christmas — a silver ID bracelet that her beloved husband and family patriarch left behind in Italy exactly 70 years ago.


McCauley, a Kansan who was awarded a Bronze Star for his heroism fighting the Germans in Italy during World War II, wore a silver bracelet bearing his serial number on the plaque.


The bracelet, which was a gift from his family, was not only a fashionable piece of jewelry, but it also had the practical purpose of helping to identify the soldiers who perished in battle.


The 19-year-old became a decorated member of the elite 10th Mountain Division. After the Germans' surrender, he returned home safely, but his bracelet didn’t make the trip. Instead, it stayed behind in Italy in the possession of a 10-year-old Italian girl named Bruna de Maria.

Bruna’s parents had made their home available as a field hospital and canteen, where they helped care for tired and wounded American soldiers.

It’s not clear whether her parents were gifted the bracelet by McCauley when he and fellow soldiers accepted the de Maria’s hospitality in the small town of Castel D'Aiano, or whether the bracelet was found nearby, but young Bruna saw the bracelet displayed in her family’s glass-front cabinet and decided to make it her own.


"I just took it," she told NBC Nightly News in a story broadcast on Saturday. "I was very poor, so a bracelet for me was a treasure."

She cherished the bracelet and kept it safely in the drawer of her night table — for the next 70 years.

In September, Bruna gave the bracelet to her son, Stefano. He knew right away that he needed to make the effort to get the bracelet back into the hands of the family of its original owner.

"This bracelet made history," he told NBC News. "It belonged to an American soldier who came here to fight, to defend our country. That's why I thought of giving it back."

His internet research came up empty when he mistook the maker of the bracelet for the soldier’s name. He also sought the help of the American consulate in Milan, but that, too, was unsuccessful.

By a brilliant stroke of luck, Stefano showed the bracelet to a dinner guest who had a lawyer friend in Oklahoma. The lawyer contacted an NBC News journalist, who, in turn, contacted the official archivist for the 10th Mountain Division. Bingo.

The serial number on the bracelet was linked to Warren D. McCauley, his last known address in Buena Vista, Calif., and his wife, Twila.

Right in time for Christmas, the bracelet was on its way back to the McCauley family.


The 85-year-old Twila could barely contain her emotions when she opened a small pouch that contained the bracelet of her beloved husband, who had passed away in 1986.

"It’s come back to us," Twila told NBC News.


In her living room, surrounded by her extended family, Twila passed the bracelet around to four generations of McCauleys. The bracelet that none of them knew existed is now a precious direct link to the family patriarch who wore it while fighting for freedom so many years ago.

"I feel very emotional about it," Warren's eldest daughter, Dee Prophet, told NBC News. "It's a piece of him that we can all share, and treasure, and have back in the family."

Friday, December 26, 2014

Music Friday: In Olivia Holt's Holiday Release, 'Snowflakes,' Some People 'Shine Like Diamonds in the Sun'

Welcome to another Christmas edition of Music Friday, when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, we present Disney star Olivia Holt performing her holiday release, “Snowflakes,” an inspirational song about how we’re all unique and beautiful in our own way.


In the first verse, the 17-year-old sings, “Some people spend their whole life in the clouds / Some ride the wind and never hit the ground / Some will shine like diamonds in the sun / Heaven sent down each and every one.”

She uses diamond and snowflake imagery to deliver a powerful message about how we should embrace the qualities — and flaws — that make us different than the rest.

“Snowflakes” was first heard in 2013 on Disney’s Holidays Unwrapped Christmas Album, which featured performances by a number of popular Disney Channel favorites, such as Debby Ryan, Ross Lynch, Bella Thorne and Zendaya.

Three weeks ago, Holt released a beautiful, new acoustic version for Disney’s Playlist Sessions. The official video currently boasts more than 188,000 views on YouTube.

The Tennessee-born and Mississippi-raised Holt is best known for her starring roles in the Disney series Kickin’ It and the Disney Channel Original Series, I Didn’t Do It.

Hoping to follow in the footsteps of a long list of Disney teen stars who have become successful pop stars, Holt recently signed a deal with Hollywood Records. Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jonas Brothers and Justin Timberlake are just a handful of Disney alums that have vaulted to top the music charts. Holt reported that producing her first album was a “heart-pounding experience.” It’s scheduled to release in 2015.

