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Articles in September 2016

September 1st, 2016
Calling it a symbol of one of Britain's most famous love stories, UK officials placed a temporary export ban on the petite sapphire and diamond crown — called a coronet — that Prince Albert gifted to Queen Victoria for their wedding in 1840.


Now in the possession of a private owner, the coronet was scheduled to be auctioned with an asking price of $6.5 million plus $1.3 million in taxes. The owner had applied for an export license in the event that the piece was purchased by a non-Brit.

That move quickly sparked action by government officials who believe the coronet was “key to the self-image of the young Victoria” and should remain on British soil. The export ban, which is valid until December, will give a British collector an opportunity to step forward and make an equivalent bid, or declare an intention to raise the funds.


“Queen Victoria’s coronet is stunning," noted Matt Hancock, the Minister of State responsible for digital policy at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. "It is one of the most iconic jewels from a pivotal period in our history and symbolizes one of our nation’s most famous love stories. I hope that we are able to keep the coronet in the UK and on display for the public to enjoy for years to come.”

Knowing that the Queen had a passion for colored gemstones, Prince Albert helped design a 4.5-inch-wide crown mounted with 11 large blue sapphires and studded with hundreds of smaller diamonds. He presented the coronet to Queen Victoria as a wedding present, along with a matching brooch. The crown was designed by goldsmith Joseph Kitching and cost £415 ($545) at the time.

Queen Victoria was only 23 years old in 1842 when she posed for an official state portrait wearing the coronet (see above).

After Queen Victoria's death in 1901, the coronet was handed down to Queen Mary (1867-1953) and King George V (1865-1936), who then gifted the piece to Princess Mary on her marriage to Viscount Lascelles in 1922. It was later purchased by a London dealer who sold it to the current owner.

“Its departure would be a great loss, given its beauty, its associations and its history,” Philippa Glanville, a member of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, said in a statement.

Although the export ban extends to December 2016, officials do have the option of extending it through June of 2017 if a UK buyer comes forward and demonstrates the ability to raise the funds needed to buy the piece.

Credits: Coronet image courtesy of the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Official portrait of Queen Victoria wearing the coronet in 1842 by Franz Xaver Winterhalter. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
September 2nd, 2016
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Frontman Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits sing about life's ups and downs ("one day you're a diamond and then you're a stone") in the comical 1991 tune called "The Bug."


Written by Knopfler, "The Bug" is a clever commentary on how "everything can change in the blink of an eye, so let the good times roll before we say goodbye."

In the song's famous reprise, Knopfler sings, "Sometimes you're the windshield / Sometimes you're the bug / Sometimes it all comes together baby / Sometimes you're just a fool in love."

"The Bug" was released as the fourth single from Dire Straits' sixth and final studio album On Every Street. The album sold 15 million copies worldwide and served as a fitting punctuation mark to the band's wildly successful 15-year run, during which Dire Straits sold more than 100 million records.

Dire Straits was a formed in London in 1977 and its name reflected the group's shaky financial condition in the early days. Founding members Knopfler, younger brother David, John Illsley and Pick Withers honed their unique sound with inspiration from the worlds of jazz, folk and blues.

The group split for the first time in 1988, but then reformed in 1991. The final breakup was in 1995 when Mark Knopfler pursued a solo career.

Fun trivia: Dire Straits was Princess Diana's favorite rock group.

More fun trivia: Lead singer and guitarist Mark Knopfler is left-handed but plays right-handed.

Please check out the video of Dire Straits' live performance of "The Bug." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"The Bug"
Written by Mark Knopfler. Performed by Dire Straits.

Well it's a strange old game you learn it slow
One step forward and it's back you go
You're standing on the throttle
You're standing on the brake
In the groove 'til you make a mistake

Sometimes you're the windshield
Sometimes you're the bug
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you're just a fool in love
Sometimes you're the Louisville Slugger
Sometimes you're the ball
Sometimes it all comes together
Sometimes you're gonna lose it all

You gotta know happy - you gotta know glad
Because you're gonna know lonely
And you're gonna know sad
When you're rippin' and you're ridin'
And you're coming on strong
You start slippin' and slidin'
And it all goes wrong because

Sometimes you're the windshield
Sometimes you're the bug
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you're just a fool in love
Sometimes you're the Louisville Slugger
Sometimes you're the ball
Sometimes it all comes together
Sometimes you're gonna lose it all

One day you got the glory and then you got none
One day you're a diamond and then you're a stone
Everything can change in the blink of an eye
So let the good times roll before we say goodbye because

Sometimes you're the windshield
Sometimes you're the bug
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you're just a fool in love
Sometimes you're the Louisville Slugger
Sometimes you're the ball
Sometimes it all comes together
Sometimes you're gonna lose it all

Sometimes you're the windshield
Sometimes you're the bug
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you're just a fool in love

Sometimes you're the windshield
Sometimes you're the bug
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you're just a fool in love

Credit: Dire Straits by Helge Øverås (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons.
September 5th, 2016
In honor of September’s official birthstone, we shine our spotlight on the “Logan Sapphire,” the second-largest faceted gem-quality blue sapphire in the world at 422.99 carats. Now part of the National Gem Collection, the sapphire is a top attraction at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.


The vibrant medium-blue gem boasts a provenance that links one of America's most prominent families with Indian royalty. The beautiful brooch had been given to Rebecca Pollard Guggenheim as a Christmas/anniversary gift in 1952 by her then-husband Col. M. Robert Guggenheim. The Guggenheims had amassed one of the world's largest fortunes through their mining and smelting businesses, and later became equally famous for their philanthropy.

