Friday, March 18, 2016

Music Friday: Jilted Lover's Eccentric Life Inspires Billy Idol's 'Sweet Sixteen'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you outstanding songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, British rocker Billy Idol performs "Sweet Sixteen," a song inspired by the tragic love story of Edward Leedskalnin and the girl who left him at the altar.


Those who have visited the mysterious Coral Castle in Homestead, Fla., know the story of Leedskalnin, a 26-year-old Latvian, who was engaged to be married to Agnes Scuffs in 1923. One day before their scheduled wedding, Scuffs, who was 10 years his junior, broke off the engagement.

Devastated by their parting, Leedskalnin emigrated to the U.S., where he bought a piece of land in south Florida and for the next 25 years single-handedly sculpted 1,100 short tons of coral into a monument he called "Rock Gate Park." He dedicated to park to Scuffs, who he called his "Sweet Sixteen," but could never win her back.


Idol visited Rock Gate Park, which had been renamed Coral Castle, in the early 1980s and was so intrigued by Leedskalnin's story that he decided to write a song about it.

Idol seems to be channeling Elvis Presley as he sings, "I'll do anything / For my sweet sixteen / And I'll do anything / For little run away child / Gave my heart an engagement ring / She took ev'rything / Ev'rything I gave her / Oh sweet sixteen."

Idol goes on to reference the incredible coral sculptures Leedskalnin built in her honor. Even to this day, a mystery surrounds how the amateur sculptor was able to carve the huge boulders and move them without any outside help. According to a contributor to, framed photos of Idol's visit are featured in the Coral Castle gift shop. The attraction is on the National Register of Historic Places.

"Sweet Sixteen" was the fourth track on Idol's Whiplash Smile album, which sold more than one million copies and peaked at #6 on the Billboard 200. The single reached #20 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

Idol was a key member of the MTV-driven "Second British Invasion" of the United States back in the early 1980s. Among his most popular songs from that era are "Dancing with Myself," "White Wedding," "Rebel Yell" and "Eyes Without a Face." The 60-year-old rocker is still actively touring.

Check out the official video for "Sweet Sixteen." A still photo of Leedskalnin standing inside his complex is seen during the first 8 seconds under the title, "Love turned to Stone." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Sweet Sixteen"
Written and performed by Billy Idol.

I'll do anything
For my sweet sixteen,
And I'll do anything
For little run away child

Gave my heart an engagement ring.
She took ev'rything.
Ev'rything I gave her,
Oh sweet sixteen.

Built a moon
For a rocking chair.
I never guessed it would
Rock her far from here
Oh, oh, oh, oh.

Someone's built a candy castle
For my sweet sixteen.
Someone's built a candy brain
And filled it in.

Well I'll do anything
For my sweet sixteen
Oh I'll do anything
For little runaway child

Well, memories will burn you.
Memories grow older as people can
They just get colder
Like sweet sixteen

Oh, I see it's clear
Baby, that you are
All through here
Oh, oh, oh, oh.

Someone's built a candy castle
For my sweet sixteen,
Someone's built a candy house
To house her in.
Someone's built a candy castle
For my sweet sixteen.
Someone's built a candy brain
And filled it in.

And I do anything
For my sweet sixteen
Oh, I do anything
For little run away girl.

Yeah, sad and lonely and blue.
Yeah, gettin' over you.
How, how do you think it feels
Yeah to get up in the morning, get over you.
Up in the morning, get over you.
Wipe away the tears, get over you,
get over, get over...

My sweet sixteen
Oh runaway child
Oh sweet sixteen
Little runaway girl.

Gave my heart an engagement ring
She left everything
Everything I gave her
Sweet sixteen
Built a moon
For a rocking chair,
Never guessed it would
Rock her far from here
Oh, oh, oh

Someone's built a candy castle
For my sweet sixteen.
Someone's built a candy house
To house her in.
Someone's built a candy castle
For my sweet sixteen
Someone's built a candy house
To house her in.

And I'll do anything
For my sweet sixteen
Oh, I'll do anything
For little runaway child.

Do anything
For my sweet sixteen
I'll do anything
For little runaway girl
Little runaway girl
Oh sweet sixteen
Oh sweet sixteen

Image: Billy Idol screen capture via YouTube. Coral Castle photo by Christina Rutz [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Plan to Put a Ring on It This Sunday, National Proposal Day

Hey, romantic couples out there. If you missed an opportunity to propose to the love of your life on Christmas Day, New Year's Eve or Valentine's Day, you have another chance this weekend. Not only does Sunday, March 20, represent the vernal equinox (first day of spring), but it's also National Proposal Day.

Outdoor photo of young couple embracing after marriage proposal

Conceived by John Michael O'Loughlin decades ago as a perfect time for procrastinating lovers to finally ask for their partners' hand in marriage, National Proposal Day has slowly become an accepted part of our holiday lexicon.

O'Loughlin picked the vernal equinox as the ideal day for couples to make the ultimate commitment to each other because it's the special time of the year when day and night are equal lengths worldwide. O'Loughlin reasoned that this symbolizes "the equal efforts of the two required to comprise the successful marriage."

If you're wondering if the autumnal equinox — another perfectly balanced day — would carry the same symbolism as the spring version, your hunch is right on. There is a second National Proposal Day on the first day of fall, September 22.

The romantic O'Loughlin created National Proposal Day after watching his cousin wait years for a proposal that never came. He felt that a special day earmarked for proposals would put a fire under some partners who have waited a bit too long to pop the question.

National Proposal Day is promoted as a worldwide event, and O'Loughlin encourages romantic couples to meet up with like-minded friends via social media using the hashtag, "proposalday." O'Loughlin, who registered the name Proposal Day!®, clarified that March 20 doesn't have to end with a proposal. It can be used, instead, to spark a conversation about a future proposal.

Twice a year, in the lead up to National Proposal Day, O'Loughlin adds to the excitement by announcing the world's most eligible bachelor and bachelorette. This past fall, he chose John F. Kennedy's grandson, Jack Schlossberg, and British actress Emma Watson. This spring's most eligible guy and gal will be posted at the official Proposal Day!® website on the late evening of Friday, March 18.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

'The Bachelor' Ben Higgins Proposes to Lauren Bushnell With $100K Vintage-Style Engagement Ring

Nearly 10 million fans of The Bachelor tuned in Monday night to see Ben Higgins propose to Lauren Bushnell with a $100,000 vintage-style engagement ring.


The stunning platinum ring features a 3-carat emerald-cut center stone surrounded by a halo of round diamonds and is flanked by two stepped baguette diamonds. The hand-crafted ring by designer Neil Lane has an openwork gallery and a diamond total weight of 4.6 carats.


An insider told E! News that Higgins chose the vintage look because it reflected his "old-fashioned values."


The 26-year-old Higgins, a software sales rep, had been emotionally torn between bachelorette contestants Bushnell and Joelle "JoJo" Fletcher. In the previews of the 20th season finale, Higgins was seen telling both women that he loved them.

But, in the end, it was Bushnell, a 24-year-old flight attendant, who stole his heart. The disheartened Fletcher can't be called a loser, though, because she was named as next season's "Bachelorette."


All eyes were on Higgins and the diamond engagement ring in Monday night's dramatic climax of The Bachelor.

"I came into this honestly feeling unlovable, that I couldn't be loved or that I was never going to find that person to love me fully," Higgins said in the lead up to his marriage proposal. "And then we go through this experience — a journey that's full of goodbyes."

He continued, "Lauren, I never want to say goodbye to you. I want to wake up every morning and kiss you on the face. I want to go to bed at night and know that in the morning I'm going to wake up to the most beautiful woman that I've ever laid eyes on. My desire from here on out is to live for you, commit to you, love you, hold you, kiss you a lot. Lauren, I want to spend the rest of my life with you."

Then he took a deep breath, sighed and pulled a ring box from his breast pocket.

Holding her hands to her face, Bushnell cried as Higgins got down on one knee and asked for her hand in marriage.

"Lauren, will you marry me?"

She responded, "Ben! Yes, of course! This is the happiest day of my whole life."


He placed the impressive ring on her finger and the couple embraced.

Higgins and Bushnell taped the finale weeks ago and their engagement had to be kept under wraps. But, by Tuesday, the couple was interviewed during a live segment on ABC's Good Morning America and found themselves on the cover of People magazine.

"I’m looking forward to just starting a normal life," Bushnell said. "We’ve been engaged, but secretly, for the last few weeks and so I’m excited to go on a date."

Screen captures via ABC; Twitter/Elon Gale.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

'Superb' Blue Diamond Is Expected to Fetch up to $35M at Sotheby's Hong Kong in April

Less than five months after "Blue Moon" shattered the record for the world's priciest diamond, another "rare and superb" blue diamond — the "De Beers Millennium Jewel 4" — will be looking to make its own headlines at Sotheby's Hong Kong in April.


Described as internally flawless and weighing 10.10 carats, the oval-shaped fancy vivid blue "De Beers Millennium Jewel 4" is expected to fetch between $30 million and $35 million when it hits the auction block on April 5. Slightly larger than an almond, it's the largest oval fancy vivid blue diamond ever to appear at auction.

If the gem achieves its high estimate, it will become the highest priced diamond ever sold in Hong Kong. The current record holder is a 118-carat white diamond that fetched $30.6 million in 2013.

