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Articles in November 2019

November 1st, 2019
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring your awesome tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we honor one of November's two official birthstones by sharing the little-known backstory of the B-52s' 1989 release, "Topaz."


Appearing as the ninth track on its blockbuster album, Cosmic Thing, "Topaz" is a breezy song about a fanciful city by the sea, where blue dolphins are singing, skyscrapers are winking and minds swim in ecstasy.

What most people don't know is that the group had been struggling with the song. They couldn't come up with a title or a hook.

B-52s vocalist and keyboardist Kate Pierson told the Onion AV Club that the song came together after she consulted with a Maine-based psychic.

“You have two more songs that you should write before you record… and one of them is ‘Topaz,’” Pierson remembered the psychic saying. “I just see the word ‘topaz.’”

In that one word, the band had their title and their chorus.

“We were, like, ‘Oh, my God: Topaz is the perfect name for this new city by the sea!’” Pierson said.

Drummer Keith Strickland was sure the group was on the right track when — in a moment of serendipity — he drove by a billboard promoting a Mercury automobile that read: “Topaz: The Right Choice.”

“In retrospect, it seemed so auspicious that that should happen,” Pierson told the Onion AV Club. “So we started jamming with those lyrics, and it just came together beautifully. The lyrics just make me tingle. It’s very meaningful. No matter how many times we sing it, it just feels very heartfelt. And it’s one of those songs that everyone knows, so when we play it, everybody gets up and starts shaking it a little bit.”

Although "Topaz" was never released as a single, it was an important track on an album that charted in eight countries and reached #9 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart.

The B-52s were formed in Athens, Ga., in 1976, and scored their first big hit, “Rock Lobster,” in 1978. The band’s name relates to the beehive hairdo Pierson and Cindy Wilson sported during the band’s early years. The shape of their beehives resembled the nosecone of a B-52 bomber.

Rooted in new wave, the group continues to perform with original band members Pierson, Fred Schneider, Wilson and Keith Strickland. Among the group's most popular songs are "Planet Claire," "Private Idaho," "Whammy Kiss," "Party Out of Bounds," "Wig," "Love Shack" and "Roam."

Please check out the audio track of the B-52s performing "Topaz." The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

Written and performed by The B-52s.

New cities by the sea
Skyscrapers are winking
Some hills are never seen
The universe expanding
We’re gazing out to sea
Blue dolphins are singing
Minds swim in ecstasy
Clear planet, ever free

Our hearts are traveling faster,
Faster than the speed of love
Straight through a tear in the clouds
Up to the heavens above

Bright ships will sail the seas
Starfishes are spinning
Some hills are never seen
Our universe is expanding
Moonrise upon the sea
Starships are blinking
We’ll walk in ecstasy
Clear planet blue and green

Our thoughts are traveling faster
Moving beyond the heavens above

Planets pulsating, constellations creating
Voices are guiding me to the cities by the sea
Yes, I see cities by the sea

Deep forests by the sea
Skyscrapers are winking
Some hills are never seen
The universe is expanding

Credit: Collage by KevinPatrickLaw [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
November 4th, 2019
Researchers exploring an ancient cave in Spain have found what they believe is “the last necklace made by the Neanderthals.” The carved eagle talon was dated to 39,000 years ago, which is about the time when Neanderthals crossed paths with Homo sapiens and then became extinct.


In the journal Science Advances, researcher Juan Ignacio Morales contends that the custom of wearing eagle talon jewelry could have been a cultural transmission from the Neanderthals to modern humans, who adopted this practice after reaching Europe.

Eagle talons are the oldest ornamental elements known in Europe, say the researchers, even older than the seashells Homo sapiens perforated in northern Africa. The finding suggests that the Neanderthals — who not only devised ways to trap eagles, but also fashioned their talons into jewelry — were much more intelligent and style-conscious than previously believed.


The "last necklace" eagle talon was discovered at the Foradada cave in Calafell, Spain, by a team representing the Prehistoric Studies and Research Seminar (SERP) of the University of Barcelona.

The eagle talon at Cova Foradada was found among bone remains of the Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aquila Adalberti). On the talon were tool markings that indicated the talon was fashioned to be a pendant. The ancient cave has been a valuable source of early human research since 1997.

The finding was also remarkable because it represents the first evidence that Neanderthals used eagle talons as necklace pendants on the Iberian Peninsula. It was previously believed that this practice was limited to the Neanderthals that inhabited Southern Europe.

The researchers believe the eagle talon jewelry was created by the last group of Neanderthals known as the châtelperronian culture. Scientists say that Neanderthals appeared in Eurasia between 200,000 and 250,000 years ago and died out about 40,000 years ago.

Credit: Images courtesy © Antonio Rodriguez-Hidalgo.
November 5th, 2019
The demand for diamond jewelry in the U.S. rose 5% in 2018 to $36 billion, representing slightly less than half of worldwide sales for that category. But, beyond the strong sales gains, new research conducted by De Beers reveals that the demand for diamond jewelry as a gift to mark special occasions — including female self-gifting — now outweighs demand directly related to weddings.


This is why De Beers will be devoting a sizable chunk of its $170 million-plus marketing budget in 2019 to capitalize on the growing purchasing power of women.

