Friday, December 18, 2015

Music Friday: Christina Aguilera Gets a Diamond Ring in the R&B Classic, 'Merry Christmas Baby'

Welcome to a special holiday edition of Music Friday, when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, birthday girl Christina Aguilera (she was born on this day in 1980) belts out her rendition of the 1947 classic, "Merry Christmas Baby."


In first lines of the song, Aguilera — with an assist from Dr. John — sings about how a very special piece of jewelry has made this the best Christmas ever: "Merry Christmas baby, oh ooh / You sure did treat me nice, oh ooh / You gave me a diamond ring for Christmas / Now I'm living in paradise, oh oh."

Originally recorded by Johnny Moore's Three Blazers in 1947, this R&B holiday classic has been covered by a Who's Who of music-industry legends, including Chuck Berry, Otis Redding, B.B. King, Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen and Melissa Etheridge.


A little known fact about Aguilera's version, which appeared on her My Kind of Christmas album in 2000, is that one of her heroines, Etta James, was supposed to be a featured performer on the track. The idea was later panned and Dr. John was picked as a replacement.

In a snarky review, critic Chris Williams of Entertainment Weekly noted it was probably better that James didn't appear on the track.

"The blues legend is mysteriously absent from the finished track," Williams wrote, "but Aguilera oversings so wildly that there wouldn’t have been enough oxygen in the booth to sustain another life form."

Nevertheless, Aguilera's My Kind of Christmas peaked at #28 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and sold more than one million copies.


Johnny Moore's Three Blazers' recording of "Merry Christmas Baby" also was a great success. The song reached position #3 on Billboard's R&B Juke Box chart during the Christmas of 1947.

Please check out the video of Aguilera's live performance of "Merry Christmas Baby" on The Late Show With David Letterman. As a bonus, we're also including the original. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along. Enjoy!

"Merry Christmas, Baby"
Written by Brian Douglas Wilson and Mike E. Love. Performed by Christina Aguilera, featuring Dr. John.

Oh oh
Merry Christmas baby
You sure did treat me nice, oh ooh yeah yeah
Said uh, merry Christmas baby, oh ooh
You sure did treat me nice, oh ooh
You gave me a diamond ring for Christmas
Now I'm living in paradise, oh oh

I'm, I'm feeling mighty fine
Got good music on my radio
(Yes you do child)
Well I'm, I'm feeling mighty fine
Got good music, on, music on my radio, oh
Well I, I want to kiss you baby
While we're standing underneath the mistletoe

Santa came down the chimney
About a half past three
Left all these pretty presents
That you, that you see before me, oh

Merry Christmas baby, merry Christmas baby
You sure been good to me, oh, oh ooh
Well I, I haven't had a drink this morning
But I'm, I'm lit up like a Christmas tree
Christmas tree, oh oh oh, oh yeah

Oh, yeah yeah yeah
Oh oh ooh, yeah, oh, ooh,
Oh oh yeah, yeah, yeah

St. Nick came down the chimney
About a half past three
He left all these pretty presents
That you see before me

Merry Christmas baby
You sure been good to me
Haven't had a taste this morning
But I'm all lit up like a Christmas tree

Oh, oh, oh ooh, oh ooh
Merry Christmas baby
You sure been good to me
Oh oh, oh oh
Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah, oh

Sure been good, to, to, to, me
Hey, oh oh hey

Aguilera's version:

Johnny Moore's Three Blazers' version:

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Men Are Spending More on Engagement Rings Than Ever Before, Says The Knot; Average Rises to $5,978

When it comes to picking the perfect engagement ring, men are spending more time, more effort and more money than ever before, according to a national survey conducted by The Knot.

Man proposing to his girlfriend while they are having a romantic

The average groom-to-be spent an all-time high of $5,978 on an engagement ring in 2015, up from $5,403 in 2013 and $5,095 in 2011.

These men also did an impressive amount of legwork before committing to a purchase. On average, they invested 4.8 months in research and 3.6 months in sourcing the perfect engagement ring. They visited five retailers and scrutinized at least 25 rings before purchasing "the one."