We know you will enjoy the video of Holt’s acoustic version of “Snowflakes.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

Performed by Olivia Holt.

Some people spend their whole life in the clouds
Some ride the wind and never hit the ground
Some will shine like diamonds in the sun
Heaven sent down each and every one

We are snowflakes
Floating till we find our place
From a distance we may look the same,
but we're beautiful in our own way
We are snowflakes

Will I sparkle, will I drift or will I dance
Will I melt when I touch another's hand
Will I learn for my mistakes when I fall
And remember when I get to feeling small

We are snowflakes
Floating till we find our place
From a distance we may look the same,
but we're beautiful in our own way
We are snowflakes

And all I can do is do my best
What it is that makes me different from the rest
And nothing more,
and nothing less

Then snowflakes,
Floating till we find our place
From a distance we may look the same,
but we're beautiful in our own way
We are snowflakes
Mmm, yeah, snowflakes
Mmm, yeah...

Image: Screen capture via YouTube

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Are You Ready for the Most Romantic Night of the Year? Christmas Eve Ranks #1 for Marriage Proposals

Hey, guys. Tonight is Christmas Eve, and not only is it the most magical night of the year, it’s also the most romantic. Did you know that more men deliver marriage proposals on Christmas Eve than any other time of the year?

restaurant, couple and holiday concept - smiling man proposing t

According to a survey by Brides magazine, nearly one in five marriage proposals (19%) takes place during the month of December. reported that 39 percent of marriage proposals occur between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day.

The U.K. web site was even more specific, ranking Christmas Eve (12/24), Christmas Day (12/25) and New Year’s Eve (12/31) as #1, #3 and #4, respectively, for marriage proposals. Valentine’s Day (2/14) rated #2.

While May and June remain the most popular months for weddings, the winter season seems to be the best time for getting down on bended knee and popping the question. Experts believe that the winter engagement phenomenon is attributed to two factors: the romantic nature of the season... and convenience.

The festive season seems to bring out the best in all of us. It’s a time of giving, and a time to cherish our families. And, certainly, there’s no better time to propose than when all the family is in town to celebrate with the newly engaged couple.

Other interesting takeaways from the Brides 2014 American Wedding Study include the following:

  • The average engagement ring costs $5,002; the average wedding rings cost $1,727;
  • 59% of brides-to-be posted a picture of their engagement ring after receiving it;
  • 46% say most of their friends learned about their engagement through social media;
  • After telling close friends and family about the engagement, 71% of brides-to-be changed their social-media status to “engaged”;
  • The average length of an engagement is 14.7 months;
  • 64% are using social media site Pinterest to aggregate inspiration for their big day;
  • Today's average bride is 28 years old and her groom is 29;
  • Almost all couples incorporate wedding traditions into their big day, including cake cutting, first dances, toasts... and wearing something old, new, borrowed and blue;
  • Couples spend $508 on gifts for each other. A timepiece is the top gift for the groom and jewelry is the top gift for the bride.
  • Couples will also spend an additional $760 on gifts for parents ($262), bridesmaids ($308), and groomsmen ($280).

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Widow Offers $21K for Bridal Jewelry Dropped Into Salvation Army Kettle, Hopes Rings Can Be Reunited With Owner

In the true spirit of the holiday season, a Boston woman offered $21,000 for the bridal jewelry dropped into a Salvation Army Red Kettle a few weeks ago — and made a special request that the rings be reunited with their original owner.


Recently, we featured the story of an anonymous woman who honored her late husband’s joy of Christmastime gift giving by selflessly donating her engagement ring and wedding band to the Salvation Army. She hoped the proceeds from the jewelry could buy toys for needy children.

“In all seasons, my husband was a giver,” said the note that accompanied the jewelry. “I especially remember his joy in giving at Christmastime, especially to those in need. To honor his memory, I donate this ring."


Accompanying the jewelry in an envelope was a 2003 appraisal stating the engagement ring’s value at $1,850.

The widow was confident the three-stone engagement ring would yield far more than the amount stated on the 11-year-old appraisal. "I'm hoping there's someone out there who made lots of money this year and will buy the ring for 10 times its worth. After all, there's no price on love or the sentimental value of this ring. But money will help the kids."

