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Articles in December 2022

December 1st, 2022
Fifty-five years ago, a Maasai tribesman named Jumanne Ngoma happened upon a cluster of intense blue-violet crystals in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. At first glance, they appeared to be sapphires, but it was later revealed that the stones were a never-before-seen variation of zoisite.


The mesmerizing mineral quickly caught the attention of Tiffany & Co., which launched a campaign to promote the new gem. The marketing team at Tiffany was concerned the name “zoisite” sounded very much like “suicide,” so it came up with “tanzanite,” a name that would honor Tanzania, the only place on earth where tanzanite can be found.

Tiffany’s 1960s-era marketing campaign earned tanzanite the noble title of “gem of the 20th century” and, in 2002, the American Gem Trade Association added tanzanite to the jewelry industry’s official birthstone list. Tanzanite joined turquoise and zircon as the official birthstones for December.

Tanzanite is said to be 1,000 times more rare than diamonds due the fact that tanzanite is mined in an area that measures 2km wide by 4km long and that the remaining lifespan of the mine is said to be less than 25 years.

Despite tanzanite’s immediate commercial success, Ngoma didn't reap any financial gain from his discovery until April of 2018, when Tanzanian President John Magufuli presented the then-78-year-old with a reward of 100 million shillings (about $44,000) from the Tanzanian government. That amount was nearly twice the annual salary of an average Tanzanian. Ngoma, in ill health and partially paralyzed, passed away in January of 2019. Obituaries celebrated him as a national hero.

Tanzanite’s exquisite color is an intoxicating mix of blue and purple, unlike any other gemstone. Tanzanite comes in a wide range of hues, from light blues or lilacs, to deep indigos and violets. The most valuable tanzanite gemstones display a deep sapphire blue color with highlights of intense violet. The Smithsonian’s website explains that tanzanite exhibits the optical phenomenon of pleochroism, appearing intense blue, violet or red, depending on the direction through which the crystal is viewed.

The platinum ring shown, above, is an award-winning piece by designer Mark Schneider. It features a 9.43-carat trillion tanzanite, accented by 1 carat of white diamonds. The ring captured an AGTA Spectrum Award 2003 in the Evening Wear category.

Credit: Image by Mark Schneider, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
December 2nd, 2022
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fabulous songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we feature Fleetwood Mac's iconic 1977 hit, "The Chain," a song that represents the band's strength, love and resilience despite five decades of personal and professional obstacles.


For Christine McVie, who passed away this week at the age of 79, “The Chain” was more than a song. It was a very special silver chain bracelet given to her by fellow band member Stevie Nicks.

“Stevie gave me this chain,” she told The New Yorker in 2015. “It used to have a diamond feather on it. It’s a metaphor, you know. That the chain of the band will never be broken. Not by me, anyways. Not again by me.”

Even though Fleetwood Mac enjoyed enormous success, McVie had left the band in 1998 after being overwhelmed by a fear of flying. The other band members, including Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie and Lindsey Buckingham, continued to tour, but the band did not seem complete without Christine McVie.

Finally, at the age of 71, McVie came to the realization that she missed the audience. She wanted to tour again and asked each of her former mates, individually, if she could rejoin the band. Each was thrilled to have her back, although Buckingham maintained one caveat: She couldn’t waltz in and waltz back out again. She had to be in it “for the whole nine yards.”

McVie agreed, worked with a psychiatrist to get her past her phobia, and rejoined the band just in time for their 33-city North American tour, which opened in September of 2014.

Every Fleetwood Mac concert starts off with the steady, thumping, rhythmic instrumental lead-in to “The Chain,” the only song on the 1977 Rumours album to be credited to all five band members. The song was literally spliced together from combinations of several previously rejected elements.

The song originally represented the internal fractures — both romantically and professionally — of the band members, but eventually came to symbolize their triumph in staying together.

The Rumours album sold more than 45 million copies and is one of the best selling albums of all time. In total, the band has sold more than 120 million albums worldwide.

Born in Lancashire, England, in 1943, McVie developed her love for music at the age of 11 and continued her classical training until she was 15. She originally studied sculpture at the Moseley School of Art in Birmingham and had aspirations of becoming a teacher.

But her professional interests started to change when she was asked by two friends to join a band called Sounds of Blue. After college, she played keyboards and sang background vocals for the blues band Chicken Shack under the name Christine Perfect.

Christine married Fleetwood Mac bassist John McVie in 1968 and joined his band in 1970 as a singer and keyboardist. Despite divorcing in 1976, the couple continued to maintain a close friendship and professional partnership.

Her Fleetwood Mac bandmates were collectively heartbroken after learning that McVie died on November 30 after a brief illness.

Mick Fleetwood wrote on Instagram, "Part of my heart has flown away today. I will miss everything about you Christine McVie. Memories abound… they fly to me."

Please check out the video of Christine McVie and Fleetwood Mac performing “The Chain.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.

“The Chain”
Written by Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie, John McVie and Lindsey Buckingham. Performed by Fleetwood Mac.

Listen to the wind blow
Watch the sun rise

Run in the shadows
Damn your love, damn your lies

And if you don’t love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you sayin’
You would never break the chain
(Never break the chain)

And if you don’t love me now
(You don’t love me now)
You will never love me again
I can still hear you sayin’
(Still hear you sayin’)
You would never break the chain
(Never break the chain)

Listen to the wind blow
Down comes the night

Run in the shadows
Damn your love, damn your lies

Break the silence
Damn the dark, damn the light

And if you don’t love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you sayin’
You would never break the chain
(Never break the chain)

And if you don’t love me now
(You don’t love me now)
You will never love me again
I can still hear you sayin’
(Still hear you sayin’)
You would never break the chain
(Never break the chain)

And if you don’t love me now
(You don’t love me now)
You will never love me again
I can still hear you sayin’
(Still hear you sayin’)
You would never break the chain
(Never break the chain)

(Yea, keep us together)
Run in the shadows
(Yea, keep us together)
Run into the shadows
(Yea, keep us together)
Run into the shadows
(Yea, keep us together)
Run in the shadows
(Yea, keep us together)

Credit: Photo by Raph_PH, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
December 5th, 2022
Described as a "new animated red that revels in pure joy," Viva Magenta was just named Pantone's Color of the Year for 2023.


According to The Pantone Color Institute, Viva Magenta is inspired by cochineal, a red dye derived from the dried bodies of female cochineal insects. Cochineal dye was used as early as the second century BC by the Aztecs and Mayans. Incidentally, it takes 70,000 cochineal insects to make one pound of dye.

