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Articles in February 2022

February 2nd, 2022
A 1794 coin believed to be the first silver dollar ever struck by the U.S. Mint recently fetched a record-breaking $12 million in a private transaction between Las Vegas collector Bruce Morelan and Irvine, CA-based GreatCollections Coin Auctions.


Dubbed the “Flowing Hair Silver Dollar,” the coin is a national numismatic treasure because it symbolized the young USA’s financial independence. The coin features a portrait of Lady Liberty on one side and an eagle on the other. This particular specimen stands above the rest because of its sharpness of detail.

"Researchers believe this coin was specially struck, perhaps as a presentation of the country’s first dollar coin," said Ian Russell, president of GreatCollections. "Because of its significance, it was likely seen by President George Washington, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, and then-Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, who oversaw the young United States Mint."

Russell added that his newest acquisition is, without question, America’s most coveted silver dollar. Only about 140 still survive, and this 1794 silver dollar is the only known specimen-striking.

He characterized the coin as substantially better than the examples in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Numismatic Collection and the American Numismatic Association museum.


"It gave me chills closing the transaction for this piece of history,” he said.

In 2013, Morelan purchased the 1794 silver dollar for $10 million, a record at the time, and exhibited it across the country and in Europe.

One of the coin’s previous owners was Amon G. Carter Sr. (1879-1955) of Texas, a former publisher of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper.

“Coins are in my blood, and the 1794 dollar was a lifelong dream,” Morelan stated. “I’m truly blessed to have owned it, and hope the new owner has as much joy, pride, and satisfaction as I did.”

Morelan had intended to sell his famous silver dollar at auction in October of 2020, but the coin was withdrawn when it did not meet its reserve.

The $12 million price paid for the 1794 silver dollar ranks second on the list of the highest price ever paid for any rare coin.


In June of 2021, a Depression-Era $20 gold coin that wasn’t meant to see the light of day became the world’s most valuable coin when it was scooped up by an anonymous bidder at Sotheby’s New York for a cool $18.9 million.

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

Russell is very familiar with the $18.9 million coin. In August of 2021, he exhibited the gold piece at the 2021 Chicago World’s Fair of Money on behalf of its anonymous new owner.

Credits: 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar images courtesy of GreatCollections Coin Auctions. 1933 Double Eagle images courtesy of Sotheby’s.
February 3rd, 2022
One of the world’s most remarkable examples of February’s birthstone is the 56-carat deep purple gem at the center of the Tiffany Amethyst Necklace — an impressive work that resides at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.


The square cushion-cut amethyst is delicately framed by 18-karat vines, leaves and grapes in a design conceived by Louis Comfort Tiffany in 1915. The amethyst, which displays flashes of red, is suspended as a pendant from a flowing double-figure-eight chain. The floral motif is an excellent example of Art Nouveau jewelry, which was popular during the turn of the last century (1890-1919).


While most high-quality amethysts are currently sourced in Brazil and Uruguay, the gem in the Tiffany Amethyst Necklace is believed to be from Siberia, Russia, and is the largest and highest quality example of an amethyst from that region in the National Gem Collection.

George Kunz, chief gemologist at Tiffany’s during the early 1900s, was likely responsible for procuring the huge amethyst, according to a writeup in the Smithsonian’s Geo Gallery. Philanthropists June Rosner and Russell Bilgore donated this treasure to the Smithsonian in 2007.

Amethyst is the most coveted variety of quartz, which is clear in its pure state. Amethyst gets its purple color from trace amounts of iron displacing some of the silicon in the gem’s molecular structure. These traces of iron can give amethyst a wide range of colors, from almost white to deep purple.

Amethyst has been coveted for thousands of years and is one of the oldest recorded gemstones. They’ve been recovered from ancient Egyptian tombs and were prized by the Greeks, Romans, Babylonians and Hebrews.

Amethyst gets its name from the Greek word “amethystos,” which literally means “not to intoxicate.” Apparently, the Greeks believed amethyst could reverse the effects of drunkenness. Other characteristics attributed to amethyst include peace, balance, courage, stability and inner strength.

The color rating of an amethyst is determined by hue, tone and saturation. Hue is the color; tone is relative lightness or darkness of the color; and saturation relates to the color’s intensity, from dull to vivid.

Credits: Closeup photo by Ken Larsen / Smithsonian. Second image by Chip Clark / Smithsonian and digitally enhanced by SquareMoose.
February 4th, 2022
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring your great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, we present the hypnotic harmonies of First Aid Kit's Klara and Johanna Söderberg performing “Stay Gold,” a song that uses the precious metal as a metaphor for the vitality of youth — when the world is your oyster and anything is possible.


Klara Söderberg, who co-wrote the song with her sister, Johanna, told The Oregonian that “Stay Gold” was inspired by Robert Frost’s eight-line poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay.”

In that poem, which was originally published in 1923, Frost begins with these two lines, “Nature’s first green is gold / Her hardest hue to hold” and ends with these, “So dawn goes down to day / Nothing gold can stay.”

In “Stay Gold,” the Swedish sisters’ take on the Frost poem goes like this, “The sun shone high those few summer days / Left us in a soft, wide-eyed haze / It shone like gold / It shone like gold / But just as the moon it shines straight / So dawn goes down today / No gold can stay / No gold can stay.”

Essentially, the sisters are saying that a young person’s idyllic view of life — and likely their own — is often short-lived.

In the The Oregonian interview, Klara described how she encountered Frost's famous work.

“I had this collection of poetry, and I thought, ‘I’ll open this and see if there’s anything in here that inspires me,’ and I came upon the line ‘Nothing gold can stay.’ That was literally the first thing I saw, and it was perfect,” she said.

“Stay Gold” is the title song from First Aid Kit’s third studio album, which was released in June 2014 and peaked at #23 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. It won the Swedish Grammis award in 2014 for "Album of the Year," and was listed sixth in Paste magazine's list of the 40 best folk albums of the 2010s.

