Friday, March 11, 2016

Music Friday: Stevie Wonder Is Totally Devoted to 'Pearl,' the Sweetest Girl in the World

Welcome to Music Friday when we like to bring you throwback tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, Stevie Wonder performs his funky rendition of "Pearl," a 1969 song about the sweetest girl in the world.

Wonder tells us that no matter how far he travels or how far he roams, there's no girl in the whole wide world as sweet as the girl he's got waiting for him back at home.

He sings, "Let me tell you, I love that girl so / And I call that girl Pearl / Sweetest girl in the world."

Written by Richard Morris, "Pearl" was the seventh track on Wonder's memorable album My Cherie Amour, which spawned a number of hits, including the title track and "Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday."

Born Stevland Hardaway Morris in inner-city Detroit, Wonder was a child prodigy and musical genius — despite being blind since infancy. His first instrument was a harmonica and he was a skilled musician by the age of eight. ("Pearl" happens to feature an excellent harmonica solo by Wonder.)

He was discovered by Ronnie White of the Miracles at the age of 11 and was quickly signed to a five-year Motown contract by CEO Berry Gordy.

Billed at Little Stevie Wonder, the singer/songwriter/musician was an instant sensation. Wonder and his mother received a stipend to cover their expenses, and the young performer got $2.50 in spending money per week. The rest of his earnings were held in trust until he turned 21.

Wonder plays the piano, synthesizer, harmonica, congas, drums, bongos, organ, melodica and Clavinet.

Now 65, Wonder has performed for more than five decades. Over that time, he has amassed 30 U.S. top 10 hits and received 25 Grammy Awards, the most ever awarded to a male solo artist. He has sold more than 100 million records worldwide and Rolling Stone magazine named him the ninth greatest singer of all time. He is a member of both the Rock and Roll and Songwriters halls of fame.

We hope you enjoy the audio track of Wonder's performance of "Pearl." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along.

Written by Richard Morris. Performed by Stevie Wonder.

Oh, people let me tell you
No matter how far I travel
No matter how far I roam
There's no other girl in the whole wide world
Sweet as the girl I, I got at home

Woah and I love that girl so
(Oh, I love that girl so)
Yeah, I need that girl, children
(Oh, I need that girl so)

Let me tell you, I love that girl so
(Oh, I love that girl so)
And I call that girl Pearl
Sweetest girl in the world
(Sweetest girl in the world, love that girl Pearl)

Sweet young thing
(Yeah, yeah, yeah)
Sweet sixteen
(Yeah, yeah, yeah)
Prize I can't afford to lose
(Yeah, yeah, yeah)

She's the only thing
(Yeah, yeah, yeah)
That stands between
(Yeah, yeah, yeah)
Me and
(Yeah, yeah, yeah)
The Twelfth Street Blues
(Yeah, yeah, yeah)

Woah and I love that girl so, have mercy
(Oh, I love that girl so)
I need that girl so
(Oh, I need that girl so)
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

I love that girl so, have mercy
(Oh, I love that girl so)
I'm talkin' 'bout Pearl
Sweetest girl in the world
(Sweetest girl in the world, love that girl Pearl)

Oh baby, baby, baby, baby
(Oh, I love that girl so)
Oh baby, baby, baby, baby
(Oh, I need that girl so)
Oh, I love that girl so
(Oh, I love that girl so)
Sweetest girl in the world
(Sweetest girl in the world, love that girl Pearl)

Yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah

Yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah

Oh, I love that girl
Love that, love that girl, love that girl, yeah
(Oh, I love that girl so)
I need that girl so
(Oh, I need that girl so)

Woah I love that girl, woah
(Oh, I love that girl so)
And I call that little girl Pearl
Sweetest girl in the world
Sweetest girl in the world, love that girl Pearl
Sweetest girl in the world, love that girl Pearl

Image: By Pete Souza, official White House photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Relentless Iowa Sheriff Tracks Down Owner of Custom Ring Found in Gas Station Parking Lot

An Iowa sheriff left no stone unturned in his relentless effort to reunite a unique custom ring with its rightful owner.


On Super Bowl Sunday, Good Samaritan Angela Allen was shocked to find the valuable bauble lying on the ground in the parking lot of a gas station in Slater, a small town about 20 miles north of Des Moines.


”When I got out of my car, I looked down and it happened to be by my feet," Allen told the CBS affiliate, Local 4 News. “It wasn't just a ring you'd go buy in the store. You could tell it was unique and it was created for somebody.”

