Friday, November 14, 2014

Music Friday: Robert Frost Poem Inspires First Aid Kit’s Brand New Release, ‘Stay Gold’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring your great new songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. When we tuned in to Conan on Tuesday night, we were hypnotized by the harmonies of Swedish musical guest First Aid Kit performing “Stay Gold,” a song that uses “gold” as a metaphor for the innocence of youth.


Klara Söderberg, who co-wrote the song with her sister, Johanna, told The Oregonian that “Stay Gold” was inspired by Robert Frost’s eight-line poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” In that poem, which was originally published in 1923, Frost begins with these two lines, “Nature’s first green is gold / Her hardest hue to hold" and ends with these, "So dawn goes down to day / Nothing gold can stay.”

In “Stay Gold,” the sisters’ take on the Frost poem goes like this, “The sun shone high those few summer days / Left us in a soft, wide-eyed haze / It shone like gold / It shone like gold / But just as the moon it shines straight / So dawn goes down today / No gold can stay / No gold can stay.”

Essentially, they're saying that a young person's idyllic view of life — and likely their own — is often short-lived.


Klara Söderberg revealed in the The Oregonian interview, "I had this collection of poetry, and I thought, 'I'll open this and see if there's anything in here that inspires me,' and I came upon the line 'Nothing gold can stay.' That was literally the first thing I saw, and it was perfect."

“Stay Gold” is the title song from First Aid Kit’s third studio album, which dropped in June 2014 and peaked at #23 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and #2 U.S. Billboard Folk Albums chart.

“Stay Gold” introduces new elements to the group’s music, such as the rich backing and full sound of a 13-piece orchestra.

Despite the sisters’ humble beginnings as a MySpace/YouTube indie folk phenomenon in 2007-2008, First Aid Kit may turn out to be Sweden’s hottest musical export since ABBA.

Please check out First Aid Kit’s live performance of “Stay Gold.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

"Stay Gold"
Written by Klara and Johanna Söderberg. Performed by First Aid Kit.

The sun shone high those few summer days
Left us in a soft, wide-eyed haze
It shone like gold
It shone like gold

But just as the moon it shines straight
So dawn goes down today
No gold can stay
No gold can stay

What if our hard work ends in despair?
What if the road won't take me there?
Oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold

What if to love and be loved's not enough?
What if I fall and can't bear to get up?
Oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold
We could stay gold

We're on our way through rugged land
Top of that mountain we wanted to stand
With hearts of gold
With hearts of gold

But there is only forward, no other way
Tomorrow was your hope at the end of the day
And gold turns gray
And gold turns gray

What if our hard work ends in despair?
What if the road won't take me there?
Oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold

What if to love and be loved's not enough?
What if I fall and can't bear to get up?
Oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold
We could stay gold

All of my dreams, they fall and form a bridge
Of memories where I can get back
All of my dreams, they fall and form a bridge
Of memories where I can't get back to you

What if our hard work ends in despair?
What if the road won't take me there?
Oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold

What if to love and be loved's not enough?
What if I fall and can't bear to get up?
Oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold
We could stay gold

Could stay gold
Stay gold

Screen capture: YouTube

Thursday, November 13, 2014

392-Carat ‘Blue Belle of Asia’ Sapphire Smashes World Record, Fetches $17.7M at Christie’s Geneva

The fourth-largest faceted blue sapphire in the world — the stunning 392-carat “Blue Belle of Asia” — smashed the world record for any sapphire sold at auction when excited bidders at Christie’s Geneva pushed the price to $17.7 million on Tuesday.


"The private collector, seated in the room, is now the new owner of the most valuable sapphire in the world," exclaimed Rahul Kadakia, International Head of Christie's Jewelry Department, at the close of the bidding. He did not reveal the identity of the collector.

"We are extremely proud that the Blue Belle of Asia established a new world record for any sapphire sold at auction," he added in an official statement.


Boasting an historical provenance dating back 88 years, the cushion-cut, cornflower blue Ceylon sapphire fetched about twice its pre-sale estimate of $6.9 million to $9.9 million.