Despite the sisters’ humble beginnings as a MySpace/YouTube indie folk phenomenon in 2007-2008, First Aid Kit has amassed a body of work that includes four albums, four EPs and several singles. In 2015, and again in 2019, they were nominated for a Brit Award as one of the five best international groups.

Trivia: Klara wrote her first song, "Femton mil i min Barbiebil" (Fifteen miles in my Barbie car], when she was six.

Please check out the video of First Aid Kit’s performance of “Stay Gold.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Stay Gold”
Written by Klara and Johanna Söderberg. Performed by First Aid Kit.

The sun shone high those few summer days
Left us in a soft, wide-eyed haze
It shone like gold
It shone like gold

But just as the moon it shines straight
So dawn goes down today
No gold can stay
No gold can stay

What if our hard work ends in despair?
What if the road won’t take me there?
Oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold

What if to love and be loved’s not enough?
What if I fall and can’t bear to get up?
Oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold
We could stay gold

We’re on our way through rugged land
Top of that mountain we wanted to stand
With hearts of gold
With hearts of gold

But there is only forward, no other way
Tomorrow was your hope at the end of the day
And gold turns gray
And gold turns gray

What if our hard work ends in despair?
What if the road won’t take me there?
Oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold

What if to love and be loved’s not enough?
What if I fall and can’t bear to get up?
Oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold
We could stay gold

All of my dreams, they fall and form a bridge
Of memories where I can get back
All of my dreams, they fall and form a bridge
Of memories where I can’t get back to you

What if our hard work ends in despair?
What if the road won’t take me there?
Oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold

What if to love and be loved’s not enough?
What if I fall and can’t bear to get up?
Oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold
We could stay gold

Could stay gold
Stay gold

Credit: Photo by Christian Düringer, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
February 7th, 2022
On Thursday night, K-pop idols HyunA and DAWN turned to Instagram to surprise their millions of fans with the news of their engagement and close-up views of their matching opal-and-diamond rings.


On his Instagram page, the 27-year-old DAWN (Kim Kyo-jong) shared a short video of the couple modeling their new rings. The caption read, “MARRY ME,” punctuated by a blue heart emoji.

On her Instagram page, 29-year old HyunA reposted DAWN's video and added the caption, “Of course it’s a yes.” She used four crying emojis to describe the moment.


In the breathless initial reporting of the engagement, some outlets mistakenly identified the primary gems as moonstones. On Saturday, ring designer Yueun Esther Shin of Seoul, Korea-based Diligems, described how the ring came together on the brand's official Instagram page.


"I had the honor of designing an exciting pair of rings for the dreamiest of couples," she wrote. "I would like to point out that they were customized for the couple ONLY and will never be duplicated. The rings are made of white gold with opals as their main stones and seven diamonds of different shapes and colors."


Shin added that DAWN came to her studio to discuss the design. The collaboration took more than a month, and DAWN is credited with choosing the opals and diamonds himself.

Responding to Internet trolls, who slammed the rings as cheap due to the use of opals as center stones, Shin noted, "To be frank, the cost of their rings paid for my year’s rent."

It is highly unusual to see opals featured as engagement ring center stones. The main reason is the relative softness of the stone, which rates a 5.5-6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale. Everyday wear will make this gem prone to scratching. To address this issue, Shin's design employs a more protective bezel setting.

(A diamond, by comparison, is the hardest of all gemstones and rates a perfect 10 on the Mohs scale.)

The South Korean pop stars, who claim a combined 21 million followers on Instagram, had been dating since 2016. HyunA was previously a member of 4Minute and Wonder Girls, while Dawn had performed with Pentagon. The couple released their first collaboration EP 1+1=1 in September 2021.

As one of October’s official birthstones, the precious opal is universally loved in fine jewelry because it can present all the colors of the rainbow. Each opal is truly unique and more than 95% of the world’s fine opals are sourced in Australia.

The play-of-color seen in opals is caused by microscopic silica spheres that diffract light to display various colors of the rainbow.

An opal’s silica structure contains 3% to 20% water, according to the American Gem Society. The value of a fine opal is based on a number of factors, including brightness, color, pattern, body tone and consistency (how it looks from multiple angles).

Credits: Photo of two rings on one finger via / diligems. Couple photo via / hyojong_1994; Two-hand screen capture and jewelry box photo via / hyunah_aa.
February 8th, 2022
Americans are set to spend a record $6.2 billion on jewelry gifts for Valentine's Day, an amazing increase of 51.2% compared to 2021 and the highest tally ever, according to a survey just released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics.


The NRF stats reveal that Valentine shoppers will be spending more on jewelry than any other type of gift. Jewelry will account for more than a quarter of all Valentine’s Day spending, which is estimated to reach $23.9 billion this year. The jewelry category's 25.9% chunk of the spending pie is far higher than it was in 2021, when it accounted for 18.8%.


“Following the historic level of consumer spending over the winter holidays, it appears that the trend will continue into 2022,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Valentine’s Day is a special occasion for many Americans, even more so as we navigate out of the pandemic, and retailers are prepared to help them mark the holiday in a memorable and meaningful way.”

More than half (53%) of US consumers plan to celebrate Valentine's Day in 2022, up from 52% in 2021. More than three-quarters (76%) of those celebrating indicate it is important to do so given the current state of the pandemic.


According to the survey, shoppers expect to spend an average of $175.41 per person on Valentine’s Day gifts, up from $164.76 in 2021.

Nearly a quarter (22%) of respondents said they will gift a jewelry item to a special someone, while nearly a third (31%) of respondents plan to gift an “evening out” this year, up from 24% in 2021 and just slightly below pre-pandemic levels, for a total of $4.3 billion.

Other popular, but less expensive, Valentine gifts include candy (to be given by 56%), greeting cards (40%) and flowers (37%). Demand for "gifts of experience," such as tickets to a concert or sporting event, has also returned to pre-pandemic levels, with 41% saying they would “love to receive a gift of experience,” up from 36% last year.

The survey of 7,728 U.S. adult consumers was conducted Jan. 3-11 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.

