Friday, October 21, 2016

Music Friday: Country Legend George Jones Put a Golden Band on 'The Right Left Hand' This Time

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, country music legend George Jones sings about finally finding that special someone in his 1987 hit "The Right Left Hand."


In the song, Jones sadly recounts how he's cried a million tears over relationships that had come undone. But now he can rejoice because the Lord has given him "a true love of a lady" who "lets him know her love is here to stay."

He sings, "So I put a golden band on the right left hand this time / And the right left hand put a golden band on mine / When our hair is snowy white / Time will prove I'm right / I put a golden band on the right left hand this time."

Songwriters A.L. "Doodle" Owens and Dennis J. Knutson use a clever play on words to describe Jones' true love in relation to the others. Jones sings about placing the ring on the "right" left hand — as opposed to the wrong one — this time.

Music critics believe the song is a tribute to Jones's fourth wife, Nancy, whom he credited with saving his life and career. He married Nancy in 1983 and successfully emerged from a dark time brought on by his alcoholism. With Nancy's nurturing, he was also able to stage a comeback and revitalize his reputation as an A-lister on the country music scene.

"The Right Left Hand," which was the third track from Jones's 1986 album Wine Colored Roses, peaked at #8 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. The album also performed well, hitting #5 on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums chart.

Born in a log cabin in the small town of Saratoga, Texas, Jones got his first guitar at the age of nine. By 1955, at the age of 24, Jones had already served in the Marines, was married twice and recorded his first hit song, "Why Baby Why." In 1969, he married Tammy Wynette. They were divorced six years later, although they continued to perform together after the breakup.

Jones told Billboard in 2006 that when it comes to his music, "It's never been for love of money. I thank God for it because it makes me a living. But I sing because I love it, not because of the dollar signs."


Over a career that spanned seven decades, Jones is credited with charting 168 country songs. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992. Jones passed away in 2013 at the age of 81 and rests at the Woodlawn Cemetery in Nashville, Tenn.

Please check out the video of Jones's live performance of "The Right Left Hand." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"The Right Left Hand"
Written by A.L. “Doodle” Owens and Dennis J. Knutson. Performed by George Jones.

I've cried a million tears,
Down through the years
Searching for that special one
And the vows I took before,
Were all forever more,
But no matter how I tried they came undone

Then the good Lord finally gave me
A true love of a lady,
Someone who believes in me
And she lets me know each day,
That her love is here to stay
Lord I finally found someone who'll never leave

So I put a golden band on the right left hand this time,
And the right left hand put a golden band on mine
When our hair is snowy white,
Time will prove I'm right
I put a golden band on the right left hand this time

I'll never have to plead
For the love that my heart needs,
She'll be close enough to touch
And when the nights are long and cold,
She'll be there to hold,
All dressed up for one more night of love

I put a golden band on the right left hand this time,
And the right left hand put a golden band on mine
When our hair is snowy white,
Time will prove I'm right
I put a golden band on the right left hand this time

I put a golden band on the right left hand this time

Credit: George Jones photo by BstarXO Chester L. Roberts (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons. Woodlawn Cemetery photo by Thomas R Machnitzki ( (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, October 20, 2016

After Three Decades Under Wraps, World's Largest Faceted Intense Blue Topaz Goes on Display in London

The Ostro Stone — the world's largest faceted intense blue topaz at 9,381 carats — made its public debut at London’s Natural History Museum yesterday.


Unearthed by gemstone pioneer Max Ostro in the Amazon rainforest in 1986, the flawless gem was expertly cut and polished into a oval shape and then locked away in a vault for three decades.

After Max's death in 2010, his son Maurice decided it was time for the public to enjoy the gemstone's magnificence. Recently, he gave the gem to London's famed Natural History Museum on permanent loan.


“Collecting beautiful colored gems was my father’s passion," said Maurice Ostro, the chairman of Ostro Minerals, "My mission is to leverage his remarkable legacy in a way that would make him proud. We are delighted that the finest of his gemstones will now be part of the collection at the Natural History Museum, [which shares] our passion for exceptional stones.”

