Friday, September 21, 2018

Music Friday: Lauv Wears This Bracelet to Preserve the Memories of a Love That Got Away

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fresh songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, 24-year-old Lauv wears a special piece of jewelry to preserve the memories of a love that got away in his 2018 release, "Bracelet."

In the intensely personal song that draws on his experiences as a music tech major at New York University, Lauv (whose birth name is Ari Leff) recounts a bad breakup that left him with a bracelet and wounded heart.

He sings, "I used to have you, now I have this bracelet / I used to have you, now I have this bracelet / I let you go but baby I’m gonna wear it / Until I don’t need to / Until I don’t need you / All I know is I can’t face it."

Later in the song, he wonders whether he should "toss" the bracelet because he doesn't want to keep her figuratively wrapped around his wrist. But, the answer is always "No." The bracelet preserves the memories of their love and he wakes up each morning missing her even more.

"Bracelet" appears as the 15th track of Lauv's 2018 album, I Met You When I Was 18 (The Playlist). He subtitled the album "The Playlist" because he treated it as a work in progress, with new songs added periodically.

"This is my life, it’s a playlist," he told Billboard magazine. "It’s an ongoing thing where I’m piecing together this chapter of my life when I was in New York, in my first serious relationship, trying to figure myself out. Like, here it is. And I’ve been building upon it just naturally."

Lauv was born in San Francisco in 1994. His mother was of Latvian descent, so to honor her he took on the stage name "Lauv," which mean "lion" in Latvian. Not coincidentally, Lauv's given name, "Ari," means "lion" in Hebrew. His zodiac sign is Leo.

Interested in music at a young age, Lauv took piano and viola lessons before favoring the guitar at the age of 11. He played in several bands in high school and eventually enrolled at NYU as a music technology major. His music writing style was heavily influenced by a Paul Simon interview, during which the legendary singer-songwriter revealed why, as an artist, it is important to get in touch with one's innermost feelings. An emotional breakup in 2014 set Lauv's creative juices flowing.

Upon graduation, Lauv was signed by publishing company Prescription Songs. In 2015, he released his debut EP, Lost in the Light. By 2017, he was touring with Ed Sheeran.

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

"Bracelet"
Written and performed by Lauv.

Didn’t know what I wanted
I’ll admit that
Still don’t know what I wanted
I’ll be honest, I’m not ready to let you go

I walk down memory lane late at night
I end up losing my way every time
I wake up missing you more
Oh why did I say goodbye?

I used to have you, now I have this bracelet
I used to have you, now I have this bracelet
I let you go but baby I’m gonna wear it
Until I don’t need to
Until I don’t need you
All I know is I can’t face it
I used to have you, now I have this bracelet
I let you go but baby I’m gonna wear it
Until I don’t need to
Until I don’t need you

Anyway I could toss it
I’ll admit that
That don’t mean that I need to keep you wrapped around my wrist
Oh no

I walk down memory lane late at night
I end up losing my way every time
I wake up missing you more
Oh why did I say goodbye

I used to have you, now I have this bracelet
I used to have you, now I have this bracelet
I let you go but baby I’m gonna wear it
Until I don’t need to
Until I don’t need you
All I know is I can’t face it
I used to have you, now I have this bracelet
I let you go but baby I’m gonna wear it
Until I don’t need to
Until I don’t need you

And another day is passing by
Oh I still need you
And another day is passing by
Oh I still need you
All of these Melatonin tears I cry
Oh I still need you
Oh I still need you

I used to have you, now I have this bracelet
I used to have you, now I have this bracelet
I let you go but baby I’m gonna wear it
Until I don’t need to
Until I don’t need you
All I know is I can’t face it
I used to have you, now I have this bracelet
I let you go but baby I’m gonna wear it
Until I don’t need to
Until I don’t need you
I walk down memory lane late at night
I end up losing my way every time
I wake up missing you more
Oh is it goodbye

(Bye, Bye, Bye, Bye)
Missing you more oh why?

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Emmy Winner Proposes During Live Broadcast With a Ring 'More Valuable Than The Hope Diamond'

To director Glenn Weiss, the simple gold wedding band his dad placed on his mom's finger 67 years ago is "more valuable than The Hope Diamond" — a fact that grew ever more significant when the Emmy winner proposed to his girlfriend Jan Svendsen on stage while accepting his award for "Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special."

Weiss earned his Primetime Emmy for directing the Oscars ceremony on ABC, but what should have been a joyful speech started off as a melancholy acknowledgement of his mom's passing only two weeks ago.

“Part of my heart is broken," he said. "I don’t think it will ever be repaired. But she’s in me and she always will be.”

But, then Weiss told the audience and millions of viewers at home that his mom always believed in finding the sunshine, and that Svendsen was the sunshine of his life.

“And Mom was right. Don’t ever let go of your sunshine," he said, spying Svendsen in the crowd. "You wonder why I don’t like to call you my girlfriend? Because I want to call you my wife.”

Cameras zoomed in on Svendsen's priceless reaction as the word "wife" left his lips.

Attendees of the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles could sense something momentous was about to happen. And they were right.

Svendsen was ushered up to the stage, where Weiss started his marriage proposal by describing the significance of the ring.

“Jan, I want to put this ring that my mom wore on your finger in front of all these people and in front of my mom and your parents watching from above," he said. "Will you marry me?”

Of course, she said, "Yes."

In a backstage interview, Weiss described the ring in more detail and the sensation of having it in his pocket in the lead-up to the awards ceremony.

"It's not a diamond ring," Weiss clarified. "It's my mom's wedding ring, which, to me, is more valuable than The Hope Diamond."

"Walking around on the red carpet like nothing's happening with this thing sitting in my pocket was a nerve-racking experience," he continued. "It was such a valuable thing sitting right here, but now it's where it belongs."

Svendsen said that she had no idea that a marriage proposal was about to go down.

She stated: “I really hoped he was going to dedicate the award to his mother, and he did, and then some.”

Weiss and Svendsen met in 2001 and have worked on awards shows together for about 10 years.

Check out the clip of Weiss's proposal. The action starts at the 1:30 mark.

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/Television Academy, YouTube.com/Variety.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Italian Archaeologists Discover Hundreds of Roman Gold Coins Dating Back 1,500 Years

Archaeologists working in the basement of a demolished theater in Northern Italy recently unearthed a soapstone jar literally bursting with Roman gold coins dating back to the 4th and 5th centuries AD. The pristine coins were pulled from the site of the former Cressoni theater, which is located in Como, near the Swiss border.

Hundreds of coins bearing the engravings of emperors Honorius, Valentinian III, Leon I, Antonio and Libio Severo were found stacked neatly in the two-handled jar called an amphora. The newest of the coins was minted in 474 AD.

"We are talking about an exceptional discovery," local archaeology superintendent Luca Rinaldi told the Times of London. The superintendent couldn't guess what the coins might be worth, stating, instead, that their value was "inestimable."

The coins were sent to a restoration laboratory in Milan, where archaeologists, restorers and numismatists will try to piece together the story behind the exciting discovery.

For now, archaeologists believe the jar of gold coins had been hidden for safekeeping.

The jar was "buried it in such a way that in case of danger they could go and retrieve it," Maria Grazia Facchinetti, an expert in rare coins, told CNN. "They were stacked in rolls similar to those seen in the bank today."

Due to the orderly way in which the coins were placed in the jar, Facchinetti believes the owner of the hoard was not a private person.

"Rather it could be a public bank or deposit," she said.

The Cressoni theater had been shuttered in 1997, and the recent coin discovery took place while the property was being developed into residential apartments, according to Newsweek.

"We do not yet know in detail the historical and cultural significance of the find," Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli said in a press release. "But that area is proving to be a real treasure for our archaeology. This discovery fills me with pride."

Credits: Photos courtesy of MiBAC (Italy's Ministry of Heritage and Cultural Activities).

Friday, September 14, 2018

Music Friday: Jason Mraz Hopes You Win 'Prizes Shining Like Diamonds' in 'Have It All'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you uplifting songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, singer-songwriter Jason Mraz delivers a message of love, hope and infinite possibilities in his 2018 release, "Have It All."

Inspired by a spiritual encounter with a Buddhist monk while visiting Myanmar in 2012, Mraz uses the lyrics of "Have It All" to bestow dozens of heartfelt wishes to his fans, especially the children.

