Friday, October 16, 2015

Music Friday Flashback: R&B Legend Etta James Wants Diamonds, Not Flowers, in 1961's 'Tough Mary'

Welcome to Music Friday when we often bring you vintage songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today the spotlight shines on the legendary Etta James and her 1961 satirical romp, "Tough Mary."


In this song that tells the story of a pretty girl and the boys who try to impress her with gifts, we hear Tough Mary's sassy way of expressing her distaste for posies. James belts, "Don't bring me flowers; don't bring me the sea / Just bring me diamonds, that'll suit me fine / And I'll love you forever, and you'll be mine."

"Tough Mary" is the fifth track on James' At Last! album, a release that spawned four hits. One of those was the title song, which was to become the R&B legend's signature tune. In 2012, Rolling Stone magazine ranked At Last! #119 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Born to a teen mother in 1938, Jamesetta Hawkins never knew her father and was raised primarily by her grandparents and foster families. She received her first professional vocal training at the age of five and soon became a popular singing attraction at the St. Paul Baptist Church in South Central Los Angeles. She formed the doo-wop singing group — the Creolettes — with her friends in the early 1950s and scored her first hit single as a 15-year-old.

One year later, James was going steady with B.B. King ("The King of the Blues") and believed that King's 1960 blockbuster hit "Sweet 16" was about her.

James went on to become a headliner in the early 1960s with a string of chart-toppers, including "The Wallflower," "At Last," "Tell Mama," "Something's Got a Hold on Me," "Stormy Weather" and "I'd Rather Go Blind."

Her unmistakable voice, unique style and ability to bridge so many musical genres — such as blues, R&B, soul, rock and roll, jazz and gospel — earned James coveted spots in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Blues Hall of Fame and the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Often referred to as the "The Matriarch of R&B," James passed away in 2012, just five days shy of her 74th birthday. The world misses Etta James, but her music — and her Facebook fan page with 1 million followers — lives on.

We hope you enjoy James' performance of "Tough Mary." The video and lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Tough Mary"
Written by Lorenzo Manley. Performed by Etta James.

Tough Mary, Tough Mary (Yeah, that's me)
Tough Mary is tough

The boys would come from miles around, with presents every day;
But when they'd call on Mary, this is what she'd say:

Don't bring me poses, when it's shoes I need;
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
Don't bring me flowers; don't bring me the sea
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary is tough)
Just bring me diamonds, that'll suit me fine;
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
And I'll love you forever, and you'll be mine
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary is tough!)

Well, Mary, she's a very pretty girl; I guess she was born that way;
But whenever they would tell her that, this is what she'd say:

Don't bring me poses, when it's shoes I need;
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
Don't bring me flowers; don't bring me the sea
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary is tough)
Come on and bring me some diamonds, that'll suit me fine;
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
And I'll love you forever, and you'll be mine
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary is tough!)

Tough Mary
Tough Mary
Tough Mary

Don't bring me poses, when it's shoes I need;
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
Don't bring me flowers; don't bring me the sea
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary is tough)
Come on and bring me some diamonds, that'll suit me fine;
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
And I'll love you forever, and you'll be mine
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary is tough!)

Oh, I'm tough;
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
Yeah, yeah I'm tough


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fashion Writers Wonder If the Understated Lip Cuff Is the Next Big Thing in Jewelry

Harper's Bazaar described it an "edgy yet understated entrée into the world of facial jewelry" while Elle magazine called it a "must-try jewelry trend." Teen Vogue wondered "if this is the next major jewelry trend we'll all be trying this fall."


The columnists for each of these publications were offering their critiques of actress/model Cara Delevingne's foray into the world of lip cuffs, a near circular piece of jewelry that hugs the wearer's lower lip without the need for piercing.


Us Weekly reported that the 23-year-old Delevingne was seen wearing the lip cuff on no fewer than six occasions over the past month. Some editors originally thought the model had her lip pierced, but as Delevingne switched from single-stem lip rings to double-stem versions, it was apparent the rings were actually cuffs.

The non-invasive, commitment-free, one-size-fits-all lip cuffs allow the user to change styles easily and often. It's being touted as a sophisticated face accessory that proves "less in more."


On Monday night, Delevingne attended the Chanel Exhibition Party at London's Saatchi Gallery, where all the editorial attention seemed to be on a thin cuff centered on her bottom lip.

Four days earlier, she had worn a diamond-embellished double-stem version at London's Women in the World event. Us Weekly reported that the lip adornment was designed by a Los Angeles-based company, Established Jewelry, and retailed for $1,610.


The single-stem version has a diameter of 10mm, a thickness of 1mm and is available in three metal types: 18-karat white, yellow or rose gold.


Might the lip cuff have mainstream appeal? When asked by Us Weekly via an instant online poll if they would try the edgy accessory, about half (193) answered "Yes — so cool!," while nearly as many (190) answered "Nope, sticking to ear cuffs, thanks."

Credits: Instagram/EstablishedJewelry;; screen capture; Getty Images.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Rap Tandem Drake and Future Celebrate Success With Matching Diamond-Studded 'World Champions' Pinky Rings

Who said you had to be a pro athlete to earn a championship ring? Rap tandem Drake and Future are celebrating their chart-topping surprise collaboration, What a Time to Be Alive, with matching diamond-encrusted "World Champions" pinky rings.


Future had the rings made after their mixtape sold 375,000 units during its first week of release, catapulting it into the #1 slot on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. The 31-year-old hip-hop artist sought the help of New York-based celebrity jeweler Elliot Avianne to bring his vision to life.