Credits: Image by Charts courtesy of the National Retail Federation.
February 9th, 2022
During the 100 years that spanned from the early 1800s to the early 1900s, young suitors expressed their intentions with "acrostic" rings that spelled out a secret sentiment using the first letter of each gemstone in the piece.


For example, to convey the word "dearest," the ring would feature seven gems in this order: (D)iamond, (E)merald, (A)methyst, (R)uby, (E)merald, (S)apphire and (T)urquoise.

The gem icons in the illustration, above, spell out three words: DEAREST, REGARD (ruby, emerald, garnet, amethyst, ruby, diamond) and GRACE (garnet, ruby, amethyst, citrine, emerald).

According the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), Jean-Baptiste Mellerio (1765-1850), the jewelry designer to Marie Antoinette and the French court, is credited with inventing acrostic jewelry. Napoleon Bonaparte was said to be so enchanted with the concept that he commissioned several pieces for family members.

In some cases, the stones would be set asymmetrically and out of order, adding an extra challenge to solving the puzzle.

Romantics living during the Georgian and Victorian eras embraced the romance and mystery behind acrostic jewelry, a category that soon expanded to include stackable rings, brooches and bracelets. This, of course, provided much more room to express oneself. The gems might spell out the names of children, loved ones who passed, favorite places or a private message.

Acrostic bling may be ready for a revival, boosted by consumer demand for jewelry that is personalized and truly unique. The New York Times shone the spotlight on acrostic jewelry in a 700-word feature story that ran only a few weeks ago.

Mapping out a custom piece of acrostic jewelry is a fairly easy proposition. Just about every letter in the alphabet has a corresponding popular gem. Exceptions include uvarovite, a green member of the garnet family, to represent "U," verdelite tourmaline for the letter "V" and the really obscure, non-jewelry mineral xonolite to represent the letter "X."

Credits: Images via
February 10th, 2022
As the countdown timer clicked down to 0:00, it appeared as if the 555.55-carat black carbonado diamond known as "The Enigma" would be sold at Sotheby's online auction yesterday for the rock-bottom price of £1.5 million ($2.03 million).


Pre-sale estimates were as high as £5 million and Sotheby's London was offering the stone with "no reserve," meaning that the highest bid would be the winning bid, with no minimum required.

But as baseball legend Yogi Berra famously said during the Mets' unlikely run to the divisional championship in 1973, "It ain't over till it's over."

Suddenly, Sotheby's counter came back to life and we were in overtime. The deadline was extended by one minute, and more bids continued to roll into the site.

Then two more minutes were added, and then another three. In all, the auction, which had been running for six days and was due to close at 9:00 AM EST, was extended to 9:09. During that bonus time, eight more bids hit the site, driving The Enigma's final price to £3.161 million ($4.29 million).


The gem was purchased in cryptocurrency by Richard Heart — the founder of cryptocurrency company Hex.

"I won the world's largest cut diamond for our #HEXican cultural heritage!" Heart tweeted. "'It'll be called the diamond, it weighs 555.55 carats and has 55 facets. Congratulations to all you #HEXicans..."

It was certainly a wild ride for the stone billed as the largest faceted diamond of any kind to appear at auction. In the weeks leading up to the sale, the world's most highly trafficked news sites had written breathless stories about the unusual black diamond with interstellar origins.

Despite the publicity, The Enigma (now the diamond) got off to a sluggish start at auction. By Day 2, the highest bid stood at £400,000. Two days later, it had nudged up to £700,000.

Yesterday, with 42 minutes left in the sale, The Enigma had attracted only 17 bids and a top offer of £1 million.

But during the final two minutes, a run of four bids pushed the price to £1.5 million — and that's where we thought it would end.

The extra nine minutes more than doubled the result.


The fascinating black diamond had been revealed to journalists at Sotheby’s Dubai in mid-January. It was the first stop of a publicity tour that continued to Los Angeles and then to London for the online sale, which started on February 3. Sotheby’s told the press that it would be accepting cryptocurrency, a strategy aimed at attracting younger, digitally savvy buyers.

The Enigma, Sotheby's explained, was likely formed in outer space and brought to earth by meteorites. Earth-formed diamonds often display a crystal structure, while carbonado diamonds — in their natural form — have an irregular surface that resembles charcoal.

The Enigma officially entered the Guinness Book of World Records in 2006 as the “Largest Cut Fancy Black Diamond.”

Credits: Screen captures via Gem photo via Instagram / Sothebys.
February 11th, 2022
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. In the memorable opening lines of his 1996 hit, “Walls,” rock legend Tom Petty defines the essence of everyday life with this brilliant, yet simple, phrase: “Some days are diamonds / Some days are rocks.”


The song, which appeared in the soundtrack album from the movie, She’s the One, describes how the most beautiful and wonderful things in life are often fleeting. He relates this theme to a broken relationship that he hopes to repair. He’s not overly optimistic, however, because he “can’t hold out forever; even walls fall down.”

The song reflects a difficult time in Petty's personal life when his 22-year marriage was on the rocks. According to, Petty was living on his own in a rented house when he wrote "Walls."

Recorded by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “Walls” peaked at #69 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and #6 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The soundtrack album was certified gold after ascending to #15 on the Billboard 200 chart.

“Walls” was widely praised by rock critics. One reviewer cited it as “one of the all-time great Tom Petty songs; so good is it that it gets two performances on [the She's the One soundtrack], a loose-limbed version with harmonies by Lindsey Buckingham and a violinist, and a tighter-focused version.”

Established in 1976 in Gainesville, FL, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were still rocking’ in 2017 when Petty died of an accidental overdose one week after the end of the Heartbreakers’ 40th Anniversary Tour. The singer had been taking medications to alleviate pain from a serious hip injury.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have sold more than 80 million records worldwide, putting them high in the ranks of the world’s best-selling bands. Petty was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him 91st on its list of the Greatest Artists of All Time.

Please check out Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performing “Walls” on the Late Show With David Letterman in 1996. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.