Max Ostro founded Ostro Minerals in 1960, and his company grew to be a leading producer of blue topaz. The senior Ostro is credited with refining the nomenclature used to describe the various colors of topaz. For instance, he coined the term “London Blue” and “Swiss Blue.”


The PBS NewsHour caught up with Maurice during a photo shoot leading up to The Ostro Stone's debut.


"Having tried to hold it for photography, I can tell you it is very heavy," Ostro told PBS NewsHour.

In fact, the gem is nearly six inches long, 4.5 inches wide and weighs a surprising 4.1 pounds.

Topaz comes is a wide variety of hues and saturations, but The Ostro Stone is in a class by itself.

"What is amazing about this stone is not just its size," Ostro told PBS NewsHour. "It’s its quality. The color, the intensity of the blue and the clarity of the stone are what makes it so exceptionally rare."

The museum announced that it would boost security to ensure the gemstone's protection. London's Natural History Museum welcomes more than five million visitors a year and is a world-leading science research center.

Credits: Gem images courtesy of London’s Natural History Museum. NewsHour screen captures via

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Smithsonian Launches $300K Kickstarter Campaign to Fund Restoration of Dorothy's 77-Year-Old Ruby Slippers

Made famous in the landmark 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy's Ruby Slippers have been a popular attraction at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., for more than three decades.


But the 77-year-old slippers are showing their age. The color has faded and the slippers appear dull and washed-out. The ruby-red sequins that once gave the shoes their vibrant color are flaking and some of the threads holding the sequins in place have frayed.


Conservationists at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History are looking to give Dorothy's slippers a well-deserved facelift and a new state-of-the-art display case designed to protect them from environmental harm and slow their deterioration.

The price tag to accomplish these goals is $300,000, and although U.S. taxpayers do fund the core functions of the Smithsonian, there are no funds available for the Ruby Slippers project.

So the Smithsonian is embarking on a Kickstarter campaign to generate $300,000 within 30 days. The two-day-old campaign has already generated more than $117,000 from 2,100 backers. Tony Award-winning Broadway costume designer William Ivey Long has created a series of Thank You gifts for contributions ranging from $10 to $100. These include posters, tote bags and t-shirts.


Those who contribute $10,000 will enjoy a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the conservation of the Ruby Slippers.

If the fundraising effort is successful — and at this pace it certainly will be — the revitalized slippers with be at the center of a new multimedia exhibition titled "On With the Show," which is scheduled to make its Smithsonian debut in 2018.

This is not the first time the Smithsonian has turned to Kickstarter to fund an important conservation project. In July 2015, the Smithsonian sought $500,000 to conserve and digitize the spacesuits of Alan Shepard and Neil Armstrong. The “Reboot the Suit” campaign ultimately raised $719,000.

Acknowledged as one of the most iconic artifacts in film history and often called "the most famous pair of shoes in the world," the Ruby Slippers displayed in the American Stories section of the National Museum of American History were donated anonymously in 1979.

Movie historians believe that MGM’s chief costume designer Gilbert Adrian created multiple pairs of ruby slippers for the film, but only four pairs are known to still exist. The Smithsonian's pair is the one Dorothy wore when she followed the Yellow Brick Road.


A second pair was stolen from the July Garland Museum in 2005; a third pair was purchased in 2012 by Leonardo DiCaprio and other benefactors on behalf of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; and a fourth pair is owned by a private collector in Los Angeles.

In the 1900 children's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, Dorothy's slippers were made of silver. According to film lore, screenwriter Noel Langley recommended that they be changed to ruby red so they would stand out better on the yellow brick road when shot in brilliant Technicolor.


Interestingly, Dorothy's Ruby Slippers are not made of ruby at all. In fact, the bugle beads that prop designers used to simulate ruby proved to be too heavy. The solution was to replace most of the bugle beads with sequins, 2,300 on each slipper. The butterfly-shaped bow on the front of each shoe features red bugle beads outlined in red glass rhinestones in silver settings.

