Friday, December 20, 2019

Music Friday: Nick Lachey of 98 Degrees Pops the Question in the Christmas Hit, ‘This Gift’

Welcome to a special holiday edition of Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, 98 Degrees frontman Nick Lachey is ready to pop the question in the 1999 Christmas hit, "This Gift."

In the chorus of the song, we learn that the “gift” is actually an engagement ring. He sings, “'Cause I’ve been waiting to give this gift tonight / I’m down on my knees / There’s no better time / It’s something to last for as long as you live / Tonight I’m gonna give you all my heart can give.”

The song also includes a gemstone reference in the first verse. Here's how Lachey sets the romantic scene: “The snow is falling / The city is white / Your eyes are shining / like diamonds tonight.”

“This Gift” was the first single released from the group’s third studio album and first holiday album, This Christmas, which sold more than one million copies in the U.S. alone. “This Gift” also was well received, as it peaked at #40 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, #25 on the Canadian Singles chart and #14 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart.

98 Degrees — comprising band members Lachey, brother Drew Lachey, Jeff Timmons and Justin Jeffre — enjoyed a phenomenal run from 1996 to 2003. The group notched eight Top 40 singles in the U.S. and sold 10 million records worldwide.

The group disbanded in 2003, although Nick Lachey stated on the group’s official web site that there was no breakup, just an extended hiatus. Group members pursued other creative endeavors during the “hiatus” but came back together in 2012 for what was supposed to be a one-time performance at the Mixtape Festival in Hershey, Pa.

After the show, group members agreed to get back into the studio to work on a new album, 2.0, which released in May of 2013. They also thrilled their fans during “The Package” tour of 2013 — a series of nearly 50 concerts featuring three prominent boy bands (Boys II Men, New Kids on the Block and 98 Degrees.)

Trivia: The group agreed on the name 98 Degrees after rejecting two other possibilities: Just Us and Next Issue.

The group continues to tour, with upcoming performances in Windsor and Niagara Falls, Canada, Honolulu, Singapore and Manila.

Please check out the video of Nick Lachey and 98 Degrees performing "This Gift." The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“This Gift”
Written by Anders Bagge, Arnthor Birgisson, Dane Deviller and Sean Hosein. Performed by 98 Degrees.

The snow is falling
The city is white
Your eyes are shining
like diamonds tonight
And we’re all alone
There’s no one home
You’re finally in my arms again

The night is silent
And Christmas is here
I couldn’t ask for more than having you near
‘Cause I love you girl (love you girl)
And I always will (always will)
And now I know the moment is right
The moment is right

‘Cause I’ve been waiting to give this gift tonight
I’m down on my knees
There’s no better time
It’s something to last for as long as you live
Tonight I’m gonna give you all my heart can give

I thought I’d give you something shiny and new
I’d try to find something worthy of you
But I realized when I looked inside
There’s some things that money can’t buy (oh no)

I feel the magic whenever you’re near
I feel it even more this time of the year
‘Cause I love you girl (love you girl)
I always will (always will)
And now I know the moment is right
The moment is right


You know I’ll always be true to you And you know I’m the one you can turn to Any time, any place, or anywhere You know that I’ll always be there


Credit: Screen capture via

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

World-Class Gem of a Museum Opens Its Doors for the First Time in Bethel, Maine

Nestled in the picture-postcard town of Bethel, Maine (pop. 2,689) is a world-class museum and education facility featuring 40,000 gems and minerals, 6,000 meteorites, a library of 10,000 volumes and nearly two dozen interactive exhibits. The Maine Mineral & Gem Museum (MMGM) opened its doors to the public for the first time last Thursday.

Comprising a 15,000-square-foot space on three floors, the museum is home to the single oldest igneous rock in the solar system and a moon rock five time larger than any returned to earth by an Apollo mission. It also features exotic specimens from Mars and fragments of asteroids embedded with extraterrestrial gemstones.

The MMGM also celebrates Maine's rich mining tradition. Exhibited are several historic mineral collections, including the Perham Collection, which has been on view in Maine for 90 years. In addition, many of Maine’s most celebrated specimens of tourmaline, beryl and other native gems are presented along with captivating narratives from the earliest days of gem exploration through today. Among the highlights are a 1,450-carat smoky quartz (the largest cut gemstone from Maine) and a Tiffany necklace highlighting a Maine tourmaline.

The museum was co-founded by the husband-and-wife team of Dr. Lawrence Stifler and Mary McFadden. It was the couple's passion for conservation that led to the establishment of the MMGM. Over the course of decades, they created a land trust of more than 15,000 acres that encompassed the historic Bumpus Mine, home to the famous giant beryl crystal discoveries of the 1920s. The legacy of this mine spawned the idea of building a museum to honor Maine’s gems, minerals and mining history.