The monk had told Mraz, "Tashi delek," a Tibetan phrase that means, "May you have auspiciousness and causes of success." Mraz adopted that exact phrase for the first line of his song, and then expounded on the theme...

He sings, "May you get a gold star on your next test / May your educated guesses always be correct / And may you win prizes shining like diamonds / May you really own it each moment to the next."

The 41-year-old told Genius.com that "Have It All" carries the same hopeful theme that helped him heal and move forward. He called it "a song with a message of generosity – the antithesis of despondency. It's a blessing disguised as a rap song and it's meant to be paid forward and shared."

"Have It All" appeared as the second track of Mraz's sixth studio album, Know. The album charted in nine countries and peaked at #9 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and #10 on the Canadian Albums chart.

The song's official video features more than 100 performing arts students from Mraz's hometown of Richmond, Va.

"[The] music video was made through a collaborative experience with two nonprofits in Richmond," he told Entertainment Tonight. "It's honestly less about me and more about shining a light on tomorrow's artists."

Although he grew up in Virginia, Mraz got his big break after moving to San Diego as a 22 year old and becoming an audience favorite at the coffee house Java Joe's. In 2002, he signed with Elektra Records.

Mraz has earned two Grammy Awards and sold more than seven million albums worldwide.

Please check out Mraz performing with a crew of talented school kids in his official video for "Have It All." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Have It All"
Written by Becky Gebhardt, Mai Bloomfield, Mona Tavakoli, Chaska Potter, Jacob Kasher, David Hodges and Jason Mraz. Performed by Jason Mraz.

May you have auspiciousness and causes of success
May you have the confidence to always do your best
May you take no effort in your being generous
Sharing what you can, nothing more nothing less
May you know the meaning of the word happiness
May you always lead from the beating in your chest
May you be treated like an esteemed guest
May you get to rest, may you catch your breath

And may the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows
And may the road less paved be the road that you follow

Well here's to the hearts that you're gonna break
Here's to the lives that you're gonna change
Here's to the infinite possible ways to love you

I want you to have it
Here's to the good times we're gonna have
You don’t need money, you got a free pass
Here's to the fact that I'll be sad without you
I want you to have it all
Oh! I want you to have it all
I want you to have it
I want you to have it all

May you be as fascinating as a slap bracelet
May you keep the chaos and the clutter off your desk
May you have unquestionable health and less stress
Having no possessions though immeasurable wealth
May you get a gold star on your next test
May your educated guesses always be correct
And may you win prizes shining like diamonds
May you really own it each moment to the next

And may the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows
And may the road less paved be the road that you follow

Well here's to the hearts that you're gonna break
Here's to the lives that you're gonna change
Here's to the infinite possible ways to love you

I want you to have it
Here's to the good times we're gonna have
You don’t need money, you got a free pass
Here's to the fact that I'll be sad without you
I want you to have it all

Oh, I want you to have it all
I want you to have it
I want you to have it all

Oh, I want you to have it all
All you can imagine
All, no matter what your path is
If you believe it then anything can happen
Go, go, go raise your glasses
Go, go, go you can have it all
I toast you

Here's to the hearts that you're gonna break
Here's to the lives that you're gonna change
Here's to the infinite possible ways to love you
I want you to have it
Here's to the good times we're gonna have
You don’t need money, you got a free pass
Here's to the fact that I'll be sad without you
I want you to have it all

Oh, I want you to have it all
I want you to have it
I want you to have it all

Here's to the good times we're gonna have
Here's to you always making me laugh
Here's to the fact that I'll be sad without you
I want you to have it all

Credits: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Empowering Colors, Joyful Hues Dominate Spring/Summer 2019 Palette: Pantone

Empowering colors and joyful hues dominate Pantone’s Fashion Color Trend Report for the Spring/Summer of 2019. According to the Pantone Color Institute’s experts, this new palette of 12 standout colors is illuminating the runways of NY Fashion Week, which runs through Saturday in Manhattan.

Fiesta / Jester Red / Turmeric / Living Coral

The 12 colors share a number of characteristics. For one, they all communicate our desire to face the future with confidence and spirit, says Pantone. They're also joyful hues that lend themselves to playful expressionism and take us down a path of creative and unexpected combinations.

Among 2019’s standout colors are Fiesta, a festive orange-red that radiates energy, passion and excitement; and Jester Red, a rich burgundy-like color that mixes elegance with urbanity. Other favorites include Turmeric, an enlivening orange that infuses a hint of pungency into the palette; and Living Coral, an affable and animating shade whose golden undertone gives it a softer edge.

“The mindset for Spring/Summer 2019 underscores our desire for color that transcends seasonality and brings together high fashion and street style,” said Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute. “Vibrant without being overpowering, highlighted shades for both men’s and women’s fashion illustrate our desire for authenticity and our continued need for creativity and relatable, accessible design.”

Pink Peacock / Pepper Stem / Aspen Gold / Princess Blue

Other colors expected to dominate in the coming year include Pink Peacock, a tantalizingly theatrical hue that's a feast for the eyes; Pepper Stem, a zesty yellow-green tone that encourages our desire for nature’s healthy bounty; Aspen Gold, a sunny color that stimulates feelings of joy and good cheer; and Princess Blue, a majestic royal blue hue that glistens and gleams.

Toffee / Mango Mojito / Terrarium Moss / Sweet Lilac

The final four standout colors include the deliciously irresistible Toffee, the golden yellow Mango Mojito, the earthy green of Terrarium Moss and the endearing pink-infused lavender of Sweet Lilac.

Soybean / Eclipse / Sweet Corn / Brown Granite

In additional to the 12 standout shades, Pantone also revealed four classic neutrals. Pantone noted that there will always be a need for structure in everyday fashion, and the neutrals for 2019 work well on their own or serve as a foundation for distinctive color contrasts. These include the dark beige Soybean, dark blue Eclipse, pale yellow Sweet Corn and earthy Brown Granite.

Pantone, the global color authority, publishes its report to give consumers and retailers a sneak peek at the color stories that will emerge in all areas of design and fashion in the coming year.

In early December, we will announce Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2019. Previous winners have included Ultra Violet (2018), Greenery (2017), Rose Quartz/Serenity Blue (co-winners for 2016), Marsala (2015), Radiant Orchid (2014), Emerald (2013) and Tangerine Tango (2012).

Credits: Images courtesy of Pantone.

Monday, September 10, 2018

$1.7 Million 'Discovery' Coin Pays Tribute to Early Prospectors of Aussie Gold and Diamonds

Inspired by the "holey dollar," Australia's first official currency, The Perth Mint recently unveiled a $1.7 million collector coin that pays tribute to early prospectors of the nation’s most treasured natural riches — gold and pink diamonds.

The Discovery coin weighs 2,000 grams (4.41 pounds) and has an unusual design reminiscent of a donut and a donut hole. In this case, the outer ring of the 99.99% pure gold coin weighs 1,800 grams and has a face value of $9,000 AUD. The inner punch weighs 200 grams and has a face value of $1,000 AUD.

The "holey dollar," which was introduced as Australia's first official currency in 1814, was also a two-part coin. The outer ring was worth five shillings and the inner punch was worth one shilling.

The Discovery coin is set with four pink diamonds from the Argyle Diamond Mine of Australia's Kimberley region. The two larger stones are part of the Argyle Pink Diamond Signature Tender: One is a brilliant-cut 0.88-carat Fancy Intense Purplish Pink and the other is a 1.02-carat emerald cut Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink. The smaller stones weigh 0.08 carats each and are rated Fancy Intense Vivid Pink.

Every facet of the coin's design is symbolic of the destiny and fortune pursued by early prospectors in their relentless search of gold and diamonds.

Discovery's outer coin features a sailing ship and rowboat ferrying hopeful diggers ashore, while a 19th century prospector pans for gold in front of miners' tents. Adjacent is a vista of where pink diamonds were found. The Kimberley region is depicted by an iconic boab tree and kangaroos, with a brilliant-cut pink diamond representing the tropical sun. Legend states that the first glimpse of one of these rare pink prizes glinted from the soil of an anthill, so the scene on the coin portrays a worker ant on a mound of earth with an emerald-cut pink diamond clasped between its mandibles.

The heart of the coin shows a stylized image of Australia with the two smaller pink diamonds marking the location of Ophir in the southeast, where gold was first found, and the Argyle Diamond Mine in the northwest.