“Walls (Circus)”
Written by Tom Petty. Performed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Some days are diamonds,
Some days are rocks.
Some doors are open,
Some roads are blocked.

Sundowns are golden,
Then fade away.
And if I never do nothin’,
I’ll get you back some day.

‘Cause you got a heart so big it could crush this town.
And I can’t hold out forever; even walls fall down.

And all ’round your island
There’s a barricade.
Keeps out the danger,
Holds in the pain.

And sometimes you’re happy,
Sometimes you cry.
Half of me is ocean,
Half of me is sky.

But you got a heart so big it could crush this town.
And I can’t hold out forever; even walls fall down.


And some things are over,
Some things go on.
Part of me you carry,
Part of me is gone.

But you got a heart so big it could crush this town.
And I can’t hold out forever; even walls fall down.
Baby, you got a heart so big it could crush this town.
And I can’t hold out forever; even walls fall down.

Credit: Photo by Ирина Лепнёва, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
February 14th, 2022
When LA Rams head coach Sean McVay raised the Vince Lombardi Trophy to the sky after last night’s 23-20 triumph over the Cincinnati Bengals in Inglewood, CA, he was celebrating with one of the most recognizable and coveted awards in all of professional sports.


The 6.7-pound sterling silver icon stands 20.75 inches tall and depicts a football in a kicking position on a tapered three-sided stand. Its sleek lines were first sketched on the back of a cocktail napkin 56 years ago by Tiffany & Co.'s former design chief, Oscar Riedener.

According to the official Pro Football Hall of Fame website, then-commissioner Pete Rozelle was tasked with coming up with a trophy for the first-ever AFL-NFL Championship Game, which would take place in January of 1967. Former NFL Executive Director Don Weiss, in his book The Making of the Super Bowl, said Rozelle wanted the trophy to be aligned with his vision of everything about the game being first class.


Rozelle contacted Tiffany & Co., which arranged a meeting with its head of design, Riedener. Ironically, the designer was a native of Switzerland and knew nothing about American football. After the meeting with Rozelle, Reidener visited the New York headquarters of the famous toy store FAO Schwartz and bought a football.

The next morning he put the ball on his kitchen table, opened a box of cornflakes and stared at the football while eating his breakfast. He used a pair of scissors to cut up the empty cornflake box, transforming it into a three-sided trophy base atop which the football could sit.


At lunch a few days later with Rozelle and a delegation from Tiffany’s, Riedener drew a sketch of his design on a cocktail napkin. Rozelle liked it and the rest is history.

The trophy took on its official name — Vince Lombardi Trophy — in 1970 to honor the Green Bay Packer’s legendary football coach, who led his team to victory in the first two Super Bowls.

With silver trading at about $23.70 per ounce, the trophy has a melt value of about $2,500, but for the players and coaches who invest their blood, sweat and tears to win a Super Bowl championship, the Vince Lombardi trophy is priceless.

Each year, the trophy is awarded right after the big game, but it eventually makes its way back to Tiffany’s hollowware shop in Parsippany, NJ, to be engraved with the names of the participating teams, the date, location of the Super Bowl game and the game’s final score. The winning team gets to keep the trophy. It was the Rams' second Super Bowl victory. The team's first was in 1999.

A highly publicized mishandling of the Vince Lombardi Trophy occurred after the New England Patriots won Super Bowl LIII. In early April of 2019, the Pats attended the Boston Red Sox home opener at Fenway Park to celebrate with the fans. Prior to the game, wide receiver Julian Edelman was trying to get warmed up before throwing out the first pitch.

He was in a tent waiting to go onto the field when he tossed a baseball to tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was holding the Lombardi Trophy. Instead of catching the ball with his hand, or letting the ball fly by, Gronkowski used the trophy to bunt the ball back at Edelman, resulting in a baseball-sized dent. Patriots owner Robert Kraft told Gronkowski that he didn't plan to have the trophy fixed.

Credits: Close-up image by Erik Drost, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Full-size trophy photo courtesy of Screen capture via Sunday Morning.

February 15th, 2022
LA Rams safety Taylor Rapp just enjoyed his best day ever. Moments after earning a Super Bowl ring on Sunday night, the 24-year-old surprised his long-time girlfriend, Dani Johnson, with an on-field marriage proposal at California's SoFi stadium in front of a crowd of cheering teammates and fans.


A short video posted to the official LA Rams Instagram page chronicled the awesome moment when Rapp popped the question. The team's caption read, "MORE THAN ONE RING TONIGHT! CONGRATS, @taylorrapp!!!"


With yellow and blue confetti still raining down from the rafters, Rapp went down on one knee, opened a ring box and asked Johnson if she would marry him. She nodded "Yes" and tried to hold back the tears as Rapp slipped the engagement ring on her finger.


Clad in bright blue jeans in support of her favorite NFL team, Johnson looked down at her hand and stared at her ring for a moment before embracing her groom-to-be and giving him a sweet kiss.


Rapp and Johnson have been dating since high school. She's been his biggest fan since he played football for Sehome High School in Bellingham, WA. He went on to star at the University of Washington before turning pro in 2019. Johnson played volleyball at Southern Oregon University.


Rapp signaled his marital intentions in an Instagram post from last March.

He wrote, "Happy birthday to the love of my life, the one person who holds me accountable and makes sure I stay true to myself no matter what. If everyone had just a fraction of your kind, compassionate, and loving heart, this world would be a much better place. You make me a better person every single day. Thank you for being my best friend and such a great partner to do life with."

He punctuated the statement with a heart emoji.

Rapp's on-field proposal capped an exciting Super Bowl victory, which saw the LA Rams come from behind in the fourth quarter to beat the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20. The champ will likely get his Super Bowl ring some time in June.

The proposal video earned more than 360,000 Likes on Instagram. You can check it out here…

Credits: Proposal screenshots via / rams; Couple photo via / danijohnsonnn.
February 16th, 2022
Imagine a gemstone so rare that few professional jewelers will ever encounter one. Such is the case with the beautiful, yet elusive, blue jeremejevite. This oval-cut specimen — which weighs 11.3 carats and was sourced in the remote Erongo Mountains of Namibia — has been part of the Smithsonian's National Gem Collection since 2012.


