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Articles in February 2023

February 1st, 2023
For the seventh year in a row, the National Retail Federation is predicting that Valentine's Day shoppers will spend more on jewelry gifts than any other category. Jewelry purchases are expected to top $5.5 billion in 2023, outperforming the second-strongest category — "an evening out" — by $1.1 billion.


Overall Valentine's Day spending is estimated to reach $25.9 billion this year, an increase of $2 billion compared to 2022.

Jewelry-related purchasing will account for 21.2% of all dollars spent on Cupid's favorite holiday. Although jewelry remained the strongest category (in dollars), the category's share of the pie notched down from 25.9% in 2022. That surprisingly high percentage was somewhat of an anomaly because many consumers chose not to spend on "experiential" activities due to concerns related to the pandemic. In fact, jewelry's 21.2% share is higher than it was in 2021 (18.8%).


In the survey conducted by the NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics, exactly 21% of respondents said they will gift a jewelry item to a special someone, while “gifts of experience,” such as an evening out or tickets to a concert or sporting event, reached a seven-year high of 32%.


More than half (52%) of US consumers plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day in 2023 with average spending reaching $192.80, up from $175.41 per person in 2022. It's the second-highest amount recorded since NRF and Prosper began tracking this data back in 2004.

“Valentine’s Day is a special occasion to shop for the people we care most about,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “This year, as consumers embrace spending on friends and loved ones, retailers are ready to help customers celebrate Valentine’s Day with memorable gifts at affordable prices.”

Other popular, but less expensive, Valentine gifts include candy (to be given by 57%), greeting cards (40%), flowers (37%), and gift cards (20%).

Even the 28% of those who don’t plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day will still mark the occasion with a special non-Valentine themed treat or an evening with friends and family, according to the NRF.

The survey of 7,616 U.S. adult consumers was conducted January 3-11 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.

Credits: Image by Charts courtesy of the National Retail Federation.
February 2nd, 2023
Radiologists at Cairo University utilized cutting-edge CT scanning technology to "digitally unwrap" Egypt's mummified "Golden Boy," a teenager buried 2,300 years ago. The 3D scans revealed that the young man, just over four feet tall, set out on his arduous journey to the afterlife equipped with a golden heart scarab, golden tongue and 49 protective amulets made from gold, colored stones and brightly colored ceramics.


Interestingly, the Golden Boy had languished in the cellar of the famed Egyptian Museum since 1916, shortly after he was unearthed at Nag el-Hassay, a cemetery in southern Egypt. According to the researchers, the basement of the museum is crowded with many mummies that have never been studied or displayed.

The new computed tomography (CT) technology allowed the scientists to create a completed 3D image of the well-preserved body and its adornments without the need for destructive dissection. It also allowed them to create a precise mapping of where each amulet was placed between the wrappings or within the body. The scan revealed that the amulets seemed to be arranged in three distinct columns.

As seen in the illustration, above, the mummy was digitally unwrapped in four stages.

Still fully intact, the Golden Boy has been elevated from the basement to the main exhibition hall of Cairo's Egyptian Museum and will be accompanied by CT images and a 3D copy of his heart scarab. The display is designed to provide more insight into the mummification process and the death rites of ancient Egyptians.

"The display's goal was to humanize this individual from the past to teach modern people about life in ancient times," the researchers wrote in the study published recently in the journal Frontiers in Medicine.

The scientists were able to determine from his non-erupted wisdom teeth that the Golden Boy was only 14 or 15 years old when he passed away. He had healthy teeth and bones and displayed no evidence of poor nutrition or disease. He was likely a member of a very affluent family.

The boy's brain had been replaced with resin, but his heart remained in his chest as a spiritual symbol. A golden heart amulet had been placed near his actual heart in the chest cavity.

“The large, golden heart scarab amulet is really amazing, especially after I printed it and was able to hold it in my hands,” said Sahar Saleem, a professor of radiology at the faculty of medicine at Cairo University and a co-author of the study. “There were engraved marks on the back of the 3D-printed amulet that could represent inscriptions and spells.”

A gold tongue amulet was placed inside the Golden Boy's mouth to ensure the deceased could speak in the afterlife.

The mummy's external ornamentation included a gilded head mask inlaid with precious stones, a protective chest covering and a pair of basic white sandals.

"According to the ancient Egyptians' ritual Book of The Dead, the deceased had to wear white sandals to be pious and clean before reciting its verses," Saleem said.