Rebecca donated the magnificent gem to the Smithsonian in 1960 but kept it in her possession until 1971. Col. M. Robert Guggenheim passed away in 1959 and Rebecca remarried three years later, becoming Mrs. John A. Logan in 1962. This is where the Logan Sapphire gets its name. The gem finally went on display in Washington, D.C., in June of 1971.

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

Set in a silver-and-gold brooch and framed by 20 round brilliant diamonds weighing approximately 16 carats, the cushion-cut Logan Sapphire claims the distinction of being the heaviest mounted gem in the National Gem Collection. It was cut from a crystal mined in Sri Lanka in the mid-1800s and possesses a beautiful blue color with slight violet overtones.

The impressive color led skeptics to question whether the gem had been heated or treated in any way. The Gemological Institute of America put those doubts to rest after studying the gem and stating in a report dated June 1997 that the Logan Sapphire was completely natural.

Historically, the finest and most vibrant gem-quality sapphires have come from Sri Lanka, Burma and the Kashmir region of India. According to the Smithsonian, sapphires from Sri Lanka are typically light to medium blue and are commonly referred to as "Ceylon Sapphires."

Interestingly, all sapphires are made of the mineral corundum (crystalline aluminum oxide). In its pure state, the corundum is colorless, but when trace elements are naturally introduced to the chemical composition all the magic happens. Blue sapphires occur, for instance, when aluminum atoms are displaced with those of titanium and iron in the gem’s crystal lattice structure.

Sapphires are seen in many colors, including pink, purple, green, orange and yellow. Ruby is the red variety of corundum.

Credit: Photo by Chip Clark/Smithsonian Institution.
September 6th, 2016
The latest wearable technology — the HB Ring — allows you see and feel your lover's heartbeat in real time. Conceived by a company called TheTouch, the rings have the ability to link up with each other from across town or across the planet.


To see and feel the real-time heartbeat of one's partner, the user simply double taps on the HB Ring. A red stripe that's visible through the ring's sapphire body flashes a single time to confirm the request was sent. A few seconds later — after making a connection with the companion's ring — the red stripe flashes with the real-time heartbeat of the partner. The user can also feel a vibration from the ring that matches the heartbeat rhythm.

To protect one's privacy, the responding ring shows no indication that it is transmitting a real-time heartbeat.


The ring, which seems simple but actually houses 100 individual components, captures the heartbeat using a sensor.

Available in stainless steel or rose gold, the rings feature a unibody sapphire crystal surface that is virtually unscratchable. The HB Rings are 3.9mm thick, 12.1mm wide and available in six sizes.

Even though the rings include electronic components, they can withstand short exposures to water, such as hand washing. The rings are not designed to be submerged for long periods of time, so swimming with the ring or taking it into a hot tub is definitely out of the question.


The HB Rings are the result of 2.5 years of product development that utilized the expertise of Czech, Swiss, German and Japanese engineers and manufacturers.

The rings are connected to a smartphone app via Bluetooth and will function as long as they are charged and the users have access to data or Wi-Fi. With typical usage (about 10 to 15 touches per day), the monthly data consumption will be about 300KB to 450KB, according to the company.

The rings are priced at $599 per pair for the stainless steel version and range up to $2,990 for the rose gold pair. The rings come with two single chargers and one double charger. The rings are currently powered up via a USB connection, but TheTouch is reportedly working on a wireless charging option.

The products are now in the pre-order stage. The rose gold rings will start shipping in November 2016, with the stainless versions following a month later.

Credits: Images via
September 7th, 2016
Rock legend Bruce Springsteen created a memory that will last a lifetime when he stopped his encore performance of "Jersey Girl" to invite a young couple onstage for an unforgettable marriage proposal.


Michael McCloskey had waited all evening for Springsteen to perform that special song because he knew it would be the perfect time to propose to his Jersey Girl, Jillian Rabadan. Nearly four hours into the concert, it was finally McCloskey's moment to go down on one knee and present Rabadan with a diamond ring.

The surprised girlfriend said "Yes" and the concertgoers in their section screamed their approval.

Springsteen and the East Street Band were halfway through a beautiful rendition of the Tom Waits' classic song when The Boss noticed the commotion in the pit near the front of the stage.

"What's going on down there?" Springsteen asked.

Band member Stevie Van Zandt pointed to his ring finger, signaling to Springsteen that the couple had just gotten engaged.

"You need to come up here and do it," Springsteen said.

As the couple found their way over the barricade and onto the stage, Springsteen announced, "Love is in the room tonight."


Springsteen handed the microphone to McCloskey, who told the crowd of 55,000 that he and Jill had been dating for eight years. "We've been to a ton of shows together and this is by far the highlight of them all," he said.

McCloskey then turned to his girlfriend and said, “Jill, you’re my best friend. I love you more than anyone else in the world. I love you more than music itself. Hell, I love you more than Bruce. Sorry, Bruce! I’m so happy you said yes, and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you.”

The couple embraced and the sold-out stadium went crazy.


Springsteen then encouraged McCloskey to dance with his new fiancée while Springsteen and the band segued into the final verse "Jersey Girl."


Springsteen sang, "'Cause down the shore everything's all right / You and your baby on a Saturday night / Nothing matters in this whole wide world / When you're in love with a Jersey girl."


The song and concert came to a rousing conclusion with an impressive display of fireworks in the night sky.

“Bruce was amazing,” Rabadan told a local CBS affiliate. “He was so nice, and I can’t believe he did that for us."

Said McCloskey, “He could have just given us a shout-out or a wave, but he invited us up on stage. He gave us a serenade and a slow dance and a memory that’ll last a lifetime.”

See the videos of how the scene played out at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey...

Credits: Screen captures via;
September 12th, 2016
Swiss luxury jeweler De Grisogono has purchased the rights to cut and polish the world's most expensive rough diamond, the $63 million, 813-carat "Constellation."


