Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Lady Gaga Wore the 128-Carat 'Tiffany Diamond' During a Post-Oscar Run to Taco Bell

On Friday, Lady Gaga dished the tasty 2019 Oscars backstory of how the $30 million, 128.54-carat "Tiffany Diamond" that she wore during the awards ceremony remained on her neck during a Madonna-hosted afterparty — and a late-night excursion to Taco Bell.

During her virtual appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Gaga described the celebration after scoring her first Oscar for Best Original Song.

“I didn’t know what was going to happen that night — I was just so happy to be there,” the 34-year-old singer-actress told the host. “My sister and I were barreling through champagne backstage, and when we left, I didn’t tell anyone, and I still had the diamond on.”

The extraordinary cushion-cut sparkler, which normally resides on the main floor of Tiffany’s Fifth Avenue flagship store, has been worn by only three women during its 143-year history. The fancy yellow diamond made its first public appearance on the neck of Mrs. E. Sheldon Whitehouse at the 1957 Tiffany Ball. Actress Audrey Hepburn famously wore it in 1961 publicity posters for the motion picture Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

And, in February 2019, Gaga and The Tiffany Diamond turned heads at the 91st Academy Awards. Tiffany's security team was on hand throughout the evening to keep a watchful eye on the famous stone.

“Everyone freaked out that I was still wearing [the necklace],” Gaga said. “When I went to Madonna's house, security guards were side-eyeing me."

Gaga was finally separated from the mammoth diamond when she and her entourage sought a late-night snack at a fast-food drive-thru.

“When we were heading to Taco Bell, my car was pulled over and Tiffany's security politely removed [the necklace] from my neck,” Gaga said.

The 128.54-carat yellow diamond was cut from a 287.42-carat rough stone discovered in the Kimberley diamond mines of South Africa in 1877 and acquired the following year by Tiffany’s founder, Charles Lewis Tiffany.

The rough stone was brought to Paris, where Tiffany’s chief gemologist, Dr. George Frederick Kunz, supervised the cutting of the diamond into a cushion-shape brilliant with an unprecedented 82 facets — 24 more facets than the traditional 58-facet brilliant cut. The stone measures slightly more than an inch across.

In 1961, the diamond was set in a ribbon rosette necklace to promote Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In 1995, it was part of a brooch called Bird on a Rock, which was exhibited at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

The Tiffany Diamond necklace worn by Gaga was designed in 2012 to mark Tiffany’s 175 anniversary celebration. The platinum necklace features an openwork motif of sun rays glistening with 481 diamonds totaling more than 100 carats.

Credits: Academy Awards screen capture via YouTube.com/ABC; Bird on a Rock image by Shipguy [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, June 01, 2020

12-Carat Blue Diamond Headlines Christie's First Live Auction Since Outbreak

A marquise-cut, 12.11-carat, fancy intense blue diamond will be headlining Christie's first live auction since the COVID-19 outbreak. The internally flawless diamond is expected to fetch between $8.3 million and $12.2 million at Christie's Hong Kong on July 10, with previews running from July 4-7.

Flanked by two side stones and set on a diamond band, the stunning blue diamond is secured by six yellow gold prongs.

“Fancy Vivid” is the ultimate color classification for blue diamonds. Those displaying lower levels of color saturation may be rated “Fancy Intense,” “Fancy,” “Fancy Light” or “Light,” according to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Blue diamonds owe their color to the presence of boron in the chemical makeup of the gem.

The Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels sale, which had originally been slated for June 2, signals a return to some normalcy for the famous auction house. Christie's had been promoting online auctions as a substitute for its high-profile onsite events.

In an article titled, “10 Jewels That Made History — and Changed the Market,” Christie's highlighted a 28.86-carat, emerald-cut diamond that will be offered at its Jewels Online sale, June 16-30. The D-color gem carries a high estimate of $2 million and is being touted as the highest-valued lot ever offered for sale online at Christie’s.

July's live auction will include four other high-profile lots...

• Posted with a high estimate of $1.2 million is a 6.06-carat ruby and diamond ring. The ruby is of Burmese origin and boasts the highly desirable "pigeon's blood" color. Surrounding the center stone are eight oval white diamonds and smaller pink stone accents.

• An exceptional jadeite bangle is expected to sell in the range of $1 million to $1.5 million.

• Two Kashmir sapphires are the stars of a diamond necklace that could yield as much as $1 million. The sapphires weigh 12.81 carats and 6.50 carats, respectively.

• These jadeite hoop and ruby earrings carry a high estimate of $748,000.

Credits: Images courtesy of Christie's.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Music Friday: Katy Perry's 2010 Ballad Urges Young Women to Shine Like a 'Pearl'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, pop star Katy Perry encourages young women to aspire to greatness in her 2010 ballad, "Pearl."

On her YouTube channel, Perry explained that "Pearl" is a song she wrote for anyone who's been held down — by friends, or relationships or family members.

"[The song] talks about a girl who used to be a pearl, and how she became a shell of herself," said Perry. "She let this person rule her world and she's kind of a skeleton now. Her rainbow is a flat shade of grey."

She added, "It's a really important message to send to be confident in who you are and your relationships. And to love yourself most importantly before anybody else loves you."

Perry sings, "Oh, she used to be a pearl / Yeah, she used to rule the world / Can't believe she's become a shell of herself / 'Cause she used to be a pearl."

Written by Perry, Greg Wells and Tricky Stewart, "Pearl" was the last song added to Perry's chart-topping Teenage Dream album.

Perry told MTV News that she felt that the nearly completed Teenage Dream was missing something, so she and her writing partners added one more tune that completed her album in just the right way.

"And it was kind of just like, 'All right, now I have this crown, and I have all these jewels, and I can put these little jewels into the crown, and I feel like it's a complete presentation, something I'm really proud of.'"

Teenage Dream was a tremendous success, charting in 28 countries, including #1 on the US Billboard 200 album chart and #1 on the Canadian Albums Chart. The album and its singles earned Perry seven Grammy Award nominations, including Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Album and Record of the Year.

Born Katheryn Elizabeth “Katy” Hudson in Santa Barbara, Calif., the singer changed her name in the early 2000s so she wouldn’t be confused with actress Kate Hudson. The daughter of Christian pastor parents, Perry grew up singing in a church choir, where she developed an affection for gospel music. Perry was dropped by two record labels before going on to sign with Capitol Music Group in 2007.

Over the past decade, the 35-year-old Perry has become one of the most successful musical artists of all time, having sold more than 18 million albums and 125 million singles globally.

Trivia: Perry's "Pearl" may have been inspired by her "wonderful" paternal grandmother, Ann Pearl Hudson, who sadly passed away in March at the age of 99.

"When my fighter spirit comes out, that’s Ann," Perry wrote in an Instagram tribute.

Please check out the audio track of “Pearl.” The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Pearl"
Written by Katy Perry, Greg Wells and Tricky Stewart. Performed by Katy Perry.

She is a pyramid
But with him she's just a grain of sand
This love's too strong like mice and men
Squeezing out the life that should be let in

She was a hurricane (-cane, -cane, -cane)
But now she's just a gust of wind
She used to set the sails of a thousand ships
Was a force to be reckoned with

She could be a Statue of Liberty
She could be a Joan of Arc
But he's scared of the light that's inside of her
So he keeps her in the dark

Oh, she used to be a pearl
Yeah, she used to rule the world
Can't believe she's become a shell of herself
'Cause she used to be a pearl

She was unstoppable
Moved fast just like an avalanche
But now she's stuck deep in cement
Wishing that they'd never ever met

She could be a Statue of Liberty
She could be a Joan of Arc
But he's scared of the light that's inside of her
So he keeps her in the dark

Oh, she used to be a pearl
Yeah, she used to rule the world
Can't believe she's become a shell of herself
'Cause she used to be a—

Do you know that there's a way out,
There's a way out
There's a way out
There's a way out?

