Friday, December 04, 2015

Music Friday: Hank Williams Jr. Falls for a Beauty Selling Silver and Turquoise Jewelry in 1975's 'Clovis New Mexico'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you classic tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Hank Williams Jr. tells the story of his 700-mile Southwestern odyssey in a 1975 song called "Clovis New Mexico."


Williams recounts how he and his bronc-riding pal, Billy, head out on a very-low-budget adventure that takes them from Bossier City, La., to Abilene, Tex., and finally to Clovis, N.M., where Williams is smitten by a black-haired beauty with green eyes — who just happens to be the local purveyor of silver and turquoise jewelry.

Williams' trek in an old pickup truck was not scheduled to end up in Clovis, but he couldn't help falling in love with a gal he calls "Baby." He describes her as a "born thriller," who had a talent for writing lines to songs he couldn't complete.

(We'd like to remind you that turquoise is one of the official December birthstones, sharing the spotlight with tanzanite and blue topaz.)

And here's how the popular Southwestern gemstone appears in the song... "I needed some strings / Billy wanted a ring / The kind that the Indians made / A voice said hello boys / I've got silver and turquoise / And that's when I saw her face."

"Clovis New Mexico" was the sixth track on the country singer's critically acclaimed, breakthrough album, Hank William, Jr. & Friends. Allmusic editor Thom Jurek wrote that Williams' release was "one of the best country-rock albums ever made and stands with the best of the outlaw recordings of the era."

Critics claim that the album marks a critical period in Williams' career when his music veers toward country rock and he develops his own style instead of imitating his famous dad, Hank Williams. Hank William, Jr. & Friends was originally released by MGM in 1975 and then re-released in 2000 by Mercury Records.

Williams is also a talented musician who can play the guitar, bass guitar, upright bass, steel guitar, banjo, dobro, piano, keyboards, harmonica, fiddle and drums. His Facebook page boasts 2.9 million "Likes."

Born in Shreveport, La., the 66-year-old Williams — who was given the nickname Bocephus by his dad — is still making music and frequently making headlines for his outspoken political views.

We hope you enjoy Wiliams' performance of "Clovis New Mexico." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Clovis New Mexico"
Written and performed by Hank Williams, Jr.

Well me and Billy
We left Bossier City
Decided that we’d head out west
Been east and south
But it didn’t workout
We were getting’ nowhere fast
Me with my guitar
And him with his saddle
Tryin' to out do the rest
I sang my heart out
And he rides them broncs now
And that's what me and Billy do best.

We took interstate 20
'Til we ran out of money
In a place just past Abilene
So I sang at a honky-tonk
And he broke the bad bronc
And we bought some gas and some beans.

With a whole lot of luck
And an old pickup truck
We made it to New Mexico
We pulled up in Clovis
And I sure didn't know this
Was as far as I ever would go.

I needed some strings
Billy wanted a ring
The kind that the Indians made
A voice said hello boys
I've got silver and turquoise
And that's when I saw her face.

That's when I noticed
That girl down in Clovis
A black haired beauty
She set a fire to me
A green eyed lady
In old jeans that were faded
No I didn't notice
What happened in Clovis
But I called her baby.

I asked her with care
If she'd like to share
An evening with someone like I
I said I ain't a winner
Just a hard livin' singer
She smiled and said meet me at nine
We ate tacos and talked
And then we took a walk
In the clean southwestern air
Then we went back to her house
I took my guitar out
And sang of my joy and despair.

She served me her wine
And she helped me write lines
To songs I could not complete
And her eyes seemed to say
Put that guitar away
That’s somethin’ that both of us need.

What a beautiful site
Was her face in the light
And the candles there on the wall
And we reached the height
Of good love on that night
And I hope we never will part.

And I'm glad I noticed
That girl down in Clovis
Daughter of a driller
She’s a born thriller
A green eyed lady
Kinda wild, kinda lazy
I didn’t notice
What happened in Clovis
But I called her baby.

Image via Facebook/Hank Williams Jr.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

'Year of the Ruby' Produces Another Record Breaker for Christie's Hong Kong

The Crimson Flame, a 15-carat pigeon's blood Burmese ruby, set a new record on Tuesday when it sold for $18 million at Christie's Magnificent Jewels sale in Hong Kong. The gem established a new per-carat price record for a ruby at $1.2 million.


