Monday, February 06, 2023

Songstress Rita Ora Reveals Unique Emerald Engagement Ring to Jimmy Fallon

British songstress Rita Ora had secretly tied the knot with Academy Award-winning director Taika Waititi last summer, but saved the big reveal of her emerald engagement ring for her appearance on Wednesday night's edition of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

Ora said, “I haven’t actually shown anyone my ring," but then explained that the reason she was about to unveil the jewelry on The Tonight Show was because she "loves" Fallon and feels he's a big part of her and her fiancé's relationship because they watch him every night.

After extending her hand to give Fallon a quick peek at the sizable emerald set in a pavé diamond halo, she turned her hand vertically and aimed her ring straight at the camera so the viewers at home could get closeup look at the sparkler. The “I Will Never Let You Down” singer, 32, paired her new engagement ring with a delicate pavé diamond wedding band.

“Ooh-la-la,” Fallon said. “That’s gorgeous!"

"He did good," she responded.

When asked to share the story behind how Waititi, 47, selected the ring, Ora sheepishly admitted that she controlled the lion's share of the decision.

"Well, I may have, you know, guided him," she confessed. "When you know what you want, and I felt like I really knew I wanted to be with this person, I just wanted it to feel really right, and so I may have taken him to the shop and I may have pointed out exactly what ring I wanted!"

Two UK-based jewelers interviewed by Page Six Style put the ring's value at somewhere between $400,000 to $500,000 and estimated the weight of the emerald to be in the range of 8 to 10 carats.

Among the A-listers who received emerald engagement rings are Zoe Saldana, Megan Fox, Halle Berry, Victoria Beckham and Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Ora, who is currently a judge on the British version of The Masked Singer, told Fallon that her latest single, “You Only Love Me,” was the result of a surge of creative energy sparked by her new relationship.

"My life has changed so drastically," she said. "Making a decision to spend the rest of your life with someone is a big decision. It got me writing again and I just really got inspired by love."

Please check out the video of Fallon's interview with Ora. The engagement ring conversation starts at :20 and continues through 1:21.

Credits: Screen captures via Youtube / The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Friday, February 03, 2023

Music Friday: Ava Max Sings, 'Diamonds and Dance Floors, That's All I Want'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome new tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, pop star Ava Max turns the page on two devastating breakups by lavishing herself in diamonds and heading to the club.

In the title track from her just-released album, Diamonds & Dancefloors, the 28-year-old star sings, "Diamonds and dance floors, that's all I want / I miss the rhythm keeping me warm / Drown me in glitter, glitter and gold / All that I ask for, ask for, ask for."

Described as her most personal work yet, the singer-songwriter's sophomore album is a reflection of how she managed to channel her heartbreak into creative energy. The single "Diamonds & Dancefloors" evokes the vibe of Lady Gaga and Dua Lipa in what allmusic.com called an early-Nineties house anthem. Themusicalhype.com called the album "one of the best musical gems of 2023."

The original album cover design shows the artist immersed in a sea of diamonds with a large gem balanced on her pursed lips.

Max, who blasted on the music scene in 2018 with her mega-hit "Sweet but Psycho," didn't have a smooth ride to the top of the pop charts. She struggled mightily in her late teens and early 20s, and at one point had to survive on $20 per week.

All that changed when the Milwaukee-born performer met up with Canadian record producer Cirkut at a dinner party. Max impressed the producer by singing "Happy Birthday" and the two began collaborating on many songs, including "Anyone but You." That single earned the attention of Atlantic Records in 2016 and Max finally had a record deal.

The Diamonds & Dancefloors album was executive-produced by Cirkut, and the 14 songs include elements of Max's signature electro-pop melodies with some Nineties synths and a touch of disco, according to rollingstone.com.

She told the magazine that making music always came naturally to her, and she's grateful for how much her parents sacrificed to support her ambitions. The singer's mom and dad had fled a war-torn Albania in the Nineties, seeking a better life.

“If they didn’t risk their lives, I wouldn’t be here,” she told the magazine. “They came here with nothing.”

The release of Diamonds & Dancefloors is a testament to her parents' fortitude and resilience.

Please check out the audio track of "Diamonds and Dancefloors." The lyrics are below if you like to sing along…

"Diamonds & Dancefloors"
Written by Henry Walter, Caroline Ailin, Michael Pollack and Ava Max. Performed by Ava Max.