The diamond will be cut in Antwerp and the process will likely yield the world's largest D-flawless diamond, weighing between 300 and 350 carats. The cutting and polishing is expected to be completed by May 2017.

De Grisogono entered a partnership with Dubai-based Nemesis International, which had acquired the rough diamond from Lucara Diamond Corp. for $63 million in May. The value of De Grisogono's deal with Nemesis was not disclosed.


The colorful founder of De Grisogono, Fawaz Gruosi, referred to the stone as his "princess," "his collaborator" and "his woman."

"I love her and I hate her," he said. "Love because something like this is so exceptional — I could never dream to be able to have a stone like this in my own hands — and hate her because I don't know how I'm going to dress her."

"(This is) the first time we've taken such a historic stone and had full creative freedom to do what we want with it," De Grisogono CEO John Leitao told CNN.

Back in November of 2015, Lucara miners discovered two enormous gem-quality rough diamonds at its Karowe Mine in Botswana. The pair tipped the scales at a combined 1,922 carats. The larger of the two was the 1,109-carat "Lesedi la Rona," which failed to meet the reserve price at Sotheby’s London on June 29. The smaller of the two was the Constellation.

Both diamonds have been rated Type IIa by the Gemological Institute of America. Diamonds in this rare and coveted subgroup are chemically pure and often show extraordinary optical transparency.

The Constellation is the sixth-largest gem-quality rough diamond ever found, according to

Credits: Facebook/Lucara Diamond Corporation.
September 13th, 2016
More than 5.5 million fans of ABC's top-rated Bachelor in Paradise witnessed three romantic, teary-eyed proposals — and three stunning engagement rings — during last week's season finale.


In a surprising turn of events, not one, but three couples found love during their few short weeks in Mexico. Making the ultimate commitment to tie the knot were Josh Murray and Amanda Stanton, Evan Bass and Carly Waddell, and Grant Kemp and Lace Morris.

Here's a close-up look at their rings, which were designed by Neil Lane...


Murray popped the question to Stanton with a double-halo-style engagement ring that features a square emerald-cut diamond center stone set in platinum with a pavé diamond band. An insider told US Magazine that the 3-carat diamond ring is valued at $85,000.

Murray's emotional proposal had fans swooning and fighting to hold back the tears: "You are the sweetest, kindest, most loving, generous woman that I have ever met," Murray said. "I'm so blessed to spend the rest of my life with you. So, Amanda, my love, will you marry me?"

Not to be outdone, Bass expressed his devotion to Waddell with a silly limerick followed by a emotion-filled declaration of love.

"Carly, our life in Paradise has been nothing short of epic," he said. "My love for you has only gotten stronger. And the love I feel from you is the most amazing, inexplicable, mind-blowing thing that I just never in a million years thought I would get. I feel like my heart beats to your soul... Carly, I wanna chase after the fairy tales, and go on all of the adventures, and find all of the interesting things in this world to explore… I wanna start a life with you. I want you to be my wife."


Bass presented Waddell with a split-shank, halo-style platinum engagement ring centered by a pear-shaped 3.3-carat fancy pink diamond accented with rose-gold prongs and a band of white pavé diamonds. Us Magazine reported the ring's value at approximately $90,000.


Kemp chose for Morris an engagement ring featuring an Art Deco-inspired, square-cut 3.5-carat diamond framed by an octagonal border of 20 smaller round-cut white diamonds. With a value of $98,000, this ring is the priciest of the three.

The handsome suitor got down on one knee and asked Morris for her hand in marriage: "When I look at you, there's no way that I would not want you in my life," he said. "I love you when you're happy. I love you when you're stubborn. I love you when you're sad. I even love you when you're screaming at me. But, mostly, I love you when you're Lace. Lace, will you marry me?"

Credits: Couples via ABC. Rings courtesy of Neil Lane.
September 14th, 2016
Visitors to New York City next month will have a rare opportunity to see the amazing gemstone creations of Chinese master sculptor Wallace Chan. The installation at the Park Avenue Armory from October 21-26 will mark the first time Chan has exhibited his work in New York.


Regarded as the world’s leading art fair, TEFAF New York Fall will showcase Chan's 7-foot-tall "Rise of Heart."


Crafted in titanium, the gemstone-intensive sculpture depicts what Chan calls the "queen of Chinese gardens" — the peony flower — encircled by graceful butterflies. The breathtaking work is embellished with 925 rubies (357 carats), 470 citrines (3,622 carats), 500 amethysts (1,078 carats) and a vibrant burst of yellow diamonds.


Chan notes on his website that the peony is a sign of spring, as well as a symbol of affection, feminine beauty, riches and honor. The airy butterflies are a symbol of beauty, love and joy.

“Do flowers attract butterflies or is it the other way round? I wonder about that relationship,” Wallace told a writer for the design blog, Lavender's Blue. “I’m always very curious! I like to study the sky and earth, to capture the universe in my works. The universe is my teacher!”


Also on display in New York will be 40 other Chan masterpieces. Some of his work is so vivid and lifelike that it looks like it could crawl away.


The world renowned Hong Kong-based artist is famous for developing "The Wallace Cut," a special technique he uses to carve a three-dimensional portrait into the non-faceted back of a gemstone. Using a dentist’s drill with a specially adapted blade, the sculptor grinds away at the gemstone to render a subject who seems to be looking in several directions at once.

The drill, which spins at 36,000 times per minute, generates so much heat that the process has to take place under cold water or else the stone could be easily damaged.

“It means I can’t see clearly when I’m cutting,” Chan told CNN. “It becomes a very repetitive process. I make one cut, take it out of the water to check it, dry the stone, check it again, and if it’s fine I put it back in the water and make another cut.”

