Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Will Go Down in History as a Banner Year for Magnificent Gemstones

Fans of magnificent gemstones will be talking about 2015 for a long time. It was the year that produced a cavalcade of record-breakers, including the world's most expensive gemstone and an amazing rough diamond that weighed a staggering 1,111 carats.

Here's our review of the gemstones that lit up 2015...


• In November, the much-ballyhooed Blue Moon diamond set an all-time record for the highest price ever paid at auction for a gemstone when Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau captured the coveted 12.03-carat gem for a jaw-dropping $48.5 million at Sotheby’s Geneva. He renamed the stone “The Blue Moon of Josephine” in honor of his young daughter.


• Only one day earlier, Lau was at rival Christie’s Geneva bidding on a rare cushion-shaped 16.08-carat pink diamond. He eventually purchased the gem for $28.5 million ($1.7 million per carat), setting an auction record for any vivid pink diamond. Lau named the stone, you guessed it, "Josephine."


• Also in November, Lucara announced the discovery of a 1,111-carat rough diamond — the largest gem-quality diamond recovered in more than 100 years. Second in size only to the Cullinan diamond, which was unearthed in 1905 and weighed 3,106.75 carats, the 1,111-carat Type IIa diamond extracted from Lucara’s Karowe Mine in Botswana is about the size of a tennis ball and weighs nearly a half pound.


• In December, the Crimson Flame, a 15-carat pigeon’s blood Burmese ruby, set a new record when it sold for $18 million at Christie’s Magnificent Jewels sale in Hong Kong. The gem established a new per-carat price record for a ruby at $1.2 million. The gem was billed as "the most important pigeon’s-blood ruby to come to auction in Asia.”


• In May, the Sunrise Ruby obliterated two auction records at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale in Geneva. With a hammer price of $30.4 million, the 25.59-carat, pigeon’s-blood Sunrise Ruby set a new auction mark for the highest price ever paid for a ruby. It also had established a new high water mark for the highest price-per-carat ever paid at auction for a ruby, a record that was broken seven months later by the Crimson Flame.


• Also in May, a 35.09-carat Kashmir sapphire set a new record at Christie’s Geneva when it fetched $7.4 million — crushing the pre-sale high estimate of $4.3 million. Displaying the velvety blue hue of a peacock’s neck feathers, the gem’s per-carat selling price of $209,689 established a new record for a Kashmir sapphire.

Credits: Sotheby's; Christie's; Lucara.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

LeAnn Rimes' 'Blingtastic' Diamond Ring Celebrates Five-Year Anniversary of Engagement

LeAnn Rimes received a "blingtastic" diamond ring from hubby Eddie Cibrian on Christmas Eve, which also marked the fifth anniversary of their engagement in 2010.


The country singer posted a photo of the new stunner on Instagram, along with this caption: "Celebrating 5 years since we got engaged! #christmaseve #thecibs #husbandandwife."

The ring seems to feature a large oval diamond center stone accented by a delicate pavé diamond band. The new ring will replace Rimes' original engagement ring, which had a 5-carat oval center stone framed by a diamond halo.

Rimes explained to a fan on Instagram that the new ring will share the same finger with the three rose gold diamond bands she's been wearing since 2011. The bands symbolize Cibrian and his two sons, Mason and Jake.

In describing her new jewelry, she wrote, "It's a long story. Different stone, new setting. Yes, I still wear 3 bands and I play around with those depending on my mood. I LOVE my ring. I've loved all of them. This one won't be worn much on stage so I don't destroy it. I really get into it, and precious metals don't do well being banged against a mic over and over. Lol."


A short time later, the 33-year-old returned to Instagram to post a romantic selfie of her and her husband, along with a note wishing her fans a happy Christmas Eve.

Rimes and her 42-year-old actor husband began dating in 2009 and tied the knot in Malibu in April 2011. The couple renewed their vows in a private ceremony a year later.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Thanks to GPS, Diver Recovers Newlywed's Tungsten Wedding Band From Ocean Floor

Newlywed Jay Bradford was working on his friend's charter boat off the coast of New Jersey when his tungsten wedding band slipped off his finger and disappeared into the Atlantic Ocean. But thanks to the accuracy of GPS tracking and the skills of a seasoned salvage diver, the ring was found on the ocean floor four days later. Bradford's wife, Meagan, is calling the recovery "a Christmas miracle."


Meagan had picked a tungsten carbide wedding band for her seafaring husband because her local jeweler told her the metal was extremely durable and resistant to scratches. After their June wedding, Jay wore it everyday and never took it off — until Saturday, December 12.