Christie’s reports that the Blue Belle of Asia was discovered in 1926 at Pelmadula, Ratnapura (The City of Gems) in Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka). It was originally owned by famous gem and jewelry dealers O.L.M. Macan Markar & Co., based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. British automobile magnate Lord Nuffield purchased the gem in 1937 with the rumored intentions of presenting it Queen Elizabeth on her coronation day in May of that same year. The Queen never took possession of the stone and it subsequently "disappeared" into private hands. Its location remained a mystery for the next 35 years.

The Blue Belle of Asia, which has "excellent clarity" and is suspended on a diamond tassel pendant, was the top performing lot of Christie’s Magnificent Jewels sale.

At $44,974 per carat, the gem’s selling price was in line with the $40,962 per carat achieved by a 102-carat Ceylon sapphire sold for $4.2 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in April of 2014.

Overall, Christie’s Geneva sale generated $154 million from 346 lots. More than 600 buyers from 30 countries registered for the auction.

Photos: Christie's

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Inventor of 'Projection Jewelry' Asks, 'Are We Willing to Abandon Atoms of Gold for the Waves of Light?'

The makers of NECLUMI, a projection-based interactive necklace, ask the provocative question, “Are we willing to abandon atoms of gold for the waves of light?” We may be biased, but we have to chime in with a resounding, “No.”


Still, the concept of “jewelry” made from pulsing and undulating light patterns beamed onto the wearer's neck via a palm-sized pico projector is fascinating.

Poland-based panGenerator boldly calls NECLUMI “a probable future of jewelry.” In its current prototype form, NECLUMI is based on an iPhone app, where the user can choose from four distinctive “jewelry” patterns — Airo, Roto, Movi and Sono. Each one has the ability to react to the user’s movement and environment.


For instance, Airo utilizes the smartphone’s pedometer to emit thin horizontal bands of light that vary by the user’s walking speed. Roto uses the smartphone’s compass to gauge the body’s position, and rotates the globe-like “jewelry” image accordingly. Movi is a curved-shaped graphic that bends with the body’s movement. This works off the smartphone’s accelerometer. And Sono radiates pixels of light in a graphic that looks that the sun during a full eclipse. The activity of pixels bursting from the darkened circle is dependent on the ambient sound in the location. The smartphone’s microphone is used for this function.

Although the maker is confident that fast-moving improvements in the miniaturization of projection technology will make the user experience more comfortable in the future, for now the body installation of NECLUMI is a bit cumbersome. The pico projector needs to be mounted to the wearer’s chest and wired with an HDMI cord to a smartphone. The smallest pico projectors currently on the market measure 4.2 inches by 2.9 inches, have a thickness of 0.8 inches and weigh a little more than five ounces.

Although panGenerator is predicting that projection-based jewelry will become a reality in a few years, the company is not quite ready to go to market with NECLUMI. It’s currently seeking “funding and collaboration” to get the project to the next level.

Check out the promo video for NECLUMI below…

NECLUMI - a probable future of jewellery from ◥ panGenerator on Vimeo.

Screen captures via panGenerator on Vimeo

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Warning: Chlorine Bleach Snuffs the Ebola Virus, But Also Weakens Gold Ring Settings

In yesterday’s blog posting, infectious disease expert William Schaffner criticized an Ebola cleanup crew for incinerating nurse Amber Vinson’s ring when a simpler and more rational solution would have been to dunk the ring in bleach or a similar cleaning product.

Engagement  Ring with Diamond or moissanite Jewelry background

As jewelry experts, we’d like to clarify that Schaffner's bleaching advice misses the mark. Although chlorine bleach does a great job of killing off the Ebola virus, it also — over time — wreaks havoc on ring settings, especially those made of white gold. Jewelry lovers should NEVER clean their precious possessions with chlorine bleach.

A study conducted by Hoover & Strong, a leading refiner and manufacturer of precious metals, found that household bleach, chlorine and bromine (commonly found in pools and hot tubs) caused a gradual failure of karat-gold settings, with the fastest deterioration seen when jewelry was immersed in chlorine bleach and brought to a high temperature.

