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

Credit:Screen capture via

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.