At TEFAF (The European Fine Art Foundation) New York Fall, Chan will exhibit among 93 other experts representing a range of art from antiquity through the early 20th century.

Credits: Images via
September 15th, 2016
On the same day Betty Cantrell ended her reign as Miss America 2016 and handed over her bejeweled crown to successor Savvy Shields of Arkansas, the outgoing pageant winner announced her engagement to boyfriend Spencer (Spinny) Maxwell — and revealed her new diamond ring.


Cantrell couldn't have been more excited about the exchange of bling.

The 22-year-old beauty's Instagram page lit up on Sunday with a photo of Cantrell snuggled up to her new beau, with an engagement ring prominently displayed on her left hand, which rested against his chest.

"And now finally I can say my Fiancé!" the Georgia native announced in the caption of her snapshot. "To the man who let me be Miss America for a year, to the man who is moving to Nashville with me to help me achieve my dreams as a country music singer, to the man who so selflessly lets me shine, to the man who never gave up on me... to the love of my life. Forever and always, your dreams are my dreams. I love you Spinny." She closed her announcement with the following hashtags: #tonewdreams #truelove #fiance #engaged #finally.


Cantrell was back on Instagram a few moments later with another photo: the closeup of the ring. Captioned "Because I'm OBSESSED!!!!!" the image shows a detailed view of a sizable cushion-cut diamond in a four-prong setting on a minimalist yellow gold band. Cantrell added that @spinnymoose [Spencer] knows how to pick a ring." She used the hashtags #engaged #fiance #finally #rock #cushioncut.

Cantrell and Maxwell will be moving to Nashville so the former Miss America can pursue a career in country music. She revealed on her Instagram page that she's already completed three tracks for her first album. Cantrell met Maxwell in March of 2015, but kept their romance out of the spotlight while Cantrell served her year-long assignment as Miss America.


Cantrell also used her Instagram page to share a selfie of her and Shields. She congratulated the 21-year-old on her win and wished her the best as Miss America 2017. The 96th Miss America pageant took place at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.

Credits: Images via
September 16th, 2016
Welcome to our Music Friday Flashback when we revisit fabulous oldies with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today's featured song is "Beach Baby," a popular 1974 singalong from the British one-hit wonder called The First Class.


Lead singer Tony Burrows — in his best American accent — channels Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys in this song about a summer romance on the beaches of Southern California. He sings, "We couldn't wait for graduation day (oh oh, no) / We took the car and drove to San Jose (oh oh oh) / That's where you told me that you'd wear my ring / I guess you don't remember anything."

What's interesting about "Beach Baby" is that is was written and performed by UK natives. John Carter and his wife, Gillian (Jill) Shakespeare, composed the song in their home in East Sheen, South West London. Despite being 5,400 miles from "old L.A., when everybody drove a Chevrolet," the writing team perfectly captured the vibe of the surf music popularized by The Beach Boys 10 years earlier.

The First Class was the studio creation of Carter and Shakespeare. Once they had their song completed, they hired session singers Burrows and Chas Mills to record the track as The First Class. While the band may suffer from the tag of "one-hit wonder," Burrows has an impressive resume. He was the voice behind a number of other hits, including Edison Lighthouse's "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)" and Brotherhood of Man's "United We Stand."

Often mistaken as a Beach Boys standard, "Beach Baby" became a summertime favorite on both sides of the pond. In 1974, it zoomed to #4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, settled at #13 on the U.K. charts and ascended all the way to #1 in Canada.

Before we officially say goodbye to summer, let's turn up the volume on "Beach Baby." The video, below, features a live performance by The First Class, with Burrows singing lead vocals. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Beach Baby"
Written by Gillian Shakespeare and John Carter. Performed by The First Class.

You remember back in old L.A. (oh oh oh)
When everybody drove a Chevrolet (oh oh oh)
Whatever happened to the boy next door
The sun-tanned crew-cut all-American male

Remember dancing at the high school hop (oh oh oh)
The dress I ruined with the soda pop (oh oh oh)
I didn't recognize the girl next-door
The beat up sneakers and the pony tail

Beach baby, beach baby, give me your hand
Give me something that I can remember
Just like before, we can walk by the shore in the moonlight
Beach baby, beach baby, there on the sand
From July to the end of September
Surfin' was fun, we'd be out in the sun every day

Mmm, I never thought that it would end (ooh ooh)
Mmm, and I was everybody's friend (ooh ooh)
Long hot days
Blue sea haze
Jukebox plays
But now it's fading away

We couldn't wait for graduation day (oh oh, no)
We took the car and drove to San Jose (oh oh oh)
That's where you told me that you'd wear my ring
I guess you don't remember anything

Beach baby, beach baby, give me your hand (give me your hand)
Give me somethin' that I can remember (give me something to remember)
Just like before we can walk by the shore in the moonlight
Beach baby, beach baby, there on the sand (there on the sand)
From July to the end of September (from July to September)
Surfin' was fun, we'd be out in the sun every day

Beach baby, beach baby
Beach baby, beach baby
Beach baby, beach baby
Do do, do do do do
Beach baby, beach baby
Beach baby, beach baby
Beach baby, beach baby
Do do, do do do do
Beach baby, beach baby
Beach baby, beach baby
Beach baby, beach baby
Do do, do do do do
Beach baby, beach baby
Beach baby, beach baby
Beach baby, beach baby
Do do, do do do do
Beach baby, beach baby
Beach baby, beach baby
Beach baby, beach baby
Do do, do do do do

Credit: Image screen capture via
September 19th, 2016
Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan's 18-karat gold toilet at New York's Guggenheim Museum is giving the notion of "sitting on the throne" a whole new meaning.


Visitors who pay the museum's $15 admission fee are encouraged to stop by the unisex washroom on the fourth floor, where they can take a private moment with a fully functional commode fit for a king or queen. The exhibit opened on Thursday. estimated the value of the potty to be somewhere between $1.4 million and $2.5 million, and a Guggenheim spokesperson affirmed that it will be cleaned with special wipes every 15 minutes. Reviewers are cautioning, however, that the seat is very heavy to lift and, of course, one might be slightly uncomfortable with a security guard standing just outside the door.

The exhibit called "America" offers the visitor "unprecedented access to something of unquestionable value,” according to museum curator Nancy Spector. “In a gallery environment where visitors are constantly being told, 'don’t touch,' this is an extraordinary opportunity to spend time completely alone with a work of art by a leading contemporary artist."

The Guggenheim Museum noted on its website that the exhibit “offers a wink to the excesses of the art market but also evokes the American dream of opportunity for all.”

Cattelan told the The New York Times that he was happy that his work was not on a pedestal. "It’s not in a gallery. It’s in a little room, just waiting for you whenever you need it,” he said, adding, “When I saw it in there the other day for the first time, I cried. Well, almost.”

"This is 1 percent art for the 99 percent,” he told the New York Post.

On its Twitter page, the Guggenheim Museum posted a lighthearted notice about the opening of the irreverent installation: "Are you sitting down? Maurizio #Cattelan: "America" opens tomorrow, 9/15, in one of the museum’s public restrooms."

Catalan's artwork has generated a buzz throughout traditional and social media. CBS News' "Sunday Morning" ran a segment about the exhibition yesterday and the The New York Times posted its review last Thursday.

Lucky Times writer Randy Kennedy got to preview the facilities on opening day and reported the following: “As a formal matter, I’ll say that the sculpture really looks its best when in use, sparkling so much it’s almost too bright to look at, especially during the flush, which may be a new postmodern sublime.”

Kennedy noted that the "America" exhibit will remain in place and in use indefinitely.

Credit: Image via Museum.
September 20th, 2016
Back in 1949, archaeologists discovered a trove of human-like bones and ancient jewelry in the Grotte du Renne cave in France. The artifacts dated back 40,000 years, during a time when modern humans coexisted with Neanderthals in that area.

The jewelry items were fashioned from animal teeth, shells and ivory. The elements were likely strung and worn as a necklace.


While the evidence seemed to connect the Neanderthals to the jewelry, the scientific community didn't believe Neanderthals had the capacity to express themselves symbolically. Our archaic cousins, they argued, simply didn't have the brain power to design and create items of adornment. Some scientists reasoned that the bones from the oldest layers of the excavation probably got mixed up with more recent ones by mistake.

The doubters were silenced recently when a team of European scientists, led by Matthew Collins, a bioarchaeologist at the University of York in the United Kingdom, reanalyzed the tiny bones found along with the jewelry. While they were unable to do conventional DNA testing because of the age and size of the bone samples, the team, instead, conducted a chemical analysis of the protein in the bones and compared them with known human and Neanderthal samples.


The results were conclusive. The samples were, indeed, Neanderthal.

This cutting-edge protein analysis pointed to the likelihood that the Neanderthals designed and fabricated the jewelry found in the cave. The evidence is also helping to change the way the scientific world has viewed Neanderthals. They were likely far more sophisticated and intelligent than scientists ever imagined.

Critics still hold out the possibility, however, that the Neanderthals may have simply taken the jewelry from humans or received the items as gifts from humans.

Scientists agree that Neanderthals and modern humans did interact socially during a time when humans were migrating across Europe and the Neanderthals, who had lived there for hundreds of thousands of years, were on the verge of dying out.

Credits: Jewelry by Dr. Marian Vanheren. Neanderthal man by Tim Evanson [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
September 21st, 2016
TV's hottest stars stepped out in cool white platinum at the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Viola davis 1

Among the A-listers preferring platinum as their accessory of choice were Emmy nominees Viola Davis, Maura Tierney and Heidi Klum. As usual, the extraordinary designs of Harry Winston, Fred Leighton and Lorraine Schwartz were front and center on the red carpet. Each designer chose platinum — the naturally white precious metal — to truly enhance the brilliance of the diamonds and colored gemstones in their head-turning creations.

Viola Davis, an Emmy nominee in the category of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, looked stunning in a vibrant pink gown by Marchesa. Her jewelry by Harry Winston included cluster diamond chandelier earrings (16.39 carats), Secret Combination diamond bracelet (68.75 carats) and Traffic diamond ring (1.43 carats). The talented actress was nominated for her work on ABC's How to Get Away with Murder.

Maura tierney 1

A nominee for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for The Affair, Maura Tierney wore a gown by Christian Siriano and embellished it with vintage platinum jewelry provided by Fred Leighton. Her ensemble included 1930s-era diamond-and-aquamarine earrings and a 19th century rose-cut diamond cluster ring.

Heidi klum 1

Project Runway's Heidi Klum, who was nominated in the category of Best Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program, delighted her fans in a sultry, cut-out gown by Michael Kors and platinum jewelry by Lorraine Schwartz. Dangling from Klum's ears were pear-shaped diamonds boasting a total weight of 32 carats. She also wore two diamond rings, with a total weight of 10 carats and 2 carats, respectively.

Kristen bell 1

Making a big splash on the red carpet was Kristen Bell, who will star in NBC's The Good Place this fall. The actress wore a champagne bouffant gown by Zuhair Murad and accessorized it with breathtaking platinum jewelry by Harry Winston. Among her accessories were chandelier diamond earrings (9.2 carats), marquise cluster diamond bracelet (44.35 carats), round brilliant diamond ring (3.69 carats) and a diamond band (1.04 carats).

The Hollywood stars connected with their red carpet jewelry with the help of Platinum Guild International (PGI USA) and StyleLab as part of its Emmy Suite. Style expert Michael O'Connor was on hand to match celebrities with curated platinum pieces from renowned brands.

Other celebrities who chose to wear platinum jewelry for their Emmy appearances included Kirsten Dunst, Emmy Rossum, Lili Taylor, Allison Janney, Lara Spencer, Priyanka Chopra, Lilly Tomlin, Joanne Froggatt, Olivia Culpo, Anika Noni Rose, Michelle Dockery, Alexandra Billings, Connie Britton, Angel Parker and Charissa Thompson.

Credits: (Outside Source) via Getty Images.
September 22nd, 2016
Kim Kardashian's new flawless 20-carat emerald-cut diamond ring adds megawatt symmetry to the reality star's jewelry wardrobe. The $8 million sparkler, which was gifted to her by hubby Kanye West, nicely complements the 15-carat cushion-cut diamond engagement ring he gave her back in 2013. That ring was reportedly worth $1.3 million.


Designer Lorraine Schwartz revealed on her Instagram page that the diamond boasts a D color and has an impressive clarity rating of Type IIa. Diamonds in this category are chemically pure and often show extraordinary optical transparency. Famous Type IIa diamonds include the Cullinan, Koh-i-Noor and Lesedi La Rona.


Schwartz posted a short, somewhat blurry, Snapchat video of Kardashian flaunting both rings. The video is captioned, "Guess who just got another #dflawless #perfect #type2a diamond ring??? #20carat #emeraldcut #omg #lorraineschwartz diamonds."

In the video, the new ring is on her left hand and her engagement ring is on the right. Video link is here...


Apparently, Kardashian had been wearing the new ring for more than three weeks. The rapper gave it to her just before the MTV Video Music Awards in New York last month, but the paparazzi and fashion press didn't catch on until she wore BOTH rings at a Harper's Bazaar party on September 9. The ring styles are nearly identical, except for the size of the center stone.


The power couple was famously on the magazine's September 2016 cover.

Fashion bloggers wondered if the ring was a belated push present. Kardashian gave birth to the couple's second child, Saint West, back in December of 2015.


Kardashian's newest jewelry will take its place in the pantheon of the most famous diamond rings of all time.

These include the 35-carat gem Mariah Carey received in January from Aussie billionaire James Packer, the 33.19-carat Krupp Diamond, which Richard Burton famously gave to Elizabeth Taylor in 1968, the 30-carat diamond Taylor received from Michael Todd in 1957, the 24-carat canary yellow diamond Paris Hilton accepted from Paris Latsis in 2005, the 20.5-carat solitaire Kardashian got from Kris Humphries in 2011, the 20-carat diamond Christina Aguilera received from Jordan Bratman in 2005 and the 18-carat diamond Beyoncé got from Jay-Z in 2007.

Credits: Instagram/TeamKimye, Instagram/LorraineSchwartz; Harper's Bazaar; Instagram/KimKardashian.
September 23rd, 2016
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you nostalgic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today's edition takes us to the mythical town of San Pueblo, Calif., where the musical siblings of The Partridge Family are performing "Love Must Be the Answer."


Featured in a Partridge Family episode that aired on October 13, 1972, "Love Must Be the Answer" — which includes the key phrase "I don't know but I've been told / The streets of heaven are paved with gold" — highlights the climactic wedding scene of biker Snake and his beloved Penny. This Season 3 episode focuses on Snake's failed marriage proposal, but in the end the couple weds on the Partridge Family's front lawn. (See the clip at the end of this post.)

Oldest brother Keith (played by David Cassidy) sings lead vocals, accompanied by his TV mom (and real-life stepmom) Shirley Jones. While Cassidy and Jones actually performed on The Partridge Family recordings, other cast members, including Laurie (Susan Dey), Danny (Danny Bonaduce), Tracy (Suzanne Crough) and Chris (Brian Forster, who replaced Jeremy Gelbwaks after Season 1), were simply lip-synching. The show was based loosely on The Cowsills, a real-life 1960s band composed of six siblings ages 8 to 19 and their mother, Barbara Cowsill.

"Love Must Be the Answer" was the ninth track of The Partridge Family Notebook, an album that was released less than a month after the show aired. The album met with moderate success, reaching #41 on the Billboard 200 album chart.

The Partridge Family is said to be the 1970s successor to The Monkees, a wildly popular show that ran from 1966 to 1968. Both shows treated their fans to a weekly dose of original pop music. Critics often mocked the groups for their lack of actual musical talent. Los Angeles session players, known as The Wrecking Crew, provided the magic for both The Monkees and The Partridge Family.

Nevertheless, The Partridge Family has remained a cultural icon more than 40 years after their last show aired in March of 1974. In total, the group is credited with selling more than 25 million records and building a legion of fans that spans the generations.

Please check out the clip below of David Cassidy performing "Love Must Be the Answer." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Love Must Be the Answer"
Written by Johnny Cymbal, Peggy Clinger and Wes Farrell. Performed by The Partridge Family.

