Friday, August 21, 2015

Music Friday: Andra Day 'Gave Up Gold for Grains of Sand' in Her Bluesy New Release

Just last month, Rolling Stone magazine named Andra Day one of the "10 New Artists You Need to Know," and after listening to the vintage vocals of her brand new release, "Gold," we couldn't agree more.


Welcome to Music Friday when we introduce to you fresh music featuring jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Day's bluesy ballad is framed as an heartfelt apology to a former lover. She betrayed him even though he treated her "like a precious gift," and soon after, she learned a hard lesson when her new lover cheated on her.

Day describes her heartache with this line: "I gave up gold / For grains of sand / Slipping through my hand."

In an NPR interview preceding a live acoustic performance, Day explained how "Gold" was born.

"I was with someone that I was not good to, and wasn't faithful to," she said. "I used to be ashamed to talk about it, and 'Gold' was really my moment to say, 'I'm going to talk about it. I'm going to purge because other people experience this.'"


She continued, "So, it's basically a letter to him apologizing for what I had done. Sort of spelling out my experience and heartbreak after that — having someone betray me and what it felt like. And then letting him know that I now understand what [he] went through... It's a whole candid story told from beginning to end."

"Gold" is featured on Day's debut album, Forever Mine, which is scheduled to release next Friday. NPR Music posted the live acoustic video of Day's "Gold" on August 11. Besides being anointed by Rolling Stone as a new artist we need to know, Day has catapulted onto the music mainstream with a slew of high-profile appearances.

The singer-songwriter performed at the 2015 BET Awards and the LA2015 Special Olympics World Games Closing Ceremony. Also recently, she opened for Lenny Kravitz' tour and performed at the 2015 McDonald's 365Black Awards.

The San Diego native got her career jumpstarted in 2012 when a series of her popular song covers went viral on YouTube. Those videos caught the attention of numerous record labels, which courted the future star. Eventually, she signed with Warner Bros. Records.

We know you will enjoy the video of the fabulous live acoustic performance of Day singing "Gold." Close your eyes for a moment and you'll swear that a time machine just delivered you to a nightclub in the 1950s. Of course, the lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along.

Written and performed by Andra Day.

He don't know I call him the teacher
He had a hard lesson for the kid
I get I put you through hell
He put me under the same spell
He lied man, he stressed me out
You loved me like a precious gift
And he loved me like a sloppy kiss
You would tell me your heartaches
Now I understand the pain
Oh why did I let you drown

Baby would you believe
That I've been broken
You say memories
Play again and again
I see the reel now it's real to me
I gave up gold
For grains of sand
Slipping through my hand (2X)

You had no problems with commitment
Like a king is loyal to what’s his
You looked for a ring to fit
While I played wifey with a kid
Oh the irony makes me sick

He tried to make me look crazy
Nothing new about his kind of scheme
I laugh when I think about
His face when truth nearly spilled out
He looked like me I get that now

Baby would you believe
That I've been broken
You say memories
Play again and again
I see the reel, now it's real to me
I gave up gold
For grains of sand
Slipping through my hand (4X)

Baby would you believe
That I've been broken
You say memories
Play again and again
I see the reel, now it's real to me
I gave up gold
For grains of sand
Slipping through my hand (4X)

Credit: YouTube screen captures.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

American Gem Society's Cool New Web-Based App Tests Your Jewelry IQ

The American Gem Society's new app puts you to the test, as you race through 10 challenging questions in any one of five fun categories, ranging from Jewelry Facts to Jewelry in Pop Culture.


The web-based quizzes have a timed element that requires each multiple-choice question to be answered within 25 seconds — the time it takes for the outline of a diamond shape to be fully rendered at the bottom of the screen. After the 10 questions are completed, the AGS app rates the user’s knowledge on a scale from bronze to platinum. When we took the "Celebrity Marriages and Jewelry" quiz, we earned a score of 80% and a "Platinum" designation.


The idea of presenting fun, informative jewelry and gemstone facts in a challenging game environment is called "gamification."

"The American Gem Society is always looking for new ways to engage and inform the consumer," said Ruth Batson, CEO of the American Gem Society and AGS Laboratories.

The five categories include the following: Celebrity Marriages and Jewelry; Jewelry Facts; Jewelry in Pop Culture; Royal Jewelry; and Songs About Jewelry. Readers who have followed our blog's Music Friday feature will recognize many of the songs.

After taking a 10-question quiz, you'll have the option of trying the same category again or picking a new one.

Here are a few examples of the questions that you're likely to encounter. Most are suited to jewelry lovers of all ages...

