Friday, November 20, 2015

Music Friday: 'Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend' — Especially When They Weigh 1,111 Carats!

Welcome to a very special edition of Music Friday. Today, we celebrate the amazing discovery of a 1,111-carat rough diamond — the largest gem-quality diamond recovered in more than 100 years — with the most iconic "diamond" song of all time, "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." Joining us in the musical tribute to the amazing gem is the equally spectacular Marilyn Monroe.


But first, here's the scoop about the diamond...

Second in size only to the Cullinan diamond, which was discovered in 1905 and weighed 3,106.75 carats, the 1,111-carat Type IIa diamond extracted from Lucara's Karowe Mine in Botswana is about the size of a tennis ball and weighs nearly a half pound. It's rated Type IIa, the most chemically pure of all diamond types.


While the Cullinan diamond was subsequently cut into nine major stones and 96 smaller ones, the fate of the Lucara find has yet to be determined. Typically, diamond companies would use computerized scanning technology to determine how to divide the stone to yield the most profitable outcome. The 1,111-carat gem is reportedly too big for Lucara's scanner, so it will have to be transported to Antwerp, where larger equipment is available.


Experts were hard-pressed to guess what a stone of this size could be worth. In July, Lucara sold a 341.9-carat Type IIa rough diamond for $20.6 million. The latest find is more than three times that size. Lucara is likely to sell the stone at a tender in Botswana in the first half of 2016, but the cutting, polishing and sale of the final yield could take years, according to experts.

In other strokes of good luck for Lucara, the mining company announced it discovered two other enormous diamonds at the Karowe Mine, one weighing 813 carats and the second weighing 374 carats.

Now back to our song...

An iconic member of our Music Friday list, “Diamonds Are Girl’s Best Friend” was introduced to America via the 1949 Broadway debut of the musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The original singer was Carol Channing, but it’s Marilyn Monroe’s sultrier version (even if it does have a little dubbing of high notes) from the 1953 movie version that garnered the most attention and the most imitators.

Singers from Lena Horne to Christina Aguilera have covered the song. Madonna’s “Material Girl,” a song of similar sentiments, prompted a video that parodied Monroe’s scene from the movie. Since music lovers of any age can at least hum a few bars, it’s no wonder the American Film Institute named this the 12th most important film song of all time.

Check out Monroe's iconic performance of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" in the video below. Here are the lyrics if you'd like to sing along...

"Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend"
Written by Jule Styne and Leo Robin. Performed by Marilyn Monroe.

The French are glad to die for love.
They delight in fighting duels
But I prefer a man who lives
And gives expensive jewels.
A kiss on the hand
May be quite continental,
But diamonds are a girl's best friend.

A kiss may be grand
But it won't pay the rental
On your humble flat
Or help you at the automat.

Men grow cold
As girls grow old,
And we all lose our charms in the end.

But square-cut or pear-shaped,
These rocks don't lose their shape.
Diamonds are a girl's best friend.

Black Starr!
Frost Gormham!
Talk to me Harry Winston.
Tell me all about it!

There may come a time
When a lass needs a lawyer,
But diamonds are a girl's best friend.

There may come a time
When a hard-boiled employer
Thinks you're awful nice,
But get that ice or else no dice.

He's your guy
When stocks are high,
But beware when they start to descend.

It's then that those louses
Go back to their spouses.
Diamonds are a girl's best friend.

I've heard of affairs
That are strictly platonic,
But diamonds are a girl's best friend.

And I think affairs
That you must keep Masonic
Are better bets
If little pets get big baguettes.

Time rolls on,
And youth is gone,
And you can't straighten up when you bend.

But stiff back
Or stiff knees,
You stand straight at Tiffany's.

Diamonds! Diamonds!
I don't mean rhinestones!
But diamonds are a girl's best friend.

Credits: Diamond photos courtesy of Lucara; Marilyn Monroe screen capture via

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Russian Inventor Victor Petrik Devises Method to Produce 3D Portraits on Gems

Russian President Vladimir Putin received an unusual gift for his 63rd birthday on October 7. It was a 3,055-carat, four-inch-tall blue sapphire carved with a 3D rendering of his own likeness.

The Putin sapphire was designed and created by eccentric inventor Victor Petrik, who has devised an automated method to carve dimensional images into gemstones of any hardness, including diamonds.


The impressive finished product starts off as a traditional putty or wax carving. How the art transfers to the gemstone is still a bit of a mystery, although he noted in a press release that laser and ultrasound technologies are not used.

