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Articles in October 2015

October 1st, 2015
Jubal Lee Young wrote a new chapter in the annals of NBC's hit show The Voice when he popped the question to his singing partner Amanda Preslar just after their blind audition on Monday night's episode.


The Tulsa couple, who have been performing together for 18 months, is the first ever to get engaged on the show, which is now in its ninth season.

Young and Preslar had just completed an original rendition of "Seven Bridges Road" by The Eagles when judge Gwen Stefani noted that their seductive harmonies conveyed an unusual chemistry.


"There was some king of special energy in it, as well," she said, "You can tell that you guys have something special."

Then, judge Blake Shelton asked asked a more pointed question about their relationship: "Are you guys a couple?" he inquired.

"Yes," responded Preslar.

"Are you married?" Shelton probed a bit further.

"Not yet," said Preslar. "One day."


At that point, to the surprise of the judges, studio audience, 12 million viewers at home, and family supporters who were waiting backstage, Young looked at his girlfriend and said, "Alright."

A visibly stunned Preslar pulled away, at first, thinking it was possibly a joke. "No way!" she exclaimed. "No. Are you serious?"


Then Young got down on bended knee and pulled a diamond engagement ring from his pocket.

"I'm serious," he nodded.

She quickly realized that this on-stage proposal was for real. "I love you," she said.

"I love you. Will you marry me?" Young whispered in her ear.


"Yes," she whispered back.

A stunned Shelton could hardly believe what was going down. "What just happened?" he asked.

"Are you serious?" Stefani gasped.

Then Young gently placed the ring on his girlfriend's finger.


Triumphantly raising her left hand with the ring clearly in view, Preslar looked at the judges and said, "I've been waiting for this day for a long time."


Almost as much fun as watching the surprise proposal was seeing the spontaneous, delirious outpouring of emotion from the couple's loved one's backstage.

Judge Adam Levine didn't seem to be satisfied with the engagement, as he pushed for a spontaneous on-stage marriage ceremony. "I happen to know that Blake is technically an ordained minister," he said, "so if you want to get it done..."

Young joked, "Let's enjoy this moment for a minute."

The couple's blind audition impressed both Stefani and Pharrell Williams, who turned their chairs, signifying their interest in coaching the singers in the subsequent rounds of the music competition show. The couple chose to go with Williams.

The Team Pharrell coach couldn't have been more pleased, tweeting, "I got my first duo AND they get engaged in front of our eyes. How is this real life?? #VoiceBlinds."

The couple's momentous performance/marriage proposal can be seen in the video below. The song "Seven Bridges Road" is close to Young's heart because it was written in 1980 for The Eagles by his dad, Steve.

Credit: Screen captures via YouTube/The Voice.
October 2nd, 2015
Welcome once again to Music Friday when we bring you fabulous songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today we dig through our album vault and dust off a 1978 rock and roll classic, "Hollywood Nights" by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band.


This hard-driving anthem is about a Midwestern boy who moves to the West Coast and falls head over heels for a gorgeous big city girl. Seger sings, "And those Hollywood nights / In those Hollywood Hills / She was looking so right / In her diamonds and frills."

In the end, the girl who had "been born with a face that would let her get her way" abandons our hero, leaving him brokenhearted and unsure whether to return to his simpler country lifestyle.

The Detroit native told the Detroit Free Press in 1994 that he was inspired to write the song while living 2 1/2 months in a rented house in the Hollywood Hills.

"I was driving around in the Hollywood Hills, and I started singing 'Hollywood nights/Hollywood Hills/Above all the lights/Hollywood nights.' I went back to my rented house, and there was a Time magazine with [model] Cheryl Tiegs on the cover. I said, 'Let's write a song about a guy from the Midwest who runs into someone like this and gets caught up in the whole bizarro thing.'"

Seger noted that the power behind "Hollywood Nights" comes from the use of two distinctively different drum sets playing different patterns and then dubbed over one another. Drummer David Teegarden played one pattern for the initial session, and then recorded a second pattern using different a different snare, kick-drum, hit-hat, etc.

"Hollywood Nights" became the second single from Seger's album, Stranger in Town. It reached #12 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and became an instant favorite of concert-goers.


The multi-talented Robert Clark "Bob" Seger is a singer-songwriter, guitarist and pianist. Among his many hits are "Night Moves," "Turn the Page," "Still the Same," "We've Got Tonight" and "Against the Wind." He's also credited with co-writing the Eagles' #1 hit "Heartache Tonight." In all, Seger has sold more than 50 million albums and, at 70 years old, he continues to bring his youthful energy to sold-out venues across the country.

Please check out this vintage video of Seger's live performance of "Hollywood Nights." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Hollywood Nights"
Written by Bob Seger. Performed by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band.

She stood there bright as the sun
On that California coast
He was a Midwestern boy on his own
She looked at him with those soft eyes
So innocent and blue
He knew right then he was too far from home
He was too far from home
She took his hand and she led him along that golden beach
They watched the waves tumble over the sand
They drove for miles and miles
Up those twisting turning roads
Higher and higher and higher they climbed

And those Hollywood nights
In those Hollywood hills
She was looking so right
In her diamonds and frills
Oh those big city nights
In those high rolling hills
Above all the lights
She had all of her skills

He'd headed west cause he felt that a change would do him good
See some old friends, good for the soul
She had been born with a face
That would let her get her way
He saw that face and he lost all control
He had lost all control
Night after night
Day after day
It went on and on
Then came that morning he woke up alone
He spent all night staring down at the lights on LA
Wondering if he could ever go home

And those Hollywood nights
In those Hollywood hills
She was looking so right
It was giving him chills
In those big city nights
In those high rolling hills
Above all the lights
With a passion that kills

In those Hollywood nights
In those Hollywood hills
She was looking so right
In her diamonds and frills
Oh those big city nights
In those high rolling hills
Above all the lights
She had all of her skills

Credits: Facebook/Bob Seger; Instagram/Bob Seger.
October 5th, 2015
Former Girls Next Door star Bridget Marquardt — the self-proclaimed "Queen of Halloween" — announced her engagement to horror film director Nicholas Carpenter on Thursday and showed off a very unusual engagement ring.


Marquardt broke the news on Instagram, while also posting closeup shots of her diamond-encrusted, spider-shaped sparkler.

“Happy Oct. 1st!!!" she wrote on Instagram. "Oh…and… Did I mention @nicholascarpenter and I are engaged?”


Marquardt added in a second caption that her fiancé wanted to give her a traditional ring, but she wanted "something different and unique." She clarified, however, that the split-shank, white-metal ring is centered by a diamond pavé spider, not a black widow.

