Friday, August 28, 2015

Music Friday: Paul Simon Reveals Meaning of 'Silver Girl' in the Classic 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, we focus on the curious precious metal reference in 1970's "Bridge Over Trouble Water," a classic tune by Simon & Garfunkel that won five Grammy Awards and was ranked #48 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.


Composed by Paul Simon and performed as a solo by Art Garfunkel, "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is a song about providing comfort for someone in need. The much-debated third verse starts like this: "Sail on silver girl / Sail on by / Your time has come to shine / All your dreams are on their way."

Some fans and critics had speculated that "silver girl" might be a reference to a needle and that the song was really about heroin use. But Simon eventually set the record straight when he revealed that the silver line is actually an innocent inside joke aimed at his first wife, Peggy Harper. Simon started calling her "Silver Girl" after she noticed her first silver-grey hairs. She was barely 30 at the time and the grey hairs made her very upset.

Simon originally intended "Bridge" to be a simple two-verse gospel hymn with a guitar accompaniment. The "silver girl" third verse was added at the recording studio after Garfunkel and producer Roy Halee insisted that the song needed a "bigger" sound at the end.


Simon wrote the third verse on the fly and Halee arranged for the song's famous orchestral crescendo. The guitar was traded in for a piano to better support Garfunkel's falsetto, and instead of singing the song together, Simon insisted that Garfunkel perform the song alone.

Later in his career, Simon admitted he had second thoughts about that decision. "Many times I'm sorry I didn't do it," he said. Simon would hear the rousing ovations and think, "That's my song, man."

When Clive Davis at Columbia Records heard "Bridge" for the first time, he told Simon that it was destined to be a monster hit. He pegged it as the title track of Simon & Garfunkel's fifth studio album and its lead single.

Garfunkel's interpretation of Simon's vision was a mind blowing success, as "Bridge" went on to sell six million copies and dominate the 1971 Grammy Awards, including a win for Song of the Year. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Simon & Garfunkel were probably thrilled when musical powerhouses Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin both covered the song.

At the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2010, on the 40th anniversary of the release of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," Garfunkel revealed how much he still loves to perform the song.

"Well, here we are, years later, I'm still singing it from town to town, and it's completely alive and fresh to me," he said. "There is nothing dated, or any feeling of the past. I love doing it. Thank the Lord the feeling — the goose bumps — constantly checks in every time I do it."


Bridge Over Troubled Water was the last album Simon & Garfunkel released before they split up. It sold an amazing 25 million copies and has been regarded as one of the best albums, both commercially and artistically, of all time.

Despite the breakup, the famous singing duo has thrilled fans with a number of high-profile reunions over the years. A particularly inspiring one was a free concert in New York's Central Park in 1981 — an event seen live by 500,000 people. The resulting album and cable-TV special on HBO generated funds to renovate the park. Today's clip is from that show. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Bridge Over Troubled Water"
Written by Paul Simon. Performed by Art Garfunkel.

When you're weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes, I'll dry them all (all)
I'm on your side, oh, when times get rough
And friends just can't be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

When you're down and out
When you're on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you (ooo)
I'll take your part, oh, when darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Sail on silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
Oh, if you need a friend
I'm sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

Credit: Getty Images, YouTube screen capture, Simon & Garfunkel album cover.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Sarmatian Female Warrior of the First Century Had a Fondness for Fine Jewelry, Reveal Russian Archaeologists

Russian archaeologists recently discovered the 2,000-year-old grave of a female warrior, who apparently had an affection for elaborate gold and gemstone jewelry.


Presumed to be a noblewoman of Sarmatian origin, the warrior was discovered in an undisturbed burial mound near Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia near the Black Sea. In the tomb was a treasure trove of precious items, including dangling gold earrings, gold bracelets and a large gemstone inscribed in Aramaic.


The collar of her dress was decorated with stamped buckles of gold leaf in the form of a stylized ram's head and her sleeves were embroidered with colorful beads spaced with gold triangular and half-round plaques. She was buried with a large bronze mirror and a gold vial that possibly contained incense. The contents of the vial fossilized centuries ago, but will be analyzed by scientists.


Also found in her tomb, however, were symbols of her fighting heritage: a sword, knives, 100 iron arrowheads, and a horse's harness — possibility reflecting her equestrian prowess. An analysis of the woman's teeth revealed she lived to an old age and apparently survived many battles.


The noblewoman shared this burial mound with a man, who is assumed to be her husband. His part of the grave was looted and only fragments of crockery and bones remained.

The grave, which was protected with a wooden decking, was found at a depth of 13 feet. All of the items in the grave were dated from the first century BC to the first century AD.

The nomadic Sarmatian people, who worshipped fire, were of Iranian heritage and moved from Central Asia to the Ural Mountains between the 6th and 4th centuries BC. The archaeologists from the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Archaeology believe their subject was Sarmatian because of the high status women held in that society.

The burial mound was one of 28 discovered during the construction of a new airport serving Rostov-on-Don. The other burials mounds had been looted long ago.

Archaeologist Roman Mimokhod told the Daily Mail, "Most of the burials on this site are plundered and, of course, it is great luck to find an intact one."

Credit: Images courtesy of the Russian Institute of Archaeology.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Real Madrid Star Plunks Down $250,000 for Soccer Ball Encrusted With 72,000 Diamonds

Real Madrid star striker Karim Benzema recently splurged on a $250,000 soccer ball encrusted with 72,000 white and black diamonds.


