Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Nearly Identical Fancy Intense Blue Diamonds Set Auction Records One Day Apart

A 3.47-carat fancy intense blue diamond set an auction record last Wednesday at Sotheby's New York when it sold for $6.66 million. The per-carat price of $1.92 million was the highest ever paid for a diamond of that color grade, breaking a record set only one day earlier at Christie's New York. That short-lived record holder weighed 3.09 carats and sold for $5.37 million, or $1.74 million per carat.

It's an extraordinary coincidence that the top lots at the Christie's New York Magnificent Jewels sale on Tuesday and the Sotheby's New York Magnificent Jewels sale on Wednesday would boast similar shapes, weights and color grades. Each stone had been rated "fancy intense blue," which is the second-highest grade after "fancy vivid blue."

Both rectangular diamonds performed well above expectations. Christie's record-setter easily surpassed the pre-sale high estimate of $3 million. Sotheby's $6.66 million top lot more than doubled the auction house's pre-sale high estimate of $2.5 million.

The 3.47-carat record holder was originally purchased after World War II by a Pan Am pilot. He gifted it to a Pan Am stewardess, who would eventually become his wife.

Robin Wright, senior specialist with the jewelry department at Sotheby’s, told barrons.com that woman wore the ring for many decades — during a time when colored diamonds weren't as fashionable as they are now. A tiny chip in the stone is evidence of a near calamity when the ring was accidentally dropped into a garbage disposal in the 1970s.

After the woman died in 1990, the ring was passed down to her daughter. An appraisal from 2006 had pegged the value of the ring at $150,000.

Wright told barrons.com that the family was “extremely pleased” with the auction result. “It’s a real American story,” she said.

In 2016, the Oppenheimer Blue became the highest priced gemstone ever sold at auction. The 14.62-carat fancy vivid blue diamond, dubbed “the gem of gems,” fetched an astounding $57.5 million at Christie’s Geneva. The Oppenheimer Blue's record has since been eclipsed by the 59.6-carat "Pink Star," which sold for $71.2 million at Sotheby's Hong Kong in 2017.

“Fancy Vivid” is the ultimate color classification for blue diamonds. Those that display lower levels of color saturation may be rated “Fancy Intense,” “Fancy,” “Fancy Light” or “Light,” according to the Gemological Institute of America. Blue diamonds get their magnificent color from trace amounts of boron atoms in the diamond’s crystal structure.

Credits: Top image courtesy of Sotheby's. Second image courtesy of Christie's.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Women From Coast to Coast Break Out Their Pearls to Honor Former First Lady Barbara Bush

Former First Lady Barbara Bush, who passed away last week at the age of 92, was rarely seen in public without her signature pearl necklace. Whether she was posing for an official White House portrait or helping her husband throw out the first pitch at a Houston Astros baseball game, pearls were always an essential part of her wardrobe.

During the presidency of her husband, George H.W. Bush, Barbara's favorite accessory became a symbol of the First Lady's class, elegance and Southern charm. They even earned the nickname "Barbara Bush Pearls." Her deputy press secretary Jean Becker said at the time that Barbara owned at least 10 different pearl necklaces.

Barbara famously wore a three-strand faux pearl necklace to her husband's inaugural ball in 1989. Women took note, and the demand for pearls — both simulated and cultured — went off the charts. Barbara donated the inaugural pearls to the Smithsonian Institution in 1990.

Over the past few days, women from coast to coast have been honoring the memory of the First Lady by wearing their own pearl necklaces and posting tributes on social media using the hashtag #PearlsforBarbara.

Known for her spitfire personality and wry sense of humor, Barbara once joked that she wore her three-strand pearl necklace so much that if she ever took it off her head would fall off.

While appearing on the Today show in 2015 with her granddaughter, Jenna Bush Hager, the self-effacing First Lady spoke about her affection for pearls.

"The pearls are to cover the wrinkles, which they no longer do," she said. "You can't wear pearls all over your face."

Some 1,500 guests — many wearing pearls — filled St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston for the former First Lady's funeral on Saturday. She was remembered as a loving wife, mother and friend with a devilish sense of humor.

Credits: First Lady Barbara Bush portrait (top) by David Valdez, White House Photo Office [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Portrait (bottom) by White House Photo Office [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Music Friday: Mark Collie's Girlfriend Wants 'Something With a Ring to It'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, country star Mark Collie's 1990 ditty, "Something With a Ring to It," tells the story of a guy who's been getting the cold shoulder from his girlfriend. She's got "diamonds in her eyes" and wants to take their relationship to the next level. He's got to make a commitment or risk losing her.

In the song, Collie explains that his "baby's playing hard to please" and he's pretty sure he knows why.

He sings, "She wants something with a ring to it / Like a church bell makes / Like a pretty white gown to wear / And some vows to take / She wants something with a ring to it / I think I understand / I'll have to put a ring on her finger / If I want to be her man."

Collie told SongFacts.com about the unusual origin of the song. He and Aaron Tippin had been struggling writers "kicking around Nashville trying to get a door open." One day, Tippin flippantly said, "We need to write something with a ring to it." Collie said, "OK." And the off-hand remark became the basis of the song.

The team originally wrote the song for country legend George Strait, but when he declined, the head of MCA Nashville, Tony Brown, advised Collie to record it himself and make it his debut single.

The song became the second track of Collie's debut album, Hardin County Line, and was covered two years later by Garth Brooks on his 1992 album, The Chase.

Born in Waynesboro, Tenn., in 1956, George Mark Collie is a singer, songwriter, musician, actor, producer and fundraiser for Type 1 diabetes research. He has released five albums, and 16 of his singles have hit the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

Please check out the official video of "Something With a Ring to It." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Something With a Ring to It"
Written by Mark Collie and Aaron Tippin. Performed by Mark Collie.

My baby's playing hard to please
And I think I figured out what it is she wants from me
'Cause when I holder her close
When we go out at night
I can hardly see the moonlight
For the diamonds in her eyes

She wants something with a ring to it
Like a church bell makes
Like a pretty white gown to wear
And some vows to take

She wants something with a ring to it
I think I understand
I'll have to put a ring on her finger
If I want to be her man

My baby did but now she don't
And if I don't say I do it's a safe bet that she won't
Love me like she used to
When our love began
Why the only way to change her tune
Is with a wedding band?

She wants something with a ring to it
Like a church bell makes
Like a pretty white gown to wear
And some vows to take

She wants something with a ring to it
I think I understand
I'll have to put a ring on her finger
If I want to be her man

She wants something with a ring to it
Like a church bell makes
Like a pretty white gown to wear
And some vows to take

She wants something with a ring to it
I think I understand
I'll have to put a ring on her finger
If I want to be her man

She wants something with a ring to it
If I want to be her man

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Massive Stones Keep Coming: Botswana's Prolific Karowe Mine Yields 472-Carat Diamond

Lucara Diamond Corp. is continuing to recover massive diamonds at its Karowe Mine in Botswana. The latest find is a 472-carat "top light brown" gem that rates as the third-largest ever discovered at the prolific mine.

Karowe has assembled an impressive track record for producing the world’s largest fine diamonds. The 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona and the 813-carat Constellation were both mined there in November 2015. Four diamonds greater that 100 carats already have been recovered during the first quarter of 2018, according to the Vancouver-headquartered mining company.

The recent proliferation of massive stones at Karowe can be attributed to Lucara's investment in X-ray transmission (XRT) imaging technology. The new machines are calibrated to extract 100-carat-plus diamonds by monitoring X-ray luminescence, atomic density and transparency. Previously, large diamonds might have been mistaken as worthless rocks and pulverized by a crushing device.

“The early sampling work [at] Karowe was done with equipment that really was not optimal and they ended up breaking a lot of diamonds,” Chief Executive Officer Eira Thomas told Bloomberg.com. “When we went into commercial production we expected to do better, but we had no idea that the diamonds that were being broken were so much larger. ”

Interestingly, the largest diamond ever found at Karowe — the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona — was actually a chunk of a broken diamond. The other part weighed 373 carats.

The unnamed 472-carat rough diamond is expected to be sold alongside Lucara's other top finds of 2018 at the company's first Exceptional Stone Tender later this year.

Lucara's roster of extremely large stones have generated seven-figure paydays for the company. Lesedi La Rona was sold for $53 million; Constellation earned $63 million; and the chunk that broke off Lesedi La Rona delivered $17.5 million.

While brown-tinted diamonds tend to yield lower prices than colorless or fancy-colored diamonds, Thomas — also known as Canada's Queen of Diamonds — believes the extraordinary size of Lucara's newest find may alter the standard valuation process. She told Bloomberg.com that some manufacturers may actually choose to accentuate the color through polishing.