She seems to absolutely love the avant-garde piece her fiancé purchased from New York City designer Lynn Ban. "It's absolutely perfect for me!!" she wrote. "He knows me well!"


In one shot, Marquardt is shown wearing the arachno-ring while Carpenter caresses her hand. In the background is a Halloween decoration — a small banner that reads, "Till Death Do Us Part.”

Since leaving the Girls Next Door reality show in 2009, Hugh Hefner's former girlfriend has become obsessed with Halloween. She has a Halloween costume line and an Etsy store featuring her homemade Halloween accessories. She hosts Hollywood ghost tours, where she hits the streets of LA in the Dearly Departed "tomb buggy" and shares ghost stories while visiting some of Hollywood's famous haunted locations.


Marquardt and Carpenter met at the Playboy Mansion in 2008 and have been a couple since early 2009. The film director is the son of Scott Carpenter, one of the original Mercury astronauts.

Credit: Images via Instagram/bridgetmarquardt.
October 6th, 2015
The newest wearable technology to hit the scene is NOT designed to rate your fitness, tickle you about an important call or beckon assistance when you're in danger. The sole purpose of the Doppel bracelet is to support your well being by making you feel more alert or more relaxed, using tactile pulses on your inner wrist.


Invented by a team of British graduate students with expertise in quantum physics, mechanical engineering, material science and industrial design, the Doppel wristband works on the premise that humans naturally react to rhythms — a process called "entrainment."

Upbeat music, for instance, can increase one's heart rate while soothing music will have a calming effect. The body has the ability to auto-adjust to match an external stimulus — in this case, a pulse that mimics the "lub-dub" rhythm of a heartbeat.


Independent tests by psychologists at Royal Holloway University of London confirmed that upping the pulse of the Doppel device improved focus, alertness and reaction times, while lowering the pulse allowed the subjects to stay calm under pressure or wind down for a restful sleep.

Team Turquoise, the company behind Doppel, found that the alertness pulse was most useful to people who needed a boost during a long afternoon meeting or while exercising. Nell Bennett, the co-founder responsible for design, told Wired magazine that she likes to use Doppel when she's running.

"It feels like you're on a running machine even when you're outdoors, because you automatically keep to the rhythm and run at a constant rate which is really useful," she told Wired.

The device uses a companion app that initially measures the user's resting heart rate and then assigns two settings, one to stimulate the user and one to calm her down. Once configured, all the rest of the controls are located on the Doppel itself.


It looks like a watch, but it has no dial. Users can up the pulse by tapping the device and lower the pulse by stroking it. A rotation of the dial adds or subtracts to the intensity of what is felt on the inner wrist.

"We didn't want it to be a piece of complex technology with screens and numbers," Bennett told Wired. "We tried to use natural interactions that help you bond with it."

Team Turquiose just completed a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign that generated more than $168,000. With that money and other grants provided by Deutsche Bank on UK-supported Innovate UK, the company is set to bring the Doppel to market in the spring of 2016.

They are available in a wide variety of fashionable styles for men and women, and will sell for about $110. The company's website is here.

Credits: Images via
October 7th, 2015
Testing out a pre-release version of the HTC Vive virtual reality headset at game developer Valve's headquarters in Bellevue, WA, Kelly Tortorice explored wondrous environments. She swam through the ruins of a sunken ship, climbed the snowy Alps, repaired robots and painted with fire. But, then, to her surprise, a virtual engagement ring started floating toward her. 


Across the room, Valve employee Chandler Murch slowly approached his girlfriend while holding a trackable HTC Vive wand controller, which she saw through her headset as a mighty large blue-tinted diamond ring floating in mid-air.


“Chandler told me to grab [the virtual ring]," Tortorice explained on her Facebook page. "Then, he told me to take off my headset, and there he really was, on one knee, with a real ring.”


Tortorice was so blown away by the experience that a simple "yes" to his marriage proposal would not suffice.

“It wasn't imaginary anymore. I didn’t say, 'Yes.' I said, ‘OF COURSE I WILL MARRY YOU!’ Thank you for such a hilarious and fun surprise,” she wrote.


She added: "I love you, and I can't wait for the life ahead of us."

Murch's "room scale" virtual reality marriage proposal is likely the first of its kind in history. Room scale virtual reality allows for the users to move about within the environment, as opposed to the player being confined to a seat.


Murch had arranged for his now-fiancée to visit his workplace to demo a pre-release of the HTC Vive headset. Developers, such as Valve Software Corporation, had access to the product even though it's not expected to reach store shelves until late 2015 or early 2016.

A writer for Time magazine wondered if a virtual wedding couldn't be far off.

Credits: Facebook/kelly.tortorice.
October 8th, 2015
With an estimated sale price of $3 million to $4 million, this 75.56-carat fancy vivid yellow diamond ring will headline the upcoming Important Jewels auction at Christie's New York on October 20.


Set in 18-karat yellow gold, this cushion-shape, modified brilliant-cut diamond demonstrates the highest quality in color saturation and was graded by the Gemological Institute of America as having a VS2 clarity.


Another highlight of the auction is this magnificent brooch featuring a cluster of 13 pear- and marquise-shape brilliant-cut diamonds with a total weight of 42.35 carats. Christie's believes this Cartier-signed brooch will fetch between $1.4 million to $1.8 million.

Mounted in platinum, the diamonds range in size from 2.07 carats to 5.03 carats. Eleven of the 13 stones were rated D-flawless by the GIA Gem Trade Laboratory.


Also certain to attract a lot of interest on October 20 is this D-color marquise-cut diamond ring of 18.80 carats. The center diamond, which boasts a near-perfect VVS1 clarity, is flanked by tapered baguettes and set in platinum. The GIA affirmed that the marquise-cut stone is rated Type IIa, the most chemically pure of all diamond types. Christie's established a pre-sale estimated price range of $1.4 million to $1.6 million.


Far from the most expensive item in Christie's lineup, this bejeweled spider brooch by American designer David Webb is one of our favorites. The body of the platinum spider is set with a large cushion-cut kunzite and each of the diamond-adorned legs is flexible. Christie's estimated that this item would sell in the range of $30,000 to $50,000.


Also featured will be this cushion-cut fancy yellow diamond ring of 34.12 carats, mounted in platinum and 18-karat gold (above), as well as a pear-shape fancy intense yellowish-green diamond ring of 7.11 carats, set within a circular-cut pink diamond surround (below).


The yellow diamond carries an estimated price of $600,000 to $800,000, and the yellowish-green diamond is expected to sell in the range of $250,000 to $350,000. In the photo above, the white pear-shape diamond weighs 6.33 carats and has a circular-cut white diamond surround. It's expected to sell in the $160,000 to $220,000 price range. The white diamond has a rose gold setting, and the yellowish-green diamond is set in rose gold and platinum.

