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Articles in June 2016

June 1st, 2016
A diamond-embellished Hermès Birkin became the most expensive handbag ever sold at auction when it fetched $300,108 at Christie's Hong Kong on Monday.


Described by Christie's as the "rarest, most sought-after, most valuable" of its kind, the matte white Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Diamond Birkin features an 18-karat white gold lock, latch and buckles emblazoned with diamonds weighing a total of 9.84 carats. The bag is made of Nilo crocodile that has been specially dyed to evoke images of the Himalayan mountains. Christie's noted that "only one or two of the Diamond Himalayas are produced each year…"


Originally manufactured in 2008, the handbag features hardware handset with 245 VVS, F-color diamonds in 174.4 grams of solid 18-karat white gold. The bag outperformed Christie's pre-sale high estimate by more than $40,000.


The Hermès Birkin crushed the short-lived record of a bright pink crocodile skin handbag by Hermès, which was sold at Christie's Hong Kong in 2015 for $220,000. The record-breaking handbag is now the property of an anonymous private collector.


Interestingly, the auction record-setter is less than 1/12 the value of the "1001 Nights Diamond Purse," which was crowned by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2011 as the most expensive handbag in the world. Created by the Geneva-based House of Mouawad, the $3.8 million heart-shaped bag is encrusted with 4,517 diamonds – 105 yellow, 56 pink and 4,356 colorless — for a diamond total weight of 381.92 carats.

Handcrafted from 18-karat gold, the completion of the 1001 Nights Diamond Purse demanded the skills of 10 artisans, working a total of 1,100 hours over a period of four months.

Images: Hermes Birkin bag photos courtesy of Christie's. Mouawad "1001 Nights Diamond Purse" via
June 2nd, 2016
Aurora is now the undisputed "Queen of Green."

The 5.03-carat "Aurora Green," the largest and finest fancy vivid green diamond ever offered at auction, was scooped up by mega-retailer Chow Tai Fook Jewellery for $16.8 million at Christie's Hong Kong on Tuesday.


The hammer price was on the lower end of Christie's pre-sale estimate of $16.2 million to $20.1 million, but the gem's performance still obliterated two auction records. It was the highest price ever paid for a green diamond and the highest per-carat price ever achieved by a green diamond ($3.34 million).

The previous records for a green diamond were held by “The Ocean Dream,” a 5.5-carat fancy vivid blue-green diamond that yielded $8.6 million ($1.5 million per carat) at Christie's Geneva in 2014.


The rectangular-cut Aurora Green boasts a color that is rarely seen in the world of colored diamonds. Green diamonds are unique because they owe their color to their exposure to natural radiation as they were forming in the earth eons ago. Many a gemologist has gone a whole career without having handled a fancy vivid green diamond, no less one of 5-plus carats.

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) included with its grading report a special note stating that the Aurora Green is the "largest fancy vivid green, natural color diamond GIA has graded as of 20 January 2016."

Because of this extreme rarity, gem experts speculated whether the Aurora Green might challenge the all-time price-per-carat record held by the “Blue Moon of Josephine,” a 12.03-carat vivid blue diamond that sold in November 2015 for $48.5 million, or $4.03 million per carat. If the Aurora Green had sold at the top of Christie's pre-sale estimate, the price per carat would have been close to $4 million.

The Aurora Green diamond was presented in a pink diamond halo setting. The GIA described the gem as a “cut-cornered rectangular modified brilliant” with a clarity of VS2.


There is a significant difference in the value of a green diamond rated "fancy vivid" vs. one rated "fancy intense." For instance, back in May of 2014, a 6.13-carat fancy intense green diamond (see above) was sold at Christie’s Hong Kong for $3.6 million, or $594,510 per carat. That's about 18% of the per-carat value of the Aurora Green. It's easy to see the deeper, more saturated color of the record-breaking stone.

Credits: Photos courtesy of Christie’s.
June 7th, 2016
The American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) and Jewelers of America (JA) have named spinel as the second official birthstone for August. It will share the limelight with the yellow-green gemstone peridot.


JA will promote the new birthstone in July via a public relations and marketing campaign.

“At certain moments in history, when there is a strong call from gem enthusiasts to expand the list of official birthstones, Jewelers of America believes in recognizing the importance of historically significant gemstones and giving gemstone lovers a choice that suits their preferences,” said JA President and CEO David Bonaparte.


The new addition marks the third update to the modern birthstone list, which was created in 1912 by the American National Retail Jewelers Association, now known as JA. The official list was updated in 1952 to add alexandrite, citrine, tourmaline and zircon, and again in 2002 when tanzanite was added as a birthstone for December.

AGTA CEO Doug Hucker said, “Ancient gemstone merchants revered spinel, and it was widely sought after by royalty. It was then known as ‘balas ruby.’ It wasn’t until the late 18th century that we developed the technology acumen necessary to distinguish spinel as a separate mineral from ruby. We are very excited to announce it as the newest member of the official birthstone list.”

Sanskrit writings referred to spinel as “the daughter of ruby.” The bright red color of spinel is so closely related to ruby the two were often confused. In 1783, spinel was recognized as a mineral distinct from corundum (ruby and sapphire). Ruby is aluminum oxide, while spinel is magnesium aluminum oxide formed when impure limestone is altered by heat and pressure. Both spinel and ruby get their reddish color from impurities of chromium.


It was believed that spinel could protect its owner from harm, reconcile differences and soothe away sadness. Its greatest appeal, however, is its range of brilliant colors. In addition to glossy rich reds — the most popular color for jewelry — spinel can typically be found in shades of orange, pastel pink and purple. Blue-green spinel is extremely rare. One of the most spectacular gemstone colors is the hot pink-orange spinel mined in Burma.


Notable spinel in history include a 170-carat red spinel, known as the “Black Prince Ruby,” which is set in the Imperial State Crown in the British Crown Jewels, and a 398-carat red spinel that tops the Imperial Crown of Russia commissioned by Catherine the Great in 1763.