You don't have to be held down,
Be held down
Be held down
Be held down

'Cause I used to be a shell
Yeah, I let him rule my world, my world

But I woke up and grew strong
And I can still go on
And no one can take my pearl

You don't have to be a shell, no
You're the one that rules your world, oh
You are strong
And you'll learn that you can still go on

And you'll always be a—a pearl

She is unstoppable

Credit: Image by nikotransmission from Sammamish, WA, USAuploaded by C.Jonel / CC BY

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Dream Continues: Popular Crater of Diamonds Park Reopens in Murfreesboro

Reservations were limited and visitors needed to bring their own tools, but the good news is that Arkansas' field of dreams — the Crater of Diamonds State Park — reopened on Friday, May 22, just in time for the Memorial Day weekend.

The 37½-acre search field in Murfreesboro is actually the eroded surface of an ancient diamond-bearing kimberlite pipe. Treasure hunters test their luck at the only diamond site in the world that's open to the general public.

More than 29,000 diamonds have been found in the crater since it became a state park in 1972.

“We are pleased to be able to welcome people back to search for diamonds at the Crater of Diamonds just in time for the Memorial Day weekend,” said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. “It is one of the most popular destinations in our system of state parks, and we have had many questions from people who are anxious to again have the opportunity to find and keep their very own gem.”

Due to health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the popular tourist destination will be limiting attendance and enforcing some restrictions.

The number of daily visitors has been capped at 500, and all of those tickets may be booked online. Be sure to check this site for ticket availability. It's very likely that the daily tickets will be sold-out and walk-up tickets will be unavailable.

Visitors are encouraged to bring their own diamond mining tools, because there are no rentals at this time. Even though prospectors have found plenty of gems on top of the soil, most diamond hunters like to do a little digging. They use a range of simple tools, from small flowerbed trowels to full-size shovels. Some bring their own sifting screens.

The park staff provides complementary identification and registration of diamonds found at the park.

Face coverings will be required for all persons present in the Visitor Center, Diamond Discovery Center, North & South Sluice Pavilions and all four sun shelters. Children under the age of 10 are not required to wear face coverings. Hand sanitizer will be available for guests in the Visitor Center.

To keep a safe distance in the search field, guests/associated groups will be asked to keep a 12-foot distance between other guests/associated groups, unless they are wearing face coverings.

The mining area is now open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Visitor Center closes at 5 p.m. Ticket prices are $10 for adults, $6 for children 6-12, and kids under 6 get to search for free.

In an average year, amateur diamond hunters will find more than 600 diamonds in all sizes, colors and grades.

In 1990, Shirley Strawn discovered a 3.03-carat diamond near the East Drain section of the park. That rough gem was transformed into a world-class, 1.09-carat round brilliant-cut sparkler, and became the first diamond from the Arkansas state park to earn a perfect grade of “Triple Zero” (Ideal cut/D color/Flawless) from the American Gem Society.

The find was so momentous that the State of Arkansas purchased the diamond, now known as the “Strawn-Wagner” diamond, for $34,700 and made it the centerpiece of the park’s special exhibit. There’s even a prominent marker in the East Drain section of the park to show exactly where it was found.

Credits: Photos courtesy of Arkansas State Parks.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Nationals' 2019 World Series Rings Feature 257 Gemstones and One Baby Shark

The Washington Nationals unveiled the design of their 2019 World Series rings during a video presentation on Sunday night. Featuring 257 gemstones weighing a total of 23.20 carats, the 14-karat white and yellow gold rings document the team's unlikely road to the championship after starting the season with a 19-31 record.

The team had been enduring a miserable slump when outfielder Gerardo Parra chose "Baby Shark" as his walk-up song. Parra picked the popular children's song because his two-year-old daughter loved it, and so did the fans. The adorable tune — "Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo"— had a way of galvanizing the energy in the stadium and the players used that energy to finish the season 96-69.

As a nod to the song that helped to turn their season around, the Nationals asked ring designer Jostens to include a baby shark holding a yellow gold trophy on the inside of the band. To the right of the shark are the team logos of each of the opponents the Nationals defeated during their postseason journey, along with the results of each series.

The rest of the ring is brimming with symbolism, as well.

The ring top features the team's "W" logo, crafted from 30 custom-cut genuine rubies framed in yellow gold. The number 30 was chosen because that's how many runs the team scored in the four World Series games in which they were victorious.

The logo overlays a ground of 58 pavé-set diamonds, and is circled with the words WORLD CHAMPIONS and 32 custom-cut genuine sapphires. The  number 32 represents the sum total of the team's 2019 walk-off wins (7), shutout wins (13), longest winning streak (8 games), and playoff rounds won (4).

An additional 108 diamonds are featured along the ring top, representing the number of regular season and postseason wins (105), plus one diamond for the World Series Championship, and an additional two diamonds as a nod to the duality of the franchise's history. The Washington Nationals originated as the Montréal Expos. The top and bottom edges of the ring top each feature 12 princess-cut rubies, representing the total number of postseason wins.

On the left side of the ring in raised yellow gold is the player's name. Beneath the player name, also in yellow gold, is the nation's flag waving majestically, along with the 2019 championship year date.

In the foreground, in contrasting white gold, are some of the U.S. capitol's most iconic buildings and monuments, including the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Capitol building and Jefferson Memorial. The bottom of the ring's left side serves to display the player's number, set in diamonds.

During the postseason, the team's motto was "Stay in the fight." The evolution of that motto is featured on the right side of the ring: "Fight Finished." Below, the stripes of the American flag fill the sky above Nationals Park behind the coveted Commissioner's Trophy, complete with the Nationals wordmark logo.

Also appearing on the right side are four diamonds set upon a star base, as well as a custom-cut, star-shaped ruby. The five stars represent the incredible five elimination games won by the Nationals in the postseason. The four diamonds on the stars represent the four previous National League East titles earned by the Nationals, while the red star signifies their World Series Championship.

The team's mantra of "Go 1-0 Everyday," appears along the ring palm.

In all, the ring features 170 round diamonds (4.20 carats), 31 custom-cut rubies and 24 princess-cut rubies (7.25 carats) and 32 custom-cut genuine sapphires (11.75 carats).

The team voted to receive their rings when they can be physically united. The Nationals had originally planned to host a ring ceremony before the team's second home game on April 4, but the season has been delayed due to the coronavirus.

Credits: Images courtesy of Jostens.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Music Friday: Boyz II Men Sing About the ‘Diamond Eyes’ of a Long-Lost Love

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you wonderful tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Philadelphia R&B legends Boyz II Men sing about a long-lost love in their 2014 release, “Diamond Eyes.”

In this power ballad about a man longing to be reunited with the dream girl of his past, the soulful singers croon, “And then the sun rose, our bodies unfroze / And it turned us both gold / Your diamond eyes glowed, yeah.”

Songwriter Coley O'Toole uses the precious metal reference to symbolize the innocent and exciting “goldenness” of youth, an idea first invoked in the 1923 Robert Frost poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay." Her diamond eyes connote strength, brilliance and perfection. In the end, the song's protagonist says he will never lose hope that she will be found.

"Diamond Eyes" was the first single released from the group's 12th studio album, Collide. The album reached #6 on the U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and #37 on the U.S. Billboard 200 albums chart.

The four-time Grammy-winning act, which features the sweet harmonies of long-time members Shawn Stockman, Wanya Morris and Nathan Morris, has sold more than 60 million recordings and earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2012. The group was named by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) as the most commercially successful R&B group of all time.

Originally known as Unique Attraction, Boyz II Men was founded in 1985 by friends Nathan Morris and Marc Nelson at the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. The original group often rehearsed in a school bathroom due to its excellent acoustics.