“They tend to command a lot of interest because there are a variety of views on what can be done with stones of that color,” said Thomas.

The 472-carat diamond currently occupies the 31st position on the Wikipedia list of the largest rough diamonds of all time. Lesedi La Rona rates #2 and the Constellation is #7.

Credit: Image courtesy of Lucara Diamond Corp.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Yale's Peabody Museum Showcases Stunning, Rarely Seen Formations of California Gold

One of the world's finest collections of California gold made its debut Saturday at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, Conn. The exhibition features 23 natural formations of gold, some of which resemble leaves, coral and skeletons.

“The Mockingbird” measures 2.5 x 2.0 x 1.0 inches and features skeletal octahedral gold crystals stacked on minor quartz crystals. It was discovered at the Mockingbird Mine, Mariposa County, Calif.

Most were collected over the past 25 years, although two specimens of crystallized gold were mined in the 1850s during the California Gold Rush.

“The Eagle,” which measures 2.5 x 2.5 x 2.0 inches, was mined in the 1850s in Placer County, Calif. It features clusters of octahedral hopper gold crystals.

“This collection is incredible,” said Richard Kissel, the Peabody’s director of exhibitions and public programs. “The gold specimens on view are of superior quality — impressive physically and stunning aesthetically. The exhibit highlights the specimens’ beauty while offering insight into the history and science of gold mining.”

“Colorado Quartz 2” measures 2.37 x 1.6 x 1.0 inches. The stacked gold exhibits sharp octahedral crystals with minor quartz. This specimen was found at the Harvard Mine in Tuolumne County, Calif.

The Peabody Museum brings the California Gold Rush to life by presenting historical instruments and artifacts. These include a mining pan filled with gold dust, a balance for weighing specimens, an instrument for measuring the velocity of air in mines to ensure proper ventilation, a field chemical lab called a “blowpipe kit,” and a silver candlestick decorated with mining-related symbols that miners used for illumination while underground.

“The Little Flame” is a crystallized leaf gold that weighs 13.05 troy ounces. It was found at the Eagle’s Nest Mine in Placer County, Calif.

“This is one of the finest collections of gold specimens ever put on display anywhere in the world,” said Jay Ague, the Peabody’s curator-in-charge of mineralogy and meteoritics.

“Colorado Quartz 1” measures 7.0 x 5.5 x 5.0 inches and weighs 58.68 troy ounces. The piece has gold plates on and in quartz, octahedral gold crystals and dendritic gold. Its origin is the Colorado Quartz Mine in Mariposa County, Calif.

The exhibition also gives Yale University an opportunity to remind visitors of the school's interesting connection to the California Gold Rush. Seven years before gold was discovered in the American River at Sutter’s Mill, Yale professor James Dwight Dana had completed a tour of California’s Sacramento Valley. A pioneering geologist and mineralogist, Dana identified the region as a potential source of gold, remarking that the rocks there “resemble in many parts the gold bearing rocks of other regions: but the gold, if any there be, remains to be discovered.”

The gold specimens and artifacts are on loan to the Peabody from The Mineral Trust. The collection had previously appeared at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Credits: Photos by Harold Moritz, courtesy of Yale University.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Music Friday: 'Star Search' Junior Champ Tiffany Evans Sings, 'I'll Rock Your Promise Ring'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, a 14-year-old Tiffany Evans sings about a very special piece of jewelry in her 2007 debut single, "Promise Ring."

In the song, the former Star Search Grand Champion in the Junior Singer Division tells her boyfriend that sometimes a girl needs a token of love to show how much she's appreciated for all the things she does. Apparently, her boyfriend was thinking the same thing.

He surprises her with a small velvet box containing a promise ring and makes the following vow: "I promise not to hurt you, I promise not to lie / I promise to befriend you and defend you with my life / I promise you forever, I promise you today, he said / Would you wear my promise ring? I said yes."

Later in the song, Evans sings, "How in the world could a girl say no / I knew it the moment he made my finger glow."

The recurring hook is, "Yes, I'll rock your promise ring."

"Promise Ring" was the lead single from the teenager's self-titled debut album. The song went to #1 on the U.S. Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 list and #66 on the U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs list. The album scored a Top 20 position on the U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop albums chart.

The official video for the song spotlights the teenybopper rockin' her promise ring with a special appearance by Grammy Award-winner Ciara, who was 21 years old at the time. The video has been viewed on YouTube more than 12 million times.

Born in the Bronx, N.Y., Evans rose to fame in 2003 as an 11-year-old contestant on Star Search, hosted by Arsenio Hall. Evans was the only performer in the talent show's history to earn perfect scores on all of her appearances. The Grand Champion in the Junior Singer Division soon caught the attention of Columbia Records, which signed her to a record deal.

Please check out the video of Evans and Ciara performing "Promise Ring." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Promise Ring"
Written by Michael Crooms, Ezekiel Lewis, Balewa Muhammad, Candice Nelson, Bryan Reid and Patrick Smith. Performed by Tiffany Evans, featuring Ciara.

To the beat, to the beat, to the beat 'cause I need
Everybody to the floor, why? 'cause this beat is sick, yeah
It's time to rock, uh, that's what it is
Tiffany's her name, love is the game
And the only way to play is with this promise ring

Sometimes a girl needs to know that she's
Appreciated for all the things she does
With some sorta token of love
'Cause without it her young heart won't know

And right then to my surprise, he
Pulled out a small velvet box, pink ribbon tied
I'm wondering what's inside
He opened it and then he replied

He said, I promise not to hurt you, I promise not to lie
I promise to befriend you and defend you with my life
I promise you forever, I promise you today, he said
Would you wear my promise ring? I said yes

If ya break ya promise we breakin' up
Got a couple things that I want
Walks in the park and sweet things
If I rock your promise ring

I could be your pretty young thing
You could become my king
I gotta know you got me
Yes, I'll rock your promise ring

Yes, I'll rock your promise, promise, promise ring
Yes, I'll rock your promise, yes, I'll rock your promise ring
Yes, I'll rock your promise, promise, promise ring
Yes, I'll rock your promise, yes, I'll rock your promise ring

How in the world could a girl say no
I knew it the moment he made my finger glow
It was good to know I'm who he chose
It was your heart he felt now it shows, now it shows

You know when you see me floss
No way it's gon' get lost, I'll never take this off
I'm older and they call me by your name
I'll wear it on a chain, because I can hear you say

He said I promise not to hurt you, I promise not to lie
I promise to befriend you and defend you with my life
I promise you forever, I promise you today, he said
Would you wear my promise ring' I said yes

If ya break ya promise we breakin' up
Got a couple things that I want
Walks in the park and sweet things
If I rock your promise ring

I could be your pretty young thing
You could become my king
I gotta know you got me
Yes, I'll rock your promise ring

Yes, I'll rock your promise, promise, promise ring
Yes, I'll rock your promise, yes, I'll rock your promise ring
Yes, I'll rock your promise, promise, promise ring
Yes, I'll rock your promise, yes, I'll rock your promise ring

Everybody get up and rock to this beat
My name is Tiffany and why'all know me
All my girls with me, all the boys like me
Come correctly with the promise ring
And you just might be my boo, my boo

Promise that you'll never let me go and boy I'll
Boy I'll wear your promise ring
All you have to do is say the word and boy I'll
Boy I'll wear your promise ring

Just let me know, just let me know, what I gotta do
Just let me know, just let me know
You ain't goin' nowhere, I ain't goin' nowhere
I'll be on for sure but you gotta know that

If ya break ya promise we breakin' up
Got a couple things that I want
Walks in the park and sweet things
If I rock your promise ring

I could be your pretty young thing
You could become my king
I gotta know you got me
Yes, I'll rock your promise ring

Yes, I'll rock your promise, promise, promise ring
Yes, I'll rock your promise, yes, I'll rock your promise ring
Yes, I'll rock your promise, promise, promise ring
Yes, I'll rock your promise, yes, I'll rock your promise ring

If I rock your promise ring
Young thing, my king

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

More Deep-Earth Discoveries Locked Inside a Diamond — a 'Tiny Indestructible Spaceship'

A series of groundbreaking discoveries have the science community singing the praises of diamonds — especially the ones with inclusions. One physicist compared the precious gemstone, which can ferry material to the surface from hundreds of miles beneath the Earth's crust, to a "tiny indestructible spaceship."

A few weeks ago, we reported on a never-before-seen deep-Earth mineral — calcium silicate perovskite — that had traveled to the surface trapped within a diamond. The unstable material would have normally deformed as it moved to the surface, but within the body of diamond, it remained intact.