Major sources of spinel include Burma, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Other significant occurrences are found Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Vietnam and Russia.

Credits: Spinel perched on marble matrix by Rob Lavinsky, – CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons; Burmese bracelet with 98 natural spinel crystals set in a double row in yellow gold. Smithsonian/Chip Clark; Orange-pink spinel from Tajikistan. National Gem Collection. Smithsonian/Chip Clark; Imperial State Crown of England by Cyril Davenport (1848 – 1941) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
June 8th, 2016
In a promotion reminiscent of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, McDonald's Japan is giving away an 18-karat gold chicken McNugget worth about $1,650.


The contest is designed to generate a viral buzz for two new dipping sauces, "Creamy Cheddar Cheese" and "Fruits Curry."


But, unlike the famous Golden Tickets, which were randomly hidden in five Wonka Bars, the McDonald's promotion requires participants to post to social media the whereabouts of a yellow-suited, nugget-crazed Hamburglar-looking villain named Kaito Nuggets. The masked mascot, also known as "Phantom Thief Nuggets," will be touring McDonald's outlets throughout Japan.


If a patron spots Kaito and posts his location on Facebook, that person will get a chance to win the gilded grand prize. McDonald's also will be giving away 21 lesser prizes, including a 39-day supply of five-piece nugget meals. That adds up to 195 nuggets.

“[Kaito] may appear in some of McDonald’s restaurants [throughout] the country, may throw out a ceremonial first pitch for a professional baseball game, or pay a visit to a prefectural governor making a surprising request entertaining people,” McDonald’s Japan explained in a statement.


Kaito Nuggets reminds us very much of the Hamburglar, a character McDonald's introduced in 1971 and then refined in 1985 and again in 2015. Originally a trollish old man, the Hamburglar was recast as a childlike, more lovable character in 1985. In 2015, the Hamburglar was reintroduced as a  grown man wearing a fedora, trench coat, red boots, red gloves and skinny jeans.

The golden McNugget contest starts today and runs through June 28.

Credits: Images via McDonald’s Company (Japan) Ltd.
June 9th, 2016
Out of the spotlight for more than two years, the 59.60-carat "Pink Star" has new owners and an eye on the all-time record price for a diamond sold at auction. Don't be surprised if the Pink Star — the largest internally flawless, fancy vivid pink diamond ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America — sets a new benchmark at $70 million or more.


Gem lovers may remember when the oval mixed cut Pink Star stunned the auction world in November 2013. At Sotheby's Geneva, it fetched a world record $83 million, crushing the pre-show estimate of $60 million. The excitement turned sour in February 2014 when the auction house announced that the buyer, who was representing a group of investors, had defaulted on the sale. Because Sotheby's had guaranteed a minimum of $60 million to the seller, the auction house was obligated to pay that amount and add the pink diamond to its own inventory.

Sotheby's just announced that two firms — Diacore and Mellen Inc. — have purchased an ownership interest in the remarkable Pink Star. The third partner is Sotheby's.

Jewelry industry publication JCK noted that Diacore (formerly Steinmetz Diamond Group) has a natural interest in the stone because the company had purchased the original 132.5-carat rough and invested two years in fashioning it into the Pink Star.

“From the moment it was unearthed as a rough diamond, we have always believed in the singular importance and value of the Pink Star,” Nir Livnat, chairman of Diacore, said in the statement.

The news about the Pink Star comes amidst a whirlwind of excitement in the world of colored diamonds as amazing stones continue to smash world records. Just last month, the 14.62-carat Oppenheimer Blue fetched all-time record price for a diamond at auction when the hammer went down at Christie's Geneva for $57.5 million. Only six months earlier, the 12.03-carat Blue Moon of Josephine had captured the title when it fetched $48.5 million at Sotheby's Geneva.

The Oppenheimer Blue's record could be easy pickings for the Pink Star. The auction house has estimated its value at $72 million, but it could potentially sell for much more. Sotheby's did not indicate when the Pink Star would return to the auction block.

Credit: Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.
June 10th, 2016
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Mr. Hyunh from the animated Nickelodeon TV series Hey Arnold! channels country star Randy Travis in a ditty called "The Simple Things." It's a song that introduced to the world — in its very first line — the fictional, but fantastical, diamond-plated pearl.


Hey Arnold! fans may remember the 1998 episode in which Arnold and Gerald discover that Mr. Hyunh — a Vietnam immigrant who lives in Arnold's grandfather's boarding house — has an incredible singing voice. The boys become his managers and try to lead him down the road to Country & Western stardom, but in the end Mr. Hyunh decides he would rather keep his simple life.


In a voice provided by Travis, Mr. Hyunh sings, "You can offer me a diamond-plated pearl / You can send me all the riches in the world / You can tempt me with the palaces of kings / I'd give 'em back in a big ol' sack and keep The Simple Things."

We've never seen a diamond-plated pearl, but we're sure that if such a thing did exist, it would be magnificent.

In the Nickelodeon episode titled "Mr. Hyunh Goes Country," Travis' animated persona guest stars as the character Travis Randall.

Although it was never released as a single, "The Simple Things" was featured as the 33rd track on The Best of Nicktoons, a 1998 compilation album. Among the songs on the album were "Happy Happy Joy Joy" from The Ren & Stimpy Show and the "Theme from Rugrats." Hey Arnold! had a successful run from 1996 through 2004.

Besides being credited as the singing voice of Mr. Hyunh, the 57-year-old Travis has enjoyed a stellar career as a singer-songwriter, guitarist and actor. He has recorded 20 studio albums and scored 22 #1 hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

We hope you enjoy the audio track of Travis singing "The Simple Things." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"The Simple Things"
Written by Craig Bartlett, Steve Viksten, Jim Lang and Joseph Purdy. Performed by Randy Travis.