"In this age of technology, we look to draw inspiration from nature and what is real," said Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director, Pantone Color Institute. "PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta descends from the red family, and is inspired by the red of cochineal, one of the most precious dyes belonging to the natural dye family as well as one of the strongest and brightest the world has known."


Pantone said its 2023 Color of the Year is powerful and empowering — a new animated red that revels in pure joy, encouraging experimentation and self-expression without restraint. It's an electrifying and boundary-less shade that is manifesting as a stand-out statement.

Consumers who embrace Viva Magenta-inspired fashion items will be accessorizing with fine jewelry featuring ruby, garnet, tourmaline, spinel and red beryl.

Viva Magenta takes the reins from 2022's Very Peri, a dynamic periwinkle blue hue with an intense violet-red undertone. Veri Peri was a brand new Pantone color, and its selection marked the first time the international color authority cooked up a color and then instantly designated it as the Color of the Year.

To arrive at the selection each year, this global team of color experts at the Pantone Color Institute comb the world looking for new color influences. This can include the entertainment industry and films in production, traveling art collections and new artists, fashion, all areas of design, aspirational travel destinations, new lifestyles, play styles or enjoyable escapes as well as socio-economic conditions. Influences may also stem from new technologies, materials, textures and effects that impact color, relevant social media platforms and even upcoming sporting events that capture worldwide attention.

The Pantone Color Institute originally created the Pantone Color of the Year educational program in 1999 to engage the design community and color enthusiasts around the world in a conversation around color.

"We wanted to draw attention to the relationship between culture and color," said Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute. "We wanted to highlight to our audience how what is taking place in our global culture is expressed and reflected through the language of color. This thought process rings just as true today just as it did back in 1999."

Typically, Pantone’s yearly selection influences product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home furnishings and industrial design, as well as product packaging and graphic design.


Here are the Pantone Colors of the Year dating back to 2010…

PANTONE 17-3938 Veri Peri (2022)
PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray (2021)
PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating (2021)
PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue (2020)
PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral (2019)
PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet (2018)
PANTONE 15-0343 Greenery (2017)
PANTONE 13-1520 Rose Quartz (2016)
PANTONE 15-3919 Serenity (2016)
PANTONE 18-1438 Marsala (2015)
PANTONE 18-3224 Radiant Orchid (2014)
PANTONE 17-5641 Emerald (2013)
PANTONE 17-1463 Tangerine Tango (2012)
PANTONE 18-2120 Honeysuckle (2011)
PANTONE 15-5519 Turquoise (2010)

Credits: Images courtesy of Pantone.
December 6th, 2022
The humble, but widely loved, text message celebrated its 30th anniversary on December 3. Three decades ago, British software programmer and test engineer Neil Papworth sent the world’s very first text, which simply read, "Merry Christmas.”


Today, texting is one of the most popular forms of communication, with Americans sending more than 6 billion text messages each day, which translates to 2.2 trillion per year.

So it may not come as a surprise to learn that more than a quarter (26%) of Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) claim to have received a marriage proposal via text. This compares to 17% for Gen Zers (born 1997 to 2012), 6% for Gen Xers (born 1965 to 1980) and 1% for Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964). It's also fun to wonder how dramatically the Gen Z percentage will increase as more of them progress toward marrying age.

The new data is from Infobip's 2022 “30th Anniversary of the SMS” survey, which sheds light on how, where and when Americans are communicating with each other. Infobip is a global leader in omnichannel communications.

Texting has become an integral part of the courting process, as a solid majority of Millennials (63%) and Gen Zers (61%) reported sending romantic messages via this medium. The numbers decline slightly among Gen Xers (46%) and dramatically among Baby Boomers (14%).

The survey found that Americans would rather communicate via SMS, Whatsapp or another form of instant messaging (41%) than a phone call (24%). This trend was even more apparent among younger respondents, with approximately half of Gen Zers (48%) and Millennials (53%) preferring messaging over calling.

They survey revealed that texting has penetrated US society so thoroughly that there seem to be no boundaries on how or when it is used, no matter how inappropriate.

  • For example, more than half (52%) of Millennials admitted to the dangerous habit of texting while driving, compared to 40.7% of Gen Xers, and about 30% of Baby boomers and Gen Zers.
  • More than a third of the respondents (36.9%) confessed to texting during a work meeting, with Millennials being the biggest offenders (47.3%).
  • A significant portion of Millennials (36%) and Gen Zers (30.8%) have texted at a wedding.
  • A surprising amount of Millennials (26.8%) reported texting at a funeral.
  • Nearly half of Gen Zers (45%) have been dumped over text, compared to 38% of Millennials, 12% of Gen Xers and 4% of Baby Boomers.

The survey affirmed that with 27.5% of respondents checking their text messages within one minute, and 40% checking them within one to five minutes, it’s clear the US is a nation of texters.

The Infobip survey, conducted by Propeller Insights, reflects the responses from 1,000 adults, gender-balanced and distributed across age groups from 18 to 65+ in the United States. The survey took place during October of 2022.

Credit: Image by
December 7th, 2022
Early season donations of valuable diamond jewelry and gold coins are signaling a bright holiday season for Salvation Army chapters across the country.


The Salvation Army’s bell-ringing season starts each November and runs through Christmas Eve. Most of the donations come in the form of pocket change and paper money, but each year the well known charitable institution is excited to promote instances of anonymous benefactors generously dropping precious items into the iconic Red Kettles.

In Hopkinton, MA, for example, a generous resident sneaked a diamond ring worth more than $1,000 into The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle outside the Price Chopper supermarket on West Main Street.

A stunned Salvation Army volunteer discovered the 12-stone, 14-karat white gold ring while sifting through the day's donations, according to Boston TV station WHDH.

The volunteer brought the ring to a local jeweler, who verified that it was, indeed, fine jewelry and confirmed a four-figure valuation.


“When we get generous donations like this, it certainly helps our overall effort, so we really appreciate whoever the person was who deposited this ring in the kettle,” Kevin Polito, a Milford Corps. Salvation Army Captain, told the news outlet.

In the Detroit area, an anonymous patron recently dropped a rare, 1980 South African gold Krugerrand into a kettle at a Kroger supermarket near St. Clair Shores. The 1-ounce, pure gold coin carries a value of nearly $1,800.

According to Detroit TV station WXYZ, the latest gold coin donation marked the 10th consecutive year that a gold Krugerrand has been deposited in a Red Kettle in that community.

About 475 miles southwest, in Evansville, IN, Salvation Army volunteers were delighted to retrieve a gold coin from a Red Kettle in front of the West Side Walmart. Salvation Army officials told that the donation occurred on a "matching day," when all kettle donations for the weekend were matched by an unnamed philanthropist, up to $10,500.

