Friday, September 02, 2016

Music Friday: 'One Day You're a Diamond and Then You're a Stone' in Dire Straits' 'The Bug'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Frontman Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits sing about life's ups and downs ("one day you're a diamond and then you're a stone") in the comical 1991 tune called "The Bug."


Written by Knopfler, "The Bug" is a clever commentary on how "everything can change in the blink of an eye, so let the good times roll before we say goodbye."

In the song's famous reprise, Knopfler sings, "Sometimes you're the windshield / Sometimes you're the bug / Sometimes it all comes together baby / Sometimes you're just a fool in love."

"The Bug" was released as the fourth single from Dire Straits' sixth and final studio album On Every Street. The album sold 15 million copies worldwide and served as a fitting punctuation mark to the band's wildly successful 15-year run, during which Dire Straits sold more than 100 million records.

Dire Straits was a formed in London in 1977 and its name reflected the group's shaky financial condition in the early days. Founding members Knopfler, younger brother David, John Illsley and Pick Withers honed their unique sound with inspiration from the worlds of jazz, folk and blues.

The group split for the first time in 1988, but then reformed in 1991. The final breakup was in 1995 when Mark Knopfler pursued a solo career.

Fun trivia: Dire Straits was Princess Diana's favorite rock group.

More fun trivia: Lead singer and guitarist Mark Knopfler is left-handed but plays right-handed.

Please check out the video of Dire Straits' live performance of "The Bug." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"The Bug"
Written by Mark Knopfler. Performed by Dire Straits.

Well it's a strange old game you learn it slow
One step forward and it's back you go
You're standing on the throttle
You're standing on the brake
In the groove 'til you make a mistake

Sometimes you're the windshield
Sometimes you're the bug
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you're just a fool in love
Sometimes you're the Louisville Slugger
Sometimes you're the ball
Sometimes it all comes together
Sometimes you're gonna lose it all

You gotta know happy - you gotta know glad
Because you're gonna know lonely
And you're gonna know sad
When you're rippin' and you're ridin'
And you're coming on strong
You start slippin' and slidin'
And it all goes wrong because

Sometimes you're the windshield
Sometimes you're the bug
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you're just a fool in love
Sometimes you're the Louisville Slugger
Sometimes you're the ball
Sometimes it all comes together
Sometimes you're gonna lose it all

One day you got the glory and then you got none
One day you're a diamond and then you're a stone
Everything can change in the blink of an eye
So let the good times roll before we say goodbye because

Sometimes you're the windshield
Sometimes you're the bug
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you're just a fool in love
Sometimes you're the Louisville Slugger
Sometimes you're the ball
Sometimes it all comes together
Sometimes you're gonna lose it all

Sometimes you're the windshield
Sometimes you're the bug
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you're just a fool in love

Sometimes you're the windshield
Sometimes you're the bug
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you're just a fool in love

Credit: Dire Straits by Helge Øverås (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

British Officials Struggle to Keep Queen Victoria's Sapphire Crown in the UK

Calling it a symbol of one of Britain's most famous love stories, UK officials placed a temporary export ban on the petite sapphire and diamond crown — called a coronet — that Prince Albert gifted to Queen Victoria for their wedding in 1840.


Now in the possession of a private owner, the coronet was scheduled to be auctioned with an asking price of $6.5 million plus $1.3 million in taxes. The owner had applied for an export license in the event that the piece was purchased by a non-Brit.

That move quickly sparked action by government officials who believe the coronet was “key to the self-image of the young Victoria” and should remain on British soil. The export ban, which is valid until December, will give a British collector an opportunity to step forward and make an equivalent bid, or declare an intention to raise the funds.


“Queen Victoria’s coronet is stunning," noted Matt Hancock, the Minister of State responsible for digital policy at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. "It is one of the most iconic jewels from a pivotal period in our history and symbolizes one of our nation’s most famous love stories. I hope that we are able to keep the coronet in the UK and on display for the public to enjoy for years to come.”

Knowing that the Queen had a passion for colored gemstones, Prince Albert helped design a 4.5-inch-wide crown mounted with 11 large blue sapphires and studded with hundreds of smaller diamonds. He presented the coronet to Queen Victoria as a wedding present, along with a matching brooch. The crown was designed by goldsmith Joseph Kitching and cost £415 ($545) at the time.

Queen Victoria was only 23 years old in 1842 when she posed for an official state portrait wearing the coronet (see above).

After Queen Victoria's death in 1901, the coronet was handed down to Queen Mary (1867-1953) and King George V (1865-1936), who then gifted the piece to Princess Mary on her marriage to Viscount Lascelles in 1922. It was later purchased by a London dealer who sold it to the current owner.

“Its departure would be a great loss, given its beauty, its associations and its history,” Philippa Glanville, a member of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, said in a statement.

Although the export ban extends to December 2016, officials do have the option of extending it through June of 2017 if a UK buyer comes forward and demonstrates the ability to raise the funds needed to buy the piece.

Credits: Coronet image courtesy of the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Official portrait of Queen Victoria wearing the coronet in 1842 by Franz Xaver Winterhalter. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

402-Carat Stunner Highlights ALROSA's Auction of 'Special Size' Rough Diamonds

Diamantaires from the four corners of the earth have converged on the picturesque Pacific port city of Vladivostok, Russia, to get a chance to bid on ALROSA's "special size" rough diamonds, the largest of which tips the scales at 401.97 carats.