You can offer me a diamond-plated pearl.
You can send me all the riches in the world.
You can tempt me with the palaces of kings.
I'd give 'em back in a big ol' sack and keep The Simple Things.

I've got The Simple Things; I've got the rain in spring,
Got spicy chicken wings, and French-fried onion rings.

You can line me up a mile of limousines.
For me it don't add up to a hill o' beans.
I got no hankerin' for grabbin' your brass ring.
It's crystal clear I'll stay right here and keep The Simple Things.

I've got the summer breeze, got 16 cans of peas.
A two-speed window fan when it's 93 degrees.
So forgive me for not grabbin' your brass ring.
It's crystal clear I'll stay right here and keep The Simple Things.

Credits: Mr. Hyunh screen capture via; Randy Travis photo (public domain).
June 13th, 2016
Missouri bride-to-be Linda Huffman says the 1-carat solitaire engagement ring she got on Valentine's Day from fiancé Steve Kozlowski is "the only thing I've had in my life that was perfect."


But after a swimming mishap at a local creek on Memorial Day, she was sure her perfect ring was lost forever.


Huffman had been spending a glorious day with her family and friends at Dry Fork Creek, about 100 miles southwest of St. Louis, when she attempted to climb upon a huge boulder that jutted from the shore out into water. But she lost her footing, fell back, banged her hand against the limestone and the ring went flying.

"I was for sure that it was gone," Huffman told

The newly engaged couple, with the help of their loved ones, attempted to use swim goggles and snorkel gear to find the ring, but with only 3 inches of visibility there was little hope of locating it. Then a storm broke out and the couple had to abandon the search.


Knowing how much the ring meant to his fiancée, Kozlowski called for expert assistance.

He recruited Maries County Sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Jasper and Sheriff Chris Heitman, both of whom are members of the Mid-Missouri Sheriffs’ Dive Team.


“It isn’t something we typically do," Heitman told, "but for something as important as an engagement ring, we’re there,” he said.


Jasper compared the prospects of locating the ring to "finding a needle in a haystack."

On the first day of the search, Heitman did his best to scour the bottom of the muddy creek but had to give up after depleting his air supply. Undaunted, he was back on Day 2 to try again.

Based on Huffman's more precise description of how she fell off the rock, Heitman guessed where the ring may have landed and worked a new area. Again, the search was proving unsuccessful.

"I was exhausted. I was almost out of air in my tank," Heitman told

But then he saw the ring and plucked it out of the mud.

Heitman was so excited when he came up out of the water that he looked Kozlowski straight in the eyes and joked, "Will you marry me." Then Kozlowski started screaming.

Huffman and Kozlowski, who had dated for 17 years before getting engaged, couldn't be more appreciative of the extraordinary recovery efforts.

“He’s my angel,” Huffman told “It’s absolutely the most amazing thing anybody ever did for me.”

With the ring properly resized, the couple is planning an April 2017 wedding with Dry Fork Creek as the scenic backdrop. It was the site of their first date and, now, a miraculous ring recovery.

"We got a story to tell the grandkids," she said.

Credits: Screen captures via
June 14th, 2016
The champion Denver Broncos received their Super Bowl rings in a private ceremony held at Mile High Stadium on Sunday night. Adorned with 194 diamonds and a flourish of orange sapphires, the two-tone 10-karat gold rings commemorate in high style the team's 24-10 impressive victory over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.

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Photos taken by the players and posted to Twitter confirm the huge proportions of the rings, which boast a diamond total weight of 5.05 carats and seem to dwarf the massive fingers of the most imposing athletes on the planet.

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The rings were delivered to the stadium under high security in padlocked boxes, one for each player, coach, front-office member and support staff. Each box was emblazoned with the logo of Super Bowl 50.

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As with all Super Bowl rings, the Broncos' treasure is teeming with symbolism. The ring's face features the Super Bowl 50 logo and the team's three Lombardi Trophies placed above the Denver Broncos logo on a field of pavé-set diamonds. The trophies are created from marquise-cut stones, tapered baguettes and pave-set stones, and represent the franchise's three Super Bowl wins.

The Bronco mane is designed in three waves of bright orange sapphires, while the head features pavé-set diamonds. The Bronco's eye is a round orange sapphire. The words "WORLD CHAMPIONS" adorn the top and bottom edges in raised gold letters.

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The left side of the ring features the player's name above an image of a crown, which is a nod to the crown featured on past Broncos Super Bowl Championship Rings. The crown's three stripes represent the three Super Bowl titles. Eight round diamonds adorn the top of the crown and represent the team's eight AFC Championships. The player's number sits below the crown and is created from round pavé-set diamonds.

The right side features the words DENVER BRONCOS arched above an image of the Lombardi Trophy and the year 2015. The trophy is created from marquise-cut and pavé-set diamonds and is surrounded by a 10-karat yellow gold banner inscribed with the words "THIS ONE'S FOR PAT" in honor of Denver Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen, who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

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Both sides of the ring are set with 28 diamonds, for a total of 56, marking the 56-year history of the Denver Broncos. The front and back edges each have 15 stones representing the 15 Divisional titles the Broncos have won and the team's 15 regular season and playoff wins in 2015-16.

The inside of the ring features the Super Bowl 50 logo and the Broncos logo above the Super Bowl date of 02.07.16. The scores of the three playoff games are listed next to the logos of the teams the Broncos defeated.

On hand to help the team celebrate were legendary players who were on past Super Bowl teams. Terrell Davis and Rod Smith were entrusted with the task of handing out the keys that opened the padlocked gift boxes.

Neither the ring manufacturer, Jostens, nor the Broncos' management would disclose the value of this year's rings. What we do know is that the Super Bowl XLIX rings of the New England Patriots were valued at $36,500.