By the early 1990s, Boyz II Men earned international fame with a series of Top 5 releases, including "Motownphilly" and "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday." The group originated as a quartet, but became a trio when Michael McCary had to leave the group in 2003 due to multiple sclerosis.

In 2017, a section of Broad Street in Philadelphia was renamed “Boyz II Men Boulevard.” That section of Broad Street happens to be the home of the high school where the boys got their start.

Check out the audio clip of Boyz II Men performing “Diamond Eyes.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along...

“Diamond Eyes”
Written by Coley O'Toole. Performed by Boyz II Men.

When we were young, our hearts were strong,
And they beat as one, till the day had come
When I thought that you were gone

And then the sun rose, our bodies unfroze
And it turned us both gold
Your diamond eyes glowed, yeah, ohhhhh

When we were young, our love was strong
We beat as one, till the day had come,
And I thought that you were gone

And then the sun rose, our bodies unfroze
And it turned us both gold
Your diamond eyes glowed, yeah

I would search near and far
Drag the seas and mine the dark,
Search through every place I think you are
I would search near and far
Drag the seas and mine the dark
And never losing hope that you be found, ohhhh

And then the sun rose, our bodies unfroze
And it turned us both gold
Your diamond eyes glowed, yea,
your diamond eyes glowed,
your diamond eyes glowed,
your diamond eyes glowed, ohhhh

Credit: Image by Lunchbox LP from Culver City, CA, USA / CC BY.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Here's How a 28.86-Carat Diamond Made History and Changed the Market

The 28.86-carat D-color diamond that is slated to headline an online auction in June has been named by Christie's as one of the "10 Jewels That Made History — and Changed the Market."

The emerald-cut gem, which is estimated to fetch between $1 million and $2 million at Christie's Jewels Online sale, June 16-30, joined the likes of the $58 million Oppenheimer Blue diamond, the impossibly rare Hancock Red diamond and the world's most famous natural pearl, La Peregrina, in a feature article published last week at Christies.com.

While the 28.86-carat online offering doesn't carry the gravitas of the other gems spotlighted by Christie's, it is very significant in other ways. It is not only the first gem to be offered online with an expected sale price of at least $1 million, but it is also the highest-valued lot ever offered for sale online at Christie’s.

The value of the gem signals a move by the famed auction house to move higher-ticket items to the online sales platform.

“This year has presented unprecedented circumstances, enabling Christie’s new opportunities through our enhanced digital platform,” said Rahul Kadakia, International Head of Jewelry at Christie’s. “Year-over-year, we have seen an increase in online participation and the value threshold for transacting online. Recognizing greater client confidence, we are proud to announce the highest valued lot ever to be offered for sale in our June 2020 Jewels Online auction.”

The D-color diamond boasts a Type IIa purity grading, a designation earned by fewer than 2% of all gem diamonds. Type IIa diamonds have exceptional optical transparency and are the most chemically pure variety of diamonds. They contain no measurable trace of other elements, such as nitrogen, which could alter the color.

The Oppenheimer Blue diamond made Christie's list because it is the most expensive diamond in auction history. It sold for $57.97 million at Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction in Geneva in May of 2016.

The Hancock Red diamond turned heads when it became the top lot at Christie's New York in April of 1987. Weighing just under 1 carat, the fancy-color purple-red diamond was described as "so rare that experienced diamond dealers would consider themselves extremely lucky to handle more than three in the course of a lifetime." It sold for $880,000 and was, at the time, the most expensive per-carat gemstone ever sold at auction.

With a 500-year history that linked royals, empresses and Hollywood stars, the perfectly pear-shaped La Peregrina natural pearl sold at Christie's New York in 2011 for $11.84 million. It was discovered off the coast of Panama in 1576 and soon became part of the Spanish Crown Jewels. In 1969, actor Richard Burton purchased the gem at auction for his wife, Elizabeth Taylor, on the actress's 37th birthday.

Credit: Image courtesy of Christie's.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Hyatt Regency Seattle Assists With 21-Story-Tall, Sky-High Marriage Proposal

Even though the Hyatt Regency Seattle had to suspend its normal operations due to COVID-19 health concerns, the brand new 45-story hotel at 8th & Howell has been lighting up the sky with love.

Each evening for the past six weeks, the 500-foot-tall, 1260-room landmark — the largest hotel in the city — has been honoring Seattle's first responders and health care workers with a giant heart rendered by lighting individual rooms on the upper floors.

On Thursday, the hotel was happy to oblige a special request by Seattle resident Mitesh Munot, and the lighting configuration became a 21-floor love letter to his girlfriend, Apoorva Prasad.

Right at dusk, the simple heart shape was amended to say "I Love You, AP," with the heart standing in for the word "love."

From the balcony of his home on 2nd Avenue, and with the Hyatt specially lit in the distance, Munot popped the question and Prasad said, "Yes."

Munot told komonews.com how he came up with the idea for the sky-high proposal.

"We can see the beautiful heart sign that the hotel shows with the use of lights in individual rooms," Munot said. "It would probably be the best proposal that I could ever hope for!"

The Hyatt's social media team got into the spirit with an Instagram post that included a photo of the couple and a caption that read, "Love is in the air! Congratulations on tonight’s engagement! Thank you for letting us be a part of your joyous celebration!"

Commenting on the post, Munot, a senior account executive at Amazon, wrote, "@hyattregencyseattle, I can’t thank you enough for making this happen for us! Thank you for giving us a memory we will cherish forever."

Prasad, a senior manager at Amazon, was more than delighted, commenting, "@hyattregencyseattle, your team is incredible! We’ve always loved Hyatt, but you’ll now hold a place in our hearts forever. Thank you!"

The Hyatt Regency officially opened in December of 2018, but was forced to temporarily suspend its normal operations due to COVID-19. The good news is that the hotel was given the green light to start serving customers again on June 1.

Credits: Images via Instagram/hyattregencyseattle.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Music Friday: Thompson Square Duo Shares Love Story in 'Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you chart-topping songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, country music duo Keifer and Shawna Thompson of Thompson Square fall in love, get engaged and tie the knot in their semi-autobiographical 2010 hit, "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not."

As the song begins, Keifer and Shawna are talking about "everything under the moon" on the roof of her mom's house. He's remembers the intoxicating smell of honeysuckle and her perfume. He also recalls how he was totally panicked — way too shy to make the first move.

Lucky for him, Shawna looks him straight in the eye and asks, "Are you gonna kiss me or not?" Later in the song, Keifer realizes that he wants the relationship to last forever, so he buys a ring and asks for her hand in marriage.

Keifer and Shawna share this key verse: "So I took a chance / Bought a wedding band and I got down on one knee / And you smiled and said to me / Are you gonna kiss me or not? / Are we gonna do this or what? / I think you know I love you a lot / I think we've got a real good shot / Are you gonna kiss me or not?"

Written by Jim Collins and David Lee Murphy, "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not" sold more than two million copies and zoomed to #1 on both the Billboard US Hot Country Songs chart and the Billboard Canada Country chart. It was the second single released from Thompson Square's self-titled debut album.

The song also earned Grammy nominations for Best Country Duo/Group Performance and Best Country Song.

Even though Keifer and Shawna didn't write the song, its theme very closely mirrored their own love story.

"The first time we heard it, we fell in love with it," Keifer told The Boot. "We knew we had to record it. It was semi-autobiographical. We just gravitated towards it. We were definitely blessed to get a hold of it."

"We got real lucky with Thompson Square," Collins admitted to The Boot. "They're husband and wife, and it was kind of their story — how they fell in love, even though I don't know if it was exactly up on the roof! When we wrote it, I thought it was a good song. But when I heard their record, the way they cut it, I thought, 'Man! This could be a hit!'"

Born in Miami, OK, Keifer Thompson met his future wife, a native of Chatom, AL, at a singing competition in Nashville, TN. Together, they have produced three albums and placed 10 singles on the Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts.

