Friday, December 14, 2018

Music Friday: Rod Stewart Gets a Diamond Ring in the Holiday Classic, 'Merry Christmas, Baby'

Welcome to a special holiday edition of Music Friday, when we feature awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, rock legend Rod Stewart sings about a new diamond ring in his soulful rendition of the 1947 classic, “Merry Christmas, Baby.”

In the first verse of the song, we learn that Stewart couldn't be more thrilled with his girlfriend's holiday gift selection — a gift that he's clearly wearing on the pinky of his right hand.

He sings, "Merry Christmas baby / Sure did treat me nice / I said Merry Christmas baby / You sure did treat me nice / Bought me a diamond ring for Christmas / And I feel like I'm in paradise, alright."

Originally recorded more than 70 years ago by Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers, this R&B holiday standard has been covered by a Who’s Who of music-industry royalty, including Chuck Berry, Otis Redding, B.B. King, Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen, Etta James, Melissa Etheridge and Christina Aguilera.

“Merry Christmas, Baby” is the title track of Stewart's first Christmas album, which sold more than 2.6 million copies and charted in 21 countries when it was released in 2012. The album rose to #3 on the U.S. Billboard 200 albums chart and scored a #1 position on the Canadian albums chart.

Stewart, who was knighted in 2016, is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 100 million records worldwide.

Interestingly, his road to success was hardly paved with gold. Born in London in 1945, Stewart was the youngest of five children and aspired to be a professional soccer player. He was also a big fan of Al Jolson, Little Richard and Bill Haley. Stewart got his first guitar as a 14-year-old and performed with a local jazz group.

He dropped out of school at age 15 and tried out unsuccessfully for a third-division soccer club. With his career options limited, Stewart turned to music.

In his 2012 autobiography he admitted, "They're the only two things I can do actually: play football and sing."

In 1962, he and folk singer Wizz Jones honed their musical skills as they performed for tips on the street corners at Leicester Square and other London spots. They took their act to Paris and then to Barcelona, where Stewart was famously deported for vagrancy in 1963. Upon returning to London, Stewart joined the Dimensions as a harmonica player and part-time vocalist. His big break would come four years later when he was recruited by Jeff Beck to be a vocalist for the Jeff Beck Group.

Please check out the video of Stewart’s live performance of “Merry Christmas, Baby” at Stirling Castle in Scotland in 2017. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along...

“Merry Christmas, Baby” Written by Johnny Moore and Lou Baxter. Performed by Rob Stewart.

Merry Christmas, Baby
Sure did treat me nice
I said Merry Christmas, Baby
You sure did treat me nice
Bought me a diamond ring for Christmas
And I feel like I'm in paradise, alright

I feel mighty fine, y'all
I've got music on the radio
Said I'm feeling mighty nice y'all
I've got music on the radio
I feel like I' wanna kiss you
Standing beneath that mistletoe

Santa came down the chimney
Half past three, y'all
And he left all them good presents
For my baby

I said Merry Christmas, Baby
Sure did treat me nice
You bought me all them presents
Now I feel like I'm in paradise

Well Santa came down the chimney
About half past four
Left all them presents for me
Dryin' on the floor

I said Merry Christmas, Baby
Sure did treat me nice
Bought me a diamond ring for Christmas
And I feel like I'm in paradise

Merry Christmas
You sure have treated me well
Merry, merry Christmas
You sure have treated me well
You bought me that Cartier watch for Christmas
And I feel I'm in paradise

Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas
May the good Lord be with ya
May the good Lord be with ya
May the good Lord be with ya

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube/Petridisgeorge.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Europe's Most Expensive Christmas Tree Glistens With 2,018 Solid Gold Coins

Munich-based gold dealer Pro Aurum recently unveiled Europe's most expensive Christmas tree, a pyramid-shaped showstopper decorated with 2,018 solid gold coins and topped by a massive 20-ounce coin set into a golden star. In total, the .9999 fine gold weighs 63 kilograms (about 2,222 ounces), putting the precious metal value at $2.7 million.