A colorless version of jeremejevite was first identified in 1883 on Mt. Soktuj in the Adun-Chilon Mountains of Siberia, Russia. The unique aluminum borate mineral was named after Russian mineralogist and crystallographer, Pavel Vladimirovich Eremeev (Jeremejev, in German).

When a second occurrence of jeremejevite was found in Namibia 90 years later, local prospectors misidentified the deep blue crystals as aquamarine. Since then, small amounts of jeremejevite have turned up in Tajikistan, Germany, Madagascar and Burma.

The crystals are most often tiny in size and range in hue from colorless and pale yellow to blue, blue-green and lavender. The Smithsonian specimen is considered a valuable collector's gem due to its large size and rich color. It was purchased for the Smithsonian with funds from the Tiffany & Co. Foundation.

The fine-quality jeremejevite available on the market today was likely sourced from a recently discovered pocket in Namibia. When it comes to faceted blue jeremejevite, "impressive size" means anything larger than 1 carat, according to The international gem specialist added that it is curious how many rough jeremejevite display bicolor zoning: light yellowish on the top and distinct blue on the bottom.

Jeremejevite is a member of an exclusive club of hard-to-say, hard-to-source gemstones that include taaffeite, grandidierite, serendibite, musgravite, benitoite and poudretteite (which we profiled in August 2021).

Jeremejevite generally forms as hexagonal crystals embedded in granitic pegmatite, which is a coarse igneous rock that forms during the final stage of a magma's crystallization. The gem has a hardness of 6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale.

Credit: Photo by Greg Polley / Smithsonian.
February 17th, 2022
Olympic gymnast Simone Biles says she's "on cloud nine," "in complete shock" and "over the moon" since receiving her 3-carat oval-cut diamond engagement ring on Valentine's Day from Houston Texans free safety Jonathan Owens.


On Tuesday, the seven-time Olympic medal winner announced the big news on her Instagram account with a series of proposal photos and a caption that read, "THE EASIEST YES. I can’t wait to spend forever & ever with you, you’re everything I dreamed of and more! let’s get married FIANCÉ."


The photo series included a closeup shot of her new engagement ring, which was described by Houston-based designer ZoFrost as a 3-carat diamond with F color and VVS2 clarity. The center stone is prong-set on a three-row, micro-pavé diamond band.


The designer told that the diamond was handpicked by Owens, and pointed out that the 26-year-old NFL standout "wanted to add a special touch to the ring by adding a halo around the oval diamond."


A short video of the ring reveals the unique diamond halo, which wraps around the diamond and can be seen on a profile view, but is hidden when looking at the stone from the top-down.

On Wednesday, the 24-year-old Biles shared her super-charged emotional state with her 6.9 million Instagram followers.

In an Instagram Story punctuated by heart and crying emojis, Biles wrote that she was still on cloud nine and in complete shock.

"Had to fly out yesterday morning to LA for some work," she wrote. "Missing @jowens_3 so much. Can't wait to properly celebrate and take in the moment to breathe. Thanks to every who reached out to congratulate us. We are over the moon!"


When Biles first announced the engagement on Tuesday morning, celebrity sites quickly jumped on the story with wildly overblown "expert" assumptions about the weight of her center stone. Many pundits had pegged the size in the range of 7 to 9 carats, which would have been unusually disproportional for the gymnast who stands 4' 8", weighs 104 lbs and has delicate, small hands.

Biles and Owens have been dating for about two years. According to the Wall Street Journal, Biles made the first move via social media.

"He would say I slid into his DMs," Biles told the publication. "I saw him and I was like, 'Oh, he's pretty cute,' so I said hi… and then I saw that he was in the Houston area, so we started chatting a little bit, and then we went to hang out a week or two later."

Owens told Texas Monthly, “This was a match made in heaven. There’s no better person for me. She loves me, she’s so affectionate. I just love that. And it’s just intoxicating seeing how much work she puts into everything.”

Credits: Images and video screen capture via / simonebiles.
February 18th, 2022
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Taylor Swift joins Ed Sheeran in the newly released remix of "The Joker and the Queen," a self-deprecating love song in which the awkward and freckle-faced Sheeran wonders why the beautiful and confident love of his life has chosen to be with someone like him.


He sings, "And I know you could fall for a thousand kings / And hearts that could give you a diamond ring / When I fold, you see the best in me / The joker and the queen."

In the remix of the song, Swift adds her perspective of the same relationship.

She sings, "And I know / You think that what makes a king / Is gold / A palace and diamond rings / When I fold, you see the best in me / The joker and the queen."

In the official video, which has been viewed 14 million times in only six days, Swift and Sheeran reprise their roles as Ava and Jack, characters they introduced in Swift's 2012 song, "Everything Has Changed." In that video, they become sweethearts in elementary school. In the remix of "The Joker and the Queen," the characters are first-semester freshman at different colleges. The soulmates seem lost without each other.

The video includes a texting scene, which includes a fun Easter egg. In a cut that lasts for just a blink, we see the screen of Jack's cell phone and this message to Ava: "You'd think for multi-platinum lyricists we'd do better."

"Me and Taylor first met and wrote + recorded our first song together in 2012, ten years ago now, I’m so so honored to have her on this song," Sheeran told his 37 million Instagram followers. "Not only is she the best singer/songwriter in the world but she’s also a very close friend, I’m very lucky to have her in my life. For the music video we got the kids from our song Everything Has Changed, all grown up and off to college now!"

Released as the fourth single from his 2021 album Equals (represented by the = sign), “The Joker and The Queen” is said to be an ode to Sheeran's wife of three years, Cherry Seaborn.

When the couple announced their engagement in early 2017, Sheeran proudly revealed that he was wearing an engagement ring that was designed and hand-crafted by Seaborn.

“I never saw why men didn’t wear engagement rings,” Sheeran told a reporter for Lorraine, a British lifestyle and entertainment TV show. “It’s the same commitment either way. Cherry made it for me herself out of silver clay. I really like it.”

