Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Tomorrow Is Leap Day; Are You Ready for Some Role-Reversal Proposals?

In the 2010 romantic comedy Leap Year, talented real estate "stager" Anna Brady, played by Amy Adams, is forced to take extreme measures after her cardiologist boyfriend fails to produce an engagement ring after four years together.

Invoking the Irish tradition that empowers women to pop the question on Leap Day, she travels to Dublin to track down her fiancé at a business conference in time to deliver a marriage proposal on February 29.

Yes, tomorrow is Leap Day, a romantic 24 hours dedicated to women who feel that have waited far too long for their men to pop the question.

In a recent Chillisauce.com survey of more than 10,000 respondents, the UK-based men's lifestyle and event-planning website asked women if they were willing to propose to their partners. Exactly 57% declared they would be willing to do it, and interestingly 76% of men agreed that they should.

When asked about the best day to propose, 52% of the women chose Leap Day, compared to 25% who picked Valentine's Day.

The concept of women proposing to men on Leap Day is rooted in 5th century Ireland where St. Brigid of Kildare hammered out an arrangement with St. Patrick to permit women to propose to men on a single day every four years.

Irish monks brought this tradition to Scotland, and legend states that in 1288, the Scotts passed a law that allowed women to propose on Leap Day. If the man refused the proposal, he would have to pay a fine, ranging from a kiss, to a silk dress or a pair of gloves. In upper-class circles, the fine for a proposal denial was 12 pairs of gloves. Presumably, the gloves would hide the shame of not wearing an engagement ring.

Leap Day proposals eventually found their way to England, where the date of February 29 uniquely held no legal status. The English reasoned that traditional customs held no status on that day either. Thus, women were free to reverse the unfair custom that permitted only men to propose marriage.

Leap Day proposals are now celebrated in North America and around the world. So, gentlemen, if you've been dragging your feet regarding a proper proposal, you may be in for a February 29th that will truly change your life.

Credit: Image by BigStockPhoto.com.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Jonker I Diamond Headlines '100 Carats' Exhibit at LA's Natural History Museum

Said to be one of the most perfectly cut diamonds in the world, the seldom-seen 125.35-carat Jonker I Diamond is now headlining a special exhibition at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM).

Titled "100 Carats: Icons of the Gem World," the presentation features more than two dozen gems that have at least two things in common: Each weighs more than 100 carats and each represents the finest example of its type. The exhibition was assembled by the NHM in collaboration with Robert Procop Exceptional Jewels and runs through April 21, 2024.

The Jonker I Diamond is the largest stone cut from the 726-carat Jonker Diamond, which was the fourth-largest rough diamond in the world when it was found in 1934.

According to the NHM, the historic gem has passed through the hands of global royalty and Hollywood stars, but has not been on display at a museum for more than eight decades. In fact, the public has not seen this diamond since it was bought by a private collector in 1977.

Now, owner Ibrahim Al-Rashid has lent the Jonker I Diamond to NHM for display in this exhibition.

“The Jonker is one of the largest and most famous diamonds ever unearthed,” said Al-Rashid, who is also chairman of Miami-based Limestone Asset Management. “Its beauty and history are compelling. I'm grateful to have it on display for viewers to enjoy for the first time in many decades.”

In addition to the Jonker I Diamond, the gemstones on display in the NHM's Hixon Gem Vault include the following:

The Northern Light beryl (103.30 carats)
The Great White Emerald goshenite (168.20)
The Crown of Colombia emerald (241.04)
The Imperial tourmaline (111.09)
The Blue Star aquamarine (108.29)
The Magnificent paraiba (106.20)
Pride of Sri Lanka, The Healing Blue sapphire (186.82)
The Miracle sapphire (100.06)
The Scepter sapphire (127.30)
The Eastern Star sapphire (177.91)
The Princess Pink sapphire (109.82)
The Scarlet Red rubellite (112.68)
The Ukrainian Flag topaz (153.27)

“The show is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” said Dr. Aaron Celestian, NHM’s curator of mineral sciences. “The rarity of these gems cannot be overstated. Visitors will be able to see tremendous examples of gemstones in a rainbow of vivid colors that have been expertly cut to display their remarkable brilliance. I am thrilled that we’ve been able to bring these giant gems together for the first time.”

The Jonker Diamond has a wild backstory that includes a possible connection to the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond, the largest diamond ever unearthed.

On January 17, 1934, a rough diamond the size of a hen’s egg was pulled from a bucket of gravel at the Elandsfontein claim, 4.8 kilometers south of the Premier Mine in South Africa. The massive 726-carat rough diamond with a frosty ice-white color would take on the surname of Jacob Jonker, the 62-year-old digger who owned the claim.

