Friday, May 17, 2019

Music Friday: 'If Pressure Makes Diamonds, Our Love Is a Diamond by Now'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, country star Don Williams sings about how marital stress can be a good thing in his 1983 tune, "Pressure Makes Diamonds."

In the song, Williams admits that he and his wife have endured plenty of hard times over the years, but despite those pressures, their love has only gotten stronger. He compares the evolution of their relationship to the formation of diamonds deep within the Earth.

He sings, "Pressure makes diamonds much harder than stone / And they only get finer as each day goes on / We've been through some bad times / But we made it somehow / 'Cause if pressure makes diamonds / Our love's a diamond by now."

(Just for the record, diamonds form under intense pressure and heat about 100 miles below the earth’s surface.)

Written by Bob McDill and John Schweers, "Pressure Makes Diamonds" appeared as the seventh track on Williams' album, Yellow Moon. The album topped out at #12 on the U.S. Billboard Country Albums chart.

Over the course of a career that spanned six decades, Williams scored 17 #1 country hits. The singer’s imposing stature, paired with a soft, smooth bass-baritone voice, earned him the nickname the “Gentle Giant” of country music. In 2010, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Donald Ray Williams was born in Floydada, Texas, in 1939. After graduating from high school, Williams served two years in the U.S. Army Security Agency and then formed a folk-pop group called the Pozo-Seco Singers. The group disbanded in 1969 and Williams worked outside the music business for a short time. In 1971, he landed a songwriting job for Jack Music Inc. Soon after, he signed as a solo artist with JMI Records.

Williams stopped touring in 2016 and passed away a year later at the age of 78.

Trivia: Williams appeared as himself and played a number of songs in Smokey and the Bandit II (1980).

Please check out the audio track of Williams performing “Pressure Makes Diamonds.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

"Pressure Makes Diamonds"
Written by Bob McDill and John Schweers. Performed by Don Williams.

Well, we've had our troubles, we've had our hard times
Where some might have stumbled, we've always survived
Sometimes love weakens, when the chips are all down
But what we've got together gets stronger somehow.

Pressure makes diamonds much harder than stone
And they only get finer as each day goes on
We've been through some bad times
But we made it somehow
'Cause if pressure makes diamonds,
Our love's a diamond by now.

Well, we know the feelin' when the world closes in
We've been there before, love, and we might go again
The road may get rocky, life may get hard
But the whole world together can't tear us apart.

Pressure makes diamonds much harder than stone
And they only get finer as each day goes on
We've been through some bad times
But we made it somehow
'Cause if pressure makes diamonds,
Our love's a diamond by now.

Pressure makes diamonds much harder than stone
And they only get finer as each day goes on
We've been through some bad times
But we made it somehow
'Cause if pressure makes diamonds,
Our love's a diamond by now...

Credit: Screen capture via

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Socialite's Emerald Necklace, 36-Carat Diamond Share Spotlight at Sotheby's Geneva

An art deco-style emerald necklace from the collection of American socialite Helene Beaumont and a 36.57-carat near-flawless diamond shared the spotlight at Sotheby's Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale in Geneva yesterday. These top two items sold for $3.6 million and $5 million, respectively, accounting for more than 20% of the auction's total sales of $41.8 million. In all, 448 lots were offered.

As the wife of Louis Dudley Beaumont, one of the founders of the May Company department store chain, Helene was a renowned collector of fine jewelry from the most prominent design houses. The magnificent emerald necklace in yesterday's auction is believed to have been designed by Van Cleef & Arpels, circa 1935.

The front of the necklace is set with a line of 11 graduated sugarloaf cabochon emeralds, ranging in size from 3.27 carats to 18.09 carats. The necklace front may be detached and worn as a bracelet, and the two segments in the back can be combined to form a single necklace. A grading report states that the emeralds are of Colombian origin.

Sotheby's pre-sale estimate for the decadent piece was $2.9 million to $3.9 million.

The second headliner from yesterday's auction was a magnificent 36.57-carat diamond ring that was put up for sale by a private collector.

The D-color round diamond displays excellent cut, polish and symmetry, according to a grading report by the Gemological Association of America. It carries a clarity rating of VVS1, but could advance to "flawless" after minor replacing, noted the report.