Proclaiming 2015 as the "Year of the Ruby at Christie's Hong Kong," Vickie Sek, the deputy chairman and director of Christie’s Asia jewelry department, was proud to put another record breaker in the books. Back in June, a 120-carat ruby-and-diamond necklace by Etcetera sold for $13 million, setting a world auction record for a ruby necklace.

The highly touted Crimson Flame's hammer price of $18 million surpassed Christie's pre-sale high estimate by $2.5 million. Sek had noted in November that the stone was "undoubtedly the most important pigeon’s-blood ruby to come to auction in Asia.”

The cushion-shaped ruby is mounted in a white gold ring that features a dramatic surround of smaller cushion-shaped white diamonds. A report by the Swiss Gemmological Institute affirmed that the gem is of Burmese origin and exhibits a vivid, saturated crimson color. The report stated that a natural ruby of this size and quality is very rare and should be considered an “exceptional treasure.”

Other high-profile ruby jewelry performed to expectations on Tuesday...

“Mogok’s Fiery Red” suite of pigeon's blood ruby jewelry by Fai Dee was split into individual lots and sold separately.


The first item was a ruby-and-diamond necklace featuring 32 cushion-shaped rubies — ranging from 1.04 to 5.05 carats — alternating with cushion-shaped diamonds. The piece came into the auction carrying an estimated selling price of $6.2 million to $8.5 million. The hammer price was $7.2 million.


The second half of the suite was a pair of ruby-and-diamond ear pendants. Each earring featured two cushion-shaped rubies spaced by a cushion-shaped diamond. The larger rubies weighed a bit over 5 carats, while the smaller ruby of each ear pendant weighed about 2.5 carats. The diamonds in the middle weighed about 1.5 carats. This lot carried a pre-sale estimate of $2.9 million to $4.1 million and eventually sold for $3.1 million.

Credit: Christie’s

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

This Jewelry Will Preserve Your Fossilized DNA for 1,000 Years

Talk about giving a personal gift. A group of scientists from Switzerland has developed a line of jewelry embedded with fossilized DNA, the molecule that contains an individual's unique genetic code. Protected by a diamond, the preserved DNA will last for 1,000 years and could be "de-fossilized" and analyzed generations from now by curious descendants.


The idea is the brainchild of Swiss chemist Dr. Robert Grass, who was terribly disappointed when he attempted to search the internet for a unique "push present" for his wife. The products available were globally accessible, exchangeable and anything but unique.


So the scientist got to work on a product line that would tap into his cutting-edge research into DNA preservation. Specifically, Grass and his team had developed new technologies for making DNA storable for millennia, similar to the way the DNA of living creatures is sometimes preserved in ancient amber or bone samples.


DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid, and is the self-replicating material present in nearly all living organisms as the main constituent of chromosomes. It is also the carrier of genetic information.


Grass called his DNA jewelry line "Identity Inside" and this is how it works:
• Customers provide a mouth swab sample using a kit provided by the company;
• Grass' team uses a patented process to purify and fossilize the DNA into a pellet of glass-like material;
• The pellet containing the DNA is placed in a shallow indentation on the inside of the ring band. It is then sealed into place by a 2-point round diamond that is set just above the pellet but flush to the band's inside surface.

Under normal conditions, Grass estimates that the DNA material will maintain its integrity for at least 1,000 years.


The Identity Inside line, by Turbo Beads, currently includes two ring styles, a pendant and a watch. The basic ring in brushed sterling silver features the DNA sample and 2-point diamond on the inside of the band. An upgraded version adds a 2-point diamond to the outside of the band. The pendant boasts similar components set in 18-karat rose gold on a black silicon cord. A Swiss-made Langenthal watch features the DNA pellet and protective diamond set in the crown. Retail prices range from approximately $300 to $1,000.


Dr. Grass and his colleagues recently launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to help move the project forward. To date, the group has raised about $9,000 with a target of $20,000. There are still 18 days remaining in the campaign.

If fully funded, Dr. Grass and his team expect to deliver the first Identity Inside jewelry by Valentine's Day 2016. See the company's Kickstarter video here...

