Friday, July 21, 2017

Music Friday: 'Diamonds Ate the Radio' in Coldplay's 'Aliens' — a Song to Support Refugees

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you exciting new songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Coldplay introduces us to the curious phrase "diamonds ate the radio" with the July 14 release of "Aliens."

In the song's animated video, we see a family of aliens — rendered as armless orb-like beings — fleeing their war-torn planet. They dodge artillery fire while being pursued by giant spike-headed worms. The family ascends skyward to meet up with their spacecraft — and enter a secured portal just in the nick of time. The family travels to a new planet, but yearn to return home again.

The saga of the orb people is a metaphor for the dire circumstances currently faced by millions of migrants who have been forced to flee their homeland. Proceeds from "Aliens" will benefit the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), an international non-governmental organization that rescues migrants at sea.

Now, let's get back to the phrase that qualifies "Aliens" as a Music Friday tune. In the first two lines of the song, frontman Chris Martin sings, "We were just about to lose our home / Diamonds ate the radio."

At first blush, the diamond lyrics had us truly stumped. What could they possibly mean?

But, then we found a Reddit thread that focused on that exact question.

One Reddit contributor believes that "diamonds ate the radio" is a reference to artists being pressured to churn out overproduced music that conforms to a certain proven standard. A second Reddit user is confident the diamond reference is a nod to the ultimate RIAA sales threshold, where artists earn a diamond certification for an album that's shipped more than 10 million units.

Perhaps the writers of "Aliens" had both explanations in mind when they introduced a doomed future society that's not only under fire, but where only diamond-certified songs will get any airplay.

"Aliens" was released as the third track from Coldplay's new EP Kaleidoscope. Coldplay's pledge to donate proceeds from the song to MOAS received warm coverage from both RollingStone.com and Billboard.com. The Youtube video has been viewed more than 4.7 million times.

With more than 80 million records sold worldwide, Coldplay ranks as one of the world’s best-selling music groups. In December 2009, Rolling Stone readers ranked Coldplay as the fourth-best band of the 2000s. The group has earned five MTV Video Music Awards, seven Grammy Awards and 31 Grammy nominations.

Please check out the "Aliens" animated video. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Aliens"
Written by Brian Eno, Rik Simpson and Markus Dravs. Performed by Coldplay.

We were just about to lose our home
Diamonds ate the radio
Moving in the dead of night
We took photographs just some just so
History has some to know
We were moving at the speed of flight

Kids cry
If you want to
That's alright
If you want to
Hold me
Hold me tight

Just an alien

We were hovering without a home
Millions are UFO
Hovering in hope some scope tonight
Sees the light and says

Fly if you want to
That's alright
But if you want to
Call me
Call this line

Just an alien
Just an alien
Oh, we just want to get home again

Tell your leader
Sir or ma'am
We come in peace
We mean no harm
Somewhere out there
In the unknown
All the E.T.'s are phoning home
Watching my life
On the skyline
Crossing your eyes
For a lifetime

Just an alien
Moving target
Target movement
A patch, a corner
Of the spacetime
Just an alien
Turning toward it
Turning pages
Over Asia
Crossing ages
Just an alien
Oh, we just want to get home again

Credit: Screen captures via YouTube.com.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Lucara's 1,109-Carat Rough Diamond May Be Too Big to Sell; Will Mining Company Carve It Up?

When the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona failed to meet its reserve price at Sotheby's London in June of 2016, the disappointing result was the first signal that the massive diamond was just too big to sell. The final bid of $61 million fell short of the $70 million reserve price.

Now, 13 months later, diamond-industry insiders are buzzing about the likelihood that Canada-based Lucara Diamond Corp., which mined the stone in Botswana, will have to carve up the world's largest rough diamond in order to attain its maximum value.

Originally, Lucara and its chief executive William Lamb were hoping that Lesedi La Rona's buyer would forgo the opportunity to process the large rough into many smaller diamonds — and leave it in its natural state. Instead of working with members of the upper echelon of the diamond trade, Lamb decided to put the huge diamond on the international stage at Sotheby's. He was confident a deep-pocketed collector would appreciate the historical significance of the gem and essentially leave it alone.

"It's only the second stone recovered in the history of humanity over 1,000 carats," he told Reuters. "Why would you want to polish it? The stone in the rough form contains untold potential. As soon as you polish it into one solution, everything else is gone."

Cutting a rough diamond of this size is uncharted territory for the few elite diamond firms that have the finances and skill set to make a deal with Lucara. While an 1,109-carat rough diamond could yield the world's largest polished diamond — the current record is held by the 530.20-carat Great Star of Africa — the cutting process is fraught with risks and there are no guarantees.

"When is a diamond too big? I think we have found that when you go above 1,000 carats, it is too big — certainly from the aspect of analyzing the stones with the technology available," Panmure Gordon mining analyst Kieron Hodgson told Reuters.

Breaking the Lesedi La Rona into smaller, less risky parcels might generate more buyer interest. We already know that Lucara successfully sold the 813-carat "Constellation" to a Dubai trading company for a record $63 million, and Laurence Graff purchased the 374-carat broken shard from Lesedi La Rona for $17.5 million. All three diamonds were mined within three days of each other in 2015.

Holding onto the diamond for too long may have a negative effect on Lucara's potential payday. New technology employed by the world's largest diamond mining companies has resulted in the recovery of many more 100-carat-plus stones. Previously, the sorting machines would fracture the largest crystals instead of identifying and preserving them.

It may be only a matter of time before the next 1,000-carat diamond is revealed to the world. If and when that happens, the novelty connected to Lesedi La Rona's extraordinary size may be lost, along with some of its value.

Credits: Images courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Monday, July 17, 2017

52 Years Ago: Gold's Amazing Properties Earns It a Trip With NASA to The Final Frontier

When astronaut Edward H. White II became the first American to step outside his spacecraft and let go, the visor of his helmet was plated with an ultra-thin layer of gold to protect him from the unfiltered rays of the sun. If you look closely at the image below, you'll also notice that his 25-foot lifeline back to the Gemini IV spacecraft was wrapped in gold tape.

It was 1965 and scientists at NASA depended on gold's amazing characteristics to ensure a safe and successful mission. Gold is highly reflective of heat and light, so NASA scientists coated the visors with a gold layer so thin — 0.000002 inches — that astronauts could see through it.

While gold was a largely unsung hero of America's early space program, man's infatuation with this precious metal can be traced back 6,000 years to the ancient Thracian civilization. Worked-gold objects made around 4000 BC were discovered at a burial site near Varna, Bulgaria.

Despite being enchantingly beautiful, gold demonstrates a wide range of extraordinary properties — qualities well known to the jewelry, electronics, medical and dental industries.

For instance, gold is nature's most malleable metal. That means that it can be pounded so thin that one ounce of gold could cover about 100 square feet of a surface. The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) calculated that it would take 576 ounces (or just 36 pounds) of gold to completely cover a football field.

Gold leaf typically measures 0.18 microns in thickness (about 7 millionths of an inch), and according to AMNH, a stack of 7,055 sheets would be no thicker than the width of a dime.

Gold is also ductile, which means that it can be made into the thinnest wire. The AMNH notes that one ounce of gold can be drawn into 50 miles of wire, five microns thick.

Of all the gold mined this year, expect 78% of it to be made into fine jewelry. Other industries consume about 12%, and the remaining 10% is supplied to financial institutions. Jewelry designers and manufacturers love to use gold because of its high luster, its ability to be cast into shapes, drawn into wires and hammered into sheets. It possesses a beautiful golden color, but also can be alloyed into many hues, including pink, white and green. And, what's more, it will never tarnish.