The woman’s wishes were more than fulfilled when another Boston-area widow — and former Salvation Army bell ringer — offered $21,000 for the engagement ring and wedding band. Instead of taking possession of the rings, she requested that they be returned to their original owner.

“I want to be involved in this because it’s about the spirit of Christmas, the spirit of giving,” she told Salvation Army officials. “My wish is that the rings can be returned to this woman who gave them up in memory of her husband for the sake of children at Christmas.”

Like the rings’ owner, the second benefactor wished to remain anonymous and was motivated by the memory of her beloved spouse.

“I miss him dearly, but my husband would be happy that I am doing this,” she told the Salvation Army.

Even though the Salvation Army is dedicated to fulfilling the sentiment behind its donations, it’s not clear if the original donor will come forward to reclaim her rings.


“We certainly hope [she] has been paying attention to all the stories that this has generated and we hope that she’s been gratified,” Drew Forster, spokesman for the Massachusetts Salvation Army, told The Boston Globe. “Maybe she [will] come forward in light of this new information. But we have not heard from anyone at this point.”

Donations made to the Salvation Army are typically used to provide funding for food pantries, soup kitchens, social services and educational programs for children, families and seniors.

“We are just blown away by these gifts and the way it has captured people’s imaginations,” Forster told The Boston Globe.

Images: Screen captures via New England Cable News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Aussie Quiz Show Contestant Flubs $100 Question on 'Millionaire,' Mistaking a Snack Food for a Romantic Jewelry Keepsake

Competing to win a fortune on Australia’s version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” tour manager Whitney Beseler stunned a national audience and host Eddie McGuire when she flubbed the simple $100 question — mistaking a snack food for a romantic jewelry keepsake.


Beseler sat in the "Millionaire" Hot Seat Wednesday night when McGuire read the first question on the way to $1 million: “Which of the these is not a piece of jewelry commonly worn to symbolize a relationship between two people?”


Fans of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” know that the $100 question is often so simple that even a small child could answer it. In this case, the available answers were "A: Engagement Ring;" "B: Anniversary Ring;" "C: Wedding Ring;" or "D: Burger Ring."


What should have made the answer so obvious is that the fact that Burger Rings are a wildly popular burger-flavored, onion-ring-shaped snack food with a devoted following throughout Australia and New Zealand.


After hesitating for a moment, Beseler said, “Uh, I think I'm going to go with B on that one, Eddie, the anniversary ring.”

When the studio audience gasped, McGuire asked Beseler to have another look at the options, hoping the young woman would recognize and correct her embarrassing mistake. But, Beseler confidently locked in her original answer.


McGuire repeated the question one more time, and finally Beseler realized her blunder. “Oh my God, Eddie, that's the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to me,” she said. “Can we cut and start again?”

But a redo was not in the cards.


Later in the show, the host brought Beseler back onto the set to offer her a rare consolation prize: a bag of Burger Rings.

More than one million YouTube viewers have seen the video of Beseler’s nightmarish appearance of “Millionaire.” Beseler has become an instant worldwide celebrity, but not in a positive way. She’s been the target of a relentless barrage of cruel and unflattering comments on social media.

The former physical education teacher told an Australian television station that the harsh criticism has inspired her to turn this experience into a way of educating and helping children understand and deal with bullying.

She acknowledged that the Burger Ring incident on “Millionaire” will be following her for a long time. "If my future [fiancé] doesn't propose to me with a Burger Ring, he's obviously got no sense no humor," she told 9News.

Check out Beseler’s viral appearance on “Millionaire,” below.

"Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" screen shots: Channel9; "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" promo image: Supplied; Jewelry images:; Burger Rings images: Supplied.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Music Friday: Shepherd Boy Tells Mighty King, ‘Let Us Bring Him Silver and Gold’ in Christmas Classic, ‘Do You Hear What I Hear?’

Welcome to our special holiday edition of Music Friday, when we bring you fabulous songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals is the title or lyrics. Today, we present one of the all-time Christmas classics, “Do You Hear What I Hear.”


In this song about the birth of Jesus, a shepherd boy tells the mighty king, “Do you know what I know? / A child, a child shivers in the cold / Let us bring him silver and gold / Let us bring him silver and gold.”

