Friday, January 23, 2015

Music Friday: Check Out Tim McGraw’s Brand New Single, ‘Diamond Rings and Old Barstools’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great new songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we give you a sneak peek at what promises to be a sure-fire country music hit — Tim McGraw’s “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools.”


Set to be released next Monday as the fourth single from McGraw’s chart-topping Sundown Heaven Town album, “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” was touted by Billboard magazine as “the crowning moment of the disc.”

“It’s high on emotional drama, high on steel, and high on some outstanding harmony from McGraw’s cousin Catherine Dunn — who proves there’s more talent in the family genetic pool,” Billboard gushed.

“Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” is a song about former lovers who finally accept the bitter truth that their relationship will never work out. In the first verse, McGraw sings, “Diamond rings and old barstools / One's for queens and one's for fools / One's the future and one's the past / One's forever and one won't last.”

In the chorus, he continues, “I guess some things just don't mix like you hoped / Like me and you / And diamond rings and old barstools.”

McGraw will be performing “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” during his upcoming “Shotgun Rider Tour ’15,” which will kick off in June and visit 30 cities in North America. McGraw will bring his high-energy show to a combination of amphitheaters, arenas and festivals. The tour is named for the three-time Grammy Award-winning artist’s most recent #1 single, “Shotgun Rider,” which spent four weeks at the top of the country charts. The album Sundown Heaven Town was released in September 2014 and peaked at #1 on the Billboard U.S. Top Country Albums chart.

McGraw, who has been married to country star Faith Hill since 1996, has sold more than 40 million albums since he first burst onto the country music scene in 1992. Twenty-five of his singles have gone to #1 on the Billboard U.S. Hot Country Songs chart, and 10 of his 12 studio albums have topped the Billboard U.S. Top Country Albums chart.

We know you will enjoy McGraw’s live performance of “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools.” Click the video below and check out the lyrics if you’d like to sing along…

"Diamond Rings and Old Barstools"
Written by Barry Dean, Luke Laird. Performed by Tim McGraw with Catherine Dunn.

Diamond rings and old barstools
One's for queens and one's for fools
One's the future and one's the past
One's forever and one won't last

It ain't like midnight and cigarette smoke
It ain't like watered down whiskey and coke
I guess some things just don't mix like you hoped
Like me and you
And diamond rings and old barstools

The wrongs and rights, the highs and lows
The "I love you's," the "I told you so's"
Past few miles to wherever's home
Another morning waking up alone

[Repeat Chorus]

We ain't like midnight and cigarette smoke
Nothing like watered down whiskey and coke
I guess some things just don't mix like you hoped
Like me and you
And diamond rings and old barstools


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Favorite Jewels of Legendary Actress Lauren Bacall to Hit the Auction Block in March

With a career that spanned 70 years in film, television and stage, actress Lauren Bacall was a beauty with an attitude. She lit up the silver screen playing opposite the biggest names in Hollywood, including her first husband, Humphrey Bogart.


Bacall, who passed away in August of 2014 at age 89, had a sophisticated taste in art, collectibles, furnishings and fine jewelry. About 750 items from her estate, including 30 pieces of jewelry, will be auctioned by Bonhams New York on March 31 and April 1.


Among the treasures on the Bonhams' auction block will be branded items from Cartier, Chanel and Tiffany & Co., as well as several pieces by one of Bacall's favorite designers, Jean Schlumberger.


“Lauren Bacall loved this amethyst, turquoise and diamond ring,” noted Jon King, Bonhams’ vice president and director of business development. "Paris was her favorite city and while she was there, she would go to Hermès and Yves Saint Laurent and all the houses, including Schlumberger and buy from him directly." The coordinating gems on the Schlumberger earrings were designed to move with her as she moved, King explained.


The ring is estimated to sell in the range of $8,000 to $12,000, and the earrings are expected to fetch from $7,000 to $9,000.


A second Schlumberger piece was also favored by the actress. The 18-karat yellow gold bracelet is designed as a series of blue pailloné enamel panels, detailed with polished gold bars, leaves and cones. The bracelet is expected to sell from $20,000 and $30,000.

