Friday, April 27, 2018

Music Friday: Chris Isaak's Promising New Relationship Hits a Speed Bump in 'Notice the Ring'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, rocker Chris Isaak's promising new relationship hits a speed bump in his 2002 release, "Notice the Ring."

In this song, Isaak's character is having a great time getting to know a woman he just met at a club. The chemistry is right and this could be the beginning of something special, but Isaak notices a diamond ring on the woman's finger. Is it an engagement ring, a piece of fashion jewelry or a sentimental bauble that was handed down from her grandma?

He sings, "I notice the ring, does it mean anything / You don't gotta fool me if you say it's only jewelry / I believe you when you slip off the ring, oh baby / It's got complicated if it's more than just gold plated / Are you single, does it mean anything?"

While introducing this song at his concerts, Isaak offers light-hearted advice to the men in the audience.

"When you meet a woman for the first time, it's important to focus on her hands. Not the whole body, but the hands," Isaak joked. "Look at the hands and they will tell you so much about a person. Particularly, notice the ring."

Penned by Isaak, "Notice the Ring" appeared as the eighth track of the artist's eighth studio album, Always Got Tonight.

The singer-songwriter, musician, actor and talk show host is best known for his soaring falsetto, 1950s Rock and Roll style and his song, "Wicked Game," which was featured in the 1990 film, Wild at Heart.

The son of a potato chip factory worker mom and a forklift driver dad, Isaak was born in Stockton, Calif., in 1956. His mom claims that Isaak showed musical intuition at eight months of age. She noticed that he would be moved by the sad country songs that played on the radio. Isaac started his first band in 1984 and was signed by Warner Bros. one year later.

Fun Trivia: Isaak was an amateur boxer and had his nose broken seven times, according to Discussions Magazine. At the time, his good looks and combed-back hair earned him the nickname, Elvis.

We hope you enjoy the audio track of Isaak performing "Notice the Ring." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Notice the Ring"
Written and performed by Chris Isaak.

Long legged
Good looking
You got everything
Slow walking
You come up
Then I notice the ring
I notice the ring

You're talking, I'm listening,
But I don't hear a thing
Is it something he bought you
Or only a ring, oh baby

I notice the ring, does it mean anything
You don't gotta fool me if you say it's only jewelry
I believe you when you slip off the ring, oh baby
It's got complicated if it's more than just gold plated
Are you single, does it mean anything?

I notice the ring, we gotta slow down
She's laughing, stop worrying
Get in the swing
Heart pounding, I'm wondering
Just what did she mean

I notice the ring
I notice the ring

Say nobody's waiting
That's it's nothing just gold plating
That it really doesn't mean anything
Say your grandma left it to you
Just all you need to do is tell me that it's no wedding ring,
Nice diamond

I notice the ring
I notice the ring
We gotta slow down
I notice the ring

Credit: Screen capture via

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 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 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.