Friday, December 21, 2018

Music Friday: 5 Golden Rings Shine in This Famous Mashup of 'The 12 Days of Christmas'

Welcome to a special holiday edition of Music Friday when we bring you fabulous songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today we present one of the most popular Christmas tunes on YouTube — Straight No Chaser’s clever mashup of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” To date, the original version of a cappella group's “12 Days” has been viewed more than 22 million times.

As everyone knows, the jewelry reference in this holiday favorite comes on the fifth day of Christmas when “my true love gave to me, five golden rings.”

Straight No Chaser’s “12 Days” is famous for its comic infusions of other songs, such as “I Have a Little Dreidel” and Toto’s “Africa.” SNC’s version of the popular Christmas song was inspired by a 1968 comic arrangement of the song by Richard C. Gregory, a faculty member of The Williston Northampton School in western Massachusetts.

Originated on the campus of Indiana University in 1996, Straight No Chaser is truly a grassroots, internet-inspired phenomenon. The 10-man group owes its worldwide fame to a video of its 1998 performance that was first posted to YouTube eight years later. That video went viral and caught the attention of Atlantic Records CEO Craig Kallman, who signed the group to a five-album deal in 2008.

“The 12 Days of Christmas” appeared at the eighth track from the group's debut studio album, Holiday Spirits, which peaked at #46 on the U.S. Billboard 200 albums chart.

The song's origin can be traced to England in 1780, where is was published as a chant or rhyme. The standard tune associated with it is derived from an arrangement credited to English composer Frederic Austin in 1909. Interestingly, he's the one who came up with the idea of prolonging the phrase "five... golden... rings..."

Straight No Chaser is currently on tour with shows set for in Indianapolis, Mesa, Hollywood, Oakland, Portland, Honolulu, Kahului and Waimea.

Check out the video of Straight No Chaser’s live performance of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” We know it will brighten your holidays. Enjoy!

Credit: Promotional photo courtesy of Atlantic Records.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Ohio Man Gains a New Appreciation for 'Stupid Little Ring' He Lost 30 Years Ago

When Ohio teenager Jim Biehl misplaced his brand new Parma Senior High School class ring 30 years ago on a church trip that oddly stopped overnight in Parma, Mich., the 17-year-old was hardly emotional about the loss. He called it a "stupid little ring."

"I woke up one morning to move on to the next destination of our trip, the next leg, and couldn't find it," Biehl told News 5 Cleveland. "Hadn't seen hide nor hair of it since then."

That all changed recently when Linda Risner of Parma, Mich. (200 miles northwest of Parma, Ohio) discovered the Facebook page of the Parma Senior High School Alumni Association.

Risner had found Biehl's class ring 30 years ago, but was never able to locate the rightful owner. She searched on and off for decades, but always seemed to run into a road block.

The Good Samaritan posted a message to the alumni page saying that she found a 1989 class ring inscribed with the name Jim Biehl. She also included her phone number and email address. Biehl responded to Risner and his ring was soon in the mail — from Parma to Parma.

Days later, a news crew from Cleveland's ABC affiliate was on hand when Biehl opened the package.

"Holy cow," Biehl said as he viewed the ring for the first time in 30 years.

"I was just flabbergasted that somebody would go through that amount of effort, that amount of work, over a stupid little ring," he said.

But, then he explained why he's since gained a new appreciation for the jewelry.

"In her note to me, she said her husband had given his high school ring to their son and kind of passed it on. It got me thinking, 'It's not a stupid little piece of jewelry. It's something I can pass on to my kids when my time is long and done,'" he said.

He said that he plans to have his "unexpected Christmas gift" resized so he can wear it from time to time as a reminder of his roots and as a symbol of the good people in the world.

"The only thing I can say is, 'Thank you,'" he said. "And it doesn't even seem to scratch the surface of being able to show the proper amount of gratitude."

See the full segment from News 5 Cleveland, below...

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube/News 5 Cleveland.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Diavik Mine Yields 552-Carat Yellow Diamond, the Largest Ever Found in North America

In Canada’s frozen Northwest Territories, just 135 miles south of the Arctic Circle, the Diavik mine unexpectedly yielded a 552-carat fancy yellow diamond, the largest ever discovered in North America. The finding is remarkable because Canadian mines are known to produce high-quality diamonds, but not particularly large ones.

The quarter-pound gem-quality stone, which is the size of a chicken egg, is nearly three times heavier than the previous North American record holder, the 187.7-carat "Diavik Foxfire."

Despite its impressive dimensions, the Canadamark™ diamond rates only 25th on the all-time list of the world's largest rough diamonds, just ahead of the Lesotho's Letseng Star (550 carats) and just behind the Central African Republic's Spirit of de Grisogono (587 carats). The top seven diamonds on the list are all from the continent of Africa, including the granddaddy of them all, the 3,106-carat Cullinan, which was discovered near Pretoria, South Africa, in 1905.

Due to the historic nature of the stone, Dominion Diamond Mines, which owns 40% of Diavik, reported that it will be selecting a partner in the coming weeks to cut and polish it. The task is so risky and complex that only a handful of master cutters are capable of handling the assignment. Dominion expects to achieve a "significant" main stone once the diamond is polished.

Dominion Chief Executive Officer Shane Durgin told that it was miraculous that the diamond survived the mining process, which entails passing diamond-bearing ore through crushing machines. The 552.74-carat stone was uncovered during the initial screening process at Diavik’s recovery plant and abrasion markings on the stone’s surface attest to the difficult journey it underwent during recovery.

Measuring 33.74mm x 54.56mm, a diamond of this size is completely unexpected for this part of the world and marks a true milestone for diamond mining in North America and Canadamark™ diamonds overall, the company said in a statement.

Mining companies across the globe have been able to preserve 100-plus-carat diamonds due to improved screening technology that allows them to identify and extract large stones before being smashed.

Back in 2015, we reported how the 187-carat Diavik Foxfire diamond narrowly escaped being pulverized because of its unusual finger-like shape. The elongated diamond was saved when it slipped sideways through the filtering screen.

Credits: Diamond images courtesy of Dominion Diamond Mines. Map by Google.