The Salvation Army Red Kettle Program can track its origins to 1891, when Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee struggled with the reality that so many poor individuals in San Francisco were going hungry. During the holiday season, he resolved to provide a free Christmas dinner for the destitute and poverty-stricken. His only hurdle was a tall one — funding the project.

According to The Salvation Army’s official website, McFee’s red kettle idea was inspired by his days as a sailor in Liverpool, England. There, he remembered an iron kettle called “Simpson’s Pot” into which passers-by tossed a coin or two to help the poor.

The next day, McFee placed a similar pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing at the foot of Market Street. Beside the pot, he placed a sign that read, “Keep the Pot Boiling.” He soon had the money to see that the needy people of the area were properly fed at Christmas.

According to a Salvation Army press release, Red Kettle volunteers didn’t become bell ringers until 1900, when a young cadet named Amelia from New York City bought a 10-cent bell to ring. The bell was a huge success and drew attention and donations from those who passed. Not long after, all the cadets had bells to ring.

Now in its 131st year, the Red Kettle Campaign is one of the longest-running and most recognizable fundraising efforts in the world. Red Kettles are now used worldwide and can be found in Korea, Japan, Chile and throughout Europe.

During its Christmas season campaign, approximately 25,000 bell ringers, young and old, brave the elements to help The Salvation Army raise money for local community programs. The Salvation Army serves more than 30 million Americans each year.

Credits: Images courtesy of The Salvation Army.
December 8th, 2022
An elaborate and stylish necklace discovered at an early-Christian burial site dating back to the 7th century AD was revealed to the press on Tuesday by scholars at the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA).


Dubbed the "Harpole Treasure," the necklace is unique because it likely belonged to a powerful female religious leader during a time when Christianity was beginning to take root in England and women were playing a vital role in spreading new religious practices.


The necklace recovered from the gravesite near Northampton in central England contains a prominent centerpiece designed with red garnets arranged in a cross motif. Surrounding the cross are 30 dangling pendants, eight of which are Roman gold coins and the rest unspecified cabochon-cut stones set in gold bezels.

MOLA specialists released a comparison image, which shows the necklace in its current state alongside a computer-generated rendering of what it looked like when it was brand new.

The Harpole Treasure, which dates to a period between 630 and 670 AD, was discovered on the next to the last day of an eight-week dig that was a routine part of the planning process required by property developers in the UK. The project was funded by the Vistry Group, which had been planning a housing development in the area. The treasure takes its name from the village where it was found.


“This find is truly a once-in-a-lifetime discovery — the sort of thing you read about in textbooks and not something you expect to see coming out of the ground in front of you,” archaeologist Simon Mortimer, said in a statement.

A MOLA site supervisor, who believed he was sorting through an ancient rubbish pit, happened upon the necklace by accident.

At first, Levente-Bence Balázs came across the crowns of two teeth and then he saw a glint from the rectangular pendant that formed the centerpiece of the necklace.

"In 17 years of excavating sites, this was the first time I've found gold," he told CNN. "It's not just the artifacts, it's the sheer magnitude of the find."

The teeth and jewelry signaled to Balázs that he had discovered a burial site. Upon further excavation, the scientists were able to confirm that the jewelry was part of a "bed burial" ritual, where women of high status were buried in their beds along with valuable possessions.

In this case, the woman was surrounded by two decorated clay pots crafted in France or Belgium and a shallow copper dish. Also found near the body was an ornate silver cross cast with the likenesses of four human faces. This likely would have been placed on the devout woman's chest during the burial.

MOLA's senior finds specialist Lyn Blackmore told CNN that later Christian graves did not include jewelry because the practice of burying the dead with their valuables was frowned upon by the Christian Church.

All of the items unearthed at the Harpole site are being meticulously analyzed by MOLA conservators, who are hoping to find clues regarding how the objects were used in life or during burial rites.

British TV network BBC Two will be highlighting the Harpole Treasure on its series called Digging for Britain. The episode is set to air in January of 2023.

Credits: Images courtesy of the Museum of London Archaeology.
December 9th, 2022
Welcome to a special holiday edition of Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Kelly Clarkson sings about the glittery items on her Christmas wish list in the 2013 favorite “4 Carats.”


In this tune penned by Clarkson and three collaborators, the “Original American Idol” temporarily casts aside her squeaky clean image and implores Santa to make her Christmas Eve, "4 carats, please."

She proclaims that she’s been good all year and deserves a “shiny” gift. Specifically, she has her heart set on a canary yellow diamond or red ruby. And, yes, size matters. The baubles have to weigh in at 4 carats.

In the catchy refrain, she sings, “Like a diamond ring / Just a little something from Tiffany’s / Or a big ruby / You know red has always looked good on me.”

Later in the song, as the clock strikes 2 in the morning, Clarkson is concerned that Santa may have forgotten her.

This is when she coos about fancy yellow diamonds: “Mm, something sparkly / Yellow canaries / Ooh yea yea / Mm, I’m waiting patiently / Santa don’t forget me / Ooh don’t forget me!”

Clarkson told Billboard magazine that “4 Carats” was inspired by Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby” (1953) and Madonna’s “Material Girl” (1984). The end result was a mashup of the two. Music critics generally praised the song for its memorable pop hook and bouncy melody.

“4 Carats” appeared as the 12th track on Clarkson’s popular Wrapped in Red Christmas album, which was certified platinum after selling more than one million copies. The album peaked at #3 on the US Billboard 200 chart and the single reached #30 on Billboard's Holiday Digital Songs chart.

Born in Ft. Worth, TX, in 1982, Kelly Brianne Clarkson rose to fame in 2002 after winning the inaugural season of American Idol. In a career spanning 20 years, Clarkson has sold 25 million albums and 45 million singles worldwide, making her the second-best-selling American Idol contestant to date, just behind Carrie Underwood.

Clarkson served as a coach on The Voice from its 14th season ( February 2018) to its 21st season ( September 2021). She's expected to return for Season 23 (March 2023). She also has hosted her own daytime talk show, The Kelly Clarkson Show, since September of 2019.

Please check out the audio track of Clarkson’s “4 Carats.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“4 Carats”
Written by Kelly Clarkson, Cathy Dennis, Livvi Franc and Gregory Kurstin. Performed by Kelly Clarkson.