Fun fact: The largest accumulation of gold lies 80 feet below street level at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The vault houses $147 billion in gold bullion — a bounty that weighs a staggering 5,000 metric tons.

Credit: Image by NASA/James McDivitt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Music Friday: Brandon Heath Seeks Help From the Almighty to Set His 'Diamond' Free

Welcome to Music Friday when we often shine the spotlight on inspirational songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, five-time Grammy nominee Brandon Heath seeks divine intervention in "Diamond," his 2012 song about a young coal miner who is hardly living up to his potential. He wants to be a better man, but needs God's help to find the "diamond" buried deep inside.

He sings, "I got something down inside of me / That only You can see / Help me dig a little deeper now / And set that diamond free."

For Heath, the diamond symbolizes the ability to bring his life to the next level — a life of clarity, not confusion, of compassion, not cruelty, of ambition, not excuses.

In the last lines of the song, Heath invites the Almighty to seek him out in the coal mine: "Come down with your old flashlight / Underground, black as night / No telling what you’re gonna find in me."

"Diamond" is the fourth track on Heath's fourth studio album, Blue Mountain. The album is unique because each song takes place in the Blue Mountains and is told from the point of view of a particular character. The real and fictional players featured in the songs include his grandfather, his mentor, a farmer, a coal miner and a death-row inmate. Each song weaves a message of hope, love and redemption.

When it was released in 2012, the album earned strong reviews and a #5 spot on Billboard's U.S. Christian Albums chart. It also reached #97 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

“[The songs] are all kind of telling my story a little bit,” Heath revealed to The Clarion-Ledger. “[They talk] about my own fears, and my own desires. As a songwriter, it was more fun to give someone else my own voice. I think the best way to describe a place is to describe its people. And so, all these characters tell a story about what Blue Mountain is and who lives there.”

Born in Nashville, Tenn., Brandon Heath Knell turns 39 next Friday. The son of a police officer dad and hairdresser mom, Heath received his first guitar as a Christmas gift when he was 13. In high school, he converted to Christianity and explored his spirituality by participating in faith missions to India and Ecuador. Those trips helped inspire a career in contemporary Christian music.

Please check out the audio track of Heath performing "Diamond." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Diamond"
Written by Brandon Heath, Ross Copperman and Lee Thomas Miller. Performed by Brandon Heath.

My father’s father broke this ground
Daddy mined till we laid him down
Only God knows what they found beneath
Now here I stand in my own boots
Ax to grind and a point to prove
Tangled up in my own roots, it seems

I got treasure up in Heaven
I got dirt all over me
I have only scratched the surface
Of the man I’m meant to be
I got something down inside of me
That only You can see
Help me dig a little deeper now
And set that diamond free

Why do I do the things I do
All the things that I don’t want to
Act like I don’t fear You at all
Hard head and a heart of stone
Older now but I haven’t grown
Any riches that I have to show are small

Set it free
Set it free
Set it free
Set it free

Come down with your old flashlight
Underground, black as night
No telling what you’re gonna find in me

Credits: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Actress Vivien Leigh's Jewelry and Other Personal Items to Hit Sotheby's Auction Block in September

Gone with the Wind fans will get a fascinating glimpse at "the real, and unexpected, Vivien Leigh" when Sotheby's London brings to auction 250 of the illustrious leading lady's personal items on September 26.

Leigh, who is most famous for her role as Scarlett O’Hara, loved clothes and jewelry, and was not afraid to mix historic jewels with contemporary couture. Highlighted lots include a large mid-19th-century diamond bow brooch/pendant that Sotheby's described as the ultimate accessory. The bow motif appeared frequently in Leigh’s wardrobe, and this piece is expected to yield $32,000 to $45,000 at auction.

A second highlighted jewelry item is a gold ring gifted to Leigh by her second husband, British actor and director Laurence Olivier. The ring has an inscription that reads "Laurence Olivier Vivien Eternally" and is expected to sell in the very affordable range of $515 to $770.

“Behind the guise of the most glamorous and talked-about woman of her age we find a fine art collector, patron, even a bookworm, who was the intellectual equal of the literati, artists and aesthetes she counted among her coterie," commented Harry Dalmeny, chairman of Sotheby’s UK. "This is our chance to discover the real, and unexpected, Vivien Leigh."

Also up for grabs is a silver cigarette box (high estimate of $770) from Myron Selznick, the talent agent who helped Leigh land one of the most coveted roles in cinematic history; Leigh’s copy of Margaret Mitchell’s novel, Gone With the Wind, complete with a handwritten poem from the author ($9,000); and a bound copy of the original film script ($4,500) from the epic 1939 motion picture.

The two-time Academy Award winner, who was only 25 when she starred with Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind, died in 1967 at the age of 53. Her collection had been passed down to her daughter, Suzanne Farrington, who died two years ago. Farrington's sons chose to put their grandmother's possessions up for auction.

Their joint statement read, “We hope people take as much pleasure from this collection as our grandparents, parents and families have done.”

Overall, the 250 lots are expected to yield about $650,000. More information about the September sale will be released later in the summer, according to Sotheby's.

Credits: Photos of auction items courtesy of Sotheby's. Leigh and Clark Gable photo by Deems Taylor, Published by Simon & Schuster, New York (page 319 A Pictorial History of the Movies) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Rose Gold Is a Rising Star, But How Does the Precious Metal Get Its Blush?

It's been a symbol of "tech luxury" since the Apple Watch arrived in 2014 and the metal of choice for Pinterest's most-pinned engagement ring style of 2017. It's a material that conveys opulence, elegance, and its warm glow complements any skin tone. The summer sensation that's grabbing all the headlines is rose gold.

If you're wondering how a precious metal like gold can become pink, we have the answer. Rose gold earns its blush when copper is mixed with pure gold. Yes, the magic is the copper content. Depending on the ratio of copper used, the hue can range from a soft pink to a deep red.

Pure 24-karat gold is a relatively soft metal, so jewelry makers learned early on that mixing gold with other metals would make the end product stronger and more resistant to wear. They also learned that adding specific metallic elements could alter the metal's color.

Typically, 18-karat yellow gold is composed of 75% fine gold, 15% copper and 10% fine silver. To make 18-karat rose gold, however, the recipe changes to 75% fine gold, 22.25% copper and 2.75% fine silver. Voilà.

In a feature story on Sothebys.com, the author explained that the use of rose gold in fine jewelry can be traced to 19th century Imperial Russia when Carl Fabergé incorporated the material into the designs of his elaborate Fabergé Eggs. The innovative gold hue earned widespread appeal and was originally dubbed "Russian Gold." As other jewelers from around the world caught on to the trend, the material was given the more generic moniker of "pink gold."

Sotheby's explained that throughout recent history, rose gold has fallen in and out of favor based on social, economic and political upheavals. For instance, rose gold had a strong run during the Roaring Twenties, but lost its sheen after the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

Then, when platinum was declared a "strategic material" during World War II, jewelry designers refocused their attention on yellow and rose gold.

Over the past 50 years, rose gold's popularity has ridden a rollercoaster of changing tastes. Today, it's plain to see that "rose gold" is once again at the top of its game.