Alone with me, myself and I
Watching the night passing me by
Losing myself inside a lucid dream, I
Don't wanna waste any more time
I'm dancing in the kitchen light
It don't feel wrong, it don't feel right
My heart's been calling for a midnight memory
The only thing that's on my mind

Diamonds and dance floors, that's all I want
I miss the rhythm keeping me warm
Drown me in glitter, glitter and gold
All that I ask for, ask for, ask for

Is diamonds and dance floors in every dream
I miss the music surrounding me
Drown me in glitter, glitter and gold
All that I ask for, ask for, ask for

I close my eyes and disappear
Vibrations in the atmosphere
It's psychological imagination
Why can't I bring this feeling here? (Oh)

Diamonds and dance floors, that's all I want (All I want)
I miss the rhythm keeping me warm (Keepin' me warm)
Drown me in glitter, glitter and gold (Gold)
All that I ask for, ask for, ask for

Is diamonds and dance floors in every dream
I miss the music surrounding me
Drown me in glitter, glitter and gold
All that I ask for, ask for, ask for (Oh)
Diamonds and dance floors

Diamonds and dance floors
Diamonds and dance, diamonds and dancefloors
Diamonds and dance, diamonds and dancefloors
Diamonds and dance, dancefloors, dancefloors
Diamonds and dance floors

Credits: Image of Diamonds and Dancefloors Ruby Vinyl album via avamaxstore.com.

Thursday, February 02, 2023

Radiologists Use CT Scans to 'Digitally Unwrap' Egypt's Mummified 'Golden Boy'

Radiologists at Cairo University utilized cutting-edge CT scanning technology to "digitally unwrap" Egypt's mummified "Golden Boy," a teenager buried 2,300 years ago. The 3D scans revealed that the young man, just over four feet tall, set out on his arduous journey to the afterlife equipped with a golden heart scarab, golden tongue and 49 protective amulets made from gold, colored stones and brightly colored ceramics.

Interestingly, the Golden Boy had languished in the cellar of the famed Egyptian Museum since 1916, shortly after he was unearthed at Nag el-Hassay, a cemetery in southern Egypt. According to the researchers, the basement of the museum is crowded with many mummies that have never been studied or displayed.

The new computed tomography (CT) technology allowed the scientists to create a completed 3D image of the well-preserved body and its adornments without the need for destructive dissection. It also allowed them to create a precise mapping of where each amulet was placed between the wrappings or within the body. The scan revealed that the amulets seemed to be arranged in three distinct columns.

As seen in the illustration, above, the mummy was digitally unwrapped in four stages.

Still fully intact, the Golden Boy has been elevated from the basement to the main exhibition hall of Cairo's Egyptian Museum and will be accompanied by CT images and a 3D copy of his heart scarab. The display is designed to provide more insight into the mummification process and the death rites of ancient Egyptians.

"The display's goal was to humanize this individual from the past to teach modern people about life in ancient times," the researchers wrote in the study published recently in the journal Frontiers in Medicine.

The scientists were able to determine from his non-erupted wisdom teeth that the Golden Boy was only 14 or 15 years old when he passed away. He had healthy teeth and bones and displayed no evidence of poor nutrition or disease. He was likely a member of a very affluent family.

The boy's brain had been replaced with resin, but his heart remained in his chest as a spiritual symbol. A golden heart amulet had been placed near his actual heart in the chest cavity.

“The large, golden heart scarab amulet is really amazing, especially after I printed it and was able to hold it in my hands,” said Sahar Saleem, a professor of radiology at the faculty of medicine at Cairo University and a co-author of the study. “There were engraved marks on the back of the 3D-printed amulet that could represent inscriptions and spells.”

A gold tongue amulet was placed inside the Golden Boy's mouth to ensure the deceased could speak in the afterlife.

The mummy's external ornamentation included a gilded head mask inlaid with precious stones, a protective chest covering and a pair of basic white sandals.

"According to the ancient Egyptians' ritual Book of The Dead, the deceased had to wear white sandals to be pious and clean before reciting its verses," Saleem said.

The Golden Boy's body had been placed inside two nested coffins. The outer coffin was plain and inscribed with Greek letters, while the inner wooden sarcophagus featured decorative patterns and a gilded face.

According to the researchers, the study suggests that ancient Egyptians valued their children and provided them with ritual treatment.