Bidders are vying for 19 diamond lots boasting a total weight of 1,098 carats. What all the rough diamonds have in common is a weight of 10 carats or more and an origin at one of ALROSA's diamond mines. The Russian diamond company currently operates 11 kimberlite pipes and 16 alluvial deposits, producing 38.3 million carats of rough diamonds annually.


Running concurrently with the International Auction of Special Size Rough Diamonds will be ALROSA's Polished Diamond Tender. The most coveted of the 28 diamonds up for sale is a 40.25-carat round. Eighteen of the 28 gems are fancy colored and five polished diamonds weigh more than 5 carats.


A total of 30 companies from the U.S., Hong Kong, Israel, India, Belgium and Russia were handpicked to attend ALROSA's diamond events in Vladivostok. It is the first time ALROSA has held its auctions in this city, which overlooks Golden Horn Bay, near the borders of China and North Korea.

Diamonds will be on display through September 2, with the Rough and Polished auctions taking place on September 3.

Credits: Diamond images courtesy of ALROSA. Map via

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Polish Olympian With a Heart of Gold Sells Silver Medal to Fund a Child's Cancer Treatment

Polish Olympian Piotr Malachowski, who won a silver medal in the discus throw at the 2016 Rio Games, put his cherished medal up for auction last week to help pay for the treatment of a three-year-old boy with a rare form of eye cancer.


The boy, Olek Szymanski, has a condition called retinoblastoma, a malignant cancer that mostly affects children. Treatment of the cancer is very complex and demands the expertise of surgeons in New York City.

Malachowski hoped to raise $84,000, which is two-thirds of the $126,000 cost of the surgery. A Polish foundation called Siepomaga had pledged to pay one-third of the fee.


On his Facebook page Malachowski wrote, "In Rio, I fought for gold. Today I appeal to everyone. Let’s fight together for something that is even more precious — the health of this fantastic boy.”

On Tuesday of last week, with the bidding at $19,000, Malachowski announced that he was closing the eBay auction.

Malachowski's selfless efforts to assist the little boy had caught the attention of Polish billionaire siblings Dominika and Sebastian Kulczyk, who agreed to buy the silver medal and cover the costs of young Olek's treatment.

"We were able to show that together we can do wonders," the 33-year-old Malachowski wrote. "My silver medal today is worth a lot more than a week ago. It is worth the life and health of a small Olek. It is our great shared success."

According to The Washington Post, Malachowski learned of the child’s illness from the boy’s mother, who wrote to him asking for his help.


The giant man with a heart of gold is a two-time Olympic medalist. In 2008, he won a silver medal in the discus event at the Beijing Games.

Credits: Images via Facebook/Piotr Małachowski.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Eureka! 145-Ounce 'Friday's Joy' Is the Latest Huge Nugget to Be Discovered in Australia's Golden Triangle

An Aussie metal-detector enthusiast was sure he had discovered a piece of rubbish — possibly an old horseshoe — when his device signaled a sizable find in Central Victoria’s storied Golden Triangle last week.


What he pulled from the ground was a 145-ounce (4.12kg) gold nugget worth nearly $200,000.


“I really couldn’t believe my eyes," said the amateur prospector, who wishes to remain anonymous. "This wasn’t an old piece of steel in front of me. I had just unearthed a colossal gold nugget – a once-in-a-lifetime find! I was in total disbelief as I didn’t think nuggets of this size were still around.”

The lucky Aussie named the nugget "Friday's Joy" to honor the day on which it was discovered.

Only a day earlier, the same man had found a nine-ounce, near-round gold nugget using his Minelab flagship GPZ 7000 metal detector. Based on that success, he decided to return for more.


Back in March 2015, we reported on a massive 87-ounce gold nugget that was also discovered in Central Victoria’s Golden Triangle. Metal-detector enthusiast Mick Brown named the nugget "Fair Dinkum," an Aussie term that means “for real.” It had a precious metal value of $102,000, but eventually sold at auction for $175,000.

News of these incredible finds has sparked a mini Gold Rush in Central Victoria as weekend warriors are heading out to Victoria's historic goldfields to test their luck. The Sydney Morning Herald reported a business surge for area hotels, restaurants and hardware stores, where amateur prospectors can source their own metal detectors. The area's first Gold Rush period was in the 1850s.

"Friday’s Joy" is not the biggest gold nugget ever found in the Land Down Under. That distinction goes to "The Welcome Stranger," which was discovered near Moliagul, Victoria, in 1869. That nugget weighed a staggering 2,300 ounces (143.75 pounds) and would have a precious metal value today of more than $3 million.

After finding the nugget during a prospecting outing with some friends, the anonymous owner of "Friday's Joy" really didn't know what to do with his miraculous find.

“It’s like catching a big fish and not knowing what to do with it! Where do we put it? I washed it in water, covered it in aluminum foil and kept it in my oven on the first night,” he reportedly said.

"Friday’s Joy" is now sitting safely in a bank vault while the owner is having a replica made.

Despite the huge windfall, the anonymous prospector has no plans of quitting his job or retiring, according to reports. Instead, he'll invest some of the proceeds in a new van so he can spend more time traveling across Australia, mixing sightseeing excursions and gold prospecting along the way.

Credits: Friday's Joy images courtesy of Minelab. Screen capture of Fair Dinkum via 9NEWS, Australia.