The Golden Boy's body had been placed inside two nested coffins. The outer coffin was plain and inscribed with Greek letters, while the inner wooden sarcophagus featured decorative patterns and a gilded face.

According to the researchers, the study suggests that ancient Egyptians valued their children and provided them with ritual treatment.

Credit: Image courtesy of SN Saleem, SA Seddik, M el-Halwagy.
February 3rd, 2023
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome new tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, pop star Ava Max turns the page on two devastating breakups by lavishing herself in diamonds and heading to the club.


In the title track from her just-released album, Diamonds & Dancefloors, the 28-year-old star sings, "Diamonds and dance floors, that's all I want / I miss the rhythm keeping me warm / Drown me in glitter, glitter and gold / All that I ask for, ask for, ask for."

Described as her most personal work yet, the singer-songwriter's sophomore album is a reflection of how she managed to channel her heartbreak into creative energy. The single "Diamonds & Dancefloors" evokes the vibe of Lady Gaga and Dua Lipa in what called an early-Nineties house anthem. called the album "one of the best musical gems of 2023."

The original album cover design shows the artist immersed in a sea of diamonds with a large gem balanced on her pursed lips.

Max, who blasted on the music scene in 2018 with her mega-hit "Sweet but Psycho," didn't have a smooth ride to the top of the pop charts. She struggled mightily in her late teens and early 20s, and at one point had to survive on $20 per week.

All that changed when the Milwaukee-born performer met up with Canadian record producer Cirkut at a dinner party. Max impressed the producer by singing "Happy Birthday" and the two began collaborating on many songs, including "Anyone but You." That single earned the attention of Atlantic Records in 2016 and Max finally had a record deal.

The Diamonds & Dancefloors album was executive-produced by Cirkut, and the 14 songs include elements of Max's signature electro-pop melodies with some Nineties synths and a touch of disco, according to

She told the magazine that making music always came naturally to her, and she's grateful for how much her parents sacrificed to support her ambitions. The singer's mom and dad had fled a war-torn Albania in the Nineties, seeking a better life.

“If they didn’t risk their lives, I wouldn’t be here,” she told the magazine. “They came here with nothing.”

The release of Diamonds & Dancefloors is a testament to her parents' fortitude and resilience.

Please check out the audio track of "Diamonds and Dancefloors." The lyrics are below if you like to sing along…

"Diamonds & Dancefloors"
Written by Henry Walter, Caroline Ailin, Michael Pollack and Ava Max. Performed by Ava Max.

Alone with me, myself and I
Watching the night passing me by
Losing myself inside a lucid dream, I
Don't wanna waste any more time
I'm dancing in the kitchen light
It don't feel wrong, it don't feel right
My heart's been calling for a midnight memory
The only thing that's on my mind

Diamonds and dance floors, that's all I want
I miss the rhythm keeping me warm
Drown me in glitter, glitter and gold
All that I ask for, ask for, ask for

Is diamonds and dance floors in every dream
I miss the music surrounding me
Drown me in glitter, glitter and gold
All that I ask for, ask for, ask for

I close my eyes and disappear
Vibrations in the atmosphere
It's psychological imagination
Why can't I bring this feeling here? (Oh)

Diamonds and dance floors, that's all I want (All I want)
I miss the rhythm keeping me warm (Keepin' me warm)
Drown me in glitter, glitter and gold (Gold)
All that I ask for, ask for, ask for

Is diamonds and dance floors in every dream
I miss the music surrounding me
Drown me in glitter, glitter and gold
All that I ask for, ask for, ask for (Oh)
Diamonds and dance floors

Diamonds and dance floors
Diamonds and dance, diamonds and dancefloors
Diamonds and dance, diamonds and dancefloors
Diamonds and dance, dancefloors, dancefloors
Diamonds and dance floors

Credits: Image of Diamonds and Dancefloors Ruby Vinyl album via
February 6th, 2023
British songstress Rita Ora had secretly tied the knot with Academy Award-winning director Taika Waititi last summer, but saved the big reveal of her emerald engagement ring for her appearance on Wednesday night's edition of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.


Ora said, “I haven’t actually shown anyone my ring," but then explained that the reason she was about to unveil the jewelry on The Tonight Show was because she "loves" Fallon and feels he's a big part of her and her fiancé's relationship because they watch him every night.