Reminiscent of a Super Bowl ring, the bling designed by Avianne features the words "World Champions" in engraved black enamel against a polished white metal background. While Future's ring is adorned with the "FBG" initials and logo of his crew, Freebandz Gang, Drake's ring displays the initials OVO and an owl emblem. The initials are spelled out in raised white diamonds on a ground of smaller pavé diamonds.


Neither the artists nor the designer released specs on the diamond total weight or precious metal content of the rings. We can report, however, that the mammoth New England Patriots' championship rings weighed more than a quarter-pound and were set with 205 diamonds totaling 4.85 carats.


The artists were quick to share images of the ring with their Instagram followers. The 28-year-old Drake (born Aubrey Drake Graham) showed off his ring in an Instagram video, captioned “Big rings from my brother @future. Champion Sound OVOFBG.” Future, whose birth name is Nayvadius DeMun Wilburn, posted a closeup shot of the two rings and thanked the designer in the caption: My bro/jeweler @elliotavianne always kno [sic] how to bring my vision to life…world champions.”

What a Time to Be Alive marks the return to the #1 Billboard spot for both rappers this year. Drake’s mixtape If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late was a chart topper, as was Future’s DS2 LP. According to, the last rapper to score two #1s in a year was Jay Z back in 2004.


Incidentally, What a Time to Be Alive features "diamond" cover art and two songs related to jewelry, "Big Rings" and "Diamonds Dancing." The songs carry a parental advisory and will not be previewed here.

Credits: Instagram/champagnepapi;; Jostens Inc.; Album cover art.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

8.48-Carat Ruby Ring Gifted to Italy's Last Queen Expected to Challenge Auction Record at Sotheby's Geneva

An exceptional ruby-and-diamond ring once owned by Marie José — the last Queen of Italy — is expected to challenge the price-per-carat record for a ruby when it goes under the hammer at Sotheby's Geneva on November 11.


The Burmese ruby, weighing 8.48 carats, carries a pre-sale high estimate of $9 million ($1.06 million per carat). If the ring ends up selling for $10.17 million or more, it will eclipse the astonishing record set by the Sunrise Ruby this past May.


That ruby weighed 25.59 carats and fetched $30.3 million ($1.18 million per carat). It was the first non-diamond to sell for more than $1 million per carat and tripled the record for the highest price ever paid at auction for a ruby.


The royal ruby to be featured at next month's Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale in Geneva was gifted to Marie José by Tammaro de Marinis, a famous merchant and collector of antique books, on the occasion of her marriage to Italy's Crown Prince Umberto in 1930. Born in 1906, Marie José was the youngest child and only daughter of Albert I, King of the Belgians.


Admired for her elegance and beauty, Marie José's reign as Queen of Italy lasted only 35 days. It was cut short by the political turmoil surrounding the events of World War II and the subsequent abolition of the Italy's monarchy in 1946. Marie José lived in exile in Portugal and Switzerland, and passed away in 2001 at the age of 95.

“The 'Queen Marie José Ruby Ring' is a magnificent jewel of exceptional quality with truly outstanding royal provenance," noted David Bennett, Worldwide Chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewelry Division. "Its 'pigeon’s blood' color is sumptuous — the perfect jewel for a queen — and the jewel’s history, coming from the jewelry collection of Queen Marie José, of course, adds enormously to its romantic appeal.”

In its report, the Gemological Institute of America stated, "Any Burmese ruby in excess of 5 carats is considered very rare even today; thus, in the 19th century, one such as this — being over 8 carats and such a fine color — would have been held as truly exceptional.”

Gem photos via Sotheby’s, Getty Images. Marie José photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Tech Giant That Brought You the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch Patents a Smart Ring

Apple, the tech giant that brought you the iPhone, iPad and the Apple Watch, has filed a patent for a simple-looking, but power-packed, smart ring that could raise the bar in the wearable tech sector.


Equipped with a touch screen, dial controller, camera, microphone, voice recognition, haptic feedback and movement detection, the iRing is designed to communicate back to a parent device, presumably an iPhone or iPad.

The sketches submitted to the patent office reveal a ring that would be worn on the index finger of the right hand and controlled with the thumb of the same hand. It could be manufactured in gold, silver, platinum, base metals or plastic.

There's no guarantee that Apple will actually move forward with a plan to develop and release an iRing. Tech insiders claim that large tech companies often file patents with no formal plan to bring the product to market. Nevertheless, speculation abounds on what the new product would potentially do.


If produced, the iRing would share the wearable tech space with the Apple Watch and will presumably do many of the same functions, albeit with a smaller viewing screen. Tech writers are already imagining the ring's potential uses, from unlocking doors and turning on lights with a voice command, to being used as a game controller with a swipe of the hand.

According to Apple, the ring could also be used to control external devices such as a computer’s mouse cursor, a camera’s shutter or a vehicle’s entertainment and climate control system. The device could possibly detect the writing motion of the user and digitally record hand-written notes.

How about transferring computer files with a handshake? Or getting driving directions based on pulse commands emitted from the ring? Or sending out a discreet alert when one senses danger?

The ring's biometric sensors might be used for Touch ID user authentication and Apple Pay mobile payment authorization, as well as for monitoring heart rate, perspiration levels and other activity tracking.

Of course, the iRing could perform more basic functions, such as alerting its wearer of incoming calls, messages and app notifications.

The dial controller would be similar in functionality to the crown of an Apple Watch. It would also have a rechargeable power source.

Forbes contributor Ewan Spence predicted that Apple will introduce its high-tech watch in the spring of 2018 and deliver the first generation of iRings in the fourth quarter of that same year.

Images: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.