In total, Christie’s Important Jewels auction will highlight more than 300 individual jewels, with items ranging from $3,000 up to $3 million. The New York auction's total sales are expected to reach $20 million.

Credits: Christie's
October 9th, 2015
Welcome to Music Friday, when we bring you terrific tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, the 25-year-old Kimbra Lee Johnson (better known as Kimbra) channels the great Nina Simone as she performs a spellbinding jazz-inspired electropop rendition of "Plain Gold Ring" — a song Simone made famous in 1958.


In this classic song about unrequited love, Kimbra tells the story of a gal devastated by the fact that the man of her dreams belongs to someone else. She sings, "Plain gold ring had a story to tell / It was one that I knew too well / And in my heart it will never be spring / Long as he wears that plain gold ring."

The New Zealand-born singer/songwriter/guitarist is an early adopter of an electronic device called the VoiceLive Touch 2 by TC-Helicon that allows her to loop her own voice and add special effects, such as three-part harmonies and pitch correction.

The video at the bottom of this post demonstrates Kimbra's masterful use of this new technology. She actually creates the effects on the fly while performing live. You will notice her use of two microphones, one for the conventional audio and a second that connects to the device.


Pop-music fans might recognize Kimbra's powerful voice from the 2011 multi-platinum smash single "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye. In early 2013, the song earned Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.

"Plain Gold Ring" appeared on Kimbra's 2011 debut album, Vows, which reached the top 5 in New Zealand and Australia. The album was released in North America in May 2012, debuting at #14 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart.

The original version of "Plain Gold Ring" was released in 1958 by jazz singer Nina Simone, who was also in her 20s at the time of the recording. The song was part of her critically acclaimed Little Girl Blue album. Curiously, she sold the rights to the songs on the album to her record label, Bethlehem Records, for only $3,000. That business decision would ultimately cost Simone more than $1 million in royalty payments.

See the video below of Kimbra's brilliant interpretation of "Plain Gold Ring." The lyrics are here if you'd like to sing along...

"Plain Gold Ring"
Written by George Stone. Performed by Kimbra.

Plain gold ring on his finger he wore
It was where everyone could see
He belonged to someone, but not me
On his hand was a plain gold ring

Plain gold ring had a story to tell
It was one that I knew too well
And in my heart it will never be spring
Long as he wears that plain gold ring

When nighttime comes calling on me
I know why I'll never be free
I can't stop these teardrops of mine
I'm gonna love him till the end of time

Plain gold ring has but one thing to say
I'll remember till my dying days
In my heart it will never be spring
Long as he wears that plain gold ring

Plain gold ring on his finger he wore
Plain gold ring on his finger he wore
Plain gold ring on his finger he wore
Plain gold ring on his finger he wore

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.
October 12th, 2015
Apple, the tech giant that brought you the iPhone, iPad and the Apple Watch, has filed a patent for a simple-looking, but power-packed, smart ring that could raise the bar in the wearable tech sector.


Equipped with a touch screen, dial controller, camera, microphone, voice recognition, haptic feedback and movement detection, the iRing is designed to communicate back to a parent device, presumably an iPhone or iPad.

The sketches submitted to the patent office reveal a ring that would be worn on the index finger of the right hand and controlled with the thumb of the same hand. It could be manufactured in gold, silver, platinum, base metals or plastic.

There's no guarantee that Apple will actually move forward with a plan to develop and release an iRing. Tech insiders claim that large tech companies often file patents with no formal plan to bring the product to market. Nevertheless, speculation abounds on what the new product would potentially do.


If produced, the iRing would share the wearable tech space with the Apple Watch and will presumably do many of the same functions, albeit with a smaller viewing screen. Tech writers are already imagining the ring's potential uses, from unlocking doors and turning on lights with a voice command, to being used as a game controller with a swipe of the hand.

According to Apple, the ring could also be used to control external devices such as a computer’s mouse cursor, a camera’s shutter or a vehicle’s entertainment and climate control system. The device could possibly detect the writing motion of the user and digitally record hand-written notes.

How about transferring computer files with a handshake? Or getting driving directions based on pulse commands emitted from the ring? Or sending out a discreet alert when one senses danger?

The ring's biometric sensors might be used for Touch ID user authentication and Apple Pay mobile payment authorization, as well as for monitoring heart rate, perspiration levels and other activity tracking.

Of course, the iRing could perform more basic functions, such as alerting its wearer of incoming calls, messages and app notifications.

The dial controller would be similar in functionality to the crown of an Apple Watch. It would also have a rechargeable power source.

Forbes contributor Ewan Spence predicted that Apple will introduce its high-tech watch in the spring of 2018 and deliver the first generation of iRings in the fourth quarter of that same year.

Images: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
October 13th, 2015
An exceptional ruby-and-diamond ring once owned by Marie José — the last Queen of Italy — is expected to challenge the price-per-carat record for a ruby when it goes under the hammer at Sotheby's Geneva on November 11.


The Burmese ruby, weighing 8.48 carats, carries a pre-sale high estimate of $9 million ($1.06 million per carat). If the ring ends up selling for $10.17 million or more, it will eclipse the astonishing record set by the Sunrise Ruby this past May.


That ruby weighed 25.59 carats and fetched $30.3 million ($1.18 million per carat). It was the first non-diamond to sell for more than $1 million per carat and tripled the record for the highest price ever paid at auction for a ruby.


The royal ruby to be featured at next month's Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale in Geneva was gifted to Marie José by Tammaro de Marinis, a famous merchant and collector of antique books, on the occasion of her marriage to Italy's Crown Prince Umberto in 1930. Born in 1906, Marie José was the youngest child and only daughter of Albert I, King of the Belgians.


Admired for her elegance and beauty, Marie José's reign as Queen of Italy lasted only 35 days. It was cut short by the political turmoil surrounding the events of World War II and the subsequent abolition of the Italy's monarchy in 1946. Marie José lived in exile in Portugal and Switzerland, and passed away in 2001 at the age of 95.

“The 'Queen Marie José Ruby Ring' is a magnificent jewel of exceptional quality with truly outstanding royal provenance," noted David Bennett, Worldwide Chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewelry Division. "Its 'pigeon’s blood' color is sumptuous — the perfect jewel for a queen — and the jewel’s history, coming from the jewelry collection of Queen Marie José, of course, adds enormously to its romantic appeal.”

In its report, the Gemological Institute of America stated, "Any Burmese ruby in excess of 5 carats is considered very rare even today; thus, in the 19th century, one such as this — being over 8 carats and such a fine color — would have been held as truly exceptional.”