Celebrity Marriages and Jewelry Quiz
Q: For her second marriage, this style icon was given a $2.6 million engagement ring from her shipping tycoon fiancé. She reportedly only wore the 40-carat diamond ring twice before depositing it into a bank vault.
• Kate Moss
• Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
• Audrey Hepburn
• Cher

Jewelry Facts Quiz
Q: This term is used to measure the shape, angle, and proportions of a diamond or gemstone.
• Size
• Carat
• Style
• Cut

Jewelry in Pop Culture Quiz
Q: From the 1997 blockbuster movie, Titanic, this heart-shaped fictitious jewel dazzled on screen and (spoiler alert!) "accidentally" fell into the ocean at the end of the movie.
• The Sapphire of the Sea
• The Heart of the Ocean
• The Heart of the Atlantic
• The Hope Diamond


Royal Jewelry Quiz
Q: This very famous 45.52-carat blue diamond, then named the French Blue, was once owned by King Louis XVI.
• The Blue Diamond
• The Hope Diamond
• The French Diamond
• The Sapphire Diamond


Songs About Jewelry Quiz
Q: "If I gave you diamonds and pearls, would you be a happy boy or a girl? If I could I would give you the world. But all I can do is just offer you my love."
• Rihanna — "Diamonds"
• Prince — "Diamonds and Pearls"
• Madonna — "Material Girl"
• Kanye West — "Diamonds Are Forever"

You can find the answers to these questions and many more at the AGS app at this link.

Credit: Screen captures via

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Rob Gronkowski Shows Off Super Bowl Ring to the Men of ESPN's SportsCenter in Brilliant Spoof

The hosts of ESPN's SportsCenter fawn over Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski's Super Bowl ring in a clever 30-second commercial that spoofs workplace cattiness.


As the scene opens, we see Stan Verrett, Neil Everett and Kenny Mayne exchanging niceties with the 6-foot 6-inch, 265-pound football player who had just stopped by Everett's cubicle at ESPN — in shoulder pads and eye black — to show off his enormous diamond ring.


Just how enormous is the ring? Well, we previously reported how the New England Patriots' Super Bowl XLIX Championship rings were the biggest ever awarded, weighing more than a quarter-pound and set with 205 diamonds with a total weight of 4.85 carats. Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft presented the super-size oval-shaped rings to players and staff during a private party at his home back in mid-June.

Now, back to the commercial...

On the surface, the SportsCenter team pretends to be happy for Gronkowski, but we can sense that they're all a bit jealous. It's a scene that's been played out zillions of times in offices all over the country — but not necessarily by men, and not exactly like this...


(The commercial opens with Gronk visiting the offices of ESPN at 11:32 a.m. on June 15. Stan, Neil and Kenny can't take their eyes off #87's impressive bling...)

Stan: Let us see it. Let us see it!

Neil: Wow!

Stan: It's regal.

Neil: That's gorgeous, man.

Stan: It's shiny.

Gronk: Thanks. Yeh, I love it. I don't think I want it any bigger though.

Sports Center guys (together): No, no, not at all!

Stan: So tell us the whole story.

Gronk: Well, I went and gave them my size, and a few months later we had a ring ceremony.

Kenny: Beautiful story. Congratulations.

Gronk: Thanks, guys. I guess I should get back to work.


(Gronk walks away from the cubicle and the SportsCenter guys huddle to discuss how they really feel...)

Kenny: Tac-ky.

Stan: Was that even real?

Kenny: Too much.

Neil: What is he thinking?

The witty spot is already a YouTube phenomenon, with more than 400,000 views in only two days. This little gem is guaranteed to make you smile...

Bonus Trivia: Gronkowski's dad delivers a cameo appearance as an office worker in the background of the scene.

Credits: YouTube screen captures; Jostens.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Elvis Presley's Passion for Fine Jewelry Elevates Latest Graceland Auction

Music legend Elvis Presley loved his jewelry — the bigger, the bolder and more flamboyant, the better.


This past Thursday, Graceland — the Memphis home of Presley — auctioned a number of authenticated jewelry items that were either worn, or gifted, by The King of Rock and Roll. The auction coincided with Elvis Week, an annual commemoration of his passing on August 16, 1977.

Presley famously wore over-the-top rings and pendants, and his generosity to those close to him was legendary. He often gifted jewelry to friends, colleagues and staff. It wouldn't be unusual for Presley to wear a favorite piece and then present it to a staffer or fan who admired it.


One of the top lots of the auction was a diamond and 14-karat yellow gold pendant Presley gave to his dear friend and fellow entertainer, Sammy Davis Jr. The lightning-bolt pendant is designed with the black enamel initials "TCB" for "Taking Care of Business," the name of Presley's band. The lightning bolt boasts 15 diamonds, measuring approximately 1.0 to 2.0 mm and weighing approximately 0.60 carats. The unique piece sold for $40,000, which was $10,000 more than the high estimated price.


The "TCB" pendant was apparently not the only jewelry item gifted to Davis by Presley. The Graceland Auctions web site noted that "Elvis gave Sammy a black [star] sapphire ring and told him, 'This is the biggest black star I've ever seen so I'm giving it to the biggest black star I know.'"