The “silver clay” that Seaborn used in the fabrication of Sheeran’s ring is a crafting material made of very small particles of precious metal mixed with a binder and water. It can be easily molded by hand into jewelry and then fired in a kiln. The binder burns away and only the precious metal remains.

Please check out the video of "The Joker and the Queen." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along…

"The Joker and the Queen (Remix)"
Written by Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Johnny McDaid, Fred Gibson and Sam Roman. Performed by Ed Sheehan (feat. Taylor Swift).

How was I to know
It’s a crazy thing
I showed you my hand
And you still let me win

And who was I to say
That this was meant to be?
The road that was broken
Brought us together

And I know
You could fall for a thousand kings
And hearts
That would give you a diamond ring

When I fold
You see the best in me
The joker and the queen

I’ve been played before
If you hadn’t guessed
So I kept my cards closed
To my foolproof vest

But you called my bluff
And saw through all my tells
And then you went all in
And we left together

And I know
You think that what makes a king
Is gold
A palace and diamond rings

When I fold
You see the best in me
The joker and the queen

And I know
You could fall for a thousand kings
And hearts
That would give you a diamond ring

When I folded
You saw the best in me
The joker and the queen

The joker and the queen

Credit: Image via / teddysphotos.
February 21st, 2022
Despite owning four Olympic gold medals and 19 World Championship gold medals, elite gymnast Simone Biles told the audience of The Today Show on Friday that her new 3-carat oval-cut diamond engagement ring from fiancé Jonathan Owens beats them all.


In a remote Zoom-style interview between The Today Show hosts in New York and the newly engaged couple in Texas, Carson Daly asked Biles how her new gold compares to all of her medals.


"You have so much gold, Simone," he said jokingly. "The ring that you have now, does it match all the hardware that you have? The gold, the silver, does it clash?"

Without missing a beat, the 24-year-old put it all into perspective.

"It's definitely my most prized possession now and I'm always wearing it," she declared. "It definitely beats a gold medal."

She went on to admit that she had to consult a higher source about whether she should ever take the ring off.

Biles explained, "I was washing my hair the other day and I took it off, just in case — I didn't know if it was gonna get caught or anything — and I have to ask my mom, 'When do you take it off, do you ever take it off?' and stuff like that. But it definitely beats a gold medal."

Owens confessed that he knew Biles was "the one" barely a month into their relationship. His feelings were affirmed by an unlikely source — his bulldog, Zeus.

"My dog really loved her," he said with a big smile. "I could kind of see his face like whenever I would pick my bookbag up in my apartment, he would think we're leaving to go to her place, so he would sprint to the front door. And I'd be like, 'Huh, you really like her!'"

The process of picking the perfect diamond ring started back in December, according to the 26-year-old Houston Texans free safety.


Houston-based designer ZoFrost described the center stone as a 3-carat diamond with F color and VVS2 clarity. The center stone is prong-set on a three-row, micro-pavé diamond band, and a special touch recommended by Owens was to add a halo around the diamond.

Biles had a hunch that Owens would pop the question in 2022, but last Monday's proposal caught her by surprise.

"I thought it might happen this year, but definitely not on Valentine's Day," she said. "So that's why it was such a shock. The way he set everything up was just so seamless."

Last Tuesday, the seven-time Olympic medal winner announced the big news on her Instagram account with a series of proposal photos and a caption that read, “THE EASIEST YES. I can’t wait to spend forever & ever with you, you’re everything I dreamed of and more! let’s get married FIANCÉ.”

Credits: Screen captures via / TODAY. Ring image via / simonebiles.
February 22nd, 2022
Back in July of 2021, we introduced you to an exceptional 39.34-carat blue rough diamond unearthed at South Africa’s iconic Cullinan Mine. The extraordinarily rare stone had the industry buzzing because it was remarkably similar to a record-breaking blue diamond discovered at the same mine in 2014.


That 29.6-carat rough stone was subsequently transformed into a 12.03-carat, internally flawless, cushion-cut, fancy vivid blue headliner that would be named The Blue Moon of Josephine. In 2015, the polished gem was sold at a Sotheby’s auction for $48.5 million, or more than $4 million per carat. It was the highest price per carat ever paid for a diamond.

The Blue Moon of Josephine maintained nearly 41% of its total weight during the cutting process. We mused that if the same percentage held true for the 39.34-carat blue diamond unearthed in 2021, the result would be a 16-carat finished gem. At $4 million per carat, the gem might be worth $64 million.


Well, last week Sotheby's revealed the progeny of the 39.34-carat blue rough. Named "The De Beers Cullinan Blue," the 15.10-carat, step-cut, fancy vivid blue diamond retained 38.4% of its weight during the arduous cutting process and earned the rating of internally flawless from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The gem was fashioned into its step-cut shape by Diacore’s master diamond cutters working in concert with De Beers.


Billed as the largest vivid blue diamond ever to appear at auction and the largest internally flawless step-cut vivid blue diamond that the GIA has ever graded, The De Beers Cullinan Blue could prove to be a record holder when it hits the auction block at Sotheby's Hong Kong on April 27.

As the star of a single-lot auction, the rare gem is expected to fetch at least $45 million ($2.98 million per carat), but could sell for much more.

In May 2016, the slightly smaller, 14.62-carat fancy vivid blue diamond dubbed the Oppenheimer Blue fetched an astounding $57.5 million ($3.93 million per carat) at Christie’s Geneva. While The De Beers Cullinan Blue is rated internally flawless, the Oppenheimer Blue is one grade below at VVS1 clarity.

Sotheby's noted that blue diamonds of this importance are exceptionally rare, with only five examples over 10 carats ever having come to auction. Until now, none had exceeded 15 carats.

“[The De Beers Cullinan Blue] ranks as one of the best De Beers has ever seen," noted Bruce Cleaver, CEO of De Beers Group. "It is extremely rare and unique, and as the Home of Diamonds, De Beers is pleased to join together with Sotheby’s to bring this diamond to the world.”