Jay had been helping out on his friend's charter boat, the Lock-N-Load, when he was asked to pull up the anchor so they could find a better fishing spot. In an interview with the Asbury Park Press, Jay described how he hit the boat's bow rail with his hands and the wedding band rode up over his knuckle. When he tried to secure it, the ring jumped off his hand, rebounded off the boat's toe rail and plunked into the 33-foot-deep water.


The conditions were far too dangerous for captain Nick Barsa and his crew to try to recover the ring at that moment, so they locked in the boat's GPS coordinates just in case they decided to tackle the problem with a professional diver at a later date.

Even though the tungsten ring could easily have been replaced, the Point Pleasant couple was steadfast in their commitment to do everything possible to recover the original.

I wasn't worried about the cost of the ring," Meagan told the Asbury Park Press. "I was more concerned with what it meant and what it symbolized."

“We knew it was a 50-50 shot and [Jay] asked me if I though it was worth it,” Meagan added. “I told him we would either have a really good story to tell or be back at square one.”


After four days of bad weather, and with the seas still churning, captain Barsa, Jay and a professional salvage diver returned to the exact GPS coordinates, east of Long Branch, N.J. To have a fighting chance of finding the ring, the boat had to be placed in the exact same spot, a task made very difficult by the 35 MPH westerly winds and a big southeast swell. Captain Barsa had to circle the boat several times to hit the mark.

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite-based navigation system that provides accurate position fixes 24 hours a day, on land, sea and air, in any weather, with no subscription or fee. Originally built between 1978 and 1994 for the U.S. Department of Defense with 24 satellites in orbit 12,000 miles above the Earth, this multi-billion dollar system is available for all users.

And, amazingly, it's often accurate to within 3.5 meters.

The diver, Mark Thompson, stood in the same position on the boat where Jay had lost his ring and dropped a handful of metal washers into the water to determine where the current was likely to take them. Then, the diver followed the popcorn trail to the spot where the tungsten ring was likely to be. Amazingly, the strategy worked to perfection. Despite only one-foot of visibility at the bottom, it took barely 10 minutes for Thompson to find the black tungsten ring resting near the washers on the rocky bottom.

“I gave [the diver] the biggest hug I could,” Meagan said.


Jay promised his wife that he wouldn't wear his tungsten wedding band to work anymore. Instead, he'll wear a cheap imitation or rubber ring. Meagan joked that Jay wants to tattoo his finger with the ring's GPS coordinates so he won't ever "have to go through this again."

Meagan called the experience a "Christmas miracle," and nicknamed the Lock-N-Load's skipper "Captain St. Nicholas" in honor of his holiday season efforts to recover her husband's wedding band.

Credits: Video screen captures via Asbury Park Press (, Google Maps.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Canadian Sends Engagement Ring Into Stratosphere to Make It Truly Unique — Just Like His Fiancée

Shawn Wright says his girlfriend Maylynn Stephenson is "out of this world," so the romantic Canadian devised a way to launch her engagement ring into the stratosphere.


Mounted on a wooden spatula, attached to a high-altitude weather balloon, monitored by a GPS unit and filmed with a GoPro, the engagement ring lifted off from Calgary just before dawn. In a fascinating three-minute video, the ring is shown rising above the earth with a gorgeous sunrise in the background.


The ring ascended 110,000 feet (about 20 miles), which is considered near-space. Propelled by a jet-stream, the weather balloon and its payload eventually parachuted safely more 200 miles away in Taber, Alberta.


"I thought, 'How could I make this special? I can't just hand it to her,'" he told HLN. "I thought for a split second that it would be cool to send it into space. Kind of enchanting the ring for her."


Armed with surreal footage of the ring floating high above the Earth at sunrise, Wright produced a video chronicling the journey. The video ends with the question, "Maylynn. Will you marry me?"

After viewing the video and accepting the "enchanted" engagement ring, Stephenson couldn't have been more impressed by her fiancé's romantic proposal, although she did admit that she would have "freaked out a bit" if she knew in advance that her ring was being launched into space.


"It was definitely fantastic. Mind blowing. Completely off my radar," Stephenson told The Calgary Eyeopener. "I didn't see it coming at all."

Wright was confident he wouldn't lose the ring because he was able to track it in real time using both a radio transmitter and a GPS devise. At one point in the flight, the weather balloon was heading toward the U.S. border, but a fortunate change in the jet stream kept the ring in Canada.

The 29-year-old Wright had originally proposed to Stephenson with a faux diamond ring a year ago while they were on holiday in Barcelona, Spain. Over the past year, he saved up enough money to buy the actual ring and to assemble the components for his elaborate, high-flying video.