Gem photos via Sotheby’s, Getty Images. Marie José photo via Wikimedia Commons.
October 14th, 2015
Who said you had to be a pro athlete to earn a championship ring? Rap tandem Drake and Future are celebrating their chart-topping surprise collaboration, What a Time to Be Alive, with matching diamond-encrusted "World Champions" pinky rings.


Future had the rings made after their mixtape sold 375,000 units during its first week of release, catapulting it into the #1 slot on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. The 31-year-old hip-hop artist sought the help of New York-based celebrity jeweler Elliot Avianne to bring his vision to life.


Reminiscent of a Super Bowl ring, the bling designed by Avianne features the words "World Champions" in engraved black enamel against a polished white metal background. While Future's ring is adorned with the "FBG" initials and logo of his crew, Freebandz Gang, Drake's ring displays the initials OVO and an owl emblem. The initials are spelled out in raised white diamonds on a ground of smaller pavé diamonds.


Neither the artists nor the designer released specs on the diamond total weight or precious metal content of the rings. We can report, however, that the mammoth New England Patriots' championship rings weighed more than a quarter-pound and were set with 205 diamonds totaling 4.85 carats.


The artists were quick to share images of the ring with their Instagram followers. The 28-year-old Drake (born Aubrey Drake Graham) showed off his ring in an Instagram video, captioned “Big rings from my brother @future. Champion Sound OVOFBG.” Future, whose birth name is Nayvadius DeMun Wilburn, posted a closeup shot of the two rings and thanked the designer in the caption: My bro/jeweler @elliotavianne always kno [sic] how to bring my vision to life…world champions.”

What a Time to Be Alive marks the return to the #1 Billboard spot for both rappers this year. Drake’s mixtape If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late was a chart topper, as was Future’s DS2 LP. According to, the last rapper to score two #1s in a year was Jay Z back in 2004.


Incidentally, What a Time to Be Alive features "diamond" cover art and two songs related to jewelry, "Big Rings" and "Diamonds Dancing." The songs carry a parental advisory and will not be previewed here.

Credits: Instagram/champagnepapi;; Jostens Inc.; Album cover art.
October 15th, 2015
Harper's Bazaar described it an "edgy yet understated entrée into the world of facial jewelry" while Elle magazine called it a "must-try jewelry trend." Teen Vogue wondered "if this is the next major jewelry trend we'll all be trying this fall."


The columnists for each of these publications were offering their critiques of actress/model Cara Delevingne's foray into the world of lip cuffs, a near circular piece of jewelry that hugs the wearer's lower lip without the need for piercing.


Us Weekly reported that the 23-year-old Delevingne was seen wearing the lip cuff on no fewer than six occasions over the past month. Some editors originally thought the model had her lip pierced, but as Delevingne switched from single-stem lip rings to double-stem versions, it was apparent the rings were actually cuffs.

The non-invasive, commitment-free, one-size-fits-all lip cuffs allow the user to change styles easily and often. It's being touted as a sophisticated face accessory that proves "less in more."


On Monday night, Delevingne attended the Chanel Exhibition Party at London's Saatchi Gallery, where all the editorial attention seemed to be on a thin cuff centered on her bottom lip.

Four days earlier, she had worn a diamond-embellished double-stem version at London's Women in the World event. Us Weekly reported that the lip adornment was designed by a Los Angeles-based company, Established Jewelry, and retailed for $1,610.


The single-stem version has a diameter of 10mm, a thickness of 1mm and is available in three metal types: 18-karat white, yellow or rose gold.


Might the lip cuff have mainstream appeal? When asked by Us Weekly via an instant online poll if they would try the edgy accessory, about half (193) answered "Yes — so cool!," while nearly as many (190) answered "Nope, sticking to ear cuffs, thanks."

Credits: Instagram/EstablishedJewelry;; screen capture; Getty Images.
October 16th, 2015
Welcome to Music Friday when we often bring you vintage songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today the spotlight shines on the legendary Etta James and her 1961 satirical romp, "Tough Mary."


In this song that tells the story of a pretty girl and the boys who try to impress her with gifts, we hear Tough Mary's sassy way of expressing her distaste for posies. James belts, "Don't bring me flowers; don't bring me the sea / Just bring me diamonds, that'll suit me fine / And I'll love you forever, and you'll be mine."

"Tough Mary" is the fifth track on James' At Last! album, a release that spawned four hits. One of those was the title song, which was to become the R&B legend's signature tune. In 2012, Rolling Stone magazine ranked At Last! #119 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Born to a teen mother in 1938, Jamesetta Hawkins never knew her father and was raised primarily by her grandparents and foster families. She received her first professional vocal training at the age of five and soon became a popular singing attraction at the St. Paul Baptist Church in South Central Los Angeles. She formed the doo-wop singing group — the Creolettes — with her friends in the early 1950s and scored her first hit single as a 15-year-old.

One year later, James was going steady with B.B. King ("The King of the Blues") and believed that King's 1960 blockbuster hit "Sweet 16" was about her.

James went on to become a headliner in the early 1960s with a string of chart-toppers, including "The Wallflower," "At Last," "Tell Mama," "Something's Got a Hold on Me," "Stormy Weather" and "I'd Rather Go Blind."

Her unmistakable voice, unique style and ability to bridge so many musical genres — such as blues, R&B, soul, rock and roll, jazz and gospel — earned James coveted spots in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Blues Hall of Fame and the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Often referred to as the "The Matriarch of R&B," James passed away in 2012, just five days shy of her 74th birthday. The world misses Etta James, but her music — and her Facebook fan page with 1 million followers — lives on.

We hope you enjoy James' performance of "Tough Mary." The video and lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Tough Mary"
Written by Lorenzo Manley. Performed by Etta James.

Tough Mary, Tough Mary (Yeah, that's me)
Tough Mary is tough

The boys would come from miles around, with presents every day;
But when they'd call on Mary, this is what she'd say:

Don't bring me poses, when it's shoes I need;
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
Don't bring me flowers; don't bring me the sea
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary is tough)
Just bring me diamonds, that'll suit me fine;
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
And I'll love you forever, and you'll be mine
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary is tough!)

Well, Mary, she's a very pretty girl; I guess she was born that way;
But whenever they would tell her that, this is what she'd say:

Don't bring me poses, when it's shoes I need;
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
Don't bring me flowers; don't bring me the sea
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary is tough)
Come on and bring me some diamonds, that'll suit me fine;
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
And I'll love you forever, and you'll be mine
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary is tough!)