Credit: Image by BigStockPhoto.com.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Music Friday: 'You Were a Shining Pearl in a Broken Shell,' Sings Thomas Dolby in 1992's 'Cruel'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, the brainy British performer who blinded us with science in 1982, returns with "Cruel," a deeply personal song about a one-sided love affair. Thomas Dolby, in a haunting duet with honey-voiced Eddi Reader, uses jewelry imagery to tell the story of an unrepentant boyfriend who refuses to change his ways.

He sings, "You were a shining pearl / In a broken shell / Under moonlight / And I was cruel."

Dolby and Reader trade verses throughout the song, but join voices in a line about chasing false hope.

Together they sing, "But when my tears are washed away / You'll still be blind / Skin-diving / For jewels."

"Cruel" was released in 1992 as the second track from Dolby's fourth studio album Astronauts & Heretics. Although the song hardly achieved the success of his biggest hit, “She Blinded Me With Science," Dolby told PopMatters.com in 2008 that "Cruel" was one of three songs that best defined him as an artist.

When asked by PopMatters.com what he wanted to be remembered for, he answered, "My more obscure songs like 'Screen Kiss,' 'I Love You Goodbye' and 'Cruel.' I think it’s inevitable when you have hits as big as I had with “She Blinded Me With Science” and “Hyperactive,” that still get played on the radio 20 years later, people will tend to assume those songs define your music. But in my case, the music I really care most about is my quieter, more personal side."

He told PopMatters.com that he was pleased that his big hits gave people an inroad to discover the rest of his music, but lamented that his record label wouldn't take the risk of releasing his "quieter" songs as singles.

Thomas Morgan Robertson was born in London in 1958. The son of an internationally distinguished professor of classical Greek art and archaeology, Dolby sang in a choir at age 11 and learned to sight-read music shortly thereafter. The artist's stage name is a nod to Dolby noise-reduction cassettes. His schoolmates teased him about the Dolby cassette player that he carried everywhere.

Dolby is primarily known for synthpop, a subgenre of new wave music that first became prominent in the late 1970s. Dolby said he "got his hands on a kit-built synthesizer and never looked back." Early in his career, he promoted himself as a kind of a musical mad scientist. Later on, he would become a technology entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. Today, he's a Professor of the Arts at Johns Hopkins University.

Please check out the audio track of Dolby and Welsh songstress Reader singing "Cruel." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Cruel"
Written by Thomas Dolby. Performed by Dolby with guest vocal by Eddi Reader.

Cruel - what a thing to do
I've been cruel to you such a long time
And how can I hide my shame
'Cause there I go again
At the wrong time

And I know that it was just the fear of flying
And I know it's hard to keep myself from crying

But when my tears are washed away
You'll still be blind
Skin-diving
For jewels

You were a shining pearl
In a broken shell
Under moonlight
And I was cruel

And I know that it was just the fear of flying
And I know it's hard to keep myself from crying
But when my tears are washed away
You'll still be blind
Skin-diving
For jewels
Cruel - I've been such a fool
And I'll be missing you
Such a long time
I was cruel

Credit: Image by Arthur Mouratidis from United States [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Israeli Schoolchildren Unearth Trove of 900-Year-Old Jewelry at Ancient Crusader Fortress

More than 2,500 Israeli schoolchildren helped unearth a trove of 900-year-old jewelry at the Givat Tittora excavation site in Modi’in, about 20 miles northwest of Jerusalem. Among the items found were bronze and silver rings, bracelets and earrings dating from the Crusader period.

Local students from the fourth to 12th grades got a chance to learn about history while literally playing in the dirt. Over the past year, the students and other volunteers from the community have successfully exposed the inner courtyard of a Crusader fortress, where its occupants cooked and baked for hundreds of years during the Middle Ages.

“It seems that the cooks of the time were not sufficiently careful with the jewelry they wore while cooking and baking, since numerous pieces of jewelry have been found in the excavation, some made of bronze and silver,” explained Avraham Tendler, excavation director for the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Other artifacts found at the site included clay ovens, cooking pots, jars and serving dishes. They also identified food remains, such as olive pits and animal bones.

Nine-year-old volunteer Kinneret Goodman told the Times of Israel that participating in the dig was "as good as going to the beach."

Said the fourth grader, "You get to find things and then you can take pictures and remember the time that you found things from hundreds of years ago, and even more."

Tendler said that the excavation site has yielded artifacts left behind by a long line of inhabitants dating back to the Chalcolithic period (c. 6,000 years ago). The hilltop site has been a popular settlement due to its strategic location on the route from the Mediterranean coast to Jerusalem, as well as its proximity to fertile valleys, which were able to support food production.

The cultural-educational archaeological program is jointly sponsored by the Israel Antiquities Authority and the municipality of Givat Tittora. The program gives local students a unique opportunity to work alongside professional archaeologists in an historical setting.

“The enthusiasm begins with the younger generation, with activities carried out by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the schools, and makes its way into the homes, to the parents and the extended family," noted Vered Bosidan, project coordinator for the Israel Antiquities Authority. "It is there that the seeds are sown that result in the development of an awareness of antiquity preservation.”

The Israel Antiquities Authority anticipates that the Givat Tittora project will continue for many years as local schoolchildren and residents carry on the task of peeling away ancient layers, exploring its treasures and being connected to them in an exciting, hands-on way.

Credits: Images courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Monday, June 26, 2017

5-Year-Old Gets a Heart Necklace Moments After Her Mom Gets a Diamond Engagement Ring

Grant Tribbett swept two ladies off their feet in late May when he popped the question to his girlfriend, Cassandra Reschar, and then, moments later, asked her five-year-old daughter, Adrianna, if he could be her daddy. Both ladies said, "Yes."

While the 29-year-old Tribbett proposed to Reschar with a traditional diamond engagement ring, Adrianna received a heart necklace to symbolize the permanent piece of his heart that she will always have with her.

"I knew proposing to Cassandra [meant] that I also would be committing to a lifetime of fatherhood. So what better way to ask the love of my life to marry me than to ask her beloved daughter to get the honor to be her daddy?" Tribbett told ABC News.

Reschar, 26, gave her account of the momentous event on "How He Asked," the Instagram page managed by The Knot: "After proposing to me, Grant got back down to propose to my daughter. He said, 'Adrianna can I be your daddy, to promise to love and protect you for the rest of your life?' As soon as he spoke those sweet words, I once again broke down in tears. Not the cute kind of tears either, the bawling type tears. My little heart could not take so much love! Adrianna replied, “YES!” and then screaming with joy she said, "I FINALLY GET A DADDY, MOMMY, I FINALLY GET A DADDY!'"

Reschar concluded, "My daughter and I both got our fairy tale ending..."

The heartwarming two-for-one proposal took place on a picturesque bridge inside Ritchey Woods Nature Preserve in Fishers, Ind. Tribbett had arranged for his photographer friend, Mandi Gilliland, to hide near the bridge so she could capture the moment. The resulting photos are spectacular. You can see the series at "How He Asked." Click this link.

The future groom recently moved from St. Louis to Westfield, Ind., to be closer to Reschar and her daughter. The couple will be hosting 125 guests at a barn wedding in December.

Credits: Photos via Facebook.com/cassandra.lynn.528.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Music Friday: Love-Struck Brad Paisley Forgets the Engagement Ring in 'You Have That Effect On Me'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, a love-struck Brad Paisley is about to propose to his girlfriend, but accidentally leaves the engagement ring at home in 2001's "You Have That Effect On Me."

In the song, Paisley assumes the role of a young man who is so head-over-heels in love that he can hardly think straight. He tells his girlfriend how anxious he's been during the past few weeks — that he's been haunted by the vision of getting down on one knee and forgetting what to say. Each morning, while brushing his teeth, he's rehearsed the lines, but still can't get them memorized.

He purchased the ring of her dreams, but when it was finally time to pop the question, something was still not right...

Paisley sings, "You've had your eyes on a 2-carat ring / I finally went out and I bought it / Right now it's at home sittin' on my TV / Would you believe I forgot it."

Our hero tells us why he deserves a free pass for his absentmindedness: "You can't blame me 'cause it's plain to see that you have that effect on me."

The role of an awkward suitor comes naturally to Paisley, who famously fell in love with actress Kimberly Williams in 1991, but didn't get the courage to call her until 10 years later. Williams starred in 1991's Father of the Bride, and Paisley developed an instant crush when he saw her on the big screen. His feelings only grew stronger when he saw her in Father of the Bride II in 1995. It took another six years before he would finally contact the actress and convince her to go out on a date.

Williams told QPolitical.com that they "fell for each other fast." They met in 2001, were engaged in August of 2002 and tied the knot in March of 2003.

"You Have That Effect On Me" was the 11th track of Part II, his second studio album — a release that rose to #3 on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums chart and #31 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart.

Born in West Virginia, Bradley Douglas “Brad” Paisley was introduced to country music by his grandfather, Warren Jarvis, who gave the eight-year-old his first guitar, a Sears Danelectro Silvertone. Jarvis taught his grandson to play, and by the age of 10 Paisley was already performing at his church.

While in junior high, Paisley was doing a show at a local Rotary Club, when he was discovered by a program director for a Wheeling, W.V., radio station. He was invited to be a guest on the popular radio show “Wheeling Jamboree” and the rest is history.

Paisley has sold more than 12 million albums, won three Grammy Awards, 14 Academy of Country Music Awards, 14 Country Music Association Awards and two American Music Awards. In 2001, at the age of 28, he became the youngest artist ever to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.

In 2010, Paisley performed at the National Memorial Day Concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (see photo, above).

Please check out the audio track of Paisley performing "You Have That Effect on Me." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"You Have That Effect On Me"
Written by Brad Paisley and Frank Rogers. Performed by Brad Paisley.

Every morning the last couple of weeks
In between shaving and brushing my teeth
I'd lean on the sink and practice my lines
By now you would think they'd be memorized

But leave it to me to come all this way
Get down on one knee and forget what to say
I'm at a loss, should have known this is how it would be
'Cause you have that effect on me

I must admit I still don't understand
Why I lose my head holding your hand
There's no explanation, no simple excuse
For this intoxication I feel around you

And now truth be known since I've met you girl
I've been walkin' around in my own little world
One look in my eyes and darlin' any fool could see
That you have that effect on me

You've had your eyes on a 2-carat ring
I finally went out and I bought it
Right now it's at home sittin' on my TV
Would you believe I forgot it

But you can't blame me 'cause it's plain to see
That you have that effect on me
Yeah, you have that effect on me
Girl, you have that effect on me

Credits: Image by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

18.4-Carat 'Rockefeller Emerald' Sets World Auction Record at Christie's in Rockefeller Center

The 18.4-carat “Rockefeller Emerald” set a new world auction record for the highest per-carat price ever achieved for an emerald when it fetched $5.5 million yesterday at Christie's New York, which is headquartered, quite fittingly, in Rockefeller Center.

Described by Christie's as possessing mesmerizing color and impeccable clarity, the Colombian emerald was originally purchased in 1930 as part of a pendant brooch by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., for his wife, Abby. After Abby passed away in 1948, Rockefeller asked New York jeweler Raymond C. Yard to disassemble the Van Cleef & Arpels brooch so the individual emeralds from the setting could be distributed among the Rockefeller children. Yard set the center emerald in a platinum ring and Rockefeller gifted it to his son, David.

"This is supremely natural beauty," Rahul Kadakia, Christie's International Head of Jewelry, told CNBC. "This truly is the finest emerald that's ever come up for sale at auction, or anywhere else in the world."

The ring features the octagonal step-cut emerald flanked on either side by trapezoid and circular-cut diamonds.

Christie's noted that the intense color and distinct saturation that typifies a Colombian emerald is illustrated perfectly in this remarkable stone. American Gemological Laboratories described the stone as "exceptional," possessing what AGL calls an "unusual combination of size, provenance, absence of treatment and quality factors [that contribute] favorably to its rarity and desirability."

The Rockefeller Emerald's per-carat price of $304,878 edged out the $281,329 achieved by the previously record holder — a 23.46-carat emerald-and-diamond pendant brooch formerly owned by actress Elizabeth Taylor. That Bulgari brooch was sold by Christie's New York for $6.6 million in 2011 as part of the landmark auctions of “The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor” and still claims the record for the highest price ever paid for an emerald jewel.

Members of the Rockefeller family are often characterized as American royalty. John D. Rockefeller Jr. was the only son among five children of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller, America's first billionaire. During the Great Depression, "Junior" developed Rockefeller Center, an impressive complex of midtown Manhattan office buildings, which he called the "city within a city."

"It's very, very cool that we have this city within a city, selling the stone that belonged to the man who built it," Kadakia told CNBC.

Credits: Rockefeller Emerald images courtesy of Christie's.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Snake Ring Made in Prison by Clyde Barrow for Bonnie Parker Hits the Auction Block

The three-headed snake ring that notorious outlaw Clyde Barrow crafted in prison for the love of his life and partner in crime, Bonnie Parker, will be offered for sale at RR Auction in Boston later this month.

The silver-tone promise ring — featuring green and red jewels — was recovered from their bullet-riddled ’33 Ford Model B by Sheriff Smoot Schmid after the "Sowers Raid" in November 1933. Bonnie and Clyde fled on foot, escaping the police ambush despite wounds to their legs from the bullets that passed through the car. The legendary couple famously robbed banks and evaded the law for two years until they met a tragic demise in 1934. Bonnie was 23 and Clyde was 25.

This promise ring, which is expected to fetch $40,000+ at the auction house's “Gangsters, Outlaws and Lawmen” sale on June 24, is recorded in Sheriff Schmid’s inventory as “Bonnie Parker Ring (3 Silver Snakes with Tiny Jewels)."

An authentication paper written by New Hampshire-based graduate gemologist David H. Bellman explained that Clyde was a skilled amateur craftsman, dabbling in jewelry-making, leather craft and woodworking. He was also an accomplished musician.

The snake ring he crafted in 1930 while incarcerated at Eastham Prison Farm near Huntsville, Texas, bears his personal trademark, an arrow passing through the musical note "B." The arrow in his maker’s mark may be that of Cupid, symbolizing his love for Bonnie, or it may be a clever, graphical way to spell out his last name, [B]arrow. He likely carved the design from a block of wax and then fabricated the ring from copper using the lost-wax casting process. The final step was plating it in silver.

Among some of the other items known to have been made by Clyde while in jail are a beaded necklace given to his sister, Marie, a hand-tooled leather belt with metal studs and blue and red stones, and his own polished silver belt buckle with a five-pointed Texas Star in the center surrounded by abalone shell. Bellman noted that the leather belt, belt buckle and snake ring all exhibit similar styles of artistic approach and the same level of high-quality, though unrefined, craftsmanship.

The couple's exploits were romanticized in the 1967 blockbuster film, Bonnie and Clyde, with Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty playing the title roles. Bonnie and Clyde captured two Academy Awards, including Best Cinematography.