The Russian-born Petrik, who has been called a "modern-day Thomas Edison" by admirers, and other unflattering names by his detractors, is famous for a number of his previous inventions that raised eyebrows in scientific circles.

These include a cell which generates electricity when breathed upon, a filter which turns radioactive waste into potable water, a device which extracts rhenium from scrap material, and a compound which turns light into electricity.


Petrik's Putin sapphire is just one of 90 such portraits rendered in 3D on rubies, sapphires, topazes and other natural or synthetic gems. Among the previous subjects have been President George H. W. Bush, Mahatma Gandhi, Pope John Paul II and Jesus Christ. More examples can be seen here...


The Putin portrait measures 3.93 x 3.5 x 1.73 inches and weighs 1.3 pounds. Despite the singular dark blue tone of the sapphire, the portrait carries a surprising variety of overtones.

Said Petrik of the the portrait: "Millions of years will pass, everything will be destroyed, but the portrait of the President of Russia on sapphire will shine in the rays of the everlasting sun."


Back in July, we profiled master sculptor Wallace Chan, who uses a special technique — aptly named The Wallace Cut — to create a three-dimensional image in a gemstone that seems to be looking in several directions at once.

Using a dentist’s drill with a specially adapted blade, the 59-year-old Chinese master sculptor cuts into the unfaceted back of a gemstone to render a subject that seems to be floating within the gemstone.

Credits: PRNewsFoto/Soli Art Limited, UK; Wallace Chan image courtesy of Wallace Chan.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Aussie Professor Pulverizes Diamonds With a Mallet to Unlock Clues to Their Original Source

Step into the lab of Professor David Phillips of the University of Melbourne and you might find him armed with a mallet, bashing an 8-carat rough diamond into a material that looks like beach sand. By pulverizing a diamond and analyzing its inclusions, Phillips believes he can root out the diamond's original source — the mother lode.


Phillips, who is a geologist and head of the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne, requires research specimens that have small imperfections. The 8-carat gem destroyed in the images below, for instance, had two tiny green inclusions, which were actually a green mineral called clinopyroxene.


The only way to get to the inclusions is to turn the diamond into dust. This is accomplished with a heavy duty plunger/battering device. The diamond is put in the receptacle. A plunger is placed over the diamond and then the professor takes a heavy mallet and gives it a good smack. Diamonds are the hardest material known to man, but they do fracture under this type of force.


The mineral clinopyroxene contains small amounts of radioactive potassium, which can be dated. Phillips is not trying to reveal when the diamond was formed, but, more importantly, when it was propelled 100 miles to the surface via a volcanic eruption. This is when the diamond picked up its trace elements.


Over time, diamonds from a single eruption may spread vast distances by way of erosion, glaciers or even continental drift.

But, armed with the age of the volcanic eruption, Phillips can match the diamond to known geological events. “It’s like looking for a unique word in War and Peace," he said, "and instead of having to search the whole book, you only have to look through a handful of pages.”

According to the University of Melbourne's website, Phillips and his colleagues previously dated clinopyroxene inclusions in diamonds found on the Namibian coast and showed that they likely originated from the erosion of volcanoes more than 400 miles inland. It's likely the diamonds slowly migrated to the coast by river.

Impressed by this ground-breaking research, diamond exploration companies, such as Namakwa Diamonds, have donated sizable diamonds to be sacrificed in Phillips' lab in the name of science. The value of the 8-carat rough diamond in the video is about $4,500, a very modest sum compared to the enormous benefits associated with pinpointing a mother lode.

Professor Phillips' research may help diamond exploration along the west coast of southern Africa and in the Wolmaransstad area of North West Province, South Africa — two areas with rich deposits of diamonds, but where the source is still unknown.

Check out the video of Professor Phillips taking a mallet to the 8-carat diamond rough.

Source: University of Melbourne.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Vietnam Veteran Reunited With West Point Class Ring After 49 Years

Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Rolfe Arnhym was reunited last week — just in time for Veteran's Day — with a 1953 West Point class ring he hadn't seen in 49 years.


The karat gold ring featuring an amber-colored center stone was the 85-year-old Tampa native's favorite piece of jewelry. He wore it during his wedding ceremony and took it to battle when he served in Vietnam. Arnhym remembered vividly how he almost lost the center stone during a mission in 1966.