According to the GIA Monograph, achieving the fancy vivid color grade in a step-cut gem is a remarkable achievement.

The GIA wrote, "To achieve a Fancy Vivid grade with a step cut or emerald cut, the inherent body-color has to be stronger than virtually every other fancy shape.”

The auction house added that while other colored diamonds can be found in mines around the world, there are very few sources for blue diamonds, most of which are recovered from the Cullinan mine in South Africa.

Trace amounts of the chemical element boron are responsible for causing the coloration of natural blue diamonds. According to the Museum of Natural History, “less than one boron atom per million carbon atoms is sufficient to produce the blue coloration.”

The De Beers Cullinan Blue is currently on a promotional tour that will make stops in New York, London, Dubai, Singapore, Taipei, Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen.

Credits: De Beers Cullinan Blue images courtesy of Sotheby's. Rough diamond image courtesy of Diacore.

February 23rd, 2022
An 11,800-carat, gem-quality opal believed to be one of the top-five largest in the world was scooped up by a private Texas-based collector for $143,750 at Sunday's live-stream sale hosted by Alaska Premier Auctions & Appraisals.


Auction coordinator and appraisal specialist Nick Cline told The Jeweler Blog that the opal's new owner, who requested to remain anonymous, assured him that the specimen called "Americus Australis" would remain intact.


The brick-size, 5.2-pound gem had been recovered from the famous eight-mile opal field of Coober Pedy, South Australia, in August of 1956. At the time, the specimen was purchased by the world-renowned opal dealers Altmann Cherny & Associates in the same parcel containing the largest gem-quality opal in the world, the 17,000-carat "Olympic Australis."

That sister stone remains in the Altmann & Cherny collection to this day and is said to be valued at $1.8 million.

Cline told The Associated Press that he contacted Fiona Altmann, granddaughter of John Altmann, to confirm the provenance of "Americus Australis." After digging through old company files, she unearthed a photo of a large opal that included a caption in her grandfather's handwriting. It read, "Americus Australis."


As legend has it, John Altmann ferried Americus Australis to the US in 1957 with the intention of selling it to the Smithsonian. Instead, it was purchased by the Von Brandts, a California-based gem trading family specializing in precious opal.

For the next 24 years, Americus Australis would became a headliner at more than 400 gem and mineral shows. The specimen was purposely broken in half — a practice employed decades ago to prove the internal quality of a gem.


The prized opal left the show circuit in 1981 and found a new home as an oddity in Guy Von Brandt's furniture shop. Guy eventually moved to Oregon, where the gem remained "tucked away" and out of the public eye.

Guy's son, Fred, told the Associated Press that his father finally decided that the stone had been “locked up long enough, that it’s time to put it back out in the world and see what interest it can generate.”

Americus Australis came along for the ride when Fred relocated to Alaska a little over a year ago. Shortly thereafter, Fred connected with Alaska Premier Auctions & Appraisals to organize the sale of the stone. Cline said he pitched the South Australian Museum in Adelaide, but that organization didn't have sufficient time to make a bid.

Instead, Americus Australis will be moving to its new home in Texas, where a private collector had seen a pre-auction story about the gem in his local media and decided to make a bid.

Might Americus Australis have an opportunity to dazzle a new generation of opal lovers? Only time will tell.

Credits: Photos by Dana Fuentes / Alaska Premier Auctions & Appraisals.

February 24th, 2022
Liquid rubies and sapphires rain down from metal clouds on an enormous "hot Jupiter" exoplanet located 855 light years from Earth, according to an international group of astronomers from the Munich-based Max Planck Institute for Astronomy. The team's findings were recently published in the journal Nature Astronomy.


Located in the constellation Puppis, the exoplanet WASP-121b circles its host star in just 30 hours. It's about twice the size of Jupiter, made mostly of hot gas and is tidally locked, which means that one side of the exoplanet always faces the blazing hot star and the other side always faces cold, dark space.

The upper atmosphere of the side facing the star heats up to an inhospitable 3,000 degrees Celsius, while the dark side is much cooler at 1,500 degrees Celsius.

According to the researchers, this extreme temperature difference between the two hemispheres gives rise to strong winds that sweep around the entire planet from west to east at 18,000 kilometers per hour. Spectroscopic analysis indicates that the clouds on WASP-121b mainly consist of metals, such as iron, magnesium, chromium and vanadium.

Airborne metals and minerals simply evaporate on the hot dayside, but new evidence from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope indicates that temperatures drop low enough on the nightside for the metals to condense into clouds, resulting in rain that might look like liquified gemstones.

Corundum, the mineral family that includes rubies and sapphires, is made from aluminum oxide. Rubies owe their red color to trace amounts of chromium replacing aluminum in chemical makeup of the mineral. Sapphires get their color from trace amounts of iron and titanium.

Curiously, aluminum and titanium (two key ingredients in the corundum cocktail) were not among the gases detected in the atmosphere of WASP-121b. The scientists said a likely explanation for this is that these metals have condensed and rained down into deeper layers of the atmosphere, not accessible to their observations.

According to NASA, WASP-12b is a doomed planet. The hot Jupiter is orbiting so close to its parent star, it's literally being torn apart. Gravity causes enormous tidal forces, which are stretching the planet into the shape of an egg. The star's gravity also pulls material off the planet into a disk around the star. In 10 million years, predicts NASA, this alien world could be completely consumed.

Hot Jupiters are defined as Jupiter-like giant gas planets on close orbits around their parent stars, separated by only a few stellar diameters. Of the almost 5,000 known exoplanets, more than 300 are classified as hot Jupiters.

Credit: © Image by Patricia Klein and MPIA.
February 25th, 2022
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you wonderful songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, we feature a little-known treasure from Carly Simon’s extensive catalog called “Like a River.” It’s a heartfelt, deeply personal and hauntingly beautiful love letter to her mother, Andrea Simon, written just after her passing in 1994.