Interestingly, at the time of her death, Bonnie was wearing the wedding ring that was given to her by Roy Thornton, who she married just before her 16th birthday in 1926. Their marriage crumbled when Thornton was jailed in 1929. Bonnie met Clyde in 1930, and they immediately fell in love. Two months later, Clyde would become an inmate at Eastham Prison Farm, where he would test his jewelry-making skills. Although they were never formally engaged, the three-headed snake promise ring remains a powerful symbol of two of America's highest-profile antiheroes.

On May 23, 1934, Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed and killed by police officers near the town of Sailes, in Bienville Parish, La.

Credits: Jewelry images courtesy of RR Auction; Bonnie and Clyde photo by one of the Barrow gang [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, June 19, 2017

De Beers Launches State-of-the-Art Diamond-Seeking Vessel

Outfitted with state-of-the-art sonar technology and drilling devices, the mv SS Nujoma is ready to start probing the ocean floor for valuable diamond deposits off the coast of Namibia. It's the sixth and most advanced vessel in De Beers's growing fleet.

Mining of Namibia’s diamonds — some of the most valuable in the world — takes place at about 120 to 140 meters below sea level.

The $157 million, 113-meter-long vessel incorporates unique technologies that allow it to sample faster, take larger samples and collect more information per sample than any other diamond sampling vessel. It generates sampling results at more than double the speed of its predecessor.

The new vessel was officially introduced Thursday at an inauguration ceremony, which was attended by De Beers and Namibian officials, including the ship's namesake, Namibia's founding president Sam Nujoma.

“Offshore diamond mining is becoming increasingly important in meeting global demand for diamonds as many of the major onshore deposits have now been discovered," said Bruce Cleaver, CEO, De Beers Group. "The mv SS Nujoma will allow even more of Namibia’s high-quality offshore diamonds to be discovered and mined, ensuring a strong future for Namibia’s diamond industry, as well as the global diamond market.”

In 2016, Debmarine Namibia, a 50/50 joint venture between the Government of the Republic of Namibia and the De Beers Group, mined more than 1.2 million carats of high-quality diamonds off the shore of the southwestern edge of the African continent. According to The Wall Street Journal, the mining operation yields a handful of diamonds for every 180 tons of material processed.

De Beers predicts that it will take about 50 years to “mine out” the licensed area that covers 2,300 square miles. It starts about three miles offshore and extends into the ocean an additional 10 to 20 miles.

The partnership is the single biggest contributor to Namibia’s economy and delivers more than $781 million in revenue annually. Since 2002, Debmarine Namibia has been the only company in the world to mine diamonds offshore.

While sea-based diamonds account for just 4% of De Beers’s annual production by carat weight, they account for 13% by value. This is because 95% of the diamonds pulled from the ocean floor are of gem-quality. This compares to just 20% of gem-quality diamonds coming from De Beers’s top mine in Botswana. Some experts surmise that the diamonds in the ocean have endured such a pounding for so long that only the gem-quality ones could stay intact.

Geologists believe that many eons ago, the Orange River ferried precious diamonds from the center of South Africa westward all the way to the Atlantic coast — eventually scattering millions of carats across the ocean floor.

Credits: Images courtesy of De Beers; Map via Google Maps.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Newlyweds Reunited With Wedding Rings 8 Days After Tornado Obliterates Their Home

Described as a "miracle that came out of tragedy," Texas newlyweds Ariel and Justin Duke were reunited with Ariel's engagement ring and wedding band eight days after a deadly tornado flattened their home and scattered debris for miles.

Having learned of the couple's plight on Facebook, amateur metal-detector enthusiast and Good Samaritan Nathan Wright meticulously scanned the Dukes' devastated property for five hours before finally scoring both rings.

Ariel told Spectrum News that she removed her rings to do some yard work just before the twister obliterated their small, yellow farmhouse in Canton on April 29.

“Literally our house was just leveled. It wasn’t destroyed, it just wasn’t there,” Justin told ABC News.

In the aftermath of the storm, the couple — who had been married only three months — attempted to recover Ariel's precious keepsakes with the help of some friends, but they came up empty.

Their next strategy was to post photos of the rings to Facebook, hoping that someone would find and return them.

“By the time I had come across [the Facebook post] they had kind of given up,” Wright told ABC News. “It was about eight days since [the tornado] happened and they had a bunch of people out there using rakes and doing everything they could to find [the rings].”

Wright explained that it's very difficult to use a metal detector in an area where debris is strewn everywhere, but the small chance of finding the rings was "worth a shot."

After three hours, Wright's search had yielded just a bunch of bullets and pull tabs.

But then, in a grassy field about 100 yards from where the house used to be, he finally started finding coins and kitchen utensils.

"Then I found an earring!" Wright wrote on Facebook. "I was excited, thinking maybe I was getting in the right area. I was praying this whole time that I'd be to find this ring and give some happiness back to this girl after such a rough week. Finally, I bent down to pick up what I thought would be another pull tab and, BAM, I see the gold ring laying under the grass! I hollered out and thanked the Lord!"

Wright had discovered Ariel's engagement ring. Shortly after, about 30 feet away, he detected Ariel's wedding band, as well.

"I bent down and knew the gold looked exactly like the engagement ring," Wright said. "To be able to find both of those in the debris-strewn field like that was unreal. I’ll remember that forever.”

Wright explained on Facebook how he teased Ariel, by revealing the wedding band, at first, but not the engagement ring.

"I showed her the small wedding band first and said, 'I found your ring!' She was very excited but you could tell she was hoping for the other one," he wrote. "Then I pulled the other one out of my pocket. She screamed and bulldozed me with a big hug! She couldn't believe I found both of them. I'm so happy to be able to get these back to her!

“There is a miracle that can come out of tragedy,” Justin told ABC News. “It seemed like we were on downward spiral, but with him finding the rings, we’re on an upswing and getting on with life. We’re going to see what the good Lord has in store for us.”

On Facebook, Ariel posted photos related to ring recovery, as well as a message directed to Wright: "Thanks again for all of your hard work and determination! It's nice to have some miracles from a tragedy. God sent Nathan out for a reason and we couldn't be more blessed! God is good!"

Credits: Images via Facebook.com/alexis.wright.509.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Aussie Woman Wears Her Engagement Ring for 18 Months Without Realizing It

An Australian woman named Anna wore her engagement ring around her neck for 18 months without realizing it.

Anna's boyfriend, Terry, had given her a hand-carved necklace made out of Huon pine — a variety native to Tasmania — for their one-year anniversary in 2015. Little did she know that hidden in the center of the unique keepsake was a secret compartment containing a diamond engagement ring.

"I had always loved the idea of giving someone a gift where they didn’t know its true value," Terry told metro.co.uk.

Anna cherished the thoughtful gift and wore it continuously for the next year and a half.

Terry planned to propose to Anna last fall on a trip to Smoo Cave in northern Scotland. It was a place the couple dreamed of visiting since they first met, and "smoo," appropriately, is an old Norse word meaning "hiding place."

Before they got to their Scottish destination, Terry feared that his surprise might be foiled. For instance, he worried that the X-ray machine at airport security might expose the precious metal-and-diamond treasure tucked in the wooden necklace. It didn't.

Months earlier, Terry learned that a local blacksmith had admired Anna's carved necklace and that his girlfriend had contemplated trading it for some of the blacksmith's work. She didn't.

Finally at Smoo Cave, Terry convinced Anna to take off the necklace so he could photograph it against a rocky backdrop. After taking the shot, he used a knife to crack open the seal that kept the two halves of the necklace together.