Tough Mary
Tough Mary
Tough Mary

Don't bring me poses, when it's shoes I need;
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
Don't bring me flowers; don't bring me the sea
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary is tough)
Come on and bring me some diamonds, that'll suit me fine;
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
And I'll love you forever, and you'll be mine
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary is tough!)

Oh, I'm tough;
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
Yeah, yeah I'm tough

October 19th, 2015
Two Ohio college professors have devised a way to make your favorite video clip into an animated fashion accessory. Dubbed "Tiny Screen Jewelry," the latest innovation in wearable tech is essentially a one-inch-wide LED screen encased in a necklace.


Margarita Benitez, assistant professor in Kent State University’s School of Fashion Design and Merchandising, and Markus Vogl, assistant professor from the University of Akron, designed the innovative necklace using the video components of a startup called TinyCircuits, which is also based in Akron.


“It’s just too cool for school,” Benitez told Kent State's web site. “It’s so adorable.”

Packed within the block-shaped necklace case are all the video components, as well as an SD card to store the video content and a USB connection to charge the battery. The screen measures 1.02″ x 0.98″ with a 0.96” viewable area that features a 96×64 OLED display and 16-bit color depth.


The prototype's plastic casing is produced by a 3-D printer, but the makers intend to introduce upgraded versions that will be clad in more luxurious materials, including gold leaf. Prices will start at about $125.


The exciting part of being able to wear a video around one's neck is that it can be an ever-changing expression of the wearer's mood and creativity.


“This is a way to augment your style, by adding a different color video or mood or emotion, or what’s trending that season or that day,” Benitez told “You can adapt your accessories that way.”

While some wearers might want to display a clip from the latest Hollywood blockbuster or favorite music video, others might want to show original works, or videos of their friends, families or pets.

“It would be fun to see what people do with it and what they play on it,” Benitez said.

Credit: Youtube screen captures.
October 20th, 2015
Did you know that impossibly stuck rings are no match for common dental floss and a paper clip. This low-cost home remedy has become a favorite topic on YouTube and promises to save many a precious keepsake from a costly repair or premature demise.

We bet you know someone who's finger became so swollen that a wedding band or engagement ring had to be snapped off with a ring cutter. But, the next time you're confronted by a ring that won't budge, try this solution. Thirty inches of dental floss.

The internet is teeming with self-help videos that demonstrate a simple, inexpensive, quick and painless way of getting mis-sized rings to come off. Here's the concept: By tightly wrapping dental floss around the soft tissue of the finger, the ring has just enough room to advance over the knuckle.

In a video viewed by more than 3.7 million YouTube fans, the folks at UrbanHowToDo outline a step-by-step method that removes rings in minutes. The only tools necessary are a roll of dental floss and a small nail file or paper clip. (Caution: A doctor told us that this method will restrict the blood flow to the finger and should be completed quickly — in less than five minutes.)

• The first step is to take 2 1/2 feet of dental floss and lay one end parallel with the stuck ring.


• Then, using a small nail file or a paper clip, push the end of the dental floss under the ring (from the finger side to the palm side). Be extremely careful not to poke your skin. The video actually shows the use of a safety pin, which is potentially dangerous and not recommended.

• When the floss emerges on the palm side of the ring, pull through six inches and leave two feet of floss on the finger side. Hold the shorter end under your thumb to secure it in place.


• Then use the longer length of floss to tightly wrap the finger, starting close to the ring and working up past the knuckle. If the ring is extremely tight, the wraps need to be very close together.


• At the end of the two-foot length, create a loop and tuck the end under the loop to secure it.

• To remove the ring, grab the end of the six-inch length and slowly pull the floss through from the finger side to the palm side.


• The ring will start to move up the finger toward the knuckle, wobbling back and forth with the unwinding of each wrap. As soon as it passes the knuckle, it should easily slide off.

Other YouTube videos provide variations on this method. Some recommend starting the floss wrapping from the finger above the knuckle and moving down toward the ring. The justification is that the blood should be moving away from the extremity. In another video, the doctor uses string instead of dental floss.

We must emphasize that this method may not work for every person and every type of ring. Rings with large center stones that jut out from the mounting tend to get hung up in the dental floss and make the process much tougher.

Also, some rings can get so tight (especially after an injury) that medical intervention is advised.

Nevertheless, YouTube viewers have written glowing reviews, and comments are nearly universally positive.

One YouTube user who suffered from the discomfort of a stuck ring for 10 years wrote the following and posted a video of a successful attempt to duplicate the "How To" solution: "My ring... has been... irremovable for at least 10 years. Not a chance, will never come off! So my wonderful friend Colleen says, "Just YouTube 'ring removal with dental floss.' And here are the magical results! This video is dedicated to my beautiful friend. You are AWESOME!"

Credit: YouTube screen captures.
October 21st, 2015
Behold the $20 gold coin that wasn't meant to see the light of day — the stunning 1933 Double Eagle.


Although 445,500 Double Eagle gold coins were struck by the Philadelphia Mint in 1933, none of them were intended for circulation. In the midst of The Great Depression and faced with a banking crisis that spooked consumers into hoarding gold, the federal government outlawed the possession of gold coins.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt insisted that all Double Eagle coins — except for two museum specimens — were to be melted into gold bars. Under illicit circumstances, at least 20 additional Double Eagles survived.

Last Wednesday, a federal appeals court heard arguments regarding whether the U.S. government had the rights to confiscate 10 Double Eagles discovered by the Philadelphia Langbord family at the bottom of an old safe deposit box in 2003. The coins were estimated to be worth nearly $8 million each.

The final ruling, which is expected within a month, will close the books on a 10-year dispute that has seen the court favor both sides.


“The 1933 Double Eagle is one of the most intriguing coins of all time,” Jay Brahin, an investment adviser and coin collector, told Bloomberg News in 2011. “It’s a freak. The coins shouldn’t have been minted, but they were. They weren’t meant to circulate, but some did."

The family of Israel Switt, a coin dealer and jewelry store owner who died in 1990 at the age of 95, lost possession of the coins in 2004 when the family went to the Mint to prove their authenticity. The government confiscated the coins from Switt's daughter, Joan Langbord, arguing that the she had not obtained them legally. The Langbord family countered that they were entitled to the coins because there was no sufficient evidence that the coins were stolen or embezzled.

In April of this year, a three-judge appellate court ruled 2-1 in favor of the Langbord family, reversing a 2012 decision that said the U.S. government had the rights to the Double Eagles that were allegedly stolen. In 2009, a judge had ruled that the government improperly seized the coins and denied the family due process.