Recognizing both the tangible and sentimental value of the ring, she turned it over to the Story County Sheriff, Aaron Kester.

The unusual ring, which features two large diamonds and a rim of graduated smaller ones punctuated by a single amethyst, had been the prized possession of Sharon Soder. The largest of the graduated stones was from her mother's wedding ring and all the others held special meaning.


"There's no other ring like it," she said.

Soder had no idea where she lost the ring. She and her husband tore through her home, checking the laundry, under the beds, everywhere.


Meanwhile, Sheriff Kester was on a mission to solve the mystery.

"There were no maker marks inside, so there really wasn't much to go on,” he said.

The sheriff decided to personally visit every jeweler in the county to see if any of them had designed the ring. When that strategy failed, he widened his net to include every jeweler in Des Moines. Still, no luck.

Then he texted a picture of the ring to a customer jeweler, who confirmed that he has designed it. The jeweler also had documentation revealing the ring's owner.

Three weeks after losing her ring, Soder received an unexpected call from Sheriff Kester.


“I'm like, 'Oh my gosh!’ It was like a miracle,” Soder told Local 4 News.

When Sheriff Kester was asked about his heroic efforts to return the ring to Soder, he attributed them to "Iowa values."

And when Good Samaritan Allen was asked about her motivation to do the right thing instead of keeping the ring for herself, she answered, "That's why I live in Iowa."

Soder is thrilled to have the ring back on her finger. She thanked the sheriff with a heartfelt note and something extra special...

With a wry smile, Kester recounted: "Yeah, I bent our policies and allowed her to give me a hug."

Images: Video captures via

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Engagement Ring, Journey Pendant Rescued From Septic Tank 3 Years After Toddler 'Flushed Mommy's Pretties'

You know it's going to be a bad day when you've misplaced your best diamond jewelry and your toddler says he "flushed Mommy's pretties."

That's the story of British Columbia resident Dani Jacobsen, whose two-year-old son, Cohen, scooped up his mom's engagement ring, wedding band, diamond earrings, diamond pendant and diamond necklace and flushed them down the toilet as she was preparing his bath.


Cohen was going through his "flushing" stage, and only one day earlier he tried to flush a whole apple down the commode.

Dani had removed her precious keepsakes in preparation of giving her son a bath, but when bath time was over, her jewelry was out of site. She and her husband, David, searched the house, but to no avail.

Finally, they asked Cohen if he had seen Mommy's "pretties."

Cohen took his mom's hand, led her to the toilet and repeated the phrase, "flushed Mommy's pretties."

Dani's husband, an underground pipe layer by trade, removed the toilet and even crawled under the house to take apart the pipes leading from the toilet.

“He had to go on his back," Dani told the Salmon Arm Observer. "He spent four or five hours under the house, taking one pipe out at a time, looking with a flashlight and having to glue it back together.”


When that effort failed, the couple called in the professionals at Reliable Septic Services. Co-owner Jacob Starnyski and David put on their Hazmat suits and waded waist deep in the stinky septic tank. After hours of pumping, screening and sifting, the jewelry still could not be found.

That was 2013, and Dani was certain that her engagement ring and other diamond jewelry were gone forever.

She was particularly fond of the Journey Diamond Pendant, a gift from her husband when they were going through some difficult emotional times.

“There are six little diamonds going down from biggest to smallest – it signifies the journey of life," she told the Salmon Arm Observer. "It just gutted me, thinking about losing that… I was horrified that was gone.”

But, recently, as the couple was preparing to sell their house, they decided to give the search one more shot.

Again, Starnyski found himself in the now-familiar mucky septic tank, and once again he would pump out the waste while screening and sifting.

"Once I got to the bottom, I took my time a little more, and lo and behold there was the ring," Starnyski told CBC News.

Wrapped around the engagement ring was Dani's cherished Journey Diamond Pendant. Later, he also found the diamond necklace.

Although the wedding band and diamond earrings remain missing, Dani was still overwhelmed by the success of the stinky expedition.

"My heart just burst with joy," Dani said. “I had tears in my eyes… I kept thanking him over and over again.”


Dani and her family had already moved 330 miles away to their new town of Nanaimo when the jewelry was found, so her parents, Donna and Doug Howard, stood in to accept the recovered jewelry from Starnyski on their daughter's behalf.