With his camera focused on the couple and set on automatic, he went down on bended knee and slid the opposing halves of the necklace apart to expose the engagement ring inside.

“She stood there with this completely confused and dumbfounded look on her face," Terry told the Huffington Post. "And when she finally worked out what had just happened, she yelled, ‘Yes!’ and pounced on me.”

After she was able to collect her thoughts, Anna expressed some lighthearted objections to her fiancé's clever — but risky — ruse.

"Wait, it’s been in there the entire time?" she yelled. "I could have lost it, you... idiot!"

The couple is now saving to purchase a home, which promises to be the venue of their wedding.

Credits: Images courtesy of the couple.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Music Friday: Ed Sheeran's Grandpa Makes a Wedding Ring From Dental Gold in 2017's 'Nancy Mulligan'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, the sensational Ed Sheeran sings about how his struggling grandfather made a wedding ring from dental gold in his 2017 hit, "Nancy Mulligan."

The song details the wartime love story of his grandparents and how their relationship flourished despite religious differences and the objections of their families.

With the scene set during the Second World War, Sheeran recounts in his grandpa William Sheeran's voice how he fell in love with Nancy Mulligan at London's Guy's hospital. He was a struggling dentist and she was a nurse.

Sheeran sings, "On the summer day when I proposed, I made that wedding ring from dentist gold / And I asked her father but her daddy said no / You can’t marry my daughter."

"One was a Protestant from Belfast and [the other] was a Catholic from southern Ireland," Sheeran explained on the Beats 1 radio show. "They got engaged and no one turned up to the wedding."

Sheeran, 26, noted that his grandparents were so poor that they had to borrow clothes for their wedding and that the gold for his grandmother's wedding ring came from a collection of gold teeth his grandfather had collected during dental surgeries.

(Note: While gold used in jewelry is generally 14-karat or 18-karat and alloyed with copper, silver and zinc, dental gold is usually a 16-karat alloy containing palladium, silver, copper and/or tin.)

"[They] had this sort of Romeo and Juliet romance, which is like the most romantic thing. I thought I'd write a song about it and make it a jig," said Sheeran.

The couple was married for more than 60 years and had a profound impact on their grandson's life. William passed away in 2013, but Nancy remains a big fan of her internationally famous grandson.

"Nancy Mulligan" is part of the Deluxe Edition of Ed Sheeran's third studio album ÷ (pronounced Divide), and despite the fact that it wasn't officially released as a single, the song still managed to chart in 17 countries. Divide made its debut at #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. On the day of its release, the tracks from Divide achieved 56.73 million streams on Spotify.

Please check out the official audio track of Sheeran’s “Nancy Mulligan,” which has been viewed 32.3 million times. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.

"Nancy Mulligan"
Written by Ed Sheeran, Benjamin Levin, Johnny Mcdaid, Foy Vance, Amy Wadge and Murray Cummings. Performed by Ed Sheeran.

I was 24 years old when I met the woman I would call my own
Twenty two grand kids now growing old, in the house that your brother brought ya
On the summer day when I proposed, I made that wedding ring from dentist gold
And I asked her father but her daddy said no
You can’t marry my daughter

She and I went on the run
Don’t care about religion
I’m gonna marry the woman I love
Down by the Wexford border
She was Nancy Mulligan, and I was William Sheeran
She took my name and then we were one
Down by the Wexford border

Well I met at her Guys in the second world war
She was working on a soldier’s ward
Never had I seen such beauty before
The moment that I saw her
Nancy was my yellow rose
And we got married wearing borrowed clothes
We got eight children now growing old
Five sons and three daughters

She and I went on the run
Don’t care about religion
I’m gonna marry the woman I love
Down by the Wexford border
She was Nancy Mulligan, and I was William Sheeran
She took my name and then we were one
Down by the Wexford border

From her snow white streak in her jet black hair
Over 60 years I’ve been loving her
Now we’re sat by the fire, in our old armchairs
You know Nancy I adore ya

From a farm boy born near Belfast town
I never worried about the king and crown
Cause I found my heart upon the southern ground
There’s no difference, I assure ya

She and I went on the run
Don’t care about religion
I’m gonna marry the woman I love
Down by the Wexford border
She was Nancy Mulligan, and I was William Sheeran
She took my name and then we were one
Down by the Wexford border

Credit: Ed Sheeran image by Lunchbox LP [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Super-Dense 'Diamond' Planet Orbits a Pulsar 4,000 Light Years Away

Four thousand light years away in the constellation of Serpens, a priceless planet five times the size of our Earth races around a tiny neutron star in an orbit that takes barely 130 minutes. Comprised mainly of carbon and oxygen, the planet is so incredibly dense that astronomers believe that the carbon has taken on a crystalline structure — and that means the entire planet could consist largely of diamond.

The unnamed planet, which scientists describe as the dead core of a once-massive star, orbits a pulsar named PSR J1719-1438. Pulsars are fascinating because these tiny neutron stars spin hundreds of times per second, emitting beams of radiation that can be detected here on Earth. PSR J1719-1438 is just 12.4 miles in diameter, but has a mass that is 1.4 times as much as our Sun.

Matthew Bailes and his team at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, first reported on the likelihood of a diamond planet in 2011.

"The evolutionary history and amazing density of the planet all suggest it is comprised of carbon -- i.e. a massive diamond orbiting a neutron star every two hours in an orbit so tight it would fit inside our own Sun," said Bailes.

Although the diamond planet is not visible, astronomers can detect it when monitoring the pulsar. Beams from the pulsar are emitted in regular intervals, but are altered due to the gravitational pull of the planet, which is 3,000 times larger than the pulsar.

PSR J1719-1438 and its companion diamond planet are located about one-eighth of the way toward the middle of the Milky Way, which spreads 100,000 light years in diameter.

Although Bailes' diamond planet was the first to make headlines, Yale astrophysicists in 2012 theorized that super-Earth 55 Cancri e was also a diamond planet. Located 40 light years away, the carbon-based super-planet is about two times the size of Earth, eight times more dense and has a surface temperature of 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit.

Credits: Images courtesy of Swinburne Astronomy Productions.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Half-Ton Stone Embedded With 170,000 Carats of Emeralds Steals the Show in Abu Dhabi

Standing nearly four feet tall and weighing more than a half ton, the world's largest emerald-embedded stone attracted impressive crowds last week at the Abu Dhabi International Jewellery & Watch Show.

The priceless stone, which is 45 inches tall and 29 inches wide, is embedded with 130 emerald crystals weighing about 170,000 carats.

During the opening of the international exhibition, Show Director Nehmat Fadel told the Khaleej Times that the surprise of the show was the emerald-embedded stone.

"It was discovered 10 years ago in Brazil, and it's being displayed in the region for the first time," he said.

In fact, this was the first time the mammoth stone had been seen outside of Brazil.

The hexagonal emerald crystals exhibit a wide range of colors — from translucent and opaque variegated green to dark green. The largest of the crystals range from one-half inch to 9 inches in size.

The emerald crystals are embedded in a metamorphic rock called mica schist. The host rock is made up of quartz and mica.

"You got an entire mine full of emerald crystals embedded in just one piece and it's beautiful. It stands upright, is presentable and unique," noted John Martin, who represents the emerald attraction.

Martin was hard-pressed to estimate how much the emeralds could be worth, stating that the only way to properly value the precious gems would be to extract the crystals from the host and study them individually.