Credits:;;; Jostens.
June 15th, 2016
Over the past 113 years, a single mine in South Africa has been the most prolific source of the world's largest and finest-quality diamonds. On June 9, the 24.18-carat "Cullinan Dream" — named after the mine that famously yielded the 3,106.75-carat Cullinan — broke the record for the highest price ever achieved for a fancy intense blue diamond. It was the largest diamond of that color classification to be offered at auction.


Bidders at Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction in New York watched the hammer go down at $25.4 million, which was in the mid range of the auction house's pre-sale estimate of $23 million to $29 million.


Discovered at Petra Diamond's Cullinan mine in 2014, the rough diamond that produced the Cullinan Dream weighed 122.52 carats.

From that rough stone, a master gem cutter eventually delivered four notably sized blue diamonds: a cushion-cut gem of 7.00 carats, a radiant-cut gem of 10.30 carats, a pear-shaped gem of 11.30 carats, and finally, the Cullinan Dream, a cut-cornered rectangular mixed-cut gem of 24.18 carats.


Set in a ring, the Cullinan Dream is flanked by tapered baguettes in a platinum mounting inscribed “Cullinan Dream.” The baguettes have a total weight of 2.36 carats.

Petra Diamonds had sold the 122.52-carat rough blue diamond into a cutting and polishing partnership in 2014 for $23.5 million and maintained a 15% stake in the proceeds from the Cullinan Dream after it was sold at auction, minus expenses.

While setting an auction record in the "fancy intense blue" category, the Cullinan Dream's selling price was less than half the amount earned by the much smaller "Oppenheimer Blue," which yielded $57.5 million at Christie’s Geneva in mid-May. The 14.62-carat Oppenheimer Blue was able to set a new world record for any jewel sold at auction because it carried the top color grade of "fancy vivid blue," the top purity rating of Type IIa, and the near-perfect clarity rating of VVS1. The Cullinan Dream, by comparison, had a clarity of VS2 and a purity rating of Type IIb.

The Cullinan Dream represents the latest generation of super-large, super-fine diamonds to be sourced at the Cullinan mine. Since production started in 1903, the mine has delivered 750 stones weighing more than 100 carats, 130 stones weighing more than 200 carats, and more than a quarter of all diamonds in existence weighing more than 400 carats. The mine is expected to be productive for the next 50 years.

Credit: Images courtesy of Petra Diamonds.
June 16th, 2016
To the ancient Egyptians, gold was divine. The gods, they believed, had skin of gold, bones of silver and hair of lapis lazuli. The Turin Papyrus Map, which dates to 1160 BC, affirms the location of 1,300 gold mines, at least 100 of which have been rediscovered and explored in the desert valleys east of the Nile.


Today, armed with clues from the ancient mines, modern prospectors are trying to locate untapped Egyptian reserves said to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

When English Egyptologist Howard Carter discovered the 3,300-year-old tomb of King Tutankhamun in 1925, he was impressed by a sarcophagus that held not one, but three, coffins. The outer two were crafted in wood, covered in gold and adorned with many semiprecious stones. The inner coffin was made of solid gold.


The king's death mask — constructed of two sheets of hammered gold and weighing 22.5 pounds — is considered one of the masterpieces of Egyptian art. In all, Tutankhamun's tomb was filled with more than 500 items, many made of pure gold.

Despite their reverence of gold, the precious metal held no monetary importance in ancient Egyptian commerce. Salaries were paid in goods, and trade was done with barter. Gold maintained a vital role in religious ceremonies, adorning royal jewelry, artifacts and chariots.

Contemporary treasure hunters are betting that the ancient miners — lacking modern tools and know-how — left plenty of gold behind. Those miners rarely dug down more than 20 or 30 meters.

"We are looking where they had mined gold before," Mark Campbell, the chief executive of Canada-based Alexander Nubia, told CNN. "Using modern mining techniques and technology, we hope to recover a lot of the gold that [the Roman and Egyptian civilizations] missed, because they were unable to mine it and process it."

(Nub, which appears in the exploration company's name, is the Egyptian term for gold.)

Mining for gold in the Egyptian desert is risky business due to the extraordinary expense of modern extraction techniques. Campbell estimated the investment would be "somewhere in the order of 500 million to a billion dollars."

Credit: Tutankhamen's death mask by Carsten Frenzl from Obernburg, Derutschland (TUT-Ausstellung_FFM_2012_47) CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
June 17th, 2016
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today we feature the hauntingly beautiful harmonies of Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris in their 1999 duet "All I Left Behind."


A song about a woman who unselfishly puts her life on hold to go on the road with her lover, "All I Left Behind" recounts the items she lost along the way, which include her silver earrings and a her dad's gold bracelet. In the end, she loses her lover, as well.

They sing, "Silver earrings in Wichita / Beaded moccasins in Tonopah / But I had you so, I just let them go."

In a later verse, the story of a cherished keepsake is told: "And the gold bracelet with my father's name inscribed / On the back by the one who loved him all her life / The way I too could have loved you."

Written by Harris with Kate and Anna McGarrigle, "All I Left Behind" appeared as the 12th track on Western Wall: The Tucson Sessions, a Ronstadt/Harris duet album that included songs written by a virtual Who's Who of the music industry. Among those receiving writing credits on the album were Jackson Brown, Rosanne Cash, Sinéad O'Connor and Bruce Springsteen. Singing background vocals and playing the harmonica on the album was none other than Neil Young.


"It took more than 25 years, two divergent careers and plenty of false starts, near-misses and might-have-beens, but Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris have finally made an album together," wrote Bill DeYoung for Goldmine magazine back in 1999.

"I believe that there’s a poetic thread that holds [the songs] together," Harris told Goldmine. "I think they all deal with very deep issues about life and love and longing and loss. For me, an album has to be a string of pearls, but they’re all slightly different. They’re not perfectly matched pearls."