Please check out the video of Thompson Square's live performance from the Bing Lounge in 2013. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not"
Written by David Lee Murphy & Jim Collins. Performed by Thompson Square.

We were sittin' up there on your momma's roof
Talkin' 'bout everything under the moon
With the smell of honeysuckle and your perfume
All I could think about was my next move

Oh, but you were so shy, so was I
Maybe that's why it was so hard to believe
When you smiled and said to me

Are you gonna kiss me or not?
Are we gonna do this or what?
I think you know I like you a lot
But you're 'bout to miss your shot
Are you gonna kiss me or what?

It was the best dang kiss that I ever had
Except for that long one after that
And I knew if I wanted this thing to last
Sooner or later I'd have to ask for your hand

So I took a chance
Bought a wedding band and I got down on one knee
And you smiled and said to me

Are you gonna kiss me or not?
Are we gonna do this or what?
I think you know I love you a lot
I think we've got a real good shot
Are you gonna kiss me or not?

So, we planned it all out for the middle of June
From the wedding cake to the honeymoon
And your momma cried
When you walked down the aisle

When the preacher man said, "Say I do"
I did and you did too, then I lifted that veil
And saw your pretty smile and I said
Are you gonna kiss me or not?

Are we gonna do this or what?
Look at all the love that we got
It ain't never gonna stop
Are you gonna kiss me or not?

Yeah baby, I love you a lot
I really think we've got a shot
Are you gonna kiss me or not?

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/987TheBull

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

John Krasinski and Cast of 'The Office' Rejoice at Fans' Virtual Wedding

In a video that was posted Sunday and has already topped 8.8 million views, The Office star John Krasinski officiated the Zoom marriage ceremony of Maryland superfans, whose proposal mimicked a scene from the popular TV show. As a surprise bonus, Krasinski invited the cast of The Office to dance at their virtual wedding.

For the past seven weeks, Krasinski has brightened the lives of home-bound viewers with his YouTube series "Some Good News." During the second half of Sunday's episode, Krasinski introduced Susan and John, whose marriage proposal was "oddly familiar."

The Office fans will remember how Krasinski's character, Jim, asked Pam (Jenna Fischer) to marry him in the rain at a gas station convenience store. John's proposal to Susan matched the TV version almost exactly.

"So I knew the proposal needed to be something really special, but also really something unique," John said. "'The Office' has been something that has connected the two of us for a very, very long time so it just felt right."

Susan explained, "Then he got down on one knee and he said, 'Just like Jim, I can't wait any longer.'"

As huge fans of the popular workplace comedy, John and Susan tweeted an invitation for Krasinski to attend their virtual wedding. Krasinski took the sweet gesture one step further.

The actor got ordained via an online ministry, which allowed him to officiate the couple's virtual marriage ceremony.

Said Krasinski, "Susan and John, because you elegantly ripped off our proposal, I think it’s only fitting that you rip off the wedding too.”

At that point, Krasinski introduced a number of key players who were queued up to be revealed during the Zoom call. The actor introduced the couples' parents, some close friends, and Fischer, who played Kraskinski's love interest on the show. Kraskinski volunteered to be the best man and nominated Fischer to be the matron of honor.

After country star Zac Brown performed a special song, the couple recited their vows and Krasinski pronounced them husband and wife.

But that's not it.

To top off the virtual ceremony, Krasinski invited the cast of The Office to recreate the wedding scene from Jim and Pam's wedding in Season 6. Among the stars showing off their dance moves were Steve Carell, Jenna Fischer, Mindy Kaling, B.J. Novak, Angela Kinsey, Ellie Kemper, Kate Flannery, Brian Baumgartner, Ed Helms, Phyllis Smith, Oscar Nunez, Rainn Wilson and Creed Bratton.

Krasinski said that this was likely the first and only wedding that would take place on "Some Good News."

"Because, let's be honest," he said. "How does it get better than that? It doesn't!"

Check out Sunday's episode of "Some Good News," which has a been trending as high as #2 on YouTube. The virtual wedding segment starts at the 7:20 mark. Also included below are the engagement and wedding scenes from The Office.

Some Good News

Jim Proposes to Pam

The Office Wedding Dance

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/SomeGoodNews.

Monday, May 11, 2020

423-Carat 'Logan Sapphire' Is the Next Stop on Our Virtual Gem Gallery Tour

Our multi-part virtual tour of the Smithsonian’s National Gem Collection continues today with a closeup look at the 422.99-carat “Logan Sapphire." It's not only the heaviest mounted gem in the storied collection, but also boasts a provenance that links one of America’s most prominent families with Indian royalty.

Set in a silver-and-gold brooch and framed by 20 round brilliant diamonds weighing approximately 16 carats, the cushion-shaped Logan Sapphire was cut from a crystal mined in Sri Lanka in the mid-1800s.

Normally, the more than six million annual visitors to the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals in Washington, DC, would find the magnificent sapphire in the gallery called "Precious Gems 2."

But, with all the Smithsonian museums in Washington, DC, temporarily closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, we offer our third virtual tour of the hall. Next stop: the Logan Sapphire.

-- First, click on this link... The resulting page will be a gallery called "Geology, Gems & Minerals: Precious Gems 1."

-- Next, simply touch the double-right-arrow once to navigate to the gallery called "Geology, Gems & Minerals: Precious Gems 2."

When you arrive, the left of the screen will be filled with a topaz exhibit. Lining the walls to the right of the gallery are jewelry showcases that include the "Hall Sapphire and Diamond Necklace," the "Bismarck Sapphire Necklace" and the "Logan Sapphire."

-- Click and drag the screen one-quarter turn to see the sapphire exhibits.

(Touch the plus sign to zoom in. Touch the "X" to close the map to get a better view of the jewelry and gemstones. You may restore the map by clicking the "Second" floor navigation on the top-right of the screen.)

The sapphire brooch had been given to Rebecca Pollard Guggenheim as a Christmas/anniversary gift in 1952 by her then-husband Col. M. Robert Guggenheim. The Guggenheims had amassed one of the world’s largest fortunes through their mining and smelting businesses, and later became equally famous for their philanthropy.

Rebecca donated the magnificent gem to the Smithsonian in 1960 but kept it in her possession until 1971. Col. M. Robert Guggenheim passed away in 1959 and Rebecca remarried three years later, becoming Mrs. John A. Logan. This is where the Logan Sapphire gets its name. The gem went on display in Washington, D.C., in June of 1971.

Robert Guggenheim reportedly purchased the gem from Sir Ellice Victor Sassoon (1881-1961), the third Baronet of Bombay. The Sassoon family had acquired the gem from a maharajah in India.

After studying the gem in 1997, the Gemological Institute of America concluded that the Logan Sapphire's impressive color — a vibrant medium-blue color with slight violet overtones — was completely natural. It has never been heated or treated in any way.

A wall panel between the sapphire and ruby exhibits describes how both gems are members of the corundum family.

"Colorless in its pure state, corundum rarely has sufficient clarity or richness of color to be a gemstone," the panel explains. "When it does, the difference between a ruby and a sapphire is just a tiny bit of impurity. Rubies are, by definition, red. The color results from light interacting with a few atoms of chromium trapped as the crystals grew. Ruby is the July birthstone. Sapphires are corundum crystals in all colors but red. Best known are the blue varieties, tinted by iron and titanium impurities. Sapphire is the September birthstone."

Credits: Logan Sapphire photo by Chip Clark/Smithsonian. Virtual tour screen captures via naturalhistory2.si.edu.

Friday, May 08, 2020

Music Friday: Chris Lane Sings About His Real-Life Proposal in 'Big, Big Plans'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you romantic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, country singer Chris Lane shares his real-life proposal to reality TV star Lauren Bushnell in 2019's "Big, Big Plans."

In a music video viewed on YouTube more than 10.5 million times, Lane's fans get to see the actual moment he popped the question to Bushnell in the backyard of her parents' home in Oregon.