A quick peek at the Real Is a Diamond channel on YouTube shows a playlist under the title "Women on the Diamonds They Bought Themselves." Each of the vignettes tells the story of a woman who has achieved a milestone in her life — a milestone that deserved to be commemorated with an important piece of diamond jewelry, such as a diamond pendant, diamond fashion ring or tennis bracelet.


The De Beers study also revealed that the share of women who bought their own engagement ring doubled from 7% to 14% over the five-year period ending in 2017. What's more, women tended to outspend men on the engagement ring purchase — $4,400 vs. $3,300.

Above all, the study concluded that the public still believes that diamonds symbolize love. About 72% of U.S. brides receive diamond engagement rings, a percentage that has remained steady for the past 10 years, according to Esther Oberbeck, group head of strategy at De Beers.

Despite the general assumption that millennials are less interested in traditional diamond engagement rings, the statistics prove out that they purchase diamond engagement rings at the same rate that other generations do. In fact, they tend to spend more per ring because they prefer branded items. Branded products now account for 40% of the total value of U.S. engagement rings, up 10 percentage points from 2015.

The study also revealed that the total diamond caratage of an average ring increased from 1 carat in 2013 to 1.7 carats in 2018, although center stones were trending smaller. This seems to point to brides preferring engagement rings with more elaborate settings.

Credits: Screen captures via Is a Diamond.
November 6th, 2019
Couples are leaving very little to chance when it comes to choosing engagement rings, according to The Knot's 2019 Jewelry and Engagement Study, which synthesized the buying habits of more than 21,000 engaged or recently married couples.


In the study, 7 of 10 "proposees" admit they were "somewhat involved" in selecting or purchasing their engagement ring, and nearly a quarter of that group (23%) say they looked at rings with their partner.

What's more, 78% of proposers say their significant other dropped hints about their ring preferences and nearly one in 10 proposees even report being present when the ring is selected or purchased.

The Knot reported in 2018 that 37% of engagements take place between November and February, so the popular bridal website celebrated the advent of the 2019-2020 "proposal season" by releasing the results of its extensive survey.

Some of the biggest takeaways are that the average cost of an engagement ring in 2019 is $5,900 (up from $5,680 in 2018), the most popular precious metal type is white gold (54%), the preferred diamond shape is round (47%) and social media is the best source for proposees to find ring-design inspiration (80%).

Here's more of what we learned...

• Proposers prefer to purchase their engagement rings from a local independent retail jeweler (40%). The second-most-popular outlet is a national or regional jewelry chain (30%).

• More than 90% purchase the center stone and setting from the same retailer.

• For the proposer, style/setting was the most important feature when selecting a ring, followed by price, then quality. For the proposee, style/setting also came first, followed by cut/shape and then type of stone.

• 7 in 10 proposers report sticking to their budget, while 94% report paying for the ring on their own and 3% say their partner helped contribute.

• The most popular center stones are diamonds at 83%, other precious stones at 10% and colored diamonds at 3%. The most popular "other" precious stones are moissanite (which has nearly doubled in popularity since 2017) at 19%, sapphire at 18%, morganite at 12% and aquamarine at 6%.

• The most popular setting materials are white gold (54%), rose gold (14%), platinum (13%), yellow gold (13%) and sterling silver (7%).

• The round brilliant-cut diamond is favored by 47%, followed by princess/square (14%), oval (14%), cushion (9%) and pearl/teardrop (5%).

• Proposers, in general, are less likely to use social media for ring inspiration. Instead, they rely on friends and family (34%), jewelry designer websites (32%), local brick-and-mortar jewelry stores (29%) and online wedding planning resources (22%).

• The amount spent on an engagement ring varied widely by region: Mid-Atlantic: $7,500; New England: $6,900; Southwest: $5,600; West: $5,500; Southeast: $5,400; Midwest: $5,300.

• The average men's wedding band costs $510 and the majority are made of tungsten (23%), followed by white gold (21%). The average women's wedding band costs $1,100 and the majority are made of white gold (52%), followed by rose gold (15%).

In addition to their purchasing preferences, The Knot also asked couples about how their proposals went down...

• 22% of couples connected using online dating websites or apps, up 5% from 2017; 19% met through friends; 17% at school; 13% through work; and 11% via a social setting.

• 71% dated for more than two years before getting engaged.

• The majority (67%) of engaged couples are between the ages of 25 to 34.

• 87% of engagements are planned ahead of time, while 13% are spontaneous.

• 40% of proposals are planned one to three months in advance and 17% are planned four to six months in advance.

• Nearly 90% of proposers ask their partner to marry them with a ring in hand, 87% say the words “will you marry me,” 84% ask on bended knee and 71% ask their partner’s parents for permission before proposing.

• Almost 50% of those proposing believe the proposal was a complete surprise to their partner, while only 33% of proposees say it actually was.

• Directly following the proposal, 75% call friends and family and 72% send them photos of their ring. Additionally, 92% share the news on social media.

Credit: Image by
November 7th, 2019
Patty Shales lost her home and nearly all her possessions in a brutal wildfire that swept through her Brentwood, Calif., neighborhood last week. Yet, despite the tragedy, Shales told reporters Tuesday that she still feels blessed, and the reason focuses squarely on a cherished piece of diamond jewelry that somehow survived the devastation.


Shales and her family had barely escaped the fast-moving blaze, leaving their home of 43 years with only the clothes on their backs. When they returned to the scene days later to survey the damage, everything they owned was reduced to ash, except for a jewelry box that contained her late-mother's wedding ring.


Firefighters had found the jewelry box in the gutter in front of the Shales' property. The box was floating in runoff generated by the water from the fire hoses. The firefighters had secured the jewelry with the hopes of reuniting it with its rightful owner.

“I had the unfortunate task of telling her that her house had been destroyed," LAFD Assistant Chief Jaime Moore told a reporter from KTLA. "But I asked her to hold on a minute, that I might have something for her.”

Moore soon returned from his vehicle where the keepsake had been stashed. Shales took one look and shouted, "That’s my mom’s wedding ring box!"

“I consider this a miracle ring of all rings," Shales said. "This is so symbolic, I just can’t believe it happened.”

Shales told the reporter that she believes the ring's survival is a message from her late-mother, Dorothy McDonough, an accomplished opera singer, who passed away in November of 2018 following a battle with Alzheimer's.

“She sent me this to tell me she’s in heaven and she’s OK, and I’m going to be OK,” Shales said. “I just feel so blessed, and so grateful to the firemen.”

Shales said that she had kept her mom's ring in a cupboard within her bedroom's walk-in closet. The room was in the back of the house, so she wondered how the ring box and its precious contents found its way, mostly intact, to the street in the front of the house.

What makes this story even more incredible is the fact that the same ring was one of the only objects to survive a fire that completely destroyed Shales' parents' house in Las Vegas 25 years ago.

“Although I lost my home, I survived, my daughter survived and my dogs [survived],” said Shales, who grasped the ring box tightly in her hand. “I don’t have anything else, but I have this.”

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Shales said, “A ring so simple, so small, can mean so much to a family.”

Credits: Ring photo courtesy of Los Angeles Fire Department; Screen capture via
November 8th, 2019
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Death Cab for Cutie’s lead vocalist Ben Gibbard confesses to having commitment issues in the group’s 2009 release, “A Diamond and a Tether.”


In the song, Gibbard asks the listener to take pity on him because he’s not half the man he should be. He’s been misleading his girlfriend with empty promises and countless bluffs, but acknowledges, “I know you can’t hold out forever waiting on a diamond and a tether.”

The phrase "diamond and a tether" presents an interesting dichotomy. While the diamond stands for a commitment, love and marriage, the tether connotes the dreaded loss of freedom.

The singer-songwriter describes how he's managed to compromise just enough to keep the relationship going. He won't swim, but he will dip his toe in the water "just to keep you here with him."

In the end, Gibbard paints a grim picture of a boy who won't jump when he falls in love. He stands paralyzed with his toes on the edge and waits for his love "to disappear again."

“A Diamond and a Tether” appeared as the second track from the group’s The Open Door EP, a compilation of six songs that was nominated for Best Alternative Music Album at the 52nd Grammy Awards in 2010 and peaked at #30 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Death Cab for Cutie, which was formed as an alternative rock band in Washington State in 1997, has released nine full-length studio albums, four EPs, two live EPs, one live album, and one demo album. The group’s unusual name was derived from The Beatles’ 1967 film, Magical Mystery Tour. In the film, The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band performs a song called “Death Cab for Cutie.”

Death Cab for Cutie will be touring from the end of December through the beginning of March, with shows scheduled for Seattle, Milwaukee, Chicago and Tempe.

Check out the audio track of “A Diamond and a Tether” at the end of this post. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along...

“A Diamond and a Tether”
Written by Ben Gibbard. Performed by Death Cab for Cutie.

Pity, take pity on me.
‘Cause I’m not half the man that I should be.
Always turning to run,
from the people I should not be afraid of.

And darling, you should know
that I have fantasies about being alone.
It’s like love is a lesson,
that I can’t learn.
I make the same mistakes at each familiar turn.

I know you can’t hold out forever
waiting on a diamond and a tether
from a boy who won’t swim
but who will dip his toe in
just to keep you here with him.

I’ve got this habit I abhor.
When we go out I’m always watching the door.
’cause if there’s someone I’m gonna see
who could outdo the things you do to me.

And I know you can’t hold out forever
waiting on a diamond and a tether
from a boy who won’t fly
but who will take to the skies if he thinks you are about to say goodbye.

Pity, take pity on me.
’cause I’m not half the man that I should be.
And I don’t blame you,
you’ve had enough,
of all these empty promises and countless bluffs.

’cause I know you can’t hold out forever
waiting on a diamond and a tether
from a boy who won’t jump when he falls in love.
He just stands with his toes on the edge
and he waits for it to disappear again.

Credit: Press photo by Eliot Lee Hazel [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
November 11th, 2019
As one of the two official birthstones for the month of November, citrine is the sun-kissed member of the quartz family of gemstones, with colors ranging from the warm hues of golden champagne to the deep orange-browns of Madeira wine. The stone perfectly embodies the color palette of the fall season.


The gem you see below is a smoky citrine from the Smithsonian's National Gem Collection. Sourced in Bahia, Brazil, the modified marquise-shaped gem weighs 19,747 carats, which is equivalent to 139 ounces or 8.69 pounds. It was faceted in 1987 by Michael Gray and acquired for the Collection in 2013.


The enormous gem is the largest faceted citrine displayed in the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals at the National Museum of Natural History. Its the most-visited natural history museum in the world and the National Gem Collection consists of approximately 350,000 mineral specimens and 10,000 gems.

Quartz, which is composed of silicon and oxygen, is colorless in its pure state. The Greeks referred to the material as "krystallos," or "ice." But when trace amounts of impurities invade its chemical structure, nature yields a wide range of brilliant hues. Citrine is colored by impurities of iron and is a near-cousin to other popular quartz-family members, including amethyst, rose quartz and tiger's eye.

The name "citrine" is derived from the French word "citron," meaning “lemon.” Most citrine comes from Brazil, but other important sources include Spain, Bolivia, France, Russia, Madagascar and the U.S. (Colorado, North Carolina and California).

As the American Gem Society reports, citrine's durability makes it a lovely option for large, wearable jewelry. With a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale, citrine is very resistant to scratches and everyday wear-and-tear.

Citrine wasn’t always an official birthstone for November. The National Association of Jewelers (now Jewelers of America) added it in 1952 as an alternative to topaz.

Credits: Rough citrine crystals from Brazil by Paweł Maliszczak [] [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Faceted gem image by Ken Larsen/Smithsonian.
November 12th, 2019
Perfectly timed to coincide with the start of the "engagement season," the Bazooka candy company has introduced a gigantic version of its popular Ring Pop, the colorful confection that looks like a faceted gemstone. While the conventional Ring Pop weighs 40 grams and is equivalent to a 200-carat gemstone, the new Giant Ring Pop weighs 700 grams, or 3,500 carats.


To put this into jewelry-industry perspective, the Giant Ring Pop outweighs the Cullinan Diamond, which is the largest gem-quality rough diamond ever found. That stone was unearthed in South Africa in 1905 and tipped the scales at 3,106 carats.

The novelty lollipop, which comes with a bright red "gemstone" mounted on a "gold" plastic ring, sells for $9.98 at and is also available at Party City, Cracker Barrel, IT'SUGAR and Dylan's Candy Bar.

At first glance, the ring's 60 calories per serving seems reasonable. However, a closer look at the nutrition label reveals the sugary fact that the Giant Ring Pop packs 47 servings.

"We are beyond excited to introduce Giant Ring Pop, as this will be a huge surprise for our fans this holiday season," said Allison McCants, Senior Customer Marketing Manager for Bazooka Candy Brands. "Whether you grew up with memories of the iconic brand or looking for the ultimate holiday gift for that special someone, Giant Ring Pop is the perfect way to go BIG!"

Giant Ring Pop is sold in a single 24.7 oz package and is available in Sweet Strawberry flavor. Bazooka believes the enormous lollipop ring is the perfect prop for a fun social media moment.

The foodies at got up close and personal with the new Giant Ring Pop and reported that "it was just as over-the-top as one would think."

They wrote that the pop "smelled and tasted super nostalgic—the sticky-sweetness of the berry stuck with us for hours after we'd finished tasting it... and we were honestly not mad."

Credit: Image courtesy of Bazooka Candy Brands.
November 15th, 2019
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, rock legend Eric Clapton sings of lessons learned in his 2010 release, “Diamonds Made From Rain.”


in this bluesy track from his self-titled studio album, Clapton uses both diamond and pearl metaphors to tell the story of an older man who looks back on an imperfect life — humbly acknowledging the mistakes he's made along the way and accepting responsibility.

Clapton has learned from those mistakes and he feels those life experiences have made him a better person.

Clapton sings, “That everything is shown to me / I let it wash over me / Like diamonds made of rain / You can find joy inside the pain.”

Later he adds, “Everything that I've endured / For the wisdom of a pearl / I wouldn't change a thing / You can make diamonds from the rain."

Clapton invited his former love interest, Sheryl Crow, to sing harmonies on “Diamonds Made From Rain.” The pair reportedly had a brief relationship in the late 1990s and it was rumored that her song, “My Favorite Mistake,” is about him. Crow has denied that the song was about Clapton and said the relationship was not a mistake.

Clapton has sold more than 100 million albums and played 3,000-plus concerts during his 57 years as a performing artist. Over that time, more than two billion people in 58 countries across six continents have attended his concerts.

Ranked second on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time,” the 74-year-old Clapton is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — once as a solo artist, and separately as a member of the Yardbirds and Cream.

Born Eric Patrick Clapton in Surrey, England, in 1945, to a Canadian soldier stationed in England and a teenage mom, the future guitarist was raised by his maternal grandparents, convinced that his mother was his sister. At age nine, he learned that his "sister" was really his mom. Emotionally scarred, he became moody and distant and stopped applying himself at school.

Clapton loved music and got his first guitar on his 13th birthday. In 1961, at age 16, Clapton attended the Kingston College of Art and studied stained-glass design. He was expelled from college after one year because he spent most of his waking hours playing guitar and listening to the blues.