Chlorine has the ability to dissolve the alloys found in white and yellow gold, ultimately causing stress cracks and breakage. Rings with prong-set stones carry the highest risk, because a single compromised prong could cause the loss of a very valuable gemstone.

In the Hoover & Strong study, 14-karat nickel white gold faired worse than other white metals. Platinum was virtually unaffected and rhodium plating added a layer of protection to the karat gold. Rated from most durable to least durable were platinum, rhodium-plated 14-karat palladium white gold, 14-karat palladium white gold; rhodium-plated nickel white gold and 18-karat nickel white gold.

Although bleach, chlorine and bromine have been proven to damage jewelry, we should stress that the effects are seen over an extended period of time.

For instance, 14-karat nickel white gold exposed to 5% chlorine bleach and heated to 110 degrees F experienced prong failure after 21 hours.

The same experiment done with 5% chlorine bleach at room temperature still yielded prong failure, but it took 120 hours of exposure.

Hoover & Strong also calculated that two hours of daily hot tub use would generate a prong failure after 156 days for a chlorine-treated tub, or 192 days for a bromine-treated tub.

Household detergent had no effects on the settings, according to the study.

So what’s the best way to disinfect jewelry? A lot has to do with the type of stone that may be in the setting.

Alcohol is a great disinfectant, but shouldn’t be used on pearls, opals, emeralds, coral or turquoise. Boiling water can kill germs and viruses, but could damage fracture-filled stones and other gems that are susceptible to cracking with drastic changes of temperature. Highly resilient diamonds, rubies and sapphires can be heated with a jeweler’s torch, effectively killing any potential contaminate.

Other industry experts recommend scrubbing the jewelry with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a simple brew of warm water and liquid dish soap.

If Ebola is on your mind, please note that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control claims that the Ebola virus is easily killed by soap, bleach, sunlight, high temperatures and drying. Cycling an item through your washing machine or dishwasher can also destroy the Ebola virus.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Ebola Nurse’s Engagement Ring Incinerated by Overzealous Cleanup Crew; Bleach Bath Would Have Done the Trick

The cleanup crew tasked with removing any trace of the Ebola virus from the home of infected nurse Amber Vinson might have been a bit overzealous when they incinerated many of her possessions, including her beautiful new engagement ring.


Showcasing a round center diamond in a cushion-shaped halo setting and accented by a double micro pavé diamond band, the ring was very similar in design to one shown below.


Infectious disease expert William Schaffner from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine told ABC News that burning the Ebola patient's engagement ring was unnecessary and "totally overboard." Schaffner said the engagement ring could have been easily disinfected with bleach or a similar cleaning product.

"It sends the wrong public health message," he told ABC News, "as though the engagement ring could be vehicle for the Ebola virus."


Vinson was released recently from Atlanta's Emory University Hospital, where she was treated for the virus she contracted while tending the first U.S. Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, in Texas. She told CNN’s Don Lemon that she was shocked to learn many of her possessions were burned soon after she started treatment on October 14. The cleanup crew had been hired by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and is apparently not liable for replacing the destroyed jewelry.

"Your house was sterilized? They burned a lot of your things? They incinerated your engagement ring?" Lemon asked the newly engaged 29-year-old on CNN Tonight.

"Yes. I was crushed,” she said. “It's a thing, but it has sentimental value to me."


Also burned was a binder that included all of Vinson’s wedding plans. This precaution, too, may have been totally overboard because the Ebola virus is spread through close contact and bodily fluids, including blood, sweat and urine — not by touching paper.

The upbeat Texas nurse remained positive about her future even though many of her possessions are gone.

"We've got to rebuild," she told CNN.

If you’re wondering if it’s even possible to burn an engagement ring, the answer is, “Yes.” Commercial incinerators burn at a temperature of 1,400 to 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Gold will melt at 1,948 degrees Fahrenheit and diamonds can burn or oxidize at 1,472 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Merck index, a definitive reference guide used by scientists. Diamonds do have a melting point of 6,432 degrees Fahrenheit, but attaining that temperature is only possible in a vacuum.

Images: screen captures;; Facebook/HelpAmberVinson