Then we learned about the discovery of ice-VII, a type of water ice that forms under enormous pressure. Previously, scientists theorized that ice-VII likely existed in great abundance in our solar system, but they did not think it could naturally occur on Earth. That thinking was turned upside down when traces of the unique crystallized water was found encapsulated in a diamond.

Both the calcium silicate perovskite and ice-VII originated 400 miles deep within the Earth's crust and rode to the surface in volcanic eruptions as diamond inclusions. Neither could have survived the massive pressure change outside the protection of the diamond.

“Diamond is a remarkable vessel for sampling the geochemistry of the deep mantle,” Steven Jacobsen, a mineral physicist at Northwestern University, told EOS.org, “because of its ability to seal off trapped inclusions from the reactive environment during ascent, like a tiny indestructible spaceship.”

As diamonds form hundreds of miles beneath the Earth's crust, tiny bits of their surrounding environment can be trapped inside. What's particularly unique about diamonds is that the inclusions will remain under the same pressure as they were during the time they were encapsulated.

"The diamond lattice doesn't relax much, so the volume of the inclusion remains almost constant whether it's in the Earth's mantle or in your hand," noted Oliver Tschauner, a professor of geoscience at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

A press release provided by the university explained that in the jewelry business, diamonds with impurities hold less value. But for Tschauner and other scientists, those impurities have infinite value, as they may hold the key to understanding the inner workings of our planet. In the most recent case, they revealed that aqueous fluids reside deeper in Earth than anyone ever expected.

The once-elusive ice-VII has 1.5 times the density of Ice-I, which is the type of ice we might put in a soft drink. Ice will progress from ice-I to ice-II, and so on, based on differing pressure and temperature conditions.

"These discoveries are important in understanding that water-rich regions in the Earth's interior can play a role in the global water budget and the movement of heat-generating radioactive elements," Tschauner said. "It's another piece of the puzzle in understanding how our planet works."

The ice-VII findings by Tschauner and his team at the University of Nevada were published in the journal Science. The findings related to the discovery of calcium silicate perovskite by scientists at the University of Alberta were published in the journal Nature.

Credit: Image of 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Elaborate World Series Rings Use Gemstones to Tell the Story of Astros' First-Ever Championship

The Houston Astros' 2017 World Series rings tell the story of the franchise's first-ever championship using 225 colorless diamonds, nine orange sapphires and 16 blue sapphires set in 14-karat white and yellow gold. Each ring weighs 90 grams and glitters with 10.40 carats of genuine gemstones.

Players, coaches and team management received their new bling during a special ceremony at Minute Maid Park last week.

According to the team, the top of the championship ring illustrates how — when the pieces come together — history can be made. The colorful design features the team's iconic "H" logo rendered in colorless diamonds layered over a yellow-gold-framed Texas star formed from orange sapphires. The star sits atop a circle of blue sapphires — also framed in yellow gold — which is encircled by a halo of tiny white diamonds.

The "H" posed a tricky design challenge for Minneapolis-based Jostens. The solution was to use 11 custom-cut baguette diamonds, which, not coincidentally, were the number of the team's post-season wins. Another challenge was sourcing orange sapphires of a hue that exactly matched the team colors. According to published reports, Jostens and Astros' team management had to go back and forth a number of times before getting it exactly right.

The logo's diamond halo includes 56 round diamonds, which represents the 56 years of Astros franchise history prior to earning a world championship. In all, the total diamond count for the top of the ring amounts to 112, the number of wins — both during the regular season and post season — that the Astros achieved to win the World Series.

And the symbolism continues...

On one side of the ring is the player's name rendered in raised yellow-gold lettering. Below the name is the the iconic Houston skyline, paying the ultimate respect to the city and fans who never wavered in their support for their team. A rendering of Minute Maid Park's left field wall seems to lift up the city of Houston, a sentiment expressed by many fans when describing what this championship has meant to them and their community in light of the devastating flooding that hit the city in August of 2017. Layered over the wall is the player's number encrusted in white diamonds. "Our guys were playing for something bigger than themselves," team president Reid Ryan said.

On the opposite side of the ring, the phrase "Houston Strong" is prominently displayed in contrasting yellow gold atop the year, which is rendered in diamonds. A single solitaire diamond sits in the top of the Commissioner's Trophy, representing the first World Series victory in franchise history. The trophy seems to be rising from the center of Minute Maid Park. The Roman numeral LVI sits to the right of the trophy, paying tribute to the 56-year history of the Astros franchise.

The open sides of the ring feature a rim of round colorless diamonds set in contrasting yellow gold and punctuated by two princess-cut sapphires, an orange stone on one side and a blue stone on the other. Each is set in a bezel that's shaped like a home plate. These sapphires represent Houston's unique achievement of being the first franchise in history to have won a pennant in both the American and National Leagues.

The interior of the ring showcases the results of each series in the Astros' playoff journey, including the logos of the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers. The bottom edge is inscribed with the organization's rallying cry, "Earned History," and includes the Astros' logo rendered in black enamel on 14-karat white gold.

Jostens reported that the Astros ordered 1,322 championship rings, which were distributed to the team's players, coaches, clubhouse and training staff, baseball and business front office members, medical staff, part-time associates, Hall of Famers, owners and broadcasters.

The only team to order more were the 2016 champion Chicago Cubs. That team ordered 1,908 rings, a nod to the prior time the Cubs won the World Series — 1908.

Credits: Images via Twitter.com/Houston Astros; Courtesy of Jostens.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Music Friday: Miranda Lambert Confesses Cheating Ways to Her Engagement Ring in 'Dear Diamond'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, country star Miranda Lambert stares down at her engagement ring and confesses a deep, dark secret in the 2011 ballad, "Dear Diamond."

The song's protagonist has cheated on her husband and she fears that her once-flawless marriage could be torn apart.

She asks her diamond ring for clarity. If she confesses her indiscretions, she'll break his heart. If she doesn't, the guilt will haunt her.

She sings, "Dear diamond, pretty and new / Perfectly flawless, too good to be true / Dear diamond, you shine like the sun / You wrap around my finger just like he does / You cost more than he wanted to lose / And with this ring I said I do / I promise to never do what I've done / I've lied to someone."

Lambert explained the origins of the song in an interview with CMT.com. Apparently, the characters in the story are fictional.

“When you first get engaged, as the girl, you’re constantly staring at your ring, showing everybody your ring,” she told CMT.com. “I just thought it would be a cool concept to write a song to my ring. And, of course, the dark side of me just kind of leaned toward the darker version instead of going happy with it. But I think that was the right way to go.”

"Dear Diamond," which features the haunting harmonies of country and bluegrass singer, Patty Loveless, is the sixth track from Lambert's Four the Record album.

Lambert told Rolling Stone magazine that Loveless was one of her heroes and that the collaboration was really special to her — "a dream come true."

With more than one million records sold, Four the Record reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard Top Country albums chart and ascended to #3 on the U.S. Billboard 200 albums chart. It also placed as high as #12 on the Canadian Albums chart.

Born in Longview, Texas, in 1983, Lambert became interested in country music after a attending a Garth Brooks concert as a nine-year-old. Lambert made her professional singing debut with "The Texas Pride Band" while she was still in high school. She also performed with the house band at Reo Palm Isle in Longview, Texas.

In 2003, Lambert placed third in Nashville Star, country music's version of American Idol. Her first album, Kerosene, made its debut at #1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. In April 2017, Lambert won the ACM Award for Female Vocalist of the Year for a record eighth consecutive year. She also has won two Grammy Awards out of 12 nominations.

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

"Dear Diamond"
Written by Miranda Lambert. Performed by Miranda Lambert, featuring Patty Loveless.

Dear diamond, pretty and new
Perfectly flawless, too good to be true
Dear diamond, you shine like the sun
You wrap around my finger just like he does

You cost more than he wanted to lose
And with this ring I said I do
I promise to never do what I've done
I've lied to someone

Dear diamond, what will we do?
Well I like the devil, just face the truth
Dear diamond, be my saving grace
What you don't know will kill him, that I can't face

You cost more than he wanted to lose
And with this ring I said I do
I promise to never do what I've done
I've lied to someone, dear diamond

Dear diamond, with your band of gold
Some people you have, some people you hold
Dear diamond, I promise to keep
The secret I have while he's holding me

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Four Magnificent Diamonds to Headline Sotheby's New York Auction Later This Month

Diamond lovers are in for a big treat later this month as Sotheby's New York will present an impressive array of rare gems at its Magnificent Jewels sale. Among the headliners of the April 18 event are fancy-colored diamonds in pink, orangey-pink and blue, as well as a D-flawless pear-shaped diamond weighing in excess of 33 carats.