Wright uploaded his amazing footage to YouTube and included this funny and heartwarming caption... "To my fiancée. This is my way of showing you how much you mean to me. I have been working on this project in secret. I hope you think it is as out of this world as you are. I love you! PS... I owe you a kitchen spatula."

Wright and Stephenson have known each other since they were pre-teens. About six years ago, they started dating after reconnecting via Facebook.

Check out Wright's video, below...

Images: Screen captures via YouTube; Shawn Wright/Facebook.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Anonymous Benefactors Donate Cherished Bridal Jewelry to Support Salvation Army's Efforts

Bridal jewelry donations are making the holiday bright for Salvation Army chapters throughout the country.


The Salvation Army's bell ringing season starts each November and runs through Christmas Eve. While the bulk of donations come in the form of coins and paper money, the most meaningful (and valuable) ones contain a bit of bling.


Earlier this month in Billerica, Mass., an anonymous donor dropped a diamond engagement ring and wedding band into a Salvation Army Red Kettle outside of a local grocery store. The bridal set was valued at $3,500.


“We’re excited and incredibly grateful to the individual who made such a generous and kind donation,” Major David B. Davis, divisional commander of the Massachusetts Salvation Army, said in a press release. “Our Red Kettles represent the spirit of giving, and this incredible gift will ensure that local children will have a brighter Christmas and that families and seniors will get the resources they need all year round.”

The proceeds from the donation will be used to provide services for thousands of children, families and seniors in the local area. This includes meals, toys and other holiday support for those in need, along with funding for food pantries, soup kitchens, social services and education programs.

Last year, we wrote about an anonymous widow, whose donation of her wedding ring and diamond engagement ring in nearby Boston made headlines across the country. The widow included a note that said she was making the donation in honor of her late husband’s joy of Christmastime gift giving.

She wrote, "I’ve dropped my wedding ring in your Red Kettle knowing that the money from its sale will buy toys for needy children. 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.”

So touched by the widow's generosity, a second benefactor pledged $21,000 to The Salvation Army to have the rings reunited with their original owner.


This year, social media is filled with accounts of bridal jewelry being dropped into Red Kettles across the country. Typically, The Salvation Army will hold the rings for a week or longer, just in case they were dropped into the kettles by mistake.

• In Miami, a frequent Secret Santa and Salvation Army benefactor dropped a platinum and diamond ring appraised at $3,000 into a Salvation Army Red Kettle outside a Winn-Dixie store. The ring was wrapped in a $20 bill and included a note that read, "There are so many who need help. Keep doing good! God bless The Salvation Army. A friend.”

This is the sixth year in a row that the anonymous benefactor has contributed valuable items. Previous gifts have included a gold nugget, an emerald and diamond necklace, and a diamond ring. Each year, the Secret Santa leaves a voice mail alerting The Salvation Army to be on the lookout for a special gift.

• In Wilson County, Tenn., an anonymous donor dropped three rings, including a wedding set, into a Salvation Army Red Kettle. The rings were wrapped neatly inside a dollar bill and then placed in a plastic bag. Their combined value was estimated to be $1,100.

• In Fayetteville, N.C., a bell ringer for The Salvation Army was surprised by the sound of an odd "clank" at the bottom of her donation kettle. The items making the unusual sound turned out to be a bridal set, which was later appraised at $1,770.

• In Durham, N.C., an anonymous person placed two crumpled dollar bills into a kettle at a local Walmart. The dollars hid a diamond ring.

• In Sheboygan, Wis., volunteer bell ringers at a Festival Foods found a one-carat diamond ring at the bottom of their Red Kettle. The diamond was wrapped in its original receipt that dated back to 1996. It was purchased at that time for $2,200. Salvation Army representatives are currently having the ring appraised to determine its current value.

Credits: Red Kettle via Facebook/SalvationArmyUSA; screen captures via; ring photos courtesy of Salvation Army.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Facebook Reveals That Christmas Eve Is the Most Popular Time to Propose

If you thought Valentine's Day was the most romantic day of the year, think again. Facebook reveals that more men pop the question on Christmas Eve than at any other time.

love, christmas, couple, proposal and people concept - happy man

How does Facebook know so much about relationships? Well, Facebook has a cool function that allows users to report their "relationship status." When any of its 1.4 billion users moves in or out of a relationship, Facebook knows. Of the 156 million users in the U.S., 2.6 million changed their status to "engaged" last year.

The most most popular days for getting down on bended knee were Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day. So, as you can see, Valentine's Day actually came in fourth.

Interestingly, their median age was 24, and 30% of all "engaged" status updates took place during November and December.