According the study, diamonds are still the #1 engagement ring stone choice, with 63% receiving a white diamond center stone with side stones and/or accents, and 21% receiving a white diamond solitaire. However, 8% reported receiving a colored gemstone engagement ring, up from 6% in 2013.

The trendiest engagement ring setting is, by far, the halo, which tripled from 7% in 2011 to 22% in 2015. The most popular diamond cut is round (49%), followed by princess (22%) and cushion (6%). Interestingly, 33% of brides said they'd prefer a different shape stone than the traditional (and most popular) round shape.

The survey also reveals that men favor quality over quantity. Eighty-five percent of men would rather buy a smaller, better-quality diamond than a larger stone of lesser quality, and 57% of brides admit that they'd rather have a smaller, better quality diamond than a larger stone of lesser quality.


The Knot's 2015 Jewelry & Engagement Study is the largest of its kind and includes survey results from more than 12,000 U.S. brides and 1,200 U.S. grooms engaged or recently married from 2014 to early 2015.

Another key finding from the survey is that future brides are taking a more active role in the engagement process, especially when it comes to selecting the ring.

Sixty-seven percent of brides reported they they began researching rings before getting engaged, using their mobile devices to browse ring styles (43%), sharing ring ideas with their fiancé (35%) and researching ring designers or retailers (29%).

Eight out of 10 men said their partner dropped hints. Of that group, 51% of women pointed out styles while shopping, 36% revealed outright what they wanted and 11% left ads or pictures of engagement rings laying around.

In a surprising note, Kellie Gould, editor-in-chief of The Knot, reported that brides are no longer in the dark about the value of their engagement rings. Thirty-four percent of brides were aware of exactly how much their fiancé paid and another 34% knew the approximate cost.

Image: Couple via; Bridal jewelry courtesy of Stuller.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Angelina Jolie Pitt Donates Extraordinary Citrine Necklace to Smithsonian's National Gem Collection

Actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie Pitt donated an extraordinary citrine necklace to the Smithsonian’s National Gem Collection. Featuring 64 cushion-cut citrine gems and a fiery 177.11-carat pear-shaped citrine drop, the 18-karat gold necklace went on display last Friday at the Janet Annenberg Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals in Washington, D.C.


The new piece, called the Jolie Citrine Necklace, will remain on view indefinitely, alongside some of the world's most famous gems, including the Hope Diamond. The National Gem Collection is part of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History — the most visited natural history museum in the world. The collection consists of approximately 350,000 mineral specimens and 10,000 gems.


The Jolie Citrine Necklace is from the Style of Jolie jewelry collection, a collaboration between the actress and American jewelry designer Robert Procop. The collection was developed by Jolie Pitt to promote education and establish schools in conflict-affected countries. Proceeds from the sales of jewelry in the Style of Jolie collection are donated to the Education Partnership for Children in Conflict, which builds schools for children around the world, the first few of which are in Afghanistan.


The necklace is beautifully styled with 64 graduated citrine gems, each bezel set in 18-karat yellow gold. The large pear-shaped citrine drop is also bezel set, giving the necklace a sharp, clean look.

“We are thrilled to receive this important piece for the Smithsonian,” said Jeffrey Post, curator of the National Gem Collection. “It is the first piece of citrine jewelry in the collection. The fact that it was personally designed by Angelina Jolie Pitt and Robert Procop makes it all the more significant.”

Added Jolie, "Robert and I are honored to have this great institution feature one of our jeweled creations. As the Smithsonian has educated so many of us, this jewel is a symbol of our efforts to help educate underprivileged children in conflict areas of the world.”

Citrine, one of the alternative birthstones for November, is the golden-yellow-to-orange variety of quartz and gets its color from trace amounts of iron in the gem's chemical makeup. The word "citrine" comes from "citron," the French word for "lemon."