The federal government had been aware early on that there was a breach in security and that a handful of 1933 Double Eagles escaped the Philadelphia Mint. The U.S. Secret Service in the 1940s finally traced the leak to George McCann, a Philadelphia Mint cashier, and Switt. The pair was never prosecuted because the statute of limitations had expired. Switt did admitted to the Secret Service in 1944 that he sold 10 Double Eagle coins to dealers and collectors. Agents were able to track down and recover nine of the 10. Each of them was melted.


King Farouk of Egypt

Before the discovery of the Switt coins, it was assumed that only a few 1933 Double Eagles remained in existence. Two had been set aside to be part of the National Numismatic Collection and one coin had been the property of King Farouk of Egypt, who had obtained it in 1944. When the King was deposed in 1952, many of his possessions were liquidated at auction, including his prized 1933 Double Eagle.

The coin remained under the radar until 1996, when it resurfaced in the possession of British coin dealer Stephen Fenton. He was arrested by U.S. Secret Service agents at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York as part of a sting operation. Fenton testified that the 1933 Double Eagle was from the Farouk collection and the charges against Fenton were subsequently dropped. The case was settled in 2001 when the defendant agreed to relinquish ownership to the U.S. government and the coin could be sold at auction.

In 2002, the coin was sold to an anonymous bidder at a Sotheby's auction for $7.59 million. The U.S. government and Fenton shared the proceeds. If the courts rule in favor of the Langbord family, the financial windfall is expected to be $80 million or more. The coins are currently secured at Fort Knox, Ky.

The design for the $20 Double Eagle was the work of famous sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who chose an advancing figure of Liberty for the obverse and a flying eagle on the reverse. The coin was nicknamed "Double Eagle" because $10 coins at that time were called "eagles."

Coin images courtesy of United States Mint; Farouk photo, public domain.
October 22nd, 2015
In an entertaining 20-second repartee, Lady Gaga revealed to Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon and 3.7 million home viewers the real reason her fiancé, Taylor Kinney, bought her such an enormous heart-shaped diamond engagement ring. It was to scare off other guys.


Fallon was about 90 seconds into his interview with the 29-year-old "Poker Face" diva — chatting about her February engagement — when he accidentally placed his right hand on her left.

"I just put my hand on top of yours and I felt that rock," Fallon said. "Ooh, la, la, lee."

"I think that's why he got me such a big one," Gaga responded. "So if men touch my hand they'll be like, 'Oh, I feel something.'"

"Oh my gosh," added Fallon. "That is a beautiful diamond ring there."

"Thank you," she said.


So for the record, Gaga believes her 8-carat heart-shaped diamond delivers a powerful and unambiguous message to other suitors to keep their distance.


Gaga fans may remember how she surprised her 5.6 million Instagram followers (currently 11.4 million) with the announcement of her Valentine’s Day engagement to Kinney. A crystal clear black-and-white shot of her stunning ring was captioned, “He gave me his heart on Valentines’s Day, and I said YES!”


Jewelry industry experts at the time estimated that the 34-year-old Chicago Fire actor spent upwards of $500,000 for the ring.

About a week after her engagement, Gaga revealed a secret design detail of the heart-shaped diamond engagement ring — a sweet and sentimental element she called her "favorite part” of the ring.


Instead of adding an inscription, fiancé Kinney arranged for a neat enhancement to the band — “T [heart] S” spelled out in pavé diamonds. The “S” is for Stefani, Gaga’s birth name.


"I'm such a happy bride-to-be!" Gaga wrote on Instagram. "I can't stop smiling!!"

Check out Gaga's cute exchange with Fallon on The Tonight Show. Her engagement ring becomes the focus of the conversation at the 1:30 mark.

Photos: Screen capture via YouTube; Instagram/LadyGaga; Instagram/TaylorKinney.
October 23rd, 2015
Welcome to our special pre-Halloween edition of Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we have the girl group Fifth Harmony singing the theme song to the newly released animated film, Hotel Transylvania 2.


In the song called "I'm in Love With a Monster," we learn that spooky guys don't like to buy jewelry for their girlfriends. The girls sing, "Oh, he'll buy me a thorn before he'll buy me a rose / Be covered in dirt before I'm covered in gold."

The sassy, high-energy video for "I'm in Love With a Monster" shows the girls of Fifth Harmony exploring a haunted mansion while being pursued by creepy characters. Channelling The Supremes of the 1960s, every band member plays a key character from Hotel Transylvania 2, and each of their live vignettes is juxtaposed with an animated clip from the movie.

The music video premiered on the mammoth Sony billboard in Times Square on August 27, and has been viewed on YouTube more than 16 million times. The movie was released in theaters on September 25.

"There are few groups out there that can match the incredibly fun feel and animated vision that Genndy Tartakovsky is bringing to Hotel Transylvania 2, and Fifth Harmony knocked it out of the park," said Lia Vollack, president of Worldwide Music for Sony Pictures. "The song is exactly what we were hoping for."

Upon its release, “I’m In Love With A Monster,” began climbing multiple iTunes charts. It landed in the Top 10 of the Overall Top Songs Chart and on the Top Pop Songs Chart.

Formed on the second season of The X Factor USA in July of 2012, the Miami-based Fifth Harmony is one of 2015's biggest musical success stories. The group, which includes Ally Brooke Hernandez, Normani Hamilton, Lauren Jauregui, Camila Cabello and Dinah Jane Hansen, was named “Favorite New Artist” at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, performed at the White House Annual Easter Egg Roll and received universally positive reviews for its headline Reflection Tour. Wrote the Houston Chronicle, “You could feel the electricity snaking through the crowd.“

Get into the Halloween spirit and join Fifth Harmony in a fun romp through the Hotel Transylvania. The music video and lyrics are below. Enjoy!

"I'm In Love With a Monster" (from Hotel Transylvania 2)
Written by Harmony Samuels, Carmen Reece, Sarah Mancuso, Edgar Etienne and Ericka Coulter. Performed by Fifth Harmony.