The width of the outer coin is 100.6 mm or 3.96 inches (about the width of a softball), while the inner punch measures 32.5 mm or 1.28 inches wide (similar in size to a Kennedy half dollar). The thickness of the coin is 15.5 mm (0.61 inches).

"The coin showcases rare pink stones handset in the most famed of precious metals, telling the inspirational rags-to-riches tales of mining for these prized resources," said Perth Mint Chief Executive Officer Richard Hayes.

The one-of-a-kind coin was issued as legal tender of Australia. The obverse of each coin displays the Ian Rank Broadley effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the monetary denomination and the year 2018.

The coin will be on display at The Perth Mint Shop until September 28, 2018, unless it is sold earlier.

Credit: Images courtesy of The Perth Mint.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Music Friday: Gwen Stefani Compares Boyfriend Blake Shelton to a Sapphire in 'Rare'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fresh songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Gwen Stefani compares boyfriend and country star Blake Shelton to a sapphire in her 2016 release, "Rare."

In this song penned by Stefani and three collaborators, the former No Doubt singer uses the September birthstone to symbolize perfection.

She sings, "You're a sapphire, you're a rolling stone / You're a sparkle in a deep black hole / You're like moon shine, when the curtains close / You're my answer, one that no one knows."

USA Today described "Rare" an "outright declaration of love for Shelton" and Entertainment Weekly called the song a "sweetly smitten confessional."

Shelton took to Twitter to affirm that "Rare" was his favorite song on the album, This Is What the Truth Feels Like. Stefani tweeted back: "Wonder who that one is about?"

Music critics pointed out that a recurring line in the song — "You know I would be dumb to give perfection up" — is a not-so-subtle dig at Shelton's ex-wife Miranda Lambert. Shelton and Stefani began dating in 2015 while they were judges on NBC's The Voice.

"Rare," which has been described as an electropop and folk pop-influenced ballad, is the final track on Stefani's third studio album.

Stefani was famously the lead singer of No Doubt, but decided to pursue a solo career in 2004. She has won three Grammy Awards, an American Music Award, a Brit Award, a World Music Award and two Billboard Music Awards. As a member of No Doubt and as a solo artist, she is credited with having sold more than 30 million albums worldwide.

Born in Fullerton, Calif., in 1969, Gwen Renée Stefani enjoyed the music of Bob Dylan and Emmylou Harris as a child. As a teenager, she was obsessed with The Police and had the privilege of inducting the group into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. During the ceremony she displayed a signed photo of Sting, which he autographed in 1983, when Stefani was 14 years old.

Please check out the live performance of Stefani performing "Rare." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Rare"
Written by Gwen Stefani, Justin Tranter, Julia Michaels and Greg Kurstin. Performed by Gwen Stefani.

You're a sapphire, you're a rolling stone
You're a sparkle in a deep black hole
You're like moon shine, when the curtains close
You're my answer, one that no one knows

And I can't believe it, that you even exist
You know I would be dumb to give perfection up
How can I accept it, that this is so precious?
You know I would be dumb to give perfection up

You're rare
And I'm loving every second of it, don't you know?
You're rare
And only a stupid girl would let you go
You're so good and you don't even know it
You're so good and you don't even know
You're rare
And only a stupid girl would let you go, don't you know?

I am broken, I am insecure
Complicated, oh yeah that's for sure
I feel worthless, I've been hurt so bad
I get nervous you won't love me back

And I can't believe it, that you even exist
You know I would be dumb to give perfection up
How can I accept it, that this is so precious?
You know I would be dumb to give perfection up

You're rare
And I'm loving every second of it, don't you know?
You're rare
And only a stupid girl would let you go
You're so good and you don't even know it
You're so good and you don't even know
You're rare
And only a stupid girl would let you go, don't you know?

Do you really think you wanna make some new memories?
With me?
Do you really think you wanna make some new memories?
With me?
Do you really think you wanna make some new memories?
With me?
Do you really think you wanna make some new memories?
With me?

You're rare
And I'm loving every second of it, don't you know?
You're rare
And only a stupid girl would let you go
You're so good and you don't even know it
You're so good and you don't even know
You're rare
And only a stupid girl would let you go
You're rare
And only a stupid girl would let you go
You're rare
And only a stupid girl would let you go, don't you know?

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Prehistoric Amber Lovers Traded the Gem Through a Vast Mediterranean Network, Scientists Claim

An international team of researchers has uncovered archaeological evidence suggesting that precious amber — the golden-colored translucent gemstone formed from fossilized tree resin — was prized by our prehistoric ancestors and traded throughout the Mediterranean region.

Researchers used a sophisticated technique known as infrared spectroscopy to analyze amber jewelry and other amber ornaments found at archaeological sites on the Iberian Peninsula. While most of the samples, which dated from 4000 BC to 1000 BC, were determined to be of local origin, other samples were linked to amber that originated from Sicily and the Baltic regions.

Mercedes Murillo-Barroso from the University of Granada, Spain, believes this is evidence that amber was circulated through vast exchange networks across the Mediterranean, with the likely path of Baltic and Sicilian amber routed through North Africa. The findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

“This suggests that amber from the north may have moved south across Central Europe before being shipped to the west by Mediterranean sailors, challenging previous suggestions of direct trade between Scandinavia and Iberia,” co-author of the study Marcos Martinón-Torres said in the statement.

The team reported that the Sicilian amber arrived on the Iberian Peninsula at least 4,000 B.C. Baltic-sourced material was dated from 1,000 B.C.

Rare amber specimens exhibit neatly preserved plant matter and other creatures that became trapped in the resin and then frozen in time.

Today, 90% of the world’s amber comes from Kaliningrad, a Russian territory tucked between Poland and Lithuania on the coast of the Baltic Sea. Due to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Kaliningrad Oblast became an exclave, geographically separated from the rest of Russia.

Credit: Amber image by Brocken Inaglory [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

330-Carat 'Star of Asia' Sapphire Is a Phenomenal Example of September's Official Birthstone

Today we shine our spotlight on the 330-carat "Star of Asia," one of the world's finest star sapphires and a stunning representation of September's official birthstone.

Originating from the historic Mogok mines of Burma (now Myanmar), the blue-violet sapphire is said to have belonged to India’s Maharajah of Jodhpur and eventually obtained by famed mineral dealer and collector Martin Leo Ehrmann. The impressive gem was acquired for the National Gem Collection in 1961 and continues to be a popular attraction at the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, in Washington D.C.

Renowned for its impressive size, intense color and sharp star, the Star of Asia is considered a phenomenal stone.

According to the Smithsonian, the star forms when titanium atoms are trapped within the growing corundum crystal. As the crystal cools, the titanium forms needlelike crystals of the mineral rutile, which orient themselves in three directions. When properly cut, light reflecting off the three sets of needles produces the six-rayed star. This phenomenon is called "asterism," which is derived from the Latin word “astrum,” for “star.”

Internetstones.com points out that the "Star of Asia" reflects the skills of a master cutter, who did an excellent job shaping the cabochon to bring out the maximum asterism and to ensure it would appear precisely in the center of the stone.

Historically, the finest and most vibrant gem-quality sapphires have come from Sri Lanka, Burma and the Kashmir region of India. The historic Mogok tract of Burma has been producing museum-quality rubies and sapphires since the 15th century.

All sapphires are made of the mineral corundum (crystalline aluminum oxide). In its pure state, the corundum is colorless, but when trace elements are naturally introduced to the chemical composition, all the magic happens. Blue sapphires occur, for instance, when aluminum atoms are displaced with those of titanium and iron in the gem’s crystal lattice structure. The blue-violet color is achieved when the element vanadium is added to the mix. Corundum has a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale, compared to a diamond, which has a hardness of 10.

Sapphires are seen in a wide spectrum of colors, including pink, purple, green, orange and yellow. Ruby is the red variety of corundum.

Credit: Images by Chip Clark/Smithsonian.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Music Friday: 'Diamonds Are Invincible' Mega-Mix Celebrates Michael Jackson's 60th Birthday

Michael Jackson fans from around the world celebrated what would have been the King of Pop's 60th birthday on Wednesday by bopping to a mega-mix of his greatest hits weaved together by super-producer Mark Ronson.

In honor of Jackson's "diamond" birthday, the five-minute audio track was titled "Michael Jackson x Mark Ronson: Diamonds Are Invincible." The "invincible" part of the title implies that, even in death, Jackson's musical legacy powers on. It's also a nod to his iconic 2001 album of the same name. In 2009, readers of Billboard magazine voted it as the best album of the decade.

