Friday, December 25, 2015

Anonymous Benefactors Donate Cherished Bridal Jewelry to Support Salvation Army's Efforts

Bridal jewelry donations are making the holiday bright for Salvation Army chapters throughout the country.


The Salvation Army's bell ringing season starts each November and runs through Christmas Eve. While the bulk of donations come in the form of coins and paper money, the most meaningful (and valuable) ones contain a bit of bling.


Earlier this month in Billerica, Mass., an anonymous donor dropped a diamond engagement ring and wedding band into a Salvation Army Red Kettle outside of a local grocery store. The bridal set was valued at $3,500.


“We’re excited and incredibly grateful to the individual who made such a generous and kind donation,” Major David B. Davis, divisional commander of the Massachusetts Salvation Army, said in a press release. “Our Red Kettles represent the spirit of giving, and this incredible gift will ensure that local children will have a brighter Christmas and that families and seniors will get the resources they need all year round.”

The proceeds from the donation will be used to provide services for thousands of children, families and seniors in the local area. This includes meals, toys and other holiday support for those in need, along with funding for food pantries, soup kitchens, social services and education programs.

Last year, we wrote about an anonymous widow, whose donation of her wedding ring and diamond engagement ring in nearby Boston made headlines across the country. The widow included a note that said she was making the donation in honor of her late husband’s joy of Christmastime gift giving.

She wrote, "I’ve dropped my wedding ring in your Red Kettle knowing that the money from its sale will buy toys for needy children. In all seasons, my husband was a giver. I especially remember his joy in giving at Christmastime, especially to those in need. To honor his memory, I donate this ring.”

So touched by the widow's generosity, a second benefactor pledged $21,000 to The Salvation Army to have the rings reunited with their original owner.


This year, social media is filled with accounts of bridal jewelry being dropped into Red Kettles across the country. Typically, The Salvation Army will hold the rings for a week or longer, just in case they were dropped into the kettles by mistake.

• In Miami, a frequent Secret Santa and Salvation Army benefactor dropped a platinum and diamond ring appraised at $3,000 into a Salvation Army Red Kettle outside a Winn-Dixie store. The ring was wrapped in a $20 bill and included a note that read, "There are so many who need help. Keep doing good! God bless The Salvation Army. A friend.”

This is the sixth year in a row that the anonymous benefactor has contributed valuable items. Previous gifts have included a gold nugget, an emerald and diamond necklace, and a diamond ring. Each year, the Secret Santa leaves a voice mail alerting The Salvation Army to be on the lookout for a special gift.

• In Wilson County, Tenn., an anonymous donor dropped three rings, including a wedding set, into a Salvation Army Red Kettle. The rings were wrapped neatly inside a dollar bill and then placed in a plastic bag. Their combined value was estimated to be $1,100.

• In Fayetteville, N.C., a bell ringer for The Salvation Army was surprised by the sound of an odd "clank" at the bottom of her donation kettle. The items making the unusual sound turned out to be a bridal set, which was later appraised at $1,770.

• In Durham, N.C., an anonymous person placed two crumpled dollar bills into a kettle at a local Walmart. The dollars hid a diamond ring.

• In Sheboygan, Wis., volunteer bell ringers at a Festival Foods found a one-carat diamond ring at the bottom of their Red Kettle. The diamond was wrapped in its original receipt that dated back to 1996. It was purchased at that time for $2,200. Salvation Army representatives are currently having the ring appraised to determine its current value.

Credits: Red Kettle via Facebook/SalvationArmyUSA; screen captures via; ring photos courtesy of Salvation Army.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Facebook Reveals That Christmas Eve Is the Most Popular Time to Propose

If you thought Valentine's Day was the most romantic day of the year, think again. Facebook reveals that more men pop the question on Christmas Eve than at any other time.

love, christmas, couple, proposal and people concept - happy man

How does Facebook know so much about relationships? Well, Facebook has a cool function that allows users to report their "relationship status." When any of its 1.4 billion users moves in or out of a relationship, Facebook knows. Of the 156 million users in the U.S., 2.6 million changed their status to "engaged" last year.

The most most popular days for getting down on bended knee were Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day. So, as you can see, Valentine's Day actually came in fourth.

Interestingly, their median age was 24, and 30% of all "engaged" status updates took place during November and December.

Facebook provides a long pull-down menu of potential statuses. These include "single," "in a relationship," "engaged," "married," "in a civil union," "in an open relationship," "it's complicated," "separated," "divorced" and "widowed."

Why is Christmas Eve such a popular time to get engaged? The best answer seems to be romance and family.

Experts believe that many grooms-to-be get swept up in the romance of the festive season, which also allows for quality time with loved ones, family and friends. Most men still ask for the parents' blessing before popping the question, and the holidays make that communication much more convenient.