Carrying a pre-sale estimate of $4.2 million to $5.2 million is the auction's top lot — a fancy intense pink diamond weighing 7.01 carats. The natural-color, square-cut diamond has a clarity of SI2 and is set in a simple four-prong ring.

A D-flawless, 33.25-carat pear-shaped diamond is the star of a gorgeous pendant necklace that carries a pre-sale estimate of $4 million to $5 million. The pear-shaped stone, which carries the ultra-rare Type IIa purity grade, is topped by a marquise-shaped diamond weighing approximately 1.00 carat.

A fancy intense orangey-pink diamond weighing 7.37 carats and accented by two emerald-cut diamonds is expected to fetch between $3 million and $5 million. The unusual natural-color diamond boasts a clarity of VS1 and is set in a ring that's embellished with near-colorless and pink diamonds.

Rounding out the highest-profile lots at Sotheby's is this rare fancy intense blue diamond weighing 3.47 carats. Entering the sale with a estimated price range of $2 million to $2.5 million, the cut-cornered rectangular step-cut gem is secured with four prongs on a simple white metal band.

Sotheby's New York will be hosting previews of these and many other sale items, starting on April 13.

Credits: Images courtesy of Sotheby's.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Aussie Man Kicks Up the 'Find of a Lifetime' — a 141-Carat 'Parti-Colored' Sapphire

An amateur prospector stumbled upon a rare 141-carat "parti-colored" sapphire in the Gemfields region of Queensland, Australia, last week, and the find is likely to make him at least $23,000 richer. The unusual stone — also known as "polychrome sapphire" — displays a range of colors, from rich blue to vivid green to bright yellow.

Australia had been a world leader in sapphire production for more than 100 years, with the industry peaking in the 1980s. Today, the Sapphire Gemfields have become a mecca for tourists looking for a little adventure and an opportunity to find a gemstone of their own.

Most of the commercial mining operations have closed down, but some of the once-rich territory is open to "hand fossicking." Amateur prospectors have honed their "specking" skills, which is essentially walking through the bush with the eyes focused on the ground. What they're looking for is any small change of color or a hint of sparkle, where the sun may catch the edge of a partly submerged, but often dusty, gem.

“For this lucky specker, it was all about being in the right place at the right time,” Central Highlands Tourism Development Officer Peter Grigg noted on the Discover Central Highlands Facebook page.

According to Grigg, the local resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, was wandering through the Reward fossicking area, kicking over a few stones when, much to his surprise, he turned over the “find of a lifetime.”

“There had been considerable rain a week or so before, and there it was lying tantalizingly within reach on the surface of the ground," Grigg wrote.

Grigg explained that the 141-carat sapphire is crystal clear and in its current rough form is likely to fetch upwards of AUD $30,000 ($23,046).

"Parti-colored" sapphires can display two or three distinctive colors, depending on the trace elements present when the crystal originally formed. The transition from one color to another in a gemstones is called "zoning."

“I find it amazing that after 100-plus years of people scratching around in the ground at the Sapphire Gemfields, stones of this quality continually pop up,” Grigg added.

Tourists and amateur prospectors are more likely to visit the Gemfields during the cooler months from March through September.

"It is well worth the trip, because you never know your luck," Grigg told the Gladstone Observer. "One thing, though, no one will ever find a sapphire sitting on their couch at home."

Credit: Image via Facebook/Discover Central Highlands Qld.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Music Friday: ZZ Top Ticks Off a List of Jewelry Must-Haves in the 1983 Classic, 'Sharp Dressed Man'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, ZZ Top ticks off a list of jewelry must-haves in its 1983 classic, "Sharp Dressed Man."

According to the song, well-dressed men are irresistible to women, so original band members Dusty Hill, Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard cover the essential jewelry items in the second verse.

They sing, "Gold watch, diamond ring / I ain't missin' not a single thing / Cufflinks, stick pin / When I step out I'm gonna do you in / They come runnin' just as fast as they can / 'Cause every girl crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man."

Written by Gibbons, Beard and Joe Michael Hill, "Sharp Dressed Man" appeared as the third track on ZZ Top's extraordinarily popular 1983 album Eliminator. The album sold more than 10 million copies, earning it a rare Diamond certification. The single topped out at #56 on the U.S. Billboard 100 and remains one of ZZ Tops' most enduring signature songs. In fact, the group performed it live at the 1997 VH1 Fashion Awards and during the halftime festivities of the 2008 Orange Bowl.

"Sharp dressed depends on who you are," Hill told Spin magazine in 1985. "If you're on a motorcycle, really sharp leather is great. If you're a punk rocker, you can get sharp that way. You can be sharp or not sharp in any mode."

Founded in Houston in 1969 as a blues-inspired rock band, ZZ Top has featured its three core members since 1970.

Gibbons told Q magazine that their first gig at a Knights of Columbus Hall outside of Houston in 1970 was attended by just one person.

"We shrugged and pressed onwards," he said. "We took a break halfway through, went out and bought him a Coke."

Over the course of the following 48 years, the band would go on to sell more than 50 million albums worldwide. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

Trivia: According to songfacts.com, Gibbons and Hill have been growing their beards since 1979.

Please check out ZZ Top's live performance of "Sharp Dressed Man." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Sharp Dressed Man"
Written by Billy Gibbons, Frank Beard and Joe Michael Hill. Performed by ZZ Top.

Clean shirt, new shoes
And I don't know where I am goin' to
Silk suit, black tie,
I don't need a reason why
They come runnin' just as fast as they can
'Cause every girl crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man

Gold watch, diamond ring,
I ain't missin' not a single thing
Cufflinks, stick pin,
When I step out I'm gonna do you in
They come runnin' just as fast as they can
'Cause every girl crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man

Top coat, top hat,
And I don't worry 'cause my wallet's fat
Black shades, white gloves,
Lookin' sharp lookin' for love
They come runnin' just as fast as they can
'Cause every girl crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

20-Carat Diamond Ring Flies Off Paris Hilton's Finger at Dance Club; Fiancé Finds It in Ice Bucket

Socialite Paris Hilton lost her 20-carat diamond engagement ring while dancing at a trendy Miami club Friday night. Hilton had been seen reveling with her hands in the air when the $2 million ring "flew off" her finger.

A mad scramble ensued, with security guards and patrons crawling under VIP tables in search of the sparkler Hilton had received from fiancé Chris Zylka in early January. At the time, she called it her “dream ring” and the “most beautiful thing I have ever seen.”

Finding Hilton’s one-of-a-kind sparkler — a pear-shaped center stone surrounded by a halo of smaller round diamonds — was particularly challenging because the venue was crowded and dark. The former RC Cola Plant in the Wynwood Arts District has been transformed into a 50,000-square-foot club that can accommodate 7,000 guests.

Zylka miraculously spotted the ring inside an ice bucket two tables away from where Hilton was dancing.

Clubgoers told Page Six that Hilton was completely “panicked” during the search and “cried with relief” when the ring was recovered.

Hilton's 18 million Twitter followers got a first-hand account of the drama in a Monday tweet: "The ring was just so heavy and big that while I was dancing it literally flew off my finger into an ice bucket a couple of tables over. Thank God by some miracle my fiancé found it before someone else did and most likely would not have returned it. I am so lucky!"

Zylka had proposed to Hilton in scenic Aspen, Colo., during the New Year's holiday weekend. Celebrity jeweler Michael Greene told People magazine that the actor had remembered that Hilton mentioned on a number of occasions how much she loved her mother’s pear-shaped diamond.

“And when Chris came to me that was his request,” Greene noted. “The pear shape really jumped out for him and ultimately for her."

Just after the proposal, Hilton posted to Twitter a series of romantic shots, along with this caption: “I said Yas! So happy & excited to be engaged to the love of my life. My best friend & soulmate. Perfect for me in every way. So dedicated, loyal, loving & kindhearted. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world! You are my dream come true! Thank you for showing me that fairytales do exist.”

In addition to possessing all those attributes, Zylka apparently has excellent eyesight and is very talented when it comes to figuring out the trajectory of an airborne diamond engagement ring. How many people would have thought to look in an ice bucket "a couple of tables over" or even be able to discern a diamond-and-platinum ring among the ice cubes in a dark club?

And here's a quick tip for Ms. Hilton: It's time to get your ring resized.

Credit: Image via Instagram/ParisHilton.

Monday, March 26, 2018

After Being Secreted Away for 300 Years, Historic 'Farnese Blue' Diamond Emerges at Sotheby's

The 6.16-carat blue diamond originally presented in 1715 as a wedding gift to Elisabeth Farnese, Queen of Spain, has emerged on the market for the first time and will be offered for sale at Sotheby’s Geneva on May 15. It is expected to fetch between $3.7 million and $5.3 million.