The highest-priced jewelry item from the Graceland Auctions event was a tourmaline and diamond ring that Presley wore and then gifted to his girlfriend, Linda Thompson. The ring has 20 round diamonds with a total weight of 1.75 carats. It also features 22 marquise-cut green tourmalines and one large, dark-colored, radiant-cut center tourmaline. The estimated price was $25,000 to $35,000, but it ended up selling for $47,500.

On the 10-year anniversary of Presley's death, the National Enquirer obtained the ring and made it the grand prize of a contest. The lucky winner was a subscriber from Texas. Later it became the property of the owner of a construction company, who won the ring in a poker game.

Here are some other notable jewelry lots from the Graceland Auctions event...


This 14-karat yellow gold owl ring was gifted by Presley to audience member Connie Murray Denny during his concert at Sahara's Showroom in Lake Tahoe in May of 1973. The 14-karat yellow gold ring in the shape of an owl's head has diamond-studded feathers and black star sapphire eyes. The item sold for $32,500, exactly $12,500 more than the high estimate.

Denny recounted her memorable encounter with The King...

"I was sitting stage side and Elvis' girlfriend at the time, Linda Thompson, was sitting near me. During the show Elvis threw out a red scarf. My friend had it in her hands when another girl grabbed a hold to take claim of it. Neither one of them were going to give it to the other, so I took the scarf and ripped it in half and gave each of them a half," she wrote. "I believe that Elvis saw this gesture and at the end of the show he went along the stage shaking hands. He then came over and motioned for me to stand up so I did. He leaned over and gave me a kiss as he took my hand and put the ring in it. I said you dropped this in my hand. He smiled and bowed with his cape wide open and said, 'No. I gave it to you.' At first, I didn't realize what he had done. I turned to Linda Thompson who was still at the table and showed her the ring and said that Elvis must have accidentally let this slip off his finger. She assured me it was no accident..."


This 22-karat gold pinky ring features 15 round diamonds weighing approximately .60 carats. The sides of the ring are engraved with the initials "E" and "P" on a textured ground. The ring was worn by Presley until he gifted it in the 1960s to a member of his inner circle, Richard Davis, who was not only his wardrobe manager but also a stuntman and stand-in. This piece sold for $27,500.


More than 40,0000 fans converged on Graceland during Elvis Week festivities. The U.S. Postal Service also marked the occasion by releasing a new "Forever" stamp bearing the black-and-white likeness of the late singer.

Jewelry Credits:; Facebook/ElvisPresleysGraceland.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sanitary District Workers Rescue Flushed Engagement Ring; Ecstatic Owner Reciprocates With Baked Goods

Californian Kathy Darling could hardly contain her emotions when workers for the Union Sanitary District Collection Services rang her doorbell and returned her engagement ring — a ring they rescued from the sewer system, a beloved treasure she thought was lost forever.


"I thought she was going to faint when I showed her the ring," system worker Rob Shenk told the San Jose Mercury News. "I wondered if I was going to have to open her screen door and catch her."

Only one day earlier, Darling has slipped off her ring and set it on a tissue box in the bathroom while she took a break from housecleaning. Forgetting about the ring, the Fremont resident used the tissues and flushed them down the toilet. What she didn't realize — until it was too late — is that her engagement ring had been flushed, as well.

Darling's first reaction was to call a local plumber, but he was unable to locate the ring. She then contacted the Union Sanitary District, whose supervisor, Rick Czapkay, dispatched Shenk and Steve Bullis to work their magic.

It was the second time in nine months that Union Sanitary District Collection Services workers were called on to recover bridal jewelry thought to be lost in a sewer line.

Shenk and Bullis flushed the street's main sewer line and inspected the debris that washed back — while curious neighbors looked on. Amidst the gunk was Darling's engagement ring.


Kathy and Bob Darling couldn't be more appreciative of the efforts made by the municipal workers. They offered a reward, but the Shenk and Bullis declined.

"Just seeing the looks on their faces was reward enough," Shenk told the San Jose Mercury News.

So Kathy Darling did the next best thing. She delivered a thank-you letter and homemade baked goods to the Union Sanitary District Collections team. Along with a big batch of cookies was an assortment of cakes, one of which was decorated with a faux engagement ring.

"[Shenk and Bullis] were both very determined to find that ring," Darling wrote in a heartfelt thank-you note that she read aloud during a 7:00 a.m. crew meeting. "It was a miracle when they came to my front door and Rob took the ring from his pocket. I couldn't stop hugging them."

"I never, ever thought they would find the ring," she continued. "They brought a perfect conclusion to a traumatic situation."


The Union City-based district serves Fremont, Newark and Union City, and maintains more than 800 miles of underground pipeline in its service area.

Photo top: Bob and Kathy Darling with Union Sanitary District's Rob Shenk and Rich Czapkay. Credits: Facebook/Union Sanitary District.