Facebook provides a long pull-down menu of potential statuses. These include "single," "in a relationship," "engaged," "married," "in a civil union," "in an open relationship," "it's complicated," "separated," "divorced" and "widowed."

Why is Christmas Eve such a popular time to get engaged? The best answer seems to be romance and family.

Experts believe that many grooms-to-be get swept up in the romance of the festive season, which also allows for quality time with loved ones, family and friends. Most men still ask for the parents' blessing before popping the question, and the holidays make that communication much more convenient.

A winter engagement also gives the couple enough time to prepare a summer or fall wedding. In previous bridal surveys, men admitted that proposing during Christmas was more likely to "get a yes."

Facebook also noticed that once young men changed their status to "engaged," their frequency of posting increased dramatically. They made 20% more posts, sent 40% more messages and checked in 20% more often than those not engaged. Engaged women are similarly more "engaged" with Facebook.

The Facebook findings align with the stats tallied by, which found that 33% of men quizzed said Christmas Eve was the best time to pop the question. Interestingly, 83% of women gave a thumbs-down to a holiday proposal. Instead, a large portion of women (29%) said they would prefer a proposal on Valentine's Day or on the anniversary of the day they met their future spouse (20%).


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Marriage Proposals Are Increasingly Public Affairs, Reports The Knot

One of the biggest takeaways from The Knot's 2015 Jewelry & Engagement Study is the fact that marriage proposals are increasingly public affairs, with photographers often called on to preserve the moment, and social media at the ready to broadcast the big news.

Proposal On The Beach With A Man Asking For Marry At Sunset

Forty-five percent of grooms said that they proposed in a public place, up dramatically from 34% in 2011. A scenic spot was chosen by exactly 28% of grooms, while 21% said they proposed at home and another 18% reported popping the question while on vacation.

The Knot noted that executing the perfect proposal and capturing the moment are high on men's priority list. Nearly half (48%) admitted they meticulously planned the proposal down to the last detail. An astounding 41% had a photographer or videographer capture the proposal as it happened.

Social media is the primary way newly engaged couples are alerting their friends and families about the good news. Exactly 79% of couples shared the excitement on social media within three days.


Four of 10 brides said they were completely surprised by the marriage proposal and 58% claimed they knew it was coming, but weren't sure exactly when.

Despite fast-moving advances in technology and communication, the majority of grooms are still mindful of traditions when they propose.

More than three-quarters of men (77%) asked for the father's or parents' permission before popping the question (up from 71% in 2011) and 85% proposed on bended knee.

The exact phrase, "Will you marry me?" was uttered by 89% of future grooms and nearly an equal portion (88%) popped the question with an engagement ring in hand.

The Knot’s 2015 Jewelry & Engagement Study is the largest of its kind and represents the opinions of more than 12,000 U.S. brides and 1,200 U.S. grooms engaged or recently married from 2014 to early 2015.


Monday, December 21, 2015

'Largest Black Diamond' Revealed in Dubai, But Is the 'Korloff Noir' Really the Largest?

Billed as the world's largest black diamond, the 88-karat "Karloff Noir" made a rare one-day appearance at a Dubai Mall last week to promote the reopening of a Karloff Paris boutique.


Discovered in Siberia in 1917, the unusual gem was cut from a 421-carat rough diamond and boasts a deep, rich black opaque color. Daniel Paillasseur, founder and managing partner of Korloff Paris, purchased the precious stone in 1978 and named it after the royal Russian family, Korloff-Sapojnikoff, which originally owned it. The gem is insured for $37 million and resides in Paris.

“It’s the heart and soul of the company and there’s only one such in the world,” Bassam Azakir, managing partner at Korloff Paris, told Gulf News. “[It has] been brought outside of Paris only on select occasions, for the Sultan of Brunei and the Queen of Malaysia. Given how priceless it is from an insurance perspective, it’s difficult to take it out.”


Although the Guinness Book of World Records had once affirmed the Karloff Noir to be the largest faceted black diamond in the world, another famous black diamond — The Spirit of de Grisogono — is reported to be far larger at 312.24 carats. Discovered several decades ago in the Central African Republic, the Mogul-cut black diamond was an astounding 587 carats in its rough state. Swiss luxury jeweler Fawaz Gruosi of Grisogono is responsible for cutting the gem and designing the setting for the larger-than-life white gold ring encrusted with 702 white diamonds (36.69 carats). The ring was eventually sold by Gruosi to a private client.

Despite our confusion over which black diamond is really the world's largest, we're intrigued by Karloff Paris' claim that much of the company's good fortune is credited to the mystical qualities of the 57-facet Karloff Noir.