According to Clapton's official bio, he spent his early days in music as a street performer. When he was 17, Clapton joined his first band, The Roosters. To make ends meet, the young Clapton worked as a laborer alongside his grandfather, a master bricklayer. Clapton, who was making a name for himself on the R&B pub circuit, was recruited to become a member of The Yardbirds. The 18-year-old guitarist, who would earn the nickname Slowhand even though his hands were blazing fast, accepted the offer and the rest is history.

We invite you to enjoy the audio track of Clapton performing “Diamonds Made From Rain” at the end of this post. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along...

"Diamonds Made From Rain"
Written by Nikka Costa, Justin Mitchell Stanley and Doyle Bramhall II. Performed by Eric Clapton.

The moment's come and gone
Every memory leaves a trace
All that I've come to know
In the lines upon my face

Every storm that I have turned
Each forgiveness I have earned
Every shame that's taught me grace
From you I have learned

No love is lost
No love is lost

That everything is shown to me
I let it wash over me
Like diamonds made of rain
You can find joy inside the pain

Everything that I've endured
For the wisdom of a pearl
I wouldn't change a thing
You can make diamonds from the rain

Every mile of this road
Every chord that's struck my soul
You are the melody
That will soothe me 'til I'm old

If the promises are kept
I'll waive all of my regrets
I can say I've overcome
With you, my heart is open

No love was lost
No love was lost

That everything is shown to me
I let it wash over me
Like diamonds made of rain
You can find joy inside the pain

Everything that I've endured
For the wisdom of a pearl
I wouldn't change a thing
You can make diamonds from the rain

Credit: Photo by Raph_PH [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
November 18th, 2019
With a hammer price of $11.6 million, a spectacular 7.03-carat fancy deep blue diamond ring earned top-lot status at Christie's Magnificent Jewels auction in Geneva last week.


Designed by London-based luxury jeweler Moussaieff, the platinum ring features a rectangular-cut center stone flanked by two pear-shaped diamonds. Christie's had estimated the ring would sell in the range of $10 million to $14 million.

The blue diamond boasts a clarity rating of VVS2 and a purity classification of Type IIb, an ultra-pure grade that accounts for only 0.1% of all natural diamonds.

In all, the Christie's auction at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues yielded $55.9 million, with 12 lots realizing more than $1 million.

Here are some of the highlights...


• A D-color, internally flawless diamond weighing 46.93 carats fetched $3.2 million. The cushion step-cut stone is flanked by half-moon-shaped modified brilliant-cut diamonds weighing 3.64 and 3.35 carats in a platinum setting. The ring had a pre-sale estimate of $3.8 million to $4.5 million.


• A fancy light purplish-pink, cut-cornered rectangular mixed-cut 32.49-carat diamond sold for $2.6 million, well above Christie's pre-sale high estimate of $2.2 million. The center diamond carries a VS2 clarity grade and is set on a thin gold band accented with round diamonds.


• This ring by Harry Winston, which features a rectangular-cut, VVS2, 25.20-carat diamond flanked by tapered baguettes, sold for $2.6 million. The ring was expected to sell in the range of $1.8 million to $2.2 million.

Christiesblue5 6

• A royal blue octagonal step-cut Burmese sapphire weighing 42.97 carats achieved a winning bid of $2.6 million. Set in a pendant and accented with triangular and round diamonds, the sapphire shows no indications of heat treatment. The piece entered the auction with a pre-sale estimate of $2 million to $3 million.

• Pear-shaped diamonds weighing 12.71 carats and 12.07 carats highlight a pair of platinum earrings that sold for $2.2 million. Both diamonds boasted D-color ratings, flawless clarity and excellent symmetry. The pre-show estimate for the pair was $1.9 to $2.5 million.

Credits: Photos courtesy of Christie's.
November 19th, 2019
The exceptional 20.08-carat blue diamond recovered in September from the celebrated Cullinan Mine in South Africa was sold last week for $14.9 million, or $742,000 per carat. Mine owner Petra Diamonds Ltd. described the buyer as "a leading diamond company that wishes to remain anonymous," but that cloak of secrecy certainly will be lifted once the rough gem is transformed into a polished diamond.


A three-dimensional mapping of the rough stone will likely be conducted to determine the size and shape of the diamond that it will yield. We're guessing that it will weigh about 8 carats and be worth $25 million or more. Here's why...

The Blue Moon of Josephine, which was also sourced at the Cullinan Mine, started out as a 29-carat rough blue diamond and was polished into a 12-carat cushion-cut diamond of the highest quality. It rated "fancy vivid" blue in color and "internally flawless" in clarity. It was eventually sold at a Sotheby's auction for $48.5 million, or more than $4 million per carat. The rough diamond that became The Blue Moon of Josephine lost about 59% of it mass during the cutting process. If the same holds true for Petra's 20-carat blue diamond, the result would be an 8-plus-carat gem.


"We are very pleased with this result, which is in line with our expectations and confirms the resilience in the value of very high-quality blue diamonds, undoubtedly one of nature's rarest treasures," said Richard Duffy, Chief Executive of Petra. "We look forward to following this exceptional stone's journey to its polished form."

Analysts had predicted correctly in September that Petra's 20-carat blue diamond would sell in the range of $10 million to $15 million.

Located at the foothills of the Magaliesberg mountain range, 37 kilometers northeast of Pretoria in South Africa, the Cullinan Mine is arguably the world's most heralded diamond mine.

The 117-year-old Cullinan Mine (originally known as the Premier Mine) is credited with producing seven of the world’s largest 50 rough 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 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond (#1).

Discovered in 1905, the Cullinan Diamond was segmented into nine major finished 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.

Not only is the Cullinan Mine still producing world-class white diamonds, it is also the world's most important source of blue diamonds.

Diamonds get their natural blue color from small amounts of the chemical element boron trapped in the crystal carbon structure during its formation.

Credits: Images courtesy of Petra Diamonds.
November 20th, 2019
Coloradan Claire Land and her step-daughter were on a Make-a-Wish vacation to Disney World and Central Florida when the unthinkable happened. As they prepared to bask in the sun at beautiful Cocoa Beach, Land took off her wedding ring to apply some sunscreen. Moments later, the ring was gone.


“I felt like crying, and I did a little bit,” Land told NBC's Orlando affiliate WESH.

She dug in the sand, stripped the stroller and rifled through their backpacks, but the ring — which is actually her engagement ring and wedding band soldered together — could not be found.


Land and her clan traveled back to Colorado a few days later, ringless and dejected. But then the young mom had a brilliant idea.

She contacted Florida-based Dave Mollison on The Ring Finders' website. Now in its 10th year, the group, which comprises independent metal detectorists from around the world, is credited with having made 6,049 recoveries valued at more than $7.5 million.

Land sent Mollison a map of the general area of the beach where she last saw the ring. Mollison wasn't confident that he would have much success because the ring was lost near the Coconuts on The Beach bar — a busy spot that's frequently combed by other metal detector enthusiasts.


"I belong to what is called Ring Finders and a lot of these guys are ring keepers," Mollison told WESH. "A lot people go out metal detecting and I didn't think it would be there after a week."

Undaunted, Mollison started his search, methodically walking up and down the beach in a grid pattern.

After four tedious hours, The Ring Finder finally heard a faint ping on his headphones — a glimmering hope that something metallic was in the sand.

He dug down about 10 inches and scooped out Land's engagement ring/wedding band combo.

“Your heartbeat goes up a little bit and you're like, 'Alright I found it,’” Mollison said.

While still at the beach, Mollison texted Land photos of himself, smiling ear to ear and proudly displaying her precious keepsake. He mailed the ring to Colorado the same day.


Contacted via video chat by a reporter at WESH, Land said she was amazed that the ring was found. She really thought it was lost forever.

She also admitted that she felt like crying again.

"But in an awesome way," she said. "Just relief."

See WESH's coverage at this link...

Credits: Screen captures via
November 21st, 2019
One of four gold medals won by American Jesse Owens during the 1936 Olympic Games in Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany is up for grabs at an online auction taking place now through December 7. The opening bid at is $250,000, but recent history tells us this very special piece of sports memorabilia could sell for $1 million or more.


Back in 2013, billionaire Ron Burkle plunked down $1.46 million for an Owens gold medal from the same Berlin Olympics. It was the highest price ever paid for a piece of Olympic memorabilia.


Owens’ performance in Berlin was one of the most significant in Olympic history because Hitler was convinced the Games would showcase what he believed was the superiority of the Aryan race. Instead, the 23-year-old son of an Alabama share cropper embarrassed the German dictator by dominating his athletes with decisive wins in the 100- and 200-meter dash, the long jump and as a member of the 4×100 meter relay team.


Of the four gold medals captured by Owens, the whereabouts of two are unknown. The one purchased by Burkle in 2013 had been gifted by Owens to his good friend, entertainer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. The medal came to SCP Auctions via the estate of Robinson’s wife, Elaine Plaines-Robinson.

The Owens medal being offered by Goldin Auctions was most recently owned by the family of John Terpak, Sr., a weightlifter who met Owens during the 1936 Games. Owens apparently gifted the medal to Terpak in appreciation of his generosity and kindness.

Even though Owens was the first athlete in Olympic history to win four gold medals, his hero status was short-lived. According to Goldin Auctions, racial laws and cultural norms kept Owens from capitalizing on his Olympic triumphs. Because of the color of his skin, there were no corporate endorsements, high paying speaking engagements or coaching offers. Friends, such as Terpak, stepped in to ensure Owens would be financially stable.

As early as 1954, Terpak arranged for Owens to appear at speaking events in his native Pennsylvania, and the legendary Olympian was invited back many times over the next decade. Owens passed away in 1980 and Terpak passed away in 1993.

Owens' 55mm medal features Giuseppe Cassioli’s famous “Trionfo” design, which was showcased on the Summer Olympic medals from 1928 through 1968. The obverse depicts Nike, the Greek Winged Goddess of Victory, holding a palm in her left hand and a winner’s crown in her right, with the Colosseum in the background. The reverse shows a jubilant crowd carrying a triumphant athlete.


"No athletic award carries the same historical weight and value as Jesse Owens' gold medal-winning performance at the 1936 Olympics, for no athlete ever achieved nor proved as much as Owens did during those Games," said Ken Goldin, Founder of Goldin Auctions. "Even though we have offered at auction some of the most iconic sports collectibles, it is the highest honor to share this museum-worthy item with the world."

