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