The door’s unlocked
And you don’t even have to knock
Or you can use the fireplace
I’ll be waiting either way

You come and go
And no one is supposed to know
But ever since you caught my stare
You know I know that you are real

Well Santa I’ve been thinking
And I’m just in needin’ one thing
You to bring me, something shiny

Like a diamond ring
Just a little something from Tiffany’s
Or a big ruby
You know red has always looked good on me

I won’t tell (I won’t tell) anyone
I’ve been good all year long
Oh Santa make my Christmas Eve
4 carats please

Oh oh

It’s getting late
I know you have your rounds to make
But I’ve been waiting up for you
And now the clock has just struck 2

I’m looking out my windows
Looking for a red nose
My heart’s sinking
Don’t forget me

Oh my diamond ring
Just a little something from Tiffany’s
Or a big ruby
You know red has always looked good on me

I won’t tell (I won’t tell) anyone
I’ve been good all year long
Oh Santa make my Christmas Eve
4 carats please

Oh oh
Oh oh

Mm, something sparkly
Yellow canaries
Ooh yea yea
Mm, I’m waiting patiently
Santa don’t forget me
Ooh don’t forget me!

Oh my diamond ring
Just a little something from Tiffany’s
Or a big ruby
You know red has always looked good on me

I won’t tell (I won’t tell) anyone
I’ve been good all year long
Oh Santa make my Christmas Eve
4 carats please

Oh oh
Oh oh
Oh oh
Oh oh

Credit: Photo by Marc Piscotty, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
December 12th, 2022
Philanthropist and humanitarian Mitzi Perdue’s 400-year-old historic emerald hit the auction block at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels Sale in New York last week and the results were stellar. Despite a modest pre-sale high estimate of $70,000, the 5.27-carat emerald mounted on a gold band drew a winning bid of $1.2 million with all the proceeds going to benefit humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.


The emerald in its rough form had been salvaged from the galleon named Nuestra Señora de Atocha, which sank along the reefs near the Florida Keys in 1622 after getting caught in a storm. The ship was making its return trip to Spain with a hull full of treasure collected from Bolivia, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, the Caribbean and the Andes. The bounty included 24 tons of silver ingots, 180,000 silver coins, 125 gold bars and discs, 70 pounds of emeralds and a cache of precious natural pearls.

Lost for 363 years, the Atocha was finally discovered in 1985 by treasure hunter Mel Fisher with the assistance of some high-profile benefactors, such as chicken magnate Frank Perdue. Fisher and his team would eventually recover artifacts with an estimated value of more than $1 billion, and Perdue was awarded a portion of the spoils, most of which he donated to Delaware Tech and the Smithsonian.


One item that he decided to keep was a rough emerald that he would have cut into a 5.27-carat finished stone and mounted in an engagement ring for the love of his life, Mitzi. He proposed with the octagonal-shaped, step-cut gem in 1988.

"My late husband was the most philanthropic person I ever knew," Perdue told Town & Country, "and I was certain that he'd be pleased with this use of his gift."

Regarding her emotional connection to the emerald, she told T&C that the "sentimentality reaches to the outer galaxies."

"But when I was deciding whether to do it or not, I was thinking, 'Oh, this ring has the possibility of saving people from a lot of suffering," she said.

On her website, the human rights activist, who also happens to be the heiress to the Sheraton Hotels fortune (her dad co-founded the chain), explained that the proceeds from the sale of her engagement ring will purchase warm clothes, flashlights, small generators and other items requested by the Mayors of Lviv and Kyiv.

In addition, some of the funds will go to rehabbing buildings on the Ukrainian border, where women can be counseled before they cross.

"Human traffickers prey on the vulnerable," she wrote, "and during the Ukraine war, traffickers lurk on Ukraine’s borders, targeting women and children. The goal is to keep them from making a decision that may cost them their lives."

Perdue has developed a deep fondness and respect for the Ukrainian people.

"I spent five days there," the 81-year-old Harvard grad told T&C. "My first night was in a bomb shelter, so it was eventful, but I came away with just infinite admiration for the people of Ukraine and their strength, their backbone and courage."

In addition to supporting Ukraine with the proceeds from the sale of her engagement ring, Perdue also pledged all the proceeds from her new book, Relentless: Mark Victor Hansen.

Credits: Ring image courtesy of Sotheby's. Photo of Mitzi and Frank Perdue courtesy of Mitzi Perdue.

December 13th, 2022
A gamma-ray burst generated by a rare kilonova signaled the birth of platinum, gold and other heavy elements equal to 1,000 times the mass of the Earth, according to an international team of scientists.


On Dec. 11, 2021, NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory and Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope detected a blast of high-energy light from the outskirts of a galaxy approximately 1 billion light-years away in the constellation Boötes.

This gamma-ray burst, identified as GRB 211211A, lasted about a minute – a relatively lengthy explosion, which would usually signal the collapse of a massive star into a supernova. But during the past year of research, scientists learned that this event contained an excess of infrared light and was much fainter and faster-fading than a classical supernova, hinting that something different was going on.

In papers published in both Nature and Nature Astronomy, an international team of scientists described how the infrared light detected in the burst came from a kilonova, which occurs when two super-dense neutron stars in a binary star system collide, emitting gamma-rays. NASA explained that these are most powerful events in the universe.

When neutron stars collide and merge, they create a cloud of hot debris emitting light across multiple wavelengths. Scientists hypothesize that jets of high-speed particles, launched by the collision, produce the initial gamma-ray flare before they collide with the wreckage. Heat generated by the radioactive decay of elements in the neutron-rich debris likely creates the kilonova’s visible and infrared light. This decay results in the production of heavy elements, such as gold and platinum.

“We found that this one event produced about 1,000 times the mass of the Earth in very heavy elements," noted Dr. Matt Nicholl, an Associate Professor at the University of Birmingham, who modeled the kilonova emission. "This supports the idea that these kilonovae are the main factories of gold in the universe.”

Its proximity in a neighboring galaxy only one billion light years away gave scientists the opportunity to study the properties of the merger in unprecedented detail with multiple telescopes.

Back in 2017, astronomers from around the globe jointly reported a kilonova blast from a clash of neutron stars 130 million light years from Earth in the constellation Hydra. They cooperated in pointing their high-powered equipment at the scene to record the visible light, radio waves, X-rays and gamma rays emitted from the blast.

Their equipment identified massive amounts of platinum, gold and silver, estimated at the time to be worth in excess of $100 octillion. That’s $100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (1 followed by 29 zeroes).

Credit: Graphic by A. Simonnet (Sonoma State Univ.) and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
December 14th, 2022
By reviewing surveillance video, the general services director of a transfer station in Windham, NH, was able to narrow down the location of a garbage bag containing a bridal set that had been accidentally thrown away.


Kevin Butler had mistakenly discarded the rings that his wife of 32 years had just cleaned and wrapped in a white napkin to dry. In the Windham community, residents can opt to have their trash picked up at the curbside or they may deliver the trash directly to the local transfer station.

