Friday, January 24, 2014

Music Friday: Billy Joel Can’t Afford to Buy Her Pearls in ‘Uptown Girl,’ a Song That's Not About His Ex-Wife Christie Brinkley

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today we have rock legend Billy Joel performing “Uptown Girl,” his international hit about a “backstreet guy” trying to romance a privileged girl from the high-class part of town.


In this 1983 song from his album An Innocent Man, Joel struggles with the fact that he can’t keep up with the rich guys — at least when it comes to lavishing gifts upon the uptown girl. He sings, “Uptown girl / You know I can't afford to buy her pearls / But maybe someday when my ship comes in / She'll understand what kind of guy I've been / And then I'll win.”

While it is widely believed that the subject of the song is Joel’s ex-wife and supermodel Christie Brinkley, Brit writers Michael Heatley and Frank Hopkinson revealed in The Girl in the Song: The True Stories Behind 50 Rock Classics, that Joel actually penned “Uptown Girl” about an earlier love interest, supermodel Elle Macpherson.


According to the authors, Joel drew his inspiration for the song while encountering Brinkley, Macpherson and singer Whitney Houston while on vacation in the Caribbean. Joel began dating Macpherson and wrote the song with her and her girlfriends in mind. The song was to be called “Uptown Girls” (plural).

After breaking up with Macpherson, he began dating Brinkley and changed the name of the song to “Uptown Girl” (singular). Brinkley famously appeared in Joel's music video as the “uptown girl” and the couple would eventually marry in 1985. Joel and Brinkley divorced in 1994.

“Uptown Girl” peaked in the U.S. at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and charted in 11 other countries.

The 64-year-old Joel, who was born in the Bronx and raised on Long Island, is one of the most prolific and successful recording artists of all time, with more than 150 million records sold worldwide. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.

We invite you to click on the video of Joel’s 1984 live performance of “Uptown Girl” in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Wembley Stadium in London. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.

“Uptown Girl”
Written and performed by Bill Joel.

Uptown girl
She's been living in her uptown world
I bet she never had a backstreet guy
I bet her mama never told her why

I'm gonna try for an uptown girl
She's been living in her white bread world
As long as anyone with hot blood can
And now she's looking for a downtown man
That's what I am

And when she knows what
She wants from her time
And when she wakes up
And makes up her mind

She'll see I'm not so tough
Just because
I'm in love with an uptown girl

You know I've seen her in her uptown world
She's getting tired of her high-class toys
And all her presents from her uptown boys
She's got a choice

Uptown girl
You know I can't afford to buy her pearls
But maybe someday when my ship comes in
She'll understand what kind of guy I've been
And then I'll win

And when she's walking
She's looking so fine
And when she's talking
She'll say that she's mine

She'll say I'm not so tough
Just because
I'm in love
With and uptown girl

She's been living in her white bread world
As long as anyone with hot blood can
And now she's looking for a downtown man
That's what I am

Uptown girl
She's my uptown girl
You know I'm in love
With an uptown girl
My uptown girl
You know I'm in love
With an uptown girl
My uptown girl

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Here’s Why a Diamond Formed From Cremated Ashes of a Loved One Will Most Often Turn Out Blue

About 10 years ago, Rinaldo Willy was studying how to make synthetic, lab-grown diamonds out of ashes when he came up with the novel idea of turning cremated human remains into eternal diamond keepsakes.


Today, Willy’s Switzerland-based company, Algordanza, is one of the world’s leading providers of “memorial diamonds.” During an average year, the company processes the remains of 800 to 900 people in a high-tech machine that mimics the intense heat and extreme pressure under which natural diamonds are formed about 100 miles below the Earth’s surface.


Interestingly, Willy discovered that most of the diamonds that go through the lab process with come out blue. Willy told NPR that he believes the blue color can be attributed to the existence of boron in the human body. In the natural environment, when trace amounts of boron atoms intermix with the carbon structure of a diamond the result is the blue color. (This phenomenon was mentioned in yesterday’s blog post about a 29.6-carat natural fancy blue diamond that was recently unearthed in South Africa.)


"I don't know why,” Willy said, “but if the diamond is blue, and the deceased also had blue eyes, I hear almost every time that the diamond had the same color as the eyes of the deceased."


Although blue is the most common color, Willy added that diamonds less often will come out white, yellow or near-black.

On one occasion when a white diamond emerged from the lab, Willy was concerned that an impurity may have gotten into the material. He processed it again and got the same curious result. He learned later the deceased had undergone aggressive chemotherapy, which may have altered the boron content of his body.

Willy’s told NPR that his customers hail from 24 countries, and revealed that 25% of his business comes from Japan. The scarcity and high-cost of burial plots in Japan could be a contributing factor.


It costs from $5,000 to $22,000 to turn a loved one’s remains into a sparkling diamond, with the price determined by the size of the final product. The crystal-growing process takes a few weeks, and the longer the material is in the machine, the larger it will grow. About a pound of ashes will yield a single diamond, according to Willy.

Once the rough diamond is extracted from the machine, it is cut and polished into the final faceted gemstone. Often, a customer will have the diamond set into a ring or pendant.

Willy said the diamonds give the family members a feeling that the deceased has returned or is still there with them.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ultra-Rare 29.6-Carat Blue Diamond Discovered at the Legendary Cullinan Mine in South Africa; Gem Could Fetch $20 Million

An “exceptional” vivid blue diamond weighing 29.6 carats and worth up to $20 million has been unearthed at South Africa’s legendary Cullinan mine — the same mine that has given birth to some of the largest and most valuable diamonds in the world.