Penned by the married couple Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne Baker in 1962, “Do You Hear What I Hear” was intended as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis — a time when the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were in a tense standoff regarding the Soviet Union’s move to construct ballistic nuclear missile bases in Cuba.

Baker told the Los Angeles Times years later that neither she nor Regney could perform the song at the time they wrote it. "Our little song broke us up,” she said. “You must realize there was a threat of nuclear war at the time."

Baker and Regney’s “Do You Hear What I Hear” became one of the most popular Christmas songs of all time. It has sold tens of millions of copies and has been covered by hundreds of artists over the past 51 years.

Crooner Bing Crosby made the song a worldwide sensation in late 1963, when he featured it on his holiday Christmas album and performed it during Bob Hope's televised Christmas special.


As a holiday treat, we’re presenting two renditions of "Do You Hear What I Hear." The first is a brilliant and stirring contemporary duet by Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Nettles, who performed it in 2013 during the CMA Country Christmas special on ABC. The second is Bing Crosby’s iconic version from 50 years earlier.

The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along. Enjoy!

"Do You Hear What I Hear"
Lyrics by Noel Regney. Music by Gloria Shayne Baker. First performance by Mary J. Blige & Jennifer Nettles (2013). Second performance by Bing Crosby (1963).

Said the night wind to the little lamb,
"Do you see what I see?
Way up in the sky, little lamb,
Do you see what I see?
A star, a star, dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite,
With a tail as big as a kite."

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy,
"Do you hear what I hear?
Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy,
Do you hear what I hear?
A song, a song high above the trees
With a voice as big as the sea,
With a voice as big as the sea."

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king,
"Do you know what I know?
In your palace walls, mighty king,
Do you know what I know?
A child, a child shivers in the cold
Let us bring him silver and gold,
Let us bring him silver and gold."

Said the king to the people everywhere,
"Listen to what I say!
Pray for peace, people, everywhere,
Listen to what I say!
The child, the child sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light,
He will bring us goodness and light

Images: Bing Crosby promotional shot (uncredited); Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Nettles screen capture via YouTube

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Strange Red and Green ‘Christmas Rock’ Is Teeming With 30,000 Teeny Diamond Crystals

A strange red and green “Christmas Rock” teeming with 30,000 teeny diamond crystals has members of the scientific community scratching their heads.


Just over one inch wide, the host rock has a diamond density one million times higher than normal diamond-bearing ore, which typically yields 1 to 6 carats per ton, according to


Russian miners unearthed the festive-looking specimen at Alrosa’s Udachnaya diamond mine near the Arctic Circle and gifted it to the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Via X-ray tomography analysis, scientists discovered the stone is made up of 30,000 diamond octahedron crystals, which look like two pyramids fused together at the base. Each octahedron is colorless and about 1mm (.04 inches) in height.

Because of their minute size, the diamonds have no practical use in jewelry, but they present a rare and wonderful opportunity for scientists.

"The exciting thing for me is there are 30,000 itty-bitty, perfect octahedrons, and not one big diamond," said University of Tennessee geologist Larry Taylor, who presented his initial findings Monday at the American Geophysical Union's annual meeting. "It's like they formed instantaneously. This rock is a strange one indeed."

Red garnet and green olivine are responsible for giving the rock’s surface its Christmas Holiday colors. Taylor is hoping that the minerals that make up the host rock will provide critical clues about the origin of diamonds that form under intense heat and pressure about 150km (93 miles) below the earth’s surface.

Volcanic eruptions are responsible for bringing the diamond-rich mantle material to the surface, but much of the mantle rock breaks up during the perilous ride, leaving only the diamond crystals behind. In the case of the Udachnaya Christmas Rock, the mantle material stayed intact, according to

Taylor’s complete analysis of how the Christmas Rock formed will be published in the January issue of Russian Geology and Geophysics.

Rock photo: Larry Taylor; Map: Google Maps.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Galatea Uses NFC Technology to Preserve the Voice and Memories of a Loved One — Within a Pearl

Imagine your grandchildren’s delight when decades from now they can see or hear your heartfelt sentiments frozen in time by simply touching a pearl to a mobile device. The new Momento Pearl from Galatea uses near field communication to make it all possible.


