Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Metal Detectorist Combs Cocoa Beach for 4 Hours to Recover Lost Wedding Ring

Coloradan Claire Land and her step-daughter were on a Make-a-Wish vacation to Disney World and Central Florida when the unthinkable happened. As they prepared to bask in the sun at beautiful Cocoa Beach, Land took off her wedding ring to apply some sunscreen. Moments later, the ring was gone.

“I felt like crying, and I did a little bit,” Land told NBC's Orlando affiliate WESH.

She dug in the sand, stripped the stroller and rifled through their backpacks, but the ring — which is actually her engagement ring and wedding band soldered together — could not be found.

Land and her clan traveled back to Colorado a few days later, ringless and dejected. But then the young mom had a brilliant idea.

She contacted Florida-based Dave Mollison on The Ring Finders' website. Now in its 10th year, the group, which comprises independent metal detectorists from around the world, is credited with having made 6,049 recoveries valued at more than $7.5 million.

Land sent Mollison a map of the general area of the beach where she last saw the ring. Mollison wasn't confident that he would have much success because the ring was lost near the Coconuts on The Beach bar — a busy spot that's frequently combed by other metal detector enthusiasts.

"I belong to what is called Ring Finders and a lot of these guys are ring keepers," Mollison told WESH. "A lot people go out metal detecting and I didn't think it would be there after a week."

Undaunted, Mollison started his search, methodically walking up and down the beach in a grid pattern.

After four tedious hours, The Ring Finder finally heard a faint ping on his headphones — a glimmering hope that something metallic was in the sand.

He dug down about 10 inches and scooped out Land's engagement ring/wedding band combo.

“Your heartbeat goes up a little bit and you're like, 'Alright I found it,’” Mollison said.

While still at the beach, Mollison texted Land photos of himself, smiling ear to ear and proudly displaying her precious keepsake. He mailed the ring to Colorado the same day.

Contacted via video chat by a reporter at WESH, Land said she was amazed that the ring was found. She really thought it was lost forever.

She also admitted that she felt like crying again.

"But in an awesome way," she said. "Just relief."

See WESH's coverage at this link...

Credits: Screen captures via wesh.com.

Monday, November 18, 2019

7-Carat Fancy Deep Blue Diamond Ring Earns Top-Lot Status at Christie's Geneva

With a hammer price of $11.6 million, a spectacular 7.03-carat fancy deep blue diamond ring earned top-lot status at Christie's Magnificent Jewels auction in Geneva last week.

Designed by London-based luxury jeweler Moussaieff, the platinum ring features a rectangular-cut center stone flanked by two pear-shaped diamonds. Christie's had estimated the ring would sell in the range of $10 million to $14 million.

The blue diamond boasts a clarity rating of VVS2 and a purity classification of Type IIb, an ultra-pure grade that accounts for only 0.1% of all natural diamonds.

In all, the Christie's auction at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues yielded $55.9 million, with 12 lots realizing more than $1 million.

Here are some of the highlights...

• A D-color, internally flawless diamond weighing 46.93 carats fetched $3.2 million. The cushion step-cut stone is flanked by half-moon-shaped modified brilliant-cut diamonds weighing 3.64 and 3.35 carats in a platinum setting. The ring had a pre-sale estimate of $3.8 million to $4.5 million.

• A fancy light purplish-pink, cut-cornered rectangular mixed-cut 32.49-carat diamond sold for $2.6 million, well above Christie's pre-sale high estimate of $2.2 million. The center diamond carries a VS2 clarity grade and is set on a thin gold band accented with round diamonds.

• This ring by Harry Winston, which features a rectangular-cut, VVS2, 25.20-carat diamond flanked by tapered baguettes, sold for $2.6 million. The ring was expected to sell in the range of $1.8 million to $2.2 million.

• A royal blue octagonal step-cut Burmese sapphire weighing 42.97 carats achieved a winning bid of $2.6 million. Set in a pendant and accented with triangular and round diamonds, the sapphire shows no indications of heat treatment. The piece entered the auction with a pre-sale estimate of $2 million to $3 million.

• Pear-shaped diamonds weighing 12.71 carats and 12.07 carats highlight a pair of platinum earrings that sold for $2.2 million. Both diamonds boasted D-color ratings, flawless clarity and excellent symmetry. The pre-show estimate for the pair was $1.9 to $2.5 million.

Credits: Photos courtesy of Christie's.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Music Friday: Eric Clapton Sings of Lessons Learned in 'Diamonds Made From Rain'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, rock legend Eric Clapton sings of lessons learned in his 2010 release, “Diamonds Made From Rain.”

in this bluesy track from his self-titled studio album, Clapton uses both diamond and pearl metaphors to tell the story of an older man who looks back on an imperfect life — humbly acknowledging the mistakes he's made along the way and accepting responsibility.

Clapton has learned from those mistakes and he feels those life experiences have made him a better person.

Clapton sings, “That everything is shown to me / I let it wash over me / Like diamonds made of rain / You can find joy inside the pain.”

Later he adds, “Everything that I've endured / For the wisdom of a pearl / I wouldn't change a thing / You can make diamonds from the rain."

Clapton invited his former love interest, Sheryl Crow, to sing harmonies on “Diamonds Made From Rain.” The pair reportedly had a brief relationship in the late 1990s and it was rumored that her song, “My Favorite Mistake,” is about him. Crow has denied that the song was about Clapton and said the relationship was not a mistake.

Clapton has sold more than 100 million albums and played 3,000-plus concerts during his 57 years as a performing artist. Over that time, more than two billion people in 58 countries across six continents have attended his concerts.

Ranked second on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time,” the 74-year-old Clapton is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — once as a solo artist, and separately as a member of the Yardbirds and Cream.

Born Eric Patrick Clapton in Surrey, England, in 1945, to a Canadian soldier stationed in England and a teenage mom, the future guitarist was raised by his maternal grandparents, convinced that his mother was his sister. At age nine, he learned that his "sister" was really his mom. Emotionally scarred, he became moody and distant and stopped applying himself at school.

Clapton loved music and got his first guitar on his 13th birthday. In 1961, at age 16, Clapton attended the Kingston College of Art and studied stained-glass design. He was expelled from college after one year because he spent most of his waking hours playing guitar and listening to the blues.

According to Clapton's official bio, he spent his early days in music as a street performer. When he was 17, Clapton joined his first band, The Roosters. To make ends meet, the young Clapton worked as a laborer alongside his grandfather, a master bricklayer. Clapton, who was making a name for himself on the R&B pub circuit, was recruited to become a member of The Yardbirds. The 18-year-old guitarist, who would earn the nickname Slowhand even though his hands were blazing fast, accepted the offer and the rest is history.

We invite you to enjoy the audio track of Clapton performing “Diamonds Made From Rain” at the end of this post. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along...

"Diamonds Made From Rain"
Written by Nikka Costa, Justin Mitchell Stanley and Doyle Bramhall II. Performed by Eric Clapton.

The moment's come and gone
Every memory leaves a trace
All that I've come to know
In the lines upon my face

Every storm that I have turned
Each forgiveness I have earned
Every shame that's taught me grace
From you I have learned

No love is lost
No love is lost

That everything is shown to me
I let it wash over me
Like diamonds made of rain
You can find joy inside the pain

Everything that I've endured
For the wisdom of a pearl
I wouldn't change a thing
You can make diamonds from the rain

Every mile of this road
Every chord that's struck my soul
You are the melody
That will soothe me 'til I'm old

If the promises are kept
I'll waive all of my regrets
I can say I've overcome
With you, my heart is open

No love was lost
No love was lost

That everything is shown to me
I let it wash over me
Like diamonds made of rain
You can find joy inside the pain

Everything that I've endured
For the wisdom of a pearl
I wouldn't change a thing
You can make diamonds from the rain

Credit: Photo by Raph_PH [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

This Gigantic, New Confection Features 3,500 Carats of Faceted Bling

Perfectly timed to coincide with the start of the "engagement season," the Bazooka candy company has introduced a gigantic version of its popular Ring Pop, the colorful confection that looks like a faceted gemstone. While the conventional Ring Pop weighs 40 grams and is equivalent to a 200-carat gemstone, the new Giant Ring Pop weighs 700 grams, or 3,500 carats.