It's almost certain the "De Beers Millennium Jewel 4" will not surpass the $48.5 million paid at Sotheby's Geneva for the 12.03-carat cushion-shaped internally flawless "Blue Moon" (now called "Blue Moon of Josephine"). "Blue Moon" is the record holder for the highest price ever paid for a diamond of any color, and for the highest price paid per carat for any diamond ($4.02 million). Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau purchased the stone to honor his 7-year-old daughter, Josephine.

Despite the fanfare surrounding its larger cousin, the "De Beers Millennium Jewel 4" is famous in its own right for being one of 12 rare diamonds that formed the De Beers Millennium Jewels collection, which was unveiled by De Beers in 2000 in celebration of the dawn of the new century. The "De Beers Millennium Jewel 4" was put up for auction by an Asian private collector.

“The market for colored diamonds has gone from strength to strength," said Chin Yeow Quek, deputy chairman of Sotheby’s Asia. "Fifteen years ago I had the great opportunity of seeing this magnificent stone for the first time and it is an absolute delight now to have it in one’s hand, to admire it again and to offer it for auction in Asia. This beautiful blue stone — combining Nature’s rare beauty, superlative color, unusual shape and illustrious provenance — offers yet another wonderful collecting opportunity for connoisseurs worldwide.”

The vibrant blue stone was sourced at South Africa's Cullinan Mine and gets its blue color from boron impurities in the chemical makeup of the diamond. Blue diamonds are extraordinarily rare and typically yield the highest prices at auction. Yeow told AFP that there are no more than a dozen or so fancy vivid blue diamonds over 10 carats in the world.

Sotheby's regularly handles its highest-profile gemstones like rock stars and this one is no exception. The "De Beers Millennium Jewel 4" will be touring New York, London, Geneva, Singapore, Taipei and Hong Kong in a high-profile campaign leading up to the auction, which will take place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Image courtesy of Sotheby's.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Maria Menounos' One-of-a-Kind Engagement Ring Has Signature Stone Hidden Underneath

E! News host Maria Menounos and her boyfriend of nearly 20 years, Keven Undergaro, got engaged last Wednesday on-air during Howard Stern‘s SiriusXM radio show. Undergaro got down on one knee and presented Menounos with a one-of-a-kind halo-style engagement ring that features a Signature Stone hidden underneath.


Menounos appeared on the radio show to promote her new book, The EveryGirl’s Guide to Cooking. Just as she had completed her interview with Stern, boyfriend Undergaro, a TV producer, took the microphone, prompting Menounos to ask if he was about to propose. He initially said, "No," but then went on to tell Stern's audience about the emotional ups and downs the couple had experienced over the course of almost two decades.

Then he addressed Menounos directly. "It reminds me just how much I do love you," he said. "And although I said that this isn't a proposal, I want to ask you something, Maria."

"Would you make me the happiest man on earth?" Undergaro asked. "And would you marry me?"


Menounos, 37, was clearly shocked by the surprise proposal, stating, "Are you friggin' kidding me right now? Is this a joke?"

"It's not a joke," Keven replied. "This I wouldn't joke about. I love you so much and this show's meant so much to both of us. Why not make it official now? Will you, honey? Will you accept?"


"Oh, my God! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Of course!" she exclaimed, as she stared at her new ring. "Oh, my God! I can't even believe this is happening."

French jeweler Jean Dousset, whose client list includes Amy Adams and Eva Longoria, dished to PeopleStyle about the details of ring he designed with the assistance of Undergaro.


“The first question I asked Keven was, ‘Has Maria ever said anything about what she would like her diamond cut and ring design to be?’ Every girl does,” Dousset told PeopleStyle. “‘Never in 19 years’,” he replied. That was a first for me. So we imagined what the ring should be based on her personality and style. Bright and chic.”


The ring boasts an Ideal Cut round center stone set in a "Seamless Halo" that is adorned with 220 intricately set brilliant-cut diamonds. The smaller diamonds encircle the center stone and cascade down the band.

"Keven chose to add personal elements to the ring by including a Signature Stone hidden underneath," the designer told E! News. "The choice of color and origin of the stone adds thoughtful detail only he and Maria will know and see." We're assuming the gem is flush-set inside the band.


On Instagram, Menounos posted a photo of her and her boyfriend showing off the new ring. The caption reflected her sheer joy... "omg this happened!!!!!!! thank you @sternshow @bethostern so much for everything. I'm in utter shock! And thank u my love for 19 amazing years. Can't believe we are engaged!!!!"

Images: Screen captures via YouTube/The Howard Stern Show; Instagram/The Howard Stern Show; Getty Images/WireImage/Paul Zimmerman.