In Butler's case, he hand delivered the trash to the station. General Services Director Dennis Senibaldi knew that their surveillance video would provide vital clues as to exactly when and where Butler dropped off his garbage.

“That in itself was amazing," Butler told The Washington Post. "If we didn’t have that surveillance camera, there’s no way we would have found it. There was so much trash.”

After viewing the video, Dennis Senibaldi, his crew and Butler spent the next 30 minutes sorting through a trailer that contained 20 tons of very disgusting and smelly garbage.

Specifically, they were looking for a grey-handled white bag that contained particular items that the Butlers has just thrown away — celery stalks and yogurt cups.

Senibaldi described Butler's demeanor as "a little frantic."

“I could clearly see in his eyes that he was definitely stressed,” he told The Washington Post. “There’s a lot of meaning in those rings for him and his wife.”

When they finally found the grey-handled bag (with some celery sticks protruding from the side), the team was encouraged. But, as they sorted through the bag's contents, the mood changed as there were no rings to be found.

“As we were going through the bag that we knew was his, he actually said, ‘It's not in here.’ And I said, ‘No, there's a couple little pieces left,'” Senibaldi told WMUR-TV. “I had my rubber gloves on, I moved a few items out of the way and saw literally the very last napkin and I opened it up.”

Tucked inside that napkin were Cindy Butler's engagement ring and wedding band, precious keepsakes that totaled 2.5 carats in diamonds.


A relieved Kevin Butler jumped to his feet and hugged Senibaldi.

Commenting on his 30 minutes sorting through nasty trash, Butler told WMUR-TV, "Wouldn’t recommend anyone else do it. But, you know, to get the rings back, I would do it a thousand times over.”

Butler and his wife thanked Senibaldi and his crew by hosting a pizza lunch the following weekend.

Check out WMUR-TV's report at this link.

Credits: Screen captures via / WMUR-TV.
December 15th, 2022
Hardly a stranger to over-the-top jewelry, Canadian recording artist Drake shook up the Internet Tuesday by revealing "Previous Engagements," a necklace made from 42 eye-popping diamonds earmarked for marriage proposals that never came to be. The diamond total weight of the piece is 351.38 carats, putting the average center stone at 8.36 carats.


The necklace — commemorating "all the times he thought about it, but never did" — was designed and fabricated by New York City-based celebrity jeweler Alex Moss, who posted a short video of "Previous Engagements" on his business's Instagram page.

The voice-over describes the necklace as a "monumental art piece" and a "true wonder of the jewelry world." Drake's hand-selected diamonds — in round, pear, Asscher and emerald shapes — are set in 18-karat white gold utilizing the eagle claw technique.

Moss told E! News that "top to bottom" the entire project took 14 months to complete, adding that “No other details can be disclosed, other than the fact that this is the most insane chain ever made.”

Drake fans were dazzled not only by the jewelry, but also by the fact that the 36-year-old chart-topper had been involved in 42 proposal-worthy relationships.

Assuming that his quest for the perfect partner began when he was 18, that means he's averaged nearly 2.5 engagement contemplations — and significant diamond picks — per year.

It's not clear if any of the 42 center stones was ever set into an engagement ring.

The Toronto-born singer-songwriter, who has sold more than 170 million records worldwide, has been romantically linked with a number of high-profile celebrities, including Rashida Jones, Tyra Banks, Rihanna, Serena Williams, Kat Dennings and Jennifer Lopez.

The self-proclaimed “Certified Lover Boy” reportedly wore "Previous Engagements" for the first time during a concert in Atlanta this past Saturday at State Farm Arena.

You can check out the short video of "Previous Engagements" at Alex Moss's Instagram page here.

Credits: Screen capture via Instagram / AlexMoss.
December 16th, 2022
Welcome to a special holiday edition of Music Friday when we bring you fun and festive songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Crofts Family siblings Callie, Colette and Devri make their best pitch for engagement ring gifts in their 2014 release, “Merry Christmas, Marry Me.”


Employing the close-harmony style reminiscent of The Andrews Sisters, the Crofts girls deliver a lyrical marriage proposal to boyfriends who won’t take the plunge. In the official video, the sisters adopt the look and sound of the swing and boogie-woogie eras.

They sing, “I hear those church bells ringing for the season / But they give me starry eyes / And I’ve got an empty finger right here to put a ring on / Darling, if you ever get wise.”

Written by Callie Crofts, “Merry Christmas, Marry Me” appeared as the seventh track on the Crofts Family album titled Sparrow in the Birch: A Crofts Family Christmas.

The Crofts Family, which hails from the tiny town of Firth, ID (pop. 530), is led by patriarch Vincent Crofts, who encouraged his daughters to develop their musical talents at a young age. It’s been reported that their country home looks like a scene from a vintage Christmas card.

By age 12, Callie Crofts was already an accomplished songwriter and guitar player. As an adult, she persuaded her family to finally produce the Christmas album they had always wanted to record. The 2014 release would include a number of holiday favorites that the girls sang as children, as well as two original tunes written by Callie.

One reviewer wrote that the voices of the Crofts girls are “pure and angelic with harmonies that hold your emotions hostage.”

Please check out the official video of the Crofts Family performing “Merry Christmas, Marry Me.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Merry Christmas, Marry Me”
Written by Callie Crofts. Performed by the Crofts Family.

Merry Christmas, marry me a thousand times
I wanna know you’re mine, mine
So baby please don’t let no

No-good honey steal a kiss
Under the mistletoe
Merry Christmas, love me ’til the end of time
I wanna hang your stocking next to mine
When we’re ninety-nine

I hear those church bells ringing for the season
But they give me starry eyes
And I’ve got an empty finger right here to put a ring on
Darling, if you ever get wise

Merry Christmas, marry me a thousand times
I wanna hang your stocking next to mine
When we’re ninety-nine

Merry Christmas, I don’t need a present
Wrapped up with a shiny bow, no no
You know what I’m wishing for
So don’t you make me wait anymore

Merry Christmas, and honey if you cause a scene
When you get down on one knee
It won’t bother me

I hear those church bells ringing for the season
But they give me starry eyes
And I’ve got an empty finger right here to put a ring on
Darling, if you ever get wise

Merry Christmas, love me ’til the end of time
I wanna hang your stocking next to mine
When we’re ninety-nine

I hear those church bells
Ringing for the season
But baby we could ring ’em
For a whole different reason
Merry Christmas, marry me a thousand times

Credit: Screen capture via
December 20th, 2022
If National Retail Federation projections proved accurate, more than 158 million consumers rushed to buy holiday gifts on “Super Saturday,” the last Saturday before Christmas Eve.