The spokesman said the crystal-embedded stone is symbolic of the show's host city, specifically alluding to Greek philosopher Aristotle's observation that often “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

"Abu Dhabi is a special place to unveil the stone, as it is symbolic of the emirates," Martin said. "In 1971, when all the emirates came together, it impressed the world with its unity. Similarly, each crystal will have a value, but together it's much more powerful and beautiful. So, this is a stone that makes a statement for the emirates."

Credits: Images courtesy of JWS Abu Dhabi.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Music Friday: Kelly Clarkson Describes Herself as 'A Diamond From Black Dust' in 2012's 'Dark Side'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you hit songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Kelly Clarkson reveals her vulnerable side and wonders out loud if her boyfriend can love her — despite her flaws — in her 2012 hit, "Dark Side."

In this soaring synth-pop ballad, songwriters Alexander Geringas and Michael Busbee employ a gemstone's genesis to illustrate Clarkson's true potential.

Specifically, they reference how carbon has the ability, over time, to transform into a precious diamond. Clarkson argues that even though she's not "picture perfect" and has an ominous "dark side," she is still a gem at her core.

The 2002 American Idol winner sings, "Like a diamond / From black dust / It's hard to know / It can become / If you give up / So don't give up on me."

Clarkson told New York radio station Z100 that she liked "Dark Side" because "it’s still got a beat to it. It’s a sweet-sounding song, but with a dark lyric, and I like that."

In reviewing the song, Kat George of VH1 said, "This is what we love best about Kelly — that she’s just a regular girl. Acknowledging the pitfalls of her personality, Kelly invites us all to be imperfect without letting us (or herself) be any less perfectly lovable."

"Dark Side" was released as the third single from Clarkson's Grammy-award winning album, Stronger. The song topped the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart and peaked at #42 on the Billboard Hot 100. Overall, it charted in 13 countries.

A year after the release of "Dark Side," Clarkson made jewelry-industry news when she was stymied in her bid to claim the 200-year-old turquoise ring once owned by famed British novelist Jane Austen. Clarkson had won the ring in 2012 at a Sotheby’s auction in London.

Clarkson’s winning bid of $235,000 was more than five times the auction house’s high estimate. But instead of allowing Clarkson to take the ring back to the U.S., British authorities unexpectedly declared the ring a “national treasure” and blocked its export. If a British patron could match Clarkson’s winning bid, the singer would have to forfeit the ring so it could stay in the U.K.

Jane Austen’s House Museum launched an aggressive fundraising appeal through its website and Facebook page. Donations from around the world flooded into the “Bring the Ring Home” campaign, generating an infusion of $253,000 — more than enough to match Clarkson’s bid.

Born in Ft. Worth, Texas, in 1982, Kelly Brianne Clarkson rose to fame in 2002 after winning the inaugural season of American Idol. Since then, Clarkson has sold more than 61 million singles worldwide, making her the best-selling American Idol contestant to date.

Please check out the video of Clarkson's live performance of "Dark Side" at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Dark Side"
Written by Alexander Geringas and Michael Busbee. Performed by Kelly Clarkson.

There's a place that I know
It's not pretty there and few have ever gone
If I show it to you now
Will it make you run away

Or will you stay
Even if it hurts
Even if I try to push you out
Will you return?
And remind me who I really am
Please remind me who I really am

Everybody's got a dark side
Do you love me?
Can you love mine?
Nobody's a picture perfect
But we're worth it
You know that we're worth it
Will you love me?
Even with my dark side?

Like a diamond
From black dust
It's hard to know
It can become
If you give up
So don't give up on me
Please remind me who I really am

Everybody's got a dark side
Do you love me?
Can you love mine?
Nobody's a picture perfect
But we're worth it
You know that we're worth it
Will you love me?
Even with my dark side?

Don't run away
Don't run away
Just tell me that you will stay
Promise me you will stay
Don't run away
Don't run away
Just promise me you will stay
Promise me you will stay

Will you love me? Ohh
Everybody's got a dark side
Do you love me?
Can you love mine?
Nobody's a picture perfect
But we're worth it
You know that we're worth it
Will you love me?
Even with my dark side?

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

17th Century Royal Spinel, Once Lost and Mistaken for Glass, Sells at Sotheby's for $353,800

A 17th century spinel pendant once worn by Mughal emperors — and then mistaken 90 years ago as a worthless bauble — sold at Sotheby's London last week for $353,800.

The 54.5-carat, wine-colored, uncut gem — which is inscribed in Persian script with the names of three emperors dating back to 1615 AD — oddly ended up in the possession of a British woman named Mrs. David Graham Pole in the 1920s. Pole misplaced the gem on a train trip to the north of England and somehow the gem ended up on the train tracks near Leicester, according to a published report from 1927.

The stone was scooped up by railroad employee Joseph H. Wade, who, believing the gem was worthless glass, gave it to his twin children to play with. The spinel was returned to its rightful owner two weeks later after Pole placed an ad in a local paper. The newspaper account said the gem was found "with considerable difficulty" in the corner of a room "where it had been flung by the children." The article placed the value of the gem at $25,000.

Sotheby's believes the rare gem may have been gifted to Mrs. Pole by her daughter, Dorothy, who lived with her diplomat husband in India from 1921-1929.

The irregular-shaped spinel, which is pierced through the center, hangs from a gold chain and is adorned by a tassel of seed pearls.

The spinel is inscribed with the names of Emperors Jahangir, Prince Khurram and Alamgir Aurangzeb, illustrating a common practice among Mughal emperors of marking the stones and passing them on to their descendants. Two dates are also shown — 1615 AD and 1670 AD. Sotheby's noted that spinels were mined in Badakhshan, the region between Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Before the 19th century, spinels were often mistaken for rubies.

Sotheby's London had set the pre-sale estimate for the piece at £60,000 ($77,600) to £80,000 ($103,400). A private collector placed the final bid at £272,750 ($353,800), or 340% of the high estimate.

Credits: Images courtesy of Sotheby's.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Survey: 49% of American Brides-to-Be Want Their Engagement Rings to Be a Surprise

When it comes to getting engaged, nearly half of American brides-to-be want their engagement rings to be a surprise. That was the key finding in Ebates' national Wedding Survey.

The concept of whether the selection of a "forever accessory" should be left strictly within the purview of the future groom has been debated for generations. While everyone can agree it's commendable that he wants to take the initiative to pick the ring, others may argue whether he's really best equipped to make that decision. Should she get involved by dropping a hint or two? Or, since she'll be wearing the engagement ring for the rest of her life, might the future bride prefer to pick it for herself?

Ebates, a company that rewards members with cash back when they shop online, learned that 49% of respondents want the ring to surprise them, while 28% would prefer to go shopping with their partner and provide feedback and 15% admit that they'd like to pick out a ring for themselves.

Of the group that wants to be surprised, 85% reported they would say "yes" even if they hated the ring their partner used to propose.

The idea of settling for a "hated" ring may be tied to still another interesting finding, where 72% said it’s acceptable to upgrade to a better ring later in the marriage.

Respondents weren't put off by the idea of wearing a previously owned "dream ring." Exactly 42% said they would happily wear one, even if the ring tied to the previous relationship ended in divorce.

Nearly half of those surveyed said they would expect to spend between $1,000 and $5,000 on an engagement ring. The Knot’s 10th annual Real Weddings Study reported back in February that the amount spent on a engagement ring in 2016 was $6,163.