Sotheby's noted that the blue diamond was gifted to Farnese by the governor of the Philippine Islands on the occasion of her wedding to King Philip V of Spain, the grandson of Louis XIV, King of France. Blue diamonds were viewed as the ultimate royal gift in the 17th and 18th centuries because the color blue was identified as "the color of the kings."

Even though it had remained in the same family for more than 300 years, "The Farnese Blue" was never seen in public. In fact, except for close relatives and the family jewelers, no one knew of its existence.

Secreted away in a "royal casket," the pear-shaped, fancy dark grey-blue diamond traveled across Europe, as Elisabeth and Philip’s descendants married into Europe’s most important dynasties. The "casket" likely refers to a rectangular jewelry box that is shaped like a casket, not a coffin.

The gift from the governor of the Philippine Islands was given to the Queen at the urging of the Spanish government. Governors of Spain's colonies from Mexico to the East Indies were encouraged to send wedding presents to Madrid.

In August of 1715, a fleet of 12 Spanish ships carrying a fortune in gold bullion and enormous emeralds set sail from Cuba, but were devastated by a hurricane in the gulf of Florida. Only one ship survived the voyage back to Spain, and that was the ship carrying the blue diamond.

"It is difficult to put into words the excitement of holding between thumb and forefinger a gem discovered centuries ago, knowing it originated in the legendary Golconda diamond mines of India," noted David Bennett, Chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewelry Division and Co-Chairman of Sotheby’s Switzerland. "This stone has witnessed 300 years of European history, and in color is reminiscent of historic Golconda blue gems, such as the Hope Diamond.”

"The Farnese Blue" will embark on an international tour before returning to Geneva for the May 15 Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale. The diamond will make appearances in Hong Kong (March 29 - April 2), London (April 7-10), New York (April 13-17), Singapore (April 27-28), Taipei (May 1-2) and Geneva (May 12-14).

Credits: Diamond images courtesy of Sotheby's. Elisabeth Farnese image by Louis-Michel van Loo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Music Friday: Taylor Swift Wants to Wear His Initial on a Chain in 2017's 'Call It What You Want'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you the hottest songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Taylor Swift wants to wear her new boyfriend's initial on a chain around her neck in the introspective 2017 hit, "Call It What You Want."

Written by Swift and collaborator Jack Antonoff, this deeply personal tune recounts how falling in love again helped her recover from a very dark time when her "castle crumbled overnight."

She sings, "I want to wear his initial / On a chain round my neck, chain round my neck / Not because he owns me / But 'cause he really knows me."

Her new boyfriend is British actor and model Joe Alwyn, and Swift has been spotted wearing a script initial "J" engraved on silver charm pendant.

Following her split from Tom Hiddleston and an emotionally draining public feud with Kanye West, Swift stepped out of the spotlight to make new music and hit the reset button. What resulted was the 15-track Reputation, an album that topped the charts in 14 countries and sold more than 2 million copies in its first week.

"Call It What You Want" is the penultimate song on an album that takes the listener of an emotional journey from rebellion and anger to true love. The single topped out at #27 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and #24 on the Canadian Hot 100 chart.

Swift fans will notice similarities between the lyrics of "Call It What You Want" and her 2008 hit, "Love Story." In both songs, the heroine wants to run away with her boyfriend...

In "Love Story"... "Romeo, take me somewhere we can be alone / I'll be waiting, all that's left to do is run / You'll be the prince and I'll be the princess / It's a love story, baby just say yes."

In "Call It What You Want"... "I recall late November, holdin' my breath / Slowly I said, 'You don't need to save me / But would you run away with me?' / Yes."

Born in Wyomissing, Pa., Swift was not an average schoolgirl. By the time she was 11, Swift was already performing regularly at karaoke contests, festivals and fairs near her home in Berks County. When she was 14, her parents moved the family to Nashville, where Swift would be better positioned to pursue a career in country music. At the age of 17, Swift was topping the country charts. Swift is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 40 million albums and 130 million single downloads. She has won 10 Grammy Awards, one Emmy, 21 Billboard Music Awards and 12 Country Music Association Awards.

Please check out the official lyric video of "Call It What You Want." You can also follow along, below...

"Call It What You Want"
Written by Taylor Swift and Jack Antonoff. Performed by Taylor Swift.

My castle crumbled overnight
I brought a knife to a gunfight
They took the crown, but it's alright
All the liars are calling me one
Nobody's heard from me for months
I'm doing better than I ever was, 'cause

My baby's fit like a daydream
Walking with his head down
I'm the one he's walking to
So call it what you want, yeah, call it what you want to
My baby's fly like a jet stream
High above the whole scene
Loves me like I'm brand new
So call it what you want, yeah, call it what you want to

All my flowers grew back as thorns
Windows boarded up after the storm
He built a fire just to keep me warm
All the drama queens taking swings
All the jokers dressin' up as kings
They fade to nothing when I look at him
And I know I make the same mistakes every time
Bridges burn, I never learn, at least I did one thing right
I did one thing right
I'm laughing with my lover, making forts under covers
Trust him like a brother, yeah, you know I did one thing right
Starry eyes sparkin' up my darkest night

My baby's fit like a daydream
Walking with his head down
I'm the one he's walking to
So call it what you want, yeah, call it what you want to
My baby's fly like a jet stream
High above the whole scene
Loves me like I'm brand new
(Call it what you want, call it what you want, call it)
So call it what you want, yeah, call it what you want to

I want to wear his initial
On a chain round my neck, chain round my neck
Not because he owns me
But 'cause he really knows me
Which is more than they can say, I
I recall late November, holdin' my breath
Slowly I said, "You don't need to save me
But would you run away with me?"
Yes (would you run away?)

My baby's fit like a daydream
Walking with his head down
I'm the one he's walking to
(Call it what you want, call it what you want, call it)
So call it what you want, yeah, call it what you want to
My baby's fly like a jet stream
High above the whole scene
Loves me like I'm brand new
(Call it what you want, call it what you want, call it)
So call it what you want, yeah, call it what you want to

Call it what you want, yeah
Call it what you want
To

Credit: Image via YouTube.com.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Never-Before-Seen Deep-Earth Mineral Is Found Trapped Inside a Diamond

A tiny diamond found at South Africa's Cullinan mine is credited with preserving and ferrying an unstable, never-before-seen deep-Earth mineral 400 miles to the surface.

Scientists at the University of Alberta's Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences discovered a minuscule sample of the elusive mineral "calcium silicate perovskite" trapped within the rough diamond that measured only .031 millimeters in diameter. It was polished to give researchers a clearer view of the inclusion trapped inside.

Calcium silicate perovskite is believed to be the fourth-most-abundant mineral on Earth and makes up as much as 93% of Earth's lower mantle. Despite being so plentiful, scientists could only hypothesize its existence. Nobody could actually see it because the mineral's crystal lattice deforms as it moves toward the surface.

“Nobody has ever managed to keep this mineral stable at Earth’s surface,” lead researcher Graham Pearson, a geochemist at the University of Alberta, said in a press release. “The only possible way of preserving this mineral at Earth’s surface is when it’s trapped in an unyielding container like a diamond.”

While most diamonds are formed under intense pressure at a depth of 93 to 124 miles, the diamond encasing the calcium silicate perovskite was likely formed 400-plus miles below the surface. The pressure at that depth is equivalent to 240,000 times the pressure at sea level.

Diamonds can be blasted to the surface during volcanic eruptions. The vertical superhighways that take the diamonds on their journey are called kimberlite pipes.

"Diamonds are really unique ways of seeing what's in the Earth," Pearson said.

The mineral's composition was confirmed by X-ray and spectroscopic analysis. Future research will focus on the age and origin of the material.

The scientists also noted that chemical clues found in the diamond reveal that it formed out of the remains of oceanic crust, supporting the theory that the Earth undergoes a recycling process that brings crust material into the deep mantle.

Researchers at the University of Alberta published their findings in the journal Nature.

Credit: Image courtesy of Nester Korolev, University of British Columbia.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Gold, Platinum and Diamonds Pelt Siberia's Coldest City After Plane Spills Its Cargo

Gold, platinum and diamonds literally rained from the sky over the frigid city of Yakutsk in eastern Siberia last Thursday.

The wild display of flying treasure — worth 21 billion rubles or $368 million — was attributed to the failed cargo hatch of a Cold War-era transport plane called the Antonov An-12. The aircraft was carrying gold bars, platinum bars and loose diamonds on behalf of Chukota Mining and Geological Company. About 99% of all Russian diamonds are mined in Yakutia, where winter temperatures routinely hit -35C (-31F).