This figure is approximately 10 million more than last year’s estimated number of Super Saturday shoppers and the highest number since NRF first started tracking this data in 2016.

Supersaturday2.2 1

This year, 21% of shoppers participating in the NRF survey expressed a desire to receive jewelry this holiday season. That figure is up 1 percentage point from a year earlier. Interestingly, gift givers are apparently taking note of their loved ones' desires, because 20% of respondents told the NRF that they would be gifting jewelry this holiday season.

Supersaturday2.3 1

Of the 158.5 million anticipated Super Saturday shoppers, 44.1 million (28%) were expected to shop exclusively in stores, 42.1 million (27%) would be making purchases only online and 72.2 million (46%) would be shopping both in stores and online.

NRF has predicted that holiday season sales will grow between 6% and 8% over 2021 to between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion. The holiday season is defined as November 1 through December 31.

“Consumers have been shopping in record numbers this year, purchasing holiday items for friends and loved ones,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “With Super Saturday falling eight days before Christmas, retailers [were] prepared to help shoppers fulfill their last-minute purchases that [would] make this holiday season memorable.”

The NRF is expecting a late sales surge from a great number of shopping procrastinators. More than half of respondents (52%) admitted that they will still be picking up last-minute gifts in the week leading up to Christmas.

Additionally, 70% of those surveyed said their shopping plans will extend beyond December 25. This is on par with pre-pandemic levels for post-Christmas shopping.

“Strong shopping is expected after Christmas as holiday shoppers aim to take advantage of retailers’ sales and promotions,” Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said. “In the week following Christmas Day, we expect to see consumers maximize holiday sales and promotions, use gift cards and return or exchange unwanted gifts.”

The NRF also identified a noticeable shift in the way young people have paid for the holiday items. About three-quarters (76%) of those aged 18 to 24 say they have used an alternative payment method or digital wallet so far this holiday shopping season. Some of more popular methods include PayPal, Apple Pay and CashApp.

The NRF Super Saturday survey of 7,857 consumers was conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics from December 1 through December 7 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.

Credits: Image by Tables courtesy of NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics.
December 21st, 2022
The 45-carat, pear-shaped, royal blue sapphire atop the brand new Miss Universe "Force for Good" crown symbolizes female empowerment, positive change and the hope for a brighter future.


More than 500 million viewers will marvel at the extraordinary headpiece when the current Miss Universe, India's Harnaaz Sandhu, crowns her successor at the 71st Miss Universe pageant in New Orleans on January 14. The event will be broadcast in more than 190 countries and territories.


Set with 993 gems and said to be worth $5.5 million, the crown was unveiled Monday in Bangkok by Fred Mouawad, the fourth generation co-guardian of the luxury Mouawad brand, along with Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip, the new Thai owner of the Miss Universe Organization.

A video produced by Mouawad and posted to the Miss Universe Instagram page explains the interplay between the white diamonds on the base of the crown and the blue sapphires that dominate the top of the crown.

Reflecting the concept that significant change does not happen in an instant, but only after a sustained effort over time, the base of the crown is set with white diamonds symbolizing the status quo. The abstract serpent-like motif adorning the rim represents the status quo and barriers to change. These are outnumbered and dominated by the rippling waves above, as ultimately the force for good emerges victorious.


The video includes an animation that exaggerates the undulating, serpent-inspired design of the base. See the screen capture, above.

As the eye moves upward from the base, the color gradient changes from the glistening white of diamonds to the warm blue of sapphires, deepening in intensity towards the pinnacle of the crown, where the deep royal blue color of the 45-carat sapphire symbolizes goodness and hope for a brighter future.

"As we are stepping into the new era of women's empowerment," said Jakrajutatip, "[Miss Universe] will continue to be a global organization run by women for women with a promise to serve as an inspirational platform that celebrates diverse women, supporting them to realize their ambition and build self-confidence, while evolving the brand over time to be more relevant and appealing to the next generation."

Commented Mouawad, "The Mouawad Miss Universe Force for Good crown is a work of extraordinary craftsmanship, featuring 110 carats of blue sapphires and 48 carats of white diamonds in a design that evokes the organization's belief in a future forged by women who push the limits of what's possible and the incredible women from around the world who advocate for positive change."

You can check out the Mouawad-produced video at the Miss Universe Instagram page. Click this link.

Credits. Screen captures via Instagram / MissUniverse.
December 22nd, 2022
Eyeglass wearers rejoice. Swiss researchers say they've solved the ever-vexing issue of fogged spectacles with a neat solution: a thinner-than-thin coating of gold.


Researchers from ETH Zurich have developed a new transparent gold nanocoating — about 12 times thinner than gold leaf — that harnesses sunlight to heat the lenses, thereby preventing moisture in the air from condensing on them.

The scientists explained that half of the energy contained in sunlight resides in the infrared spectrum, the other half in the visible light and UV radiation spectrum.

“Our coating absorbs a large proportion of the infrared radiation, which causes it to heat up – by up to 8 degrees Celsius,” explained ETH doctoral student Iwan Hächler, who was a driving force behind the development. The coating absorbs only a minor fraction of the radiation in the visible range, which is the reason why the coating is transparent.


Interestingly, for more than 50 years NASA has depended on gold’s amazing characteristics — reflectance, durability, conductivity and physical workability — to ensure safe and successful manned missions to space.

When astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface in July of 1969 and proclaimed, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” his eyes were protected by a visor plated with an ultra-thin layer of gold.

Both he and fellow moon walker Buzz Aldrin were outfitted with what NASA called a Lunar Extravehicular Visor Assembly, or LEVA for short. Gold does an excellent job of reflecting infrared light while letting in visible light, so NASA scientists coated the visors with a gold layer so thin — 0.000002 inches — that astronauts could see through it.


The new coating introduced by ETH Zurich comprises extremely thin clusters of gold sandwiched between two ultra-thin layers of titanium oxide, an electrically insulating material.

Due to their refractive properties, these two outer layers increase the efficacy of the heating effect. What's more, the top layer of titanium oxide acts as a finish that protects the gold layer from wear. This whole “sandwich” is just 10 nanometers thick. By comparison, the gold layer on Armstrong's visor was approximately 50 nanometers thick.

The researchers emphasized that although gold is expensive, the coating requires so little precious metal that the manufacturing costs remain low.

The team is also trying to determine if the anti-fogging method may be used to enhance other objects that need to be heated and defogged, such as windows, mirrors or optical sensors.

