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Articles in April 2022

April 1st, 2022
Welcome to Music Friday when we often bring you vintage songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, the spotlight shines on the legendary Etta James and her 1961 satirical romp, “Tough Mary.”


In the song, James steps into the role of Mary, a sassy and pretty girl who attracts more than her share of suitors. Boys come from miles around bearing gifts, but Mary makes it clear that it's going to take diamonds, not flowers, to get her attention.

James belts, “Don’t bring me flowers / Don’t bring me the sea / Just bring me diamonds, that’ll suit me fine / And I’ll love you forever, and you’ll be mine.”

“Tough Mary” is the fifth track on James’ At Last! album, a release that spawned four hits. One of those was the title song, which was to become the R&B legend’s signature tune. In 2012, Rolling Stone magazine ranked At Last! #119 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Born to a teen mother in 1938, Jamesetta Hawkins never knew her father and was raised primarily by her grandparents and foster families. She received her first professional vocal training at the age of five and soon became a popular singing attraction at the St. Paul Baptist Church in South Central Los Angeles.

She formed the doo-wop singing group — the Creolettes — with her friends in the early 1950s and scored her first hit single as a 15-year-old. One year later, James started dating B.B. King (“The King of the Blues”) and believed that King’s 1960 blockbuster hit “Sweet 16” was about her.

James went on to become a headliner in the early 1960s with a string of chart-toppers, including “The Wallflower,” “At Last,” “Tell Mama,” “Something’s Got a Hold on Me,” “Stormy Weather” and “I’d Rather Go Blind.”

Her unmistakable voice, unique style and ability to bridge so many musical genres — such as blues, R&B, soul, rock and roll, jazz and gospel — earned James coveted spots in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Blues Hall of Fame and the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Often referred to as the “The Matriarch of R&B,” James passed away in 2012, just five days shy of her 74th birthday.

We hope you enjoy the audio track of James performing “Tough Mary.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Tough Mary”
Written by Lorenzo Manley. Performed by Etta James.

Tough Mary, Tough Mary (Yeah, that’s me)
Tough Mary is tough

The boys would come from miles around
With presents every day
But when they’d call on Mary
This is what she’d say:

Don’t bring me posies, when it’s shoes I need
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
Don’t bring me flowers, don’t bring me the sea
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary is tough)
Just bring me diamonds, that’ll suit me fine
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
And I’ll love you forever, and you’ll be mine
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary is tough!)

Well, Mary, she’s a very pretty girl
I guess she was born that way
But whenever they would tell her that
This is what she’d say:

Don’t bring me posies, when it’s shoes I need
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
Don’t bring me flowers, don’t bring me the sea
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary is tough)
Come on and bring me some diamonds, that’ll suit me fine
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
And I’ll love you forever, and you’ll be mine
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary is tough!)

Tough Mary
Tough Mary
Tough Mary

Don’t bring me no posies, when it’s shoes I need
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
Don’t bring me flowers, don’t bring me the sea
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary is tough)
Come on and bring me some diamonds, that’ll suit me fine
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
And I’ll love you forever, and you’ll be mine
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary is tough!)

Oh, I’m tough
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
Yeah, yeah I’m tough

Credit: Photo by John K. Addis, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
April 4th, 2022
Newly engaged Simone Biles revealed in an Instagram Story that she wears a stand-in engagement ring during her rigorous workouts at the gym.


The simple, white silicone ring is punctuated by a petite full-cut diamond set in a bezel of 14-karat white gold.

“Okay HOW CUTE," the 25-year-old captioned a closeup shot of her new bling. "So I can work out & not damage my engagement ring.” She punctuated the post with two white heart emojis and a silly face.

On Valentine's Day, the seven-time Olympic medalist received a 3-carat oval-cut diamond engagement ring from Houston Texans free safety Jonathan Owens. The VVS2, F-color center stone was prong-set on a three-row, micro-pavé diamond band and is estimated to be worth approximately $300,000.


Biles had announced her engagement via Instagram 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.”


Four days after her engagement, Biles told the audience of The Today Show how much she loved her new ring.

“It’s definitely my most prized possession now and I’m always wearing it,” she declared during a Zoom-style interview. “It definitely beats a gold medal.”

She went on to admit that she had to consult her mom 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.”

Silicone rings have become popular choice for people who want to keep their bridal jewelry safe during physical activities. The silicon stand-in is pliable, durable, easy to clean and comfortable — especially when lifting weights, climbing and swimming.

Credits: Screen capture via / simonebiles.
April 5th, 2022
Did you hear the story about the Boston jeweler who purchased an old scarf pin at an estate sale only to find out later that the "garnet" at the center of the pin was actually a priceless 5.03-carat red diamond?


Today, The DeYoung Red Diamond enjoys its permanent residence at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, and ranks as the world's third-largest red diamond. It's also an amazing example of April's official birthstone.

Here's what we know about the origins of the red diamond.

Some time during the 1930s or 1940s, jeweler Sydney DeYoung (1897–1986) scooped up a nondescript scarf pin at an estate jewelry sale. But when he took it back to the shop and inspected it more thoroughly, the deep-red stone seemed to be of unusually high quality considering the apparent age of the jewelry.

A gem laboratory confirmed that the modified round brilliant-cut gem at the center of the scarf pin was an impossibly rare red diamond boasting a VS2 clarity grade. Today, only the 5.05-carat Kazanjian Red Diamond and the 5.11-carat Moussaieff Red Diamond are larger.

According to an account by the Smithsonian, DeYoung removed the stone from its setting, kept it in a vault, and never offered it for sale.

DeYoung decided to bequeath the diamond to the Smithsonian, and it officially became part of the National Gem Collection in December of 1987.

Curiously, The DeYoung Red Diamond was mailed to the Smithsonian in an uninsured, ordinary box. Today, the red diamond shares a display in the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals with another gift from the Boston jeweler — the 2.86-carat DeYoung Pink Diamond.

Credit: Image Chip Clark / Smithsonian, digitally enhanced by SquareMoose.
April 6th, 2022
Oregon Sunstones are truly unique because they contain tiny flecks of copper that give the stones a reddish-to-golden metallic sheen called "schiller." Sunstones exist in other parts of the world but, oddly, only the ones from Oregon contain copper.


In a nine-minute “Oregon Field Guide” video produced by the Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), geologist Emily Cahoon describes her mission to unravel the mysteries behind Oregon's official state gemstone.

In 2016, the volcanologist, geochemist and igneous petrologist stumbled upon Oregon's Ponderosa Mine, one of the world's primary sources of Oregon Sunstones.

At first, she was thrilled like a kid in a candy store.


“I saw these sunstones and was like ‘This is so cool!'" she said.

But then, as she did more research, she was shocked to learn that the scientific community really didn't know how the gems formed, even at the most basic level.