According to The Siberian Times, the plane had been loaded with 10 tons of precious metals and gemstones when it lifted from Yakutsk airport.

Shortly after takeoff, the heavy cargo shifted, ripping through the cargo door and damaging a portion of the fuselage. Nearly 200 gold bars fell from the plane, littering the runway with gold and platinum bars. The damaged plane continued to fly for 16 kilometers (10 miles) — dropping more treasure along with way — before landing at the nearby Magan airport.

Russia's state-run TASS news agency reported that technicians who had prepared the plane for takeoff may have failed to properly secure the cargo.

Police immediately sealed off the runway and began the task of retrieving about 3.4 tons of precious metal ingots. A typical gold bar weighs 12.4 kilograms or 27.3 pounds, so it is fortunate that nobody was hurt by the plummeting precious metal.

Yakutsk, which is the capital of Yakutia or the Sasha Republic, is frequently cited as the coldest major city in the world.

The Siberian Times had a little fun with that fact, tweeting, "It's -21C in Yakutia, sunny, we expect showers of diamond, platinum and gold... Plane loses its $368 million cargo; gems and precious metals rain over Russia’s coldest region as police and secret services stage emergency search."

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/The Siberian Times. Map by Google Maps.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Music Friday: Scotty McCreery's 'This Is It' Gives First-Hand Account of His Marriage Proposal

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you new songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, former American Idol Scotty McCreery delivers a first-hand account of his mountaintop marriage proposal to future bride Gabi Dugal in his brand new single, "This Is It."

In the song, the 24-year-old McCreery tells the story of a young couple's unforgettable moment "at the top of the world."

He sings, "Girl I know that you've been waiting and talking to your friends / Wondering if and wondering where and wondering when / Well I've been waiting too, holding on to this ring / For the right words to say, for the right time and place, for me to get on one knee."

McCreery revealed in an AXS Patio Sessions interview that he and his co-writers collaborated on the song the past September, only two weeks before he had planned to pop the question on Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina.

"I told my co-writers the story and we just kinda wrote the song around that," he said. "It's very visual and paints the picture of how the engagement went down."

Writing the song before the engagement was a tad risky for the North Carolinian. Although he had all the "wheres and whens and hows" mapped out perfectly, there was still a possibility that something could go awry.

“If things hadn’t gone to plan and we hadn’t gotten to the mountain, I probably would have had to scrap the song," said McCreery. "But luckily it all worked out.”

Friends since kindergarten, McCreery and Dugal, a pediatric nurse, had been dating for six years. They plan to marry this year.

"Engaged life is great," McCreery told theboot.com. "I'm really happy."

"This Is It" is the sixth track from McCreery's third studio album, Seasons Change. The album releases today, March 16.

A native of Garner, N.C., Scott Cooke McCreery has the distinction of being the youngest male ever to win an American Idol competition. He was only 17 when he prevailed during the Season 10 finale in May of 2011.

Please check out the video of McCreery's AXS Patio Sessions performance of "This Is It." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"This Is It"
Written by Scotty McCreery, Frank Rogers and Aaron Eshuis. Performed by McCreery.

Way up in the mountains, four thousand feet high
There's a trail through the trees to a cliff where Carolina meets the sky
Oh, and there's a view I just can't describe
No, I'm not there yet, just a few more steps, baby wait
Okay, you can open your eyes

This is it, this is now, this is what I've been talking about
Looking out, can't you see forever?
Take my hand, just take it in
This is a moment we won't forget
On top of the world, here, together
If there ever was a time for a perfect kiss, this is it

Girl I know that you've been waiting and talking to your friends
Wondering if and wondering where and wondering when
Well I've been waiting too, holding on to this ring
For the right words to say, for the right time and place, for me to get on one knee

This is it, this is now, this is what I've been talking about
Looking out, can't you see forever?
Take my hand, just take it in
This is a moment we won't forget
On top of the world here together
If there ever was a time for a perfect kiss, well this is it
This is it

Now you're walking down the aisle
And I can't help but smile

This is it, this is now, it's what I've been talking about
Looking out, I can see forever
So take my hand, just take it in
This is a moment we won't forget
On top of the world, here, together
Surrounded by our family and our friends
If there ever was a time for a perfect kiss
This is it

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Lesotho Legend — Fifth-Largest Gem-Quality Diamond Ever Mined — Sells for $40 Million

The colossal 910-carat diamond recovered from the Letšeng mine in January was sold on Monday for $40 million. Dubbed the "Lesotho Legend" to honor its country of origin, the Type IIa, D-color rough specimen is the fifth-largest gem-quality diamond ever discovered.

The Lesotho Legend also has the distinction of being the largest gem-quality diamond ever unearthed at Letšeng, a mine that has earned the reputation for being the highest dollar-per-carat kimberlite mine in the world.

Despite having a land mass slightly smaller than Maryland, Lesotho is an international powerhouse when it comes to turning out huge, top-quality stones. Some of Letšeng's most impressive finds include the Lesotho Promise (603 carats), Letšeng Star (550 carats) and Lesotho Legacy (493 carats).

NationalJeweler.com reported that the Lesotho Legend was purchased at tender by Antwerp-based diamond supplier Samir Gems and other partners. The company will now face the challenge of mapping and cleaving the oddly-shaped rough diamond to yield the optimal number of polished diamonds while losing the least amount of carat weight. A rough diamond of 910-carats could result in 10 to 30 gem-quality polished stones of various shapes and sizes, according to experts.

When Gem Diamonds Ltd. announced its discovery in January, we guessed that the rough diamond would sell for about $50 million. That estimate was based on the recent sales of huge diamonds exhibiting nearly identical characteristics.

The 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona (#2 on the all-time list) had fetched $53 million in September of 2017, while the 812-carat Constellation (#7 on the all-time list) was sold for $63 million in May of 2016. Both were D-color, Type IIa diamonds, which means they were colorless and chemically pure with no traces of nitrogen or boron impurities.

In a statement, Gem Diamonds' CEO Clifford Elphick said, "We are delighted with the outcome of the sale of this iconic diamond, which demonstrates the exceptional quality of the Lesotho Legend itself, as well as reaffirming the unique quality of the Letšeng diamond production."

United Kingdom-based Gem Diamonds Ltd. holds a 70% stake in the Letšeng mine with the government of Lesotho owning the remaining 30%.

Credits: Images courtesy of Gem Diamonds Ltd.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Silver Screen's Most Famous Baubles Share the Spotlight in Tonight's Episode of 'Strange Inheritance'

Here's a quiz: What do Vivien Leigh’s necklace from Gone with the Wind, Elizabeth Taylor’s serpent bracelet in Cleopatra and the earrings worn by Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes all have in common? They were all created by Eugene Joseff's design studio under the brand name Joseff of Hollywood.

These and other memorable pieces from Joseff's workshop are the subject of tonight's episode of Strange Inheritance, a primetime reality series on the FOX Business Network (FBN).

For many decades, Joseff's firm fabricated — but only rented — costume jewelry to the movie studios, and as each production wrapped up, the jewelry would be returned to the jeweler and secured in a vault. Over many decades, that collection grew to more than 200,000 items.

Joseff died in 1948, and his widow, Joan, passed away in 2010 at the age of 98. All the “screen gems” were inherited by Joan's daughter-in-law, Tina Joseff, and Joan's grandchildren.

Five hundred high-profile items from Joseff's collection were put on the block at Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills this past November — netting the heirs just under $2 million. Among the biggest-ticket items were the Monroe earrings ($90,000), Leigh necklace ($45,000) and Clark Gable cigar box from Gone With the Wind ($31,000).

A former ad man from Chicago, Eugene Joseff moved to southern California in 1928. Although he "dabbled in jewelry," according to Tina, Joseff's entry into the jewelry field stemmed from an off-the-cuff remark he made to a friend in the movie business.

“He noted that in a period film the star was wearing a gorgeous gown — period correct – but also a modern necklace. He just thought that was the worst thing ever – and that he could do better,” Tina explains to show host Jamie Colby in Monday's episode.

He soon got a chance to display his talents when a Hollywood studio needed baubles for a bunch of dancers. It was Friday and the order had to be filled by the following Monday. Nobody wanted the job — except for Joseff.

Joseff fulfilled the request with flying colors and eventually became Tinseltown's crown jeweler.

FBN noted that film buffs will likely recognize a number of the Joseff of Hollywood creations, including the Bette Davis tiara from The Virgin Queen, the Shelley Winters teardrop pendant necklace from South Sea Sinner and the Katharine Hepburn necklace of faux diamonds, rubies and pearls from Mary of Scotland. Viewers will also get a peek at the crown Shirley Temple wore in The Little Princess and a necklace that Greta Garbo wore in Camille.