Credits: Eyeglass photo and coating illustration courtesy of ETH Zurich. Visor photo by Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
December 23rd, 2022
It's Music Friday, and with Christmas only two days away, we're excited to bring you one of the most viral holiday-season songs of all time — Straight No Chaser’s witty and masterfully arranged rendition of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” To date, the original version of the a cappella group’s “12 Days” has been viewed on YouTube more than 25 million times.


As most of us know, the jewelry reference in this sing-along classic comes on the fifth day of Christmas when “my true love gave to me, five golden rings.”

Straight No Chaser’s “12 Days” is famous for its comic infusions of other songs, such as “I Have a Little Dreidel” and Toto’s “Africa.” SNC’s version was inspired by a 1968 comic arrangement of the song by Richard C. Gregory, a faculty member of The Williston Northampton School, a boarding school in western Massachusetts.

Originated on the campus of Indiana University in 1996, Straight No Chaser owes its worldwide fame to a video of a 1998 "12 Days" performance that was first posted to YouTube in 2006. That video went viral and caught the attention of Atlantic Records CEO Craig Kallman, who signed the group to a five-album deal in 2008.

“The 12 Days of Christmas” appeared as the eighth track from the group’s 2008 debut studio album, Holiday Spirits, which peaked at #46 on the U.S. Billboard 200 albums chart.

The classic version of the song can be traced to England in 1780, when is was published as a chant or rhyme. The standard tune associated with it is derived from an arrangement credited to English composer Frederic Austin in 1909. Interestingly, he’s the one who came up with the idea of prolonging the phrase “five… golden… rings…”

Straight No Chaser is currently on the final leg of a 61-city "25th Anniversary Celebration" tour that started in Kitchener, Ontario, at the beginning of June and ends in Portland, OR, on New Year's Eve.

Please check out the video of Straight No Chaser performing “The 12 Days of Christmas” during the group's reunion tour in 2008.

Credit: Promotional photo via
December 27th, 2022
More than 2.5 million people from every corner of the Earth journey to Rockefeller Center in New York City each year to see a spectacular Christmas tree topped by a 900-pound star sparkling with 3 million Swarovski crystals.


Designed by renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, the mammoth star has a wingspan of 9 feet 4 inches. Each of the 70 rays of the Swarovski Star is designed to glow from within, with the light refracted by the crystal surface, creating a sparkling effect.


When the star made its debut in 2018, Libeskind said his tree-topper was inspired by the beauty of starlight — something that radiates meaning and mystery into the world.

“The Star is a symbol that represents our greatest ambitions for hope, unity and peace,” he said in 2018. “I am tremendously honored to collaborate with Swarovski on the Star, and with the entire design team, to bring cutting-edge innovation and design to crystal technology.”

The current star replaced a more diminutive Swarovski Star that had been in service since 2004. That star weighed 550 pounds and was studded with 25,000 crystals, about 8% of the tally of the current star.

This year's Rockefeller Center tree is an 82-foot-tall, 50-foot-wide Norway Spruce from Queensbury, NY, about 200 miles north of Manhattan in the Hudson Valley. It weighs in at a formidable 14 tons.

The tree was hoisted into position on Saturday, November 12, and was soon wrapped with more than 50,000 multi-colored LEDs strung over five miles of wire. The formal tree lighting took place during a live NBC broadcast on November 30.

Rockefeller Center officially began its tree-lighting tradition in 1933, when a Christmas tree was erected in front of the then-RCA Building and covered with 700 lights. The lighting ceremony has been broadcast live since 1951.

If you're planning to be in Manhattan in the near future, there's still time to experience this bucket-list spectacle. The tree will remain lit at least until January 6. Rockefeller Center's website has yet to officially announcement when the tree will be taken down, but other sites are reporting that it will be Sunday, January 15.

So, what happens to the 14-ton tree when the season is over? Since 2007, the wood has been donated to Habitat for Humanity. The tree is milled, treated and made into lumber, which is then used to build homes for people in need.

The heartwarming gesture inspired a children's book called The Carpenter’s Gift, which was written by David Rubel and illustrated by Jim LaMarche. It was published in 2011 in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity.

Credits: Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree photo by Anthony Quintano from Mount Laurel, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Photo of Nadja Swarovski and Daniel Libeskind with the Swarovski Star in 2018 by Bryan Bedder Getty for Swarovski (PRNewsfoto/Swarovski).
December 28th, 2022
Boston Celtics point guard Marcus Smart sent the Twitterverse into a tizzy on Sunday, just hours after the team's convincing win over the Milwaukee Bucks.


In a series of cryptic posts, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year hinted that his days in Boston were numbered, but then delivered the surprising punchline that he had just popped the question to longtime girlfriend Maissa Hallum.

At 10:56 p.m. on Christmas Day, Smart took to Twitter to announce to his near half-million followers, "I’ve had enough. Been holding it in too long and it’s about time this gets said..."

Three minutes later, he added a splash of gasoline to the fire, writing on Twitter, "It’s time for me to leave..."

But just as Celtic fans were starting to panic, Smart's post from 11:01 put them at ease. Along with a photo of him and Hallum wearing matching holiday pajamas, Smart dropped the big news.

"Oh I forgot the rest… Time for me to leave the single life," he wrote, adding, "She said YES!!! (Whew)"


In the photo, Hallum is proudly showing off her new engagement ring, featuring what appears to be a large princess-cut diamond set on a diamond-accented band. As of this writing, Smart's proposal announcement has been seen 15.2 million times on Twitter.

On his Instagram page, Smart shared a video of the actual proposal, which included a pre-taped guest appearance by actor Will Smith.


Smart, Hallum and other guests are all together in Smart's home theater as Smith appears on the big screen with a holiday message shot from Antarctica.

"We’re coming back from the South Pole, but I just wanted to take a minute," said Smith, who is dressed in cold-weather gear. "I wanted to wish you a very, very Merry Christmas. Now, I know that you may not have gotten the stuff that you wanted. I promise you, you’re not going to end this Christmas empty-handed, OK. That’s all my message is."


Hallum, who seems to be amused, but also a bit confused by the celebrity's message, doesn't notice what is happening right behind her.


Smart taps her on the shoulder and she spins around to see the Celtics star on bended knee with a ring box in hand. At first, a shocked Hallum turns away with her hands over her face, but then embraces her boyfriend and accepts his proposal.


On Instagram, Smart wrote, "She said “Y E S”! (Whew!) Thanks @willsmith for the setup help!"

You can check Smart's Instagram carousel, which includes the heartwarming video, here

Credits: Screen captures via Instagram / youngamechanger.
December 29th, 2022
A vibrant amethyst cross favored by Diana, Princess of Wales, will headline Sotheby's "Royal and Noble” online auction from January 6 through 18. The piece carries a presale estimate of £80,000 to £120,000 ($96,000 to $144,000), but could sell for much more due to its royal provenance.