The video starts with romantic, smartphone-generated footage of the couple having fun in everyday situations and then transitions to his actual proposal, where he gets down on one knee and tells his girlfriend that she's the best thing that ever happened to him.

Written by Lane and two collaborators, "Big, Big Plans" offers a play-by-play account of how he bought an emerald-cut diamond ring and hid it in the bathroom.

He sings, "She don't know I already bought a ring / Hid it in the bottom left drawer right beside the sink / Shiny emerald diamond on a brand new band / Asked her momma for permission and her daddy for her hand."

“Even though I felt pretty confident I was going to get the ‘yes,’ I’ve never been that nervous,” Lane told People magazine. “When I got to the third verse of the song and knew it was time, I pretty much blacked out. The next thing I knew, she said ‘Yes’ and the nerves just lifted. It’s an explosion of excitement, pure joy, and love.”

The engagement took place in June of 2019 and the two married shortly thereafter in Nashville in October of the same year.

A second video for "Big, Big Plans" features footage from the couple's wedding day. That video earned 2.4 million views on YouTube.

Written by Chris Lane, Ernest K. Smith and Jacob Durrett, "Big, Big Plans" topped out at #33 on the U.S. Billboard Country chart.

Bushnell famously won the 20th Season of The Bachelor, during which she won the heart of Ben Higgins. The couple was engaged in March of 2016 and ended their relationship a little more than a year later.

Lane and Bushnell had been dating since 2018.

At the time of her engagement to Lane, Bushnell posted to Instagram a photo of the couple kissing, along with this caption: "I can’t stop smiling I feel so incredibly blessed that every misstep, mistake and heartache has led me to you. I couldn’t be happier to call you mine, forever."

Scroll down to see both the engagement-themed and wedding-themed videos. The lyrics are included if you'd like to sing along...

"Big, Big Plans"
Written by Chris Lane, Ernest K. Smith and Jacob Durrett. Performed by Chris Lane.

Just look at her sittin' there
Sweatpants t-shirt in a comfy chair
Her hair in a bun one hand on her mug
And the other one's playin' snare
To a George Strait vinyl
That Yes or No line’ll get her close
But I don’t think she can understand
Just how far I’ve been lettin' my heart
Fall and what’s in my head

She don't know I got some big, big plans
Build a little house out on some hand me down land
Find a little island where we go to get tan
I bet we take our kids down there one day
And I know she wouldn’t mind if I
Did a lil somethin' like find a flight
Over night to Paradise
And leave tonight
And I'ma put a diamond on her hand
She don't know I got some big, big plans
She don’t know
She don't know
She don't know I got some big, big plans
She don't know
She don't know

She don't know I already bought a ring
Hid it in the bottom left drawer right beside the sink
Shiny emerald diamond on a brand new band
Asked her momma for permission and her daddy for her hand

I got some big big plans
Build a little house out on some hand me down land
Find a little island where we go to get tan
I bet we take our kids down there one day
And I know she wouldn’t mind if I
Did a lil somethin' like find a flight
Over night to Paradise
And leave tonight
And I'ma put a diamond on her hand
She don't know I got some big, big plans
She don't know
She don't know
She don't know I got some big, big plans
She don't know
She don't know

Well here I go
Cause right now we’re back in her hometown
And I’m down on one knee
I guess she finally figured out
I’m gonna ask her to marry me...

I some big, big plans
Build a little house out on some hand me down land
Find a little island where we go to get tan
I bet we take our kids down there one day
And I know she wouldn’t mind if I
Did a lil somethin' like find a flight
Over night to Paradise
And leave tonight
And I'ma put a diamond on her hand
She don't know I got some big, big plans
She don't know
She don't know
She don't know I got some big, big plans
She don't know
She don't know

Engagement Video:

Wedding Video:

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Survey: Jewelry Tops All Mother's Day Gift Categories; Spending Climbs to $5.27B

Lucky moms will be showered with jewelry gifts at an unprecedented level this Sunday, Mother's Day. Despite uncertain times, spending on jewelry items is expected to reach $5.27 billion, making it the highest-volume gift-giving category by far, according to an annual Mother's Day survey released by the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Jewelry spending is up from $5.19 billion in 2019, a modest increase of 1.5%. Special Outings, by comparison, will be down nearly 12% to $4.07 billion.

For the past 11 years, jewelry and special outings have been the top two categories in terms of Mother's Day dollars spent, with jewelry beating out special outings for six years in a row.

Overall Mother’s Day spending in 2020 is predicted to hit a record $26.7 billion, an increase of 7.2% from the $24.9 billion tallied in 2019. The 2020 total reflects a near doubling of the $14.1 billion that was spent for moms in 2009.

Exactly 34% of respondents said they will be buying jewelry for their moms this year, with the average spending per person pegged at $40.38.

While the portion of people celebrating Mother’s Day with a gift in 2020 remains the same at 86%, this year’s gift-givers will be spending more.

The average Mother’s Day outlay is expected to be a record $204.74, up from $196.47 in 2019. Consumers ages 35-44 are likely to spend the most ($296, up from $248), and men are likely to spend more than women ($266 compared with $146).

According to NRF’s Mother’s Day survey, $2.93 billion will be spent on electronics (to be gifted by 19%) and $2.87 billion will be spent on gift cards (49%). Other go-to items include flowers ($2.56 billion, 64%), clothing ($2.56 billion, 39%), personal service ($2.1 billion, 26%), housewares/gardening tools ($1.51 billion, 25%), greeting cards ($1.0 billion, 74%) and books/CDs ($0.71 billion, 24%).

NRF’s survey was conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics and reflects the anticipated purchasing patterns of 8,294 adult consumers. The survey was conducted April 1-6, 2020, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.

Credit: Image by Bigstockphoto.com.

Monday, May 04, 2020

Birthstone Feature: 'Trapiche' Emerald Remains a Gemological Curiosity

Resembling a wheel with six spokes, “trapiche” emeralds may be the most unique variety of May’s birthstone. Found primarily in the black shales of Colombia’s western “emerald zone,” these gemological curiosities display alternating rays of vivid emerald green and deep black.

Trapiche emeralds were first described by Émile Bertrand in 1879 in a meeting at the Société Géologique de France, but even after more than 140 years of examination, gemologists have yet to reach a consensus regarding the mechanism by which the pattern forms, or the conditions required for it. In one interpretation, the black impurities are remains of the shale matrix in which the emeralds formed.

The name “trapiche” comes from the Spanish word for the cogwheels used in sugar mills. Apparently, the pattern of the gem looks very much like the cane-crushing gears used by farmers.

The distinctive six-spoked “trapiche” effect also has been seen in other minerals, such as ruby, sapphire, garnet, chiastolite and tourmaline.

Emerald is the most valuable variety of the beryl family. Non-trapiche emeralds famously display more subtle visible inclusions, which are referred to as “jardin” (French for “garden”). These imperfections do not detract from the stone’s beauty but, instead, give each stone a unique fingerprint and distinct character.

The name “emerald” comes indirectly from the ancient Greek word for green gem, “smaragdos.” Besides being the birthstone for the month of May, it’s also the preferred gemstone to honor 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.

The extraordinarily rare trapiche emeralds are primarily found in the Muzo, Coscuez and Peñas Blancas mines of Colombia. The trapiche pattern is not an asterism, which is a six-rayed star pattern sometimes seen in cabochon-cut rubies, sapphires and other gemstones.

Credit: Image by Luciana Barbosa / CC BY-SA.

Friday, May 01, 2020

Music Friday: ‘Diamonds, Daisies and Snowflakes’ Describe Marlo Thomas in ‘That Girl’

Welcome to Music Friday when we often bring you nostalgic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. In the catchy theme song from the groundbreaking 1966 TV series That Girl, writers Earle Hagen and Sam Denoff paint a picture of the title character, who embodies “everything that every girl should be!”

The 52-second ditty starts like this: “Diamonds, daisies, snowflakes / That Girl / Chestnuts, rainbows, springtime / Is That Girl / She’s tinsel on a tree / She’s everything that every girl should be!”

In the show, a 28-year-old Marlo Thomas plays Ann Marie, a sassy, smart aspiring actress from upstate New York who moves to New York City to seek fame and fortune.

While the Hagen/Denoff references to "chestnuts" and "tinsel on tree" seem silly and a bit dated 54 years after they were written, That Girl is often praised as the first sitcom in which the main character was a young, modern woman focused on her own dreams and aspirations. Thomas’ character challenged conventional social mores and gave the country an early glimpse at the changing roles of American women. The series ran from September of 1966 to March of 1971.

The Ron Hicklin Singers are credited with performing the "That Girl Theme." These studio singers from Los Angeles famously provided the real background vocals for many of The Partridge Family recordings. They are also the voices behind the theme songs of many popular TV shows, including Batman, Flipper, Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley.

During the third season of Family Guy, animated character Peter Griffin appears as Ann Marie in a parody of the title sequence from That Girl. The episode, called "Mr. Griffin Goes to Washington," originally aired in July of 2001. The animators matched each scene, cut by cut, and the writers simply changed the gender references. That Girl became That Guy.

Besides starring in That Girl, Thomas went on to become a producer, author and social activist. In 2014, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She is currently the National Outreach Director for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which was founded by her father Danny Thomas in 1962.

We hope you enjoy the opening credits of That Girl. The lyrics are here if you’d like to sing along. As a bonus, we've including a clip of the Family Guy parody. Have fun.

“That Girl Theme”
Theme written by Earle Hagen and Sam Denoff. Performed by The Ron Hicklin Singers.

Diamonds, daisies, snowflakes,
That Girl

Chestnuts, rainbows, springtime
Is That Girl
She’s tinsel on a tree
She’s everything that every girl should be!

Sable, popcorn, white wine,
That Girl

Gingham, bluebirds, Broadway
Is That Girl
She’s mine alone, but luckily for you…

If you find a girl to love,
Only one girl to love,
Then she’ll be That Girl too-ooo…
That Girl!


Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

San Diego Musician Pops the Question With Ring That's Seen Two Global Pandemics

The diamond ring that San Diego musician Scott Szikla used to propose to his neuroscientist girlfriend, Elena Blanco-Suarez, has seen two global pandemics — both COVID-19 and the Spanish flu that swept across the globe in 1918 and 1919.

Szikla had planned to purchase an engagement ring at a local jeweler, but was stymied because of the recent disruption of retail business activity in the San Diego area. Instead, the A/V technician and guitarist opted for a family heirloom.

"Since all jewelers are closed right now, I got ahold of my great-grandmother’s ring... It was actually given to her during the 1918 flu pandemic," Szikla told San Diego NBC affiliate KNSD. "Fast-forward 100 years later and this is happening. Weird timing."

After sheltering in place together for nearly six weeks, Szikla was ready to pop the question to his girlfriend of three years.

"I guess the quarantine even brought us closer together," he said.

With his great-grandmother's ring burning a hole in his pocket, Szikla was ready to deliver a no-frills proposal in their apartment.

But, when the city of San Diego lifted restrictions on some recreation areas, Szikla quickly drew up a new plan. He would pop the question at nearby Bird Park.

This past Friday, a bunch of the couple's friends visited the park ahead of the couple and set up a picnic basket with champagne, hand sanitizer, wipes and a blanket.

“We were out for a walk, and people were definitely watching us, and she was getting a little chilly and suggested returning home," Szikla told KNSD. "She saw the basket and thought the space was reserved for someone else, but then I dropped to one knee and popped the question."

"He started giving this beautiful speech," the Spanish-born Blanco-Suarez said. "And I was crying."

The friends were hiding in the bushes, snapping photos, as the Salk Institute neuroscientist said, "Yes."

"It was a surprise," Blanco-Suarez said. "I didn't know it was going to happen in the middle of a quarantine."

The 102-year-old ring symbolizes how previous generations have made it through times like these.

"As soon as I found out the significance of it, of what happened in the past, I said, 'OK, this might actually be the more perfect situation.' It worked out nicely," Szikla said.

Szikla imagined what the conversation might sound like when his future wife looks at her heirloom ring and reminisces about their engagement many, many years from now...

"Remember that time with COVID, we were locked in?" she might say.

"Yeah, I remember," he would respond. "But we got engaged."

The couple told KNSD that they may have to wait until 2021 to tie the knot.

“We're just trying to remain positive and as hopeful as we can,” Szikla said.

Credits: Screen captures via nbcsandiego.com.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Pink Diamond Jennifer Lopez Got From Ben Affleck in 2002 Is Still Making Headlines

Back in 2002, Ben Affleck proposed to Jennifer Lopez with a 6.1-carat radiant-cut fancy intense pink diamond. Even though the power couple — affectionally known as Bennifer — never tied the knot, the ring sparked a craze for colored diamonds.

Now, 18 years and two engagements later, Lopez's pink stunner is still making headlines.

The 50-year-old singer/actress revealed during an at-home Zoom chat hosted by Apple Music's Zane Lowe that her exciting first-ever encounter with her idol, Barbra Streisand, focused primarily on the ring.

When posed with the question of how she was spending her time in quarantine, Lopez — sporting multiple rings on both hands — said that she was watching movies with her kids, 12-year-old twins Emme and Maximilian. Specifically she's been introducing them to the musicals her mom introduced her to when she was growing up. One of those movies was Funny Girl with Barbra Streisand.

"Have you met Barbra Streisand?" asked Lowe. "Can you tell us how that was?"

“I met her at an Oscar party years ago," Lopez recalled, "and I was at the time engaged to Ben Affleck. And she’s really into diamonds, which I didn’t know. He had given me a pink diamond, which got a lot of press and was... whatever."

Cutting her off in mid-phrase, Lowe joked, "It was very much not 'whatever.'"

"I mean, I loved getting it. Don’t get me wrong," Lopez clarified. "So, she came up to me, and like, she had heard about it. I’m just dying because it's Barbra Streisand. And I'm like, ‘Oh My God.’ And she’s like, ‘Can I see your ring?’ I said, 'Yeah,' and she asked me about the ring, but then she asked me – and I thought it was so strange – about being famous, and how I handle it.”

Lopez told Streisand, "I really don't think about it."

Lopez, who is now engaged to former baseball star Alex Rodriguez and is rocking a 10-plus-carat emerald-cut diamond ring, met Affleck on the set of the romantic comedy Gigli in 2002. According to Glamour.com, the duo called it quits in 2004, just four days before the wedding. Lopez and Marc Anthony tied the knot in June of 2004 and divorced 10 years later.

Check out the full interview at Apple Music. Lopez recounts her encounter with Streisand at the 3:11 mark.

Credits: Screen captures via Apple Music Presents.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Music Friday: Trumpeter Herb Alpert Teams Up With Janet Jackson in 1987’s ‘Diamonds’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you memorable songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Back in 1987, legendary jazz trumpeter Herb Alpert reinvigorated his career and climbed back to the top of the charts by collaborating with a 21-year-old Janet Jackson on a song called “Diamonds.”

Borrowing from "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend” — the song famously performed by Marilyn Monroe in the 1953 film, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes — the Alpert/Jackson tune delivers the clear message that when a guy is serious about a girl, he needs to give her a tangible reminder of how much he cares. Specifically, Jackson wants something she can see — something on her finger that “shines so brightly.”

Jackson sings, “Don't you know / Diamonds are a girl's best / Best friend / When you go / They stay with me until the end.”

Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass had been one of the most successful acts of the 1960s, but faded from view by the end of the 1970s. With the 1987 release of his album Keep Your Eye on Me and the accompanying music video for “Diamonds,” the 52-year-old Alpert was back in the spotlight.

The video takes place at "Bucky's" nightclub, where the DJ is spinning “Diamonds” for an excited crowd and Alpert — trumpet in hand — gets into the act by playing live.

"Diamonds" charted in nine countries, including a #5 spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and a #4 position on the Canadian Singles chart. Jackson performed the song during her 2011 tour, "Number Ones: Up Close and Personal."

Born in Los Angeles in 1935, Alpert began trumpet lessons at the age of eight. After graduating high school in 1952, he joined the U.S. Army and played the trumpet at military ceremonies. While attending the University of Southern California in the mid-1950s, he was a member of the USC Trojan Marching Band.

In 1957, Alpert decided to pursue a career in music. He set up a recording studio in his garage and adopted a trumpet style inspired by the mariachi bands of Tijuana, Mexico.

The artist and his band, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, are credited with 14 Top 40 singles, 14 platinum albums and more than 72 million records sold. Alpert has won nine Grammy awards and is the only artist to have a #1 instrumental and a #1 vocal single. He is also the co-founder of A&M Records.

Please check out Alpert doing what he does best in the “Diamonds” music video. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

"Diamonds"
Written by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Performed by Herb Alpert, featuring Janet Jackson and Lisa Keith.

You told me you love me
You told me you care

But when I'm around you
It's like I'm not there
I need a reminder
Something I can see

Something on my finger shines so brightly

Don't you know
Diamonds are a girl's best friend

When you go
They stay with me until the end

Don't you know
Diamonds are a girl's best
Best friend

When you go
They stay with me until the end

Don't want your money
Don't want your key
Diamonds - love don't come for free

Don't want your money
Don't want your key
Diamonds - love don't come for free

They say you need some roses
But roses do die

You gave me some candy
It melted
Nice try
I'm not that demanding
I have simple taste
I just want a token that can't go to waste - Diamonds

Don't want your money
Don't want your key
Diamonds - love don't come for free

Don't want your money
Don't want your key
Diamonds - love don't come for free

Don't you know
Diamonds are a girl's best friend

When you go
They stay with me until the end

Don't you know
Diamonds are a girl's best
Best friend

When you go
They stay with me until the end

Don't want your money
Don't want your key
Diamonds - love don't come for free

Don't want your money
Don't want your key
Diamonds - love don't come for free

Don't want your money
Don't want your key
Diamonds - love don't come for free

Credit: Image by General Artists Corporation (GAC)/A&M Records (management and record companies) / Public domain.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Gold-Infused Drug Inhibits Spread of Coronavirus, Say Georgia State Researchers

Auranofin, a gold-infused drug originally developed in 1985 and approved by the FDA to treat rheumatoid arthritis, is effective at inhibiting the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to researchers at Georgia State University.

In the preliminary study, human cells infected with the virus were treated with Auranofin, and within 48 hours of treatment, the amount of virus within the cells dropped by 95 percent. Treatment also resulted in significant reduction of coronavirus-induced inflammation.

Like all viruses, SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes the disease COVID-19) cannot reproduce on its own. Instead it uses host cell proteins to manufacture copies of itself.

“Effective drugs need to interfere with this replication process, shutting down the virus’s ability to proliferate inside the host,” said Hussin Rothan, a post-doctoral researcher at Georgia State and co-author of the study.

Because the drug has already been approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, it could potentially be fast-tracked to patients in need.

“Drug repurposing is the fastest way to get a treatment for SARS-CoV-2 because it’s already been established that these medicines are safe to use in humans,” said Mukesh Kumar, lead author of the study and assistant professor of biology.

Auranofin is a chemical compound containing particles of gold, an element known to have anti-inflammatory properties for nearly a century.

The Georgia State University researchers explained that Auranofin also dramatically reduced the expression of cytokines — signaling proteins that draw immune cells to the site of infection— caused by SARS-CoV-2. Normally, the immune system works by fighting off invading pathogens and repairing damage to the body’s tissues.

But many coronavirus-infected patients who die do so because of something called a “cytokine storm,” in which the body’s immune response spirals out of control, killing healthy tissue and leading to organ failure.

According to Kumar, the research seems to indicate that the drug not only could inhibit the replication of SARS-CoV-2, mitigating the infection, but also reduce the associated lung damage that often leads to severe respiratory distress and even death.

Precious metal has been used in medicine since ancient times, and more recently, scientists have explored gold compounds as effective treatments for HIV, cancer, neurodegenerative disorders and parasitic and bacterial infections.

Kumar and his team plan to test the drug in animal models to learn more about how it affects infection and illness, and whether it is effective in treating the disease.

The researchers at Georgia State University have made their paper publicly available for the global research and healthcare community on the preprint website bioRxiv.

Credits: Hussin Rothan image courtesy of Georgia State University. Graphic by https://www.scientificanimations.com / CC BY-SA.

Monday, April 20, 2020

World’s Top Diamond Producer, Alrosa, Doubles Spending to Battle COVID-19

Alrosa, the world’s leading diamond producer in terms of carats, has more than doubled its spending to counter the spread of COVID-19 in and around its mining and administrative sites in Yakutia and Moscow. Alrosa announced last week that its initial outlay of 147 million rubles ($1.99 million) has been elevated to 308 million rubles ($4.15 million).

The funds will continue to be used to buy sanitizers, ventilators, medical equipment, medicines and personal protective gear for regional healthcare institutions, corporate healthcare facilities, operating sites and subsidiary offices.

Specifically, hospitals near its mining facilities in Mirny, Lensk and Aikhal will be getting 25 million rubles ($340,000) in financial aid to purchase antibiotics, antivirals and other medicines and materials. The Ministry of Health of Yakutia will be getting 28,800 COVID-19 test kits valued at 23 million rubles ($311,000).

Alrosa Medical Center is slated to get six mobile labs that are capable of running express testing for COVID-19, and 17 thermal imaging cameras will be installed at the company’s production and administrative sites. The cameras can identify workers with fevers.

In Moscow, Alrosa made its former administrative building available to be utilized by the authorities in their counter-pandemic efforts.

Alrosa's CEO Sergey Ivanov has led by example. On April 6, Ivanov sold half his shares in the company for 18.5 million rubles ($250,000), which he then donated to the coronavirus initiatives in Yakutia, the home of Alrosa’s main operations and headquarters.

Alrosa is the world leader in diamond mining, accounting for more than 25% in the global diamond production in terms of carats. Alrosa operates more than 20 diamond deposits located in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and the Arkhangelsk Region of Russia.

Credit: Image courtesy of Alrosa.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Music Friday: Rob Thomas Tells a Story of Empathy and Love in 2009's ‘Her Diamonds’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fabulous songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. In his 2009 hit, “Her Diamonds,” Rob Thomas reflects on his wife’s battle with a debilitating autoimmune disease. In this deeply personal song about empathy and love, Thomas uses the phrase “her diamonds” as a metaphor for his wife’s tears.

He sings, “And she says oh / I can’t take no more / Her tears like diamonds on the floor / And her diamonds bring me down / Cause I can’t help her now.”

The former Matchbox 20 frontman revealed in a 2015 interview with The Canadian Press, that “Her Diamonds” was about his wife, Marisol, a former model who suffers from a disease similar to lupus.

“My wife has an autoimmune disease and [we’ve had to] deal with that for the last six or seven years,” he said. “But at the end of the day, it’s really a song about being empathetic, when the person closest to you is going through something and you can’t do anything to make it better, except to be there for them.”

At the end of the song Thomas expresses his hope that his wife will overcome the disease, singing, “If she can find daylight / She’ll be alright / She’ll be alright / Just not tonight.”

According to Thomas, Marisol provided backup vocals for the track and produced the arrangement.

