Friday, December 09, 2016

Music Friday: Swing Revival Band Squirrel Nut Zippers Sing, 'Baby Wants a Diamond Ring'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun music with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, the Squirrel Nut Zippers sing about a gal with an affinity for fine jewelry in their irresistible Swing Revival performance of "Baby Wants a Diamond Ring."


In the song written by bandleader James (Jimbo) Mathus, the protagonist presses her slow-to-commit beau to do the "right thing." She sings, "Baby wants a diamond to have and hold / A diamond ring with a band of gold."

Later in the song, she clarifies that although a string of pearls are "so nice," only a diamond ring will win her heart.

"Baby Wants a Diamond Ring" appeared as the second track of the band's fifth studio album, Bedlam Ballroom, which was released in 2000. Four years earlier, their album Hot sold more than 1.3 million copies and was certified platinum, thanks to the strong support of National Public Radio and college radio stations.

Critics have had a hard time defining the style of the Squirrel Nut Zippers. Their music has been called a fusion of Delta blues, gypsy jazz, 1930s-era swing, rockabilly, klezmer and other genres. One writer comically defined their music as "30s punk." Another called the group a perpetually confused stew of Southern Roots and Surrealist paintings.

NPR admitted during its Morning Edition that it was not easy to categorize the music of the Squirrel Nut Zippers, except to say that it was "hot" — an obvious nod to the title of the 1996 album.

The Squirrel Nut Zippers, which were established in Chapel Hill, N.C., in 1993, are back on stage after a hiatus of seven years. Their current tour supports the 20th anniversary of Hot. Original band members Mathus (vocals and guitar) and Chris Phillips (drums) reactivated the band with a new lineup that includes several leading musicians from New Orleans as well as singer Ingrid Lucia of Flying Neutrino’s fame.

“We are humbled and incredibly excited by the initial Zippers shows since the re-launch,” Mathus told “It’s not a reunion, it’s a revival!"

The name Squirrel Nut Zippers is derived from a southern term for a variety of bootleg moonshine called "nut zippers."

The band has previously toured with Neil Young and performed at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. They've appeared on The Tonight Show, Late Show with David Letterman, Conan O'Brien and Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve.

Please check out the audio track of the Squirrel Nut Zippers performing "Baby Wants a Diamond Ring." The lyrics are below if you'd like sing along...

"Baby Wants a Diamond Ring"
Written by James Mathus. Performed by the Squirrel Nut Zippers.

Hey there baby
I have gotten some news for you

You think you're something out of sight
To take me out every night
Take me out show me everything
But you won't do the right thing

Baby wants a diamond to have and hold
A diamond ring with a band of gold

String of pearls are so nice
But it ain't worth a trip to paradise
Your weary romance is much too slow
You gotta give up o that dough

Baby wants a diamond to have and hold
A diamond ring with a band of gold

Baby wants a diamond to have and hold
A diamond ring with a band of gold

Credit: Photo via Facebook/Squirrel Nut Zippers.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

More Marriage Proposals Take Place in December Than Any Other Time of the Year

If you're feeling romance in the cool December air, there's good reason. This is the most popular month to get engaged. Exactly 16% of all marriage proposals take place during the 31 days of December, according to The Knot's ninth annual Real Weddings Study.

What's more, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are the #1 and #2 most popular days for popping the question. These facts come from Facebook, whose 1 billion active users (yes, that's billion with a "b") love to report their "relationship status." (If you were wondering, the #3 and #4 most popular days for going down on bended knee are New Year's Day and Valentine's Day.)

Facebook has 191 million users in the U.S. and more than 2.5 million will change their status to "engaged" in an average year. Thirty percent of all “engaged” status updates will take place during November and December.

Experts believe that the winter engagement phenomenon is attributed to two factors: the romantic nature of the season… and convenience. Suitors likely choose December to pop the question because they get swept away by the magic of the holiday season. And, certainly, there’s no better time to propose than when all the family is in town to celebrate with the newly engaged couple.

The Knot's survey revealed that the average amount spent on an engagement ring in the U.S. was $5,871 in 2015 and the average engagement lasted 14.5 months. The most popular wedding months were October (17%) and September (15%). The Knot noted the average marrying age of those surveyed was 29 for the bride and 31 for the groom.

