Friday, April 03, 2015

Music Friday: Smitten ‘X Factor’ Contestant Tells Simon, 'I'll Give You Jewelry,' During Performance of ‘Bring It on Home to Me’

Welcome to Music Friday when we feature fabulous songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today we shine the spotlight on X Factor contestant Panda Ross singing Sam Cooke’s “Bring It on Home to Me” during the talent competition’s 2012 auditions.


Ross’ vivacious personality, fabulous voice and unabashed crush on X Factor judge Simon Cowell made her appearance a memorable one. Her audition, which included two light-hearted jewelry references, was seen by a TV audience of eight million. The viral video of her performance attracted 12 million views on YouTube.

Ross flirted with Cowell as she introduced herself to the judges. “Hi Simon,” she purred. “You're my boo. I wore this necklace that says ‘Single’ just for you.”

Ross then proceeded to wow the judges with her powerful, soulful rendition of Cooke’s 1962 hit, a song is about a rejected lover hoping for a second chance. As she neared the end of the song, she injected a clever jewelry reference directed at “her boo.”


In the transition between the second and third verse, she breathlessly said, “Check this out, Simon. If I win that $5 million…”

And then, flashing a large ring on her left hand, she powered into the rest of the song, “I'll give you jewelry, money too / And that's not all, all I'll do for you / Oh, oh, bring it to me / Bring your sweet loving / Bring it on home to me.”


The studio audience went wild, the judges cheered and Cowell, seemingly embarrassed, grinned ear to ear. Judges Cowell, Demi Lovato, Britney Spears and L.A. Reid were unanimous with their “Yes” votes. Cowell told Ross she “sang like a legend.”

Ross’ wild ride to the national stage was hardly a smooth one. Born in a Huntsville, Texas, prison and raised by her grandmother in Hobbs, N.M., Ross’ troubled youth was colored by drug use and poor decisions. She served prison time and was “so near death so many times,” she said.

When she found her faith, her life turned around. Since appearing on the show 2½ years ago, Ross has lost more than 100 pounds, has furthered her vocal training and has sung in churches and other venues all over the U.S.

“I don’t have a lot of education, I don’t have a lot of anything,” she explained on her web site, “but I have a lot of personality, and it’s the gift God gave me. I just like to use that gift to brighten up people’s day.”

Ross’ performance of “Bring It on Home to Me” is guaranteed to make you smile. The full video of her X Factor appearance and song lyrics are below…

“Bring It on Home to Me”
Written by Sam Cooke. Performed by Panda Ross.

If you ever change your mind
About leaving, leaving me behind
Oh, oh, bring it to me
Bring your sweet loving
Bring it on home to me

You know I laughed when you left
But now I know I've only hurt myself
Oh, oh, bring it to me
Bring your sweet loving
Bring it on home to me

I'll give you jewelry, money too
And that's not all, all I'll do for you
Oh, oh, bring it to me
Bring your sweet loving
Bring it on home to me

You know I'll always be your slave
Till I'm dead and buried in my grave
Oh, oh, bring it to me
Bring your sweet loving
Bring it on home to me


Screen captures via YouTube.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Pair of 1.7-Carat Diamonds for Eyes Makes This Chocolate Easter Bunny the World’s Most Extravagant

With Easter arriving this Sunday, we thought it would be fun to take a close look at the world’s most extravagant chocolate Easter bunny — a confectionery masterpiece that boasts real diamonds for eyes and a price tag of $49,000.


British master chocolatier Martin Chiffers spares no expense in the execution of the 15-inch-tall statuette that he personally hand carves from a solid block of Tanzania-sourced chocolate.


The bunny weighs in at a dense 11 pounds and packs a staggering 548,000 calories. But even more impressive are the bunny’s ravishing diamond eyes — each a GIA-certified round brilliant-cut gem that weighs 1.7 carats. Nestled around the bunny's left foot is a gilded bonus — three edible gold-leaf Easter eggs that punctuate the lavish design.

Although Chiffers frequently finds himself pushing the limits of chocolate indulgence, this is the first time he’s used gems in his creations.


“While I'm am very accustomed to teaching about and creating extravagant luxury chocolate pieces,” he said, “incorporating diamonds is a first."