Galatea founder Chi Huynh developed a way to embed a tiny NFC chip within the core of a cultured pearl. Powered by induction energy and thereby needing no battery, the chip is programmed using Galatea’s custom phone app. Users can load the chip with four types of media: audio, text, images or video.


By tapping the pearl against an NFC-enabled mobile device, the audio is played and other digital material displayed. From words of love and encouragement to wedding vows and Biblical passages, the emotional connections contained within the patented Momento Pearl are boundless.


"This is where the future of jewelry begins," Huynh said in a statement. "A person can 'live' in this pearl forever, as it holds the voice and memories of a loved one."


Huynh is best known for his masterfully hand-carved pearl jewelry, often embedded with colored gemstones or diamonds. The designer also patented a special pearl cultivation process where the standard white shell nucleus is swapped for a colorful gem bead nucleus. With the colorful core, the artist is able to carve away parts of the surface nacre to reveal the colorful interior, giving it a beautiful dimensional quality.


Galatea’s Memento Collection includes 29 pendants, 26 earring and eight rings featuring Tahitian and freshwater pearls set in 14-karat gold. Retail prices start at $350.

For more information, check out Galatea’s promotional video…

Images: Galatea

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Wastewater Crew Rescues Flushed Engagement Ring That Had Traveled 1,000 Feet Into Sewage System

Wastewater workers for the city of Pacifica, Calif., are being hailed for their skill, persistence and going beyond the call of duty in rescuing a diamond engagement ring that was accidentally flushed down a toilet — and presumed lost forever.


The glistening ring was spotted with a video camera 1,000 feet from where it entered the sewage pipe. Pacifica Waste Water Collection workers were able to climb down a manhole and scoop the ring out of the muck.

The relieved couple, Lary Warren and Monika Belden-Sokoloski, had marked their February 2014 engagement by exchanging diamond rings. Warren’s ring featured 20 diamonds channel set in a wide gold band.


Having recently lost weight, Warren had noticed that his ill-fitted ring was spinning loosely on his finger. About a month ago, he was in the bathroom of his home, having just washed his hands, when the soapy ring flew off his finger and into the flushing toilet. In a second, it was gone.

“The ring was in the toilet and I was about to be in the toilet," Warren said, expecting to get an earful from his fiancée.


“I was very quiet," corrected Belden-Sokoloski.

Assuming that the ring had met its end, Warren decided to write off the loss to some bad luck. But, two weeks ago, after seeing a story on KTVU Channel 2 News about a ring that was recovered from a sewage pipe, he decided to contact Pacifica Waste Water Collection.

A full month had passed since the ring swished down the toilet, so there was no telling where in the sewage system the ring had traveled.


"It's like a needle in the haystack. We really didn't think we had a chance," sewage maintenance worker Eddie Pastrano told KTVU. Nevertheless, Pastrano’s supervisor, Brian Martinez Sr., thought the recovery effort was worth a try.

First, Martinez’ crew ran a small camera through the plumbing of Warren’s home. When that proved fruitless, the team snaked a larger camera through the main sewage pipe, but still they had no luck. On the third try, with the larger camera inching through pipe more than 1,000 feet from Warren’s home, workers finally saw a positive sign.


"It was gold. It was very shiny. We were able to see it quite well," maintenance worker and camera operator Mike Williams told KTVU. “All the stars and moons lined up and we had the right conditions.

Williams said the search was helped along by a recent run of wet weather. "It was really a fluke thing. Usually the sewer is pretty murky, but it just so happened we had all that rain come through, so it was clearer in the pipe."

"That was amazing,” said Belden-Sokoloski. “It's good to know people really care.”

Wastewater workers noted that the ring was found just a short distance from where the local sewage pipe drops into a larger pipe and crosses a highway. Had the ring traveled that far, it certainly would have been lost forever.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dutchman’s Romantic Marriage Proposal Nearly Brings Down the House

A Dutchman’s elaborate plan to serenade his girlfriend and then propose marriage — while being lowered to her bedroom window in the bucket of a cherry picker — nearly “brought down the house” on Saturday when the unsecured crane teetered through the roof of an adjoining building.


On paper, the Dutchman’s objective seemed to be plausible. He’d surprise his girlfriend by magically appearing in front of her window, sing her a song and then ask for her hand in marriage. Sadly, the dynamics of heavy machinery, physics, gravity and bad luck got in the way.