Diamond experts speculated whether the 63.5mm x 31.75mm Jonker and the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond had once been conjoined, as their respective cleaved faces seemed to match up perfectly. The Cullinan Diamond had been discovered at the nearby Premier Mine 19 years earlier.

The Jonker rough was acquired by De Beers chairman Sir Ernest Oppenheimer and subsequently caught the attention of diamond dealer Harry Winston, who purchased the rough stone in 1935 for £75,000, the equivalent of £6.7 million ($8.5 million) today.

The Jonker diamond earned celebrity status when it was displayed during the Silver Jubilee Celebrations of the Coronation of King George V and Queen Mary in May of that same year.

The next year, Winston contracted Lazare Kaplan to cut 13 finished gems from the original rough. The Jonker finished diamonds were each named with a Roman numeral, in size order. The largest was the Jonker I at 142.90 carats and the smallest was the Jonker XIII at 3.53 carats. The Jonker I was later re-cut to eliminate flaws and improve its brilliance. The new-and-improved version weighed 125.35 carats.

Please check out the five-minute NHM video, below, which highlights many of the beautiful gemstones in the exhibit, with expert commentary from Celestian, jewelry designer Robert Procop and former president of the Gemological Institute of America Bill Boyajian.

Credit: Image of Jonker I Diamond, photo courtesy of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Music Friday: 'Plant Your Flower and You Grow a Pearl,' Sings Earth, Wind & Fire

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you classic hits with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, legendary band Earth, Wind & Fire uses pearls and gold to symbolize flawless perfection in its signature song, “That’s the Way of the World.”

A memorable singalong brimming with messages of inspiration and hope, “That’s the Way of the World” reminds the listener to “stay young at heart” despite society's negative influences.

They sing, “That’s the way of the world / Plant your flower and you grow a pearl / Child is born with a heart of gold / Way of the world makes his heart so cold.”

Band members have called “That’s the Way of the World” their “national anthem” and, in 2004, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. One year later, Rolling Stone magazine rated it #329 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

“That’s the Way of the World” was written by band members Maurice and Verdine White, along with producer Charles Stepney, as part of the score for a movie about the dark side of the music business. While the movie flopped, the soundtrack was a rousing success.

The song was also the title track of the group's sixth studio album, which ranked as the third best-selling pop album and the #1 best-selling R&B album of 1975.

Founded in Chicago by Maurice White in 1969, Earth, Wind & Fire’s unique sound combines modern jazz, fusion, soul, gospel, funk, disco, rock and the distinct rhythms of African music.

Featuring the interplay of Philip Bailey’s falsetto and Maurice White’s baritone — supported by multiple drummers and a powerful brass section — the band amassed a huge international following. Maurice White passed away in February of 2016 at the age of 74.

The six-time Grammy Award winners are members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and have sold more than 90 million albums worldwide. The group starts a four-month tour in New Orleans on May 5.

Please check out the video of Earth, Wind & Fire’s live performance of “That’s the Way of the World.” Put on your dancing shoes and be prepared to sing along…

“That’s the Way of the World”
Written by Verdine White, Maurice White and Charles Stepney. Performed by Earth, Wind & Fire.

Hearts of fire creates love desire
Take you high and higher to the world you belong
Hearts of fire creates love desire
High and higher to your place on the throne

We come together on this special day
Sing our message loud and clear
Looking back, we’ve touched on sorrowful days
Future pass, they disappear
You will find peace of mind
If you look way down in your heart and soul
Don’t hesitate ’cause the world seems cold
Stay young at heart, ’cause you’re never, never old

That’s the way of the world
Plant your flower and you grow a pearl
Child is born with a heart of gold
Way of the world makes his heart so cold

Hearts of fire create love desire take you
High and higher to the world you belong
Hearts of fire love desire
High and higher, yeah yeah yeah
Hearts of fire love desire
Ahh higher

We come together on this special day
Sung our message loud and clear
Looking back, we’ve touched on sorrowful days
Future disappears
You will find peace of mind
If you look way down in your heart and soul
Don’t hesitate ’cause the world seems cold
Stay young at heart, ’cause you’re never, never, never

That’s the way of the world,
Plant your flower and you grow a pearl
Child is born with a heart of gold
Way of the world makes his heart so cold

Hearts of fire, love desire
High and higher, yeah yeah
Hearts of fire, love desire

Credit: Image by Distributed by Columbia Records, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

TODAY Hosts Fabricate 'Pet' Segment So Veterinarian Can Finally Get Her Ring

TODAY show hosts Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie fabricated a "Love Your Pet" segment on Valentine's Day as part of an elaborate ruse to set the stage for a surprise marriage proposal.