Interestingly, the last Olympic gold medal made of pure gold was awarded in 1912. Starting in 1916, the gold medals were made from gilded silver (92.5% silver, plated with six grams of gold).

Owens’ 1936 gold medal weighed 71 grams. So, at today’s valuations, the precious metal content would be worth less then $40 in silver and about $309 in gold.

Credits: Gold medals courtesy of Goldin Auctions. Long jump photo by Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R96374 / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo of U.S. Olympic team sprinters (from left) Jesse Owens, Ralph Metcalfe and Frank Wykoff on the deck of the S.S. Manhattan before they sailed for Germany to compete in the 1936 Olympics by the Associated Press [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
November 22nd, 2019
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Meat Loaf’s 1978 rock classic happens to qualify in two categories, and “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.”


In his signature song, Meat Loaf has been jettisoned by a girlfriend who demanded — but didn't receive — a “love” commitment. Meat Loaf confesses that he wants her and needs her, but there ain’t no way he’s ever going to love her. “But, don’t be sad,” he sings, “cause two out of three ain’t bad.”

Meat Loaf uses precious metal and gemstone symbolism to define his inadequacies as a partner. He sings, “You’ll never find your gold on a sandy beach / You’ll never drill for oil on a city street / I know you’re looking for a ruby in a mountain of rocks / But there ain’t no Coupe de Ville hiding at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box.”

In the end, we learn that the reason Meat Loaf can't commit to a new relationship is because his heart was broken "so many years ago" by the only woman he ever loved. Not coincidentally, she told him, "I want you, I need you, but there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you."

Composer Jim Steinman wrote this power ballad for Meat Loaf’s iconic Bat Out of Hell album, one of the most successful albums of all time with more than 43 million copies sold worldwide. “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” reached #11 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart and remains one of Meat Loaf’s most memorable tunes.

In a 2003 interview with VH1, Steinman explained that “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” was spawned when a friend recommended that he try to write an uncomplicated song, similar to Elvis Presley’s “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You.”

Meat Loaf’s powerful vocals and three-octave range has helped to propel his stellar career. Born Michael Lee Aday in Dallas in 1947, Meat Loaf is one of the most successful recording artists of all time, having sold more than 80 million records.

Please check out the video of Meat Loaf performing “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.

“Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad”
Written by Jim Steinman. Performed by Meat Loaf.

Baby we can talk all night
But that ain’t gettin' us nowhere
I told you everything I possibly can
There’s nothing left inside of here
And maybe you can cry all night
But that’ll never change the way I feel
The snow is really piling up outside
I wish you wouldn’t make me leave here
I poured it on and I poured it out
I tried to show you just how much I care
I’m tired of words and I’m too hoarse to shout
But you’ve been cold to me so long
I’m crying icicles instead of tears

And all I can do is keep on telling you
I want you, I need you
But there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you
Now don’t be sad
’Cause two out of three ain’t bad
Now don’t be sad
’Cause two out of three ain’t bad
You’ll never find your gold on a sandy beach
You’ll never drill for oil on a city street
I know you’re looking for a ruby in a mountain of rocks
But there ain’t no Coupe de Ville hiding at the bottom
Of a Cracker Jack box

I can’t lie, I can’t tell you that I’m something I’m not
No matter how I try
I’ll never be able to give you something
Something that I just haven’t got
There’s only one girl I’ll ever love
And that was so many years ago
And though I know I’ll never get her out of my heart
She never loved me back
Oh I know

I remember how she left me on a stormy night
She kissed me and got out of our bed
And though I pleaded and I begged her not to walk out that door
She packed her bags and turned right away

And she kept on telling me
She kept on telling me
She kept on telling me
I want you, I need you

But there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you
Now don’t be sad
’Cause two out of three ain’t bad
I want you, I need you
But there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you
Now don’t be sad
’Cause two out of three ain’t bad
Baby we can talk all night
But that ain’t getting us nowhere

Credit: Screen capture via
November 25th, 2019
Russia’s Alrosa diamond mining company announced Thursday that the curious "diamond in a diamond" revealed on social media in early September has been added to its collection of rare finds — and is not for sale.


In early September, Alrosa surprised its Instagram followers with a video that seemed to show a tiny rough diamond moving freely in the cavity of a larger one. The caption read, “A diamond in a diamond? We couldn’t help but share this very special find with you.”

At the time, Alrosa wasn’t quite sure what to make of the phenomenon. Nobody at the mining company had ever seen anything like it. Five weeks later, Alrosa scientists confirmed that both the host and smaller crystal were diamonds.

They named the double-diamond “Matryoshka” because its strange configuration is reminiscent of the popular Russian nesting dolls. The specimen, which weighs only 0.62 carats, was discovered in Yakutia at Alrosa's Nyurba mining and processing division.

Matryoshka joins Alrosa's ever-growing collection of diamond wonders. These include crystals that resemble a soccer ball, a Valentine heart, a skull and a fish.

Interestingly, some of Alrosa's most unusually shaped diamonds have come to light at the most opportune times.


For instance, an Alrosa discovery in July of 2018 had us wondering out loud if Mother Nature was a World Cup soccer fan. Just three days prior to the Russian national soccer team’s exciting quarterfinal match against Croatia in the 2018 FIFA World Cup™, Alrosa discovered a diamond that looks amazingly like a soccer ball.


In February of 2019, Alrosa revealed a 65.7-carat rough diamond that had an uncanny resemblance to a Valentine heart.

“Diamonds of a distinctive shape that resemble some object or symbol are extremely rare in nature," Alrosa's deputy CEO Evgeny Agureev said at the time. "Most rough diamonds are octahedron-shaped or do not have a particular shape at all. The appearance of a heart-shaped rough diamond, especially on the eve of Valentine's Day, seems to be a symbolic gift of nature not only to our company, but also to all loving couples.”


Alrosa noted that a 24-carat, skull-shaped stone was unearthed prior to Halloween in 2018.


In August of 2019, the company posted to Instagram a photo of a rough stone resembling a fish. It had been discovered back in 2002, and was revisited to help promote the firm's ecology efforts, which include releasing hundreds of thousands of fish into the rivers near its mining operation in Yakutia.

Credits: Diamond images courtesy of Alrosa Diamonds and via Alrosa/Instagram. Soccer ball image by Pumbaa80 (Self-published work by Pumbaa80) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons.
November 26th, 2019
Alrosa is using advanced mapping technology to take the guesswork out of the risky, high-stakes business of rough-diamond buying. During its October 2019 trading period, the Russian diamond mining company tested Digital Tenders, a program that provided buyers with a three-dimensional scan and detailed analysis of each rough diamond.


The technology behind Digital Tenders is Sarine's Galaxy inclusion mapping and DiaExpert planning. The scan of the rough diamond represents its detailed external shape, internal inclusions and anticipated color and fluorescence. What's more, the mapping system can evaluate the optimum size and shape of the resulting polished diamond.

“Digital Tenders for rough diamonds allow us to improve our customers’ experience by reducing the risk associated with their purchasing decisions," said Evgeny Agureev, Deputy CEO of Alrosa. "This ensures their long-term sustainable profitability as well as streamlines manufacturing processes after procurement of the stones."


Agureev added that Digital Tenders gives his company the ability to show products to a large variety of clients within a short timeframe.

"This is a very good example where digital technology enables the parties to end up in a win-win situation," he said.

Before the introduction of Digital Tenders, rough diamond buyers were required to visit a designated Alrosa office, where the variety of goods could be examined by only a limited number of experts. According to Alrosa, Digital Tenders allow the procurement experts to share the scan with their full planning team, including the cutters at their polishing factory.

Though this is still a pilot project, Alrosa reports that the sales results from October reflect its clients interest in the new offering.

"The diamond industry is evolving," said David Block, CEO of Sarine Technologie, "and rough diamond buyers are seeking ever more information in order to ensure decisions that are the most effective."

Credits: Images of Sarine's DiaExpert device via Instagram/AlrosaDiamonds.
November 27th, 2019
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., the start of a five-day retail feeding frenzy that will see 165.3 million shoppers doing their very best to score great deals and check off as many items as possible on their holiday lists. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the jewelry category is a top-six pick for 2019.


For the 13th year in a row, "gift cards" ranked as the most popular wish list category (requested by 59% of those surveyed), followed by "clothing and accessories" (52%), "books/movies/music/video games" (35%), "electronics" (29%), "home décor" (24%), "jewelry" (23%), "personal care or beauty items" (21%), "sporting goods" (18%) and "home improvement items" (17%).

The NRF also reported that retail sales are expected to climb between 3.8% and 4.2% to $730.7 billion this holiday season, with the average consumer spending $1,047.

According to the NRF, 39.6 million consumers are expecting to shop on Thanksgiving Day, 114.6 million on Black Friday, 66.6 million on Small Business Saturday and 33.3 million on Sunday. The shopping weekend will wrap up on Cyber Monday, when 68.7 million are expected to take advantage of online bargains.

NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said younger consumers are significantly more likely to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend. Among those ages 18 to 24, 88% say they are likely to shop and particularly enjoy the social aspect. Similarly, 84% of those ages 25 to 34 plan to shop. That compares with 69% of holiday shoppers overall.

Of those planning to shop, there is an almost even split of people who plan to start their shopping in-store (47%) compared with those who plan to start online (41%). Interestingly, those under 25 are even more likely to say they expect to start shopping in-store (52%).

The NRF asked those intending to shop Thanksgiving weekend what they like about the experience...

• The deals are too good to pass up (65%)
• Tradition (28%)
• It's when they like to start their holiday shopping (22%)
• It's something to do over the holiday (21%)
• It's a group activity with friends/family (17%)

For consumers who did not plan to shop in-store or online this Thanksgiving weekend, more than half (53%) said that there are some things that could change their minds...

• A sale or discount on an item they want (26%)
• If a family member or friend invites them to shop (12%)
• If they could be sure the items they want are available (11%)
• A free shipping offer (11%).

Due to quirks in this year's calendar, there are only 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, down six days from 2018 and the shortest number possible, but the NRF statistics show that overall spending will not be affected due to the number of consumers who got their shopping started earlier in 2019.

The survey, which asked 7,917 consumers about their Thanksgiving weekend plans, was conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics from October 31 through November 6 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.

Credit: Image by