A work that sold 5.4 million copies worldwide, Invincible was Jackson's final studio album. He died in June of 2009 at the age of 50.

The birthday mix includes many of Jackson's most memorable hits, including "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," "Wanna Be Starting Something," "Billie Jean," "Smooth Criminal," "Human Nature," "You Rock My World" and "The Way You Make Me Feel."

According to Billboard.com, Ronson's remix was the result of a collaboration with Sony Music and the Jackson Estate. Referencing a catalog of work that spanned five decades, the Grammy-award-winning producer/artist/DJ confessed that he was overwhelmed with the task of compiling a piece worthy of Jackson's 60th birthday celebration.

"It was such an amazing, awe-inspiring and insanely intimidating task to put this together, although you’d need hours and hours to fit all of Michael’s classic tunes into one track," Ronson said in a statement.

The audio track of "Michael Jackson x Mark Ronson: Diamonds Are Invincible" has been trending on YouTube.com and already has been viewed more than 830,000 times since it was posted on Tuesday.

Please check it out, below...

Credit: Image of Michael Jackson performing at "Wiener Stadion," Vienna, Austria (1988) by Zoran Veselinovic www.photozoran.com/ CC-BY-SA.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Deserving Illinois Couple Receives Free Engagement Ring From Jilted Virginian With Big Heart

A Virginia man who had purchased a diamond engagement ring but was jilted before popping the question turned his heartbreak into hope by awarding the ring to a deserving Illinois couple.

Steven Crocker was emotionally devastated last year when his girlfriend decided to break off their two-year relationship.

"I didn't know what to do with myself," he told Inside Edition. "My whole world flipped upside down."

But, then, he wondered if the $1,700 diamond ring might brighten the future for another couple.

"It's not about the money for me," said the 23-year-old. "It's about love."

So Crocker decided to give the ring away via an eye-catching Facebook offering titled, "FREE ENGAGEMENT RING - READ AND SHARE."

On Facebook, Crocker wrote, "It's not the fanciest ring in the world but it can potentially make someone very happy for the rest of their life."

He encouraged applicants to send their love stories and describe specifically why they were the most deserving.

"I don’t want to give it away to just anyone," he wrote. "I want to give it to a guy or girl who is so in love with their significant other and wants to take the next step but cannot afford a ring. I don’t think that anyone on MY friends list falls in that category, but someone out there does, which is why sharing this post is very much appreciated. I’ll send it anywhere in the US where someone is head-over-heels."

Crocker told NBC Nightly News that he didn't expect more than 50 entries, but ended up getting close to 2,000.

The young man recruited his friends to help review the submissions that included both written stories and videos.

One story that caught Crocker's attention was from Sean Sullivan of Illinois. The teacher had been saving up for an engagement ring. He was planning to pop the question to his girlfriend, Natalie Kiernicki, but had to put his proposal plans on hold when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). He wasn't able to work and the medical bills were becoming overwhelming.

"I had to make the extremely hard decision to use the money I was saving for her ring to help cover my medical and other bills," Sullivan told Inside Edition.

Sullivan had sent to Crocker a 17-minute video that described the couple's commitment and love for one another.

"She's the reason I smile every day," Sullivan told NBC Nightly News.

Sullivan said he was overwhelmed when he learned that Crocker had picked him as the winner.

Kiernicki didn't know that her boyfriend had vied for the ring and was totally surprised when she got the exciting news.

"For someone to do this, it just shows there are still good people left in this world," Sullivan said. "He had no reason to do this for anybody and it’s amazing he did this."

For Crocker, the experience left him optimistic that true love is in his future.

"I definitely know that my time is going to come," he said.

Credits: Screen captures via nbcnews.com; Couple image via Facebook/Natalie Kiernicki; Ring selfie screen capture via Insideedition.com.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Double Proposal Affirms Disneyland Is the Happiest — and Most Romantic — Place on Earth

Jesse Tober and Kasey Donovan starred in their own fairytale last Monday when they popped the question simultaneously in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland in California. The video of the spontaneous double proposal made them Twittersphere sensations and affirmed, once again, that a Disney Park is not only “the happiest place on Earth,” but also the most romantic.

In a 34-second clip that has been viewed on Twitter more than 7.8 million times, we see the couple posing in front of the iconic Disney castle. The scene opens with Tober nervously fiddling with something hidden in her pocket.

But then we see it's a ring box, which she opens and presents to her boyfriend. Donovan continues to look straight at the camera, but then turns toward his girlfriend, stares down at the ring and laughs.

"Are you serious?" he says. "Because..."

At that moment, Donovan digs into his backpack and pulls out an engagement ring box of his own.

He goes down on one knee and proposes to Tober, who seems shocked by the wild coincidence.

Videographer and best friend "Harls" can be heard saying, "No way! They double proposed! He had a ring for her!"

On Twitter, Tober posted a link to the video along with this caption, "Tell me why we just proposed to each other at the same time at our favorite place. I'm speechless."

Tober, 20, told Business Insider that, for just a moment, she thought Donovan was going to refuse her proposal.

"When Kasey, my fiancé, started laughing when I pulled out the ring, I thought I made a huge mistake!" she told the publication. "I thought he kept asking, 'Are you serious?' because he definitely wasn't ready to get married. I had no idea he was about to pull out a ring for me at the same time."

Tober told Cosmopolitan.com that she had picked out a ring "forever ago" and had been planning the proposal for three months. Donovan, 24, had been working on his proposal for more than a month, but picked out the ring a week prior to their Disney trip.

"We’re just so in sync as a couple, I'm not surprised this happened," Tober told Cosmopolitan.com. "I don’t know how to explain it, it almost seems normal that we both did this."

Donovan, who hails from Salinas, Calif., met Tober when he began following her on Twitter in early 2016. She lives in upstate New York.

It turns out they share a love for all things Disney and even dressed as Disney characters for Halloween. They're hoping to some day tie the knot at "the happiest place on Earth."

Back in March of this year, we reported how Disney properties dominate the “Most Popular Places to Propose” list, placing three destinations in the Top 10, according to the wedding-planning website Hitched.co.uk.

Disneyland Paris was been named the world’s most popular place to pop the question. Ranking #2 on the list was Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Fla., and placing #8 was Walt Disney’s Epcot, also in Orlando.

Credits: Screen captures via Twitter.com/virgoprincxss; Twitter.com/harleedawn.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Music Friday: Mick Jagger Sings About a High-Society Girl's Diamonds in 1965's 'Play With Fire'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you super throwback songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones shine the spotlight on diamonds in their timeless tune, “Play With Fire.”

A song that takes a critical look at the lifestyle of Jagger’s high-society girlfriend, “Play With Fire” starts off with the line, “Well, you’ve got your diamonds and you’ve got your pretty clothes / And the chauffeur drives your car / You let everybody know / But don’t play with me, ’cause you’re playing with fire.”

Jagger warns his girlfriend that even though she enjoys a privileged lifestyle, she could get burned and lose it all.

"Play With Fire" is officially credited to Nanker Phelge, the pseudonym used when the whole band collaborated on a track, but SongFacts.com reports that lead singer Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards were the only band members awake when the song was recorded very late one night at RCA Studios in January of 1965.

Music legend states that record producer Phil Spector stepped in on bass guitar, his assistant, Jack Nitzsche, played harpsichord and a night janitor helped out with backup vocals.

In a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Jagger said the song still sounds “amazing.”

“I mean, it’s a very in-your-face kind of sound and very clearly done,” Jagger said. “You can hear all the vocal stuff on it. And I’m playing the tambourines, the vocal line. You know, it’s very pretty.”

Relegated to the B-side of their single, “The Last Time,” “Play With Fire” met with only marginal commercial success. It topped out at #96 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Despite that lukewarm reception, the song has stood the test of time.

The Stones seemed to have a fondness for the song, as it was performed in concerts during 1965 and 1966, and then revived more than two decades later when the band toured in 1989 and 1990.

Original band members Jagger, Richards and drummer Charlie Watts are still performing in their 56th year together. The group has released 30 studio albums, 23 live albums and numerous compilations. Overall, The Rolling Stones are credited with more than 250 million album sales. They are members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and were ranked fourth on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.”

We hope you enjoy the original audio track of The Rolling Stones performing “Play With Fire.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.

“Play With Fire”
Written by Nanker Phelge (The Rolling Stones). Performed by The Rolling Stones.