Petra Diamonds spokesperson Cathy Malins told AFP that the acorn-sized stone could be “in a class of its own.” Displaying extraordinary saturation, tone and clarity, the rough diamond has the potential to yield a polished stone of great value and importance, mine owner Petra Diamonds noted in statement.


Holding the rough diamond between his thumb and forefinger, Petra Diamonds chief executive Johan Dippenaar commented, “By some margin... this is probably the most significant [blue] stone we’ve ever recovered.” Petra took over the operation of the Cullinan mine in 2008.


Owing their intoxicating blue color to trace amounts of boron impurities in their chemical makeup, blue diamonds are extremely rare, highly coveted and very expensive.

Analyst Cailey Barker told the Huffington Post that Petra’s extraordinary find could bring between $15 million and $20 million at auction. Only last year, a 25.5-carat fancy blue diamond from the Cullinan mine was sold at auction for $16.9 million.

A smaller fancy blue diamond weighing 5.30 carats broke the world record for price per carat last year when it fetched $9.5 million at Bonhams Fine Jewellery sale in London. The $1.8 million-per-carat bid eclipsed the previous record holder of $1.68 million per carat.

The most famous gem to emerge from the Cullinan mine is the largest gem-quality rough diamond ever found — the "Cullinan Diamond" at 3,106.75 carats. Other magnificent Cullinan-sourced gems include the 545-carat "Golden Jubilee" and the 530-carat "Great Star of Africa." Over its 111-year history, the Cullinan mine has produced more than 750 diamonds weighing more than 100 carats and is considered to be the most important source of blue diamonds in the world.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hotel Marks Its 100th Birthday With the '$100,000 Proposal of the Century;' Luxury Package Includes a 2.5-Carat Engagement Ring

Billed as an unparalleled engagement experience for couples who treasure elegance, roses, culture and romance, The Langham Huntington’s “$100,000 Proposal of the Century” is part of a special tribute marking the hotel’s 100th birthday.


Located in Pasadena, Calif., the home of the famous Tournament of Roses Parade, the luxurious hotel has put together a proposal package that includes a cornucopia of elegant components, including the private and exclusive use of the Rose Bowl Stadium and a $35,000 engagement ring.


Imagine the grandeur of delivering a romantic proposal on the field of the iconic — and mammoth — 100,000-seat Rose Bowl Stadium in the presence of 40 of your closest friends and relatives. On the stadium’s giant video message board is an illuminated “Marry Me” message as you get down on one knee and slip a handcrafted, custom-designed 2.5-carat cushion-cut diamond ring on your beloved’s finger.

All the while, the 40-piece Pasadena Symphony Orchestra plays in the background while an engagement photographer and videographer document every moment.


After the celebration, you and your new fiancée are whisked away from the stadium via a chauffeur-driven Bentley Flying Spur sedan, and when you arrive at the hotel, you prepare for two nights in the 3,200-square-foot Tournament of Roses Presidential Suite. Assigned to take care of every need is a dedicated Engagement Coordinator.


Your in-suite VIP amenities include a bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal Rose Brut Millesime Champagne, 100 long-stemmed roses, chocolate-covered strawberries, a pair of monogrammed Langham bathrobes and fresh rose petals sprinkled throughout the suite.


And each day at the hotel, you look forward to a delectable four-course dinner, which is served in your room.

The hotel is promoting the Proposal of the Century as a perfect tie-in to the romantic Valentine season, but the offer will be available through December 29, 2014.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Fairytale Comes True for Peter Pan and Wendy Darling on a Glasgow Stage; Try Not to Shed a Tear When You See This Proposal

Stunned theatre-goers in Glasgow learned that fairytales do come true when they witnessed Peter Pan’s real-life marriage propose to Wendy Darling at the end of last Friday night’s show. The video of the event went viral, with more than 2.3 million views on YouTube.


Sandor Sturbl, who plays the title role in Peter Pan: The Never Ending Story, stopped the show during the final number to ask for the hand of Lily-Jane Young, who plays Peter’s love interest, Wendy.

There was hardly a dry eye in the house as Sturbl delivered his heart-felt proposal to a surprised and overjoyed Young. With her microphone still on, the audience could hear her tearful, emotional sobs as the unscripted, romantic drama played out.


“Well, ladies and gentlemen, this is usually the moment when Peter Pan gives Wendy a kiss,” Sturbl said. “This is not a normal show. It’s not Peter Pan looking at Wendy and asking for a kiss. No it’s Sandor Sturbl looking at the love of his life.”

Sturbl explained that this was the perfect moment and the perfect place to deliver his proposal because Young was born in Glasgow, her family was in attendance and the audience was filled with Scottish people.


With the tension building, the Dutch Sturbl got down on one knee and said, “Jane, the last couple of years I’ve got to know you and you are the person I want to spend my life with. And therefore, I want to ask you, will you marry me?”


An overwhelmed Young said, “Yes.” Then Sturbl placed a blue sapphire-and-diamond engagement ring on Young’s finger and the couple embraced. The hometown audience erupted in cheers.


The 28-year-old Sturbl told The Daily Record that he had been thinking about proposing to the 22-year-old Young for a while.


“We’ve toured all over the world, and when we found out the show was coming to Glasgow, Lilly-Jane was so excited,” he told The Daily Record. “When I went to pick out a ring, I spotted one called the Wendy design. I took it as a sign and bought it.”


Sturbl revealed that only a few people knew about his plan. “I had to tell some of the production crew so that they knew to cut the music on time,” he said.

“It was a magical moment and one I’ll never forget,” Young told The Daily Record. “I’m thrilled. I feel like the luckiest girl alive and I can’t wait to marry Sandor.”

The video of the proposal has become an Internet sensation. We challenge you to hold back the tears…