A winter engagement also gives the couple enough time to prepare a summer or fall wedding. In previous bridal surveys, men admitted that proposing during Christmas was more likely to "get a yes."

Facebook also noticed that once young men changed their status to "engaged," their frequency of posting increased dramatically. They made 20% more posts, sent 40% more messages and checked in 20% more often than those not engaged. Engaged women are similarly more "engaged" with Facebook.

The Facebook findings align with the stats tallied by, which found that 33% of men quizzed said Christmas Eve was the best time to pop the question. Interestingly, 83% of women gave a thumbs-down to a holiday proposal. Instead, a large portion of women (29%) said they would prefer a proposal on Valentine's Day or on the anniversary of the day they met their future spouse (20%).


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Marriage Proposals Are Increasingly Public Affairs, Reports The Knot

One of the biggest takeaways from The Knot's 2015 Jewelry & Engagement Study is the fact that marriage proposals are increasingly public affairs, with photographers often called on to preserve the moment, and social media at the ready to broadcast the big news.

Proposal On The Beach With A Man Asking For Marry At Sunset

Forty-five percent of grooms said that they proposed in a public place, up dramatically from 34% in 2011. A scenic spot was chosen by exactly 28% of grooms, while 21% said they proposed at home and another 18% reported popping the question while on vacation.

The Knot noted that executing the perfect proposal and capturing the moment are high on men's priority list. Nearly half (48%) admitted they meticulously planned the proposal down to the last detail. An astounding 41% had a photographer or videographer capture the proposal as it happened.

Social media is the primary way newly engaged couples are alerting their friends and families about the good news. Exactly 79% of couples shared the excitement on social media within three days.


Four of 10 brides said they were completely surprised by the marriage proposal and 58% claimed they knew it was coming, but weren't sure exactly when.

Despite fast-moving advances in technology and communication, the majority of grooms are still mindful of traditions when they propose.

More than three-quarters of men (77%) asked for the father's or parents' permission before popping the question (up from 71% in 2011) and 85% proposed on bended knee.

The exact phrase, "Will you marry me?" was uttered by 89% of future grooms and nearly an equal portion (88%) popped the question with an engagement ring in hand.

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


Monday, December 21, 2015

'Largest Black Diamond' Revealed in Dubai, But Is the 'Korloff Noir' Really the Largest?

Billed as the world's largest black diamond, the 88-karat "Karloff Noir" made a rare one-day appearance at a Dubai Mall last week to promote the reopening of a Karloff Paris boutique.


Discovered in Siberia in 1917, the unusual gem was cut from a 421-carat rough diamond and boasts a deep, rich black opaque color. Daniel Paillasseur, founder and managing partner of Korloff Paris, purchased the precious stone in 1978 and named it after the royal Russian family, Korloff-Sapojnikoff, which originally owned it. The gem is insured for $37 million and resides in Paris.

“It’s the heart and soul of the company and there’s only one such in the world,” Bassam Azakir, managing partner at Korloff Paris, told Gulf News. “[It has] been brought outside of Paris only on select occasions, for the Sultan of Brunei and the Queen of Malaysia. Given how priceless it is from an insurance perspective, it’s difficult to take it out.”


Although the Guinness Book of World Records had once affirmed the Karloff Noir to be the largest faceted black diamond in the world, another famous black diamond — The Spirit of de Grisogono — is reported to be far larger at 312.24 carats. Discovered several decades ago in the Central African Republic, the Mogul-cut black diamond was an astounding 587 carats in its rough state. Swiss luxury jeweler Fawaz Gruosi of Grisogono is responsible for cutting the gem and designing the setting for the larger-than-life white gold ring encrusted with 702 white diamonds (36.69 carats). The ring was eventually sold by Gruosi to a private client.

Despite our confusion over which black diamond is really the world's largest, we're intrigued by Karloff Paris' claim that much of the company's good fortune is credited to the mystical qualities of the 57-facet Karloff Noir.

In a 2007 Haute Living article, Karloff executives provided examples of how the black diamond has brought happiness, good luck and prosperity to all of those who have come in contact with it. The article explains how prior to the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, figure skater Alexei Yagudin touched the stone and went on to win the gold medal. Composer and cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, tennis player Pete Sampras, and chess players Gary Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov are among the individuals said to have benefitted from the powers of the Karloff Noir.

Black diamonds are different than other colored diamonds because they do not get their color from chemical impurities, such as nitrogen, hydrogen or boron, in the diamond's makeup. Instead, black diamonds owe their color to numerous dark inclusions (mostly graphite). Their opaqueness is caused by a “polycrystalline” structure that inhibits the reflection of light.

Images: Korloff Noir courtesy of Korloff France; Spirit of de Grisogono (uncredited).