Well, you’ve got your diamonds and you’ve got your pretty clothes
And the chauffeur drives your car
You let everybody know
But don’t play with me, ’cause you’re playing with fire

Your mother she’s an heiress, owns a block in Saint John’s Wood
And your father’d be there with her
If he only could
But don’t play with me, ’cause you’re playing with fire

Your old man took her diamonds and tiaras by the score
Now she gets her kicks in Stepney
Not in Knightsbridge anymore
So don’t play with me, ’cause you’re playing with fire

Now you’ve got some diamonds and you will have some others
But you’d better watch your step, girl
Or start living with your mother
So don’t play with me, ’cause you’re playing with fire
So don’t play with me, ’cause you’re playing with fire

Credit: Image by Jim Pietryga (https://www.iorr.org/tour15/) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Did You Know That Spinel Is an Official Birthstone for the Month of August?

The modern birthstone list has been amended only three times in the past 106 years, so when the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) and Jewelers of America (JA) announced in 2016 that spinel would be joining peridot as an official birthstone for the month of August, the news surprised jewelers and gem fans alike.

Available in a rainbow of vibrant colors — but best known as a ruby doppelgänger — the spinel presents a beautiful alternative to the yellow-green peridot. Part of the stone's intrigue is that it has been misidentified for so many years. In fact, the International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA) called spinel “the great impostor of gemstone history” because some of the world's most famous “rubies” are actually spinels.

The 170-carat Black Prince Ruby, which is prominently displayed on the Imperial State Crown of England, is actually an irregular cabochon red spinel. The 361-carat Timur Ruby, which was presented by the East India Company to Queen Victoria as a gift in 1851, was later identified as a spinel. And the 398-carat ruby-red gem that tops the Imperial Crown of Russia commissioned by Catherine the Great in 1763 turned out to be... a spinel.

According to the Smithsonian, it wasn’t until 1783 that spinel was recognized as a mineral distinct from corundum (ruby and sapphire). Ruby is composed of aluminum oxide, while spinel is made of magnesium aluminum oxide. Both get their reddish color from impurities of chromium in their chemical structure.

“At certain moments in history, when there is a strong call from gem enthusiasts to expand the list of official birthstones, Jewelers of America believes in recognizing the importance of historically significant gemstones and giving gemstone lovers a choice that suits their preferences,” JA President and CEO David Bonaparte said in 2016.

While spinel is best known for its ability to imitate the color of ruby, the gem also comes in soft pastel shades of pink and purple, fiery oranges, and cool hues ranging from powdery gray to intense blue. It is a durable gem with a hardness of 8.0 on the Mohs scale. By comparison, diamond rates a 10 and ruby rates a 9.

Established in 1912 by the American National Retail Jewelers Association (now known as JA), the modern birthstone list was updated in 1952 to add alexandrite (June), citrine (November), tourmaline (October) and zircon (December). The listed was amended again in 2002 when tanzanite joined the group of December birthstones.

Some of the most beautiful spinels — especially the pink, red and orange-red varieties — are found in Myanmar. They’re also sourced from Afghanistan, Brazil, Cambodia, Kenya, Russia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand and Vietnam.

Credits: Gem photo by D. Penland/Smithsonian. Imperial State Crown of England by Cyril Davenport (1848 – 1941) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

12th 100-Plus-Carat Diamond of 2018 Establishes New Record for Letšeng Mine in Lesotho

Back in January, Gem Diamonds announced the discovery of a gem-quality, 910-carat diamond at its Letšeng Mine. The D-color, Type IIa stone — which was later named the Lesotho Legend — was billed as the fifth-largest gem-quality diamond ever recovered. The rough gem sold in March for a whopping $40 million.

Since then, Lesotho's Letšeng mine has been riding a wave of 100-plus-carat discoveries, the latest of which was a 138-carat, top white color, Type IIa gem (above). It was the 12th 100-plus-carat diamond recovered in 2018, surpassing the previous mark of 11 established in 2017. With four-plus months left in the calendar year, we expect the record will fall again.

The Letšeng mine has earned the reputation for producing large, exceptional white diamonds and generating more dollars per carat than any other kimberlite diamond mine in the world.

Over the past few years, mining companies, such as Gem Diamonds and Lucara, have invested in technology to improve their recovery of extraordinarily large diamonds.

Previously, the mining methods employed to process diamond-bearing rock were not designed to protect the largest finds. The ore was drilled, blasted, hauled and put through crushing machines to get to the gems that may be hiding within. During that process, extremely large diamonds, some weighing hundreds of carats, were often damaged or even pulverized.

Both Gem Diamonds and Lucara recently installed bigger, costlier filters and laser identification technology so huge diamonds can be cherry picked before they go through the crushing process. The investments are clearly paying dividends.

Gem Diamonds maintains a 70% stake in Letšeng mine, with the government of Lesotho holding the remaining 30%. Since Gem Diamonds established a stake in the mine in 2006, the output of 100-plus-carat diamonds has surpassed 60.

Credit: Image courtesy of Gem Diamonds.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Music Friday Tribute: Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin 'Wouldn't Mind a Little Diamond Ring'

In 1964, a 22-year-old Aretha Franklin declared in a song called "One Room Paradise" that she didn't need to live in a castle or be showered with diamonds and pearls in order to be happy. A little one-room apartment would be totally fine as long as she could be with the man she loved.

But, then, halfway through the tune, Franklin reversed gears and added a telling footnote: "Now, if one day he lucks up on a magic pot of gold (Pot of gold) / I wouldn’t mind a little diamond ring or a fur coat for the cold (Oooh!)."

Welcome to Music Friday when we often bring you throwback songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics.

Today's tribute is dedicated to the Queen of Soul, who passed away yesterday in Detroit at the age of 76.

Written by John Leslie McFarland, "One Room Paradise" first appeared as the final track of Runnin' Out Of Fools, her seventh studio album.

While the song's character aspires to own something precious, Franklin — the star — loved her jewelry. She has been photographed throughout her career wearing long strands of cultured pearls, gemstone earrings and diamond rings.

The first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (1987), Franklin has earned 19 Grammys, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994. She scored 17 top-10 pop singles and 20 #1 R&B hits. She's sold more than 75 million records worldwide.

In 2008, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Franklin #1 on its list of the Greatest Singers of All Time.

Singer Mary J. Blige commented at the time, “Aretha is a gift from God. When it comes to expressing yourself through song, there is no one who can touch her. She is the reason why women want to sing. Aretha has everything — the power, the technique. She is honest with everything she says.”

Born in Memphis, Tenn., Aretha Louise Franklin honed her singing talent in the choir of her father’s New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit. At age 18, in 1960, she was signed by Columbia Records. By the end of that decade, she had cemented her status as the "Queen of Soul."

Please check out the remastered audio track of Franklin's "One Room Paradise." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"One Room Paradise"
Written by John Leslie McFarland. Performed by Aretha Franklin.

I don’t need no diamonds (She don’t need)
And I don’t need no money (She don’t need, she don’t)
Some people live in castles with 60 or 70 rooms (She don’t)
Some people dream about a penthouse doll or a mansion on the moon

But I got me a little one room paradise
And the man I love (And the man I love)
And that’s all I need now
And the man I love (And the man I love)

Some girls are crazy about diamonds (Diamonds)
Some go wild about pearls (Go wild)
Some girls go for a lot of loot from a check book that ain’t hers (Sho’ ain’t hers)

But I got me a little one room to paradise
And the man I love (And the man I love)
And that’s all I need now
And the man I love (And the man I love)

Now, if one day he lucks up on a magic pot of gold (Pot of gold)
I wouldn’t mind a little diamond ring or a fur coat for the cold (Oooh!)
But if it meant I had to lose just what I’ve got right now (Right now)
Then I don’t need no gold anyhow (No, no!)

I can’t make love with no diamonds (Diamonds)
Give them all to somebody else (Anybody)
And what good is one hundred rooms if you’re debtor by yourself (Yes, you)

So I’ll take me my little one room paradise
And the man I love (And the man I love)
Well, that’s all I need now
And the man I love (And the man I love)

I don’t need no diamonds (She don’t need no diamonds)
Said I don’t need no money (She don’t need no money, she don’t)

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Monday, August 13, 2018

This Is How Fashionable Jerusalemites Were Accessorizing 2,200 Years Ago

A team of archeologists from Tel Aviv University and the Israel Antiquities Authority unearthed an elaborately worked 2,200-year-old golden earring bearing the likeness of a horned animal. The hoop earring was discovered during excavations just outside Jerusalem's walled Old City and was likely worn by a member of the elite class during a period of Greek influence.