She wondered: If the gems get their schiller from inclusions of copper, did the copper enter the crystal when it was forming or at some later time?

Cahoon dated the lava flows of the flood basalt where Oregon Sunstones are found. Surprisingly, the gems embedded in the lava turned out to be younger than the lava itself — and that really didn't make sense.

She's also trying to noodle out the connection between copper and sunstone, which is a shimmery variety of labradorite that is found very specifically in the state's Columbia River Flood Basalts.

"Copper shouldn't want to go into labradorite," she said. "There's so much to learn still."

As a research associate at Oregon State University, Cahoon is working to understand how sunstones fit into the volcanic history of Oregon and the Columbia River basalts.

"But, also, just being basically on the cutting edge of how a gemstone forms is incredible and just a lot of fun," she told OPB.

Oregon Sunstone is a member of the feldspar family, a mineral that makes up more than half of the Earth’s crust. Oregon Sunstones are found in a wide range in hues, from yellow and green to red and pink. They also can be colorless or multicolored.


Here are some Oregon Sunstone specimens from the Smithsonian's National Gem Collection. The pendant at the far right was designed and carved by Nancy Chan and Greg Fraser. The center sunstone, “Spitfire,” weighs 4.53 carats and was faceted by Paul Paulson. The sunstones at the far left, “Eternal Flight,” weigh 174 carats and were carved by Bobbie Lorett.

Please check out the OPB video below…

Credit: Photo at top via Astynax, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Screen capture of Emily Cahoon via (Oregon Public Broadcasting). Photo at bottom by Ken Larsen / Smithsonian.
April 7th, 2022
Two shimmering koi — one embellished with 78 Argyle Pink Diamonds hand-set in 18-karat rose gold and the other fashioned from 80 white diamonds hand-set in 18-karat white gold — seem to slither upon the surface of The Perth Mint’s latest 3D “Jewelled” coin. Each fish has two Argyle golden diamonds for eyes.


Priced at $197,360 (AUD $262,800), The Jewelled Koi of 2022 represents the fifth in a series of highly collectible coins that have included the 2018 Jewelled Phoenix, 2019 Jewelled Dragon, 2020 Jewelled Tiger and 2021 Jewelled Horse.


The koi is widely considered to be a lucky omen for marriage, fertility, prosperity and wealth. The Perth Mint will limit the production of this coin to eight pieces, which is significant because eight is the luckiest number in Chinese culture.

According to The Perth Mint, koi have been selectively bred for decades to create fish that are said to shine like diamonds — living jewels. Fittingly, the diamond-studded koi are immortalized on a coin fabricated from 10 ounces of 99.99% pure gold.

For the first time ever, a "Jewelled" coin features a combination of pavé-set fine white diamonds and ultra-rare Argyle Pink Diamonds as part of its gleaming and intricate design.


Each coin is presented in a luxury cabinet-style case, featuring double doors adorned with 18-karat gold furnishings and two additional Argyle Pink Diamonds.

The pink and purplish-pink diamonds used in the coin's design were sourced at the now-depleted Argyle mine in Western Australia. The mine, which had been the world's leading source of pink diamonds, was shuttered in November of 2020. Each of the colored diamonds has a color rating of fancy intense to fancy vivid.


The approximate carat weight of the fancy colored diamonds is 1.26 carats, while the white diamonds total 1.18 carats and the golden diamonds weigh a total of 0.08 carats.

Measuring 61 mm (2.4 inches) across, the proof-quality coin’s reverse artistry includes the the dimensional fish, the Chinese character for koi, the inscription THE JEWELLED KOI and The Perth Mint’s traditional “P” mintmark.


The obverse features the Jody Clark effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the weight and fineness, the “2500 DOLLARS” monetary denomination, “AUSTRALIA,” the Queen’s name and the year 2022.

Credits: Images courtesy of The Perth Mint.
April 8th, 2022
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fabulous songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. In 1976, music legend Billy Joel said goodbye to Hollywood and returned to a New York state of mind. His wistful farewell to an L.A. lifestyle of fine jewelry, silk robes and caviar is chronicled in the beautiful, but unheralded, “I’ve Loved These Days.”


Joel sings, “Now as we indulge in things refined / We hide our hearts from harder times / A string of pearls, a foreign car / Oh we can only go so far / On caviar and cabernet.”

“The song is essentially one man’s farewell to a lifestyle that is as alluring as it is unsustainable,” wrote Jim Beviglia in his 2012 review in American Songwriter.

“I’ve Loved These Days” made its debut as the seventh track of Turnstiles, Joel’s fourth studio album. It appeared again 24 years later as the eighth track on disc one of 2000 Years: The Millennium Concert. Although it never was released as a single, Joel continues to perform “I’ve Loved These Days” to sold-out concert audiences.

(Trivia: The working title of "I've Loved These Days" was "These Rhinestone Days." You can check out the rare audio track of the demo at the end of this post.)

Turnstiles marked a critical turning point in Joel’s career — a time when he started to take control of his creative process.

“I produced it myself, which, in hindsight, was probably not a good idea,” Joel told WNYC, “but I didn’t want people telling me what band to work with, how to do the songs. I wanted to do it my way.”


The cover photo of the Turnstiles album features an esoteric cast of characters posing at the Astor Place subway station in New York City. Each character is linked with one of the songs from the album. The wealthy couple represents “I’ve Loved These Days” and, specifically, the life he left behind in Los Angeles.

The 72-year-old Joel, who was born in the Bronx and raised on Long Island, is one of the most prolific and successful recording artists of all time, with more than 160 million records sold worldwide. Boasting 33 Top 40 hits and 23 Grammy nominations, Joel was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.

Please check out Joel’s live performance of “I’ve Loved These Days” from 2000 Years: The Millennium Concert, a two-disc set that was recorded on New Year’s Eve 1999 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“I’ve Loved These Days”
Written and performed by Billy Joel.

Now we take our time, so nonchalant
And spend our nights so bon vivant
We dress our days in silken robes
The money comes
The money goes
We know it’s all a passing phase

We light our lamps for atmosphere
And hang our hopes on chandeliers
We’re going wrong, we’re gaining weight
We’re sleeping long and far too late
And so it’s time to change our ways
But I’ve loved these days

Now as we indulge in things refined
We hide our hearts from harder times
A string of pearls, a foreign car
Oh we can only go so far
On caviar and cabernet

We drown our doubts in dry champagne
And soothe our souls with fine cocaine
I don’t know why I even care
We’ll get so high and get nowhere
We’ll have to change our jaded ways
But I’ve loved these days

So before we end and then begin
We’ll drink a toast to how it’s been
A few more hours to be complete
A few more nights on satin sheets
A few more times that I can say
I’ve loved these days

"These Rhinestone Days" (Demo)

Credits: Photo (top) by Rob Mieremet / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons. Album cover by Columbia Records.
April 11th, 2022
Featuring 775 gemstones with a total weight of 13.3 carats, the Atlanta Braves' 2021 World Series ring includes a hidden, never-before-seen innovation — the top flips open to reveal a micro-LED illuminated replica of Truist Park.


Overall, the 14-karat gold ring tells the story of a championship journey through the use of 708 round diamonds, 44 emerald-cut diamonds, three princess-cut diamonds, four custom-cut rubies, four princess-cut rubies, 11 round rubies and one white pearl.


“The 2021 World Series ring is truly a feat of jewelry engineering and detailed storytelling. It is a stunning tribute to the Braves and their unwavering commitment to excellence this season,” said Chris Poitras VP & COO of Jostens Professional Sports Division.

When the Braves' players, coaches and staff received their rings during a pregame on-field ceremony this past Saturday, recipients were dazzled by the highly detailed rendering of Truist Park that was hiding behind the actual ring top.

Set within the stands of miniature Truist Park are 11 rubies, with each gem placed in the exact location where the Braves' 11 World Series home runs were hit against the Houston Astros on the way to the championship.

A close look at the centerfield area reveals the number "44," a nod to the jersey number of Braves legend Hank Aaron. The grounds crew at Truist Park had manicured a "44" into the grass field during a season-long tribute to the former slugger, who died in January of 2021 at the age of 86.

When flipped opened, the opposite side of the ring top includes the first three words of a memorable phrase penned by outfielder Joc Pederson in an article for the Player’s Tribune. “WE ARE THOSE…” represents the beginning of a salty line that Pederson used to describe his team's chances of winning it all in the postseason.

The ring top features the Braves “A” logo, created in contrasting 18.71-karat white gold, which pays homage to the founding of the franchise in the year 1871. Exactly 150 diamonds are pavé-set within the “A,” honoring the 150 years of franchise history. Surrounding the logo and forming a circle are an additional 193 brilliant-cut diamonds.

The words "WORLD CHAMPIONS" accent the top and bottom of the ring, set expertly with 113 diamonds. Adorning the left and right sides of the ring top are two rows of 11 emerald-cut diamonds. When combined, there are 44 emerald-cut diamonds, which celebrate Aaron's number.

Set in the four corners of the ring top are princess-cut rubies, which represent the four World Series championships achieved by the Braves.

The left side of the ring features the recipient’s name, the Braves tomahawk logo made with four custom-cut rubies and the player's jersey number set with diamonds. The bricks of Truist Park’s famous right field wall are recreated in fine detail in the background.

The right side of the ring displays the Atlanta Braves wordmark logo in the 1972 font. Below the logo is the Commissioner’s Trophy set with a single genuine white pearl. The unique use of the pearl on this championship ring is in reference to Pederson’s famous pearl necklace, which was a good luck charm during the team's 2021 postseason run.

Set in the base of the trophy are four round diamonds, honoring the Braves' fourth straight NL East Championship. Surrounding the Trophy is a stylized baseball diamond, with three princess-cut diamonds set at first, second and third base. An additional 16 round diamonds adorn the base paths.

In total, there are 23 diamonds on the right side of the ring, symbolizing the 23 home runs hit by the Braves during the 2021 postseason. Completing the right side of the ring is the championship year, 2021, and the brick wall detail.

As an added element of personalization, each player's unique signature is engraved on the interior palm of the ring.

Credits: Images courtesy of Jostens.
April 12th, 2022
In a 13-second video shared with the fans of her On the JLo newsletter, a teary-eyed Jennifer Lopez gazes down at her brand new 8.5-carat natural green diamond engagement ring from Ben Affleck and whispers, "You're perfect."


Affleck, 49, picked a green diamond because the color holds such a special place in Lopez's heart.


"I always say the color green is my lucky color," the 52-year-old Lopez affirmed in an earlier newsletter item. "Maybe you can remember a certain green dress (Versace, 2000 Grammys). I’ve realized there are many moments in my life where amazing things happened when I was wearing green. It may be a coincidence, maybe not. But as I took a better look, I realized there are no coincidences."

The extraordinarily rare cushion modified brilliant-cut green diamond is flanked by two colorless trapezoid diamonds on a platinum band.

Jewelry-industry experts believe the ring has a retail value between $5 million and $10 million.

The A-listers rekindled their romance in early 2021 and got engaged over the weekend, nearly 20 years after the singer/actress accepted Affleck's first proposal in November of 2002. At that time, the actor and filmmaker presented Lopez with a 6.1-carat pink diamond from Harry Winston. Lopez returned the ring when the couple broke up in 2004.

A fancy green diamond weighing 8.5 carats is rarer than rare, more suited to a protected case in a museum than a mortal's ring finger. Barely a handful of green diamonds are introduced to the market each year and the finest-quality gems can fetch upwards of $3 million per carat.

When it comes to fancy-colored diamonds, the two rarest colors are red and green. Green diamonds can range from light mint green to vivid grass green. The value increases with the intensity of the color. Green diamonds owe their color to the natural radiation present during their formation inside the earth.


Back in May of 2016, a 5.03-carat fancy vivid green diamond called “Aurora Green” sold for $16.82 million at Christie’s Hong Kong. It remains the most expensive green diamond ever sold at auction. Christie's noted at the time that while “fancy intense” green diamonds come to auction frequently, “fancy vivid” green diamonds are almost unheard of.

Credits: Screen captures via Aurora Green image courtesy of Christie’s.
April 13th, 2022
Retail jewelry sales in March of 2022 grew 11.9% compared to March 2021, according to statistics released by Mastercard SpendingPulse™.


The numbers are even more impressive when comparing last month's jewelry sales to pre-pandemic levels. March 2022 jewelry sales were a whopping 78.8% higher than the tallies recorded in March of 2019.


The jewelry sector has been riding a wave of great sales data that started in the summer of 2021. That's when Mastercard singled out “jewelry” as the fastest growing retail sector, with July 2021 sales jumping a whopping 54.2% compared to pre-pandemic July 2019 levels.

Then, in December, the Mastercard report emphasized how "smaller boxes had a big impact" during the holiday season, as jewelry sales soared 32% during the period that spanned November 1 through December 24.

The most recent Mastercard report emphasized how consumers' increased mobility has directly impacted their shopping habits. In-store sales, for instance, jumped 11.2% in March 2022 vs March 2021.

Other signs that consumers are getting back to their routines was the strong year-over-year performance of the airline industry (+44.8% in March), restaurants (+19.1%) and lodging (+16.0%).