These ages are a bit higher than what Facebook has reported in the past. The average age of Facebook's newly engaged couples is 24, which would put their marrying age at about 25.

Keep an eye on your Facebook page because there's a very good chance that somebody you know will be changing his or her relationship status from "in a relationship" to "engaged." There's sure to be an engagement ring selfie captioned with a romantic note colorfully tagged by a string of engagement ring, diamond and heart-shaped emojis.

Facebook continues to monitor relationship statuses by providing a growing list of options. They now include “single,” “in a relationship,” “engaged,” “married,” “in a civil union,” "in a domestic partnership," “in an open relationship,” “it’s complicated,” “separated,” “divorced” and “widowed.”


Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Rapper Gucci Mane Shows Off His Three-Stone Diamond Man-gagement Ring

Rapper Gucci Mane is proud to wear the three-stone diamond man-gagement ring gifted by his new fiancĂ©e Keyshia Ka'oir. Mane took to Instagram on Friday to show off the massive ring that features a 4-carat round center diamond flanked by 2-carat side diamonds. The ring is estimated to be worth $120,000.


Mane, 36, posted a short video of the ring along with a caption that read, "Love my wife. I'm never taking my ring off. Thank u my baby."


Mane's man-gagement ring post came exactly 10 days after he surprised Ka'oir with a 25-carat diamond engagement ring and a Kiss Cam proposal at an Atlanta Hawks basketball game.


Celebrity jewelers estimated that her ring was worth between $3 million and $5 million. The design showcases a cushion-cut center stone embellished by a band completely encircled with cushion-cut diamonds.

The 31-year-old model, actress, stylist and entrepreneur posted a beautiful closeup of the ring on her Instagram page, along with this caption, "OMG!!! Babeeeeeeee thank u! I LOVE U !! Yessssssse 25karats." (Note: The ring is gorgeous but we must point out she should have used "carats" with a "c" to describe the weight of her new diamond.)

A Beverly Hills celebrity jeweler told that Mane and Ka'oir have tapped into a trend that sees more men embracing the idea of wearing engagement rings.

"Engagement rings for men are the hottest trend and are now quickly becoming part of the tradition," she said. "Men are sporting various designs with diamonds and gemstones.”

We've been tracking the subject of man-gagement rings for the past few years...

In 2012, 17% of men surveyed by and Men's Health magazine said they would be open to wearing a man-gagement ring.

A survey conducted two years later by XO Group Inc. — parent company of The Knot — revealed that 5 percent of engaged men actually wore man-gagement rings. That same year, The Atlantic ran a 1,300-word story titled "The Rise of the Man-gagement Ring." Despite the hype, the man-gagement ring failed to wow the masses.

Will 2016 be remembered as the year that the man-gagement ring finally became "a thing"? Only time will tell.

Credits: Images via Instagram/laflare1017; Instagram/keyshiakaoir.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Diamond Battery Made From Nuclear Waste Could Generate Power for More Than 5,000 Years

Scientists from the University of Bristol’s Cabot Institute have developed an ingenious means of transforming nuclear waste into man-made diamond batteries that can generate power for more than 5,000 years.

Diamond batteries could be used for applications that require super-long-lasting, dependable, power sources, such as satellites, spacecraft and pacemakers. Scientists also believe that processing nuclear waste into a clean energy source would be a great benefit to the environment.

It's interesting how the scientific community has fallen in love with diamonds. Only two weeks ago we explained how imperfect diamonds could provide the answer the world's long-term, high-density data storage needs. A single diamond, researchers claimed, might have the storage capacity of one million DVDs.

The Bristol scientists claimed that a diamond battery built in 2016 would last until the year 7746 and even longer. The power supply is based on the 5,730-year half-life of carbon-14, which is the radioactive version of carbon. Carbon-14 is found in the graphite blocks that are used to house uranium rods in nuclear reactors.

The spent blocks would normally be an environmental hazard, but by heating the graphic blocks, much of the radioactive carbon is emitted as a gas. This gas could then be collected and converted into diamond crystals using a high-temperature chemical reaction. When placed near a radioactive source, the man-made crystals produce a small electrical charge. To make the process even safer and more efficient, scientists plan to encase the radioactive diamonds within a layer of non-radioactive diamond material.