The album — featuring the velvety alto of Ronstadt and songbird soprano of Harris — earned critical acclaim, hitting #6 on the Billboard Country albums chart while earning several Grammy nominations.

Ronstadt, who will turn 70 next month, is a 2014 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She has released more than 30 studio albums and charted 38 Billboard Hot 100 singles, including "You're No Good," which reached #1. She has earned 11 Grammy Awards, three American Music Awards, two Academy of Country Music awards, an Emmy Award, a Tony nomination and a Golden Globe nomination.

The 69-year-old Emmylou Harris also boasts a long and stellar career, during which she accumulated 13 Grammy awards and 39 Grammy nominations. She has collaborated with the industry's biggest names, including Gram Parsons, Bob Dylan, John Denver, Dolly Parton, Roy Orbison, Cyndi Lauper and Ryan Adams. Her most recent collaboration with Rodney Crowell earned the duo a 2016 Americana Music Association Award nomination in the category of Duo/Group of the Year.

We hope you enjoy the audio track of Ronstadt and Harris performing "All I Left Behind." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"All I Left Behind"
Written by Emmylou Harris, Kate McGarrigle and Anna McGarrigle. Performed by Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris.

All I left behind should come as no surprise
To me since I fell through the black hole of your eyes
Only little things inconsequential I could say
Of all I left behind with you along the lost highway

Silver earrings in Wichita
Beaded moccasins in Tonopah
But I had you so, I just let them go

The flannel shirt I wore to keep me from the cold
When we drove from Boston all the way to Buffalo
The leather boots I bought, so many miles ago
I took them off to follow you into the Ohio

Never did my armor feel so thin
Silk was all I had between me and your skin
Like Waterloo, I lost that too

And the gold bracelet with my father's name inscribed
On the back by the one who loved him all her life
The way I, too, could have loved you

The Spanish shawl, I put across the broken shade
Of the lamp that lit the room that last night near Coeur d'Alene
Only little things inconsequential I could say
Of all I left behind with you along the lost highway

Of all I left behind, all I left behind

Credits: Album cover image of Western Wall: The Tucson Sessions; Cropped promotional image for Trio.
June 20th, 2016
Three amateur treasure hunters, who call themselves "Team Rainbow Power," unearthed the largest trove of Viking gold ever found in Denmark.


Working with metal detectors in a field in Jutland, the team discovered seven bangles — six gold and one silver — dating back to the year 900. The combined weight of the jewelry, nearly all of which remained in pristine condition despite being buried for more than 1,100 years, is 900 grams (about 2 pounds). Only the silver bangle has tarnished.


"We really felt like we had found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow when we found the first bracelet, but when others then appeared it was almost unreal," noted Team Rainbow Power member Marie Aagaard Larsen.


Larsen revealed that her team, which includes Poul Nørgaard Pedersen and Kristen Dreiøe, had been working in the field barely 10 minutes when the metal detectors indicated that there was treasure underfoot.

After finding the third of seven bracelets, Team Rainbow Power sought the assistance of Lars Grundvad from the Sønderskov Museum.

The field in Jutland had been of interest to archaeologists at the museum because a Viking gold chain had been discovered there more than 100 years ago.

“At the museum, we had talked about how interesting it could be to check out the area with metal detectors because there was a 67-gram gold chain found there back in 1911," Grundvad said. "But I would have never in my wildest fantasies believed that amateur archaeologists could uncover seven bracelets from the Viking Age.”


Two of the gold bracelets discovered by Team Rainbow Power are crafted in the Jelling style, which is associated with the Viking elite. Peter Pentz, a Viking expert at the National Museum, believes the bracelets may have been used by a Viking leader to form alliances or to reward his faithful followers.


The Viking social classes of this era were divided into the noble "jarls," the middle class "karls" and the slave class "thralls."

"To find just one of these rings is huge, so it is something special to find seven," said Pentz. "The Viking Age is actually the ‘silver age’ when it comes to hoards. The vast majority of them contain only silver. If there is gold, it is always a small part, not like here, the majority.”

Why the jewelry was buried is a more difficult mystery to unravel. Perhaps they were buried in a ritual, or hidden by someone who failed to retrieve them, say the archaeologists.

The Sønderskov Museum, which is only 13 miles from the discovery site, will put the seven bracelets on display before shipping them 160 miles east to the National Museum in Copenhagen for further study. Team Rainbow Power will be compensated for their find, although the exact amount has not been disclosed.

Credit: Group of seven bracelets by Nick Schaadt, National Museum of Denmark. Photos of Marie Aagaard Larsen, Team Rainbow Power, bracelet closeup and bracelet in sand by Poul Nørgaard Pedersen. All images provided by National Museum of Denmark via Creative Commons.
June 21st, 2016
City worker Jose Cervantes called it a "one in a million shot," but the thin odds of finding an engagement ring in a sewer system six weeks after it was lost didn't dissuade him from helping a family in need.


Anna and Ryan Cornish, of Bothell, Wash., had been heartbroken over the loss of Anna's double-halo-style diamond engagement ring — a precious keepsake their 4-year-old son, Landon, had flushed down the toilet during bath time.


Despite the admirable efforts of their plumber — who put cameras in the waste pipes — the ring was nowhere to be found.


But, then by chance, Ryan noticed a truck from the City of Bothell Public Works in his neighborhood. He approached sewer maintenance worker Cervantes and asked if he could help.

Normally, retrieving jewelry in the sewer is a fruitless endeavor. But Cervantes knew of a quirk in the local sewer system that could make all the difference.

“Where [Ryan] lives there’s actually what’s called a belly in a pipe, a settled out piece of pipe," Cervantes told a Global News affiliate. "It’s a little lower, so solids end up getting in there.”


After getting the thumbs-up from his supervisors, Cervantes and his team returned the next day to suck up the sewage from the depression in the pipe. They dumped the material out of their truck and carefully hosed it down. Emerging from the stinky mess was Anna's ring.