Hawaii was the state with the strongest sales growth in March (up 12.2%) as more honeymooners and tourists chose that destination, according to the survey. March's other top-performing states were Wyoming (+12.2%), Colorado (+11.0%), Florida (+9.7%) and Texas (+9.1%).

“Retail sales remain strong but are stabilizing as consumers resume spending on passion areas like travel, live entertainment, indoor dining and other in-person activities,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and Chairman of Saks Incorporated. “After nearly two years of cautious optimism around the broader reopening, it’s a healthy sign that consumers are returning to a balanced level of spending across retail sectors and services.”

Mastercard SpendingPulse™ reports on US retail sales across all payment types. The findings are based on aggregate sales activity in the Mastercard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for certain other payment forms, such as cash and check.

Credits: Shopper image by Mastercard SpendingPulse, U.S. Snapshot - March 2022 table courtesy of Business Wire.
April 14th, 2022
A long-standing symbol of the world’s largest humanitarian network, "The Red Cross Diamond" will be hitting the Christie's auction block for the third time in 104 years. And just like its original appearance in 1918, the sale of the 205.07-carat canary yellow diamond on May 11 in Geneva will benefit the efforts of the International Committee of the Red Cross. The gem is reportedly worth upwards of $10 million.


The original rough stone was unearthed in 1901 in a De Beers South African mine and reportedly weighed 375 carats. Besides ranking as one of the largest diamonds in the world, a striking feature of the faceted gem is the eight-pointed Maltese Cross, which is clearly visible on the table facet of the diamond.


In April of 1918, the stone was first offered for sale at Christie’s London by the Diamond Syndicate in aid of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John, whose symbol is the Maltese cross. The cushion modified brilliant-cut diamond, which carries a color grade of fancy intense yellow and a clarity grade of VS2, was purchased by the famous London firm S.J. Phillips for a then-staggering £10,000 (approximately $786,000 today).

The Red Cross Diamond appeared for sale once more at Christie’s Geneva in November of 1973, this time achieving CHF 1.8 million and returned to private ownership.

"This is a very special bond and tremendous honor," noted François Curiel, Chairman of Christie’s Europe and Head of the Luxury Department. "Part of the proceeds of the sale will benefit the International Committee of the Red Cross, for a cause that is even more poignant in the midst of current events.”

Christie’s and the British Red Cross have a long history of partnering during crises, including during World War I (the Red Cross Pearls) and World War II (the Red Cross Sale).

The Red Cross Diamond will be on display at Christie's New York gallery from April 29 to May 1 before moving on to Christie's Geneva at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues from May 6 until the sale.

The Magnificent Jewels auction will take place on May 11 at 4pm local time, when the The Red Cross Diamond (Lot 61) will share top billing with a 228.31-carat, pear-shaped, colorless diamond called “The Rock” (Lot 26).

Credits: The Red Cross Diamond photo courtesy of Christie's. Maltese cross by Madden, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
April 15th, 2022
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, our spotlight shines on Jennifer Lopez, who set the Internet abuzz this past week when she revealed the super-rare 8.5-carat green diamond engagement ring she received from Ben Affleck — nearly 20 years after their first engagement became a tabloid sensation.


In November of 2002, Lopez famously accepted a 6.1-carat pink diamond engagement ring from Affleck, but the couple never made it to the alter.

Ironically, only a few weeks earlier, at the end of September 2002, the singer/actress scored a big hit with "Jenny From the Block," a song that focused on her eye-popping jewelry and emphasized that, despite her new fortune and fame, she remained true to her humble beginnings.

The catchy refrain goes like this: "Don't be fooled by the rocks that I got / I'm still, I'm still Jenny from the block / Used to have a little, now I have a lot / No matter where I go I know I came from, from the Bronx."

It's hard to imagine that today's A-lister was once a backup dancer for New Kids on the Block and a Fly Girl dancer on the sketch comedy television series In Living Color.

"Jenny from the Block" was released as the lead single from Lopez's third studio album, This is Me… Then. It charted in 24 countries, including a #3 position on the US Billboard Hot 100 and a #1 spot on the Canadian Singles chart.

Even though it's nearly 20 years old, "Jenny From the Block" continues to be Lopez's signature song. In fact, she included it in a medley for the Super Bowl LIV halftime show in February of 2020.

Please check out the video of Lopez performing "Jenny From the Block." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along…

"Jenny From the Block"
Written by Jennifer Lopez, Troy Oliver, Andre Deyo, Samuel Barnes, Jean Claude Olivier, Jose Fernando Arbex Miro, Lawrence Parker, Scott Sterling, Michael Oliver, David Styles and Jason Phillips. Performed by Jennifer Lopez.

Children growing, women producing
Men go work, and some go stealing
Everyone's got to make a living

Don't be fooled by the rocks that I got
I'm still, I'm still Jenny from the block
Used to have a little, now I have a lot
No matter where I go I know I came from

Don't be fooled by the rocks that I got
I'm still, I'm still Jenny from the block
Used to have a little, now I have a lot
No matter where I go I know I came from, from the Bronx

From "In Livin' Color" to movie scripts
To "On the 6" to "J.Lo" to this, headline clips
I stay grounded as the amounts roll in
I'm real I thought I told ya, I'm really been on Oprah, that's just me
Nothin' phony, don't hate on me
What you get is what you see, oh

Don't be fooled by the rocks that I got
I'm still, I'm still Jenny from the block
Used to have a little, now I have a lot
No matter where I go I know I came from, from the Bronx

Don't be fooled by the rocks that I got
I'm still, I'm still Jenny from the block
Used to have a little, now I have a lot
No matter where I go I know I came from, from the Bronx

I'm down to earth like this, rockin' this business
I've grown up so much
I'm in control and lovin' it, rumors got me laughin' kid
I love my life and my public
Put God first and can't forget to stay real
To me it's like breathing, yeah

Don't be fooled by the rocks that I got
I'm still, I'm still Jenny from the block
Used to have a little, now I have a lot
No matter where I go I know I came from, from the Bronx

Don't be fooled by the rocks that I got
I'm still, I'm still Jenny from the block
Used to have a little, now I have a lot
No matter where I go I know I came from

Yo, it take hard work to cash checks
So don't be fooled by the rocks that I got, they're assets
You get back what you put out
If even if you take the good route, can't count the hood out

After a while you'll know who to blend with
Just keep it real with the ones you came in with
Best thing to do is stay low, LOX and JLo
(Everyone's got to make a livin')
They act like they don't, but they know, yeah

Don't be fooled by the rocks that I got
I'm still, I'm still Jenny from the block
Used to have a little, now I have a lot
No matter where I go I know I came from, from the Bronx

Don't be fooled by the rocks that I got
I'm still, I'm still Jenny from the block
Used to have a little, now I have a lot
No matter where I go I know I came from, from the Bronx

Don't be fooled by the rocks that I got
I'm still, I'm still Jenny from the block
Used to have a little, now I have a lot
No matter where I go I know I came from, from the Bronx

Don't be fooled by the rocks that I got
I'm still, I'm still Jenny from the block
Used to have a little, now I have a lot
No matter where I go I know I came from, from the Bronx

Credit: Image by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from Washington D.C, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
April 18th, 2022
Jon Batiste, the musician who won big at the 2022 Grammys, revealed to CBS Sunday Morning that he and his bestselling author partner, Suleika Jaouad, secretly tied the knot in February — using bread ties as wedding rings — in a hastily arranged ceremony one day before her scheduled bone marrow transplant.


According to Jaouad, who is battling leukemia for a second time, her boyfriend had been planning a proposal for a long time, but hadn't popped the question because the ring was still in the works.


“He said to me, ‘I just want to be very clear, I’m not proposing to you because of this diagnosis. It’s taken me a year to design your ring. So, just know this timing has nothing to do with it. But what I do want you to know is that this diagnosis doesn’t change anything. It just makes it all the clearer to me that I want to commit to this and for us to be together.' But once we realized we had this tiny window before the bone marrow transplant, we decided to go for it," Jaouad said.

Jaouad described her wedding as a “tiny, beautiful, little ceremony” witnessed by a few members of the medical staff. She and Batiste pulled a few strings to get a marriage license right away and decided to use bread ties instead of formal wedding bands.

“And I’ll tell you, we walked into that bone marrow transplant unit on cloud nine," she said. "We were so happy, so brimming with love and positivity from this beautiful evening that we’d had. And I really believe that that carried us through."

Now, two months after their in-hospital ceremony, it seems as if Jaoaud did receive her proper rings.


During her interview with CBS Sunday Morning, the cameras offered a closeup of her ring finger, where she appeared to be wearing a three-stone emerald-cut diamond engagement ring, along with a bezel-set sapphire wedding band, both in yellow gold.

Batiste, 35, had been the star of this year's Grammy awards. He was nominated 11 times and took home five trophies, including the one for Album of the Year.

Jaouad became a New York Times bestselling author with her memoir, Between Two Kingdoms, which chronicled her diagnosis, treatment and recovery from her first bout with leukemia.

Batiste explained how their February wedding was an act of defiance.

"OK, this happened," Batiste said, "but this is not going to interrupt the plan that we had. This is just a bump in the road. The darkness will try to overtake you, but you just have to turn on the light, focus on the light, hold onto the light."

The 33-year-old Jaoaud shares the same positivity. The walker she uses is bedazzled with faux gemstones.


"Instead of looking at this walker and feeling a sense of dread," she said, "it kinda makes me happy."

Credits: Screen captures via
April 19th, 2022
Singer-songwriter Avril Lavigne turned to Instagram recently to announce her engagement to fellow pop-punk rocker Mod Sun and to offer a peek at her new 5-carat, heart-shaped diamond ring.


She treated her 10.8 million Instagram followers to a series of romantic proposal pics, some with a clear view of the Eiffel Tower in the background. She captioned the photos, "Oui! Je t’aime pour toujours Dimanche. 27. Mars. 2022," which means "Yes! I love you forever. Sunday, March 27, 2022." She punctuated the post with three emojis: a heart, a diamond ring and a pair of champagne glasses.


Sun, 35, chose to propose in Paris because Lavigne, 37, has always had a special affection for the city. He also chose a heart-shaped diamond because he literally wanted to give Lavigne his heart, according to the "My Happy Ending" singer's jewelry designer friend, Caryn Alpert of XIV Karats, Beverly Hills, CA.


Alpert told that when the performers met for the first time, they were stunned to notice they were wearing identical heart-shaped, pavé-accented rings. What were the chances that they would prefer the same type of jewelry and wear it out on the same day?


"They literally haven't taken them off since then," Alpert explained. "So when Mod came in, and he was ready to propose, it for sure had to be a heart because they have this whole heart connection thing."

Sun shared proposal photos on his Instagram page and captioned them with an eight-line poem:

The day we met I knew you were the one.
Together forever til our days are done.
I had a dream where I proposed in Paris.
I pulled out a ring + asked you to wear it.
I was on one knee as I looked in your eyes.
You’re too beautiful for my words to describe.
I grabbed your hand + took one last breath…
I said “will you marry me?” + she said “yes”.

At the end of the poem, he added the phrase, "I love you Avril" and punctuated it with a red heart emoji.

Alpert told that the 5-carat stone is accented by a French micropavé band that bears the words “Hi Icon," which were the first words Sun ever uttered to Lavigne. She also told that Sun had a crystal clear vision for the ring design.

"He really knew what he wanted," she said. "And we were able to find him a really beautiful selection and he just chose the biggest, prettiest one of all of them..."

Lavigne has been married two previous times. In 2006, she married pop-punk musician Deryck Whibley of the band Sum 41, but divorced in 2010.

In 2013, she married musician Chad Kroeger, frontman of Nickleback. In August of 2012, Kroeger had proposed to Lavigne with a vintage-style platinum engagement ring featuring a 10-carat pear-shaped center stone accented on each side with specially cut half-moon-shaped diamonds totaling an additional 4 carats. Their marriage ended in 2015.

Credits: Images via Instagram / avrillavigne; Instagram / modsun.
April 20th, 2022
The Houston Astros’ colorful 2021 American League Championship rings tell the story of the team's impressive run to the World Series, where they narrowly lost to the Atlanta Braves in six games. The 10-karat white and yellow gold rings feature 104 round diamonds, 15 custom-cut diamonds, four princess-cut diamonds, 42 blue sapphires and eight orange sapphires for a total gemstone carat weight of 7.10 carats.


The Astros' players and coaches received their rings on Monday as they stood along the first base line at Minute Maid Park in an exciting ceremony prior to the team's 2022 home opener.

A beautiful design detail is the use of eight custom-cut orange sapphires to make up the star of the Houston Astros logo on the face of the ring. Rising above the orange star is the Houston "H" rendered in 15 intricately set custom-cut diamonds, symbolic of the Astros 15 franchise postseason appearances. The logo sits upon a background of 40 round pavé-set diamonds surrounded by a halo of 42 genuine blue sapphires.

Framing the logo in contrasting yellow gold — signifying the team’s 2021 American League Team Gold Glove award — are the words AMERICAN LEAGUE along the top and CHAMPIONS along the bottom. These words are accented with four princess-cut diamonds, two on each side of the ring face. These four diamonds represent the number of league pennants won throughout the franchise's history.

The ring's 104 round diamonds symbolize the 95 games won during the regular season and the team's nine post-season victories. The 60 diamonds accenting the perimeter of the ring top pay tribute to the Astros' 60th season in Major League Baseball.