Bonhams’ auction notes reveal that 18-karat yellow gold rope bracelets were a fashion staple for Bacall, as she frequently wore multiples on the same wrist.


Bacall wore the bracelet (above) together with a similar, diamond-encrusted ropework bracelet "all the time," said King. "She liked layering and texture. That was part of her distinctive style." The bracelet is expected to fetch $5,000 to $7,000.

The actress also loved the camel brooch, above. Bonhams reported that British designer Elizabeth Gage was charged with turning an enamel camel Bacall owned into a brooch.


Items by designer Darlene de Selde will be featured, as well. These include a pair of 22-karat yellow gold and sapphire earrings, as well as a jadeite and 22-karat yellow gold ring (above).

Many of the items on sale are modestly priced, so here’s your chance to own a piece of Hollywood history.

In addition to the fine jewelry, the auction will feature bronze sculptures, decorative arts, tribal works of art, prints and paintings. Bonhams believes the entire collection will yield $3 million.

A tour of the Lauren Bacall Collection began in Hong Kong (Jan. 14 - 19) and is scheduled to head out to Paris (Jan. 29 – Feb. 5). Then the collection lands in London (Feb. 15 – 19), and moves onward to Los Angeles (Feb. 27 – Mar. 6). The final stop is New York, where the entire collection will be previewed from March 25 – 30, with the auction commencing the following day.

Jewelry images via Bonhams. Lauren Bacall publicity shots.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Californian Pays $4.8M for 26 Cents, Compares 1792 Penny and Quarter to the Mona Lisa

A California man plunked down $2.585 million for a U.S. penny dated 1792, setting an auction record for the highest price ever paid for a one-cent piece. On the following day, his winning bid of $2.232 million at Heritage Auctions secured a 1792 quarter, bringing his two-day tally to $4.8 million for a pair of coins with a face value of a mere 26 cents.


Crazy, you might say.

Not so, counters Beverly Hills coin wholesaler Kevin Lipton, who compared his newly acquired 1792 “Birch Cent” and “Wright Quarter” to the priceless paintings of Leonardo da Vinci. “They are literally Mona Lisas of our coinage,” he told the Los Angeles Times.

The 1792 Birch Cent, which is named after its engraver, Robert Birch, is the finest example of only 10 similar coins known to exist. They were experimentally produced after the founding of the U.S. Mint as part of a series of prototype coins.

“It’s like our very first penny,” Lipton told the Times. “It’s such a spectacular coin. It’s so important, so rare.”


The Birch Cent features the profile of Miss Liberty with flowing hair framed by a motto that was soon abandoned, “Liberty Parent of Science & Industry.” The other side says, “United States of America” and shows the denomination of “One Cent" within a wreath. At the bottom is the fraction "1/100."

"It’s a gorgeous coin, breathtaking,” Lipton told Reuters. “And the history is important. This is our earliest depiction of what we thought of ourselves as a nation.”

Lipton told the Times that he had his eye on the Birch Cent since he saw it for the first time at a New York auction house in 1981. At the time, it was purchased for $200,000 by a New York City developer.


Lipton’s 1792 "Wright Quarter" is special because it's America's first quarter and because the only other example known to exist is in the Smithsonian.

The intended denomination of the Wright Quarter has been debated for many years because there is no indication of value engraved on the coin. It features a beautifully executed profile of a woman with the word "Liberty" written atop and the date below.


The reverse side has an eagle standing on a globe with the words "United States of America" surrounding it. The coin was designed by Joseph Wright only one year before his death.

Images: Heritage Auctions

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

24K Gold Cleats Nearly Derail Marshawn Lynch’s Appearance in NFC Championship Game

Even the Football Gods must have been shaking their heads in disbelief.

If you watched Sunday’s NFC Championship game between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers, you witnessed one of the most improbable comebacks in pro football history.


And if you watched the pre-game show on FOX, you were shocked the learn of the NFL’s threat to eject Seattle’s star running back Marshawn Lynch from the contest for his intention to wear 24-karat clad cleats.