“It was shocking, amazing," Cervantes said. "We got the ring. Holy cow, it’s a one in a million shot.”

Ryan was excited when he found out the ring was recovered, but decided to keep the good news from Anna until it could be presented in the proper way.

First, he brought the ring to a local jeweler for a professional and thorough cleaning. Then he placed it in a ring box so a very special person could make the presentation...

"Mom, I’m so sorry. Will you please forgive me?” little Landon said as he handed the ring box to Anna.

"Then he opened the box with the ring inside," recounted Anna. "I just felt speechless; tears started coming down my eyes."

Ryan and Anna couldn't be more grateful to the City of Bothell Public Works crew, who went above and beyond the call of duty. Anna plans to hand the ring down to her daughter, who is now three years old.

Many years from now they'll have quite a tale to tell.

Credits: Video captures via
June 22nd, 2016
An eagle-eyed trainee barely five months into his apprenticeship at Lucara's Karowe mine in Botswana is credited with plucking the 1,109-carat gem-quality diamond — now known as the Lesedi La Rona — from the mining company's "large diamond recovery" sorting machine. It was the largest rough diamond discovered in 111 years.


“At first I wanted to scream,” Tiroyaone Mathaba told The Telegraph. “Then I said in a low, hoarse voice, 'God, it’s a diamond! It’s a diamond, it’s a big diamond!’”

The rough stone is the size of a tennis ball and could potentially yield the world's largest faceted diamond, grander than even "The Great Star of Africa" at 530.20 carats.

Lesedi La Rona, which means “Our Light” in Botswana’s Tswana language, is expected to sell for $70 million or more when it's offered for sale at Sotheby's London exactly one week from today. That price would easily break the world record for any gemstone sold at auction. The current record holder is the “Oppenheimer Blue,” a 14.62-carat fancy vivid blue diamond that fetched $57.5 million at Christie’s Geneva in May.

As a trainee, the 27-year-old Mathaba had been responsible for inspecting the rock and sand produced by the mine’s large diamond recovery machines. But, on the morning of Nov. 16, 2015, he was having trouble with the equipment.

“We were experiencing a near blockage," said the recent graduate of the geology program at the University of Botswana. "I was having to work quite hard.”

Then, he spotted something shiny in his sorting tray. Was it a strange rock, or an unfathomable, mammoth-sized diamond?

Lucara geologists confirmed that Mathaba's find was the second biggest diamond ever recovered. Only the 3,106-carat Cullinan, unearthed in South Africa in 1905, was larger.


Based on the cleavage faces and sculpted surfaces of the Lesedi La Rona, Lucara experts believe the rough diamond had been much larger. In fact, some of the adjacent pieces have been recovered and matched to the larger stone.

One of the reasons why extremely large diamonds are so rare is because the stones undergo tremendous stress in the mining and sorting process. Although diamonds are the world's hardest material, they can fracture.

Lucara's new Tomra large diamond recovery machine, which utilizes X-ray transmission sensors, is designed to identify and isolate potentially large diamonds before they can be damaged. Only one day after Mathaba's discovery, two other massive diamonds — weighing 813 and 374 carats — also were found.

Despite the $70-million-plus price that Lesedi La Rona is likely to fetch, Mathaba did not earn a special bonus for finding the stone. Instead, each of the 804 people working a Lucara enjoyed bonuses related to the huge windfall. Mothaba has since become a permanent member of the Lucara staff.

Mathaba explained to The Telegraph why he finds his job so exciting: “You get to see diamonds how nature made them – the octahedron shapes, the cubes – before humans touched them.”

Credits: Images courtesy of Sotheby's.
June 23rd, 2016
The Private Collection of Joan Rivers, an eclectic assortment of fine jewelry, bejeweled items and collectibles, netted $2.2 million at Christie's New York last night.


The biggest surprise of the auction was the $245,000 selling price of a gem-embellished Fabergé frame that carried a modest pre-sale estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. Crafted in nephrite (a form of jade) and adorned with rose-cut diamond flowers and a seed pearl bezel, the frame features an enamel portrait of Queen Louise of Denmark. The frame dates back to 1898.


Another surprise was the failure of a Fabergé lily of the valley leaf to achieve its reserve price. Touted prior to the auction for its rarity and importance, the objet d’art was reportedly one of only two examples of a Fabergé lily of the valley leaf study in existence. A Christie's expert noted that the original design was most likely executed by Carl Fabergé himself. The piece, which is adorned with diamonds and pearls, carried a pre-sale estimate of $200,000 to $300,000.


Rivers, whose acerbic comedic style earned her legions of fans and a co-hosting gig on E!’s Fashion Police, passed away on Sept. 4, 2014, at the age of 81. During her successful 55-year-career as a comedian, actress, writer and producer, Rivers amassed an impressive collection of pieces from Fabergé, Harry Winston, Chanel and Tiffany.

According to published reports, Rivers was particularly fond of Fabergé because she felt the objects helped her get in touch with her Russian heritage.


In all, The Private Collection of Joan Rivers included 39 lots of jewelry. Here are some of the other highlights...


• A diamond and platinum flower brooch signed by Harry Winston fetched $75,000, far greater than the pre-sale estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. The piece features round diamonds forming the pistil, marquise-cut diamond petals, baguette-cut diamond stem and round diamond leaves.


• A silver-topped star sapphire and diamond pendant brooch by Fabergé yielded $75,000. The piece, which was fabricated between 1899 and 1903, has the workmaster's mark of August Holmstrom of St. Petersburg. The pre-sale estimate was $70,000 to $90,000.


• A gold, silver, aquamarine and diamond brooch by Fabergé sold for $35,000, at the low end of the pre-sale estimate of $35,000 to $45,000. A cushion-cut aquamarine is flanked on either side by a clover-like formation of diamonds. The piece is dated between 1908 and 1913 and also has the workmaster's mark of Holmstrom.