TMZ reported that the 27-year-old wanted a showpiece for his new home so he enlisted the skill and creativity of celebrity jewelers Dimitry Shimanov (a.k.a. Dave Bling) and Will Selby (a.k.a. Will Da Boss) of New York-based DWS Jewelry & Co.


What they whipped up for the French-born goal scorer was an official-size soccer ball set with diamonds weighing a total of 1,250 carats. Bling said the ball will be "a definite conversation starter when [Benzema's] company arrives."

The ball is covered in hexagonal panels of white and black diamonds, with individual stones weighing approximately .017 carats each. We're guessing that Benzema refined his love for bling during his short-lived relationship with "shine-bright-like-a-diamond" singer Rhianna.

Although Benzema's soccer ball is mighty impressive, it is by no means the most expensive soccer ball ever. That title goes to this truly amazing creation by South African jewelry house Shimansky.


As a tribute to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which was held in South Africa, the jeweler designed a $2.59 million soccer ball adorned with 6,620 white diamonds and 2,640 black diamonds — weighing a total of 3,500 carats.

Shimansky produced a diamond-encrusted original and a number of replicas using crystals instead of diamonds. Those versions were displayed in Shimansky's stores and some were auctioned for charity.

Credits: Instagram/DaveBling; Karim Benzema by Chris Deahr, via Wikimedia Commons;

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Lucara Offers First Glimpse of Its Spectacular 336-Carat Diamond

Last week, Lucara Diamond Corp. announced the discovery of a spectacular 336-carat diamond at its Karowe mine in Botswana, but didn't provide photos. Yesterday, the company unveiled the $15 million rock on its Facebook page, and all we can say is "Wow!"


In its natural state, the diamond has a surprisingly symmetrical shape that resembles a rough-cut finished gemstone. This is the second 300-plus-carat diamond to be pulled from the Karowe mine in just the past five months.


Experts believe that the Type IIa diamond could yield $15 million or more when it's offered at Lucara's next tender in September. The buyer will determine the shape of the polished stone, hoping to maximize its size while bringing out its optimum brilliance. It's not unusual for half the diamond's weight to be sacrificed during the arduous cutting and polishing process.

The 336-carat diamond is rated Type IIa, the purest of all diamonds because they are composed solely of carbon with virtually no trace elements in the crystal lattice.

It was one of five notable diamonds — four white and one pink — unearthed at Karowe recently. The other white diamonds tipped the scales at 184 carats, 94 carats and 86 carats. Combined, they're expected to fetch $10 million at the September tender. A 12-carat pale pink diamond should also get buyers' attention.


Botswana's Karowe mine continues to generate a bounty of massive high-quality diamonds. Back in April, we reported on Lucara's discovery of a 341.9-carat specimen, also of Type IIa clarity. Lucara offered that stone at its July tender and it sold for $20.55 million.

Over the past three years, Lucara has recovered 216 diamonds that have sold for more than $250,000 each, with 12 of these yielding more than $5 million each.

Credit: Images via Facebook/LucaraDiamondCorporation

Monday, August 24, 2015

Posing as a Whole Foods Clerk, Floridian Proposes to Girlfriend in the Produce Aisle

Jessica Shiekman intended to get a "kalicious" smoothie at her local Whole Foods store. What she ended up getting was engaged.

The produce-aisle marriage proposal, which was expertly staged by her boyfriend, Aaron Califf, was witnessed by family, friends, shoppers and reporters from the local media.


Shiekman and her sister had been on their way to the mall on Saturday when her sister insisted that they make a quick stop at the Whole Foods in Ft. Lauderdale for a kalicious — a healthful blend of kale, spinach, banana, lemon and apple juice. But, the women never got to the smoothie station.


Instead, Shiekman was greeted at the top of the produce aisle by her boyfriend of seven years, Califf, who was decked out in a very official grey Whole Foods apron and cap — even though he doesn't work for the store.


The stunned girlfriend followed Califf back to his rose-petal covered demonstration table near the organic grapes and raspberries. There, she saw a ring box waiting on a plate of quinoa salad. A yellow and red, hand-rendered sign on the front of the display read, "Truly Special / Jessica & Aaron / Together 365."

At that point, Califf grabbed the ring box, went down on one knee and asked Shiekman if she would spend the rest of her life with him. She said, "Yes."


The young man nervously fiddled with the beautiful emerald-cut diamond ring. "Which hand does this go on?" Califf asked. When his girlfriend clarified it should go on her left hand, he attempted to put the ring on her index finger instead of her ring finger. Nevertheless, the ring finally made it to the correct finger and the couple embraced.


Califf, 26, who is working on his MBA and manages dental offices, arranged with the store's marketing and public relations departments to allow him to pose as a clerk to make the surprise extra special. As Califf told WSVN, "This is Jessica's self-proclaimed happy place."


"I wanted to catch her off guard, so I picked a grocery store," he said.

The clever fiancé had also enlisted the help of Shiekman's mother, sister and several other family members. Califf's family had flown in from Chicago to be part of the exciting day.


Shiekman, a 27-year-old family therapist, told the Miami Herald that she thought her boyfriend looked "very handsome" in his Whole Foods attire.

Her dad, John Shiekman, added, “What’s a proposal without quinoa?”

Credit: Video captures via and