The VS clarity, G-color diamonds are valued at $37,320, or about 76% of the bunny’s total value. The rest is attributed to the high-end chocolate and the amount of labor that goes into the piece. Chiffers reported that the carving of the chocolate takes two full days. On his Facebook page, he called the process "therapeutic."

For this diamond bunny project, Chiffers collaborated with two London-based firms famous for their over-the-top offerings — the web site VeryFirstTo and online jeweler 77 Diamonds.

While the original bunny design calls for white diamond eyes, Chiffers is able to swap them out for colored diamonds or other precious gemstones. Once the bunny is devoured, 77 Diamonds is offering to set the gemstone eyes into a custom piece of jewelry at no extra charge.

Eleven pounds of chocolate may take a while to consume, but the good news is that the bunny has a two-year shelf life if it is kept at the relatively cool temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Images via, Facebook/Martin Chiffers

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Modern-Day Goldfinger Turns Everyday Items Into Gold

Much like James Bond villain Auric Goldfinger, Beverly Hills designer Hugh Power is the man with the Midas touch, literally. Power possesses a peculiar passion for turning everyday items into gold. Power has successful performed gilded transformations of mountain bikes, reading glasses, drinking straws, ear buds, shoelaces, guitar picks and much more.


Power, who is the proprietor of the House of Solid Gold, earned a double dose of national exposure yesterday when the Huffington Post ran a feature story about his company under the category of “Weird News,” and then CNBC's “Secret Lives of the Super Rich” ran a segment on the designer and highlighted the fact that he crafted a gold toothpick for rapper Snoop Dogg.

Most of Power’s items are designed in solid 18-karat gold. In some cases, 24-karat gold leaf, overlay or electroplate is used where practicality crosses everyday needs, according to the designer’s web site. Prices generally range from $800 to $495,000.

Power considers his gilded products as objets d’art. Each signed piece is meticulously finished on the inside and out. Power claims to use only the finest quality gemstones and materials.

Power’s half-million-dollar extreme mountain bike, which took more than 750 hours to complete, is handcrafted and overlaid with pure 24-karat gold. The frame, chain, spokes and pedals are all covered in gold. The bike’s custom emblem bearing The House of Solid Gold logo ("THSG") is embellished with more than 600 black diamonds weighing 6 carats and 500 golden sapphires weighing 4.5 carats. The customized seat is covered in brown alligator skin and the water bottle is covered in gold and accented with chocolate brown stingray.


Merging elements of the luxury optical and fine jewelry industries, Power worked with inventor and patent holder Ron Lando to introduce a gilded version of CliC’s front magnetic connection eyewear. The frame, side stems and back piece are all fabricated in 18-karat solid gold. Power reported that it generally takes a master jeweler 50 hours to complete a pair of these limited-edition reading glasses. The price tag is $75,000.


Priced at a relatively affordable $850, Power offers stainless steel drinking straws that are overlaid, inside and out, with pure 24-karat gold. The straws are not only for show, but can be used to sip one’s favorite beverage.


Another common item transformed into fine jewelry is a pair of earbuds crafted in 18-karat solid gold. Every pair is produced by hand in Stockholm, Sweden, by Happy Plugs CEO and founder Andreas Vural and his master jeweler. Each earbud weighs 25 grams, or 50 grams for the pair. The price is $14,995.


For the sporty consumer looking for a little extra bling, Power presents 24-karat gold shoelaces for $14,995. The laces are woven from 24-karat gold thread. Using ancient artisan techniques, "the world's most expensive shoelaces" are manufactured in the Cauca gold belt less than 10 miles from where the gold was mined in Columbia. Each pair takes 120 hours to create.


Power’s simplest offering is an 18-karat solid gold guitar pick. The item has a standard size and thickness and is hand polished to a high luster. The maker claims that the sound produced with a solid gold guitar pick has a mellow brightness. The pick also may be used as a makeshift slide. The price is $1,498.

Images via

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Silver Chalice for Pope Francis’ New York Visit Will Be Made From Donated Jewelry and Coins

World–renowned Argentine silversmith Adrian Pallarols is giving Catholics from across the U.S. a unique opportunity to "be in Pope Francis’ hands" when he prays at New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral during his visit in September.


The seventh-generation artisan is asking for donations of sterling silver jewelry and coins that he will melt down to fabricate a very special, all-American communion chalice.