In a 2007 Haute Living article, Karloff executives provided examples of how the black diamond has brought happiness, good luck and prosperity to all of those who have come in contact with it. The article explains how prior to the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, figure skater Alexei Yagudin touched the stone and went on to win the gold medal. Composer and cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, tennis player Pete Sampras, and chess players Gary Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov are among the individuals said to have benefitted from the powers of the Karloff Noir.

Black diamonds are different than other colored diamonds because they do not get their color from chemical impurities, such as nitrogen, hydrogen or boron, in the diamond's makeup. Instead, black diamonds owe their color to numerous dark inclusions (mostly graphite). Their opaqueness is caused by a “polycrystalline” structure that inhibits the reflection of light.

Images: Korloff Noir courtesy of Korloff France; Spirit of de Grisogono (uncredited).

Friday, December 18, 2015

Music Friday: Christina Aguilera Gets a Diamond Ring in the R&B Classic, 'Merry Christmas Baby'

Welcome to a special holiday edition of Music Friday, when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, birthday girl Christina Aguilera (she was born on this day in 1980) belts out her rendition of the 1947 classic, "Merry Christmas Baby."


In first lines of the song, Aguilera — with an assist from Dr. John — sings about how a very special piece of jewelry has made this the best Christmas ever: "Merry Christmas baby, oh ooh / You sure did treat me nice, oh ooh / You gave me a diamond ring for Christmas / Now I'm living in paradise, oh oh."

Originally recorded by Johnny Moore's Three Blazers in 1947, this R&B holiday classic has been covered by a Who's Who of music-industry legends, including Chuck Berry, Otis Redding, B.B. King, Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen and Melissa Etheridge.


A little known fact about Aguilera's version, which appeared on her My Kind of Christmas album in 2000, is that one of her heroines, Etta James, was supposed to be a featured performer on the track. The idea was later panned and Dr. John was picked as a replacement.

In a snarky review, critic Chris Williams of Entertainment Weekly noted it was probably better that James didn't appear on the track.

"The blues legend is mysteriously absent from the finished track," Williams wrote, "but Aguilera oversings so wildly that there wouldn’t have been enough oxygen in the booth to sustain another life form."

Nevertheless, Aguilera's My Kind of Christmas peaked at #28 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and sold more than one million copies.


Johnny Moore's Three Blazers' recording of "Merry Christmas Baby" also was a great success. The song reached position #3 on Billboard's R&B Juke Box chart during the Christmas of 1947.

Please check out the video of Aguilera's live performance of "Merry Christmas Baby" on The Late Show With David Letterman. As a bonus, we're also including the original. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along. Enjoy!

"Merry Christmas, Baby"
Written by Brian Douglas Wilson and Mike E. Love. Performed by Christina Aguilera, featuring Dr. John.

Oh oh
Merry Christmas baby
You sure did treat me nice, oh ooh yeah yeah
Said uh, merry Christmas baby, oh ooh
You sure did treat me nice, oh ooh
You gave me a diamond ring for Christmas
Now I'm living in paradise, oh oh

I'm, I'm feeling mighty fine
Got good music on my radio
(Yes you do child)
Well I'm, I'm feeling mighty fine
Got good music, on, music on my radio, oh
Well I, I want to kiss you baby
While we're standing underneath the mistletoe

Santa came down the chimney
About a half past three
Left all these pretty presents
That you, that you see before me, oh

Merry Christmas baby, merry Christmas baby
You sure been good to me, oh, oh ooh
Well I, I haven't had a drink this morning
But I'm, I'm lit up like a Christmas tree
Christmas tree, oh oh oh, oh yeah

Oh, yeah yeah yeah
Oh oh ooh, yeah, oh, ooh,
Oh oh yeah, yeah, yeah

St. Nick came down the chimney
About a half past three
He left all these pretty presents
That you see before me

Merry Christmas baby
You sure been good to me
Haven't had a taste this morning
But I'm all lit up like a Christmas tree

Oh, oh, oh ooh, oh ooh
Merry Christmas baby
You sure been good to me
Oh oh, oh oh
Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah, oh

Sure been good, to, to, to, me
Hey, oh oh hey

Aguilera's version:

Johnny Moore's Three Blazers' version:

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Men Are Spending More on Engagement Rings Than Ever Before, Says The Knot; Average Rises to $5,978

When it comes to picking the perfect engagement ring, men are spending more time, more effort and more money than ever before, according to a national survey conducted by The Knot.

Man proposing to his girlfriend while they are having a romantic

The average groom-to-be spent an all-time high of $5,978 on an engagement ring in 2015, up from $5,403 in 2013 and $5,095 in 2011.