The earring is 4 centimeters long (about 1.5 inches) and reflects a crafting technique called "filigree," in which fine threads of precious metal and tiny beads are used to create delicate and complex patterns — in this case, the head of a ram, antelope or deer with large eyes and other distinctive facial features.

According to the directors of the excavation, Professor Yuval Gadot of Tel Aviv University and Dr. Yiftah Shalev of the Antiquities Authority, this type of jewelry first appeared in Greece during the Hellenistic period and have been found across the Mediterranean basin. It is extremely rare to find this style of jewelry in Israel.

”The jewelry was found inside a building that was unearthed during the excavation, dating to the early Hellenistic period—a fascinating era about which we know very little when it comes to Jerusalem."

The archeologists dated the earring to the 3rd or early 2nd centuries BCE.

Based on the material and fine workmanship, the earrings were likely possessed by a person of high status living just 200 meters south of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The researchers could not be sure whether they were worn by a woman or a man.

"We also learned from this excavation that the residents of this area were not peasants who settled in empty areas on the periphery of the central area, but rather the opposite—they were well-off people," they said.

Also recovered nearby was a decorative gold bead featuring an intricately embroidered ornamentation resembling a thin rope pattern, which visually divides the beads into two parts with six spirals on each hemisphere.

As more artifacts are recovered from the site, the archeological team is confident that they will gain a clearer picture of how Hellenistic influences shaped life in Jerusalem during this time.

The archeological dig that yielded the golden earring is being conducted at the site of the Givati Parking Lot in the City of David National Park.

The special find will be on public display during the City of David's 17th Annual Archaeological Conference scheduled for September 8.

Credits: Photos by Clara Amit / Israel Antiquities Authority; Screen captures via YouTube.com/Israel Antiquities Authority Official Channel.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Music Friday: Kids of the 'One Voice' Choir Inspire Their Peers to 'Shine Bright Like a Diamond'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you exceptional songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, the talented members of the One Voice Children's Choir will dazzle you with their interpretation of Rihanna's "Diamonds." Their video at the end of this post has been viewed on YouTube nearly 24 million times.

In the song, the youngsters inspire their peers to "shine bright like a diamond" and embrace the wonders that life has to offer.

They sing, "Find light in the beautiful sea, I choose to be happy / You and I, you and I, we’re like diamonds in the sky / You’re a shooting star I see, a vision of ecstasy / When you hold me, I’m alive / We’re like diamonds in the sky."

Ranging in age from four to 17, the One Voice singers are directed by Masa Fukuda. The group was originally assembled by Fukuda to perform at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah, but remained together after the sporting event. The group has about 140 members and performs 50 to 70 times each year.

Their reputation as a top-flight choral group earned them an invitation to compete during Season 9 of NBC's America's Got Talent in 2014. The group reached the quarter finals and produced the "Diamonds" video in preparation for moving on to the final rounds. Earlier in the competition, judge Howard Stern told the young contestants that they were gold, but Howie Mandel was not as impressed.

"They are gold," Mandel agreed. "I'm looking for a diamond."

Despite Mandel's thumbs-down verdict, Stern, Mel B and Heidi Klum voted in favor of the group and they moved on in the competition. The choir director's decision to perform "Diamonds" was in direct response to Mandel's criticism.

Rihanna scored her 12th #1 single with "Diamonds" in 2012. In fact, the song topped the charts in 20 countries and sold more than 7.5 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling singles in music history.

Rihanna characterized the song as "happy and hippie."

"It's hopeful. It gives me a great feeling when I listen to it," she said during an iHeartRadio festival in Las Vegas. "The lyrics are hopeful and positive. It's about love and the gears are different than what people will expect."

The song was written by Sia Furler with Benjamin Levin, Mikkel S. Eriksen and Tor Erik Hermansen. Sia told New York Times Magazine that she came up with the lyrics for "Diamonds" in just 14 minutes.

According to SongFacts.com, "Diamonds" is the third diamond-titled song to score a #1 chart appearance. The others were Gary Lewis and the Playboys' "This Diamond Ring" (1965) and Elton John's "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" (1974).

Please check out the video of the One Voice Children's Choir performing "Diamonds." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Diamonds"
Written by Sia Furler, Benjamin Levin, Mikkel S. Eriksen and Tor Erik Hermansen. Performed by the One Voice Children's Choir.

Shine bright like a diamond
Shine bright like a diamond

Find light in the beautiful sea, I choose to be happy
You and I, you and I, we’re like diamonds in the sky
You’re a shooting star I see, a vision of ecstasy
When you hold me, I’m alive
We’re like diamonds in the sky

I knew that we’d become one right away
Oh, right away
At first sight I felt the energy of sun rays
I saw the life inside your eyes

So shine bright tonight,
You and I
We’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky
Eye to eye,
So alive
We’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky

Shine bright like a diamond
Shine bright like a diamond
Shining bright like a diamond
We’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky

Shine bright like a diamond
Shine bright like a diamond
Shining bright like a diamond
We’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky

Palms rise to the universe, as we moonshine and molly
Feel the warmth, we’ll never die
We’re like diamonds in the sky

You’re a shooting star I see, a vision of ecstasy
When you hold me, I’m alive
We’re like diamonds in the sky
At first sight I felt the energy of sun rays
I saw the life inside your eyes

So shine bright
Tonight,
You and I
We're beautiful like diamonds in the sky
Eye to eye,
So alive
We're beautiful like diamonds in the sky

Shine bright like a diamond
Shine bright like a diamond
Shining bright like a diamond
We’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky

Shine bright like a diamond
Shine bright like a diamond
Shining bright like a diamond
We're beautiful like diamonds in the sky

Shine bright like a diamond
Shine bright like a diamond
Shine bright like a diamond

So shine bright
Tonight,
You and I
We're beautiful like diamonds in the sky
Eye to eye,
So alive
We're beautiful like diamonds in the sky

Shine bright like a diamond
Shine bright like a diamond
Shine bright like a diamond

Shine bright like a diamond
Shine bright like a diamond
Shine bright like a diamond

Shine bright like a diamond

Credit: Screen captures via YouTube.com.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Pitcher Joe Kelly Finds Tony La Russa's World Series Ring in His Glove, Demands $1 Trillion Ransom

Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly said it was one of the "funniest, coolest and randomest" baseball stories he's ever been part of. It all went down at Boston's Fenway Park last week, and this is what happened...

Tony La Russa, who owns three World Series rings and happened to be wearing one of them during Thursday night's Red Sox game, was asked to catch the ceremonial first pitch.

The Hall of Fame manager is now a special assistant with the Red Sox and was ill-prepared to catch the toss from his former boss, the 88-year-old Roland Hemond. All La Russa had available, according to Kelly, was an old pancake glove with no pocket. It looked like a vintage mitt from 1905.

So La Russa, now 73, asked the 30-year-old Kelly if he could borrow a mitt for the ceremony. Kelly agreed, the ceremony went off without a hitch and, soon after, the Red Sox pitcher noticed that his glove was returned to his locker.

What Kelly didn't know was that La Russa was in a panic. Somehow, he had misplaced his 2011 World Series ring and had no idea where it could have fallen off. He told the clubhouse attendants to keep their eyes peeled.

The next day, during a pre-game warmup, Kelly grabbed the glove that La Russa had borrowed and ran out to the field to loosen up his arm.

"I stuck my hand it in and my [pinky] got stuck," the right-handed reliever told WEEIradio.com. "It jammed my pinky. I pulled it out right away because it hurt. I thought someone put seeds in my glove to mess with me. But then I looked and I was like, ‘What the [heck] is this?’ I spread my glove open and there it was: Tony’s World Series ring. At first I thought it was a joke, but then 10 seconds later I realized you don’t joke around with something like that. It probably means a lot to him so I don’t think he would joke with something that was [worth] $50,000."

Kelly has his own theory on how the World Series ring got stuck in the pinky slot of his mitt. He believes that La Russa switched the ring from his ring finger to his pinky finger prior to catching the ceremonial first pitch because the massive World Series bling wouldn't fit in the ring finger slot of his glove. Baseball mitts are designed with a bigger pinky slot, which gave him just enough room to fit the ring.