Publicity photos by RP Studio.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Eva Longoria's Ruby Engagement Ring Could Spark New Interest in Colorful Center Stones

The beautiful and elegant Eva Longoria delighted her two million Instagram followers on Sunday with a romantic photo announcing her engagement to Jose Antonio Baston. The image shows the couple embracing during their visit to Dubai — and prominently reveals Longoria's impressive ruby-and-diamond engagement ring.


A close-up view of the ring, although a bit blurry, seems to show a sizable ruby center stone surrounded by clusters of white diamonds in a white gold or platinum setting.


Longoria cleverly captioned her photo, "Ummmm so this happened....#Engaged #Dubai #Happiness." The 40-year-old actress and former Desperate Housewives star also included a photo of her and her fiancé enjoying a champagne picnic before riding camels into the desert.


The choice of a ruby instead of a more traditional diamond is expected to spark the public's interest in more colorful, non-traditional engagement ring center stones.


Of course, Longoria is not the first celebrity to favor a ruby engagement ring. Sisters Ashley and Jessica Simpson proudly wear ruby-and-diamond engagement rings from designer Neil Lane. Ashley got hers in 2014 (above, left) and Jessica got hers in 2010 (above, right).


And Princess Kate wears the world's most famous non-traditional engagement ring — the sapphire-and-diamond stunner previously owned by Prince William's mother, Princess Diana.

Longoria and Baston, who is nicknamed "Pepe," were in Dubai to attend the Global Gift Gala at the 2015 Dubai International Film Festival.


The new bride-to-be is clearly smitten by her new fiancé. She captioned the photo above, "No words for this handsomeness! @globalgiftfoundation #GGFDUB15."

In 2014, she told Parade magazine, "You know, in general, I'm attracted to humor and intellect in a man." When asked if Baston did, indeed, have those qualities, she said, "Sure. Let me tell you, I'm very lucky in my life."

Longoria has been dating Baston since 2013. The handsome 47-year-old is the president of Televisa, Latin America's largest media company.

Sunday's proposal likely came as a surprise to Longoria, who only a year ago said in a interview that that she believed that "marriage and kids are not on the horizon." She was previously married to actor Tyler Christopher from 2002 to 2004 and to NBA star Tony Parker from 2007 to 2011.

Credit: Simpson rings courtesy of Neil Lane. Kate Middleton ring via Facebook/Kate Middleton.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Move Over 'Tsarvena Swan,' Savio's 'Peacock Ring' Is Now the Ring With the Most Diamonds at 3,827

Hey, "Tsarvena Swan," the "Peacock Ring" flew away with your Guinness World Record for the most diamonds set in a single ring. Designed by India's Savio Jewellery, the 18-karat white gold Peacock Ring boasts 3,827 ideal-cut diamonds weighing a total of 16.5 carats. It has an estimated value is $2.7 million.


Savio partner Abhishek Sand told JCK magazine that the finished piece was "crazy difficult" to produce. The challenge of sourcing nearly 4,000 fine-quality, small diamonds took three months, and the manufacturing process took three years. The diamonds range from E to G in color and from VVS to VS in clarity. The weights vary from 0.003 carats to .01 carats.


"We didn’t just want to break [the record] by a little, but by a lot," Sand told JCK. "Guinness is an internationally recognized standard and it would set us apart.”


The Peacock Ring's diamond count turned out to be 51% greater than that of the previous record holder, the Tsarvena Swan, which held the title since 2011.

That ring was designed by Lobortas Classic Jewelry House (Ukraine) and features 2,525 G-color diamonds, ranging from 0.001 carats to 0.05 carats. The diamond total weight of the piece is 10.48 carats, and all the diamonds are in the clarity range of VVS2 to VS1. Lobortas set the retail value at $1.3 million, according to published reports.


Guinness also announced a second diamond-related record, this one for a bejeweled guitar. The "Eden of Coronet" guitar is adorned with 11,441 diamonds weighing 401.15 carats — all set in 18-karat white gold (57.67 ounces). The guitar was designed by Aaron Shum of Hong Kong and is valued at $2 million, making it the world's most valuable guitar.

Credits: Peacock Ring by Savio Jewellery; Tsarvena Swan by Shrenuj & Co.; Eden of Coronet by