Credit: Image courtesy of SN Saleem, SA Seddik, M el-Halwagy.

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

NRF Survey: Americans to Spend $5.5B on Jewelry Gifts for Valentine’s Day

For the seventh year in a row, the National Retail Federation is predicting that Valentine's Day shoppers will spend more on jewelry gifts than any other category. Jewelry purchases are expected to top $5.5 billion in 2023, outperforming the second-strongest category — "an evening out" — by $1.1 billion.

Overall Valentine's Day spending is estimated to reach $25.9 billion this year, an increase of $2 billion compared to 2022.

Jewelry-related purchasing will account for 21.2% of all dollars spent on Cupid's favorite holiday. Although jewelry remained the strongest category (in dollars), the category's share of the pie notched down from 25.9% in 2022. That surprisingly high percentage was somewhat of an anomaly because many consumers chose not to spend on "experiential" activities due to concerns related to the pandemic. In fact, jewelry's 21.2% share is higher than it was in 2021 (18.8%).

In the survey conducted by the NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics, exactly 21% of respondents said they will gift a jewelry item to a special someone, while “gifts of experience,” such as an evening out or tickets to a concert or sporting event, reached a seven-year high of 32%.

More than half (52%) of US consumers plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day in 2023 with average spending reaching $192.80, up from $175.41 per person in 2022. It's the second-highest amount recorded since NRF and Prosper began tracking this data back in 2004.

“Valentine’s Day is a special occasion to shop for the people we care most about,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “This year, as consumers embrace spending on friends and loved ones, retailers are ready to help customers celebrate Valentine’s Day with memorable gifts at affordable prices.”

Other popular, but less expensive, Valentine gifts include candy (to be given by 57%), greeting cards (40%), flowers (37%), and gift cards (20%).

Even the 28% of those who don’t plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day will still mark the occasion with a special non-Valentine themed treat or an evening with friends and family, according to the NRF.

The survey of 7,616 U.S. adult consumers was conducted January 3-11 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.

Credits: Image by BigStockPhoto.com. Charts courtesy of the National Retail Federation.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Modern-Day Explorers Look to Asteroids in Deep Space for Platinum Riches

Five hundred years ago, European explorers embarked on long and dangerous voyages across uncharted seas in a quest to find new trade routes to east Asia — the source of valuable spices, such as pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

This year, modern-day explorers will be targeting deep-space asteroids as a potentially limitless resource of rare precious metals, such as platinum, gold, iridium and palladium.

After securing $13 million in seed funding last April, AstroForge is about to launch two missions that will assess the viability of mining metal-rich asteroids and processing the material in space.

This April, the Huntington Beach, CA, company will be testing its technique for refining and extracting precious metals from "asteroid-like material" in a zero-gravity environment. The samples will be sent into space aboard SpaceX’s Transporter-7 rideshare.

In October, a second mission will be heading to deep space to collect high-resolution images of the surface of an asteroid that AstroForge expects to mine at a future date. That asteroid is 22 million miles from Earth — but relatively nearby in terms of space travel.

If the first two missions are successful, the company has queued up two additional missions — one to land on the asteroid and the next to refine material and bring it back to Earth.

AstroForge CEO Matt Gialich told techcrunch.com that his company is working with advisors from universities, NASA and the research nonprofit Planetary Science Institute to help identify the most promising asteroids to exploit.

“With a finite supply of precious metals on Earth, we have no other choice than to look to deep space to source cost-effective and sustainable materials,” Gialich said in a statement.

Instead of trying to explore the vast number of asteroids in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, the AstroForge team will be looking for asteroids closer to Earth. The closest target asteroid would require a journey of only 11 months.

Deep-space mining has the potential to reap trillions of dollars worth of precious metals, vital resources that are critical to various industries, including jewelry. Space mining is also positioned as a way to preserve Earth's declining resources and protect its environment.

According to gizmodo.com, AstroForge will be targeting asteroids ranging in width from 20 feet to 1,500 feet. Instead of landing on the asteroids, it plans to blast them from a distance and then collect the smaller pieces for processing.

The US government has already made legal preparations for the eventuality of space mining. The SPACE Act, which became law in 2015, includes provisions for private companies to extract resources from asteroids with limited government interference. Although the law does not allow for companies to claim, say, an asteroid, for their own, miners may keep anything they obtain from their exploration and mining.

Credit: Psyche illustration by NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU.