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Articles in April 2019

April 2nd, 2019
The historic Cullinan Mine, which famously produced the 3,106-carat Cullinan in 1905, added another enormous diamond to its roster of legendary finds. London-based Petra Diamonds announced late last week that it had unearthed a 425.10-carat, D-color, ultra-pure, Type II diamond at the South African mine.


Analysts placed the stone's value somewhere between a high of $35 million and a low of $8 million. A three-dimensional mapping of the rough stone still needs to be conducted to determine the size and number of polished stones it may yield. Petra expects to sell the gem before June 30.


The yet-to-be named diamond is the sixth-largest ever discovered at the mine, which has been operational since 1902.

The diamond ranks 38th on Wikipedia's list of the Largest Rough Diamonds of All Time, just behind The De Beers (428.5 carats, South Africa, discovered 1888) and just ahead of The Regent (410 carats, India, 1698).

The Premier Mine, which was renamed the Cullinan Diamond Mine in celebration of its 100th anniversary, is responsible for producing seven of the world's largest 50 diamonds based on carat weight. These include the Cullinan Heritage (#27, 507 carats, 2009), Centenary (#23, 599 carats, 1986), The Golden Jubilee (#11, 755 carats, 1985) and the granddaddy of them all — the Cullinan Diamond (#1).

The 3,106-carat Cullinan diamond was eventually segmented into nine major stones, each of which was given the name Cullinan and a Roman numeral. Two of the gems are part of the the British Crown Jewels — the Great Star of Africa (Cullinan I) at 530.4 carats and the Second Star of Africa (Cullinan II) at 317.4 carats.


Petra's newest find boasts Type II clarity, the purest of all diamonds because they are composed solely of carbon with virtually no trace elements in the crystal lattice. A spokesperson for Petra said the newest discovery "further demonstrates the prevalence of these types of stones in the Cullinan orebody, as well as the ability of the mine’s plant to recover the full spectrum of diamonds.”

Credits: Images courtesy of Petra Diamonds.
April 3rd, 2019
Outbidding two challengers, a Japanese private collector plunked down $13.7 million for a D-flawless 88.22-carat oval diamond at Sotheby's Hong Kong yesterday. He gifted it to his eldest daughter and named it "Manami Star" in her honor.


The diamond had been described by the auction house as "perfect according to every critical criterion." The collector, who remains anonymous, told Sotheby's that the gem first caught his eye while it was on exhibit in Japan during a pre-auction promotional tour.

Given the great interest in the "perfect" diamond, the hammer price easily surpassed the pre-show high estimate of $12.7 million, making the Manami Star the top lot at the Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite auction.

About the size of a small egg, the 88.22-carat faceted diamond was cut from an elongated 242-carat rough stone discovered at the Jwaneng mine in Botswana. The oval shape was chosen to maximize the carat weight.


Sotheby’s noted that the gem is one of only three oval diamonds larger than 50 carats to have appeared at auction over the past few decades. It's also the largest perfect oval seen at auction in the past five years.

The diamond is rated Type IIa, the most chemically pure classification. Diamonds of this quality display exceptional optical transparency and make up less than 2% of all gem-quality diamonds.

The Japanese buyer may have been influenced by the double-eights in the carat weight of the stone. Eight is considered a lucky number in Asian culture and “88” is believed to bring good fortune in abundance.

“We were thrilled to handle a diamond of such rarity, which now takes its place in the roster of top white diamonds to have come to the market here at Sotheby’s Asia," said Patti Wong, Sotheby’s Chairman in Asia. "At 88.22 carats, this lucky stone now carries the name of the fortunate child whose father has chosen to give it her name. A happy moment in the journey of one of the earth’s greatest, oldest treasures."

Credits: Images courtesy of Sotheby’s.
April 4th, 2019
Resembling a dinosaur's tooth and weighing an astonishing 61 pounds, the Philippine-sourced "Giga Pearl" is one of the largest in the world and could be worth upwards of $90 million.


Currently owned by Ontario native Abraham Reyes, The Giga Pearl had been a family heirloom for 60 years. The natural pearl was hidden within a giant clam his grandfather had purchased from a Filipino fisherman as a gift for Reyes' aunt. It was 1959.

Even when the cream-colored mass was discovered inside, family members didn't think it had much value. In fact, some weren't convinced it was a pearl. Reyes and his aunt, however, always had an affection for the odd collectible, which she displayed along with her artwork and antiquities.


In 2016, when Reyes' aunt began divvying up her estate, the mollusk-born treasure and 15,000 Oriental and Philippine antiques were passed on to him.

Reyes, who is a mineral broker, kept the pearl in a safety deposit box until he could have it evaluated by gemologists. The 34-year-old from Mississauga soon learned that his aunt's collectible was certified by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) as the largest natural blister pearl in the world. Blister pearls are different than conventional pearls because they grow attached to the inside surface of a shell.

The waters of the Philippines are home to one of the most fascinating mollusks on earth — the Tridactna Gigas. They are the largest mollusks in the fossil record, measuring more than a meter wide and weighing more than 200 kilograms.

Insurance appraisers have placed the value of The Giga Pearl at somewhere between $60 million and $90 million, according to Reyes.

"It's priceless to me," Reyes told CBC Toronto. “I believe the world should know that it does exist. To me, I feel very honored to have it. I feel a great responsibility.”


Ideally, Reyes would love to display The Giga Pearl in museums and galleries around the world. The pearl is currently paired with a 22-karat gold leaf octopus conceived by New York-based sculptor Bethany Krull.


"Seeing this incredible natural pearl and learning of its origins in the Philippine Seas... inspired me to create a sculpture that not only displays the pearl's magnificence but also reiterates the idea that the biodiversity and uniqueness of the waters to which it was born need to be respected and preserved," Krull said.

Back in 2016, we reported on the 75-pound Puerto Princesa pearl, which was found by a Filipino fisherman when his anchor got snagged on a giant clam. He had kept the pearl under his bed as a good luck charm for 10 years, and every time he would head out to sea, he would touch the pearl to ensure his safety and good fortune.

The fisherman entrusted the amazing pearl to Aileen Cynthia Maggay-Amurao, a relative who was affiliated with the Puerto Princesa tourism office. He asked her to take custody of the good luck charm because he was about to move outside the province and couldn’t take it with him.

Recognizing the pearl’s star power, she asked the fisherman if he would approve of the pearl going on display as the city’s newest tourist attraction. He agreed, and the “Pearl of Puerto” was moved into the Atrium of the New Green City Hall.

Credits: Images courtesy of The Giga Pearl.
April 5th, 2019
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, country star John Anderson has fun with a well-worn gemstone myth in his Grammy-nominated 1981 hit, "I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I'm Gonna Be a Diamond Someday)."


In this song written by Billy Joe Shaver, Anderson likens himself to a common chunk of coal, but promises to work hard to rid himself of flaws until he's "blue pure perfect." We're guessing he aspires to be a blue diamond.

He sings, "Now I'm just an old chunk of coal / But I'm gonna be a diamond someday / I'm gonna grow and glow till I'm so blue pure perfect / I'm gonna put a smile on everybody's face."

"I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I'm Gonna Be a Diamond Someday)" was released as the first single from the singer's self-titled album, John Anderson 2. The song zoomed to #4 on the Billboard U.S. Hot Country Songs chart and #2 on the Canadian RPM Country Tracks chart. The song also earned Anderson a Grammy nomination for Best Male Country Vocal Performance.

While we've all heard about Superman having the power to squeeze a lump of coal into a diamond, and many of us are familiar with the phrase, "a diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure," the concept that coal has the capacity to be turned into a diamond is just a myth.

A piece of coal and a diamond are both primarily composed of carbon, but that's largely where the similarity ends. A diamond is made up of pure carbon that was subjected to intense heat and pressure about 100 miles below the earth's surface. Coal, on the other hand, is hardly pure. It is a mix of carbon and organic plant matter. It also contains hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, arsenic, selenium and mercury. Thereby, no matter how hard Superman squeezed the chunk of coal, there's no way a material with that many impurities would yield a diamond.

Trivia: "I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I'm Gonna Be a Diamond Someday)" is briefly sung by the title character in the 2001 animated film, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius.

Born in Apopka, Fla., in 1954, John David Anderson grew up admiring rock musicians, but then switched over to country music as a teenager. He moved to Nashville as a 17-year-old and took odd jobs during the day while playing in clubs during the evening. One of his odd jobs was as a roofer at the Grand Ole Opry House.

After six years of perseverance, he earned a record deal with Warner Bros. Anderson's career has spanned more than 30 years, during which he's scored more than 40 singles on the Billboard country charts and five number ones. Anderson was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2014.

Please check out the video of Anderson's performance of "I'm Just An Old Chunk Of Coal (But I'm Gonna Be A Diamond Someday)." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"I'm Just An Old Chunk Of Coal (But I'm Gonna Be A Diamond Someday)"
Written by Billy Shaver. Performed by John Anderson.

Hey, I'm just an old chunk of coal
But I'm gonna be a diamond someday
I'm gonna grow and glow till I'm so blue pure perfect
I'm gonna put a smile on everybody's face

I'm gonna kneel and pray every day
Lest I should become vain along the way
I'm just an old chunk of coal, now Lord
But I'm gonna be a diamond someday

I'm gonna learn the best way to walk
I'm gonna search and find a better way to talk
I'm gonna spit and polish my old rough edged self
Till I get rid of every single flaw

I'm gonna be the world's best friend
I'm gonna go 'round shaking everybody's hand
Hey, I'm gonna be the cotton pickin' rage of the age
I'm gonna be a diamond someday

Now I'm just an old chunk of coal
But I'm gonna be a diamond someday
I'm gonna grow and glow till I'm so blue pure perfect
I'm gonna put a smile on everybody's face

I'm gonna kneel and pray every day
Lest I should become vain along the way
I'm just an old chunk of coal, now Lord
But I'm gonna be a diamond someday

Credit: Screen capture via
April 8th, 2019
On Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, University of British Columbia researchers discovered deposits of cobalt-blue spinel in qualities that rival the finest in the world.


Researchers Philippe Belley and Lee Groat attributed the surprising find to the high levels of a "magic" ingredient present in the area — cobalt.

Pure spinel is colorless, but impurities in its chemical structure give rise to a range of colors, from pink and red to purple and blue. Baffin Island spinel, the researchers found, contains up to 500 parts-per-million of cobalt, which gives it a vivid blue color — a color comparable to the highly coveted material found in Vietnam and the Himalayas.


“Baffin Island is geologically similar to the Himalayas, where some of the world’s finest gems have been found,” said Belley, a recent PhD graduate of the department of earth, ocean and atmospheric science. “Canada hasn’t been widely recognized as a source for fine, colored gemstones, but our research suggests that we have all the right ingredients.”

Belley added, "There’s considerable interest in cobalt-blue spinel for gems and jewelry. There are few stones that match its intense blue color.”

Spinel formed on Baffin Island from sedimentary deposits of dolomite-bearing limestones. These sedimentary rocks metamorphosed at temperatures of about 800º C (1,472º F) under immense pressure.

“We found that cobalt was added at some point during sediment deposition or up to early metamorphism,” said Groat, a UBC mineralogist.

The researchers noted that even small spinel crystals with good transparency and fine cobalt-blue color can sell for about 10 times the price of comparable sapphires. But supply is an issue, and even production from the most significant source, Vietnam, is limited and sporadic.

The researchers explained that, despite the prevalence of hungry polar bears on Baffin Island, finding blue spinel there might be easier than exploring for the gem in the thick jungles of Vietnam or the challenging terrain of the Himalayas.

"[In those areas] most new deposits are found by accident,” said Belley. “But there’s excellent rock exposure on Baffin Island, which facilitates exploration and the use of more advanced techniques like imaging using drones or satellites.”

Spinel, which in 2016 joined the official list of birthstones for the month of August, is famous for being the jewelry-industry's "great imposter." Before modern testing became available, deep red spinel was often mistaken for ruby.

Credit: Image courtesy of Philippe Belley, UBC. Map via Google.

April 9th, 2019
The original legal document that set the wheels in motion for the cutting of the 3,106-carat Cullinan — the world's largest rough diamond — will be offered to the highest bidder at Bonhams London on April 30. The auction house is estimating that the historic document will sell in the modest price range of $2,606 to $3,910.


Signed on January 29, 1908, the nine-page agreement between the representatives of King Edward VII and M.J. Levy & Nephews mapped out the company's responsibilities during the cutting process. London-based broker M.J Levy & Nephews arranged for the diamond to be cut and polished by the renowned Asscher Company in Amsterdam, which had successfully cut the previously largest known diamond, the 995.2-carat Excelsior, five years earlier.

Included within the M.J. Levy & Nephews' document is a "principal agreement" between the Crown Nominees and the Asscher Company. That agreement outlined the cutting process and detailed how the Asscher Company would be compensated. Interestingly, the company was to be paid in "chippings" (diamond remnants) or the cash equivalent.

In 1905, the astonishing discovery of the Cullinan diamond was made at the Premier Mine No. 2 near Pretoria, South Africa. The massive stone was named after the chairman of the mine, Thomas (later Sir Thomas) Cullinan.

Having initially failed to find a buyer, the mine owners eventually sold the Cullinan to the South African Transvaal Colony government in 1907 for £150,000, which then presented it to King Edward VII on his 66th birthday as a symbol of South Africa's loyalty to the Crown.

The King was advised that the Cullinan needed to be cleaved into smaller stones before it could be cut and polished. This was enormously complex and involved significant risk for a stone valued in 1908 at £250,000, more than £25 million ($32.6 million) today. The King hired M.J. Levy & Nephews to oversee the operation. At the time, insurance was taken out "against loss, theft and damage of every kind, excepting damage caused by cutting."


After an extensive period of studying the stone, Joseph Asscher started the cutting process by creating an incision in the diamond of approximately 6.5mm deep. It has been reported that Asscher broke his tool when he initially struck the stone. A week later, after developing stronger tools, Asscher successfully cleaved the the Cullinan into two principal parts, weighing 1,977 carats and 1,040 carats.

It's been reported that the failed first attempt was done under the watch of a notable audience, while the second attempt was accomplished with nobody in the room, except for a Notary Public. Legend has it that Asscher struck the diamond so hard that he fainted after it split.


Over the following months, these diamonds were further polished and cut to create nine principal stones, 96 smaller diamonds and a quantity of polished "ends."

Cullinan I and II are part of the collection of Crown Jewels and the remaining seven principal diamonds are in the collection of Queen Elizabeth II, after Her Majesty inherited them from her grandmother, Queen Mary, in 1953.

The Bonhams lot includes the M.J. Levy & Nephews agreement as well as a replica of the Cullinan in its original rough crystal form and two replica sets of the nine principal diamonds from the uncut diamond.

Credits: Images courtesy of Bonhams.
April 10th, 2019
In honor of April's official birthstone, let's take a close-up look at one of the largest uncut yellow diamonds in the world. At 253.7 carats, the Oppenheimer Diamond is a nearly perfectly formed octahedron, a shape that's essentially an eight-sided double pyramid connected at the base.


Named in honor of Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, former chairman of the Board of Directors of DeBeers Consolidated Mines, the 20mm x 20mm gem was discovered at the Dutoitspan Mine near Kimberley, South Africa, in 1964, and acquired that same year by luxury jeweler Harry Winston.

Instead of cutting the rough gem into a hero stone and a series of smaller finished diamonds, Winston decided to leave it in its natural state and donate it to the Smithsonian in memory of Oppenheimer, who passed away in 1957 at the age of 77. The surface of the gem is reminiscent of an icy pond.


Vivid yellow diamonds are extraordinarily valuable. In May 2014, for example, the 100.09-carat Graff Vivid Yellow was sold for $16.3 million at Sotheby's.

The Oppenheimer Diamond is now on display near the Hope Diamond in the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals in Washington, D.C.

The gem owes its vivid yellow color to nitrogen impurities that were substituted for carbon atoms as the crystal formed. Similarly, the presence of boron in the chemical composition of a diamond will yield a vivid blue color.

Unlike their yellow and blue brethren, pink and red diamonds get their rich color not from chemical impurities, but from a molecular structure distortion that occurs as the diamond crystal forms in the earth’s crust.

Credits: Images by Chip Clark/Smithsonian.
April 11th, 2019
The Boston Red Sox received their bling-tastic 2018 World Series championship rings prior to the team's home opener on Tuesday afternoon at Fenway Park. Glistening with 185 gemstones weighing a total of 15 carats, the ring is a fitting tribute to what has been called a "team for the ages."


The dominant Red Sox of 2018 notched a franchise-record 108 wins during the regular season and then pummeled three postseason opponents — the Yankees, Astros and Dodgers — at an 11-3 clip to secure their fourth title since 2004.


The Jostens-designed rings commemorating the historic season are flush with gem-themed symbolism. For instance, the 185 gems represent the 162 regular season games, 14 post-season games and nine World Series titles now held by the Red Sox.

The iconic Boston "B" logo on the face of the 14-karat white gold ring is formed by 21 custom-cut genuine rubies, which represent the four World Series titles won by the Red Sox during the 17 seasons of Fenway Sports Group ownership. The logo is framed by 22 intricately set custom-cut blue sapphires, which represent the Red Sox’ 14 post-season games and eight home runs hit during the World Series against the Dodgers.

The 14 channel-set diamonds accenting the top of the ring — seven on each side — symbolize the total number of American League pennants won by the Red Sox since the franchise was established in 1901.

A cascade of 128 diamonds in two rows add to the brilliance of the ring, but also represent the 119 franchise-record wins in 2018 and the nine World Series titles.

Overall, the ring features 4.5 carats of diamonds, 6.5 carats of blue sapphires and 4.0 carats of rubies for a total gem weight of 15 carats.


The left side of the ring displays eight pennants featuring the years of previous Red Sox World Series titles. The ninth and largest pennant pays tribute to 2018's franchise-record wins and is punctuated by the famous double Sox logo. In another nod to the team's championship history, the depiction of 100 individual weathered bricks of Fenway Park form the background of each side panel to celebrate the centennial of the famed 1918 World Series Championship.


The name of each recipient appears on the ring's right side, rendered in the Red Sox jersey font. The ring belonging to Steve Pearce, the 2018 World Series MVP, showcases his jersey number 25 rendered in pavé-set diamonds. Pearce's name and jersey number frame an intricately detailed façade of Fenway Park, the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball.

Highlighted on the Fenway façade are two historically important years — 1912 and 2018. The smaller of the two dates displays the year Fenway Park opened. That year, the team won 105 regular-season games — a record that stood for 105 seasons until it was broken in 2018 by a team that captured 108 regular season wins.


Inscribed on the interior of the ring is "10-28-18," the date of the World Series victory and the date the team's post-season slogan of "Do Damage" was changed to "Damage Done." In recognition of the exceptional contributions of the players and the coaching staff, the declaration of DAMAGE DONE appears on the interior alongside each of their signatures and nicknames.

The finishing touch on this championship ring is an expression on the palm crest that captures the talent of the 2018 Red Sox and their place in baseball lore: TEAM FOR THE AGES.

Credits: Images by Jostens via Twitter/Boston Red Sox.
April 12th, 2019
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you classic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, the incomparable Neil Young searches for a soulmate in his 1971 chart-topping classic, "Heart of Gold."


Penned by Young, this song is about a man who has been unlucky in love. The protagonist of the story wonders if he's ever going to find someone who will cherish him unconditionally.

He sings, "I want to live, I want to give / I've been a miner for a heart of gold / It's these expressions I never give / That keep me searching for a heart of gold and I'm getting old."

Ranked #297 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest songs, “Heart of Gold” remains Canadian Neil Young’s only #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The song also reached #1 on the Canadian RPM Top Singles list.

Interestingly, this ubiquitous song was a result of a couple of serendipitous events:

Young had suffered a back injury and, unable to stand for long periods to play his electric guitar, returned to his acoustic guitar and harmonica. “Heart of Gold” was one song that came out of those sessions. Second, Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor happened to be in Nashville for a television appearance while Young was recording Harvest, the album on which “Heart of Gold” appears. The album's producer arranged for the high-profile artists to sing backup on Young's track.

"Heart of Gold" has been covered by more than 30 artists, including Dave Matthews, Jimmy Buffett, Johnny Cash, Tori Amos and Willie Nelson. Canada’s CBC radio named it the third best Canadian song of all time and it was included in the Eat, Pray, Love movie soundtrack.

Born in Toronto in 1945 to a sportswriter dad and quiz show panelist mom, Young contracted polio as a five year old. The disease damaged the left side of his body and led to seizures he would experience throughout his life.

Young idolized Elvis Presley and listened to rock 'n roll, rockabilly, doo-wop, R&B and country and western music on the radio. Young taught himself to play a plastic ukulele, and he would soon step up to a banjo ukulele and baritone ukulele. Young formed his first band, the Jades, while attending middle school and eventually played with several rock bands in high school. Music dominated his world, so he decided to drop out of school to pursue a musical career.

He formed the influential band Buffalo Springfield with Stephen Stills in 1966 and toured with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, starting in 1968.

Young is one of the few artists who had been inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. He was first honored as a solo artist in 1995 and then as a member of Buffalo Springfield in 1997. In 2000, Rolling Stone named Young the 34th greatest rock 'n roll artist.

Please check out the video of Young's live performance of "Heart of Gold." The clip is taken from his 1971 appearance on the British TV show BBC In Concert.

"Heart of Gold"
Written and performed by Neil Young.

I want to live, I want to give
I've been a miner for a heart of gold
It's these expressions I never give
That keep me searching for a heart of gold and I'm getting old
Keep me searching for a heart of gold and I'm getting old

I've been to Hollywood, I've been to Redwood
I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold
I've been in my mind, it's such a fine line
That keeps me searching for a heart of gold and I'm getting old
Keeps me searching for a heart of gold and I'm getting old

Keep me searching for a heart of gold
You keep me searching and I'm growing old
Keep me searching for a heart of gold
I've been a miner for a heart of gold

Credit: Screen capture via
April 15th, 2019
Back in November, luxury jeweler Laurence Graff revealed that the massive 1,109-carat rough diamond named Lesedi La Rona had yielded 67 "satellite" diamonds ranging in size from just under 1 carat to more than 100 carats and teased that "a principal diamond of unprecedented size" was still in the works.


Last week, Graff finally unveiled that principal diamond — a 302.37-carat square emerald-cut stunner that is said to be the largest D-flawless gem ever certified by the Gemological Institute of America. The jeweler named the gem the "Graff Lesedi La Rona" and proclaimed it "one of the greatest diamond achievements in history."

"My love affair with diamonds is life-long, and crafting the Graff Lesedi La Rona has been an honor," the jeweler said in a statement. "This diamond is beyond words. We had an immense duty to cut the very, very best diamond imaginable from this rough. All our expertise, skill and accomplishment went into crafting this incredible diamond masterpiece, which is extraordinary in every way."


Graff explained that since his company had never analyzed a stone of such a prodigious size, a scanner had to be custom built, with brand new imaging software capable of probing its vast expanses.

At first blush, Graff's gemologists believed that a 300-carat principal diamond wasn't possible. However, using the new technology, the gemologists mapped the maze of imperfections and plotted which cuts would yield the largest and highest-clarity diamonds possible. In the final analysis, they were able to surpass the 300-carat mark with a perfect 302.37-carat principal diamond.

Discovered at the Lucara Karowe mine in Botswana in November 2015, the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona was the largest rough diamond recovered in more than 100 years and the second largest ever found. It was offered at auction in June of 2016, but failed to yield a buyer when the bidding topped out at $61 million, $9 million below the reserve price.

That same year, Graff had purchased the 373-carat rough diamond that was said to be a fractured chunk from the Lesedi La Rona. Having already studied the properties of the smaller chunk, Graff was ready to make a bid on the larger stone. In September of 2017, Graff secured the Lesedi La Rona for $53 million, $8 million less than the offer made at Sotheby's in 2016.

Graff reported that it took 18 months to complete the principal diamond. That included the initial cutting with precise lasers, followed by the shaping, faceting and polishing by Graff's skilled diamond artisans. All the diamonds derived from the original rough stone have been laser inscribed with the identifier “Graff, Lesedi La Rona."

Credits: Images courtesy of Graff.
April 16th, 2019
Yasushi “Yassan” Takahashi, the GPS artist who famously zigzagged 4,500 miles across Japan in 2010 to spell out a marriage proposal for his girlfriend, is back in the news — thanks to Google.


When the Tokyo resident completed his six-month journey from the island of Hokkaido to the shores of Kagoshima, he uploaded his route to Google Earth. The result were the words "Marry Me" in all capital letters punctuated by a heart. The rendering looked like a global-scale version of an Etch-a-Sketch.

Leaving his girlfriend and job behind, the artist embarked on the trip via foot, bicycle, car and ferry, often fighting bad weather and spending nights in the back of his vehicle. In the end, the endeavor was well worth it, as Yassan had a new bride, a Guinness World Record for the largest GPS drawing in history and an experience of a lifetime. He said he got to see the Japan that he only knew in books.


Hassan's girlfriend, Natsuki, told the China Morning Post, "It was a big surprise. I felt the greatest love in the world."

Although it's been nearly nine years since Yassan set off on his monumental trip, the GPS artist is back in the news because Google recently featured him in the "Our Stories" section of its official website.

In a piece focusing on the growing number of people who are creating GPS art with Google Earth and Google Street View, the internet behemoth explained how runners and cyclists use it as a motivation to change up their routes. Others are enjoying the challenge of creating GPS-generated drawings of everything, from pigeons and dinosaurs to fictional characters.

The only limitation to this fascinating fusion of drawing and travel, says Google, is what people can dream up and where their feet can take them.

Please check out the short video that neatly chronicles Yassan's adventure...

Credits: Screen captures via
April 17th, 2019
When the legendary "Jonker V" diamond appeared at Christie's Hong Kong in May of 2017 with a pre-sale estimate of $2.2 million to $3.6 million, some gem experts expected the stunning 25.27-carat emerald-cut gem to yield much more — and they were right.


Surpassing the high estimate by nearly 50%, the Jonker V was purchased by an undisclosed buyer for $5.3 million.

On May 15, the Jonker V, one of 13 magnificent diamonds cleaved from the famous 726-carat Jonker rough more than 85 years ago, is set to make an encore appearance at Christie's Geneva. The gem boasts a D-color and VVS2 clarity grading. In its rough state, the Jonker V weighed 54.19 carats, more than twice its finished weight.


Surprisingly, the auction house's pre-sale estimate for the current offering reverts to the range promoted in 2017. Christie's believes the May 2019 hammer price will be in the neighborhood of $2.5 million to $3.5 million. A representative from Christie's told us that the estimate reflects the current market value for a gem of that size and provenance.

She noted that a bidding war among buyers in 2017 was likely responsible for inflating the Jonker V's sale price well beyond the high estimate. We'll be watching to see if another bidding war escalates the price in Geneva next month.

What makes the Jonker V so special is that it carries a rich history that connects many of the jewelry-industry's most colorful characters.

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

At the time, the Jonker was the fourth-largest gem-quality rough diamond ever unearthed. Diamond experts speculated whether the 63.5mm x 31.75mm Jonker and the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond had once been conjoined, as their respective cleaved faces seemed to match up perfectly. The Cullinan Diamond had been discovered at the nearby Premier Mine 19 years earlier.

The Jonker rough was acquired by De Beers chairman Sir Ernest Oppenheimer and subsequently caught the attention of diamond dealer Harry Winston, who purchased the rough stone in 1935 for £75,000, the equivalent of £9 million ($11.7 million) today. The Jonker diamond earned celebrity status when it was displayed during the Silver Jubilee Celebrations of the Coronation of King George V and Queen Mary in May of that same year.

The next year, Winston contracted Lazare Kaplan to cut 13 finished gems from the original rough. The Jonker finished diamonds were each named with a Roman numeral, in size order. The largest was the Jonker I at 142.90 carats and the smallest was the Jonker XIII at 3.53 carats. According to a May 1954 article in The New Yorker, Kaplan earned $30,000 for the prestigious assignment (that's equivalent to about $280,000 today).

Credits: Images courtesy of Christie’s.
April 18th, 2019
Style icon, cover girl, runway model and reality star Kendall Jenner dished to on Tuesday that when it comes to picking an engagement ring, she'd rather be surprised by her boyfriend than make the selection herself. She did add, however, that she'd likely drop him a bunch of hints along the way so he gets it right.


When asked, "Are you someone who wants to pick out your engagement ring or do you want to be totally surprised?" the statuesque 23-year-old said, "I mean, I kind of love the idea of letting the man pick it and having it be that pretty thing that he kind of thought of himself."

There's something "kind of romantic" behind the idea that her boyfriend was involved in the design concept of the ring, she said. "But at the same time, I'm the type of person that would give hints and be like, 'I kind of want this.'"

When the interviewer suggested that Jenner could DM (direct message) pics of potential rings to her boyfriend, NBA pro Ben Simmons, the star of Keeping Up With the Kardashians chuckled and said, "Totally."

With a huge social media following, including 108 million on Instagram alone, Kendall is a high-profile lifestyle influencer of young women from coast to coast and around the world.

When asked if there is one piece of jewelry she can't leave the house without, Jenner explained she'll usually throw on a pair of earrings if she's feeling "a bit spare."

"I think that's the easiest thing to get away with if you don't want to wear too much," she said.

Jenner also revealed that she and her siblings have their eyes on the extensive jewelry and watch collection of their mother, Chris Jenner.

Said Kendall Jenner, "We're all kind of waiting for one day for her to feel generous and be like, 'You guys want this stuff?'”

Credit: Image by [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
April 19th, 2019
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you throwback songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Elliot Lurie and the Looking Glass perform their 1972 chart-topper, "Brandy," a song about a barmaid in a harbor town who wears a very sentimental piece of neckwear as a constant reminder of the sailor who won her heart.


Lurie sings, "Brandy wears a braided chain / Made of finest silver from the North of Spain / A locket that bears the name / Of the man that Brandy loved."

Brandy fell in love with the sailor on a summer day when he arrived with gifts from far away. But, he also made it clear that he couldn't stay because no harbor could be his home. He tells Brandy that his life, his lover, his lady is the sea.

Since its release in the early 1970s, "Brandy" has been the subject of a spirited debate. Some music historians speculated that the hapless heroine, Brandy, is based on the legend of Mary Ellis, a New Jersey spinster who fell in love with a sea captain in the late 18th century.

She was promised marriage, and Ellis waited for her captain until her death, but he never returned. This story may have caught the ears of four students of Rutgers University, which is just two miles from Mary Ellis’s final resting place. These students ultimately became the founding members of the Looking Glass in 1969.

The story sounds compelling, but Lurie, who penned the tune, has refuted any link to Mary Ellis. The song, he said, is based on the name of his high school sweetheart, "Randy."

"Brandy" soared straight to #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and has been used in the soundtracks of numerous films, including Charlie's Angels (2000).

Interestingly, "Brandy" was originally buried on the "B" side of the Looking Glass song, "Don't It Make You Feel Good." The group has to thank Washington, D.C., program director Harv Moore for giving the "B" side heavy airplay and creating a phenomenon that would spread nationwide.

Moore noted that when the Top 40 station WPGC AM/FM started playing "Brandy" in one-hour rotations for two days, "the switchboard lit up like a Christmas tree."

Please check out the video of the Looking Glass performing "Brandy." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)"
Written by Elliot Lurie. Performed by The Looking Glass.

There's a port on a western bay
And it serves a hundred ships a day
Lonely sailors pass the time away
And talk about their homes

And there's a girl in this harbor town
And she works layin' whiskey down
They say, Brandy, fetch another round
She serves them whiskey and wine

The sailors say: "Brandy, you're a fine girl" (you're a fine girl)
"What a good wife you would be" (such a fine girl)
"Yeah, your eyes could steal a sailor from the sea"

Brandy wears a braided chain
Made of finest silver from the North of Spain
A locket that bears the name
Of the man that Brandy loved

He came on a summer's day
Bringin' gifts from far away
But he made it clear he couldn't stay
No harbor was his home

The sailors say: "Brandy, you're a fine girl" (you're a fine girl)
"What a good wife you would be" (such a fine girl)
"But my life, my lover, my lady is the sea"

Yeah, Brandy used to watch his eyes
When he told his sailor stories
She could feel the ocean fall and rise
She saw its ragin' glory
But he had always told the truth, Lord, he was an honest man
And Brandy does her best to understand

At night when the bars close down
Brandy walks through a silent town
And loves a man who's not around
She still can hear him say

She hears him say "Brandy, you're a fine girl" (you're a fine girl)
"What a good wife you would be" (such a fine girl)
"But my life, my lover, my lady is the sea"
It is, yes it is,
He said, "Brandy, you're a fine girl" (you're a fine girl)
"What a good wife you would be" (such a fine girl)
"But my life, my lover, my lady is the sea"

Credit: Screen capture via
April 22nd, 2019
The largest blue diamond ever discovered in Botswana — a brilliant 20.46-carat oval gem with Fancy Deep Blue color and VVS2 clarity — was unveiled last week by the state-run Okavango Diamond Company.


"It is incredibly unusual for a stone of this color and nature to have come from Botswana. [It's] a once-in-a-lifetime find," said Okavango's managing director Marcus ter Haar.


The gem, which was cut from a 41.11-carat rough diamond sourced at the Orapa mine, was named "The Okavango Blue" to honor the world heritage site known as the Okavango Delta. The lush delta is the home to hippos, elephants, crocodiles, lions, leopards, giraffes and rhinos.

Okavango Diamond Company will be promoting The Okavango Blue in the lead-up to its sale at the end of 2019. While the company did not reveal what The Okavango Blue might be worth, a similar diamond sold at a Christie's auction in 2016 may hold the answer.

The Cullinan Dream, a 24.18-carat intense blue diamond with a VS2 clarity rating, sold for $25.4 million at Christie's New York in June of 2016. Based on that performance, one might presume The Okavango Blue has the potential to yield about $1 million per carat.

“From the first moment we saw the diamond, it was clear we had something very special,” said the managing director. “Everyone who has viewed the 20-carat polished diamond has marveled at its unique coloration, which many see as unlike any blue stone they have seen before.”

Blue diamonds are extraordinarily rare, owing their color to trace amounts of boron in the diamond crystal lattice.

Despite its tiny size, Botswana is one of the world's leading producers of top-quality diamonds. Botswana's Karowe mine, for instance, was the source of the 1,109-carat Lesedi la Rona — the second-largest rough diamond ever discovered. Diamonds are Botswana's main source of income and account for about 80% of its exports. Okavango Diamond Company is responsible for marketing 15% of the country's diamond production.

"Consumers can purchase Botswana diamonds with a sense of pride knowing that these diamonds are improving the lives of the people of Botswana,” said Okavango chief financial officer Lipalesa Makepe.

Credits: Images courtesy of Okavango Diamond Company.
April 23rd, 2019
Back in October 2010, Prince William famously proposed to Kate Middleton with the distinctive sapphire-and-diamond engagement ring once worn by his late mother, Princess Diana. At the time, the prince said that popping the question with that ring was “my way of making sure my mother didn’t miss out on today and the excitement."


Only recently, however, we've learned that Prince William's sapphire ring proposal was made possible by the selfless act of his younger brother, Prince Harry.

You see, after their mom died tragically in 1997, the boys, then 15 and 12, were given an opportunity to select a keepsake from Diana's possessions.

Princess Diana's former butler, Paul Burrell, revealed in an Amazon Prime documentary The Diana Story that William went first and picked the Cartier watch his mom received as a 21st birthday present from her father. Then Harry picked the sapphire ring, telling Burrell at the time, "I remember when I held mummy's hand when I was a small boy... that ring always hurt me because it was so big."

Selfless1 1

Diana's ring, which consisted of 14 diamonds surrounding a 12-carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire, would remain in Harry's possession for the next 12-plus years. (Replica, above, has 16 accent stones.)

In late 2010, William broke the news to his brother that he was about to propose to his long-time girlfriend, Kate.

According to Burrell, Harry said to his brother, "Wouldn’t it be fitting if she had mummy’s ring? Then one day that ring will be sat on the throne of England."

William accepted his brother's generous offer.

"Harry gave up his precious treasure," said Burrell. "His one thing he kept from his mother, he gave to his brother. That’s selfless, kind, and exactly who Diana was.”

Soon after, William popped the question to Kate while the couple vacationed in Kenya. In explaining the significance of the ring, William said at the the time, "It’s very special to me. As Kate’s very special to me now, it was right to put the two together.”


Seven years later, Prince Harry proposed to Meghan Markle with a ring that incorporated two diamonds from Princess Diana's personal collection. He said the diamonds were included "to make sure she's with us on this crazy journey together."

If not for Harry's benevolence, Duchess Meghan of Sussex could very well be wearing the sapphire ring now adorning the finger of her sister-in-law, Duchess Kate of Cambridge.

Credit: Lady Diana engagement ring replica by Ann Porteus from Tasmania, Australia [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan of Sussex by Mark Jones [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Prince William and Duchess Kate of Cambridge by Frankie Fouganthin [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
April 24th, 2019
Gem lovers looking for a rustic adventure a little off the beaten path may consider a trip to Topaz Mountain in Utah, where amateur prospectors get to keep whatever they find.


Located about 120 miles southwest of Provo, the Topaz Dome Quarry in Utah's Thomas Range has long been a popular destination for hardcore rockhounds. But, four years ago, Richard Pyne, David Stemmons and their partners established Topaz Mountain Adventures, which allows novices to join in on the fun.

"Our philosophy was to make the premium stuff available to the public," Stemmons told "So we do blasting tours and take you right up to the rock. We don’t keep any of it. Whatever you find is yours to keep.”

Among the treasures at the blast site are many varieties of Utah Topaz and other collectible minerals, such as Bixbyite, a black crystal made from manganese iron oxide. Topaz colors range from a bright amber to a deep sherry.

Pyne explained that Utah Topaz is sensitive to UV light (the type emitted by the sun). Once exposed, the vibrant color can fade to clear. For that reason, the tour operator sells UV-light reflective bags and warns prospectors to keep their precious finds out of the sunlight.


The property that Topaz Mountain Adventures has leased from the state of Utah is adjacent to free public lands also used for prospecting. The difference is that the public lands are very hard to work.

The $30 tours at Topaz Mountain Adventures run for four hours and prospectors can expect to leave the site with a handful of nice specimens, according to Pyne. Tool rentals are available and the staff is happy to assist visitors in identifying what they've found.

According to Pyne, it's not uncommon for a visitor to return to Topaz Mountain Adventures for more easily accessible treasures after working a full day at a free public site and coming up empty.


Topaz Mountain Adventures also offers a premium package at $649, which allows a group of up to eight prospectors to witness an actual blast (seen above) and get first dibs on the treasure found in the freshly exposed rock.

The blast site is 47 miles from the nearest town, and Pyne advised visitors to bring plenty of water and to dress in layers. Spring and fall are the best seasons for prospecting, although temperatures can range from 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the morning to 80 degrees in the afternoon. High temps in July and August can get to 110 degrees.

You can learn more at

Credits: Images courtesy of Topaz Mountain Adventures.
April 25th, 2019
As we breathlessly await the mid-June reveal of the New England Patriots' Super Bowl LIII ring — a ring that promises to be the biggest and blingiest championship ring ever designed — we just learned that a super-rare Patriots Super Bowl LI ring is up for grabs at Heritage Auctions.


What makes this auction so intriguing is the fact that the player selling the ring has demanded anonymity. All we can say for sure is that he boasts a ring size of 14.5.

"The word 'massive' doesn't even begin to describe this eye-catching stunner, but, to be fair, five Lombardi Trophies take up a decent amount of space," noted Heritage Auctions on its official website. "It's ostentatious enough to make a rapper blush, heavy enough to send a strong swimmer to the bottom of the lake."

Hyperbole aside, the ring actually weighs just under a quarter pound (105 grams) and is a adorned with 283 diamonds, representing the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. The Patriots overcame a 28-3 deficit to win 34-28 in overtime. The width of the ring's decorative face is 1.5 inches.

“This one’s definitely a special ring,” Chris Nerat, Heritage Auctions’ football memorabilia expert, told “To my knowledge, it’s the first and only player’s ring from that Super Bowl [to be offered for sale].”

When the Super Bowl LI ring was originally unveiled in June of 2017, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said, "It was a historic comeback win and the players deserve to have a ring that represents that accomplishment. So, we created the biggest Super Bowl ring ever made.”

On the right side of the ring, the Super Bowl LI logo is highlighted with the game’s final score at the top and the team’s 17-2 overall record at the bottom. Framing the side is Kraft’s famous postgame comment that this Super Bowl victory was “UNEQUIVOCALLY THE SWEETEST.”

The left side of the ring has the recipient’s name and number encrusted with diamonds. An image of the lighthouse and bridge, which form Gillette Stadium’s signature view, are accented with the years of each of the Patriots’ previous Super Bowl victories.

Two additional elements are hidden on the inside of the ring. One is Kraft’s memorable quote, “WE ARE ALL PATRIOTS,” along with his signature and the date when he first delivered that line. A second element reads, “GREATEST COMEBACK EVER.”

With the Patriots winning their sixth Super Bowl this past February, it's very likely that the Super Bowl LI rings will be overshadowed by their Super Bowl LIII counterparts. Can Jostens actually fit more than 283 diamonds on a ring? Can a ring reasonably weigh much more than 105 grams? Time will tell.

Meanwhile, Heritage Auctions has set the value of the auctioned Super Bowl LI ring at $60,000 and up. As of Thursday morning, the highest bid was $42,000, although some experts believe the offers could get into the six figures by the time online bidding closes on May 16. The Dallas-based auction house will also host live sessions on May 16 and 17. The ID of the seller will only be revealed after the sale is final.

Few NFL players have the star power of Pats quarterback Tom Brady, who hardly ever puts his awards up for sale. In February of 2018, a non-player "family" version of Brady's Super Bowl LI ring (one with 265 diamonds instead of 283) was sold by Goldin Auctions for a startling $344,927. Both the seller and the buyer of that ring remain anonymous.

Credits: Images by Heritage Auctions,
April 26th, 2019
There are few things in life more sentimental than the father/daughter dance at a wedding, and one of the top tunes for that time-honored tradition is the subject of today's Music Friday treat. Welcome to our weekly review of songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. In Michael Bolton's sweet 2003 rendition of "Daddy's Little Girl," the singer describes his daughter as a precious gem.


In the very first verse he sings, "You're the end of the rainbow, my pot of gold / You're Daddy's little girl to have and hold / A precious gem is what you are / A ray of hope, a shining star."

Bolton, incidentally, is the proud papa to three daughters: Isa, Holly and Taryn.

Originally written by Robert Burke and Horace Gerlach exactly 70 years ago, the sing-along ditty has stood the test of time. Made famous by The Mills Brothers in 1950, "Daddy's Little Girl" was revived by Frank Fontaine in 1963 and Al Martino in 1967. Thirty-five years later, in 2002, Michael Bublé featured the song on his Dream album, and a year later the song became the eighth track on Bolton's Vintage album.

The endearing song is still played by DJs at wedding receptions from coast to coast. In fact, iHeartRadio rated it #8 on its list of the "30 Father/Daughter Wedding Dance Songs Perfect for Your Big Day."

Born Michael Bolotin in New Haven, Conn., in 1953, Bolton earned his reputation as one of the top pop-rock balladeers of his generation with mega-hits, such as "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" (1989) and "When a Man Loves a Woman" (1991).

During his career, he's sold more than 75 million records and charted eight Top-10 albums. He's earned two Grammy Awards and six American Music Awards.

Please check out the audio clip of Bolton singing "Daddy's Little Girl." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Daddy's Little Girl"
Written by Robert Burke and Horace Gerlach. Performed by Michael Bolton.

You're the end of the rainbow, my pot of gold
You're Daddy's little girl to have and hold
A precious gem is what you are
A ray of hope, a shining star.

You're a bright as the sunshine, morning's first light
You warm my day and brighten my night
You're sugar, you're spice, you're everything nice
and you're Daddy's Little Girl.

A precious gem that's what you are
A ray of hope, a shining star.

You're a bright as the sunshine, morning's first light
You warm my day and brighten my night
You're sugar, you're spice, you're everything nice
and you're Daddy's little girl.

Credit: Screen capture via
April 29th, 2019
Lucara Diamond Corp. has unearthed a tennis-ball-size 1,758-carat diamond at its famous Karowe Mine in Botswana. The diamond rates as the second-largest ever found, easily overtaking the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona, which was also recovered at Karowe.


But, unlike the gem-quality Lesedi La Rona, which was purchased by diamantaire Laurence Graff for $53 million and recently cut into 67 high-quality diamonds, Lucara's newest find is being characterized as "near" gem quality with "domains of high-quality white gem."

Looking closely at the photo, above, one can see a sharp transition from grey-black to silver-white in the lower left portion of the rough diamond. Lucara reported that further detailed analysis is ongoing.


Weighing more than three-quarters of a pound, the recently recovered stone measures 83mm x 62mm x 46mm and managed to get through Lucara's diamond sorting process without breaking.


Lucara CEO Eira Thomas said the diamond remained unscathed during the recovery thanks to the company's state-of-the-art XRT circuit, which was commissioned in 2015.

Throughout history, diamond-bearing rock was typically drilled, blasted, hauled and put through crushing machines to get to the gems that may be hiding within. During that process, extremely large diamonds, some weighing hundreds of carats or more, were often damaged or even pulverized.

With the advent of XRT scanners, the mining process is becoming kinder and gentler. As the rocky material comes down a conveyor belt, the scanners can pick out the diamonds based on their chemical composition. Older scanners used to depend strictly on the stone’s ability to reflect light.

The diamond-rich material is then separated from the rubble and moved to a secure area for processing.

Since going online with the XRT circuit in 2015, a total of 12 diamonds larger than 300 carats have been recovered at Karowe, including two greater than 1,000 carats, from a total production of approximately 1.4 million carats. Of the 300-plus-carat diamonds recovered, 50% were categorized as gem quality with 11 sold to date generating more than $158 million.

Thomas is confident that more large, high-quality diamonds will be discovered as the company mines deeper in the orebody and gains access to geologically favorable material.

The largest diamond ever recovered is the 3,106-carat Cullinan, which was found at South Africa's Premier Mine 2 in 1905. The high-quality rough stone was cut by the Asscher Company into nine principal diamonds and 96 smaller diamonds. The Cullinan I and II – known as the Great Star of Africa and the Lesser Star of Africa — are set in the Crown Jewels of Britain. They weigh 530 carats and 317 carats, respectively. The remaining seven principal diamonds — ranging in size from 94 carats to 4.39 carats — are in the collection of Queen Elizabeth II.

Credits: Images courtesy of Lucara Diamond Corp.
April 30th, 2019
Mother's Day spending for jewelry items is expected to reach $5.2 billion in 2019, making it the fastest-growing and highest-volume gift-giving category, according to an annual survey released by the National Retail Federation (NRF). The jewelry spending number is up from $4.6 billion in 2018, an increase of 13%.


Overall Mother's Day spending in 2019 is predicted to hit a record $25 billion, up from $23.1 billion in 2018. More than 31% of that annual increase is reflected in the strength of the jewelry category, where purchases are slated to jump by $600 million. Mother’s Day 2017 was the previous record holder at $23.6 billion in total purchases.

Exactly 35% of respondents said they will be buying jewelry for their moms this year, with the average spending per person pegged at $40.87.

“Mother’s Day spending has been growing consistently over the past several years," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay, "and this year’s spending is expected to be the highest in the 16-year history of our survey.”

While the portion of people celebrating Mother's Day with a gift in 2019 is in line with last year's 86%, this year's gift-givers will be spending more.

The average Mother's Day outlay is expected to be a record $196, up from $180 in 2018. Consumers ages 35-44 are likely to spend the most ($248, up from $224), and men are likely to spend more than women ($237 compared with $158).

According to NRF’s Mother’s Day survey, $4.6 billion will be spent on special outings, such as dinner or brunch. More than half (55%) of consumers said treating Mom to a special meal would be their gift of choice.

NRF estimated that $2.6 billion will be spent on flowers (to be gifted by 67%), $2.6 billion on gift cards (45%), $2.3 billion on clothing (38%), $2.2 billion on consumer electronics (15%) and $2 billion on personal services, such as a spa day (24%).

Another $1.1 billion will be spent on housewares or gardening tools (20%), $843 million on greeting cards (75%) and $544 million on books or music CDs (19%).

The survey, which asked 7,321 consumers about their Mother’s Day plans, was conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics from April 1 to 11 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.

Credit: Image by