The impressive diamond is claw-set between tapered baguette diamond shoulders.

Sotheby's spot-on pre-sale estimate was $4.4 million to $5.4 million.

Yesterday's sale also yielded a number of surprising overachievers.

One of those pieces was a fancy intense blue diamond ring, which sold for $853,799 — more than three times the pre-sale high estimate of $250,000. Designed by Tiffany and Co., the ring features a 1.01-carat step-cut blue diamond framed by baguette diamond shoulders. The diamond earned a clarity rating of VS1.

The performance of this emerald and diamond bracelet also impressed auction watchers, as the beautiful piece designed by Van Cleef & Arpels sold for $285,427, nearly six times the pre-sale high estimate of $49,640.

The bracelet is composed of clusters set with oval and circular-cut emeralds each within a frame of brilliant-cut diamonds.

Also beating the Sotheby's pre-sale high by nearly six times was a pair of turquoise and diamond earrings that sold for $136,509. Signed by Van Clef & Arpels, the earrings are set with cabochon turquoise entwined in brilliant-cut diamonds.

Credits: Images courtesy of Sotheby's.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Golden Spike Symbolized Completion of Transcontinental Railroad 150 Years Ago

This past Friday marked the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, an epic project that spanned six years and 1,800 miles, with the Central Pacific Railroad working from west to east and the Union Pacific Railroad from east to west.

When the two railroad lines met at Promontory Summit, Utah, on May 10, 1869, the engineering marvel was culminated with railroad magnate Leland Stanford driving the ceremonial final spike — a glistening symbol made from 14 ounces of 17.6-karat gold.

As Stanford gently tapped the copper-alloyed spike through a pre-drilled hole in a special tie of polished California laurel, a famous telegraph announced the news in real-time: “The last rail is laid. The last spike is driven. The Pacific railroad is completed. The point of junction is 1,086 miles west of the Missouri River and 690 miles east of Sacramento City.”

Celebrations ensued from coast to coast.

“It psychologically and symbolically bound the country,” Brad Westwood, Utah’s senior public historian, told the Associated Press.

The Transcontinental Railroad united a nation recovering from the Civil War and laid the foundation for its growth, economic progress and improved way of life. A coast-to-coast trip that once took six months, could now be accomplished in 3 1/2 days.

The accomplishment also symbolized American ingenuity and technical achievement, which was, at the time, as spectacular as landing a man on the moon. Incidentally, the first moon landing would take place 100 years later on July 20,1969.

The idea of using a golden spike to commemorate the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad was the brainchild of David Hewes, a San Francisco financier and contractor.

The spike is engraved on all four sides.

One side says, "The Pacific Railroad ground broken January 8, 1863, and completed May 8, 1869." A second side says, "May God continue the unity of our Country, as this Railroad unites the two great Oceans of the world. Presented by David Hewes San Francisco." The third and fourth sides list the names of the railroad directors and officers involved in the project.

Interestingly, the date on the Stanford spike is wrong because the celebration had to be delayed two days due to bad weather. Fearing that the golden spike would be stolen if it was left in place, Stanford (who would later establish Stanford University) extracted the spike from the laurel tie and brought it back to California. Today, it resides at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford.

A duplicate golden spike, which was engraved later with the correct date, became the property of the Hewes family. That spike is on permanent display, along with Thomas Hill's famous painting "The Last Spike," at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento.

Throughout this past weekend, revelers celebrated the historic meeting of the rails at Golden Spike National Historic Park northwest of Salt Lake City. Visitors came from far and near, decked out in period attire, including top hats and bonnets.

Other celebrations throughout the state included art displays, musical performances, historical exhibits, storytelling, lectures, community festivals, parades, film screenings, model train shows, historical site tours and reenactments of the golden spike ceremony.

Credits: Photo of "duplicate" golden spike by Neil916 at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. "The Last Spike" painting by Thomas Hill [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo of Samuel S. Montague, Central Pacific Railroad, shaking hands with Grenville M. Dodge, Union Pacific Railroad, by Andrew J. Russell [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Modern reenactment photo courtesy of the National Park Service. Utah state coin by the United States Mint [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.