The left side of the ring features the player’s name in capital letters, spelled out vertically in eye-catching yellow gold. To the right of the name is the player's jersey number rendered in diamonds. Completing the left side of the ring is an intricate rendering of the home of the Astros, Minute Maid Park.

The right side of the ring features the Astros wordmark logo accented with the championship year 2021. The American League Trophy in yellow gold stands out from the white gold background. A single diamond is set in the trophy, symbolizing the most recent American League championship won by the Astros. Four banners are set on either side of the trophy, each set with a single diamond representing the team's four trips to the World Series. These five total diamonds are representative of the Astros' current run of five consecutive ALCS appearances.


The interior of the ring reveals a bit of team history by featuring the Astros logo accented by four stars and the championship years of four league pennants. The palm side of the ring displays the team’s 2021 rally cry, “FOR THE H,” with the “H” being the Astros logo.


While the gemstone descriptions of the 2021 AL championship rings are impressive, they fall a bit short of the specs of the World Series rings awarded to the Astros on opening day 2018. Also designed by Jostens, those rings — the first World Series championship rings in franchise history — used 225 colorless diamonds, nine orange sapphires and 16 blue sapphires set in 14-karat white and yellow gold. Each ring weighed 90 grams and glittered with a total gem weight of 10.40 carats.

Credits: Images courtesy of Jostens.
April 21st, 2022
Unlike Super Bowl rings that can be worth upwards of $35,000 apiece, college football's National Championship rings cannot exceed $415 in value, according to NCAA rules.


This reality creates enormous challenges for companies, such as Jostens, which was recently tasked with creating commemorative jewelry for the University of Georgia Bulldogs' National Championship football team. Instead of using diamonds and other precious gems in the design, Jostens used simulated stones. Fourteen-karat gold was replaced by less precious alloys.

Despite the necessary cost-cutting, the Bulldogs' National Championship rings still pack a punch with artful details and symbolic storytelling of a season that culminated in a 33-18 win against the #1-rated Alabama Crimson Tide. January's exciting title game drew 22.6 million viewers on ESPN.

On Saturday, the rings were presented to non-returning seniors at the Bulldogs' G-Day intrasquad game and then privately to the remaining players and coaches at a reception on Monday.

“It’s beautiful,” former Georgia nose guard Jordan Davis told ESPN2 viewers during the G-Day coverage. “We designed it ourselves, the seniors. We knew what we were getting into. It’s even beautiful in person. It looks a lot different than the mockups. We love it. This is our baby right here. We treasure this.”

The ring top features the Georgia “G” logo boldly placed atop the coveted CFP Trophy, which is set with a marquise-cut (football-shaped) stone, symbolic of the 2021 National Championship and the team's first in the CFP (College Football Playoff) era, which began in 2014. The Bulldogs' previous national championship was way back in 1980.

The base of the Trophy features three baguette-cut stones, representing Georgia’s three National Championship titles. Encircling the logo are 14 spikes, honoring the iconic Bulldog collar and representing the Bulldogs’ 14 season wins.

Set between the spikes are 20 round stones, paying homage to the 20 unanswered points scored in the fourth quarter, leading the University of Georgia to victory.

An additional 45 stones are set on the ring top, collectively representing the 45 wins of the senior class, with the words NATIONAL CHAMPIONS accenting the left and right side of the ring top. Completing the ring top are four additional stones and the team’s core characteristics: RESILIENCY, TOUGHNESS, COMPOSURE and CONNECTION.


The left side of the ring proudly displays the recipient’s name in raised gold lettering above the jersey number, title or initials, which are hand-set with colorless stones. The left-side design also includes the 2021 championship year at the bottom.


The right side of the ring adds specific details about the 2021 season. The final championship game score of 33-18 is highlighted above gate 10 of Sanford Stadium, the location of the Dawg Walk, which takes place before each home game.

Replacing the gate number on the pillars of the stadium is the number 45, a nod to the 45 total wins of the senior class. The right side is completed with the official Georgia Football National Championship logo, which is accented with a single marquise-cut stone.


The interior of the ring pays tribute to Georgia’s first national championship in 41 years with a custom logo and the "1" rendered in Bulldog red. As an added touch of personalization, the recipient's signature is engraved on the inside of the ring. The team’s motto, FAMILY, is featured on the outside palm.

Credits: Images courtesy of Jostens.
April 22nd, 2022
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you uplifting songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, newly engaged Canadian recording artist Avril Lavigne performs “Fly,” a power ballad inspired by the athletes of the Special Olympics.


In this song about having the inner strength to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges, Lavigne metaphorically states that “we were all meant to fly,” and compares the discovery of one’s special ability to unearthing a precious stone.

In the first verse, she sings, “There’s a light inside of all of us / It’s never hiding, you just have to light it / It’s the one thing that you gotta trust / It’s like a diamond, you just have to find it.”

Lavigne, who recently announced her engagement to fellow pop-punk rocker Mod Sun and shared a peek at her new 5-carat, heart-shaped diamond ring on Instagram, performed “Fly” live for the first time during the stirring opening ceremonies of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.

Proceeds from the song benefited the Special Olympics in association with The Avril Lavigne Foundation, a charity that provides support to children and youth living with serious illnesses or disabilities.

“This song means a lot to me personally,” Lavigne said at the time. “It is inspired by the many young people I’ve met throughout my work with my Foundation. They pursue their dreams no matter what obstacles they face.”

“Special Olympics’ mission is to unleash the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports,” she added, “so they’re a natural fit for this song.”

In 2014, Lavigne herself was faced with a daunting physical challenge when she was struck down with Lyme disease, a bacterial infection spread by ticks. The illness left her bedridden for five months.

“I felt like I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t talk and I couldn’t move," she said. "I thought I was dying.”

Lavigne was able to overcome her bout with Lyme disease and seemed to be in top form as she delivered a beautiful performance of “Fly” on July 25, 2015, in front of a stadium of onlookers and an international television audience.

Please check out the official video, below. The lyrics are are included if you'd like to sing along…

Written by Avril Lavigne, David Hodges and Chad Robert Kroeger. Performed by Avril Lavigne.

There’s a light inside of all of us
It’s never hiding, you just have to light it
It’s the one thing that you gotta trust
It’s like a diamond, you just have to find it

So if you ever feel like giving up
Yeah, just remember that.. we were all meant to fly

Spread your wings across the universe
It’s your time to—it’s your time to shine
There’s a light inside of all of us
Soon, you’ll find that it’s your time to fly
Your time to fly

A little help is all it ever takes
Somebody else to tell you it’s worth fighting
A single step becomes a leap of faith
That’s when you realize you started flying

So, don’t you ever say you’re giving up
No, there’s no looking back… ’cause we were all meant to fly

Spread your wings across the universe
It’s your time to—it’s your time to shine
There’s a light inside of all of us
Soon, you’ll find that it’s your time to fly
It’s your time to fly

Just reach up, don’t give up
Until you’ve touched the sky
Just reach up, don’t give up
Until you’ve realized…

That we were all meant to fly

Spread your wings across the universe
It’s your time to—it’s your time to shine
There’s a light inside of all of us
Soon, you’ll find that it’s your time to fly, fly

It’s your time to—it’s your time to shine, shine
Soon, you’ll find that it’s your time to fly

Spread your wings across the universe
It’s your time to—it’s your time to shine
There’s a light inside of all of us
Soon, you’ll find that it’s your time to fly

Credits: Photo by juliastavale, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
April 25th, 2022
Mattel's newest Barbie doll is literally fit for a queen. Sculpted in the likeness of Britain's longest-reigning monarch, the new Barbie Signature Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Doll celebrates her 70 years of service and reflects her love of fine jewelry. The toy company released the collectible on the Queen's 96th birthday, April 21.


Jewelry lovers will notice right away that Mattel's designers paid extreme attention to the miniature queen's blingy accessories, which include a replica of the iconic headpiece called the "Queen Mary Fringe Tiara." Elizabeth wore this tiara on her wedding day in 1947.


"I loved working on the accompanying jewelry, being a fan of the Crown Jewels myself," noted Robert Best, Senior Director of Barbie Design. "I've been fortunate to see the actual Crown Jewels in the Tower of London Museum! It was a cool opportunity to recreate some of them in miniature. I worked closely with (Product Design Manager) Monica LaValle, who did the technical drawings that were then translated by our sculptors."

Mattel explained on its website that each of the jewelry pieces has a history and a meaning, which was important for Robert, Monica and the sculpting team to get just right.

"The tiara is based on Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara, and the little medallions on ribbons are the Royal Family Orders," Best said. "The pink ribbon was given to the Queen by her father George VI, and the pale blue by her grandfather George V. Creating miniatures of all the jewelry did have some challenges, as capturing the details becomes increasingly difficult at such a small scale. I think Monica and the sculpting team did an amazing job and I love the way they turned out!"


The actual, full-size Fringe Tiara was originally crafted in 1919 for Elizabeth’s grandmother, Queen Mary, by royal jewelers Garrard and Co. The diamonds adorning the 47 vertical bars of the tiara were harvested from diamond necklaces given by Queen Victoria to Mary on the occasion of her wedding in 1893.

Fun Fact: In 1947, a hair stylist accidentally snapped the frame of the Fringe Tiara while assisting Elizabeth with her wedding attire just before she was scheduled to head out to Westminster Abbey for the ceremony.

Fortunately, a jeweler from Garrard and Co. was standing by in case of an emergency. Legend has it that the jeweler was rushed back to his workshop via police escort. There, he quickly mended the tiara and returned it to Elizabeth just in time.

During the Queen’s long reign, she has generously lent the Fringe Tiara to the young brides of the royal family, including Princess Anne and Princess Beatrice.


Best added that the miniature gown is not a copy of any one dress the queen wears, but rather a gown inspired by the style and color of gown that she's favored in royal portraits of herself for the past several years.

He said, "If you look at those portraits or how she dresses for important events, she very much has a signature style and look – always a very simple design in white or ivory, which makes sense given that she must then wear all the accompanying jewelry and sash as befits her rank."

The Gold Label Queen Elizabeth II Doll is available for $75, with a limit of three dolls per person.

Credits: Barbie Signature Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Doll images courtesy of Mattel. Queen Elizabeth II portrait Photograph taken by Julian Calder for Governor-General of New Zealand, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
April 26th, 2022
Climbing to a height of 175 feet or more, giant kelp will be playing a key role in De Beers' ambitious efforts to achieve carbon neutrality across its operations by 2030.


The world's largest diamond miner by value announced that it is investing $2 million in Kelp Blue, an innovative start-up that is pioneering a nature-based solution for sequestering carbon dioxide.

Kelp Blue will be managing large-scale giant kelp forests in Namibian waters that have the potential to safely and permanently lock away vast amounts of CO2 in the ocean.

Research has shown that kelp forests have carbon sequestration properties exceeding those of terrestrial forests and that they help sustain healthy marine ecosystems, providing food and shelter for countless species.

The kelp cultivation will help offset the carbon footprint of the company's seven diamond-recovery vessels that operate along Namibia's coast. The newest one — the $420 million, 580-foot-long, state-of-the-art Benguela Gem — is capable of extracting 500,000 carats annually.

While De Beers Group’s primary focus in achieving its carbon-neutral goal will be on increasing efficiency and replacing fossil fuel and fossil-based energy from its operations with renewable alternatives, carbon credits resulting from the investment in Kelp Blue will support the company in removing any remaining emissions, alongside other nature-based initiatives.

The offshore mining project, which is known to yield some the world's highest-quality diamonds, is a 50/50 joint venture between De Beers Group and the Government of the Republic of Namibia.

In 2021, Kelp Blue was awarded a license to cultivate Giant Kelp off the coast of Namibia and is now in the pilot phase.

The business will contribute infrastructure development in and around the Namibian town of Lüderitz, benefitting the local community by creating employment and up-skilling opportunities in kelp cultivation and processing.

During the pilot phase, the business will generate a range of direct and indirect jobs in biotechnology, engineering, processing, support services and logistics in Namibia.

Daniel Hooft, Founder and CEO of Kelp Blue, commented: "De Beers’ early investment in our offshore pilot – a world first in terms of scale and ambition – specifically helps us accelerate the quantification and verification of the carbon sequestration pathways, which is essential for the whole seaweed industry in terms of scientifically establishing the potential of this novel nature-based solution.”

Credit: Photo courtesy of Kelp Blue.
April 27th, 2022
Mother's Day 2022 jewelry sales are expected to hit $7 billion, making it the fastest-growing and highest-volume gift-giving category for the second year in a row, according to an annual survey released by the National Retail Federation (NRF).


The jewelry sector's record-breaking tally is up from $6.1 billion in 2021 and $5.3 billion in 2020. That's a two-year sales gain of 32%.

Exactly 41% of respondents said they will be buying jewelry for their moms this year. That's a 6 percentage point increase over 2021. Forty-seven percent of men and 35% of women said they will be gifting jewelry this Mother’s Day.

Jewelry purchases and special outings, such as dinner or brunch, are driving this year’s spending increases, according to the survey, which was conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics.

“Jewelry remains a timeless gift selection for Mother’s Day and continues to capture an increasing market share,” said Prosper Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist.

Overall Mother's Day spending is expected to total $31.7 billion this year, up $3.6 billion from a record-setting 2021. The average spend will be $245, which is $25 higher than 2021 and $41 higher than 2020.

Men are expected to budget an average of $308 for their moms, while women are slated to spend $186.

Consumers in the 25-to-34 age range are likely to spend the most on Mother's Day gifts at $346. That group is followed closely by the 35- to 44-year-olds, who are expected to spend $340.

“Consumers are eager to find memorable ways to honor their mothers and other important women in their lives and are willing to spend a little extra on this sentimental holiday,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

According to the survey, there is also a notable uptick in the number of shoppers seeking gifts that cannot be wrapped. Gifts of experience, such as concert or sporting event tickets, will be given by 27% of Mother’s Day shoppers, up from 23% last year and the highest since NRF started tracking this category in 2016.

Finding meaningful Mother’s Day gifts remains a top priority for shoppers. The most important factors are finding a gift that is unique or different (46%) and finding a gift that creates a special memory (41%).

The survey of 8,574 consumers was conducted April 1-11, 2022, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.

Credit: Image by
April 28th, 2022
The 15.10-carat "De Beers Blue" came within a whisker of setting a new world record for the priciest vivid blue diamond ever sold at auction. The hammer price of $57,471,960 at Sotheby's Hong Kong last night was just short of the $57,541,779 achieved by the 14.62-carat "Oppenheimer Blue" at Christie's Geneva in 2016.


The single-lot, live-streamed auction featured eight minutes of intense bidding, as Sotheby's reps in London and Hong Kong fielded phone offers from international buyers. The bidding started at HK$310 million and quickly zoomed to HK$380 million in increments of HK$10 million.

Then the bidding slowed down and ascended in smaller increments of HK$2 million, until the winning bid settled in at HK$390 million. With the buyer's premium, the final price was HK$450,925,000 ($57.47 million).

Sotheby's used a clever screen-in-screen presentation to reveal the interplay between auctioneer Ian McGinlay and the remote Sotheby reps. Also on the screen was a visual of the featured diamond, the current bid in Hong Kong dollars, as well as the equivalent price in seven other currencies.


Billed as the largest vivid blue diamond ever to appear at auction and a "once-in-a-generation" stone, the internally flawless, step-cut De Beers Blue was purchased by an anonymous telephone bidder for $3.8 million per carat. That number is slightly lower than the $3.93 million per carat achieved by the Oppenheimer Blue, which carried a clarity grade of VVS1.


The De Beers Blue was cut from an exceptional 39.34-carat blue rough diamond unearthed by Petra Diamonds at South Africa’s iconic Cullinan Mine in July of 2021.

The 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.


A GIA Monograph highlighted the 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.”

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 last night, none had exceeded 15 carats.

The 59.6-carat, flawless, fancy vivid pink diamond called the "CTF Pink Star” still holds the record for highest price ever paid for any gem at auction. That stone fetched $71.2 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in 2017.

Credits: De Beers Blue images courtesy of Sotheby’s. Screen capture via Rough diamond image courtesy of Diacore.
April 29th, 2022
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you classic tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Hank Williams Jr. tells the story of his 700-mile Southwestern odyssey in a 1975 song called “Clovis, New Mexico.”


Williams recounts how he and his bronc-riding pal, Billy, head out on a very-low-budget adventure that takes them from Bossier City, LA, to Abilene, TX, and finally to Clovis, NM, where Williams is smitten by a black-haired beauty with green eyes — who just happens to be the local purveyor of silver and turquoise jewelry.

He sings, “I needed some strings / Billy wanted a ring / The kind that the Indians made / A voice said hello boys / I’ve got silver and turquoise / And that’s when I saw her face.”

Williams’ trek in an old pickup truck was not scheduled to end up in Clovis, but that's where he falls in love with a gal he calls “Baby.” He describes her as a “born thriller,” who had a talent for writing lines to songs he couldn’t complete.

“Clovis, New Mexico” was the sixth track on the country singer’s critically acclaimed, breakthrough 1975 album, Hank William, Jr. & Friends. Allmusic editor Thom Jurek wrote that Williams’ release was “one of the best country-rock albums ever made and stands with the best of the outlaw recordings of the era.” It was originally released in 1975 and then re-released in 2000.

Critics claim that the album marks a critical period in Williams’ career when his music veers toward country rock and he develops his own style instead of imitating his famous dad, Hank Williams Sr.

Williams is also a talented musician who can play the guitar, bass guitar, upright bass, steel guitar, banjo, dobro, piano, keyboards, harmonica, fiddle and drums. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2020.

Born in Shreveport, La., Williams was given the nickname Bocephus as an infant by his dad, who died tragically in 1953 at the age of 29. (Grand Ole Opry fans may remember that Bochephus was the name of the ventriloquist's dummy that co-starred with comedian Rod Brasfield.)

The 72-year-old is still actively touring, with engagements scheduled in 14 states from the end of May through the middle of August.

We hope you enjoy the audio track of Williams’ performance of “Clovis, New Mexico.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Clovis, New Mexico”
Written and performed by Hank Williams, Jr.

Well me and Billy
We left Bossier City
Decided that we’d head out west
Been east and south
But it didn’t workout
We were getting’ nowhere fast
Me with my guitar
And him with his saddle
Tryin’ to out do the rest
I sang my heart out
And he rides them broncs now
And that’s what me and Billy do best.

We took interstate 20
‘Til we ran out of money
In a place just past Abilene
So I sang at a honky-tonk
And he broke the bad bronc
And we bought some gas and some beans.

With a whole lot of luck
And an old pickup truck
We made it to New Mexico
We pulled up in Clovis
And I sure didn’t know this
Was as far as I ever would go.

I needed some strings
Billy wanted a ring
The kind that the Indians made
A voice said hello boys
I’ve got silver and turquoise
And that’s when I saw her face.

That’s when I noticed
That girl down in Clovis
A black haired beauty
She set a fire to me
A green eyed lady
In old jeans that were faded
No I didn’t notice
What happened in Clovis
But I called her baby.

I asked her with care
If she’d like to share
An evening with someone like I
I said I ain’t a winner
Just a hard livin’ singer
She smiled and said meet me at nine
We ate tacos and talked
And then we took a walk
In the clean southwestern air
Then we went back to her house
I took my guitar out
And sang of my joy and despair.

She served me her wine
And she helped me write lines
To songs I could not complete
And her eyes seemed to say
Put that guitar away
That’s somethin’ that both of us need.

What a beautiful site
Was her face in the light
And the candles there on the wall
And we reached the height
Of good love on that night
And I hope we never will part.

And I’m glad I noticed
That girl down in Clovis
Daughter of a driller
She’s a born thriller
A green eyed lady
Kinda wild, kinda lazy
I didn’t notice
What happened in Clovis
But I called her baby.

Credit: Photo by Andrea Klein, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.