Images courtesy of Identity Inside. Video screen captures via

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

World's Largest Faceted Blue Topaz Is Named for Spain's Costa del Sol Town of 'Marbella'

Weighing 8,225 carats, the "Marbella" is the world's largest faceted blue topaz and the most extraordinary example of December's official birthstone.


The grapefruit-sized specimen was purchased at the Tucson Gem Shows by the Spanish government in 2000 and added to its Programa Royal Collections museum, home to one of the world’s finest selections of precious stones.


The Marbella was originally called "Topaz Azul" (Blue Topaz, in Spanish), but was renamed "Marbella" in 2010 upon the special request of Marbella's Mayoress and local dignitaries, who believed the gem could help raise the international profile of the Costa del Sol town, boost the economy and encourage cultural development.


The gem's intense blue color happens to match the hue of the Mediterranean Sea near Marbella, which is on Spain's southern coast near the Gibraltar Strait.

The gem is famous not only for its size, but for its expertly crafted oval cut, its magnificent color and its perfect transparency. The dimensions of the 3.62-pound gem are 5.11 by 3.93 x 2.75 inches.


The Marbella has impressive company at the Art Natura Malaga, Costa del Sol's leading venue for cultural and leisure pursuits. Among its exhibit-mates are the 25,250-carat "Lua de Marabá" (Moon of Marabá) topaz, the 456-carat "Corazón Verde" (Green Heart ) emerald, the 243-carat "Star" sapphire, the 4,185-carat "Star of Jaipur" ruby and the 8,175-carat "Giant" garnet.

Blue topaz is one of three official birthstones for December. The others are turquoise and tanzanite.

Images: Map via Google Maps; Gem photos uncredited.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Petra Recovers 23.16-Carat Bubblegum Pink Diamond From Famous Williamson Mine in Tanzania

Since 1940, the Williamson Mine in Tanzania has been one of the world's few sources of gem-quality "bubblegum" pink diamonds. On Friday, the mine's owner, Petra Diamonds, announced that it recovered an extremely rare 23.16-carat pink diamond of exceptional color and clarity.


The mining company described the gem as its most significant recovery from the mine to date and will offer it for sale in Antwerp next month as part of Petra's December tender process. It is said to be of a much better quality than the 16.4-carat diamond recovered at the same mine in September 2014. That stone was sold for $2.2 million.


Vivid pink diamonds of exceptional size and quality are highly coveted in auction circles. Earlier this month, for example, a cushion-shaped 16.08-carat pink diamond was purchased by Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau for $28.5 million ($1.7 million per carat), setting an auction record for any vivid pink diamond. The gem’s selling price slightly exceeded Christie's pre-sale high estimate of $28 million.

“Pink diamonds are only found in a handful of mines throughout the world and their rarity ensures that they are one of the most highly coveted of all the fancy colors,” the company said in a statement.


The most famous pink gem originating at the Williamson Mine was unearthed back in 1947 and gifted that same year to Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip upon their wedding. The generous gesture was made by Canadian geologist John Williamson, who was the original owner of the mine.

The 54.5-carat rough diamond was cut into a round brilliant that weighed 23.6 carats. It was named the Williamson Pink and set into a flower-motif brooch in 1952 by Cartier. Some people believe that the Williamson Pink was the inspiration for the Pink Panther diamond of movie fame.

Even though the Williamson Mine has been operational for 75 years, geologists believe the mine still has significant production ahead of it. The mine, which sits atop the Mwadui kimberlite pipe, has yielded about 20 million carats, so far, but should generate an additional 40 million carats. The mine's average depth is only 30 to 35 meters, and theoretically it could continue to yield diamonds as deep as 350 meters.

It is believed that pink diamonds owe their color to the effects of intense pressure and heat while they were still deep within the earth. These factors caused distortions in the diamond's crystal lattice that influence the way the diamond absorbs green light, thus reflecting a pink hue.

Colored diamonds are in the elite 1% of the world's diamond production, and pink diamonds make up 1% of the 1%, noted gem expert Richard Revez in a December 2014 interview with the BBC.

The Williamson Mine is currently co-owned by Petra Diamonds and the government of Tanzania, which holds a 25% stake.

Credit: Petra Diamonds; Christie's; Google Maps.