Specifically, the 43-year-old Pallarols made a plea for modest items, such as ”an earring, [or] a little ring you don’t use,” he told Time magazine.

Pallarols’ silver strategy is steeped in symbolism. Even though most devotees will not be in attendance when the Pope celebrates mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in September, they can still play an important role in the momentous event.


“Everybody, the whole country, will be in the prayers of Pope Francis here in New York when he lifts the chalice in the consecration,” Pallarols told Time magazine. “Everybody can be in his hands for the prayers.”

His appeal for mass participation aligns nicely with the story of how the majestic St. Patrick’s Cathedral came to be with the help of thousands of small donations from poor Irish immigrants.

Other important symbols on Pallarols’ chalice include the distinctive Gothic architecture of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a golden map of the United States in the center of the handle, and the golden intertwined initials “S” and “P” (for St. Patrick’s) on the cup.

The exterior of the chalice will be crafted in donated silver, and the inside of the cup will be lined with gold, according to America magazine. The fabrication is set to take place in the basement of St. Patrick’s Cathedral during the few weeks before the Pope's visit.


The expected outpouring of generosity will likely result in an overabundance of sterling items, far more precious material than can be used in a single chalice.

Pallarols told America magazine that he guarantees that all the donated objects will be melted down into the ingot of silver from which the chalice will be made.

The excess will be sold, with the proceeds going to the Pope’s efforts to assist the poor in the U.S.

The Pallarols family has been designing extraordinary silver items for dignitaries and heads of state since the mid-1700s.

The family also has close ties with Pope Francis. When the Pope was still known as Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, he presided over Adrian Pallarols' wedding. He later baptized Pallarols' daughter and frequently visited the artisan’s shop to chat about art and music, according to Time magazine.

Images: Twitter/Andrian Pallarols; Crowd shot by Edgar JimĂ©nez from Porto, Portugal, via Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, March 30, 2015

‘Tree of Life’ Gemstone Necklace Saves Bank Employee From Point-Blank Gun Blast

A raw gem crystal "Tree of Life" necklace is credited with saving the life of a Tennessee woman who was shot in the chest by a would-be bank robber.


Janeice Frisbee, a 20-year Bancorp South employee from Humboldt, Tenn., said the dollar-coin-size necklace, which features colorful, uncut birthstones strung on sterling silver wire in the form of the "Tree of Life," deflected a .40-caliber bullet aimed at her heart.


On the morning of March 18, police say Frisbee was accosted at her home by Dominic Williams and forced to open the Bancorp South branch, which was only a few blocks away. Once inside, Williams demanded that Frisbee open the bank vault, but she did not have that authority. The assailant then shot Frisbee twice at point blank range.

“I couldn't do what he wanted me to do, and that's why he shot me," Frisbee told WMC Action News 5.

The first shot, which was aimed at the middle of her chest, never penetrated her body because it deflected off of the handmade sterling silver necklace that had been given to her as a birthday present by her son and daughter-in-law. According to The Jackson Sun, Frisbee sustained only minor injuries from the first bullet — a broken sternum and a bruise bearing the shape of her "Tree of Life" necklace.

“No one can believe that bullet didn’t go through that necklace,” Frisbee told WMC Action News 5. “It was just a miracle the way it worked.”

The second shot did more damage, but was not life threatening. The bullet hit her in the shoulder, went through her chest cavity and exited just above her heart.


Despite the injuries, Frisbee was able to dial 911 as the assailant jumped out the bank’s window and fled on foot. Police captured the suspect minutes later.

“They told me as they were putting me in the ambulance to take me to the helicopter that they already had him in custody,” Frisbee told WMC Action News 5.

The twisted sterling silver wire necklace that saved Frisbee’s life was designed by Amanda Toddings of Colorado-based Mandala Rain, which specializes in Family Tree and Tree of Life necklaces and pendants.

Frisbee’s daughter-in-law, Brandy, reported that, despite being hit by a bullet, the necklace is still intact. It may be a while before Frisbee gets it back because the FBI is holding it as evidence in the felony charges against Williams.


The brave bank employee was hospitalized for only one day and is recuperating in her home with the support of family, friends and other well-wishers.

"They're sending cards, letters, flowers, gift cards — I'm just so amazed," Frisbee told WBBJ-TV. "I didn't even know I knew this many people."

Credits: Jewelry photo via Mandala Rain. Other images: Screen captures via