Oh, he'll buy me a thorn before he'll buy me a rose
Be covered in dirt before I'm covered in gold
He's trying it on, yeah, he's ticking me off
Say what you want but I won't ever be told
'Cause I'm in love with a monster

Friends say I'm stupid and I'm out of my mind
But without you, boy, I'd be bored all the time
No, I don't really care for the same conversation
Got everything I need, and I'd rather be chasing
Chasing love, with a monster

I'm in love (I'm in love)
I'm in love (I'm in love)
I'm in love with a monster
I'm in love (I'm in love)
I'm in love (I'm in love)
I'm in love with a monster
I'm in love with a monster

Wrap me in leather before you wrap me in lace
We breaking rules like we changing the game
He's trying it on, and he's ticking me off
Say what you want but I won't ever be told
I'm in love with a monster

My daddy told me, I should have better taste
But I'd rather pay to see the look on his face
No, I don't really care for the lame conversation
Got everything I need, and I'd rather be chasing
Chasing love, with a monster

I'm in love (I'm in love)
I'm in love (I'm in love)
I'm in love with a monster
I'm in love (I'm in love)
I'm in love (I'm in love)
I'm in love with a monster
I'm in love with a monster (hey)

Sweeter you try, they don't, not getting love from it
Ain't worth a dime 'cause I just don't get enough from it
(Leave it to me, don't you see, I don't run from it
Bitter the better, hey, hey, hey, hey)

You make me crazy, but I love it (I love it baby)
You make me crazy baby, but I love it (pretty baby)
You make me crazy, but I love it
You make me crazy baby, but I love it
I'm in love with a monster

Everybody now
Did you know (did you know)
Did you know (did you know)
Everybody loves a monster (mmm yeah)
Did you know (did you know)
Did you know (did you know)
Everybody loves a monster (yeah)
I'm in love (we're in love) with a monster

(I'm in love)
I'm in love with a monster
Are you in love with a monster?(I'm in love)
I'll never find another monster
I wanna know, I wanna know
I'm in love with a monster

Hit me, hit me, hit me
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight
Thank you, goodnight

Credit: Fifth Harmony publicity shot.
October 26th, 2015
Each year, more than 7,000 hand-carved pumpkins illuminate the grounds of a Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., manor as part of a spectacle called "The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze." Attendees from hundreds of miles around gather on dark autumn nights to marvel at the elaborate displays of jack–o'–lanterns carved for the event by local artists.


Two Saturdays ago, Jonathan Ehrlich and girlfriend, Jenna Bonvino, were at the end of a one-hour loop around the impressive exhibition when Bonvino spotted a huge floral cake made entirely out of pumpkins. Prominently displayed was a single pumpkin carved with the phrase, "Jenna Will You Marry Me?"


At first, Bonvino, 28, wasn't sure if the message was for her. But then Ehrlich, 32, dropped to one knee and asked her to marry him. "I was shaking like crazy," she told "It didn't feel real."


"All I heard was people saying, 'Is that Jenna? Is that Jenna?'" Bonvino recalled. "I kept yelling, "I'm Jenna! I'm Jenna!" and "I said, 'Yes!'"

Ehrlich explained that even though he usually doesn't break down under pressure, this proposal got the better of him, rendering him almost speechless.

"I prepared all these things to say and I don't think I said a quarter of what I wanted to," he told "When the moment finally happened, I don't know what happened to me. I kind of just lost it. I kind of fell apart and lost my cool and was this fumbling idiot. I said some stuff and I'm sure it was great."


Knowing that he and his girlfriend love the fall season, and especially Halloween, Ehrlich arranged with The Blaze coordinators to have a pumpkin carved especially for their proposal. The pumpkin, designed by artist Cheryl Bernstein, features a silhouette of the couple holding hands. The image is based on shadow cast and captured by the couple when they were on a boardwalk in California.


The pumpkin now resides on a dresser in the couple's apartment in Queens, N.Y. "I love looking at it every day," she told "I look at it just as much as I look at my ring, and it keeps a constant smile on my face."

"As soon as you get engaged, people say, 'Show me the ring, and how did he do it?'" Bonvino continued. "I have such an awesome story. It's really special to us. It was truly perfect."

The proud bride-to-be posted a shot of the proposal pumpkin to her Instagram account with the following caption: "Had the most unbelievable weekend... my best friend asked me to marry him [heart] #engaged #lovehim #bestfriend #pumpkinblaze2015 #SOEXCITED #AGHHHH."

"The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze" takes place at Van Cortlandt Manor, an historic landmark that dates back to the 18th century. Some locals believe the property is haunted, which makes it an even more attractive location for a spooky Halloween extravaganza.

Artists begin their carvings in June in preparation for the big event in October. If you're wondering how the pumpkins can last five months without shriveling into an ugly mess, the answer is: "They don't." The artists work with convincing replicas.

Croton-on-Hudson is about 40 miles north of New York City. Due to popular demand, "The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze" added 16 new time slots to its fall schedule, which runs through November 15. More info is here...

Images via Facebook/The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze; Jonathan Ehrlich; Jenna Bonvino;
October 27th, 2015
A Philadelphia startup has invented a discreet jewelry device that's designed to protect women from physical assault at the touch of a button. When activated, the "smart safety jewelry" — called Athena — can text loved ones with the wearer's location while emitting a deafening 85-decibel alarm.


Yasmine Mustafa developed the concept for Athena after returning from an unsettling trip to South America two years ago.

“In each of the six countries I visited, I kept meeting women who told me stories about assault,” Mustafa told “It was this repetitive theme throughout my trip.”

So Mustafa started working with technologists, self-defense experts and public safety officers to engineer a device that would be safe, effective and easy to use. Mustafa maintains that women shouldn't have to alter their lifestyles, modify their behaviors or carry self-defense devices to protect themselves.


Named after the Greek goddess of wisdom and military victory, Athena can be worn on a necklace, blouse, on a keychain, attached to a purse, or clipped on a belt. It's the size of a half-dollar and weighs about an ounce.


It has a single activation button and basically does two functions. When a user senses danger, she simply holds down the button on the face of the jewelry for three seconds.


The front face is made of silicone to allow for non-slip contact and the raised texture of the bumps are configured to quickly guide the user's fingers to the activation button.


The jewelry is paired with the user's smartphone, which automatically sends an alert message and her location to loved ones on her contact list. The button can also activate a blaring 85-decibel alarm that's likely to ward off an attacker. The decibel level is equal to that of a jackhammer or train whistle.

The developers told that they're testing various alarm sounds, including police sirens and nails on a chalkboard. In instances when sounding an alarm is not prudent, the user may choose to keep the device in a silent mode. They're also mulling a function that automatically calls 911 emergency services.

Mustafa noted that the device is a safer substitute for other methods of self-defense, such as weapons or pepper spray that can sometimes be turned against the victim.

“We found that women don’t like self-defense tools to begin with because they’re afraid of being overpowered,” Mustafa said.

According to, Mustafa’s company, ROAR, raised $250,000 from local investors to design and manufacture Athena. The company also kicked off an Indiegogo crowdsourcing campaign, which generated more than $52,000 from 438 donors in six days (the goal for the month-long campaign was $40,000).

Mustafa claims that Athena is not just a product, but part of a movement called ROAR for Good. For each device sold, a portion of proceeds will be invested in educational programs that have been shown to increase empathy and decrease violence.