The founders are supported by an all-star team of geologists, pegmatologists and cosmochemists. Museum curator Dr. Carl Francis was for decades the Curator of Harvard’s Mineralogical and Geological Museum, and Dr. William “Skip” Simmons is one of the world’s foremost pegmatologists. The research team includes two cosmochemists: UCLA’S Dr. Alan Rubin and Dr. Henning Haack, the former Curator of Meteorites at the Natural History Museum of Denmark. They were both brought on board by Darryl Pitt of the Macovich Collection in New York City, who was responsible for acquiring 99 percent of the meteorites on display, according to The Boston Globe.

Stifler and McFadden were also determined to ensure that the MMGM would be a research and educational facility sought out by scholars from around the world. Unrivaled for a museum of its size, the on-site laboratory houses an electron microprobe, a scanning electron microscope, an X-ray diffractometer and other instruments that provide the foundation for advanced mineralogical research.

“We have more of the moon than the world’s 10 leading science museums combined,” Stifler told The Boston Globe. “Anyone who wants to study the moon would have to come here.”

The MMGM was designed by the Paulus Design Group, which counts The Smithsonian among its clients. The interactive exhibits were fabricated by 1220 Exhibits, which is credited with creating the displays for the National Football League’s and International Tennis Federation’s Halls of Fame. Armatures were produced by 10-31, which has worked for the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“The Maine Mineral and Gem Museum celebrates the miners who made the discoveries, scientists and their research, lapidaries who transform rough stones into stunning gems, and educators who make science fun for us all. This is their story,” said Stifler. “Creating the MMGM has been both inspiring and humbling. We are deeply honored to share it with the people of Maine and citizens of the world.”

“People of all ages will leave here inspired," added McFadden "and not just as a result of this being a place to be able to hold a piece of the moon or Mars.”

The MMGM is located in western Maine near the New Hampshire border. It's about a 90-minute drive from Portland, Maine. The museum is open six days a week (closed on Tuesdays). The cost of admission is $15 for adults (12+), $12 for seniors, $10 for students. Children 12 and under are free. For more information, visit

Credits: Images courtesy of Maine Mineral & Gem Museum; Pear-cut amethyst (161.8 carats); Beryl group of three gems includes trilliant-cut heliodore (16.0 carats), radiant-cut aquamarine (59.2 carats), trilliant-cut goshenite (12.4 carats); cinnamon-colored elbaite tourmaline (52.1 carats); Tourmaline crystal.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Spanish Hotel's $15MM Gem-Adorned Christmas Tree Is the Most Expensive in the World

Dripping with gem-adorned ornaments, the Christmas tree in the lobby of the ultra-chic Kempinski Hotel Bahia in Marbella, Spain, is the most expensive in the world. The tree was created by British haute couture designer Debbie Wingham and is valued at a staggering $15 million.

According to published reports, the show-stopping tree boasts a number of over-the-top decorations, including a miniature BVLGARI handbag, a Louis Vuitton carriage, a blue diamond nutcracker and a red diamond-encrusted emu egg.

Wingham — who is credited with designing the world's most expensive wedding cake (a $55 million treat commissioned by a client in Dubai) and the world's most expensive shoes (sandals made with gold, pink and blue diamonds worth $17 million) — peppered the tree with diamond dust and 24-karat gold leaf.

Inspired by the verdant feathers of a peacock and the modernist Art Deco era, the tree also features unique martini glasses, feathers, perfume bottles and even 3D printed chocolate peacocks. She also included more tradition decorations, such as snowflakes, fairies and pearl-filled snow globes.

Wingham's client list includes Katy Perry, the Kardashian family, Dita Von Teese and Amanda Holden.

The current Guinness World Record holder for the world's most expensive Christmas tree belongs to the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi. Its tree was valued at about $11 million, stood 43 feet tall and was decorated with 181 pieces of jewelry and watches. Although the Kempinski Hotel Bahia has yet to submit its holiday tree for official Guinness recognition, the reported value seems to easily surpass that of the Emirates Palace tree.

On December 28, the Spanish hotel will be hosting its Diamond and Champagne Night, when guests will indulge in a "decadently curated cocktail dining experience" and have a chance to take home a diamond valued at about $2,700. Each guest will select a key and attempt to unlock a box containing the valuable treasure. Whoever’s key fits the lock will take home the dazzling diamond.

Kempinski Hotel Bahia, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, is situated near the palm tree-lined promenade of Estepona, about 20 miles west of Marbella on the Spanish Costa del Sol. The luxury beachfront property was recently named "Spain’s Best Hotel Spa" during the fifth annual World Spa Awards.

Credits: Images courtesy of Kempinski Hotel Bahia.