Credits: Jewelry shot and group shot courtesy of Dani Jacobsen. Jacob Starnyski shot via Facebook/reliablesepticservicesinc. 

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Bejeweled Maquech Beetles Are Worn as Living Jewelry South of the Border

South of the border on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, women love to make a fashion statement with the Maquech Brooch — a live beetle decked out with colorful rhinestone jewels and gold chain. The docile, wingless bug crawls on the wearer's shirt within range of its three-inch-long chain "leash" that's attached with a decorative safety pin. 


If bugs make you jumpy, it’s hard to imagine the appeal of wearing a creepy-crawly beetle as a "pet-cessory." One might even find it disheartening that the creatures are destined to go through their lives as animated bling, but the bugs don't seem to mind having beautiful baubles glued to their backs. They generally live for up to three years on a diet of apples and wet, rotted wood.


The bejeweled beetles have played a romantic role in Yucatan culture for centuries. According to legend, a Mayan princess was not permitted to marry a prince from a rival clan, and when they were discovered, the lover was sentenced to death. Recognizing their plight, a shaman changed the man into a shining beetle that could be decorated and worn over the princess's heart as a reminder of their eternal bond.


Tourist shops in the Yucatan have been selling Maquech jewelry since the 1980s. Today, the glittery crawlers sell for about $10.

U.S. tourists may not bring the blingy beetles over the border. Defying the law carries a fine of up to $500. According to, several confiscated specimens are glittering among the Coleoptera collections of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.


"It doesn't take much to keep them happy," Warren Steiner, an emeritus beetle researcher at the Natural History Museum, told "They need to eat a little starchy material, but they can survive for a long time with no water. The adults are often found under logs, bark stumps, that kind of thing. They're wood scavengers, and really sluggish. They usually play dead when you find them."

Finding and collecting Maquech beetles is the work of "Los Maquecheros," a group of men who specialize in sifting through decomposing vegetation on the forest floor.

Animal rights activists are on the record as opposing living ornamentation. Back in 2010, PETA spokesperson Jaime Zalac told The Monitor, "Beetles may not be as cute and cuddly as puppies and kittens, but they have the same capacity to feel pain and suffer.”

Interestingly, the ancient Egyptians may have been the first people to wear insects as jewelry. Historians believe that Egyptian soldiers wore scarab beetles into battle as the beetles were considered to have supernatural powers of protection against enemies.

Maquech screen captures via Store shot by BlankeVla (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, March 07, 2016

March Babies, Aquamarine is Your Birthstone and One of the Most Famous Was Owned by a First Lady

Hey, March babies. Congratulations, your official birthstone is the beautiful aquamarine. Did you know that one of the largest and most famous aquamarines of all time — a 1,298-carat wonder — was gifted to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt by Brazilian President GetĂșlio Vargas nearly 80 years ago? It now resides in the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, N.Y.


FDR had just won his second presidential election in November of 1936, when he and the First Lady decided to embark on a month-long "Good Neighbor" cruise to South America.


When the cruiser USS Indianapolis landed in Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian president and his wife presented Eleanor Roosevelt with the remarkable stone from Vargas' own collection. At the time, the bluish-green rectangular step-cut gem was the world's largest cut aquamarine.

Mined in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, the gem was cut from a rough stone that weighed 6,500 carats (2.86 pounds). The rough had been shipped to Amsterdam, where cutter Gustav Reitbauer successfully produced two world-class gems — the one given to the First Lady, and a second, at 865 carats, that was sold to Jagatjit Singh, the Maharaja of Kapurthala (India).


The First Lady's gift was presented in an art deco box, which was custom made by jeweler Casa Oscar Machado. Even today, the gem remains in its original presentation box.

Like many famous gemstones, Eleanor Roosevelt's aquamarine was the subject of intrigue and controversy. In 1947, two years after FDR's death, syndicated columnist and radio personality Drew Pearson accused the former First Lady of trying to sell the aquamarine. Apparently, the columnist had learned that she had attempted to discover the gem's value. The controversy went away quietly when she donated the gem to the Roosevelt Library.


She acknowledged the aquamarine in her 1949 autobiography This I Remember: “I think it does interest people and perhaps does serve a good purpose by symbolizing the kindness and generosity of Brazilian feeling toward our country.”

The First Lady passed away in 1962 at the age of 78.

Credits: Aquamarine images courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, Hyde Park, New York; FDR and First Lady photo, by Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library Digital Archives [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons; Eleanor Roosevelt photo, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.