Friday, September 18, 2015

Music Friday: Peggy Lee Wants a 'Ring, Ringa-Linga' in 1954's 'Kismet' Show Tune 'Baubles, Bangles & Beads'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today's nostalgic magic carpet ride down Memory Lane finds Peggy Lee singing "Baubles, Bangles & Beads" — a popular tune from 1954's Tony Award-winning production of Kismet.


Set in the year 1071, the story tells how a poor, but clever, street poet named Hajj follows his "Kismet" — his "Fate" — and rises to become the Emir of Bagdad, while his beautiful daughter Marsinah falls in love with the handsome, young Caliph. In a final triumph, Hajj goes off at the final curtain with one of the Baghdad's greatest beauties.

The Broadway success of "Baubles, Bangles & Beads" inspired a number of top singers of the day to prospect for Kismet gold — as in gold records. Four artists — including Peggy Lee and Frank Sinatra — recorded the song in 1954.

In Lee's version, she sings about how jingly gifts can sometimes lead to an engagement ring: "Some day he may buy me a ring, ringa-linga / I've heard that's where it leads / Wearin' baubles, bangles, and beads."

The Sinatra version is slightly different to accommodate the gender difference. He sings, "Some day I may buy her a ring, ringa-linga."

Lee is credited with the best-selling version of the song, and over the years it has been covered by no fewer than 40 artists. The Who's Who list includes Liza Minnelli, Julie Andrews, Benny Goodman, Johnny Mathis, Mel Torme, Sara Vaughan and Dionne Warwick.

Kismet opened on Broadway in 1953 and won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1954. It was also successful in London's West End and has earned several revivals. A film version was released by MGM in 1955.

Lee had a successful career that spanned six decades. She was a singer, songwriter, composer and actress. She won three Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1999. She died three years later at the age of 81.

The video of Lee's live performance of "Baubles, Bangles & Beads" was shot in Sweden in 1964 (the video quality is rough, but the audio is excellent). As a bonus, we're also posting Sinatra's version. Enjoy!

"Baubles, Bangles & Beads"
Written by Robert Wright and George Forrest. Performed by Peggy Lee.

Baubles, bangles, hear how they jing, jinga-linga
Baubles, bangles, bright shiny beads
Sparkles, spangles, my heart will sing, singa-linga
Wearin' baubles, bangles and beads

I'm just a glitter and gleam so
Make somebody dream so that

Some day he may buy me a ring, ringa-linga
I've heard that's where it leads
Wearin' baubles, bangles, and beads

Baubles, bangles, hear how they jing, jinga-linga
Baubles, bangles, bright, shiny beads
Sparkles, spangles, my heart will sing, singa-linga
Wearin' baubles, bangles, and beads

I'm just glitter and gleam so
Make somebody dream so that

Some day he may, buy me a ring, ringa-linga
I've heard that that's where it leads
Wearin' baubles and bangles, sparkles, spangles
Loads and loads of baubles, just give me those bangles
I gotta have sparkels, bangles and beads

Peggy Lee's version

Frank Sinatra's version

Credit: Peggy Lee publicity photo.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Face-Contouring Jewelry Generates Instagram Buzz During New York Fashion Week

One of the most Instagrammed looks of New York Fashion Week had nothing to do with loose silhouettes or the subtle play of sheer and opaque textures. No, the look that set Instagram on fire was the futuristic face contouring jewelry crafted by Sydney-based Sarah & Sebastian.


Making its debut at Dion Lee's runway show, the karat gold or silver wire jewelry tightly defined each model's profile.

Jewelry designer Sarah Gittoes (the Sarah half of Sarah & Sebastian), told Refiner29 that each piece of rose gold or sterling silver wire was custom-molded to fit each model. Surprisingly, the jewelry is not affixed to the face in any way. It's held in place by facial tension.


“We liked the idea that each model’s contour was unique,” Gittoes said. “However, there was also the strength of uniformity.”