To put this into jewelry-industry perspective, the Giant Ring Pop outweighs the Cullinan Diamond, which is the largest gem-quality rough diamond ever found. That stone was unearthed in South Africa in 1905 and tipped the scales at 3,106 carats.

The novelty lollipop, which comes with a bright red "gemstone" mounted on a "gold" plastic ring, sells for $9.98 at Walmart.com and is also available at Party City, Cracker Barrel, IT'SUGAR and Dylan's Candy Bar.

At first glance, the ring's 60 calories per serving seems reasonable. However, a closer look at the nutrition label reveals the sugary fact that the Giant Ring Pop packs 47 servings.

"We are beyond excited to introduce Giant Ring Pop, as this will be a huge surprise for our fans this holiday season," said Allison McCants, Senior Customer Marketing Manager for Bazooka Candy Brands. "Whether you grew up with memories of the iconic brand or looking for the ultimate holiday gift for that special someone, Giant Ring Pop is the perfect way to go BIG!"

Giant Ring Pop is sold in a single 24.7 oz package and is available in Sweet Strawberry flavor. Bazooka believes the enormous lollipop ring is the perfect prop for a fun social media moment.

The foodies at delish.com got up close and personal with the new Giant Ring Pop and reported that "it was just as over-the-top as one would think."

They wrote that the pop "smelled and tasted super nostalgic—the sticky-sweetness of the berry stuck with us for hours after we'd finished tasting it... and we were honestly not mad."

Credit: Image courtesy of Bazooka Candy Brands.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Birthstone Feature: At 19,747 Carats, This Gem Is the Smithsonian's Largest Faceted Citrine

As one of the two official birthstones for the month of November, citrine is the sun-kissed member of the quartz family of gemstones, with colors ranging from the warm hues of golden champagne to the deep orange-browns of Madeira wine. The stone perfectly embodies the color palette of the fall season.

The gem you see below is a smoky citrine from the Smithsonian's National Gem Collection. Sourced in Bahia, Brazil, the modified marquise-shaped gem weighs 19,747 carats, which is equivalent to 139 ounces or 8.69 pounds. It was faceted in 1987 by Michael Gray and acquired for the Collection in 2013.

The enormous gem is the largest faceted citrine displayed in the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals at the National Museum of Natural History. Its the most-visited natural history museum in the world and the National Gem Collection consists of approximately 350,000 mineral specimens and 10,000 gems.

Quartz, which is composed of silicon and oxygen, is colorless in its pure state. The Greeks referred to the material as "krystallos," or "ice." But when trace amounts of impurities invade its chemical structure, nature yields a wide range of brilliant hues. Citrine is colored by impurities of iron and is a near-cousin to other popular quartz-family members, including amethyst, rose quartz and tiger's eye.

The name "citrine" is derived from the French word "citron," meaning “lemon.” Most citrine comes from Brazil, but other important sources include Spain, Bolivia, France, Russia, Madagascar and the U.S. (Colorado, North Carolina and California).

As the American Gem Society reports, citrine's durability makes it a lovely option for large, wearable jewelry. With a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale, citrine is very resistant to scratches and everyday wear-and-tear.

Citrine wasn’t always an official birthstone for November. The National Association of Jewelers (now Jewelers of America) added it in 1952 as an alternative to topaz.

Credits: Rough citrine crystals from Brazil by Paweł Maliszczak [hardleo.com] [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Faceted gem image by Ken Larsen/Smithsonian.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Music Friday: Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard Can't Commit in ‘A Diamond and a Tether’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Death Cab for Cutie’s lead vocalist Ben Gibbard confesses to having commitment issues in the group’s 2009 release, “A Diamond and a Tether.”

In the song, Gibbard asks the listener to take pity on him because he’s not half the man he should be. He’s been misleading his girlfriend with empty promises and countless bluffs, but acknowledges, “I know you can’t hold out forever waiting on a diamond and a tether.”

The phrase "diamond and a tether" presents an interesting dichotomy. While the diamond stands for a commitment, love and marriage, the tether connotes the dreaded loss of freedom.

The singer-songwriter describes how he's managed to compromise just enough to keep the relationship going. He won't swim, but he will dip his toe in the water "just to keep you here with him."

In the end, Gibbard paints a grim picture of a boy who won't jump when he falls in love. He stands paralyzed with his toes on the edge and waits for his love "to disappear again."

“A Diamond and a Tether” appeared as the second track from the group’s The Open Door EP, a compilation of six songs that was nominated for Best Alternative Music Album at the 52nd Grammy Awards in 2010 and peaked at #30 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Death Cab for Cutie, which was formed as an alternative rock band in Washington State in 1997, has released nine full-length studio albums, four EPs, two live EPs, one live album, and one demo album. The group’s unusual name was derived from The Beatles’ 1967 film, Magical Mystery Tour. In the film, The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band performs a song called “Death Cab for Cutie.”

Death Cab for Cutie will be touring from the end of December through the beginning of March, with shows scheduled for Seattle, Milwaukee, Chicago and Tempe.

Check out the audio track of “A Diamond and a Tether” at the end of this post. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along...

“A Diamond and a Tether”
Written by Ben Gibbard. Performed by Death Cab for Cutie.

Pity, take pity on me.
‘Cause I’m not half the man that I should be.
Always turning to run,
from the people I should not be afraid of.

And darling, you should know
that I have fantasies about being alone.
It’s like love is a lesson,
that I can’t learn.
I make the same mistakes at each familiar turn.

I know you can’t hold out forever
waiting on a diamond and a tether
from a boy who won’t swim
but who will dip his toe in
just to keep you here with him.

I’ve got this habit I abhor.
When we go out I’m always watching the door.
’Cause if there’s someone I’m gonna see
who could outdo the things you do to me.

And I know you can’t hold out forever
waiting on a diamond and a tether
from a boy who won’t fly
but who will take to the skies if he thinks you are about to say goodbye.

Pity, take pity on me.
’Cause I’m not half the man that I should be.
And I don’t blame you,
you’ve had enough,
of all these empty promises and countless bluffs.

’Cause I know you can’t hold out forever
waiting on a diamond and a tether
from a boy who won’t jump when he falls in love.
He just stands with his toes on the edge
and he waits for it to disappear again.

Credit: Press photo by Eliot Lee Hazel [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Study: Couples Leave Little to Chance When Choosing Engagement Rings

Couples are leaving very little to chance when it comes to choosing engagement rings, according to The Knot's 2019 Jewelry and Engagement Study, which synthesized the buying habits of more than 21,000 engaged or recently married couples.

In the study, 7 of 10 "proposees" admit they were "somewhat involved" in selecting or purchasing their engagement ring, and nearly a quarter of that group (23%) say they looked at rings with their partner.

What's more, 78% of proposers say their significant other dropped hints about their ring preferences and nearly one in 10 proposees even report being present when the ring is selected or purchased.

The Knot reported in 2018 that 37% of engagements take place between November and February, so the popular bridal website celebrated the advent of the 2019-2020 "proposal season" by releasing the results of its extensive survey.

Some of the biggest takeaways are that the average cost of an engagement ring in 2019 is $5,900 (up from $5,680 in 2018), the most popular precious metal type is white gold (54%), the preferred diamond shape is round (47%) and social media is the best source for proposees to find ring-design inspiration (80%).

Here's more of what we learned...

• Proposers prefer to purchase their engagement rings from a local independent retail jeweler (40%). The second-most-popular outlet is a national or regional jewelry chain (30%).

• More than 90% purchase the center stone and setting from the same retailer.

• For the proposer, style/setting was the most important feature when selecting a ring, followed by price, then quality. For the proposee, style/setting also came first, followed by cut/shape and then type of stone.

• 7 in 10 proposers report sticking to their budget, while 94% report paying for the ring on their own and 3% say their partner helped contribute.

• The most popular center stones are diamonds at 83%, other precious stones at 10% and colored diamonds at 3%. The most popular "other" precious stones are moissanite (which has nearly doubled in popularity since 2017) at 19%, sapphire at 18%, morganite at 12% and aquamarine at 6%.

• The most popular setting materials are white gold (54%), rose gold (14%), platinum (13%), yellow gold (13%) and sterling silver (7%).

• The round brilliant-cut diamond is favored by 47%, followed by princess/square (14%), oval (14%), cushion (9%) and pearl/teardrop (5%).

• Proposers, in general, are less likely to use social media for ring inspiration. Instead, they rely on friends and family (34%), jewelry designer websites (32%), local brick-and-mortar jewelry stores (29%) and online wedding planning resources (22%).

• The amount spent on an engagement ring varied widely by region: Mid-Atlantic: $7,500; New England: $6,900; Southwest: $5,600; West: $5,500; Southeast: $5,400; Midwest: $5,300.

• The average men's wedding band costs $510 and the majority are made of tungsten (23%), followed by white gold (21%). The average women's wedding band costs $1,100 and the majority are made of white gold (52%), followed by rose gold (15%).

In addition to their purchasing preferences, The Knot also asked couples about how their proposals went down...

• 22% of couples connected using online dating websites or apps, up 5% from 2017; 19% met through friends; 17% at school; 13% through work; and 11% via a social setting.

• 71% dated for more than two years before getting engaged.

• The majority (67%) of engaged couples are between the ages of 25 to 34.

• 87% of engagements are planned ahead of time, while 13% are spontaneous.

• 40% of proposals are planned one to three months in advance and 17% are planned four to six months in advance.

• Nearly 90% of proposers ask their partner to marry them with a ring in hand, 87% say the words “will you marry me,” 84% ask on bended knee and 71% ask their partner’s parents for permission before proposing.

• Almost 50% of those proposing believe the proposal was a complete surprise to their partner, while only 33% of proposees say it actually was.

• Directly following the proposal, 75% call friends and family and 72% send them photos of their ring. Additionally, 92% share the news on social media.

Credit: Image by BigStockPhoto.com.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Did Neanderthals Share Eagle-Talon Styling With Homo Sapiens 40,000 Years Ago?

Researchers exploring an ancient cave in Spain have found what they believe is “the last necklace made by the Neanderthals.” The carved eagle talon was dated to 39,000 years ago, which is about the time when Neanderthals crossed paths with Homo sapiens and then became extinct.

In the journal Science Advances, researcher Juan Ignacio Morales contends that the custom of wearing eagle talon jewelry could have been a cultural transmission from the Neanderthals to modern humans, who adopted this practice after reaching Europe.

Eagle talons are the oldest ornamental elements known in Europe, say the researchers, even older than the seashells Homo sapiens perforated in northern Africa. The finding suggests that the Neanderthals — who not only devised ways to trap eagles, but also fashioned their talons into jewelry — were much more intelligent and style-conscious than previously believed.

The "last necklace" eagle talon was discovered at the Foradada cave in Calafell, Spain, by a team representing the Prehistoric Studies and Research Seminar (SERP) of the University of Barcelona.

The eagle talon at Cova Foradada was found among bone remains of the Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aquila Adalberti). On the talon were tool markings that indicated the talon was fashioned to be a pendant. The ancient cave has been a valuable source of early human research since 1997.

The finding was also remarkable because it represents the first evidence that Neanderthals used eagle talons as necklace pendants on the Iberian Peninsula. It was previously believed that this practice was limited to the Neanderthals that inhabited Southern Europe.

The researchers believe the eagle talon jewelry was created by the last group of Neanderthals known as the châtelperronian culture. Scientists say that Neanderthals appeared in Eurasia between 200,000 and 250,000 years ago and died out about 40,000 years ago.

Credit: Images courtesy © Antonio Rodriguez-Hidalgo.

Friday, November 01, 2019

Music Friday: Psychic Delivers 'Topaz' Hook for B-52s' Unfinished Song

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring your awesome tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we honor one of November's two official birthstones by sharing the little-known backstory of the B-52s' 1989 release, "Topaz."

Appearing as the ninth track on its blockbuster album, Cosmic Thing, "Topaz" is a breezy song about a fanciful city by the sea, where blue dolphins are singing, skyscrapers are winking and minds swim in ecstasy.

What most people don't know is that the group had been struggling with the song. They couldn't come up with a title or a hook.

B-52s vocalist and keyboardist Kate Pierson told the Onion AV Club that the song came together after she consulted with a Maine-based psychic.

“You have two more songs that you should write before you record… and one of them is ‘Topaz,’” Pierson remembered the psychic saying. “I just see the word ‘topaz.’”

In that one word, the band had their title and their chorus.

“We were, like, ‘Oh, my God: Topaz is the perfect name for this new city by the sea!’” Pierson said.

Drummer Keith Strickland was sure the group was on the right track when — in a moment of serendipity — he drove by a billboard promoting a Mercury automobile that read: “Topaz: The Right Choice.”

“In retrospect, it seemed so auspicious that that should happen,” Pierson told the Onion AV Club. “So we started jamming with those lyrics, and it just came together beautifully. The lyrics just make me tingle. It’s very meaningful. No matter how many times we sing it, it just feels very heartfelt. And it’s one of those songs that everyone knows, so when we play it, everybody gets up and starts shaking it a little bit.”

Although "Topaz" was never released as a single, it was an important track on an album that charted in eight countries and reached #9 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart.

The B-52s were formed in Athens, Ga., in 1976, and scored their first big hit, “Rock Lobster,” in 1978. The band’s name relates to the beehive hairdo Pierson and Cindy Wilson sported during the band’s early years. The shape of their beehives resembled the nosecone of a B-52 bomber.

Rooted in New Wave, the group continues to perform with original band members Pierson, Fred Schneider, Wilson and Keith Strickland. Among the group's most popular songs are "Planet Claire," "Private Idaho," "Whammy Kiss," "Party Out of Bounds," "Wig," "Love Shack" and "Roam."

Please check out the audio track of the B-52s performing "Topaz." The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Topaz”
Written and performed by The B-52s.

New cities by the sea
Skyscrapers are winking
Some hills are never seen
The universe expanding
We’re gazing out to sea
Blue dolphins are singing
Minds swim in ecstasy
Clear planet, ever free

Topaz
Our hearts are traveling faster,
Faster than the speed of love
Straight through a tear in the clouds
Up to the heavens above

Bright ships will sail the seas
Starfishes are spinning
Some hills are never seen
Our universe is expanding
Moonrise upon the sea
Starships are blinking
We’ll walk in ecstasy
Clear planet blue and green

Topaz
Our thoughts are traveling faster
Moving beyond the heavens above

Planets pulsating, constellations creating
Voices are guiding me to the cities by the sea
Yes, I see cities by the sea

Deep forests by the sea
Skyscrapers are winking
Some hills are never seen
The universe is expanding
Topaz

Credit: Collage by KevinPatrickLaw [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Newest Tournament of Roses Queen Wears Crown Adorned With 600 Akoya Pearls

When the newly crowned Rose Queen, Camille Kennedy, leads the 131st edition of the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, Calif., she will be wearing a special headpiece adorned with 600 Japanese Akoya cultured pearls, 10 Australian South Sea cultured pearls and six carats of diamonds.

Designed by Mikimoto, the crown took about a year to fabricate and is valued at $400,000.

The much-anticipated parade features floral floats, marching bands and high-stepping equestrian units along the 5 1/2 mile route. As always, the spectacle will be followed by the Rose Bowl college football game, now in its 106th year.

Kennedy, who is a senior at La Salle College Preparatory and lives in Pasadena, was crowned during a coronation ceremony held last week at the Pasadena Playhouse in Southern California.

Her selection followed a month-long process during which 45 top candidates from Pasadena-area schools competed for the coveted title. The participants were judged on their public speaking ability, academic achievement, youth leadership, community service and school involvement.

Kennedy will be donning the impressive three-pound crown, while her six princesses will be wearing simpler Mikimoto-designed cultured pearl tiaras valued at $90,000 each. Mikimoto Kōkichi is credited with creating the first cultured pearl in the late 1800s and subsequently starting the cultured pearl industry.

Historically, the Rose Queen’s head adornments have not been as lavish as they are today, according to the Associated Press. In the early 1900s, for example, the Rose Queens had no crowns. They simply wore hats or garlands.

The 2020 Rose Queen and her Royal Court will attend numerous community and media functions, serving as ambassadors of the Tournament of Roses, the Pasadena community and the greater Los Angeles area.

In the photo, above, Kennedy is wearing a white gown and is flanked by the members of her Royal Court: Rukan Saif, Mia Thorsen, Emilie Risha, Reese Rosental Saporito, Michael Wilkins and Cole Fox.

Credits: Queen and her court image via tournamentofroses.com; Crown photo courtesy of Mikimoto.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Smithsonian Adds 55-Carat 'Kimberley Diamond' to the National Gem Collection

The 55.08-carat, champagne-colored "Kimberley Diamond" is the newest member of the National Gem Collection. The emerald-cut gem was donated to the Smithsonian by philanthropist Bruce Stuart and went on display at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., this past Friday.

The Kimberley Diamond has been a rock star throughout its history. The Smithsonian noted that the Kimberley was one of the most recognizable gems in the world from the 1940s through the 1960s, as it appeared in books, magazines, newspapers and popular TV shows, such as It Takes a Thief and Ironside.

It was also exhibited throughout the U.S., including a highly promoted 2013 engagement at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

The gem was cut from a 490-carat crystal discovered at the Kimberley Mine in South Africa in 1921. Its original weight was 70 carats, but it was recut to its current proportions in 1958 to improve its clarity and brilliance. It had been owned by a private collector since 1971 and then acquired by Stuart in 2002.

The Kimberley Diamond, which dangles from an extraordinary diamond-encrusted necklace, can be seen at the National Museum of Natural History, just a few steps from the Hope Diamond in the Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals.

“We offer our sincere appreciation to Bruce Stuart for his generosity in making this historic gift to the nation," said Dr. Jeff Post, curator of the National Gem Collection. "It will enrich the National Collection for generations to come."

Credits: Images courtesy of the Smithsonian.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Music Friday: Dean Martin Has a Band of Gold, But No 'Wedding Bells' in His Future

Welcome to Music Friday when we like to bring you throwback songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, crooner Dean Martin sings about a little band of gold in his cover of "Wedding Bells," a song first made famous by country legend Hank Williams exactly 70 years ago.

In the song, Martin portrays a young man who has just gotten an invitation to his ex-girlfriend's wedding. Not only is he heartbroken by the thought of her marrying another man, but he reveals that he had been all set to pop the question.

He sings, "I planned a little cottage in the valley / And I even bought a little band of gold / I thought someday I'd place it on your finger / But now the future looks so dark and cold."

In the end, Martin laments that wedding bells will never ring out for him.

Although the official writing credit for "Wedding Bells" is attributed to guitarist Claude Boone, country music historian Colin Escott wrote that Boone actually purchased the song for $25 from James Arthur Pritchett, a musician who performed under the name Arthur Q. Smith. Twenty-five dollars in 1949 is equivalent to about $300 today.

It turned out to be a great investment for Boone. The song was recorded by some of the biggest names in the music business, including Williams (1949), Hank Snow (1957), Marty Robbins (1958), George Jones (1962), Martin (1965), Jerry Lee Lewis (1967), Charlie Rich (1967), Bill Anderson (1968), Conway Twitty (1971), Glen Campbell (1973) and Lissie (2009).

Of all the versions of "Wedding Bells" posted to YouTube, we like Martin's the most. The song is included as the last track on his album titled Dean Martin Hits Again.

Born Dino Paul Crocetti in Steubenville, Ohio, in 1917, Martin’s first language was Italian and he didn’t start learning English until he entered school at the age of five. His lack of English skills made him a target of neighborhood bullies. He dropped out of school in 10th grade because he believed he was smarter than his teachers. The teenager made ends meet by bootlegging liquor, working in a steel mill and dealing blackjack at a speakeasy. He also became a welterweight boxer.

Martin moved to New York City, where he worked as a croupier in an illegal casino behind a tobacco shop. He called himself “Dino Martini” and started singing for local bands. He got his first big break working for the Ernie McKay Orchestra.

He would go on to record some of his generation’s most memorable tunes, including “Memories Are Made of This,” “That’s Amore,” “Everybody Loves Somebody,” “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You,” “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head?” and “Volare.”

Martin passed away on Christmas Day 1995 at the age of 78. In 1996, Ohio’s Route 7 through Steubenville was rededicated as Dean Martin Boulevard.

Please check out the audio track of Martin’s cover of “Wedding Bells.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

"Wedding Bells"
Written by Claude Boone. Performed by Dean Martin.

(Wedding bells, wedding bells)

I have the invitation that you sent me
You wanted me to see you change your name
I couldn't stand to see you wed another
But I hope you're happy just the same

Wedding bells are ringing in the chapel
That should be ringing out for you and me
Down the aisle with someone else you're walkin'
Those wedding bells will never ring for me

I planned a little cottage in the valley
And I even bought a little band of gold
I thought someday I'd place it on your finger
But now the future looks so dark and cold

Wedding bells are ringing in the chapel
That should be ringing out for you and me
Down the aisle with someone else you're walkin'
So wedding bells will never ring for me
So wedding bells will never ring for me

Credit: Image by ABC Television [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

GIA Commits $1.3 Million to Extend Reach of Artisanal Mining Education Project

Building on the success of a pilot project that gave small-scale miners in Tanzania new tools to evaluate the quality of rough gemstones, the GIA is committing $1.3 million to extend the program into Madagascar, Nigeria, Rwanda and Zambia.

Artisanal miners are provided with an innovative guide that illustrates how to examine and evaluate rough gemstones found in East Africa. The booklet is waterproof and comes with a durable plastic tray that can be used to sort gems and do basic gemological evaluations.

“This is a tremendous step forward in our efforts to bring information directly to artisanal miners right at the beginning of the gem and jewelry supply chain,” said GIA President and CEO Susan Jacques. “We know that this investment will bring an invaluable benefit to miners, their families and the communities in which they live.”

Working with Pact, a Washington D.C.-based international development nonprofit organization with expertise in the region, GIA plans to reach 10,000 miners.

“We found that for every dollar invested, there was a 12-fold social return that will last years into the future,” said Cristina M. Villegas, technical program manager for Pact’s Mines to Markets program. “With their new knowledge, miners improve their income, send their children to school, invest in their mines and their communities.”

First developed in English and later translated into Swahili, the photo-rich booklet titled “Selecting Gem Rough: A Guide for Artisanal Miners” was developed by the GIA research and library staff under the guidance of GIA Distinguished Research Fellow Dr. James Shigley and Dona Dirlam, then-director of the GIA library.

GIA staff, including Robert Weldon, current director of the Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library and Information Center at GIA and a major contributor to the development and content of the guide, trained more than 1,000 artisanal miners on how to use the guide and tray during a two-week period earlier this year in Tanzania.

“There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the reaction of the miners as they learn the material – you instantly see that you’ve positively made a change in someone’s life,” said Weldon. “These transcendent moments make us so proud that we can provide artisanal miners with a gem guide that gives them the confidence to know their value in the market.”

The broader rollout into Madagascar, Nigeria, Rwanda and Zambia will be funded through the GIA endowment.

An independent nonprofit organization, the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) is recognized as the world’s foremost authority in gemology.

Credits: Pact representative Norbert Massay, GIA Graduate Gemologist (GG) Marvin Wambua and GIA’s library director Robert Weldon instruct artisanal miners in MoroGoro, Tanzania. Photo by Pedro Padua/GIA; Robert Weldon, GIA director of the Richard T. Liddicoat Library and Information Center, is pictured with an artisanal miner from Tunduru, Tanzania. Photo by Pedro Padua/GIA.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Bridal Jewelry Stored Away for 60 Years Finally Adorns College Sweetheart's Finger

Eighty-seven-year-old Aussie Tom Susans finally got to marry his college sweetheart last weekend with bridal jewelry he had stored away for the past 60 years.

Susans and Judith Beston met at a teacher's training college in Brisbane, Australia, in 1957 and agreed to tie to knot two years later when Susans graduated and landed a good job in his field of study.

He had already purchased an engagement ring and wedding band when Beston's mum pulled the plug on the relationship. Susans was 27 at the time and Beston's mum disapproved because she felt he was far too old to be courting her 20-year-old daughter.

"I thought, 'This is good, I can get married here and Mum can help me a bit,' but at home it was really difficult," Beston told Australia's ABC network. "Mum didn't want Tom involved. She thought he was much too old for me."

Without telling Susans her plans, Beston abruptly moved from Australia to New Zealand, where she got a job as a school teacher and started a new life.

"She just disappeared," Tom told ABC. "I didn't know where she was. I couldn't find her anywhere in Australia."

A brokenhearted Susans placed the engagement ring and wedding band intended for Beston in a wooden cabinet and there's where they remained for the next 60 years.

Beston went on to marry an Englishman with whom she raised seven children. Susans married a fellow teacher and established a home in Rockhampton, Australia, where they raised four girls.

Throughout his 53-year marriage, Susans always wondered about the one who got away. He consistently attended the reunions of the Queensland University of Technology, hoping to reconnect in some way. He couldn't find her at the 30th or the 40th. At the 50th, he didn't even try.

But, when he returned from the 50th reunion he scanned through the names of the 400 attendees and, sure enough, Beston's name was on the list.

"I thought she had died," said Susans.

It was 2009 when Susans and Beston finally met face-to-face at another Golden Graduates Reunion. They had a great time catching up on each other's lives, but for the next decade they only communicated via Christmas cards.

When Susans' wife, Sylvia, passed away, he decided to correspond more frequently with Beston, who lost her husband many years earlier.

In April of this year, the two connected once again when Beston traveled to Australia to celebrate her 80th birthday.

The two holidayed on the Queensland coast and this is where Susans proposed to Beston, again, with the engagement ring he had purchased in 1959.

This time, her mum wasn't around to stand in their way.

"When he asked me to marry him, I said yes straightaway," Judith told ABC.

"I thought after 60 years, it was about time she had it back — and it fitted," Susans said.

The couple officially tied the knot last weekend in an intimate ceremony attended by family and close friends.

And this past weekend, Beston proudly wore her old/new bridal jewelry as she and Susans participated in their 60th Golden Graduates Reunion.

Credits: Screen captures via abc.net.au.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Music Friday: Dion's 'Prima Donna' Wears Charms, Diamonds and Pearls Galore

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring nostalgic tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Dion's 1963 hit, "Donna the Prima Donna," shines the spotlight on a young woman who aspires to be a socialite and has an affection for the finer things in life, including jewelry and gemstones.

While Donna loves to talk about high society, she's really just a working-class girl. As Dion sings, "She always wears charms, diamonds, pearls galore / She buys them at the 5 and 10 cents store / She wants to be just like Zsa Zsa Gabor / Even though she's the girl next door."

As a poor kid from the Bronx, New York, Dion acknowledges that winning her heart will be nearly impossible, singing, "Pretty little girl, I don't stand a chance /Without any money there goes our romance."

Written by Dion and Ernie Maresca, "Donna the Prima Donna" appeared on Dion's 1963 album of the same name. The song zoomed to #6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and #17 on the R&B chart, and continues to get airplay 56 years after its release.

Born in 1939, Dion DiMucci developed his love for music early in life while touring with his dad, Paquale DiMucci, a vaudeville entertainer. Dion's singing style was honed on the street corners of the Bronx, where he and his buddies performed a cappella riffs.

Dion started his career in the late 1950s as the frontman for Dion and the Belmonts. He rocketed to stardom after going solo in 1960 and is best remembered for the singles "Runaround Sue," "The Wanderer," "Ruby Baby" and "Donna the Prima Donna."

Trivia: Dion also released an Italian version of "Donna the Prima Donna." The lead vocals are in Italian, but the backing vocals — provided by The Del-Satins — are identical to the original song.

Dion, who celebrated his 80th birthday in July and continues to tour, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.

We hope you enjoy these clips of Dion performing "Donna The Prima Donna." (As a fun bonus, we've also included the Italian-language version.) The English lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along...

"Donna The Prima Donna"
Written by Dion DiMucci and Ernie Maresca. Performed by Dion.

Donna, Donna the Prima Donna
Broke my heart.
We're apart.
Thinks she's smart.

I met a girl a month ago
I thought that she would love me so.
But in time I realized.
She had a pair of roving eyes.

I remember the nights we dated,
Always acting sophisticated,
Talking about high society,
Then she tried to make a fool out of me.

They call her Donna, Donna the Prima Donna
Broke my heart now.
Thinks she's smart now.
We're apart now.

Pretty little girl you're just having fun
You're running all around and breaking lover's hearts.
Pretty little girl, I don't stand a chance,
Without any money there goes our romance.

She always wears charms, diamonds, pearls galore,
She buys them at the 5 and 10 cents store.
She wants to be just like Zsa Zsa Gabor,
Even though she's the girl next door.

They call her Donna, Donna the Prima Donna.
Broke my heart.
Thinks she's smart.
We're apart.

Pretty little girl you're just having fun,
You're running all around, you're breaking lover's hearts.
Pretty little girl, I don't stand a chance,
Without any money there goes our romance.

She always wears charms, diamonds, pearls galore,
She buys them at the 5 and 10 cents store.
She wants to be just like Zsa Zsa Gabor,
Even though she's Donna next door.

Donna, Donna the Prima Donna
(Repeats)

Credit:Screen capture via Youtube.com.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Why Princess Diana's Engagement Ring Choice Irked the British Royal Family

Back in February of 1981, Prince Charles proposed to the 20-year-old Lady Diana with a big blue sapphire-and-diamond ring that the future princess got to pick out herself. According to the editors of Vogue, some members of the British royal family fumed at Diana's choice — not because it featured an unconventional center stone, but because it was a stock item from the Garrard catalog.

Founded in London in 1735, Garrard was the official crown jeweler of the UK from 1843 until 2007. The distinguished company that had been entrusted with the upkeep of the British Crown Jewels was the logical source for Diana's bridal jewelry.

So, in the lead-up to their engagement, the 32-year-old Prince Charles presented his bride-to-be with a bunch of design options from Garrard. Her favorite was an 18-karat white gold ring set with a 12-carat oval Ceylon sapphire surrounded by a halo of 14 round white diamonds.

In Diana's eyes, the ring was perfect. She loved it so much that she didn't request any modifications or customizations.

In the eyes of her critics and some members of the royal family, the ring was sub-standard because it was hardly unique. Critics called the Garrard stock item a "commoner's ring" because any non-royal with $60,000 to spend could purchase the exact piece.

Nevertheless, Diana's sapphire and diamond engagement ring would become one of the most recognizable and imitated engagement rings of all time. Gerrard still features a sapphire ring with a halo of 12 diamonds in its "1735 Collection." (The ring seen, above, is a replica with 16 accent stones.)

Diana wore the ring throughout her marriage and even, on some occasions, after her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996.

After Diana died tragically in 1997, her sons, then 15 and 12, were given an opportunity to select a keepsake from their mom's possessions.

Prince William picked a Cartier watch that his mom received on her 21st birthday and Harry got the sapphire engagement ring.

But, wait... Didn't Prince William famously propose to Kate Middleton in October of 2010 with his late mother's sapphire ring? Well, yes. We learned in April of this year, that the sapphire ring proposal was made possible by the selfless act of William's younger brother, Harry.

According to Diana’s former butler, Paul Burrell, the princess's ring was in Harry’s possession for 12 years. When William broke the news to his brother that he was about to propose to his long-time girlfriend, Kate, the younger brother said, “Wouldn’t it be fitting if she had mummy’s ring? Then one day that ring will be sat on the throne of England.”

William accepted his brother’s generous offer and the rest is history.

Credits: Princess Diana photo by John Mathew Smith [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Engagement ring replica by Ann Porteus from Tasmania, Australia [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, October 14, 2019

St. Louis Blues' Stanley Cup Rings Sparkle With 282 Diamonds, 51 Sapphires

Sparkling with 282 diamonds and 51 sapphires, the St. Louis Blues' first-ever Stanley Cup rings pay tribute to the strong bond between the players and their dedicated fans. The impressive 14-karat white and yellow gold rings — which boast a total gem weight of 10.6 carats — were recently presented to the players, coaches and executives by local police and firefighters during a private ceremony.

Founded in 1967, the St. Louis Blues and their fans waited 52 years to raise the Stanley Cup.

Designed by Jostens, the ring face features the Blues' distinctive Blue Note logo rendered with 16 genuine, custom-cut blue sapphires. The number 16 represents the number of victories earned by the Blues on their path to the championship. Jostens reported that each sapphire had to be delicately shaved so each would fit exactly within the logo's yellow gold outline.

The Blue Note logo sits atop the Stanley Cup, rendered with 45 pavé-set diamonds. To the left and right of the Cup are 30 more diamonds for a total of 75 — a number representing the goals scored by the Blues during the 2019 postseason.

The words "STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS" in raised gold lettering encircle the face of the ring and sit against a ground of custom blue antiquing. Completing the top's stunning design are 115 additional diamonds intricately set in a cascading waterfall effect.

A total of 20 princess-cut sapphires — channel set in yellow gold — wrap around two sides of the ring's top edge. One of the remaining two sides features the player's name in raised yellow gold lettering, and the fourth side showcases the words "ST. LOUIS BLUES" with "ST. LOUIS" in raised gold letters and the word "BLUES" colored with blue antiquing.

The player's jersey number set in diamonds is prominently placed on the left side of the ring, along with an illustration of the players and fans celebrating their victory with the Stanley Cup held aloft. Also on the left side of the ring is the championship year of 2019.

Intricately detailed music notes for the song “When the Blues Go Marching In” are featured on the right side of the ring. The music notes flow through the iconic St. Louis Arch, formed by 16 diamonds, again representing the number of victories earned in the playoffs. According to Jostens, the scene is inspired from photos taken from an overhead blimp during the city’s championship parade celebration. A mix of 76 diamonds and 15 sapphires symbolizes the huge crowd that surrounded the stage during the city's celebration.

The results of the each playoff series and the opponents' logos are engraved on the interior of the ring, along with the Blue Note logo. Below the scores is an engraving of the player's personal signature. Also on the interior is the name "LAILA," an 11-year-old superfan who suffers from a rare, life-threatening disease. Laila Anderson was a season-long source of inspiration for the team.

The palm crest reads "PLAY GLORIA," a nod to the Laura Branigan song that was played after the team's home victories.

“The Blues journey to become Stanley Cup Champions for the first time was nothing short of extraordinary," said Chris Poitras VP and COO of Jostens Professional Sports Division, "and we wanted to honor that story through an equally incredible ring."

Credits: Images courtesy of Jostens.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Music Friday: Mario's New Love Deserves a Fistful of Diamonds, Handful of Rings

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you hit songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Mario tells his new love interest why she deserves a fistful of diamonds and a handful of rings in his 2004 blockbuster hit, "Let Me Love You."

Written by Ne-Yo, Kameron Houff and Scott Storch, "Let Me Love You" is the story of a young woman with relationship problems. She has to choose between a cheating boyfriend who comes home with makeup on his shirt and a sweet-talking suitor who promises to show her the way love's supposed to be.

Mario sings, "You're the type of woman (deserves good thangs) / Fistful of diamonds (handful of rings) / Baby you're a star (I just want to show you, you are)."

The song, which appears on Mario's second studio album, Turning Point, was an instant hit, as it zoomed to #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and remained there for nine consecutive weeks. It was also an international hit, charting in 19 countries. Billboard named "Let Me Love You" the eighth most successful single of the decade. It even earned Mario a Grammy award nomination for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 2006.

Trivia: Mario's "Let Me Love You" is one of the top-selling ringtones of all time with 1.6 million downloads.

Mario Dewar Barrett was born in Baltimore in 1986. At age four, Barrett told his family that he wanted to be a singer, and to support his dream, his mother bought him a karaoke machine. At age 11, Barrett signed a record deal after being discovered at a Coppin State College talent show by producer Troy Patterson. Three years later, the talented teen signed a new deal with Clive Davis' J Records.

Please check out the video of Mario's duet with Zendaya. The live performance of "Let Me Love You" is from the short-lived television show called Greatest Hits ABC, which ran in the summer of 2016. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Let Me Love You"
Written by Ne-Yo, Kameron Houff and Scott Storch. Performed by Mario, with Zendaya.

Baby I just don't get it
Do you enjoy being hurt?
I know you smelled the perfume, the make-up on his shirt
You don't believe his stories
You know that they're all lies
Bad as you are, you stick around and I just don't know why

If I was ya man (baby you)
Never worry bout (what I do)
I'd be coming home (back to you)
Every night, doin' you right
You're the type of woman (deserves good thangs)
Fistful of diamonds (handful of rings)
Baby you're a star (I just want to show you, you are)

You should let me love you
Let me be the one to give you everything you want and need
Baby good love and protection
Make me your selection
Show you the way love's supposed to be
Baby you should let me love you, love you, love you"

Listen Your true beauty's description
Looks so good that it hurts
You're a dime plus ninety-nine
And it's a shame don't even know what you're worth
Everywhere you go they stop and stare
'Cause you're bad and it shows
From your head to your toes, out of control, baby you know

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

'Journey' Ad Campaign Tells the Timeless and Epic Story of Natural Diamonds

The Diamond Producers Association (DPA) is launching an $11 million ad campaign that is an unprecedented, cinematic telling of the natural diamond story. Titled "The Diamond Journey," the video chronicles the history of a beautiful rough diamond from its fiery subterranean origins to its place as the ultimate representation of love, commitment and meaningful moments.

At the epicenter of the campaign is a three-minute hero film that could be mistaken as the trailer for a major motion picture, due to its impressive special effects, period costumes, cast of characters and engaging score by Oscar-winning musician, Atticus Ross.

As the newest part of the “Real is Rare, Real is a Diamond” platform, the campaign was developed in partnership with creative agency BBH London. The film was directed by Ian Pons Jewell, whose impressive client list includes Nike, Audi, Lexus and Michelob.

“We know from research that the majority of consumers are unaware that diamonds are the oldest thing they will ever touch or own," noted Jean-Marc Lieberherr, CEO of the DPA. "It’s a powerful message that resonates and one this campaign celebrates with the tagline ‘Three Billion Years in the Making.’"

The campaign also uses the phrase "Before there was life, there were diamonds."

Elements of the three-minute hero film have been edited into 60-, 30- and 15-second videos, which will be seen on social media platforms. The DPA is also producing striking portrait and landscape still visuals of an embracing pair of hands emerging from a natural scene. One of the hands is adorned with a diamond ring (See image, above).

The featured item in the campaign is a 2-carat cushion-cut diamond engagement ring, set in yellow gold. It was chosen because it evokes a classic, timeless quality with eternal appeal.

The advertising campaign, which has a primary target audience of 21-39 year olds, launches digitally on October 15 with Condé Nast, The New York Times and Sports Illustrated, among others. The creative ads also will be posted to Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

"The Diamond Journey" commercials will be seen during NFL games on ESPN, holiday movies on the Hallmark channel, and The Today Show on NBC.

The DPA is also targeting high-impact placements in transit hubs and key cities during the busy holiday travel and gifting season. Expect to see "The Diamond Journey" messaging in New York's Grand Central Terminal, JFK and LAX airports, and select in-flight TVs.

Check out the full-length version of "The Diamond Journey" here...

Credits: Image courtesy of the Diamond Producers Association.

Monday, October 07, 2019

Average Guy Knows His Partner Is 'The One' After 7 Months of Dating: Survey

The average American man knows after seven months of dating if his partner is "the one" and nearly half received not-so-subtle hints encouraging the proposal, according to a survey conducted for the Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group.

Two of the top five methods of dropping hints included forwarding emails from jewelry websites (45%) and stopping in jewelry stores to look at rings (40%). Other key signs that a partner was looking to tie the knot included watching TV or movies that involved weddings (54%), discussing other people’s engagements and marriages (52%), and leaving wedding magazines out to be discovered (50%).

The survey also revealed that it took an average of two months to find the perfect diamond. Of those who proposed with a ring, three in five noted that they were guided by their partners about ring preferences.

After purchasing the engagement ring, nearly half of the men kept it in a home safe while 30% put it in a shoebox. A quarter of the men kept the ring with them all the time, while 27% gave it to mom and dad for safekeeping. The survey also found the most common methods to protect the investment were a jeweler’s warranty (56%), specialty jeweler’s insurance (43%) and manufacturer’s warranty (42%).

Nearly eight in 10 men (79%) said their proposal went exactly as planned and 85% revealed that their proposal actually surprised their partner. We had previously reported that when it comes to getting engaged, nearly half of American brides-to-be want their engagement rings to be a surprise.

Followers of this blog know all too well that the best laid proposal plans sometimes go awry. We've reported on major snafus that nearly thwarted their engagements — including rings getting flushed down the toilet, trapped in lost luggage, falling into city utility grates, and even being washed out to sea during the proposal.

Luckily, all had happy endings.

“Popping the question and finding that perfect ring to symbolize your love are huge decisions,” said Jessica VandenHouten, brand communications manager for Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group. “Deciding how to protect the ring should be equally important. Given the time, financial and emotional investment, you want to protect the ring for all its worth.”

The survey results are based on responses from 2,000 engaged and married American men and was conducted by OnePoll on behalf of the Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group.

Credits: Top image by BigStockPhoto.com; Infographics courtesy of Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Unusual Color-Change Johnkoivulaite Is the Newest Member of the Beryl Family

Johnkoivulaite, a mineral that changes from deep violet to near colorless when viewed with polarized light, is the newest member of the beryl family, which includes emerald, aquamarine and morganite.

The mineral is named after gemologist and author John Koivula, who is best known for his contributions to inclusion research and photomicrography.

The 1.16-carat crystal, shown above, was discovered in the Mogok Valley of Myanmar by local gemologist Nay Myo and confirmed as a new mineral species by the Gemological Institute of America and the International Mineralogical Association.

GIA Senior Research Scientist Aaron Palke unveiled the newly named mineral at the Geological Society of America (GSA) conference on September 25 in Phoenix.

“We are privileged to be able to name this mineral after John Koivula who has contributed so much to science and the gem and jewelry industry as a prominent gemologist and innovator in photomicrography,” said Tom Moses, GIA's executive vice president and chief laboratory and research officer.

The GIA reported that johnkoivulaite has a hardness of 7.5 on the Mohs scale and a hexagonal crystal structure that is very similar to beryl and other members of the beryl group. But, what makes the mineral especially unique is the way it changes from a deep violet to near colorless when subjected to polarized light. This optical phenomenon is called pleochroism.

The johnkoivulaite specimen has found a new home in the GIA museum collection, located at the Institute’s world headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif. Established in 1931, the GIA is recognized as the world’s foremost authority in gemology.

Koivula has more than 40 years of industry experience in research and photomicrography. In 1986, Koivula co-authored with Edward J. Gübelin the immensely popular Photoatlas of Inclusions in Gemstones, followed by two additional volumes. Koivula also wrote The Microworld of Diamonds and co-authored Geologica with Robert Coenraads.

Credits: Photomicrographs by Nathan Renfro/GIA; John Koivula photo by Kevin Schumacher.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Neon Blue Paraiba Tourmaline Is the Most Prized Variety of October's Birthstone

Tourmaline comes in a wide variety of fiery, vibrant hues, such as red, green, yellow, orange, brown, pink and purple. October's birthstone is even available in bi-color and tri-color versions. But, the most coveted tourmaline of all is the neon blue variety that was originally unearthed in Paraiba, Brazil, in 1987.

Gemologists learned that Paraiba tourmalines were distinctly different from the rest because they owed their intense blue color to trace impurities of copper. Other tourmalines got their color from the presence of iron, manganese, chromium and vanadium.

Paraiba tourmalines from Brazil are extremely rare, especially in sizes larger than a few carats. That's why the pear-shaped specimen, above, is so remarkable. It weighs 6.69 carats and is the first Paraiba tourmaline to join the National Gem Collection at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

The popularity of Paraiba tourmaline sparked a mining frenzy in Brazil, and within five years, the supply was largely tapped out, according to the Smithsonian. In 2001, new Paraiba-like tourmalines were discovered in Nigeria. Interestingly, the vivid blue-green gems boasted the same color and chemistry as the Brazilian-sourced goods. Then, only one year later, miners in Mozambique reported a similar find.

Today, gem dealers refer to neon blue or green, copper-infused tourmalines as "Paraiba," regardless of their origin. Tourmalines range from 7 to 7.5 on the Moh’s scale of hardness, which makes them durable enough to be used in any type of jewelry. According to gemstone.org, a small, vivid-color Paraiba gemstone will have a greater value than a larger one of lesser color, all other factors being equal.

The name “tourmaline” is derived from the Singhalese words “tura mali,” which mean “stone with mixed colors.”

Tourmaline has been an official birthstone for October since the original list was published by the National Association of Jewelers in 1912. Opal is the month's other official birthstone.

Credit: Photo by Greg Polley/Smithsonian.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Princess Beatrice's New Engagement Bling Is Inspired by Her Grandma's Ring

Princess Beatrice, the granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II, is rocking a new 3.5-carat diamond engagement ring from Italian real estate tycoon Edoardo Mapellu Mozzi. The ring, which reflects "Victorian and Art Deco fusion," features a round center stone flanked by smaller diamond baguettes in a platinum setting.

Unlike her sister, Eugenie, who got engaged nearly two years ago with an avant-garde padparadscha, Beatrice's bling is said to be inspired by her grandmother's platinum engagement ring, which also has a large white center stone flanked by smaller white diamonds.

The 93-year-old queen has been wearing her ring since the day she accepted Prince Philip's marriage proposal in July of 1947. The prince celebrated his 98th birthday in June.

Eugenie’s ring — an oval padparadscha surrounded by a halo of white diamonds — was strikingly similar in design to the engagement ring of her mother, Sarah, Duchess of York, whose ruby center stone complemented her red hair.

Eugenie’s choice of center stone had sparked the obvious question: What's a padparadscha? Followers of the British royal family soon learned that the beautiful gemstone is one of the rarest and most valuable varieties of sapphire, boasting a rich salmon color.

Beatrice's more traditional engagement ring was revealed in a series of photos posted to Eugenie's official Instagram page. The post included a congratulatory message from Eugenie, along with a comment from the new bride-to-be. The photos were taken by Eugenie on the grounds of Windsor Great Park.

Eugenie wrote, "Beabea - wow! I'm so happy for you my dearest big sissy and dear Edo. It's been a long time coming and you two are meant to be. [Photo] by me!!"

Beatrice added, “We are extremely happy to be able to share the news of our recent engagement. We are both so excited to be embarking on this life adventure together and can’t wait to actually be married. We share so many similar interests and values and we know that this will stand us in great stead for the years ahead, full of love and happiness.”

Beatrice's new fiancé collaborated with British jeweler Shaun Leane on the ring's design. Jewelry experts believe the ring's value is approximately £100,000 ($122,000). The two have known each other for many years, but began dating about a year ago. The couple is expected to walk down the aisle some time in 2020.

Credits: Princess Beatrice images by Princess Eugenie/Instagram. Padparadscha ring screen capture via YouTube.com/The Royal Family Channel.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Music Friday: Rachael Price Sings, 'If You're Married, Baby, Wear a Wedding Band'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, lead singer Rachael Price of Lake Street Dive delivers some sassy, unambiguous straight talk to aggressive males in the group's 2014 ditty, "Wedding Band."

When introducing the song during live performances, Price jokes that what they're about to perform is a PSA (public service announcement) — from the gals in the band to a select group of guys in the audience.

She sings, "If you're married, wear a wedding band / There's no need for you to whisper in my ear / When you can say it with your hand / If you're gonna go breakin' my heart / There's no need for you to let it linger / When you can say it with your finger / If you're married, baby, wear a wedding band."

Written by bassist Bridget Kearney, "Wedding Band" is an amusing sub-two-minute sing-along that showcases Price's rich and sultry voice. Her stylings have been favorably compared to those of Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. A reviewer for chicagoreader.com went a step farther, characterizing Price as "one of the greatest American singers alive."

Founded at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston in 2004, Lake Street Dive gets its name from a specific area within the hometown of trumpeter Mike "McDuck" Olson. In his hometown of Minneapolis, Lake Street is famous for its dive bars.

The band members of Lake Street Dive were all influenced by classic pop, soul and jazz. Noted drummer Mike Calabrese, "We want it to sound like the Beatles and Motown had a party together."

The band got its big break when a bluesy cover of The Jackson 5's “I Want You Back” was posted on Reddit by an anonymous fan. Soon, the video earned more than a million views and actor Kevin Bacon was tweeting about it.

"There’s a nameless faceless hero of our band, who put it on there and everything changed overnight," Price told pastemagazine.com. "The Internet is a rocket ship to fame.”

The Brooklyn-based band will be spending the next few months touring New Hampshire, Upstate New York, Connecticut, Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Ontario.

Please check out the video of Lake Street Dive's live performance of "Wedding Band." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Wedding Band"
Written by Bridget Kearney. Performed by Lake Street Dive.

If you're married, wear a wedding band
There's no need for you to whisper in my ear
When you can say it with your hand
If you're gonna go breakin' my heart
There's no need for you to let it linger
When you can say it with your finger
If you're married, baby, wear a wedding band

You've got somebody
That'll love you forever already (already)
And you owe it to her, and you owe it to me
To hold steady

If you're married, wear a wedding band
There's no need for you to whisper in my ear
When you can say it with your hand
If you're gonna go breakin' my heart
There's no need for you to let it linger
When you can say it with your finger

If you're married, baby, wear a wedding...
Married, baby, wear a wedding...
Married, baby, wear a wedding band

Credit: Photo by Steven Pisano [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Inspired by Fellow Canadian, Homesteader Proposes With a Carrot-and-Diamond Ring

Inspired by the story of a Canadian woman whose lost engagement ring turned up in a vegetable patch 13 years later — cinched tightly around a carrot — fellow Canadian John Neville looked to replicate the phenomenon to surprise his bride-to-be, Danielle (Deejay) Squires.

Neville recounted to The Washington Post how he had purchased the diamond engagement ring four years ago, but hid it in his work shed until he could come up with the perfect way to pop the question.

In June of this year, the resident of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, got to work.

First, he filled a five-gallon bucket with soil. Then he pressed the engagement ring into the center of the bucket to bury it. Using a pencil, he poked a narrow hole aimed right through the center of the ring. He put a few carrot seeds in the hole, sprinkled a bunch of seeds around the perimeter of bucket and hoped for the best.

After tending his secret project for three months, it appeared that the carrots were ready for harvesting.

On Saturday, he invited Squires and their three-year-old son, Eric, to pick some carrots for dinner.

Neville was relieved when Eric pulled a few well-formed carrots from the other edge of the bucket. Then he asked Squires to pull the one in the center.

As she wriggled it out, Neville went down on one knee and said, "I love you very much. Will you marry me?"

At first, Squires was a bit confused, but when she realized her new engagement ring was wrapped tightly around the middle of the carrot, her eyes started welling up and she nodded "Yes."

"I was in complete shock when I saw the ring on the carrot," Squires told CBC News.

Then young Eric took a bite from the tip of the engagement carrot.

Squires's new ring features a raw, uncut diamond. The couple noted that the stone pays homage to their homesteading way of life on Pinchgut Lake near Corner Brook. They have yet to pick a wedding date.

"Of course, he wanted to do something unique and imaginative," Squires told CBC News. "He just wanted the perfect idea to come along, and I guess it was worth the wait."

“The more I think about it, the more amazing it is,” she told The Washington Post.

Neville had been inspired by the story of octogenarian Mary Grams, who lost her diamond engagement ring while gardening at her family’s farm in 2004. After unsuccessfully searching on her hands and knees for days, she gave up, assuming the ring she had worn since 1951 was gone forever.

Grams secretly bought herself a less-expensive replacement ring and never told her husband, Norman, of the mishap. Thirteen years later, her daughter-in-law, Colleen Daley, called with some fabulous news. Daly, who had moved to the farm, found a strangely deformed carrot while plucking vegetables for her family’s dinner. The carrot was squeezed in the middle, like it was wearing a corset. On closer inspection, she saw that the constriction was caused by a diamond engagement ring.

“I asked my husband if he recognized the ring,” Daley told CBC News. “And he said, ‘Yeah.’ His mother had lost her engagement ring years ago in the garden and never found it again. And it turned up on this carrot.”

And the crazy carrot stories don't end there. In December of 2016, the German press first reported the story of an 82-year-old man from Bad Münstereifel, who found his lost wedding ring wrapped around a carrot. The retiree had lost the ring while gardening three years earlier and then discovered it while collecting vegetables from his garden. The man, whose name was not released, had just celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary.

And way back in January of 2012, The Daily Mail and many other news sources covered the story of a Swedish woman named Lena Påhlsson, who pulled up a carrot cinched in the middle with a wedding ring she had lost in 1995. The ring has gone missing in her kitchen and she assumed that it must have gotten mixed up with some kitchen scraps that ended up in her compost pile. That material found its way to her vegetable garden and the rest is history.

Credits: Images via Facebook.com/Deejay Squires. Screen capture via GlobalNews.ca.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Lucara Salvages 375-Carat Gem-Quality Diamond From Old Tailings

Imagine finding treasure in your trash. That's what happened when Lucara Diamond Corp. salvaged a 375-carat gem-quality diamond from a pile of old tailings at its prolific Karowe mine in Botswana.

Tailings are the residue of the diamond-bearing ore that was processed during an original mining operation.

The company revisited the tailings because they were generated prior to the 2015 implementation of its advanced XRT diamond sorters, which were designed to identify and preserve high-value diamonds of 100 carats or larger. Older, less sophisticated sorting devices often mistakenly damaged, pulverized or passed through large diamonds as worthless tailings.

The new XRT sorters have the ability to detect the carbon signature of rocky material coming down a conveyor belt so the diamond-bearing ore can be picked out and preserved. The machines can be calibrated to extract valuable material based on X-ray luminescence, atomic density and transparency.

The 375-carat rough diamond was just one of nine 100-plus-carat diamonds recovered from the re-processing of old material.

Lucara also reported strong results from the processing of new material, including the discovery of a 123-carat diamond from Lucara's South Lobe (see photo, above). Year to date, the mining company has recovered 22 diamonds larger than 100 carats, including six of 200 carats or more..

Lucara's Karowe Mine is famous for yielding many of the world's largest diamonds, including the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona, the 813-carat Constellation and the recently recovered 1,758-carat Sewelô.

Credit: Image courtesy of Lucara.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Music Friday: 'Third Finger, Left Hand,' That's Where He Placed the Wedding Band

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you classic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Martha and the Vandellas sing about the thrill of receiving a wedding band in the 1967 release, "Third Finger, Left Hand."

They sing, "At last my dreams come true / Today he said "I do" / Friends said it couldn't be done / But all his love I know I've won / 'Cause third finger, left hand / That's where he placed the wedding band."

Written by Motown's main creative team of Lamont Dozier and the brothers Brian and Eddie Holland, "Third Finger, Left Hand" is the memorable hook of a song that's best known for being the "B" side of "Jimmy Mack," which soared to #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart and #10 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In the years before CDs and digital downloads, young people cherished their vinyl 45 singles. While the purchase was sparked by the popular "A" side, sometimes the "B" side would reveal a hidden gem.

"Against the Vandellas' 'shoop-shoops,' Martha recalls the sweet moments leading up to that wonderful walk to the altar," writes Ed Hogan of allmusic.com. "It's a good bet that 'Third Finger Left Hand' got almost as much turntable play as its hit A-side."

Trivia: While one's thumb is a digit, it is generally not considered a "finger." So the third finger of one's left hand is, indeed, the ring finger.

Formed in Detroit in 1957, Martha and the Vandellas, became one of Motown's greatest acts. Featuring the powerful lead vocals of Martha Reeves, the group charted more than 26 hits, including their signature single, "Dancing in the Street." The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. Reeves continues to tour at the age of 78.

The songwriting and production team known as Holland–Dozier–Holland was behind the Motown sound of the 1960s. They not only wrote for Martha and the Vandellas, but also for the Supremes, the Four Tops and Freda Payne, who sang one of our H-D-H favorites, "Band of Gold." The trio was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

Please check out the audio track of Martha and the Vandellas singing "Third Finger, Left Hand." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Third Finger, Left Hand"
Written by Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland. Performed by Martha and the Vandellas.

At last my dreams come true
Today he said "I do"
Friends said it couldn't be done
But all his love I know I've won
'Cause third finger, left hand
That's where he placed the wedding band

He walked right up to me
And pledged his love for me
I longed to hear him say
The sweet words he spoke that day
Made me feel so good inside
The tears came to my eyes
I love him above the rest
'Cause in my book he's the best

'Cause he did something that no one else did
Friends said it couldn't be done
But all his love I know I've won
'Cause third finger, left hand
That's where he placed the wedding band

His words were precious few
But all along my heart knew
That no other boys in line
Could ever change my mind
Other boys, I sent away
I locked my heart till our wedding day
I love him above the rest
'Cause in my book he's the best

'Cause he did something that no one else did
Friends said it couldn't be done
But all his love I know I've won
'Cause third finger, left hand
That's where he placed the wedding band
3rd finger, left hand
That's where he placed the wedding band
3rd finger, left hand
That's where he placed the wedding band
3rd finger, left hand
That's where he placed the wedding band
3rd finger, left hand
That's where he placed the wedding band

Credit: Image by Aug856 [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.