These men also did an impressive amount of legwork before committing to a purchase. On average, they invested 4.8 months in research and 3.6 months in sourcing the perfect engagement ring. They visited five retailers and scrutinized at least 25 rings before purchasing "the one."


According the study, diamonds are still the #1 engagement ring stone choice, with 63% receiving a white diamond center stone with side stones and/or accents, and 21% receiving a white diamond solitaire. However, 8% reported receiving a colored gemstone engagement ring, up from 6% in 2013.

The trendiest engagement ring setting is, by far, the halo, which tripled from 7% in 2011 to 22% in 2015. The most popular diamond cut is round (49%), followed by princess (22%) and cushion (6%). Interestingly, 33% of brides said they'd prefer a different shape stone than the traditional (and most popular) round shape.

The survey also reveals that men favor quality over quantity. Eighty-five percent of men would rather buy a smaller, better-quality diamond than a larger stone of lesser quality, and 57% of brides admit that they'd rather have a smaller, better quality diamond than a larger stone of lesser quality.


The Knot's 2015 Jewelry & Engagement Study is the largest of its kind and includes survey results from more than 12,000 U.S. brides and 1,200 U.S. grooms engaged or recently married from 2014 to early 2015.

Another key finding from the survey is that future brides are taking a more active role in the engagement process, especially when it comes to selecting the ring.

Sixty-seven percent of brides reported they they began researching rings before getting engaged, using their mobile devices to browse ring styles (43%), sharing ring ideas with their fiancé (35%) and researching ring designers or retailers (29%).

Eight out of 10 men said their partner dropped hints. Of that group, 51% of women pointed out styles while shopping, 36% revealed outright what they wanted and 11% left ads or pictures of engagement rings laying around.

In a surprising note, Kellie Gould, editor-in-chief of The Knot, reported that brides are no longer in the dark about the value of their engagement rings. Thirty-four percent of brides were aware of exactly how much their fiancé paid and another 34% knew the approximate cost.

Image: Couple via; Bridal jewelry courtesy of Stuller.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Angelina Jolie Pitt Donates Extraordinary Citrine Necklace to Smithsonian's National Gem Collection

Actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie Pitt donated an extraordinary citrine necklace to the Smithsonian’s National Gem Collection. Featuring 64 cushion-cut citrine gems and a fiery 177.11-carat pear-shaped citrine drop, the 18-karat gold necklace went on display last Friday at the Janet Annenberg Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals in Washington, D.C.


The new piece, called the Jolie Citrine Necklace, will remain on view indefinitely, alongside some of the world's most famous gems, including the Hope Diamond. The National Gem Collection is part of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History — the most visited natural history museum in the world. The collection consists of approximately 350,000 mineral specimens and 10,000 gems.


The Jolie Citrine Necklace is from the Style of Jolie jewelry collection, a collaboration between the actress and American jewelry designer Robert Procop. The collection was developed by Jolie Pitt to promote education and establish schools in conflict-affected countries. Proceeds from the sales of jewelry in the Style of Jolie collection are donated to the Education Partnership for Children in Conflict, which builds schools for children around the world, the first few of which are in Afghanistan.


The necklace is beautifully styled with 64 graduated citrine gems, each bezel set in 18-karat yellow gold. The large pear-shaped citrine drop is also bezel set, giving the necklace a sharp, clean look.

“We are thrilled to receive this important piece for the Smithsonian,” said Jeffrey Post, curator of the National Gem Collection. “It is the first piece of citrine jewelry in the collection. The fact that it was personally designed by Angelina Jolie Pitt and Robert Procop makes it all the more significant.”

Added Jolie, "Robert and I are honored to have this great institution feature one of our jeweled creations. As the Smithsonian has educated so many of us, this jewel is a symbol of our efforts to help educate underprivileged children in conflict areas of the world.”

Citrine, one of the alternative birthstones for November, is the golden-yellow-to-orange variety of quartz and gets its color from trace amounts of iron in the gem's chemical makeup. The word "citrine" comes from "citron," the French word for "lemon."

Publicity photos by RP Studio.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Eva Longoria's Ruby Engagement Ring Could Spark New Interest in Colorful Center Stones

The beautiful and elegant Eva Longoria delighted her two million Instagram followers on Sunday with a romantic photo announcing her engagement to Jose Antonio Baston. The image shows the couple embracing during their visit to Dubai — and prominently reveals Longoria's impressive ruby-and-diamond engagement ring.


A close-up view of the ring, although a bit blurry, seems to show a sizable ruby center stone surrounded by clusters of white diamonds in a white gold or platinum setting.


Longoria cleverly captioned her photo, "Ummmm so this happened....#Engaged #Dubai #Happiness." The 40-year-old actress and former Desperate Housewives star also included a photo of her and her fiancé enjoying a champagne picnic before riding camels into the desert.


The choice of a ruby instead of a more traditional diamond is expected to spark the public's interest in more colorful, non-traditional engagement ring center stones.


Of course, Longoria is not the first celebrity to favor a ruby engagement ring. Sisters Ashley and Jessica Simpson proudly wear ruby-and-diamond engagement rings from designer Neil Lane. Ashley got hers in 2014 (above, left) and Jessica got hers in 2010 (above, right).


And Princess Kate wears the world's most famous non-traditional engagement ring — the sapphire-and-diamond stunner previously owned by Prince William's mother, Princess Diana.

Longoria and Baston, who is nicknamed "Pepe," were in Dubai to attend the Global Gift Gala at the 2015 Dubai International Film Festival.


The new bride-to-be is clearly smitten by her new fiancé. She captioned the photo above, "No words for this handsomeness! @globalgiftfoundation #GGFDUB15."

In 2014, she told Parade magazine, "You know, in general, I'm attracted to humor and intellect in a man." When asked if Baston did, indeed, have those qualities, she said, "Sure. Let me tell you, I'm very lucky in my life."

Longoria has been dating Baston since 2013. The handsome 47-year-old is the president of Televisa, Latin America's largest media company.

Sunday's proposal likely came as a surprise to Longoria, who only a year ago said in a interview that that she believed that "marriage and kids are not on the horizon." She was previously married to actor Tyler Christopher from 2002 to 2004 and to NBA star Tony Parker from 2007 to 2011.

Credit: Simpson rings courtesy of Neil Lane. Kate Middleton ring via Facebook/Kate Middleton.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Move Over 'Tsarvena Swan,' Savio's 'Peacock Ring' Is Now the Ring With the Most Diamonds at 3,827

Hey, "Tsarvena Swan," the "Peacock Ring" flew away with your Guinness World Record for the most diamonds set in a single ring. Designed by India's Savio Jewellery, the 18-karat white gold Peacock Ring boasts 3,827 ideal-cut diamonds weighing a total of 16.5 carats. It has an estimated value is $2.7 million.


Savio partner Abhishek Sand told JCK magazine that the finished piece was "crazy difficult" to produce. The challenge of sourcing nearly 4,000 fine-quality, small diamonds took three months, and the manufacturing process took three years. The diamonds range from E to G in color and from VVS to VS in clarity. The weights vary from 0.003 carats to .01 carats.


"We didn’t just want to break [the record] by a little, but by a lot," Sand told JCK. "Guinness is an internationally recognized standard and it would set us apart.”


The Peacock Ring's diamond count turned out to be 51% greater than that of the previous record holder, the Tsarvena Swan, which held the title since 2011.

That ring was designed by Lobortas Classic Jewelry House (Ukraine) and features 2,525 G-color diamonds, ranging from 0.001 carats to 0.05 carats. The diamond total weight of the piece is 10.48 carats, and all the diamonds are in the clarity range of VVS2 to VS1. Lobortas set the retail value at $1.3 million, according to published reports.


Guinness also announced a second diamond-related record, this one for a bejeweled guitar. The "Eden of Coronet" guitar is adorned with 11,441 diamonds weighing 401.15 carats — all set in 18-karat white gold (57.67 ounces). The guitar was designed by Aaron Shum of Hong Kong and is valued at $2 million, making it the world's most valuable guitar.

Credits: Peacock Ring by Savio Jewellery; Tsarvena Swan by Shrenuj & Co.; Eden of Coronet by

Friday, December 11, 2015

Music Friday: Gold Is a Metaphor for the Exuberance of Youth in Sabrina Carpenter's 'We'll Be the Stars'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you new songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, 16-year-old Disney darling Sabrina Carpenter sings about letting go of fears, pursuing dreams and feeling invincible in "We'll Be the Stars."


As the lead single from Carpenter's 2015 debut album, Eyes Wide Open, "We'll Be the Stars" uses "gold" as a metaphor for the exuberance of youth.

She sings, "We are young, we are gold / Trying things we didn't know / Looking at the sky, see it come alive / All our fears became our hopes / Climbed out every locked window / We rode the lion's mane and fell upon the rain."


Interestingly, the gold/youth connections of "We'll Be the Stars" are present in a number of other songs, including "Stay Gold" by Stevie Wonder and "Stay Gold" by First Aid Kit. Each of those songs is inspired by Robert Frost’s eight-line poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay.”

In that poem, which was originally published in 1923, Frost writes about striving to hold onto the wondrous, pure, innocent and exciting “goldenness” of youth.