Refinery29 said the minimal facial jewelry added an exclusive touch to the already-gorgeous collection. The New York Times said the face jewelry heightened the mood of opulent primitivism. And picked the look as one of the "9 Cool Things We Love From New York Fashion Week (so far)," explaining that the customized minimal metal “face separator” highlighting the bionic aspect inside the everyday woman.


One critic pointed out a potentially cumbersome design flaw... "While it's stunning, it's not quite meant to be worn in real life... unless you can get through the day without opening your mouth," she wrote.

Others were excited to give the look a thumbs-up on Instagram. "All about the face piece" and "Face contouring on point" were just two examples of the comments being shared from the runway in real time.

Images via Instagram.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Master Cutter Transforms 8.52-Carat 'Esperanza' Diamond Into a 4.65-Carat 'Triolette' That Could Fetch $300K

After 75 hours at the grinding wheel, master diamond cutter Mike Botha finally put the finishing touches on the "Esperanza" diamond — a gemstone that was plucked from the soil by Bobbie Oskarson at Arkansas' Crater of Diamonds State Park on June 24. Originally 8.52 carats in weight and the shape of an icicle, "Esperanza" has been transformed into a sleek and unique 4.65-carat "triolette."


The park visitor from Longmont, Colo., had paid $8 to do a bit of amateur mining at the park with her boyfriend and came away with a gemstone that could fetch upwards of $300,000 when it is sold at Heritage Auctions this December. She named the gem "Esperanza," the Spanish word for “hope.”


The freshly cut gem was recently sent to the labs of the American Gem Society, where it's expected to be graded as internally flawless and colorless. In a preliminary test, the gem was rated Type IIa, the purest of all diamonds because they are composed solely of carbon with virtually no trace elements in the crystal lattice.


Botha's 147-facet triolette is a shape of his own design. It resembles a teardrop and merges the elements of both emerald and trapezoid shapes. The diamond even has its own Facebook page.


The public was invited to witness the marathon cutting session on the showroom floor at Stanley Jewelers in North Little Rock, Ark., less than a two-hour drive from where Esperanza was originally found. Visitors to the store were encouraged to view the work in progress and ask questions of the master diamond cutter.


Also on hand to view Botha's handiwork was Oskarson, officials from Crater of Diamonds State Park and members of the local, national and international media. The multi-day event was also broadcast via live streaming video on YouTube.

Botha, who is the president of Embee Diamonds, had traveled all the way from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada, with his heavy gear to participate in the momentous event.


"I’ve lost count of how many thousands of diamonds I’ve crafted over the last 48 years, and the Esperanza may not even rank among the largest," he said, "but it is an exceptional diamond. And to cut and polish her at home in The Natural State [of Arkansas] is a once-in-a-lifetime event.”

Before it hits the auction block in Dallas, Esperanza will be mounted in a custom designed platinum pendant created by award-winning U.S. designer Erica Courtney.

Esperanza is the fifth-largest diamond found by a visitor since the Crater of Diamonds State Park was established in Murfreesboro in 1972. The park offers visitors the opportunity to search in the eroded surface of the eighth-largest, diamond-bearing deposit in the world. Any diamonds or semi-precious stones found in the 37 1/2-acre plowed field are theirs to keep.

"While we identify and register hundreds of diamonds every year, we rarely have an opportunity to personally experience the continuing story of our diamonds — to see what happens after they leave the park," park interpreter Waymon Cox told Jewelry News Network. "The Esperanza Diamond is an historic find for our park, state and nation. We are excited to follow this beautiful gem as it enters a new chapter.”

Photo credits: Stanley Jewelers.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

357-Carat Rough Diamond From Prolific Letšeng Mine in Lesotho Nets $19.3M

This exceptional 357-carat rough diamond, which could easily be mistaken for a chunk of glacial ice, netted $19.3 million at Gem Diamonds' tender in Antwerp last week.


Unearthed in July at the famous Letšeng mine in Lesotho, the lucky find came on the heels of another sensational discovery —  a 314-carat diamond in May.