Credits: Screen captures via Institution; Ruby Slippers courtesy of Smithsonian.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Football Squad Pitches In to Make Postgame Proposal Unforgettable for This Samford University Couple

Samford University junior linebacker Deion Pierre recruited his teammates to assist in an unforgettable postgame marriage proposal on Saturday.


Right after the Bulldogs' convincing 55-21 win over VMI, Pierre and his squad — still in full football gear — surprised Jasmine Henderson at the 50 yard line with a choreographed presentation set to Ed Sheeran’s "Thinking Out Loud."

Henderson was clearly caught off guard when the music started to play on the loud speakers and the Bulldog players shuffled toward her at midfield with roses in hand. The players slowly danced a circle around Pierre's girlfriend.

Then Pierre entered the circle, held his girlfriend's hand and dropped to one knee.


Each of the players placed a rose on the turf and tightened their circle around the couple.

Pierre asked Henderson if she would marry him and she said, "Yes." Pierre placed a diamond ring on her finger and the couple embraced.

The 6'3" 230 lb. linebacker from Pembroke Pines, Fla., scooped up his girlfriend and lifted her in the air as his teammates raised their arms and erupted in a chant, "She said yes! She said yes!"


In a video posted by Samford University Athletics, a beaming Pierre tells the interviewer about his best day ever. Earlier in the day, he had a 21-yard interception return for a touchdown and then his girlfriend accepted his marriage proposal. "Pick six. I won twice today," he said.

When asked if she was surprised by the elaborate proposal, the shy, soft-spoken Henderson said, "Yes." When asked how she felt, she answered, "I feel great."

Pierre told that when he met Henderson it was love at first sight.


"I told my friend, '[She's] going to be my wife one day.' And then when I got to meet her and got to know her personality, she's the greatest person I know, besides my mom," Pierre said.

Pierre and Henderson are both juniors and will wait until after graduation to get married.

Check out the awesome proposal video below...

Credits: Screen captures via

Monday, October 17, 2016

Pittsburgh Penguins Celebrate 2016 Stanley Cup Victory With 309-Diamond Championship Rings

It's not easy to render a cartoon penguin in precious metals and gemstones, but that was exactly the challenge Jostens faced when tasked with designing the 2016 Stanley Cup rings for the champion Pittsburgh Penguins.


The team's iconic logo crest features a black penguin skating with a hockey stick across a golden triangle that represent the shape of downtown Pittsburgh.

Jostens used a custom-cut black onyx to represent the shape of the penguin and a half-carat pear-shaped diamond to mimic the penguin's white torso. The blade of the hockey stick is a single tapered baguette diamond. The golden triangle is made up of 18 yellow diamonds set in yellow gold.

Thirty custom-cut princess-cut diamonds are set in a circle around the perimeter of the logo, with an additional 15 round diamonds set behind the logo crest. The words "STANLEY CUP" and "CHAMPIONS" frame the top and bottom edges of the ring in yellow gold. The use of yellow gold highlights on the white gold ring brings contrast and depth to the design.

In total, the Stanley Cup championship rings are adorned with 309 diamonds weighing 8.8 carats.


The edges of the top and sides of the ring are waterfall set with diamonds, making for smooth, cascading edges and a streamlined aesthetic. The left side panel proudly displays the team name, the player’s last name and the player’s number elegantly set with pavĂ© diamonds.


The right side panel features the year “2016” and four Stanley Cup trophies, representing each of the franchise’s championship victories for the City of Pittsburgh.


The inside of the ring is engraved with the team motto “Just Play” and the records of the four playoff series wins on the path to the Stanley Cup.


The 2016 Stanley Cup champions, who beat the San Jose Sharks in the final round of the playoffs, received their impressive rings last week during a private ceremony at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh. Only a few days earlier, the team was honored at The White House by President Barack Obama.

"These unique and brilliant rings will always be an inspiring symbol of what our players and coaches accomplished by winning the Stanley Cup," said Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse. "On behalf of our owners, Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle, as well as our players and coaches, I want to thank Jostens for the creativity and craftsmanship that went into this very special Stanley Cup championship ring project.”

Credits: Ring images courtesy of Jostens. President Obama screen capture via