Athena, which is still in development and is expected to release in May of 2016, will be available in three metal colors — Antique Silver, Timeless Black and Rose Gold. Prices will start at about $99.

Learn more about Athena via the video below... Or click this link...

Images via
October 28th, 2015
Harvard scientists believe that spraying clouds of diamond dust into the atmosphere could be an effective way to cool the planet and counter the effects of climate change. This large-scale manipulation of the earth's climate is called "geoengineering."


The idea is based on climate data collected after Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in 1991. The 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide that were blasted into the sky by the volcano effectively redirected some of the sun's energy and lowered the average temperatures over the next two years by a half degree.

Unfortunately, mimicking the action of a volcano by pumping sulphates into the sky is considered a potentially dangerous plan. Sulfates lead to the production of sulphuric acid, which depletes the ozone layer, negatively affects plant growth and diminishes the effectiveness of solar panels.

So scientists have been working on a viable alternative.

In a paper published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, the Harvard scientists argued that carbon-based diamond dust or alumina (aluminum oxide) would be far more effective and less damaging than sulphates.


“Our paper is really geared towards removing the mindset that it has to be sulphate that’s used to do solar radiation management,” co-author Debra Weisenstein explained to Nature. "Diamond dust isn’t the only alternative — alumina dust also works — but [diamond] seems to be the best."

Certainly, alumina would be a less costly material, but the scientists believe diamonds would be 50% more effective. The nanometer-sized particles would be made from lab-grown diamonds. The scientists reported that synthetic diamond dust costs about $100 per kilogram and that hundreds of thousands of tons would be required annually to get the desired effect.

Looking into the future, co-author David Keith noted that by 2065 there will be 10 billion people on the planet and the cost might be on the order of $5 per person to pump 450,000 tons of diamond dust into the sky each year.

The peppering of the material would be done by commercial jets, according to the scientists.

The diamond-dust cooling strategy is not without its own risks. First off, it's never been tested, and second, once the diamonds are up in the sky, the results — positive or negative — would be difficult to reverse.

Images: NASA
October 29th, 2015
The tomb of a Bronze Age warrior — left untouched for more than 3,500 years and stocked with a trove of precious jewelry, weapons and grooming supplies — was recently unearthed near the modern-day city of Pylos, Greece.


Among the jewelry items found in the tomb were four intricately carved gold rings, four dozen decorated seal stones, a 30-inch gold necklace terminated on both ends with medallions and a colorful array of 1,000 precious stone beads, including carnelian, amethyst, jasper and agate. Many of the beads were drilled, indicating they were once strung together as necklaces or bracelets.


The University of Cincinnati husband-and-wife team of Sharon Stocker and Jack Davis are credited with discovering the tomb of a wealthy Mycenaean warrior. The tomb measured 4 feet by 8 feet and was 5 feet deep.


The archaeologists, who have been researching Greek historical sites for a quarter century, called the warrior's tomb "the find of a lifetime." They affectionately dubbed their prized subject the "Griffin Warrior" due to the fact that a griffin — the mythical creature with the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion — was depicted on an ivory plaque that lay between the warrior's legs. All the items in the tomb are believe to correspond to the time period between 1600 B.C. and 1400 B.C.

The warrior, who was 30- to 35-years-old at the time of his death and lived more than 100 years before the rise of classical Greek culture, was believed to be extremely wealthy due to the exceptional items that accompanied him to the afterworld. Instead of standard pottery, this warrior was buried with bronze vessels rimmed with gold and silver.


The archaeologists also found a 3-foot sword adorned with an ivory handle, a gold-hilted dagger, a bronze slashing sword and a bronze spearhead.

Good grooming was apparently seen as a virtue in the afterlife, as the warrior was appropriately buried with not one, but six, fine-toothed ivory combs and a bronze mirror with an ivory handle.


All the jewelry items demonstrated a high level of technical skill. One gold signet ring, for instance, is expertly decorated with images of two acrobats vaulting over a bull (a popular activity at the time). The 30-inch-long, solid gold necklace is meticulously woven and decorated with finials in a "sacral ivy" pattern. The Minoan seal stones depict goddesses, lions and bulls.


Stocker explained to The New York Times, that when tombs have multiple occupants, it's difficult for archaeologists to assign particular items to males or females. In the case of the Griffin Warrior, all the items — no matter how masculine or feminine — are tied to him.

The tomb of the Griffin Warrior was actually discovered by Stocker and Davis back in May, but Greek authorities chose to keep the news under wraps until this past Monday.

Images: Greek Culture Ministry; Department of Classics/University of Cincinnati.
October 30th, 2015
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we feature Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performing "Built to Last" from their 1991 2X platinum-selling album, Into the Great Wide Open.


In this song about a couple whose love has endured both the good and bad times, frontman Petty sings, "I want her more than diamonds / I want her more than gold / I want her more than anything anyone could hold." In the next verse, he adds, "We were built to last / On until forever / The world is changing fast / But our love was built to last."

Although the song was never released as a single, it was well received by concert-goers. In a rare clip from a 1991 performance in Oakland, Calif., enthusiastic fans can be heard singing along with Petty and his bandmates.

"Built to Last" was co-written by Petty and Jeff Lynne, the frontman for Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). It was the 12th track on Into the Great Wide Open, an album that sold nearly 3 million copies worldwide and rose to #13 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. A Rolling Stone critic wrote at the time that the album features Petty's best lyrics. The album spawned two #1 hits, "Learning to Fly" and "Out in the Cold."

Originated in Gainesville, Fla., Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers haven't stopped rockin' since 1976. Even though the current band members range in age from 62 to 67, they still tour regularly and continue to record albums.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have sold more than 80 million records worldwide, putting them high in the ranks of the world’s best-selling bands. Petty was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

We welcome you to check out the rare clip of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' live performance of "Built to Last." The video actually features two songs, "Built to Last" and "Makin' Some Noise." Our featured song leads off the double bill.

"Built to Last"
Written by Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty. Performed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Somewhere out my doorway
Somewhere down my block
I can hear her heartbeat
In rhythm with my clock
I want her more than diamonds
I want her more than gold
I want her more than anything anyone could hold

We were built to last
On until forever
The world is changing fast
But our love was built to last

She has followed me down
Along those empty streets
She has followed me where the rain would fall in sheets
And I know I been changing
Changing like the wind
I was feeling burned out
I got tired of it

We were built to last
On until forever
The world is changing fast
But our love was built to last

So come to me my darlin'
Hold me while I sleep
I know you feel lost
But you're not in too deep

We were built to last
On until forever
The world is changing fast
But our love was built to last

Image via