Veterinarian Priscilla Diaz, who graduated in May of 2023, joined the hosts on a live broadcast, where she fielded questions about how to keep pets active during the winter months.

Priscilla told the first pet owner (who was actually a TODAY show producer) that it's important to bring pets outdoors despite the cold weather, while being mindful of providing the right gear, such as booties to protect paws from the salt, and sweaters to keep short-haired breeds warm.

The hosts then introduced the second pet owner, who turned out to be Priscilla's longtime boyfriend, Carlos. He entered the set accompanied by the couple's very excited pup, Teddy.

The hosts asked Carlos if he had a question for the surprised veterinarian.

"I do," he said solemnly.

"Baby, since the moment I told you I loved you and we slow danced in your backyard, I've waited for this moment," he began. "We've been three, three-and-a-half years long distance, and now you're home. And I wanted to make you my forever Valentine. And ask you to marry me."

Carlos went down on one knee and then asked formally, "Will you marry me, babe?"

Priscilla quickly responded, "Absolutely. Yes! Oh, my gosh."

Carlos opened a ring box and took out a pear-shaped diamond ring with diamond halo in white metal setting and placed it on Priscilla's ring finger.

"Oh, my gosh. I love you," she said, as she and Carlos embraced.

The hosts congratulated the couple and presented Priscilla with a bouquet of roses.

"And we're not done with surprises for you," said Guthrie, who went on to list a series of valuable gifts from a famous New York bridal shop, men's formalwear store and retail jeweler.

The hosts recounted how Priscilla and Carlos carried out a long-distance relationship while she was away at veterinary school. They had started dating during COVID and were excited to be reunited when she graduated last spring.

Carlos admitted that he had the engagement ring locked up in his safe for months, as he waited for the perfect time to pop the question, but there were "hiccups" along the way.

First they got COVID and then Priscilla burned her ring finger, which further delayed his proposal plans.

"I can't make that up," Carlos joked.

The TODAY show team learned about Priscilla's and Carlos's love story from a friend of the couple, who also happens to be Carlos's boss.

"A friend of yours told us about you," Kotb said. "We created an entire pet segment so that you would come here [and] we could have this moment."

"Congratulations and I'm glad your pooch was here to witness it, too," Kotb added.

Check out the full segment here…

Credits: Screen captures via today.com.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Singer Gwen Stefani Shares Why Valentine's Day Was Extra Special This Year

Rocking a bedazzled manicure and rings on five fingers, three-time Grammy winner Gwen Stefani coyly revealed on Jimmy Kimmel Live! why her Valentine's Day gift from hubby and country music star Blake Shelton was extra special this year.

"I got my Valentine's present early this year," the "Don't Speak" singer said, as she casually lifted her right hand near her face and tapped a beautiful emerald ring with the pointer of her left hand. Kimmel's audience let out a collective cheer.

While Stefani tried to queue up a clear shot of her ring for the studio cameras, it became clear that Stefani really likes fine jewelry. She wore two rings on her left hand and three on her right.

"It looks like you got a few Valentine's presents," Kimmel joked before asking if Shelton picks out the gifts himself, or if he has some friend that helps.

"He really mixed it up," the 54-year-old Stefani said. "Usually I get amazing flowers, which I love, love, love, but this was just a, 'Here you go!' Yeah, he did the whole thing. I love you Blakey!"

The Valentine's Day ring appears to feature a large oval emerald surrounded by florets of colorless accent diamonds. Last year, she received a massive assortment of pink and red roses.

Stefani and Kimmel laughed about how the talk show host's previous recommendation for a Valentine's gift for Shelton, 47, was a big hit.

"He got a lot of use out out it," she said of the flame thrower.

Shelton was on set to join his wife for the debut of their newest release, "Purple Irises,” a song about how true love can endure the aging process.

In a 2022 interview with Access Hollywood, Stefani revealed Shelton's all-time most romantic gift.

"Blake wrote our vows as a song," she said. "That was pretty up there. Try to top that, guys!"

Stefani and Shelton met while starring on The Voice in 2014. They began dating in 2015 and wed in 2021.

Check out Kimmel's interview with Stefani, below. The discussion about her Valentine's Day present starts at 2:32.

Credits: Screen captures via Youtube.com / Jimmy Kimmel Live.