The coins pay tribute to the Vienna Philharmonic and were designed by the Austrian Mint. The 10-foot-tall golden tree stands on a base that looks like Vienna's Golden Hall of the Wiener Musikverein, regarded as the crown jewel among the world's concert halls.

The obverse of the coin depicts the pipe organ in the Golden Hall and the reverse shows instruments of the Vienna Philharmonic, including a Vienna horn, bassoon, harp and four violins centered on a cello.

The 20-ounce tree-topping coin, sometimes referred to as "Big Phil," was originally issued in 2009 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Vienna Philharmonic coin.

A video posted on YouTube by Pro Aurum shows staffers prepping the tree by slotting the gold coins by hand into the acrylic pyramid, a tedious process that took more than an hour to complete.

Displayed under heavy security in the lobby of Pro Aurum's Goldhaus, the tree will be on display through Saturday, December 15.

Credits: Images via Facebook/Pro Aurum. Screen capture via YouTube/proaurumtv. Coins by I, NobbiP [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5].

Monday, December 10, 2018

Pinkish-Orange 'Living Coral' Is Named Pantone's Color of the Year for 2019

"Living Coral," a pinkish-orange hue that embraces us with warmth and embodies our desire for playful expression, has been named Pantone's 2019 Color of the Year. Among the gemstones exhibiting Pantone's vibrant, yet mellow, seaborne color are spinel, morganite, padparadscha sapphire and precious coral.

Leatrice Eiseman, Pantone's executive director, said the Color Institute selected Living Coral to counter the effects of digital technology and social media that are "increasingly embedding into daily life."

"We are seeking authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy," she noted. "Sociable and spirited, the engaging nature of Living Coral welcomes and encourages lighthearted activity." called the Pantone pick a cool-girl lipstick color that jives well with gold jewelry and a big straw bag.

Each year since 2000, the color experts at Pantone have picked a color that reflects the current cultural climate. Typically, Pantone’s selection influences the worlds of high fashion, beauty, housewares, home and industrial design and consumer packaging.

This is the fourth time in the past 10 years that the Color Institute has picked a Pantone color named after a precious gemstone. Previous picks have included Turquoise (2010), Emerald (2013) and Rose Quartz (2016).

2019's Living Coral emits the desired, familiar and energizing aspects of color found in nature, according to Pantone. In its glorious display beneath the sea, this vivifying and effervescent color mesmerizes the eye and mind. Lying at the center of our naturally vivid and chromatic ecosystem, Living Coral is evocative of how coral reefs provide shelter to a diverse kaleidoscope of color.

Coral is one of just a handful of organic materials that are classified as gemstones. Corals are produced by tiny living creatures called polyps. They excrete a carbonic substance from which the corals grow like trees and branches. Interestingly, pearl and coral are chemically very similar as both consist of more than 90% calcium carbonate.

According to the American Gem Society, there are hundreds of species of coral throughout the world, but only two pinkish-orange types are used for fine jewelry — Corallium japonicum and Corallium rubrum.

The process of choosing the Color of the Year takes about nine months, with Pantone’s trend watchers scanning the globe’s fashion runways and high-profile events for “proof points” until one color emerges as the clear winner.

A year ago, Pantone’s Color of the Year was “Ultra Violet,” a dramatically provocative and thoughtful shade of purple that communicates originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking.

Here are the most recent Pantone Colors of the Year…

PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet (2018)
PANTONE 15-0343 Greenery (2017)
PANTONE 13-1520 Rose Quartz (2016)
PANTONE 15-3919 Serenity (2016)
PANTONE 18-1438 Marsala (2015)
PANTONE 18-3224 Radiant Orchid (2014)
PANTONE 17-5641 Emerald (2013)
PANTONE 17-1463 Tangerine Tango (2012)
PANTONE 18-2120 Honeysuckle (2011)
PANTONE 15-5519 Turquoise (2010)

Credit: Screen capture via Gem photo of 16.79-carat spinel by Chip Clark/Smithsonian. Photo of coral jewelry by Walters Art Museum [Public domain, CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL].