Friday, May 03, 2019

Music Friday: 'You're a Diamond to Me,' Sings Eric Bibb in the Inspirational 'Shine On'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, international blues troubadour Eric Bibb inspires us to keep our eyes on the mountaintop in the uplifting 2006 song, "Shine On."

The two-time Grammy nominee knows that we can do better, reach higher and strive harder. He believes that quitting is not an option and that making mistakes is a valuable part of the learning process. Hard-earned wisdom is something money can't buy.

He sings, "Don't stop 'til you win your prize / Lean on all the love that is in my eyes / You're a diamond to me, yes you are / Shine on."

Penned by Bibb and Figge Bostrom, "Shine On" appeared as the third track on Bibb's studio album, Diamond Days.

In reviewing the album for, Joe Montague wrote, "There are no rough edges on Diamond Days or Eric Bibb, the blues artist behind this fabulous new CD. The man is so effortless when he plays that one has difficulty determining where the guitar stops and where Bibb begins."

Born in New York City in 1951, Bibb was immersed in music at a young age. His father was a singer in the 1960s New York folk music scene and regular guests at his home included Pete Seeger, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, to name a few.

When young Bibb became interested in playing the guitar, it was Dylan who advised the 11-year-old to "Keep it simple, forget all that fancy stuff."

Bibb went to Columbia University to pursue degrees in psychology and Russian, but left the Ivy League school after one year. Instead, he packed his bags and headed out to Paris, where he studied the best traditions of pre-war blues.

Before long, he was making a name for himself in France, the UK, Canada, Sweden, Germany and the US.

He earned two Grammy nominations for "Shakin' a Tailfeather" (1997) and "Migration Blues" (2017). In 2018, he opened for George Benson on his UK tour, and this month, Bibb and his band will be playing at venues throughout Australia.

Please check out the audio clip of Bibb performing "Shine On." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Shine On"
Written by Eric Bibb and Figge Bostrom. Performed by Eric Bibb.

Life gives you the runaround you say
You wanna know
How much dues must you pay

Well, you can pay off what you want
When there's a will
There's always a way

Keeping your eyes on
That mountain top
Stepping up time
Don't ever, ever stop

Keep on when your mind says quit
Dream on 'til you find your living it
I'll be right by your side
Yeah baby keep on
Don't stop 'til you win your prize
Lean on all the love that is in my eyes
You're a diamond to me, yes you are
Shine on

I know what you've been through
I see
But it's time to leave it behind and let it be

Hard-earned wisdom is something you can't buy
It's the wings of experience
That make you fly

Don't look back
Don't look back
Don't turn aroundv You're on the right track

Keep on when your mind says quit
Dream on 'til you find your living it
I'll be right by your side
Yeah baby keep on
Don't stop 'til you win your prize
Lean on all the love that is in my eyes
You're a diamond to me, yes you are
Shine on
Shine on
Keep on when your mind says quit
Dream on 'til you find your living it
I'll be right by your side
Yeah baby
Don't stop 'til you win your prize
Lean on all the love that's in my eyes
You're a diamond to me, yes you arev Shine on
Shine on
Baby you got to shine on
That's what you're born to do
Me and you
You got to shine on
Sparkle baby

Baby you got to
Shine on

Credit: Screen capture via

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Birthstone Feature: 'Maximilian Emerald' Boasts a Rich History That Spans 150+ Years

Steeped in a rich history that spans more than 150 years, the 21.04-carat "Maximilian Emerald" is one of the world's most famous — and dazzling — examples of May's official birthstone.

Named for its first owner, the ill-fated Emperor of Mexico, the deep grass-green Colombian emerald was purchased by American socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post in 1928 and later donated to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., where it’s been on permanent exhibit at the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals since 1964.

The stunning emerald was originally set in a ring worn by Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph, an Austrian archduke, who accepted an offer by Napoleon III of France to rule Mexico in 1864. The monarch's stint as emperor was short lived, as he was overthrown and executed in 1867.

It's not clear where the ring resided for the next 61 years, but we do know it entered the collection of Post, the heiress to the Post cereal fortune and one of the richest women in the world, in 1928.

Twenty-one years later, Post had the emerald remounted by Cartier into its current platinum setting with six baguette-cut diamonds flanking the emerald, two baguettes adorning the shank and 18 baguettes set in the undercarriage of the ring.

Post nearly lost the emerald when she attended Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953. After one of the pre-coronation parties at Buckingham Palace, Post was about to enter her car when she noticed the stone had fallen out of its setting.

“So they immediately called the palace,” Post’s granddaughter Ellen Charles told the Washington Post. “I suppose only at Buckingham Palace would they find the stone.”

And they did.

Post generously gifted the Maximilian Emerald Ring to the Smithsonian in 1964. It was one of several notable donations that included the Blue Heart Diamond, Napoleon Diamond Necklace, Marie-Louise Diadem, Post Emerald Necklace and Marie Antoinette Earrings. Post passed away in 1973 at the age of 86.

The Maximilian Emerald displays visible inclusions, which are referred to as as “jardin” (French for “garden”). These imperfections do not detract from the stone’s beauty but, instead, give each stone a unique fingerprint and distinct character.

Emerald is a member of the beryl family, and in its pure state, the mineral is clear. The beautiful green hues in the beryl family are caused when some of the aluminum atoms in the crystal are replaced by chromium and/or vanadium atoms.

Besides being the birthstone for the month of May, it’s also the official gemstone for 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.

Credits: Photos by Chip Clark/Smithsonian. Top photo digitally enhanced by SquareMoose. Maximilian I photo by Ludwig Angerer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, April 29, 2019

Lucara Recovers 1,758-Carat Diamond at Karowe Mine; It's the Second-Largest Ever

Lucara Diamond Corp. has unearthed a tennis-ball-size 1,758-carat diamond at its famous Karowe Mine in Botswana. The diamond rates as the second-largest ever found, easily overtaking the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona, which was also recovered at Karowe.

But, unlike the gem-quality Lesedi La Rona, which was purchased by diamantaire Laurence Graff for $53 million and recently cut into 67 high-quality diamonds, Lucara's newest find is being characterized as "near" gem quality with "domains of high-quality white gem."

Looking closely at the photo, above, one can see a sharp transition from grey-black to silver-white in the lower left portion of the rough diamond. Lucara reported that further detailed analysis is ongoing.

Weighing more than three-quarters of a pound, the recently recovered stone measures 83mm x 62mm x 46mm and managed to get through Lucara's diamond sorting process without breaking.

Lucara CEO Eira Thomas said the diamond remained unscathed during the recovery thanks to the company's state-of-the-art XRT circuit, which was commissioned in 2015.

Throughout history, diamond-bearing rock was typically drilled, blasted, hauled and put through crushing machines to get to the gems that may be hiding within. During that process, extremely large diamonds, some weighing hundreds of carats or more, were often damaged or even pulverized.

With the advent of XRT scanners, the mining process is becoming kinder and gentler. As the rocky material comes down a conveyor belt, the scanners can pick out the diamonds based on their chemical composition. Older scanners used to depend strictly on the stone’s ability to reflect light.

The diamond-rich material is then separated from the rubble and moved to a secure area for processing.

Since going online with the XRT circuit in 2015, a total of 12 diamonds larger than 300 carats have been recovered at Karowe, including two greater than 1,000 carats, from a total production of approximately 1.4 million carats. Of the 300-plus-carat diamonds recovered, 50% were categorized as gem quality with 11 sold to date generating more than $158 million.

Thomas is confident that more large, high-quality diamonds will be discovered as the company mines deeper in the orebody and gains access to geologically favorable material.

The largest diamond ever recovered is the 3,106-carat Cullinan, which was found at South Africa's Premier Mine 2 in 1905. The high-quality rough stone was cut by the Asscher Company into nine principal diamonds and 96 smaller diamonds. The Cullinan I and II – known as the Great Star of Africa and the Lesser Star of Africa — are set in the Crown Jewels of Britain. They weigh 530 carats and 317 carats, respectively. The remaining seven principal diamonds — ranging in size from 94 carats to 4.39 carats — are in the collection of Queen Elizabeth II.

Credits: Images courtesy of Lucara Diamond Corp.