First, a quick review of the game. After being badly outplayed, and down 19-7 with less than three minutes to go, the Seahawks mounted a relentless comeback — including a recovered onside kick and a successful two-point conversion — that resulted in a heart-stopping 28-22 overtime victory and a ticket to the Super Bowl. Lynch wouldn’t be denied as he rumbled for 157 yards on 25 carries and scored a touchdown.

Before the game, however, Fox analysts speculated whether Lynch would play at all — and the controversy hinged on an apparent NFL dress-code violation. FOX Sports NFL insider Jay Glazer reported that Lynch would be ejected from Sunday game if he insisted on wearing a pair of $1,100 gold cleats designed by shoe-customizing guru Soles by Sir.


The Nike Vapor Speed Mid TD shoes were gilded in 24-karat gold flake paint and accented with a gold-plated sole and cleats. Lime green laces — to complement the Seahawks' official colors of lime green and blue — completed the motif.

TMZ reported that Lynch had the shoes especially made for his anticipated return to the Super Bowl, but decided to wear them in the NFC Championship game because he was so pleased with the way they turned out.

NFL officials were not pleased. The league demands that each player wear officially sanctioned footwear. The shoes have to be black, white, or one of the official colors of the team. In Lynch's case, metallic gold did not qualify.


Typically, a violation would result in a fine, which is a penalty most players are willing to absorb. Lynch, for example, was fined $10,000 for wearing “Skittles” shoes against the San Francisco 49ers in December of 2011. On Sunday, the NFL was ready to get tougher.


Just before game time on Sunday, FOX reported that the crisis had been averted. Lynch had complied with the NFL’s request and wore green-and-blue shoes — although they did have what appeared to be metallic gold soles and cleats (not a violation, apparently).

Gold shoe photos: Instagram/Soles by Sir; Lynch photos: courtesy Getty Images; Skittles shoe photo:

Monday, January 19, 2015

Storm Washes Precious Amber Onto Russian Shore, Sparks Modern-Day Gold Rush

Dozens of Russians waded into the pounding surf of the numbing Baltic Sea to stake their claims on valuable amber that had been ripped from the seabed and washed onto the beach after a violent winter storm.


The amber found on the shoreline at Pionersky in the Russian-controlled territory of Kaliningrad on January 7 was free for the taking — as long as the would-be treasure hunters were willing to risk the harsh conditions.


Despite air temperatures that were reported to be minus 6°C (21°F), dozens of hardy individuals from the region turned up in their wet suits, nets in hand. Many waded into the frigid and turbulent surf in the hopes of snagging precious chunks the amber, which actually floats in saltwater.


Other prospectors stayed on the shore, picking through mounds of seaweed and scouring the beach.

Individual amber specimens can range in value from $20 to $40,000 or more, according to the International Colored Gemstone Association.


Local resident Olga Bazhenova told a Russian TV crew that the gem seekers were picking up small- and medium-sized pieces of amber from seaweed and sand from dawn till dusk.

“It was a free for all,” she said. “Some people made themselves a lot of money to start the New Year.”

Bazhenova also witnessed elderly residents getting in on the action.

“They forgot their ailments and age, and scratched the frozen soil with sticks like babies in a sand[box],” she said.


Ninety percent of the world’s amber — a beautiful yellowish-orange gemstone that is formed from fossilized tree resin — comes from Kaliningrad, a Russian territory that is sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania. Due to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Kaliningrad Oblast became an exclave, geographically separated from the rest of Russia.


Amber is a major source of income for the region, according to the Daily Mail, with the local Kaliningrad Amber Factory extracting 250 tons of it in 2014.

Amber, which was popularized by the 1993 thriller Jurassic Park, has been used in jewelry for thousands of years. Amber ornaments dating back to 1600BC have been found in the Mycenaean tombs of Ancient Greece.


Because amber is the product of fossilized pine tree resin, some specimens contain the trapped remains of tiny bugs and other creatures, seemingly frozen in time. Some scientists believe that it may be possible to extract the DNA from these creatures.

Screen captures via Youtube. Baltic amber necklace with insect inclusions via WikiCommons. Photo of unpolished amber stones via WikiCommons. Ant inside Baltic amber via WikiCommons © Anders L. Damgaard.