“Jewelry owned or worn by the late Princess Diana very rarely comes on to the market, especially a piece such as The Attallah Cross, which is so colorful, bold and distinctive,” said Kristian Spofforth, head of jewelry for Sotheby’s London.

According to the auction house, the late '80s was a time when Diana was making bolder fashion choices and taking more autonomy in her life. It was during this period, in 1987, that British Crown Jeweler Garrard lent her an eye-catching amethyst-and-diamond cross to pair with an exquisite baroque-style purple and black velvet dress by Catherine Walker & Co.


She wore the ensemble to a high-profile event held at Garrard's London headquarters in support of Birthright, a charity which strives to protect human rights during pregnancy and childbirth. Diana confidently dangled the large 136 x 95mm amethyst cross from a waist-length strand of pearls.

Designed by British Crown Jeweler Garrard circa 1920, the piece was originally commissioned by a regular customer, but later circled back to Garrard, where it was purchased during the 1980s by the late Naim Attallah (1931-2021), a high-level executive at the jewelry company.

Over the years, she would continue to collaborate with Garrard, borrowing her favorite amethyst and diamond cross on many more occasions, as recalled by Naim Attallah's son, Ramsay.


“Princess Diana and my father were friends, and I remember that she often came to see him at the historic Garrard store on Regent Street, where his office was, and she would ask to borrow the pendant on several occasions. She really loved the piece,” Ramsay related via Sotheby’s.

According to Ramsay, nobody other than Princess Diana has ever worn what is now known as "The Attallah Cross."

“When I was growing up, we’d always have it on the table for Christmas lunch," Ramsay told, "but it was never worn by anyone other than Diana and it hasn’t been seen in public since she died [in 1997].”

Designed with square-cut amethysts and circular-cut diamonds, the fleurée cross has a total diamond weight of 5.25 carats.

Fans of Princess Diana may remember that her famous sapphire-and-diamond engagement ring was sourced at Garrard.

Back in February of 1981, Prince Charles proposed to the 20-year-old Lady Diana with a ring that the future princess picked out herself. According to the editors of Vogue, some members of the British royal family fumed at Diana’s choice — not because it featured an unconventional center stone, but because it was a stock item from the Garrard catalog.

Founded in London in 1735, Garrard was the official crown jeweler of the UK from 1843 until 2007. The distinguished company that had been entrusted with the upkeep of the British Crown Jewels was the logical source for Diana’s bridal jewelry.

So, in the lead-up to their engagement, the 32-year-old Prince Charles presented his bride-to-be with a bunch of design options from Garrard. Her favorite was an 18-karat white gold ring set with a 12-carat oval Ceylon sapphire surrounded by a halo of 14 round white diamonds.

In Diana’s eyes, the ring was perfect. She loved it so much that she didn’t request any modifications or customizations.

In the eyes of her critics and some members of the royal family, the ring was sub-standard because it was hardly unique. Critics called the Garrard stock item a “commoner’s ring” because any non-royal with a $60,000 budget could purchase the exact piece.

Nevertheless, Diana’s sapphire and diamond engagement ring would become one of the most recognizable and imitated engagement rings of all time.

Credits: Amethyst cross photos courtesy of Sotheby's. Photo of Princess Diana dancing with John Travolta at the White House in 1985 by United States Federal Government, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
December 30th, 2022
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, country music star Jon Pardi sings about falling in love and growing old together in the easy-listening country hit, “Head Over Boots.”


He sings, “The way you sparkle like a diamond ring / Maybe one day we can make it a thing / Test time and grow old together / Rock in our chairs and talk about the weather, yeah.”

The 2015 song was inspired by the loving couples Pardi observed in the dance halls near his father’s home in Hill County, TX. The older folks and younger folks sharing the dance floor looked so happy two-stepping around a circle that he decided to write “Head Over Boots” with an old-school vibe energized by a fiddle accompaniment.

“I was sitting in Spring Branch, TX, at my dad’s house and I started kinda strummin’ this little old-sounding country thing in his living room, and I recorded it on my phone,” the 37-year-old Pardi explained on the Universal Music Group Nashville website. “I was thinking, ‘Man, I need a good love song for the ladies out there.'”

And that’s when he came up with the idea of “head over boots,” a country version of the term “head over heels.”

“I went to [co-writer] Luke Laird and we kind of threw out the title and we came up with a cool little old-school modern new love song, and it’s my first love song on Country radio,” he said at the time of the song's release.

Pardi and Laird revealed to Billboard magazine that their feel-good song is actually written from two perspectives. Unwed at the time, Pardi saw the song from the point of view of someone looking for a long-term relationship, while his married writing partner approached the song from the vantage point of a family man who is dedicated to keeping the romantic spark alive in his relationship.

Pardi is now a married man. He proposed to Summer Duncan in 2019 and the couple married in 2020. They are expecting their first child.

“Head Over Boots,” which was released as the lead single from Pardi’s second studio album, California Sunrise, shot to the top of the US Billboard Country Airplay chart. It also peaked at #4 on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs list and #51 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song also reached #2 on the Canada Country chart and #64 on the Canadian Hot 100.

Please check out the video of Pardi and his band performing “Head Over Boots.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Head Over Boots”
Written by Jon Pardi and Luke Laird. Performed by Jon Pardi.

I wanna sweep you off your feet tonight
I wanna love you and hold you tight
Spin you around on some old dance floor
Act like we never met before for fun, ’cause

You’re the one I want, you’re the one I need
Baby, if I was a king, ah, you would be my queen
You’re the rock in my roll
You’re good for my soul, it’s true
I’m head over boots for you

The way you sparkle like a diamond ring
Maybe one day we can make it a thing
Test time and grow old together
Rock in our chairs and talk about the weather, yeah

So, bring it on in for that angel kiss
Put that feel good on my lips, ’cause

You’re the one I want, you’re the one I need
Baby, if I was a king, ah, you would be my queen
You’re the rock in my roll
You’re good for my soul, it’s true
I’m head over boots for you

Yeah, I’m here to pick you up
And I hope I don’t let you down, no, ’cause

You’re the one I want, you’re the one I need
Baby, if I was a king, ah, you would be my queen
You’re the rock in my roll
You’re good for my soul, it’s true
I’m head over boots for you

You’re the one I want, you’re the one I need
Baby, if I was a king, ah, you would be my queen
You’re the rock in my roll
You’re good for my soul, it’s true
I’m head over boots for you

I wanna sweep you off your feet tonight
I wanna love you and hold you tight
Spin you around on some old dance floor

Credit: Screen capture via / CMT.