• A third piece credited to Fabergé and Holmstrom is an amethyst and diamond brooch dating to 1900. The piece sold for $30,000, at the high end of the pre-sale estimate of $20,000 to $30,000.

Credits: Jewelry images courtesy of Christies. Joan Rivers photo by David Shankbone [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
June 24th, 2016
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you hot, new songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. In today's installment, Meghan Trainor shows off her gold-and-diamond "MTRAIN" necklace in the viral video for her new hit single, "Me Too."


In this song about self-love, body image and empowerment, Trainor sings, "What's that icy thing hangin' 'round my neck? / That's gold, show me some respect."


The official video, which has been viewed a staggering 98 million times, includes an extreme closeup of Trainor's necklace, with MTRAIN spelled out in raised gold letters on a framed plaque adorned with two bezel-set diamonds.

Trainor, the 2016 Grammy Award winner for Best New Artist, co-wrote "Me Too" with Jason Derulo and three other collaborators. It was released on May 5 as the second single from her album, Thank You, and quickly ascended the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. It currently resides at #18 after coming in at #31 last week.

Interestingly, the official video for the song was released on May 9 and quickly pulled by Trainor the same day after the artist learned that her image was digitally manipulated, apparently to make her waist look thinner.

On Snapchat, Trainor commented, "My waist is not that teeny. I didn't approve that video and it went out for the world, so I'm embarrassed."

Trainer famously referenced Photoshop editing in her mega-hit "All About That Bass" when she sang, "I see the magazines working that Photoshop, we know that ain't real, come on now make it stop."

On May 10, a new edit of video was released.

The 22-year-old Trainor rose to fame after releasing Title in 2015. That chart-topping album produced three Top-10 singles and sold more than a million copies in the U.S. alone.

We know you'll enjoy Trainor's official video of "Me Too." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along.

"Me Too"
Written by Meghan Trainor, Eric Frederic, Jacob Kasher Hindlin, Jason Derulo and Peter Svensson. Performed by Meghan Trainor.

Who's that sexy thing I see over there?
That's me, standin' in the mirror
What's that icy thing hangin' 'round my neck?
That's gold, show me some respect

I thank God every day
That I woke up feelin' this way
And I can't help lovin' myself
And I don't need nobody else, nuh uh

If I was you, I'd wanna be me too
I'd wanna be me too
I'd wanna be me too
If I was you, I'd wanna be me too
I'd wanna be me too
I'd wanna be me too

I walk in like a dime piece
I go straight to V.I.P.
I never pay for my drinks
My entourage behind me
My life's a movie, Tom Cruise
So bless me, baby, achoo
And even if they tried to
They can't do it like I do

I thank God every day
That I woke up feelin' this way
And I can't help lovin' myself
And I don't need nobody else, nuh uh

If I was you, I'd wanna be me too
I'd wanna be me too
I'd wanna be me too
If I was you, I'd wanna be me too
I'd wanna be me too
I'd wanna be me too

(Turn the bass up)
Turn the bass up
(Turn the bass up)
Let's go!

I thank God every day
That I woke up feelin' this way
And I can't help lovin' myself
And I don't need nobody else, nuh uh

If I was you, I'd wanna be me too
I'd wanna be me too
I'd wanna be me too
If I was you, I'd wanna be me too
I'd wanna be me too
I'd wanna be me too
If I was you, I'd wanna be me too
I'd wanna be me too
I'd wanna be me too
If I was you, I'd wanna be me too
I'd wanna be me too
I'd wanna be me too

Credits: Image captures via
June 27th, 2016
The 7.45-carat diamond engagement ring that presidential candidate Donald Trump gave to second wife Marla Maples in 1991 is heading to the auction block in New York. After their divorce in 1999, Maples sold the ring at auction for $110,000. On Wednesday, the same ring is expected to fetch $300,000 to $350,000.


The platinum ring by Harry Winston features an F-color, VS1, emerald-cut center stone in a four-prong setting. The sides are channel set with 16 baguette-cut diamonds.

In 1999, Maples entrusted the sale of the ring to auctioneer Joseph DuMouchelle. At the time, the ring was sold to an anonymous American couple, who have watched the ring triple in value. On Wednesday, DuMouchelle will auction the ring for a second time at the Lotte New York Palace hotel.

Contributing to the value of the Harry Winston ring are multiple levels of provenance.

"It’s interesting when you consider the last time we sold it," DuMouchelle told the Detroit Free Press. "It was before Donald had his show The Apprentice and obviously before he was running for president. Now, he’s running for president, while Marla just appeared on Dancing with the Stars. So it’s completely different time frames."

DuMouchelle described the ring as being "very wearable" and having a "pretty design."

Trump and Maples were married in 1993 in a lavish ceremony at the Plaza Hotel, with the guest list topping 1,000 people. They had one child together, daughter Tiffany, before splitting up in 1997. The divorce was finalized two years later.

Credit: Image courtesy of Joseph DuMouchelle.
June 28th, 2016
Three short films focusing on the mystical properties of rubies were premiered last Wednesday at the Hotel Café Royal in London.


Called “Ruby Inspired Stories,” the 60-second vignettes feature an international cast that includes actresses Kamay Lau, Sophie Cookson and Aditi Rao Hydari, as well as model Grace Guozhi. The videos were produced by Gemfields, a leading supplier of colored gemstones.


The company maintains a core belief that there is “A Story in Every Gemstone,” so the firm enlisted award-winning filmmaker Leonora Lonsdale to create a series of intimate portraits that explore how rubies play a pivotal role in the lives of three contemporary women. Each vignette weaves a narrative around one of ruby's mystical themes — prosperity, passion or protection.


In the prosperity-themed video, we're invited into the world of a sophisticated and successful artist played by London-based model and actress Lau. The artist is assisted in her studio by a dedicated apprentice played by Chinese model Guozhi.


