Friday, June 10, 2016

Music Friday: Mr. Hyunh Channels Randy Travis and Sings About a Diamond-Plated Pearl in 'The Simple Things'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Mr. Hyunh from the animated Nickelodeon TV series Hey Arnold! channels country star Randy Travis in a ditty called "The Simple Things." It's a song that introduced to the world — in its very first line — the fictional, but fantastical, diamond-plated pearl.


Hey Arnold! fans may remember the 1998 episode in which Arnold and Gerald discover that Mr. Hyunh — a Vietnam immigrant who lives in Arnold's grandfather's boarding house — has an incredible singing voice. The boys become his managers and try to lead him down the road to Country & Western stardom, but in the end Mr. Hyunh decides he would rather keep his simple life.


In a voice provided by Travis, Mr. Hyunh sings, "You can offer me a diamond-plated pearl / You can send me all the riches in the world / You can tempt me with the palaces of kings / I'd give 'em back in a big ol' sack and keep The Simple Things."

We've never seen a diamond-plated pearl, but we're sure that if such a thing did exist, it would be magnificent.

In the Nickelodeon episode titled "Mr. Hyunh Goes Country," Travis' animated persona guest stars as the character Travis Randall.

Although it was never released as a single, "The Simple Things" was featured as the 33rd track on The Best of Nicktoons, a 1998 compilation album. Among the songs on the album were "Happy Happy Joy Joy" from The Ren & Stimpy Show and the "Theme from Rugrats." Hey Arnold! had a successful run from 1996 through 2004.

Besides being credited as the singing voice of Mr. Hyunh, the 57-year-old Travis has enjoyed a stellar career as a singer-songwriter, guitarist and actor. He has recorded 20 studio albums and scored 22 #1 hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

We hope you enjoy the audio track of Travis singing "The Simple Things." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"The Simple Things"
Written by Craig Bartlett, Steve Viksten, Jim Lang and Joseph Purdy. Performed by Randy Travis.

You can offer me a diamond-plated pearl.
You can send me all the riches in the world.
You can tempt me with the palaces of kings.
I'd give 'em back in a big ol' sack and keep The Simple Things.

I've got The Simple Things; I've got the rain in spring,
Got spicy chicken wings, and French-fried onion rings.

You can line me up a mile of limousines.
For me it don't add up to a hill o' beans.
I got no hankerin' for grabbin' your brass ring.
It's crystal clear I'll stay right here and keep The Simple Things.

I've got the summer breeze, got 16 cans of peas.
A two-speed window fan when it's 93 degrees.
So forgive me for not grabbin' your brass ring.
It's crystal clear I'll stay right here and keep The Simple Things.

Credits: Mr. Hyunh screen capture via; Randy Travis photo (public domain).

Thursday, June 09, 2016

59.60-Carat 'Pink Star' Has New Owners and an Eye on the All-Time Price Record

Out of the spotlight for more than two years, the 59.60-carat "Pink Star" has new owners and an eye on the all-time record price for a diamond sold at auction. Don't be surprised if the Pink Star — the largest internally flawless, fancy vivid pink diamond ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America — sets a new benchmark at $70 million or more.


Gem lovers may remember when the oval mixed cut Pink Star stunned the auction world in November 2013. At Sotheby's Geneva, it fetched a world record $83 million, crushing the pre-show estimate of $60 million. The excitement turned sour in February 2014 when the auction house announced that the buyer, who was representing a group of investors, had defaulted on the sale. Because Sotheby's had guaranteed a minimum of $60 million to the seller, the auction house was obligated to pay that amount and add the pink diamond to its own inventory.

Sotheby's just announced that two firms — Diacore and Mellen Inc. — have purchased an ownership interest in the remarkable Pink Star. The third partner is Sotheby's.

Jewelry industry publication JCK noted that Diacore (formerly Steinmetz Diamond Group) has a natural interest in the stone because the company had purchased the original 132.5-carat rough and invested two years in fashioning it into the Pink Star.

“From the moment it was unearthed as a rough diamond, we have always believed in the singular importance and value of the Pink Star,” Nir Livnat, chairman of Diacore, said in the statement.

The news about the Pink Star comes amidst a whirlwind of excitement in the world of colored diamonds as amazing stones continue to smash world records. Just last month, the 14.62-carat Oppenheimer Blue fetched all-time record price for a diamond at auction when the hammer went down at Christie's Geneva for $57.5 million. Only six months earlier, the 12.03-carat Blue Moon of Josephine had captured the title when it fetched $48.5 million at Sotheby's Geneva.

