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

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.