Lau admires the work ethic of Guozhi, who tirelessly toils day and night preparing her canvasses and serving her tea. The final scene shows the women dressed up for a night on the town. In the back seat of a town car, Lau waits for Guozhi to join her and has a special gift waiting on the seat next to her. Presumably, it's a piece of ruby jewelry that Lau had been admiring in a storefront window earlier in the video.


The other two “Ruby Inspired Stories” star British actress Cookson in a video about "passion," and Indian actress Hydari in a feature about "protection."

The prosperity video is shown below, while the others can be seen on Gemfield's YouTube channel here...


“Rubies have been renowned for their magical properties since the beginning of civilization," Gemfields CEO Ian Harebottle told "As a leading supplier of responsibly sourced colored gemstones, we wanted to explore how these beautiful and mysterious gemstones resonate with women today."

Worked into the storylines of each video are product shots from designers Gyan, Fabergé and Aya, a new brand from Chelsy Davy. Each video ends with the slogan, "A Story in Every Gemstone," and the tagline, "Responsibly Sourced Mozambican Rubies by Gemfields."

“Ultimately, the consumer for our gemstones is the woman who will use a piece of jewelry to commemorate something important in her own life: an accomplishment, a connection with another human being or a statement about her own personality,” Sally Morrison, director of marketing and sales for the Americas at Gemfields, told “We believe that these films, viewed as a group, start a conversation with consumers about how their own stories can be expressed through a ruby.”

Credits: Screen captures via Youtube/Gemfields;
June 29th, 2016
Devoted mom and Dreamgirls Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson turned to Instagram on Friday to show off a one-of-a-kind necklace highlighted by the first baby tooth of her son David. The tiny white tooth dangles from a simple gold heart on a fine chain.


"I like making things my own. I call it jenniferizing! Thank u guys," wrote the 34-year-old singer and actress on Instagram.

The necklace was Hudson's innovative way of transforming one of a parent's fondest memories — the loss of a baby's first tooth — into a cherished keepsake.


Although Hudson's first social media mention of the tooth jewelry was on Friday, a review of her Instagram account confirms that she's been wearing the special necklace for more than two months. In fact, nine weeks ago, Hudson posted a photo of herself and her six-year-old son, whom she calls Munch, in New York's Central Park. Dangling from her neck in clear view is Munch's baby tooth.


Munch's dad is Hudson's fiancé and long-time partner David Otunga. The brawny Otunga, 36, is a Harvard Law graduate, professional wrestler and WWE wrestling commentator.

This was not the first time Hudson, who has been starring on Broadway in The Color Purple, has used the term "Jenniferize." In fact, it's been part of her lexicon for at least 2 1/2 years.

Back in 2014, while promoting her third studio album, Hudson used the term to describe a certain creative energy that makes a project uniquely her own.

“I want it to be more light [and] more loose," she told ABC News. "I call it 'Jenniferizing.' Like I want people to get a sense of who I am as a person through the music more so [than] the public figure. It’s two different people.”

Later that same year, Hudson was on NPR revealing her new approach to music. Instead of just singing the right notes, her music was now a celebration. She called this infusion of energy "Jenniferizing."

In December, Hudson will be playing Motormouth Maybelle opposite Harvey Fierstein's Edna Turnblad in the live NBC telecast of Hairspray.

Credits: Photos via Instagram/Iamjhud.
June 30th, 2016
The highly touted Lesedi La Rona — the tennis ball-sized rough diamond weighing 1,109 carats — was expected to smash the world record for any gemstone sold at auction. Instead, it went unsold at Sotheby's London yesterday when the bidding stalled at $61 million, short of the undisclosed reserve price.


Experts had conservatively pegged the value of the gem-quality, Type IIa diamond at $70 million or more. Once cut, the rough was expected to yield a 400-carat flawless diamond.

It was an extraordinarily rare occurrence to see a rough diamond offered at a public auction. Typically, these stones are traded among a handful of sophisticated dealers within the diamond industry.


But, Lesedi La Rona was no ordinary rough diamond. It was the largest gem-quality rough diamond discovered in more than 100 years. Because of its "rock star" status, mining company Lucara decided to break with tradition and roll the dice at Sotheby's with a special auction dedicated to one diamond.

Lucara was betting that wealthy individuals outside the diamond industry would want to get in on the excitement. The New York Times reported that Lucara chief executive William Lamb had been working with Sotheby’s and Julius Baer, a Swiss bank, to attract private clients from around the world.


The Sotheby's gallery was nearly filled to capacity when auctioneer David Bennett asked for the starting bid of $50 million. Viewers around the world watched online in real-time via streaming video.


The offers for Lesedi La Rona notched up slowly in increments of $500,000. But only a few minutes later, the bidding ground to a halt at $61 million. Bennett gave fair warning and then hit the gavel.

Soon the audience learned the gem had not reached the auction house's pre-established minimum price. Bennett announced the gem would not be sold and walked away from the podium.

The last time Sotheby’s put a rough stone up for sale was in 2000. In similar fashion, the purple-pink 12.49-carat diamond failed to sell, the Times reported.

Interestingly, Lesedi La Rona's stablemate at Lucara, the 813-carat diamond called The Constellation, was sold privately to Dubai-based Nemesis International for a record $63.1 million back in May. It was the highest price ever paid for a gemstone, rough or polished.

If Lesedi la Rona had earned the same $77,649 per-carat achieved by The Constellation, it would have fetched upwards of $86 million.

For now, the 14.62-carat Oppenheimer Blue, which sold for a record $57.5 million at Christie's Geneva in May, will hold onto its record for the highest priced jewel ever sold at auction.

Had the Lesedi La Rona sold at auction, the buyer would have paid a 12% buyer's premium on the amount over $3 million and a 20% fee on the first $3 million. The reserve price was not made public.

Credits: Images courtesy of Sotheby's. Screen captures via