"When I was on a combat operation, something made me look down at my class ring, and I noticed that the stone was gone from the ring," Arnhym told Fox 13 in Tampa. "I said something to my radio operator, who was right next to me. Here we are in triple canopy jungle [with] stuff going on and we couldn't see that far in front of us. We looked down and that stone was at his feet."


While on leave in Hawaii, the lieutenant visited a local jeweler to try to get the stone reset. The jeweler promised to send him the repaired jewelry via mail, but the ring never made it back to basecamp. Heartbroken over the loss of the cherished ring, Arnhym arranged for an exact replica, which he has worn for nearly five decades.


“I thought about it. I wondered about it," Arnhem told WFLA. "I had no idea where it could have been.”

Then in August, Arnhem received a phone call from Ruth Pendergraft, the widow of a soldier who died in Vietnam. Pendergraft had been sorting through some of the belongings of her late husband when she encountered a West Point class ring with a yellow center stone. The inscription was not that of her husband's name. It said, "Rolfe Arnhym."

“I had to do something. I had to find the relative or the person who owned this ring," she said. "I knew it had to be special to the owner, but in my mind, I didn’t think he was still alive.”


The widow from Joplin, Mo., contacted West Point, which was able to connect her with Arnhym. On Tuesday of last week, on the eve of Veteran's Day, she traveled to Tampa to return the ring to the man who last saw the ring nearly five decades ago.

"I couldn't believe it," Arnhym told Fox 13.


During the presentation, which attracted local and national press coverage, the former soldier proudly displayed both of his West Point class rings.

It's still not clear how and when Pendergraft's husband received Arnhym's ring, but that twist in the story was of little concern to Arnhym.

For Arnhym, a class ring comprises far more than the gold, gems and inscription. "It’s a physical manifestation of a strong bond and link that exists between each graduate and West Point and with each one of our classmates," he said. "That bond only grows stronger over the years.”

Credits: Screen captures via,

Monday, November 16, 2015

Sewer Workers Rescue Engagement Ring and Stud Earrings After Bride-to-Be Accidentally Flushes Them

A Southern California bride-to-be offered hugs and heartfelt thank-yous to a team of city workers who rescued her engagement ring and diamond stud earrings from a sewer line only one day after she accidentally flushed her keepsakes down the toilet.


Last Monday, Carissa Wolter had removed her halo-style diamond engagement ring and diamond stud earrings and wrapped them in toilet tissue while she was cleaning her makeup brushes in the bathroom. Then she used additional tissues to wipe down the surfaces and clean the sink. Soon, she had amassed a pile of dirty tissues, which she promptly tossed in the toilet and flushed.


Within 30 seconds, the Jurupa Valley resident experienced a nauseating feeling in the pit of her stomach when she realized she had done the unthinkable. She had flushed her cherished engagement ring and diamond studs into the sewer system.

"I was walking back to my room and went to put my ring on," she told KTLA. "Then I just stopped and was like, 'No way.'"


FiancĂ© Kevin Winter was surprisingly calm after learning the fate of the engagement ring. "My heart dropped at first, but then I kept reassuring her that it was OK — things happen, accidents happen," he told KTLA.

The couple turned to the internet to learn the best way to retrieve jewelry from a toilet. They decided the first course of action should be to disassemble the commode, but when that strategy failed to yield the jewelry, they were forced back to the drawing board.

"I didn't know how I would get them back but I was determined to, even if I had to dig in the sewer myself," she told "My ring means too much to me to just let it go and give up so easily."

All the time, the couple was aware that the toilet should not be flushed again, so the jewelry wouldn't get pushed further down the sewer line.

The next morning, they called the Jurupa Community Services District (JCSD), which quickly sent out a team to set up a trap in the sewer lines leading away from Wolter's home. Then the sewer workers flushed the line to propel the jewelry into the trap. The strategy worked perfectly, as the jewelry was yanked from the sewer system about two houses down the block.

"I started crying instantly and just wanted to hug them and thank them so much," Wolter told KTLA. "I still can't thank them enough for returning my jewelry."


The proud municipal workers posted a photo of the recovered jewelry on the JCSD Twitter page. In the photo is a worker wearing rubber gloves holding the recovered engagement ring and earrings. The jewelry was a tad gunky, but otherwise unharmed.

A representative from JCSD told ABC News, "A ring like that is very important and we're just happy we were able to do the best to successfully recover it."

Wolter told KTLA that her new strategy for keeping her bridal jewelry safe is to never take it off again.

Credits: Screen captures via KTLA; Twitter/JCSD.