Strange Inheritance chronicles the bizarre artifacts and outrageous stories related to inheritances from people and places from coast to coast. The "Screen Gems" episode airs Monday, March 12, at 9PM/ET. In the photo, top, host Colby interviews Tina Joseff.

Credits: Jamie Colby/Tina Joseff image courtesy of FOX Business Network. Screen captures via foxbusiness.com.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Music Friday: A 23-Year-Old Elvis Presley Asks Sweetheart to Wear His Ring Around Her Neck

Back in the heyday of drive-ins and sock hops, a 23-year-old Elvis Presley was dominating the music scene with an unprecedented string of 10 consecutive #1 hits. It was exactly 60 years ago when the handsome crooner from Tupelo, Miss., tried for number 11 with his sure winner, "Wear My Ring Around Your Neck."

Welcome to Music Friday when we like to bring you fun, throwback tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. In today's song, Presley wants his girlfriend to wear his ring around her neck. Of course, the ring would be on a chain — as was the custom in the 1950s — to signify they are going steady. No doubt, countless teen girls in the spring of 1958 imagined The King was singing to them.

Here's the first verse: "Won't you wear my ring around your neck / To tell the world I'm yours, by heck / Let them see your love for me / And let them see by the ring around your neck."

Written by Bert Carroll and Russell Moody, "Wear My Ring Around Your Neck" was a big hit, but stalled at #2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, narrowly breaking Presley's string of #1s. All 10 of Presley's previous chart-toppers had been released during a two-year period.

Born in 1935, Elvis Aron Presley ascended to stardom in the mid-1950s with his good looks, silky voice and outrageous performance style. Not only did he top the charts during the 1950s and 1960s, but he also starred in more than 30 movies, including Jailhouse Rock (1957) and Viva Las Vegas (1964).

Presley met Priscilla Ann Beaulieu in 1960 and married her after a seven-and-a-half-year courtship. Presley proposed with a 3-carat diamond ring in December 1966 and the wedding ceremony took place one year later at the Aladdin hotel in Las Vegas.

The King, as he was known, would eventually become one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. His first performance on the Ed Sullivan Show in September 1956 was watched by a record 82.6% of the nationwide viewing audience. Presley is the best-selling solo artist in the history of recorded music, with more than 600 million records sold worldwide. His Memphis home, Graceland, is still a major tourist attraction.

Presley died in Memphis on August 16, 1977, at the age of 42.

Please check out the audio track of Presley singing "Wear My Ring Around Your Neck." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Wear My Ring Around Your Neck"
Written by Bert Carroll and Russell Moody. Performed by Elvis Presley.

Won't you wear my ring around your neck
To tell the world I'm yours, by heck
Let them see your love for me
And let them see by the ring around your neck

Won't you wear my ring around your neck
To tell the world I'm yours, by heck
Let them know I love you so
And let them no by the ring around your neck

They say that goin' steady is not the proper thing
They say that we're too young to know the meaning of a ring
I only know that I love you and that you love me too
So, darling, please do what I ask of you

Won't you wear my ring around your neck
To tell the world I'm yours, by heck
Let them see your love for me
And let them see by the ring around your neck

Well they say that goin' steady is not the proper thing
They say that we're too young to know the meaning of a ring
I only know that I love you and that you love me too
So, darling, please do what I ask of you

Won't you wear my ring around your neck
To tell the world I'm yours, by heck
Let them know I love you so
And let them no by the ring around your neck

And let them know by the ring around your neck
And let them know by the ring around your neck

Credit: Image of Elvis Presley in 1957 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ6-2067Location: NYWTS -- BIOG [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Here's How a 1950s Brazilian Beauty Queen Is Forever Linked With March's Birthstone

In 1954, Maria Martha Hacker Rocha, a statuesque beauty from Brazil, was the odds-on favorite to win the Miss Universe pageant. Admirers from all over the world were captivated by her beauty, class and amazing blue eyes.

Although she eventually earned runner-up status to American Miriam Stevenson, the 18-year-old from the Brazilian state of Bahia would be forever linked to the world of fine jewelry and March's brilliant blue birthstone — the aquamarine.

About the same time as Rocha was competing on the world stage, an incredible aquamarine crystal was found on a farm near Teofilo Otoni, Brazil. It weighed approximately 74.5 pounds and the color was so rich, so intense that the Brazilian gem dealers needed to distinguish it from the rest.

Gemstone merchants already had names for other varieties of aquamarine, the blue member of the beryl family. The rare, intense blue aquamarines from the Santa Maria de Itabira mine in Brazil were called “Santa Maria.” Similar-color aquamarines from Mozambique and other countries in Africa were named “Santa Maria Africana.” Lighter hues were named after the Brazilian state where they were mined, specifically “Espirito Santo.”

But the 74.5 pound specimen was in a class by itself. They decided to name it “Martha Rocha” as a tribute to the Brazilian beauty queen with the captivating clear blue eyes. Even today, gem experts use “Martha Rocha” as a classification of tone and intensity when rating the finest-color aquamarines.

At 81 years old, Rocha is still a symbol of beauty in Brazil, and she has streets named after her in Bahia, Santa Catarina and São Paulo.

Aquamarines are mined in many countries, including Nigeria, Madagascar, Zambia, Pakistan, Mozambique and the U.S., but many of the finest-quality gemstones still come from Brazil.

Credits: Martha Rocha on the cover of Brazilian illustrated weekly magazine O Cruzeiro (August 1954); Gem photos courtesy of Smithsonian/Chip Clark.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Platinum Jewelry Steals the Spotlight at the 90th Academy Awards

Hollywood’s most talented and glamorous stars celebrated their achievements wearing platinum jewelry at the 90th Academy Awards in the City of Angels on Sunday night. According to insiders, jewelry houses called in designs from around the globe and arranged high-security hand-offs to the stylists who dressed the red carpet-ready A-listers.

Platinum chic is often the choice for celebrities, and this year’s Oscars did not disappoint. Cluster chandelier earrings and magnificent statement rings set in cool platinum were among the dramatic, spotlight-grabbing baubles. Nominees, performers and presenters alike accentuated their designer gowns with bold, platinum-set looks that were nothing short of Hollywood glam.

Here are some highlights from the event:

Allison Janney, who took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in I, Tonya, wore a Forevermark by Rahaminov Diamond Riviera Necklace set in platinum, 55.26 ctw; Forevermark Exceptional Diamond Asscher Ring with side baguettes set in platinum, 18.10 ctw; Forevermark by Rahaminov diamond line bracelet set in platinum, 27.02 ctw; and Forevermark by Premier Gem round brilliant diamond studs set in platinum, 11.13 ctw.

Nicole Kidman, a presenter, wore 84 carats of Harry Winston diamonds, all set in platinum – including Winston cluster diamond chandelier earrings (23.52 carats), Secret Cluster diamond bracelet (37.62 carats), Tulip Diamond Bracelet (12.86 carats), round brilliant diamond cluster ring (4.73 carats), and an oval-shaped diamond Rock Band (5.5 carats).

Salma Hayek, a presenter, wore Harry Winston earrings with diamonds, and a ring with an oval-shaped diamond, both set in platinum.

Gal Gadot, in platinum by Tiffany & Co., wore diamond earrings, a Tiffany Blue Book Collection necklace with aquamarines and diamonds, and a Tiffany Blue Book Collection ring with a aquamarine and diamonds, all set in platinum.

Greta Gerwig, double nominee for Lady Bird (Director and Original Screenplay), wore platinum by Tiffany & Co. – a necklace with diamonds, sapphires and moonstones circa 1910-1920, set in platinum; earrings with diamonds, set in platinum (priced at $29,600); 2018 Extraordinary Colors of Tiffany Collection ring with an esteemed sapphire (approximately 5 carats) and diamonds.

Saoirse Ronan, nominee for Best Actress for Lady Bird turned heads in Cartier High Jewelry sapphire and diamond drop earrings set in platinum.

Mary J. Blige, nominee for Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Song, “Mudbound,” wore a Forevermark Exceptional Diamond cushion halo ring with split shank band set in platinum, 6.93 ctw.

Laurie Metcalf, nominee for Best Supporting Actress for Lady Bird, wore pendant earrings with old mine diamonds (11.0 carats), an Asscher-cut diamond ring (6.0 carats), and an Art Deco ring with a pink sapphire and diamond, all set in platinum.