In the song, Simon describes how she and her older siblings, Joanna and Lucy, competed for her deceased mom’s precious possessions, including a very special piece of jewelry.

She sings, “I fought over the pearls / With the other girls / But it was all a metaphor / For what was wrong with us.”

The tone of the song transitions from mourning to celebration, as Simon injects a bit of levity to emphasize her mother’s spirit. She asks her mom if she can now clear up the mystery of the Sphinx and if she’s dancing with Benjamin Franklin on the face of the moon.

She also holds the promise that she and her mom will be united in the afterlife. She writes, “I’ll wait no more for you like a daughter / That part of our life together is over / But I will wait for you, forever / Like a river…”

Today’s featured song is the fourth track from Simon’s 1994 biographical album, Letters Never Sent. Simon said the songs on the album were inspired by the discovery of an old box of letters she’d written, but had never mailed. In its review, Entertainment Weekly called the album “funky, fascinating and sumptuous.”

It’s hard to believe that Simon, one of the quintessential singer/songwriters of the 1970s and former wife of James Taylor, will celebrate her 77th birthday in June. The Bronx-born, two-time Grammy winner has amassed 24 Billboard Hot 100 singles over her stellar career. She is also a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame (1994).

A few items of Simon trivia…
• She attended Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY.
• She is the daughter of Richard Simon, co-founder of the publishing house Simon & Schuster.
• She submitted a demo tape to Clive Davis at Columbia Records, who turned her down. She ended up signing with Elektra.
• She earned a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1971.
• She lived with James Taylor in the house that was later owned and made infamous by O.J. Simpson. Simon and Taylor were married from 1972 to 1983.

Please enjoy the official video of Carly Simon singing “Like a River.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Like a River”
Written and performed by Carly Simon.

Dear mother the struggle is over now
And your house is up for sale
We divided your railroad watches
Among the four of us

I fought over the pearls
With the other girls
But it was all a metaphor
For what is wrong with us

As the room is emptying out
Your face so young comes into view
And on the back porch is a well-worn step
And a pool of light you can walk into

I’ll wait no more for you like a daughter,
That part of our life together is over
But I will wait for you, forever
Like a river…

Can you clear up the mystery of the Sphinx?
Do you know any more about God?
Are you dancing with Benjamin Franklin
On the face of the moon?

Have you reconciled with Dad?
Does the rain still make you sad?
Last night I swear I could feel you
Moving through my room

And I thought you touched my feet
I so wanted it to be true
In my theater there is a stage
And a footlight you can always step into…

I’ll wait no more for you like a daughter,
That part of our life together is over
But I will wait for you, forever
Like a river…

In the river I know I will find the key
And your voice will rise like spray
In the moment of knowing
The tide will wash away my doubts

‘Cause you’re already home
Making it nice for when I come
Like the way I find my bed turned down
Coming in from a late night out.

Please keep reminding me
Of what in my soul I know is true
Come in my boat, there’s a seat beside me
And two or three stars that we can gaze into…

I’ll wait no more for you like a daughter,
That part of our life together is over
But I will wait for you forever
Like a river…

Credits: Publicity photo of Carly Simon, Elektra, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
February 28th, 2022
Petra Diamonds announced that it will be investing $289 million to extend the productive lives of its Cullinan and Finsch mines in South Africa. The mines will be turning out high-value rough gems until 2030 and beyond, according to the mining company.


The Cullinan Diamond Mine, which has been operating continuously since 1902, is responsible for producing six of the world’s largest 50 diamonds based on carat weight. These include the The Legacy of the Cullinan Diamond Mine (#45, 424.89 carats, 2019), an unnamed diamond (#39, 460.2 carats, 2009), Cullinan Heritage (#32, 507 carats, 2009), Centenary (#27, 599 carats, 1986), The Golden Jubilee (#15, 755 carats, 1985) and the granddaddy of them all — the Cullinan Diamond (#1, 3,106 carats, 1905).

The Cullinan Diamond was eventually segmented into 105 faceted gems, two of which became part of the British Crown Jewels. These included the Great Star of Africa (Cullinan I) at 530.4 carats and the Second Star of Africa (Cullinan II) at 317.4 carats.

The Cullinan mine is also the world's only significant source of high-quality blue diamonds. Just last week, we wrote about a super-rare 39.34-carat blue rough diamond unearthed in 2021 at Cullinan that has since been transformed into a 15.10-carat, step-cut, fancy vivid blue diamond. That gem is expected to sell for $48 million or more at an upcoming Sotheby's auction.

Opened in 1967, Finsch is South Africa’s second-largest diamond operation by volume and is known for generating a steady supply of 50-plus-carat stones, as well as highly commercial goods of 5-plus-carats.

Petra said that $173 million will be allocated to the Cullinan mine, while $216 million will be earmarked for the Finch mine. Although these investments will extend the life of the mines to 2031 and 2030, respectively, Petra said both mines have the potential to be productive for much longer.

The Cullinan mine in the Gauteng Province of South Africa has a current depth of 880 meters, but Petra projects that high-quality diamonds will be found as deep as 1,073 meters. The mine's life could extend 50 years or more.

The Finsch mine in Northern Cape Province, South Africa, has a current depth of 700 meters, but diamond resources are present as deep as 1,000 meters. Petra projects that the mine's potential life could extend 25-plus years.

Interestingly, the size of the kimberlite pipe at the surface of the Cullinan mine is more than 75% larger than that of the Finsch mine. The Cullinan's surface pipe spans 32 hectares, while the Finsch's pipe spans 18 hectares. A hectare is equivalent to 100 square meters or 2.47 acres.

The Cullinan Diamond Mine was previously called the The Premier Mine, but took on its new moniker in celebration of its 100th anniversary in November of 2003. The mine was established in 1902, but mining operations didn't commence until 1903.

In 2008, Petra led a consortium that acquired the Cullinan diamond mine from De Beers Consolidated Mines.

Credit: Photo of 424.89-carat and 209.2-carat D-color diamonds recovered at Cullinan in March and April of 2019 courtesy of Petra Diamonds.