When La Russa pulled off the mitt, the ring stayed where it was.

With the World Series ring in his possession, Kelly decided to have some fun on social media, hinting with a hashtag that he intended to demand a $1 trillion ransom.

He posted a series of photos to Twitter, along with this caption: "Hey @TonyLaRussa I might have something you are looking for... thanks for using my glove during the first pitch ceremony #finderskeepers #findersfee #trilliondollars @RedSox @Cardinals

Kelly, who has a reputation for being a jokester, called the La Russa incident "one of funniest, coolest and randomest baseball stories I've ever been a part of."

Credits: Images via Twitter.com/JosephKellyJr.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

New Study: Blue Diamonds Form 400 Miles Below the Surface, Far Deeper Than All Others

By studying minute inclusions trapped within blue diamonds, scientists have been able to determine that their origin is far deeper in the Earth than other diamond varieties.

The journal Nature recently revealed that blue diamonds form about 400 miles below the surface, four times deeper than about 99 percent of all other diamonds.

“We knew essentially absolutely nothing about where they grow,” said geologist Evan M. Smith, a lead author of the Nature report and a research scientist at the Gemological Institute of America in New York (GIA). Smith and his colleagues investigated this question by reviewing 46 blue diamonds that were submitted to the GIA. The team focused specifically on other minerals trapped within the blue diamonds.

To gem cutters, inclusions are flaws, but to geologists, they are clues. “If you had to design the perfect capsule to bring something from below, a diamond would be it,” said geologist Jeffrey E. Post, curator of the mineral collection at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, who was not involved with the Nature report.

The creation of a blue diamond requires a complex geologic sequence. Geologists determined that trace impurities and contamination with the element boron, turn diamonds blue. A boron atom can replace a carbon atom in the crystal structure. A loose electron from boron absorbs red light, giving the diamond its blue hue.

Because boron exists in seawater, Post hypothesized that the rocks in descending crust carried the boron below, as if the element were on a boat ride to the lower mantle.

“That is a good circumstantial bit of evidence, at least,” he said.

Within the inclusions, Smith identified remnants of calcium silicates and other minerals that form only at extreme high pressure. He noted that as the diamonds worked their way back toward the surface, the high-pressure minerals within became unstable and shattered, leaving fragments stuck in the diamonds. An analysis of these ruptures, plus the list of minerals found in the inclusions, pointed to a very unusual birthplace.

Smith explained that it required the union of two rocks: oceanic crust from the surface and the underlying ocean mantle. That is a match made in the abyss — where the motion of tectonic plates forces a slab of ocean crust to descend like a conveyor belt for hundreds of miles.

Appearing in nearly every color of the rainbow, colored diamonds are extremely rare, but blue diamonds are considered the rarest. Recent survey research indicates that of 13.8 million diamonds found, only 0.02 percent were blue.

Perhaps the most famous blue diamond in the world is the legendary Hope Diamond, which resides at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. The fancy dark greyish-blue diamond weighs 45.52 carats and is estimated to be worth more than $250 million.

Blue diamond discoveries are still very sporadic and are considered astonishing occurrences. And they still make headlines. In November 2015, Hong Kong businessman Joseph Lau purchased "The Blue Moon of Josephine,” a 12.03 carat blue diamond, for $48.4 million. The gem was named after Lau’s seven-year-old daughter. In May 2016, the world's largest blue diamond, “The Oppenheimer Blue,” a 14.62 carat gem, won the title of the world's most expensive blue diamond ever, selling for a jaw-dropping $57.5 million.

Photo Credit: The Hope Diamond, Smithsonian Institution.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Music Friday: Her Thai Nickname Means 'Pink Sapphire,' But Jannine Is Singing About 'Diamonds'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you new songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Thai-German pop star Jannine Weigel performs "Diamonds," a tune about a boyfriend who gives her the confidence to shine like a precious stone.

In the song, the multi-talented 18-year-old — whose Thai nickname "Ploychompoo" happens to mean "pink sapphire" — uses diamond terminology to tell her love story. She admits that she doesn't always "wake up feeling flawless," but her boyfriend recognizes that beauty is only skin deep. He's the only one who's been able to discover her true essence, and his love has transformed her. She describes her new self as a faceted diamond.

She sings, "All of the stars are aligning / My heart, it beats like a lion / 'Cause every time you hold me / And tell me that you love me / You got me cut like a diamond."

In his interpretation of the song, co-writer and producer Gabriel Alberto Azucena, also known as Gawvi, references the immense pressure that is needed for a beautiful diamond to form.

"The song is simply about understanding that we all at some point have struggled with doubts," he said. "Sometimes we can find ourselves questioning our identities and purpose, but we have to remember that the pressure and tough times we experience are simply ingredients to allow for our inner true beauty to shine.”

Weigel was born in Steinfurt, Germany, in 2000, to a German father and a Thai mother. She and her family moved to Thailand in 2010, where the youngster started working as a model. After just three months of training, at the age of 11, she earned third place in a national singing contest for children. In 2013, she started her own YouTube channel which now has 2.9 million subscribers. By 2015, she had released her first single and shortly thereafter earned movie and television roles.

Please check out the lyric video of Weigel performing "Diamonds." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Diamonds"
Written by Gabriel Alberto Azucena, Jannine Weigel and Jordan Adelberger. Performed by Jannine Weigel.

I may not wake up feeling flawless
And my emotions can be reckless, yeah
And I know, yeah I know, yeah I know
Yeah I know I ain't perfect
But I glow, yeah I glow, yeah I glow
You say that I'm worth it

You're the only one who saw beyond my skin deep
And into my heart completely
You got me cut like a diamond

All of the stars are aligning
My heart, it beats like a lion
'Cause every time you hold me
And tell me that you love me
You got me cut like a diamond

The difference in me is so drastic
From day to night it's automatic
I don't know, I don't know, I don't know
Who'd I be without ya
But I glow, yeah I glow, yeah I glow
It's not a question

You're the only one who saw beyond my skin deep
And into my heart completely
You got me cut like a diamond

All of the stars are aligning
My heart, it beats like a lion
'Cause every time you hold me
And tell me that you love me
You got me cut like a diamond
You got me cut like a diamond
You got me cut like a diamond
'Cause every time you hold me
And tell me that you love me
You got me cut like a diamond

You're the only one who saw beyond my skin deep
And into my heart completely
You're the only one who saw beyond my skin deep
And into my heart completely
You got me cut like a diamond

All of the stars are aligning
My heart, it beats like a lion
'Cause every time you hold me
And tell me that you love me
You got me cut like a diamond
You got me cut like a diamond
You got me cut like a diamond
'Cause every time you hold me
And tell me that you love me
You got me cut like a diamond

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Mined in Ancient Times on the Island of Topazios, Peridot Was Originally Called 'Topazion'

Here's a fun piece of trivia regarding peridot, August's popular yellowish-green birthstone. According to the Smithsonian, peridot was first discovered on the Egyptian island of Topazios around 300 BC. The ancients anointed the vibrant green stone as the “gem of the sun” and appropriately named it "topazion" to honor its place of origin. Eventually, the name was shortened to "topaz."

The gem we know as peridot happily existed as "topaz" for about 2,000 years before something bizarre happened...

The Smithsonian noted that, for reasons that still remain unclear, the name topaz was hijacked during the 18th century and assigned to the gem we call topaz today. The vibrant yellowish-green stone was given a new name — peridot, derived from "faridat," the Arabic word for gem.

To this day, topaz continues to be the oddball namesake of an island that never produced topaz. Geography fans should note that the ancient island of Topazios is now called Zabargad or St. John’s Island.

Peridot has the distinction of being one of only two gems that form in the Earth's mantle. The other is diamond. Most other gems form in the Earth's crust, three to 18 miles below the surface. Peridot forms 20 to 55 miles deep, while diamonds form 100 to 150 miles below the surface.

The non-gem variety of peridot is called olivine, a mineral component of Hawaiian lava and one of the first crystals to form as magma cools. Mahana Beach on Hawaii’s Papakolea coast is one of only three green sand beaches in the world. The sand owes its astounding color to olivine crystals eroded from an ancient volcanic formation and delivered to the shore by ocean waves.

While most peridot originates deep in the Earth's mantle, scientists have also proven that August’s birthstone is truly extraterrestrial. It has been found embedded within meteorites and scattered across the surface of Mars.