The ambitious Romeo was forced to abandon his high-flying scheme and scramble to safety after the crane toppled, causing the evacuation of 32 apartments in the Dutch town of IJsselstein, about 30 miles south of Amsterdam.


The attempt to rescue the crippled crane added insult to injury. Videos of the operation show the horrific and darkly comical failure of a larger crane trying to lift the smaller one. The boom snaps free, plunging downward through the roof of the building and leaving six apartments uninhabitable. Fortunately, local apartment dwellers and the newly engaged couple emerged from the drama unscathed.


Despite the malfunctions, the marriage proposal was still a “smashing” success. While the execution of his plan might have earned a failing grade, the suitor clearly got an A-plus for effort and creativity. His girlfriend said, “Yes,” according to the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad.


After meeting with town authorities, the couple reportedly traveled to Paris to celebrate.

Screen captures: YouTube/BBC News

Friday, December 12, 2014

Music Friday: ‘Your Eyes Are Shining Like Diamonds Tonight’ in 98 Degrees’ Christmas Hit, ‘This Gift’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, we feature “This Gift,” a 1999 Christmas season hit by R&B boy band, 98 Degrees.


In the first verse of the song, lead singer Nick Lachey croons, “The snow is falling / The city is white / Your eyes are shining / like diamonds tonight.”

In the chorus of the song, we learn that "this gift" is actually an engagement ring... "Cause I've been waiting to give this gift tonight / I'm down on my knees / There's no better time / It's something to last for as long as you live / Tonight I'm gonna give you all my heart can give."

“This Gift” was the first single released from the group’s third studio album, This Christmas, which sold more than one million copies in the U.S. alone. “This Gift” also was well received, as it peaked at #40 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and #14 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart.

98 Degrees — comprising band members Lachey, brother Drew Lachey, Jeff Timmons and Justin Jeffre — enjoyed a monumental run from 1996 to 2003. The group notched eight Top 40 singles in the U.S. and sold 10 million records worldwide.

The group disbanded in 2003, although Nick Lachey stated on the group’s official web site that there was no breakup, just an extended hiatus. Group members pursued other creative endeavors during the “hiatus” but came back together in 2012 for what was supposed to be a one-time performance at the Mixtape Festival in Hershey, Pa.

After the show, group members agreed to get back into the studio to work on a new album, 2.0, which released in May of 2013. They also thrilled their fans during “The Package” tour of 2013 — a series of nearly 50 concerts featuring three prominent boy bands (Boys II Men, New Kids on the Block and 98 Degrees.)

We know you will enjoy the video of 98 Degrees’ performance of “This Gift.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

"This Gift"
Written by Sean Syed Hosein and Dane Anthony Deviller. Performed by 98 Degrees.

The snow is falling
The city is white
Your eyes are shining
like diamonds tonight
And we're all alone
There's no one home
You're finally in my arms again

The night is silent
And Christmas is here
I couldn't ask for more than having you near
'Cause I love you girl (love you girl)
And I always will (always will)
And now I know the moment is right
The moment is right

Cause I've been waiting to give this gift tonight
I'm down on my knees
There's no better time
It's something to last for as long as you live
Tonight I'm gonna give you all my heart can give

I thought I'd give you something shiny and new
I'd try to find something worthy of you
But I realized when I looked inside
There's some things that money can't buy (oh no)

I feel the magic whenever you're near
I feel it even more this time of the year
Cause I love you girl (love you girl)
I always will (always will)
And now I know the moment is right
The moment is right


You know I'll always be true to you
And you know I'm the one you can turn to
Any time, any place, or anywhere
You know that I'll always be there



Thursday, December 11, 2014

World’s Largest Near-Round Natural Saltwater Pearl Sells for $813,750; 19mm Marvel Has Ties to Russian Revolution

Described as “a pearl the size of a quail egg on a cracker of diamonds,” the “Putilov Pearl Brooch” fetched $813,750 at New Jersey’s Rago Auctions on Sunday.


The brooch is centered by the world’s largest near-round natural saltwater pearl, a mammoth specimen that measures 19.08mm x 18.88mm x 16.50mm.