The Ebates Wedding Survey also revealed that the most popular wedding gift was money (56%), following by a gift card (46%), kitchen supplies (34%), home furnishings (27%), appliances (22%) and an experience or trip (21%). Nearly one in five (19%) admitted that they were OK with re-gifting something as a wedding gift.

The national survey reflects the opinions of 1,008 adults and was conducted online by Propeller Insights.

Credit: Image via BigStockPhoto.com.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Music Friday: Gladys Knight Laments, 'You're Like a Diamond But She Treats You Like Glass' in 1970's 'If I Were Your Woman'

Welcome to Music Friday when we often bring you great throwback songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Gladys Knight & the Pips tell a story of unrequited love in their 1970 hit single, "If I Were Your Woman."

In the song, the protagonist is a young woman whose love interest won't give her the time of day. His attention is focused on a rival, despite the fact that she treats him so poorly. Songwriters Gloria Jones, Pamela Joan Sawyer and Clay McMurray use a diamond vs. glass comparison to describe how the two women feel toward the same man.

Knight sings, "She tears you down darlin', says you're nothing at all / But, I'll pick you up darling, when she lets you fall / You're like a diamond but she treats you like glass / Yet you beg her to love you, but, me you don't ask."

According to music trivia websites Songfacts.com and Allmusic.com, the song came together while Jones and Sawyer were having a lunchtime discussion about women's issues, including the Women's Liberation Movement, which was still in its infancy. They were looking to compose a piece about how women could be committed in their relationships while remaining strong and independent.

"If I Were Your Woman" appears as the first track from Gladys Knight & the Pips' album of the same name. The single zoomed all the way to #1 on the Billboard Best Selling Soul Singles chart and peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

The song has been covered by a number of top artists, including Stephanie Mills (1988) and Alicia Keys (2006). The Keys version received a nomination for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance at the 2006 Grammy Awards.

Established in Atlanta as The Pips in 1952, the group led by founding member Gladys Knight topped the music charts for more than three decades. Gladys Knight & the Pips are multiple Grammy and American Music Award winners and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. The group disbanded in 1989, but Knight went on to a successful solo career. Also known as The Empress of Soul, Knight continues to tour at the age of 72.

Please check out the audio track of Gladys Knight & the Pips' original version of "If I Were Your Woman." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"If I Were Your Woman"
Written by Gloria Jones, Pamela Joan Sawyer and Clay McMurray. Performed by Gladys Knight & the Pips.

If I were your woman and you were my man,
you'd have no other woman, you'd be weak as a lamb.
If you had the strength to walk out that door,
My love would over rule my sense, and I'd call you back for more,
If I were your woman.
If I were your woman, and you were my man. Um baby.

She tears you down darlin', says you're nothing at all.
But, I'll pick you up darling, when she lets you fall.
You're like a diamond but she treats you like glass.
Yet you beg her to love you, but, me you don't ask.
If I were your woman, If I were your woman.
If I were your woman, here's what I'd do,
I'd never, no, no, stop loving you.
Yeah, yeah, um

Life is so crazy, a love is unkind.
Because she came first, darling, will she hang on your mind?
You're a part of me, and you don't even know it.
I'm what you need, but I'm too afraid to show it.
If I were your woman, If I were your woman,
If I were your woman, here's what I'd do.
Never, no, no, no, stop loving you, ah, yeah.
If I were your woman, here's what I'd do.
Never, never stop loving you if

Credit: Photo by Rob Mieremet (ANEFO) (GaHetNa (Nationaal Archief NL)) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Mother's Day Jewelry Gift-Giving Expected to Set New Record at $5 Billion, Reports NRF

Shoppers will be showering their moms with $5 billion in jewelry gifts on Sunday, May 14, setting a new Mother's Day record for that category. That tally represents an increase of 19% compared with the $4.2 billion spent in 2016.

Mother's Day gifts across all categories will total a record $23.6 billion, outpacing 2016’s performance by $2.2 billion, or 10.2%, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. The NRF noted that the overall increase will be driven largely by the jewelry and personal services categories.

Jewelry is, by far, the strongest of all gift categories, topping the list that includes the $4.2 billion earmarked for special outings, such as a dinner or brunch, $2.6 billion for flowers, $2.5 billion for gift cards, $2.1 billion for clothing, $2.1 billion for consumer electronics and $1.9 billion for personal services, such as a spa day.

The NRF's survey predicts that more than one in three (35.5%) Mother's Day shoppers will be buying a jewelry item this year.

“With spring in full bloom, many Americans are looking forward to splurging on their mothers this Mother’s Day,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Retailers will be ready with a wide range of gift options and a variety of promotions for their customers."

Eighty-five percent of consumers will be giving a Mother's Day gift in 2017, and their average budget will be $186.39, up 8.2% compared to the $172.22 recorded in 2016. Exactly 20.7% reported that they will be spending more this Mother's Day, while 7.9% said they'd be spending less and 56.4% expected to spend the same amount as last year.

The survey, which asked 7,406 consumers about their Mother’s Day plans, was conducted April 4-11 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.

Credit: Image via Bigstockphoto.com. Charts via National Retail Federation.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Legendary Stotesbury Emerald Headlines a Cavalcade of Magnificent Jewels at Sotheby's Tomorrow

The 34.40-carat Stotesbury Emerald, a six-sided gem with a famed history that spans more than 100 years, headlines a cavalcade of magnificent jewels at Sotheby's New York on Tuesday.

The Colombian-mined emerald was previously in the collections of three high-profile American jewelry collectors: Evalyn Walsh McLean (1908), Eva Stotesbury (1926) and May Bonfils Stanton (1947).

The Stotesbury Emerald was last seen in the public in 1971. At the time, it had been set into a platinum ring by Harry Winston and was being offered for sale at auction. Tomorrow, Sotheby's will be showing the ring in that same Harry Winston setting — a unique design that buttresses the emerald with two rows of pear-shaped diamonds. The estimated selling price is $800,000 to $1.2 million.

The lot with the highest estimated selling price is a pair of platinum earrings featuring D-flawless square emerald-cut diamonds, each weighing slightly more than 20 carats. Estimated to sell for $4.5 million to $5.5 million, the earrings are topped by two smaller square emerald-cut diamonds weighing 1.01 carats each.

Another notable piece is a platinum ring set with an extraordinarily rare 1.64-carat fancy vivid green diamond flanked by two cut-cornered triangle-shaped white diamonds. While fancy-color diamonds are seen in a wide range of hues, red and green are the rarest of all. Green diamonds get their color when radiation displaces carbon atoms from their normal positions in the crystal structure. This can happen naturally when diamond deposits lie near radioactive rocks, according to the Gemological Institute of America. Sotheby's expects the ring to sell in the range of $1 million to $1.5 million.

A sapphire-and-diamond brooch dating back to the 1930s is expected to get a lot of attention at Sotheby's sale due to its unique pedigree. The Art Deco piece by Cartier was formerly in the collection of Mrs. John E. Rovensky, who had been previously married to railroad tycoon Morton F. Plant.

Plant famously traded his corner lot on Fifth Avenue for two strands of Cartier natural pearls in 1917. The pearls were said to be valued at $1 million. That location at Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street remains the New York headquarters for the jeweler. The brooch, which is set with two emerald-cut sapphires weighing approximately 10.40 and 7.75 carats, has a floral motif interpreted in round, baguette, old European-cut, pear and marquise-shaped diamonds weighing approximately 13.95 carats. The piece is expected to fetch between $200,000 and $300,000.

Credits: Images courtesy of Sotheby's.