The finest peridot hue is a saturated green to slightly yellowish green — and free from brown tints, according to the Gemological Institute of America.

Peridot can be found on five continents. The gems represented in the photo, above, are from the U.S. (Arizona), Egypt, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Pakistan, Antarctica and Norway. They range in size from 8.9 carats to 311.8 carats and are residents of the Smithsonian's Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals in Washington, D.C.

Credit: Photo by Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution.

Monday, July 30, 2018

This Romantic Marriage Proposal Came With a Diamond Engagement Ring and Side of Guac

We love to write about off-beat marriage proposals — especially when they're related to food. For example, in February, we detailed a tasty McNugget proposal in Lincoln, Illinois, and earlier this month featured a sweet Kit Kat proposal in Washington, D.C. Today, we spotlight a Sacramento, California, proposal that came with a free side of guac.

Chris Piwinski and longtime girlfriend, Natalie Neach, have been fans of Chipotle since they started dating in high school. As their relationship has blossomed, the gourmet burrito restaurant has been there every step of the way.

“Chipotle... has always been an important fixture in our relationship,” Piwinski told The Knot. “We have countless memories of great times, long talks and loud laughs. It was also the place we went when we needed to ‘talk things out’ or work through tough times. I think I could credit Chipotle for helping keep us from doing the ‘high school breakup’ thing more than once.”

In January, Piwinski purchased a diamond engagement ring and was ready to pop the question, but couldn't decide on the perfect venue for the proposal. After months of deliberation, he had the answer — Chipotle.

In May, the 27-year-old suitor contacted Chipotle’s public relations department with a request for some creative assistance.

After 70 back-and-forth emails, Chipotle's PR team agreed to handle all the logistics of the surprise proposal, as well as sponsoring an engagement party that included a custom "burrito" cake, music, balloons and a professional photographer to capture the excitement.

The proposal was set for Saturday, July 21. Piwinski and Neach spent a romantic day visiting places that were special to them. They went to a winery and popped in on their favorite coffee shop. And, for dinner, they visited their local Elk Grove Chipotle.

While Neach was enjoying the first bites from her burrito bowl, the couple's family and friends were hiding out in a nearby pizza restaurant watching the proposal unfold from a security cam feed.

But then she realized something must be brewing when Piwinski handed her a poem and the couple's favorite song, “Kiss Me” by Ed Sheeran, started playing on the restaurant's loudspeakers. Piwinski's hands were noticeably shaking.

“I went blank!” Neach, 25, told The Knot. “I couldn’t even eat my burrito bowl! I read the poem and, out of the corner of my eye, I saw him stand up and get down on one knee. It clicked that he was proposing. We looked at each other and I saw the tears in his eyes. It was such an unbelievable moment.”

Of course, she said, "Yes."

Within moments, the friends and family who had been hiding nearby joined the couple with well wishes and hugs. The Chipotle staff cheered from behind the counter.

“I was not suspecting it at all,” Neach told The Sacramento Bee.

“What better way to celebrate love than over a shared love of Chipotle?” said Quinn Kelsey, a spokesperson for Chipotle. “We are so happy for this wonderful couple and are thrilled to have been a part of their special day.”

Credits: Images courtesy of True Love Photo.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Music Friday: His Eye Is on a Diamond Bracelet, But This Suitor 'Can't Give You Anything But Love'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you nostalgic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today's tune, "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby," has its roots in New York City during the Roaring Twenties. In the song, a young suitor tells his girlfriend that he really wants to buy her a fine-quality diamond bracelet but — for now — all he can offer is love.

Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields had written the score for a revue at Les Ambassadeurs Club in 1928, but were lacking a "smash hit" that their producer demanded. Their inspiration for "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby" came from a chance encounter with a young couple in front of Tiffany's on Fifth Avenue. It seemed to the writers that the man didn't have the resources to buy the diamond jewelry in the display window, and then they heard him say, "Gee, honey I'd like to get you a sparkler like that, but right now, I can't give you nothin' but love!"

McHugh and Fields ducked into the nearby Steinway Tunnel of the #7 subway line and composed the breakout show tune in less than an hour.

Their lyrics: "Gee I'd like to see you looking swell, baby. / Diamond bracelets Woolworth doesn't sell, baby. / Till that lucky day you know darned well, baby. / I can't give you anything but love."

The song was originally performed by Adelaide Hall, but over the years, "I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby" has been covered by the some of the most popular names in the music business, from Tony Bennett, Bing Crosby and Dean Martin to Judy Garland, Doris Day and Ella Fitzgerald. On the list of the 100 most-recorded songs from 1890 to 1954, the McHugh/Fields show tune rated #24.

The version of the song featured here was sung by Bennett in 1956 and was the fourth track of his 10-inch LP, Because of You. Interestingly, 58 years later, Bennett would reprise the song in a duet with Lady Gaga. That version appeared on their 2014 album, Cheek to Cheek.

Anthony Dominick Benedetto, better known as Tony Bennett, was born in Queens, N.Y., in 1926. At the age of 13, he started singing for money at several Italian restaurants in his neighborhood. Upon his discharge from the Army after World War II, Bennett was taught the bel canto singing discipline at the American Theatre Wing.

In 1949, he got his big break when Pearl Bailey asked him to open for her in Greenwich Village. Bob Hope, who had been invited to her show, was impressed by Bennett's talent and offered to take him on the road. The next year, Bennett signed with Colombia Records.

Amazingly, Bennett, who will celebrate his 92nd birthday next week, has been performing professionally for more than 70 years. Over that time, he has sold more than 50 million records and has won 19 Grammy Awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001.

Please check out the audio track of Bennett's rendition of "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby"
Written by Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh. Performed by Tony Bennett.

I can't give you anything but love, baby.
That's the only thing I've plenty of, baby.

Dream awhile, scheme awhile
We're sure to find

Happiness and I guess
All those things you've always pined for.

Gee I'd like to see you looking swell, baby.
Diamond bracelets Woolworth doesn't sell, baby.

Till that lucky day you know darned well, baby.
I can't give you anything but love.

Rome wasn't built in a day, kid.
You have to pay, kid, for what you get.
But I am willing to wait, dear,
Your little mate, dear, will not forget.

You have a lifetime before you.
I'll adore you, come what may.

Please don't be blue for the present,
When it's so pleasant to hear you say

I can't give you anything but love, baby.
That's the only thing I've plenty of, baby.

Dream awhile, scheme awhile
We're sure to find

Happiness and I guess
All those things you've always pined for.

Gee I'd like to see you looking swell, baby.
Diamond bracelets Woolworth doesn't sell, baby.

Till that lucky day you know darned well, baby.
I can't give you anything but love.

Credit: Image of Tony Bennett performing at the Blaisdell Concert Hall in Honolulu, Hawaii, by Peter Chiapperino: a concert photographer in Lexington, Kentucky [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Study: Partner's Attractiveness Affects Engagement Ring Expectations for Men and Women

Men are willing to purchase more showy, expensive diamond engagement rings for women they perceive as being highly attractive, according to a study conducted at Western Oregon University. Researchers also discovered that women are more likely to expect bigger, pricier rings when partnered with less attractive men.

The provocative study was conducted by Jaime Cloud and Madalyn Taylor and published in Springer's journal Evolutionary Psychological Science.

Cloud and Taylor had set out to determine whether a person's looks influences the choice or expectations surrounding engagement ring purchases. They presented 590 American participants, who were on average 30 years old, with a headshot and some brief information about a member of the opposite sex.

Participants had to imagine themselves as the boyfriend or girlfriend of the depicted individual, who was pre-rated to be attractive or unattractive.

Women had to choose the smallest diamond ring they were willing to accept from the man in the photo. In turn, the male participants had to indicate the size of diamond ring they would buy for their imaginary girlfriend.

They were shown five diamond solitaire engagement rings with center stones ranging in size from 0.5 carats to 1.5 carats.

A man's willingness to commit to a bigger, more expensive ring for an attractive woman corroborates previous research on how males use symbols of financial success to impress a potential mate.

According to the study, women were found to envision larger, more pricey rings for themselves if their imaginary partner was less attractive. This finding provides indirect support for the idea that women are willing to settle for a less handsome partner if his overall value can be upped by another form of compensation, such as being financially better off.

The study also found that women who rated themselves as being physically attractive were more likely to expect larger, more expensive rings, regardless of their partner's looks.

Credit: Photo by Edward Cisneros on Unsplash.