La la la la la la la la la, la la la la la la,
La la la la la la la la la, la la la la la la,

I don't know but I've been told,
The streets of heaven are paved with gold
Someday I may find out for myself,
So will you. But till that day,
I've got to say (ooh)

Love must be the answer,
I've searched high and low,
I know love must be the answer,
Got it (you) get it (now)
Let me be your guide, get it (ya) got it (now),
Let some love inside

Are you searchin for the key,
Just take my hand and follow me,
Bring along a little love to share,
It'll get you there. Why be lonely,
You'll know only (ooh)

Love must be the answer,
I've searched high and low,
I know love must be the answer,
Got it (you) get it (now)
Let me be your guide, get it (ya) got it (now),
Let some love inside
La la la la la la la la la, love must be the answer,
La la la la la la la la la, love must be the answer,

Love must be the answer,
I've searched high and low,
I know love must be the answer,
Got it (you) get it (now)
Let me be your guide, get it (ya) got it (now),
Let some love inside

La la la la la la la la la, love must be the answer,
La la la la la la la la la, love must be the answer,
La la la la la la la la la, love must be the answer,
La la la la la la la la la, love must be the answer,
La la la la la la la la la, love must be the answer.

Credits: Partridge Family image by ABC Television [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
September 26th, 2016
Only one month into their whirlwind romance, Aussie singer Iggy Azalea is wearing seven diamond eternity bands from American rapper French Montana.


The couple started dating in August, but already the diamonds are symbolizing that Montana is looking to take the relationship to the next level. In fact, in an Instagram post aimed at her 9.3 million followers, the 26-year-old Azalea seemed to lightheartedly joke that the 31-year-old Montana is looking to "pressure her" into a permanent commitment.

"He told me pressure makes diamonds," she captioned an Instagram selfie showing seven diamond eternity rings sharing three fingers on her right hand.


The post included tags for Montana and jeweler Iceman Nick, along with heart and diamond emojis. Azalea's Instagram fans seemed to be impressed, as the post earned 112,000 Likes.

From the photo, it appears as if the eternity bands represent a fun assortment of metal colors and diamond shapes.

Her middle finger pairs a band of baguette-cut diamonds in yellow gold with a ring with slightly larger round diamonds set in white gold.

The ring finger has a stack of three bands. At the top, a unique shared-prong round diamond ring in white gold is stacked on top of two yellow gold bands, one featuring round diamonds in a four-prong setting and the other with smaller round diamonds in a similar setting.

Her pinky lights up with two bands of prong-set, princess-cut diamonds in white gold.

Azalea bounced back quickly from her failed engagement to professional basketball player Nick Young. The couple had been engaged June 1, 2015. The $500,000 engagement ring featured an 8.15-carat fancy intense yellow cushion-cut diamond embellished by a halo of white diamonds. The couple broke up this past June.

The “Fancy” singer is expected to release her second studio album, Digital Distortion, later in 2016, while Montana is set to release his second studio album MC4 on October 14.

Credits: Photos via Instagram/thenewclassic.
September 27th, 2016
In a little more than two weeks, visitors to London's Natural History Museum will get their first peek at the world's largest faceted vivid blue topaz — The Ostro Stone. Weighing an astounding 9,831 carats (4.33 pounds), the oval gem will be closely guarded and housed in a 7-foot-tall toughened glass case.


Despite the fanfare connected with its newest high-profile exhibit, the Natural History Museum has yet to publish a photo of the blue gemstone.

In fact, The Ostro Stone has been largely under the radar during the 30 years since the Swiss Blue gem was discovered in the Brazilian rainforest by explorer and holocaust survivor Max Ostro.

Ostro founded Ostro Minerals in 1960, and his company grew to be a leading producer of blue topaz. Ostro is credited with refining the nomenclature used to describe the various colors of topaz. For instance, he coined the term "London Blue" and "Swiss Blue." The founder passed away in 2010.

His son, Maurice Ostro, who is also a precious gem expert and entrepreneur, generously donated his dad's amazing find to the Natural History Museum. The gem is said to be worth "millions of dollars."


While we wait until its unveiling to get a look at The Ostro Stone, we can show you the previous vivid blue topaz record-holder — "Marbella."

Weighing 8,225 carats, the grapefruit-sized specimen sourced in Minas Gerais, Brazil, was purchased by the Spanish government in 2000 and was intended to be added to its world renowned Programa Royal Collections museum.

Marbella was originally called “Topaz Azul” (Blue Topaz, in Spanish), but was renamed “Marbella” in 2010 upon the special request of the town of Marbella’s Mayoress and local dignitaries, who believed a local exhibit of the gem could help raise the international profile of the Costa del Sol destination, boost the economy and encourage cultural development.

Marbella has been billed as "the world’s largest faceted blue topaz," but The Ostro Stone clearly outweighs it by 1,606 carats. Both stones are ovals and both stones boast a vivid blue color. The only significant difference, we're guessing, is their size.

London's Natural History Museum will officially unveil The Ostro Stone during a special reception on October 13.

Credits: London's Natural History Museum by Chiugoran (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons; Marbella topaz (uncredited).
September 28th, 2016
Luxury brand Gresso is famous for its blinged-out smartphones and accessories. But, on Monday, the Swiss company took smartphone opulence to a new level with the introduction of its iPhone 7 Black Diamond collection. Handsets are priced at $500,000 apiece.


Crafted from top-of-the-line grade-5 titanium, the sleek phones feature a back panel studded with 1,450 black diamonds weighing 102 carats. The camera frame and stylish Gresso logo are fabricated from 10 grams of 18-karat gold.


Even the wireless AirPod accessory is blinged out. The black headphone device is sprinkled with a swoop of 30 black diamonds weighing 2 carats.


It takes Gresso craftsmen 18 hours to assemble a single iPhone 7 Black Diamond handset. reported that the production of the $500,000 phones will be limited to just three. At the more affordable price point of $2,500, Gresso will be offering a limited edition of 999 phones featuring 18-karat gold inlay with diamond accents.

The Gresso announcement comes hot on the heels of Apple's September 7 unveiling of its next-generation smartphones. Apple CEO Tim Cook demonstrated a sleek iPhone 7 in new shades of black. The phones have improved cameras and are water resistant.