The Oppenheimer Blue's record could be easy pickings for the Pink Star. The auction house has estimated its value at $72 million, but it could potentially sell for much more. Sotheby's did not indicate when the Pink Star would return to the auction block.

Credit: Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

McDonald's Wonka-esque Promo Will Give Away a $1,650 18-Karat Gold Chicken Nugget

In a promotion reminiscent of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, McDonald's Japan is giving away an 18-karat gold chicken McNugget worth about $1,650.


The contest is designed to generate a viral buzz for two new dipping sauces, "Creamy Cheddar Cheese" and "Fruits Curry."


But, unlike the famous Golden Tickets, which were randomly hidden in five Wonka Bars, the McDonald's promotion requires participants to post to social media the whereabouts of a yellow-suited, nugget-crazed Hamburglar-looking villain named Kaito Nuggets. The masked mascot, also known as "Phantom Thief Nuggets," will be touring McDonald's outlets throughout Japan.


If a patron spots Kaito and posts his location on Facebook, that person will get a chance to win the gilded grand prize. McDonald's also will be giving away 21 lesser prizes, including a 39-day supply of five-piece nugget meals. That adds up to 195 nuggets.

“[Kaito] may appear in some of McDonald’s restaurants [throughout] the country, may throw out a ceremonial first pitch for a professional baseball game, or pay a visit to a prefectural governor making a surprising request entertaining people,” McDonald’s Japan explained in a statement.


Kaito Nuggets reminds us very much of the Hamburglar, a character McDonald's introduced in 1971 and then refined in 1985 and again in 2015. Originally a trollish old man, the Hamburglar was recast as a childlike, more lovable character in 1985. In 2015, the Hamburglar was reintroduced as a  grown man wearing a fedora, trench coat, red boots, red gloves and skinny jeans.

The golden McNugget contest starts today and runs through June 28.

Credits: Images via McDonald’s Company (Japan) Ltd.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Jewelry Organizations Name Spinel As August's Second Official Birthstone

The American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) and Jewelers of America (JA) have named spinel as the second official birthstone for August. It will share the limelight with the yellow-green gemstone peridot.


JA will promote the new birthstone in July via a public relations and marketing campaign.

“At certain moments in history, when there is a strong call from gem enthusiasts to expand the list of official birthstones, Jewelers of America believes in recognizing the importance of historically significant gemstones and giving gemstone lovers a choice that suits their preferences,” said JA President and CEO David Bonaparte.

Photograph of a spinel bracelet (G8832) from the National Gem Collection

The new addition marks the third update to the modern birthstone list, which was created in 1912 by the American National Retail Jewelers Association, now known as JA. The official list was updated in 1952 to add alexandrite, citrine, tourmaline and zircon, and again in 2002 when tanzanite was added as a birthstone for December.

AGTA CEO Doug Hucker said, “Ancient gemstone merchants revered spinel, and it was widely sought after by royalty. It was then known as ‘balas ruby.’ It wasn’t until the late 18th century that we developed the technology acumen necessary to distinguish spinel as a separate mineral from ruby. We are very excited to announce it as the newest member of the official birthstone list.”

Sanskrit writings referred to spinel as “the daughter of ruby.” The bright red color of spinel is so closely related to ruby the two were often confused. In 1783, spinel was recognized as a mineral distinct from corundum (ruby and sapphire). Ruby is aluminum oxide, while spinel is magnesium aluminum oxide formed when impure limestone is altered by heat and pressure. Both spinel and ruby get their reddish color from impurities of chromium.


It was believed that spinel could protect its owner from harm, reconcile differences and soothe away sadness. Its greatest appeal, however, is its range of brilliant colors. In addition to glossy rich reds — the most popular color for jewelry — spinel can typically be found in shades of orange, pastel pink and purple. Blue-green spinel is extremely rare. One of the most spectacular gemstone colors is the hot pink-orange spinel mined in Burma.


Notable spinel in history include a 170-carat red spinel, known as the “Black Prince Ruby,” which is set in the Imperial State Crown in the British Crown Jewels, and a 398-carat red spinel that tops the Imperial Crown of Russia commissioned by Catherine the Great in 1763.

Major sources of spinel include Burma, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Other significant occurrences are found Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Vietnam and Russia.

Credits: Spinel perched on marble matrix by Rob Lavinsky, – CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons; Burmese bracelet with 98 natural spinel crystals set in a double row in yellow gold. Smithsonian/Chip Clark; Orange-pink spinel from Tajikistan. National Gem Collection. Smithsonian/Chip Clark; Imperial State Crown of England by Cyril Davenport (1848 – 1941) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.