He 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.”

"We'll Be the Stars" was released in January 2015 and made its radio premiere on Radio Disney. Carpenter's debut album topped out at a respectable #29 on the U.S. Billboard 200.

The Pennsylvania-born singer-actress launched her career in 2011 with a guest role on NBC's drama series, Law & Order: SVU. In January 2013, Carpenter was cast as Maya Hart in the Disney Channel series Girl Meets World.

Please check out the video of Carpenter's entrancing acoustic version of "We'll Be the Stars." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along.

"We'll Be The Stars"
Written by Steven Solomon, Skyler Stonestreet, Cameron Walker. Performed by Sabrina Carpenter.

We are young, we are gold
Trying things we didn't know
Looking at the sky, see it come alive
All our fears became our hopes
Climbed out every locked window
We rode the lion's mane and fell upon the rain

We can reach the constellations
Trust me, all our dreams are breaking out

No, we're never gonna turn to dust,
Yeah, all we really need is us
Don't be scared to close your eyes
No, we're never gonna die, we'll be the stars
Oh, no, we're never gonna step too far
Yeah, we're holding on to who we are
When it's time to close your eyes
They will see us in the sky,
We'll be the stars!

Oh ooh ooh oh oh
We'll be the stars!
Oh ooh ooh oh oh
We'll be the stars!

Let me in, hold me close
Fill my heart with simple notes
So when it's hard to see,
They are there, reminding me
Take my breath, and hold me high
So I can feel the city lights
Glowing under me
It's in our reach, we're breaking out

No, we're never gonna turn to dust,
Yeah, all we really need is us
Don't be scared to close your eyes
No, we're never gonna die, we'll be the stars
Oh, no, we're never gonna step too far
Yeah, we're holding on to who we are
When it's time to close your eyes
They will see us in the sky,
We'll be the stars!

Oh ooh ooh oh oh
We'll be the stars!
Oh ooh ooh oh oh
We'll be the stars!

We can reach the constellations
Trust me, all our dreams are breaking out

No, we're never gonna turn to dust,
All we really need is us
We'll be the stars

Oh, no, we're never gonna step too far
Yeah, we're holding on to who we are
When it's time to close your eyes
They will see us in the sky,
We'll be the stars!

Oh ooh ooh oh oh
We'll be the stars!
Oh ooh ooh oh oh
We'll be the stars!

Oh ooh ooh oh oh
We'll be the stars!
Oh ooh ooh oh oh
We'll be the stars!

Image: Video captures via YouTube.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

New Law Opens Door for Commercial Mining of Precious Metals on Asteroids, the Moon and Other Planets

Science fiction is now science fact.

President Barack Obama signed a new law that allows U.S. space miners to extract and sell the precious metals they find on asteroids, the moon and other planets. 


The U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act paves the way for companies, such as Redmond, Wash.-based Planetary Resources, to start planning for commercial prospecting trips to explore what is estimated to be trillions of dollars worth of untapped resources, especially gold, platinum and palladium. The company expects to launch the first space-mining missions before the end of this decade.

“This is the single greatest recognition of property rights in history,” Eric Anderson, Planetary Resources' co-founder and co-chairman, said in a news release. “This legislation establishes the same supportive framework that created the great economies of history, and will encourage the sustained development of space.”


Although the law does not allow for companies to claim, say, an asteroid, for their own, miners may keep anything they obtain from their exploration and mining.

Chris Lewicki, president and chief engineer of Planetary Resources, has his eyes on the 13,000 asteroids whose orbits approach the Earth. They range in size from a few yards to hundreds of miles across.

This past July, for example, a small asteroid containing $5.4 trillion in platinum flew within 1.5 million miles of this planet. The summer fly-by sparked speculation of how asteroids could be captured and brought into orbit around our Moon, making it easier for crews to extract the precious metal in a more controlled way.

“This is how something turns from science fiction into science fact," Lewicki told Arizona Public Media, "and we are right in the middle of it now.”


Asteroids could one day be a vast new source of scarce material in a world of ever-increasing demand. In addition to gold, platinum and palladium, asteroids likely contain other valuable materials, such as silver, iridium, osmium, rhenium, rhodium, ruthenium, tungsten, iron, cobalt, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, aluminium and titanium.

“The natural resources of our Solar System have great potential to facilitate and support our human endeavors, both in outer space and on Earth," said Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX). "Commercial space companies in the United States are making significant investments to develop technical capabilities that will allow us to explore and use outer space resources. This bill enables this new industry and provides guidance for future entrepreneurs.”

Images: Screen captures via; NASA (public domain).