The result is a diamond within a diamond that generates a small electrical current, while emitting less nuclear radiation than a banana, the scientists claim.

"Safely held within diamond, no short-range radiation can escape," Dr. Neil Fox from the University's School of Chemistry, told the Daily Mail. "In fact, diamond is the hardest substance known to man. There is literally nothing we could use that could offer more protection."

While it has yet to be determined how much radioactive material would be contained in each battery, scientists claimed that one diamond battery containing one gram of carbon-14 would deliver the power equivalent of an alkaline AA battery. But instead of fading in 24 hours, the diamond battery would maintain its power for thousands of years.

After 5,730 years, the battery would still have 50% of its original capacity. After 11,460 years, the diamond battery's capacity would have halved again, but still maintain 25% of its original power. Even as it degrades, it would still have the ability to keep the object in question running smoothly. The battery's design has no moving parts, no emissions and requires no maintenance.

The Daily Mail reported that the researchers have been awarded funding to develop the project over the next three years.

Check out the video below for more details on this breakthrough technology...

Credit: Image via

Monday, December 05, 2016

'Ratnaraj' Ruby, Fancy Vivid Blue Diamond Costar at Christie's Hong Kong Sale

The 10.05-carat "Ratnaraj" ruby and a flawless, 4.29-carat, fancy vivid blue diamond each sold for more than $10 million and were the costars of Christie's Magnificent Jewels sale in Hong Kong last week.


The stunning Ratnaraj, which means "king of precious stones" in ancient Sanskrit, was one of the most significant pigeon’s blood rubies ever to be offered at a Christie's auction. The oval gem, which was sourced in the famous Mogok Valley in Burma, sold for $10.2 million, or just over $1 million per carat.

The result was the third-highest price per carat ever paid for a ruby. The record holder remains the "Crimson Flame," a 15.04-carat ruby that sold at Christie's Hong Kong in December of 2015 for $18.3 million ($1.21 million per carat). The 25.59-carat Sunrise Ruby holds the record for the highest price ever paid for a ruby at auction — $30.3 million at Sotheby’s Geneva in May of 2015.

Ratnaraj's selling price was in the midrange of the pre-sale estimate of $8.8 million to $12.5 million. Had it sold at the high end of the range, it would have competed with Crimson Flame for the price-per-carat record.

"Top-quality Burmese rubies are rare, especially ones that are more than 5 carats in size," explained Christie's Hong Kong jewelry specialist May Lim. "In recent years we’ve been lucky enough to find a number of amazing rubies for our sales."

The Ratnaraj is the centerpiece of a ring designed by Faidee. The setting places the oval ruby within a radiating surround of oval-shaped diamonds. Smaller, round diamonds adorn the band. The pigeon's blood classification represents the most desirable, highly saturated color for a ruby.


Yielding an impressive $2.7 million per carat was a marquise-cut, 4.29-carat, fancy vivid blue, internally flawless diamond. The selling price of $11.8 million made the blue diamond the top lot of Christie's Hong Kong auction. The pre-sale estimate had been $9.7 million to $12.3 million.

The impressive blue gem is set in a platinum ring by Moussaieff and is flanked by triangular-shaped diamonds. The center diamond earned a purity rating of Type IIb, a rare category representing less than 0.5% of all diamonds.

Fancy vivid blue diamonds continue to yield the highest prices at auction.

“The Blue Moon of Josephine” established a new record for the highest price paid per carat for any gemstone when the hammer went down at Sotheby’s Geneva in November 2015. The internally flawless, 12.03-carat, cushion-shaped, fancy vivid blue diamond sold for $48.5 million, or $4.03 million per carat.

In May 2016, “The Oppenheimer Blue” became the priciest gem ever auctioned when it sold for $57.5 million at Christie’s Geneva. The fancy vivid blue, step-cut, rectangular-shaped diamond weighed 14.62 carats and earned a clarity rating of VVS1. Its price per carat was $3.96 million.

Credits: Images courtesy of Christie's.