The Letšeng mine, which sits at an altitude of 10,000 feet in the tiny kingdom near the southern tip of Africa, has a long history of producing top-quality diamonds in huge sizes.


In fact, it's the highest-dollar-per-carat kimberlite diamond mine in the world. On the list of the 20 largest gem-quality white diamonds recorded since 2006, four were unearthed at Letšeng.

While there are always great risks associated with cutting huge rough diamonds, the world's top diamond traders bid aggressively to get their hands on these rare finds in the hope of creating the next museum-quality masterpiece. Due to the size of the rough diamond, it's very possible that it will be divided into a number of smaller stones.

In the case of the 507-carat Cullinan Heritage, for example, the rough diamond was expertly segmented into 24 D-flawless gems that were incorporated into head-turning necklace called "A Heritage in Bloom." The centerpiece of the necklace is a perfect 104-carat round brilliant.

Although it is not currently for sale, the necklace's value is estimated at more than $200 million. The original rough diamond had been purchased in 2010 for $35.3 million.

UK-based Gem Diamonds has maintained a controlling stake in the Letšeng mine since 2006. The Kingdom of Lesotho owns 30 percent. The mining company also boasts a 100% stake in the Ghaghoo mine in Botswana.

Images: Courtesy of Gem Diamonds.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Giant Air Purification Tower Helps Turn Smog Particles Into Fun Jewelry

Netherlands-based designer Daan Roosegaarde is on a mission to install "Smog Free Towers" in pollution-challenged cities, such as Beijing, Mexico City, Mumbai, Paris and Los Angeles — and finance the project with jewelry made from compressed smog particles.


Roosegaarde's 23-foot tower promises an oasis of pure air in cities facing air-quality issues. The Smog Free Tower works like a giant air purifier, capable of processing 30,000 cubic meters of air per hour and capturing the ultra-fine polluting particles in the process. The prototype was unveiled in Roosegaard's hometown of Rotterdam last week.


Roosegaarde is using compressed smog particles to create fun jewelry that will help fund the projects. The designer explained that the pollution is mostly carbon, the same element that makes up a diamond.


Roosegaarde uses high pressure to form the carbon into a square black "gemstone" and encases the material in an 8.4 mm resin cube. The cube is then set onto a fashionable ring or cufflink. The Smog Free Cube jewelry is made of stainless steel and costs about $270.


Roosegaarde is betting that consumers will be proud to purchase the jewelry, which is a very literal emblem of their commitment to cleaning up the environment. The smog particles for one ring represents the purification of 1,000 cubic meters of air. One Smog Free Tower will be capable of producing 3,500 Smog Free Cubes per day.

“It’s a beautiful way of carrying the message of this project with you and perceiving the tangible environmental impact you’ve made by supporting this project,” explained the designer.

Roosegaarde's vision is to create smog-free "bubbles" of public space where city dwellers could experience clean air for free.


His project directly addresses growing health concerns in cities around the world. The American Lung Association, for example, claims that four in 10 Americans live in counties with unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution. In China, the situation is even more dire, as smog kills about 4,000 people per day, according to a recent study published by UC Berkeley.

The Smog Free Tower basically sucks polluted material from the top and then distributes the filtered air through the vents on its sides. Here's Roosegaarde's technical explanation of how the Smog Free Tower accomplishes its task...

“By charging the Smog Free Tower with a small positive current, an electrode will send positive ions into the air. These ions will attach themselves to fine dust particles," he wrote. "A negatively charged surface — the counter electrode — will then draw the positive ions in, together with the fine dust particles. The fine dust that would normally harm us is collected together with the ions and stored inside of the tower. This technology manages to capture ultra-fine smog particles which regular filter systems fail to do.”

To fund demonstrations of the Smog Free Tower in cities outside of Rotterdam, Roosegaarde turned to the crowdfunding website, The site successfully raised $105,500, nearly double his target goal of $54,000. More than 1,300 backers have pledged support for the campaign that ends on Wednesday, September 16.

Credits: All images via Studio Roosegaarde.