The brooch is framed by 16 near-colorless, old mine cut diamonds with an approximate total weight of 28 carats.

The “Putilov Pearl Brooch” had been owned by the great grandchild of Alexei Putilov, a wealthy Russian financier and industrialist, who carried the 19mm pearl to Paris in the midst of the Russian Revolution in the spring of 1918.

Sunday’s winning bidder was an unnamed Englishman of Russian descent, who made the trip to the U.S. specifically to see the Putilov pearl and take part in the auction. Also in attendance was the Putilov family, who reportedly put the famous jewelry up for auction to generate funds to pay off mounting eldercare bills.

After the brooch was sold, “they were in tears," Sarah Churgin, the head of Rago’s jewelry and silver department, told "They're just lovely people, just so grateful. It’s going to change their lives."

A Pearl Identification Report from the Gemological Institute of America described the Putilov pearl as having a white body color, near-round shape and orient overtone. The pearl is full-drilled, which indicates that it was previously worn as a necklace. The drill holes were subsequently filled with nacreous plugs, according to the report.


The Putilov pearl is estimated to be about 8% larger than the second-largest natural saltwater pearl on record. That pearl, which sold for $1.37 million at British auction house Woolley & Wallis on May 1, 2014, measured 17.44 x 16.51mm.

That specimen was discovered largely by chance. An anonymous woman, who was gifted a pair of drop earrings by her husband, didn’t realize that one of the two was worth more than $1 million.

The earrings had fallen out of style, so she had left them in a locker, forgotten for years. One day, while cleaning up the house, she rediscovered them and decided to get an estimate of what they were worth.

She and her husband met with Jonathan Edwards, the head of the Woolley and Wallis jewelry department. After an examination, Edwards suspected that one of the pearls could be natural. Two independent labs confirmed his suspicions.

Natural pearls are organic gems, created by a mollusk totally by chance, without human intervention. To find one 17mm or 19mm in size is virtually impossible.

Cultured pearls, by comparison, are grown under controlled conditions, where a bead is implanted in the body of the mollusk to stimulate the secretion of nacre. Over time, layer upon layer of nacre creates the deep luster of a pearl.

Images: Rago Arts & Auction House; Woolley & Willis.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Woman Honors Late Husband and His Joy of Christmastime Gift Giving by Dropping Her Bridal Jewelry Into Salvation Army Kettle

An anonymous woman honored her late husband’s joy of Christmastime gift giving by dropping her engagement ring and wedding band into a Salvation Army Red Kettle outside of Boston’s North Station.


Accompanying the three-stone engagement ring and plain gold wedding band was a type-written note from the woman and a 2003 appraisal stating that the engagement ring was worth $1,850. The value of the wedding band was not included.


“I’ve dropped my wedding ring in your Red Kettle knowing that the money from its sale will buy toys for needy children,” she wrote. “In all seasons, my husband was a giver. I especially remember his joy in giving at Christmastime, especially to those in need. To honor his memory, I donate this ring."


The widow continued, "I'm hoping there's someone out there who made lots of money this year and will buy the ring for ten times its worth. After all, there's no price on love or the sentimental value of this ring. But money will help the kids." Instead of signing the note, she drew a simple red heart in the bottom-right corner.


Salvation Army officials were delighted — but somewhat stunned — by the woman’s generosity.

Drew Forster, the Greater Boston Director of Communications for The Salvation Army, said that it’s very unusual for someone to intentionally drop jewelry in a Red Kettle.


"Jewelry comes into our kettles from time to time, but it's generally by accident," Forster told New England Cable News. "This is really quite remarkable.”


Bell ringer Robert Barr was manning the North Station Red Kettle when the jewelry donation was made. He said the woman was slight in stature and probably in her 50s. She dropped into the kettle two envelopes, which contained the jewelry in a clear plastic bag, the appraisal and the note.

Donations made to the Salvation Army are typically used to provide funding for food pantries, soup kitchens, social services and educational programs for children, families and seniors.

For now, the woman has remained anonymous. Salvation Army officials said that they would love to thank the woman in person for her generosity, even if it was done privately. They also announced that they have received a $3,000 offer for the bridal jewelry, with the bidder explaining that he hopes his interest in the rings will inspire others to offer even more.

Images: Screen captures via New England Cable News