Ashley Judd, a presenter, wore a Bvlgari necklace with diamonds circa 1930, set in platinum, and a diamond bracelet with diamonds circa 1939, set in platinum.

Helen Mirren, a presenter, wore $3.8 million worth of platinum jewelry by Harry Winston, including a necklace with a cushion-cut sapphire and diamonds (115.27 carats), and earrings with a cushion-cut sapphire and diamonds (25.22 carats), all set in platinum.

Kelly Ripa, a red-carpet regular who congratulated award winners with candy after their acceptance speeches, wore platinum by Fred Leighton, including a 19th Century old mine diamond Rivière necklace, and Art Deco old European-cut diamond earrings, both set in platinum.

Allison Williams wore platinum by Harry Winston earrings with diamonds and a bracelet with sparkling cluster diamonds, all set in platinum.

Credits: All photos courtesy of Platinum Guild International.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Music Friday: Heartless Lover Sam Outlaw Sings, 'I See No Diamond Ring on Your Finger'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you new tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, country singer Sam Outlaw takes on the persona of a heartless lover in the 2017 song, "Diamond Ring."

Featured a few weeks ago on Amazon's anti-Valentine's Day playlist, "Love Me Not," Outlaw's "slow, sad waltz" tells the story of a couple with conflicting opinions about the status of their relationship. She wants his "heart to surrender," but a long-term commitment is the furthest thing from his mind.

He sings, "You want my heart to surrender / I see no courage ending life here / I see no reason at all / I see no diamond ring on your finger / I see no diamond ring on you at all."

"'Diamond Ring' is about being a self-centered twenty-something," Outlaw told Rolling Stone magazine. "I'm no longer in my twenties, but the rest of that still applies to me pretty accurately."

The 35-year-old has been performing "Diamond Ring" on tour since 2012, but the song made its "official" debut last year as the eighth track of Outlaw's second album, Tenderheart. "Diamond Ring" got another boost when a live version of the song recorded at the 2017 Americana Music Festival in Nashville was cherry-picked in February 2018 for Amazon's "Love Me Not" playlist.

Born in Aberdeen, S.D., in 1982, Sam Morgan moved with his family to Southern California when he was 10 and borrowed his mom's maiden name, Outlaw, when he abruptly gave up a career in advertising to pursue his dreams of being a singer-songwriter. At the age of 30, he hit the road as a touring musician.

Outlaw describes his music as "SoCal country." He told Rolling Stone that he's noticed that L.A.'s appetite for Southern culture has only been growing.

"It's nice that now I can wear my Stetson to a restaurant," he told the magazine, "and not have people think I'm insane."

Please check out the video of Sam Outlaw's live performance of "Diamond Ring." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Diamond Ring"
Written and performed by Sam Outlaw.

You took me dancing, you got me drunk
You kissed me, oh I remember
I was a man needing a woman's touch
And that's all that I claim to be
And now you got questions, now come the tears
You want my heart to surrender
I see no courage ending life here
I see no reason at all

I see no diamond ring on your finger
I see no diamond ring on you at all

You look so pretty, you look like hell
You kissed me, oh I remember
Couple with whiskey, from a bottomless well
I must have been quite a show
Now you want answers, now comes the fear
You want me only forever
I see no wisdom in drawing death near
I see no reason at all

I see no diamond ring on your finger
I see no diamond ring on you at all
I see no diamond ring on your finger
I see no diamond ring on you at all

So can you forgive me for not putting trust
On someone who thinks I'm so special
I'm just a man needing a woman's touch
Someday you'll see me again

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Work Begins on World's Largest Diamond Mining Vessel, Confirms De Beers Group

The De Beers Group confirmed that construction has begun on the world's largest diamond mining vessel. When it reports for duty in 2021, the 577-foot technological marvel will be extracting diamonds from the ocean floor near the coast of Namibia at a depth of 400 feet.

After more than eight decades of producing a staggering 2 million carats per year, the land-based diamond operations in Namibia are nearly mined out. Fresh sources of diamonds were discovered off the coast of Namibia, so new investments by De Beers and its partner — the Republic of Namibia — have been aimed offshore. A few decades ago, it would have been unfathomable for diamond companies to pursue deep-sea mining. But breakthroughs in technology are making this type of project viable and lucrative.

The grand vessel — the sixth in De Beers' Namibian fleet — is being built in Norway by a firm called Kleven Verft at a cost of $173 million. Mission equipment, including crawler-mounted dredge technology, will cost an additional $432 million. The ship will look similar to the mv SS Nujoma (shown above and below), which was also built by Kleven Verft. Launched in the summer of 2017, the mv SS Nujoma is the world’s largest diamond sampling and exploration vessel. The $157 million ship is credited with greatly improving the company's ability to target its mining activities.

The sea-based operation is called Debmarine Namibia and the reason the group is willing to make such a massive investment in a sixth mining ship is because of the treasures waiting on the ocean floor.

According to De Beers, 95% of the diamonds pulled from the seabed near Namibia 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 remain intact.

The new ship will employ a super-powerful vacuum that will scour the ocean floor, sucking up tons of diamond-bearing gravel each hour and bringing it to the surface. On the ship, X-ray machines and other diamond-sorting devices will separate the gems from the worthless gravel. According to The Wall Street Journal, the mining operation yields a handful of diamonds for every 180 tons of material processed.

Debmarine Namibia has licensed an area that covers 3,700 square miles. It starts about three miles offshore and extends seaward 10 to 20 miles. The diamond concession is expected to yield more than a million carats per year for the next 50 years.

Credits: Images courtesy the De Beers Group.

Monday, February 26, 2018

United Airlines Pilot Travels 2,500 Miles to Hand-Deliver Lost Bridal Jewelry to Passenger

A United Airlines pilot traveled 2,500 miles to hand-deliver a bridal set to a traveler who had lost her precious cargo while hurrying aboard a flight in New Jersey. Not only did the pilot "go the extra mile" to deliver the jewelry, but he also included a heartwarming personalized note. 

The viral story took an incredible turn when it was later revealed that the traveler was Brit Morin, the founder and CEO of Brit + Co, the lifestyle media company that boasts 130 million users.

On Twitter, Morin wrote: "I lost my wedding/engagement rings last week somewhere between New York and Jackson Hole. A @United gate agent found it, put it in a safe, and then gave it to a pilot to HAND-DELIVER it back to me in SF. I have a newfound faith in humanity and airlines. Thanks United."

Morin outlined the details of her incredible story at Brit's Blog, a popular feature at Brit.co.

Morin is a frequent guest on ABC's Good Morning America. While in New York shooting a segment for GMA on February 8, Morin had taken off her rings, explaining, "I always do this — it feels odd having a giant camera zoomed in on my ring when I’m working with my hands on set."

After the GMA appearance, Morin was scheduled to meet her family in Jackson Hole, Wyo., for a ski vacation. The GMA segment ran late and Morin found herself rushing to make a flight at nearby Newark International Airport.

She packed her rings in a carry-on bag and made it to the gate just in time.

But, since she had gotten there later than all the other passengers, there was no overhead storage available. She quickly transferred her rings to a small toiletry bag and jammed it inside her purse. The larger carry-on bag was tagged and sent below.

Imagine Morin's horror when she got to her final destination in Jackson Hole and realized that the engagement ring and wedding band were gone.

"Panicked, I searched all of my bags — my toiletry bag, my purse, and my suitcase — at least a dozen times, beginning to fear that the worst may have happened," she wrote. "It must have fallen out somewhere during the suitcase transfer. I must not have zipped my toiletry bag all the way. Oh, dear god, how was I going to tell my husband? (The bigger irony? We got married in Jackson Hole nearly seven years ago, and now here we were back in a town that symbolizes our eternal love and I had no physical symbol of that love on my finger.)"

Fearing that she may never see her rings again, Morin went on the United Airlines website and filed a lost-items claim.

Meanwhile, back in New Jersey, a United Airlines gate agent had found the rings on the jet bridge. She immediately put them in a safe pending the identity of the owner.

When she learned that the owner had come forward, the agent handed the rings to United Airlines pilot Captain Jim Moorey, who was happy to ferry the rings 2,500 miles to San Francisco, where Morin lives with her family.

On February 15, Moorey hand-delivered the rings to Morin, along with a personal note that read, "From day to day, I take pride in getting passengers from point A to point B safely and on time. Today, I’m happy to be able to be part of a team focused on making just one individual happy."

"I was ELATED," wrote Morin. "I expected them to shoot me over a FedEx or UPS tracking number, but instead they informed me they would be HAND-DELIVERING them back to me. I couldn’t believe it."

Credits: Ring photo, Brit Morin photo via Twitter.com/brit/; Aircraft photo by United Airlines.