“Her Diamonds” was the lead single from Thomas’ second solo album, Cradlesong. It zoomed to #1 on the U.S. Billboard Adult Pop Songs chart, topped out at #23 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, and peaked at #27 on the Canadian Hot 100 chart.

Thomas found stardom in 1997 when Matchbox 20’s debut album, Yourself or Someone Like You, went multi-platinum and readers of Rolling Stone magazine named Matchbox 20 the best new band.

As a solo artist, Thomas hit the pinnacle of success when “Smooth,” his collaboration with Carlos Santana, topped the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for 12 weeks and earned three Grammy Awards: Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.

We hope you enjoy the video of Thomas’ live performance of “Her Diamonds.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along...

“Her Diamonds”
Written and performed by Rob Thomas.

Oh what the hell she said
I just can’t win for losing
And she lays back down
Man there’s so many times
I don’t know what I’m doing
Like I don’t know now

By the light of the moon
She rubs her eyes
Says it’s funny how the night
Can make you blind
I can just imagine
And I don’t know what I’m supposed to do
But if she feels bad then i do too
So I let her be

And she says oh
I can’t take no more
Her tears like diamonds on the floor
And her diamonds bring me down
Cause I can’t help her now
She’s down in it
She tried her best but now she can’t win it
Hard to see them on the ground
Her diamonds falling down

She sits down and stares into the distance
And it takes all night
And i know i could break her concentration
But it don’t feel right
By the light of the moon
She rubs her eyes
Sits down on the bed and starts to cry
And there’s something less about her
And I don’t know what I’m supposed to do
So I sit down and I cry too
And don’t let her see

And she says oh
I can’t take no more
Her tears like diamonds on the floor
And her diamonds bring me down
Cause I can’t help her now
She’s down in it
She tried her best but now she can’t win it
Hard to see them on the ground
Her diamonds falling down

She shuts out the night
Tries to close her eyes
If she can find daylight
She’ll be alright
She’ll be alright
Just not tonight

And she says oh

I can’t take no more
Her tears like diamonds on the floor
And her diamonds bring me down
Cause I can’t help her now
She’s down in it
She tried her best but now she can’t win it
Hard to see them on the ground
Her diamonds falling down

Credit: Photo by R. Cohen.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Sanitation Crew Helps GA Woman Rescue 3-Stone Diamond Ring From County Landfill

Gainesville resident Joan Sheffield says that as soon as Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp lifts the state's shelter-in-place order, she will be hosting a luncheon for a sanitation crew that helped find her three-stone diamond wedding ring at the Hall County Landfill.

Sheffield had worn the ring on her left hand for the past 34 years, but accidentally threw it away. The precious keepsake ended up in a giant pile of trash at a landfill facility that processes 339 tons of solid waste every day.

Sheffield told AJC.com that she had been preparing a meatloaf when she took off the ring, wrapped it in a paper towel and placed it in her pocket. The 67-year-old remembered being “in a fog” that weekend because her mom had just passed away and Sheffield was tasked with cleaning out her mom’s apartment and packing up her belongings.

At the end of the day, she noticed that her pockets were filled with old receipts and paper scraps that had to be discarded. And, yes, among those worthless items was her precious ring neatly wrapped in a paper towel.

The ring was irreplaceable because it included her engagement diamond framed by two smaller diamonds that had been gifted to her by her father.

Sheffield didn’t realize her ring was gone until the next morning. By that time, the trash collectors had already come and gone.

“I heard the trash men come and didn’t think anything of it,” she told AJC.com. “As soon as I got out of the shower, I looked down at my hand and realized I didn’t have it.”

It was 8:30 a.m on a Monday when Dan Owen, the city’s superintendent of solid waste and recycling, answered an urgent call from Sheffield. The superintendent was able to intercept the truck that had serviced Sheffield’s neighborhood and ordered its crew to dump the load on a large concrete slab at the landfill facility.

Sheffield and her husband, Tommy, were already at the landfill when the truck arrived.

Owen told AJC.com that he’s received many calls from panicked residents over the years. In most cases, they call too late and the valuable item has already been buried at the bottom of the landfill. Fortunately, Sheffield called just in time.

For about 30 minutes, the couple — assisted by the sanitation crew — rummaged through countless trash bags. Then something caught Sheffield's eye — a distinctive green twist tie that her husband used to close up the trash bag the night before.

“Sure enough, there were four or five smaller bags in there and the third one was the charm,” she told Atlanta’s NBC affiliate 11Alive. “I found it.”

Sheffield described the sanitation crew as “so nice” and “so thoughtful.” She’s looking forward to taking them to lunch as soon as the state’s shelter in place order is rescinded.

“It’s a crazy time with all that’s happening right now in the world,” Johnnie Vickers, Hall County’s solid waste director told AJC.com. “And I’m just glad we were able to help make at least one person’s day a little better. It’s not a glamorous job, but these are the kind of moments that make it all worth it.”

Credits: Ring photo and couple photo by Joan Sheffield. Landfill image by Hall County Government.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Friends and Family Witness Quarantined Couple's Marriage Proposal Via Google Hangouts

With an engagement ring "burning a hole" in his pocket, PJ Bruno delivered a marriage proposal to his longtime girlfriend, Jaz Zepatos, while the New York couple was quarantined at his parents' house in Delaware. What made the proposal extra special was that Bruno secretly invited family and friends to participate in realtime via Google Hangouts.

While they were still in New York, Bruno had devised an elaborate ruse where his girlfriend — a social media specialist and actress — would be invited to a fake audition. After a series of failed scenes and frustrating takes, Bruno would swoop in with an engagement ring.

When that strategy had to be scrapped because of the coronavirus pandemic, Bruno switched to Plan B. On Instagram, Bruno explained, "Quarantine engagement. When that ring is burning a hole in your pocket."

A 3:45 video posted to Instagram shows how Bruno initially serenades his girlfriend with his cover of Chicago's 1984 hit, "You're the Inspiration." As Bruno plays the guitar and sings, Zepatos can be heard harmonizing in the background.

Then Zepatos reenters the scene and Bruno hugs her from behind. He tells her that in this time of uncertainty, there's one thing she can count on.

"I just want you to know that, no matter what happens, I'm always gonna be here for you," he says.

Then she turns to face him and he says, "And I'm always gonna be in your future."

At that point, he pulls out a ring box and goes down on one knee and asks her to marry him.

Zepatos says, "Yes," and she jumps into his arms.

What Zepatos didn't realize is that a laptop was aimed at the action and a virtual crowd was watching via Google Hangouts. Bruno had sent out a Google Calandar invitation, providing the time, date and a short description of what they were going to see. Bruno's mom added action footage with her iPad.

Zepatos looked at the laptop and was thrilled to see that her parents and others were watching remotely. The bride-to-be could hardly hold back the tears as each Hangout participant took a moment to congratulate the couple.

Through all the excitement, Bruno forgot to put the ring on Zepatos' finger.

"Put it on, put it on," yells one of the guests.

Bruno obliges and Zepatos proudly aims her newly adorned ring finger at the laptop's camera.

"Look at all these people that I love," she says.

In her Instagram post, Zepatos wrote, "In the midst of global chaos, PJ managed to find a way to gather our closest friends and family to create one of the most magical moments of my life. Thank you to everyone who took part in our special day from the safety of your homes. We love you so much. When this is all over we're going to hug and cheers and laugh together."

The newly engaged couple told Insider.com that they've gotten a lot of positive feedback from people hungry for some good news during the pandemic.

"[The video] is putting a smile on people's faces and letting them take their minds off of everything else in the news right now," Zepatos said.

"I think the big takeaway isn't 'Look at Jaz and PJ,' as much as 'Let's connect with our loved ones now and always remember that it's a priority in our lives,'" added Bruno.

The couple is planning an August 2021 wedding.

Check out the couple's video on Zepatos' Instagram page...

Credits: Image and screen captures via Instagram.com/jazzepatos.