Gresso's choice of black diamond embellishments works well with the new black iPhones, and if you were wondering how black diamonds become that way, read on...

Black diamonds are different than other colored diamonds because they do not get their color from impurities — such as nitrogen, hydrogen or boron — in the diamond’s chemical makeup. Instead, black diamonds owe their color (or lack of color) to numerous dark inclusions (mostly graphite). Their opaqueness is caused by a “polycrystalline” structure that inhibits the reflection of light.

Credits: Images by Gresso via
September 29th, 2016
For more than five months, Andrew Fox had been planning the perfect marriage proposal for girlfriend Heather Terwilliger. She had always dreamed of attending a baseball game at Yankee Stadium, so the romantic boyfriend arranged for the proposal to be announced on the Jumbotron during the 5th inning of Tuesday's contest between the Yankees and the Red Sox.


Fox had the ring box firmly in hand when Terwilliger saw the message flash up on the centerfield screen. TV cameras from ESPN and the YES Network were broadcasting the scene live — as was the Jumbotron at the stadium — when Fox got down on one knee and opened the box to deliver his proposal. With the world watching, the ring flew out, bounced once — and vanished from sight.


Broadcasters for the sports networks could hardly believe the scene that was playing out in front of tens of thousands of fans at the stadium and millions of viewers at home. TV producers found the action so compelling that they cut away from the game frequently to watch the drama in the stands.

Visibly distraught, Fox stood helplessly — holding an empty ring box and scratching his head — as hundreds of Yankee fans in his section assisted with the search, checking around their seats for the missing ring.

"I literally started crying because I thought it was lost,” the New Castle, Pa., native told ESPN.

“I was scared, too,” Terwilliger told the YES Network. “I didn’t know what to think. It was all a shock, it came so quickly."


After a about five heart-thumping minutes, Terwilliger, who is native of Fredonia, N.Y., finally spotted the ring in the cuff of her blue jeans. The crowd went wild as if the home team had just hit a home run in the bottom of the 9th.

The broadcasters also cheered for the couple. “Way better than the game,” one announcer admitted.


Without missing a beat, the 29-year-old future groom resumed his well intended proposal. Terwilliger said, "Yes," and the couple embraced.


The near-calamity made instant celebrities out of the young couple, neither of whom had ever attended a Yankees game before Tuesday. They were interviewed by Major League Baseball, the YES Network, ESPN and CBS News.


Fox explained to Major League Baseball that he had seen stadium proposals in the movies but wasn't sure if it was possible in real life. He Googled "Yankees marriage proposals" and found that the Yankees actually offer scoreboard proposals for $100 over the ticket price.

Fox and Terwilliger now have an awesome story to tell their future grandkids about their Yankee Stadium engagement.

“I’m shocked, but I’m feeling in love,” Terwilliger said.

Check out the video here...

Credits: Screen captures via
September 30th, 2016
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you uplifting tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Canadian Christian rock band Hawk Nelson performs "Diamonds," a spiritual song about how the pressure of dealing with life's many challenges often makes us stronger in the end.


Lead vocalist Jonathan Steingard sings, "He's making diamonds, diamonds / Making diamonds out of dust / He is refining in his timing / He's making diamonds out of us."

Steingard explained to that "Diamonds" explores the real relationship between real-world people and a real-world God.


“Diamonds talks about how God can use pressure, struggle, trials and stress in our life and make it into something stronger and more beautiful,” Steingard noted. “Just in the same way that diamonds are made. It’s a big comfort to me when I’m in those times to remember that hardships have a purpose and aren’t without meaning. A diamond is strong. It reflects light. It doesn’t have any light of its own, but it reflects the light that it receives.”

"Diamonds" is the title track from Hawk Nelson's seventh studio album. Released in March of 2015, the album Diamonds reached #12 on the Billboard U.S. Christian Albums chart.

Originating in Peterborough, Ontario, Hawk Nelson entered the Christian music scene in the early 2000s and was voted "Favorite New Artist" by CCM Magazine's readers in February of 2006. Current band members include Steingard (guitar, lead vocals), Daniel Biro (bass guitar, backing vocals), Micah Kuiper (guitar) and David Niacaris (drums).

Please check out Hawk Nelson's inspiring and high-energy performance of "Diamonds." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along.

Written by Jason Ingram, Matthew Bronleewe and Jon Steingard. Performed by Hawk Nelson.

Here and now I'm in the fire,
In above my head
Oh, oh, oh oh, oh, oh
Being held under the pressure,
Don't know what'll be left
Oh, oh, oh oh, oh, oh
But it's here in the ashes
I'm finding treasure

He's making diamonds, diamonds
Making diamonds out of dust
He is refining in his timing
He's making diamonds out of us

I'll surrender to the power
Of being crushed by love
Oh, oh, oh oh, oh, oh
Till the beauty that was hidden
Isn't covered up
Oh, oh, oh oh, oh, oh
Oh it's not what I hoped for
It's something much better

He's making diamonds, diamonds
Making diamonds out of dust
He is refining in his timing
He's making diamonds out of us

Oh the joy of the lord
It will be my strength
When the pressure is on
He's making diamonds

Oh the joy of the lord
It will be my strength
When the pressure is on
He's making diamonds

Oh the joy of the lord
It will be my strength
When the pressure is on
He's making, he's making

He's making diamonds, diamonds
Making us rise up from the dust
He is refining in his timing
He's making diamonds out of dust
Making diamonds out of us

I won't be afraid to shine
I won't be afraid to shine
I won't be afraid to shine
Cause he's making diamonds out of dust
Making diamonds out of us

Credit: Photo via, Screen capture via