After extending her hand to give Fallon a quick peek at the sizable emerald set in a pavé diamond halo, she turned her hand vertically and aimed her ring straight at the camera so the viewers at home could get closeup look at the sparkler. The “I Will Never Let You Down” singer, 32, paired her new engagement ring with a delicate pavé diamond wedding band.

“Ooh-la-la,” Fallon said. “That’s gorgeous!"

"He did good," she responded.

When asked to share the story behind how Waititi, 47, selected the ring, Ora sheepishly admitted that she controlled the lion's share of the decision.

"Well, I may have, you know, guided him," she confessed. "When you know what you want, and I felt like I really knew I wanted to be with this person, I just wanted it to feel really right, and so I may have taken him to the shop and I may have pointed out exactly what ring I wanted!"

Two UK-based jewelers interviewed by Page Six Style put the ring's value at somewhere between $400,000 to $500,000 and estimated the weight of the emerald to be in the range of 8 to 10 carats.

Among the A-listers who received emerald engagement rings are Zoe Saldana, Megan Fox, Halle Berry, Victoria Beckham and Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Ora, who is currently a judge on the British version of The Masked Singer, told Fallon that her latest single, “You Only Love Me,” was the result of a surge of creative energy sparked by her new relationship.

"My life has changed so drastically," she said. "Making a decision to spend the rest of your life with someone is a big decision. It got me writing again and I just really got inspired by love."

Please check out the video of Fallon's interview with Ora. The engagement ring conversation starts at :20 and continues through 1:21.

Credits: Screen captures via Youtube / The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
February 7th, 2023
UK archaeologists have recovered 34 intricately carved gemstone intaglios from the drains of an opulent Roman bathhouse that operated in Carlisle, England, more than 2,000 years ago.


The intaglios, which were carved from amethyst, jasper and carnelian, were likely worn by wealthy bathers linked to the nearby defensive fortification called Hadrian’s Wall on the northwest frontier of the Roman Empire. Little did they know that the vegetable-based glue used to affix the intaglios to their rings would degrade when exposed to heat and moisture.

"They are beautiful miniatures pieces of art dating back to the 200s AD," Frank Giecco, technical director of engineering consultancy Wardell Armstrong, told the BBC. "They were set with a vegetable glue, and in the hot and sweaty bathhouse they fell out of the ring settings."

The Roman bathhouse had been discovered in May 2017 during excavation work to move the Carlisle Cricket Club's pavilion after it had been damaged by Storm Desmond in late 2015.


The colorful intaglios ranged in size from 5mm to 16mm, and were adorned with images of Roman deities dedicated to war, the sun, commerce, luck and fertility.

"The craftsmanship to engrave such tiny things is incredible," Giecco told The Guardian.

According to, citizens of Ancient Rome would press their intaglios into clay or wax to create a seal, which they used to authenticate documents. It was equivalent to a modern-day signature.

In total, more than 700 items, including glass beads, hairpins, pottery, weapons and coins, were pulled from the bath drains.

Giecco told the BBC that the recovery project had received additional funding and his team will be back at the site in May.

"Carlisle was very much at the center of the Roman frontier and we are very excited to go back on May 22 for more amazing finds, as it is the site that just keeps giving," he said.

According to, intaglios turning up amid the ruins of Roman bathhouses is not a unique occurrence. Similar items were found in Caesarea, Israel, as well as Bath, England.

Bathhouses were an important part of Roman culture. It was common for men of all social classes to mix freely at the baths after their work day was done. To the Romans, the baths represented their superiority and power.

Giecco anticipates that all of the recent finds will become part of an exhibit at the Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle. He also acknowledged the Carlisle City Council and the numerous volunteers who assisted in the recovery effort.

Credits: Images courtesy of Anna Giecco.
February 8th, 2023
We're guessing that a cavalcade of Valentine's Day suitors will soon be popping the question alongside plates of scrumptious meatloaf, roast beef, homestyle chicken or country fried steak. You see, Cracker Barrel is getting into the romance game this Valentine's Day by offering good eats for a year to five lucky couples who get engaged at any one of the chain's 665 locations.


From February 10-16, couples who post their Cracker Barrel proposal video to Instagram and include a caption on why they decided to propose at the iconic homestyle restaurant will be entered for a chance to win.

We can't wait to check out the romantic posts at #ISaidYesAtCrackerBarrel. The captions are bound to include sentimental references to first dates, shared desserts and milestone celebrations.


What's more, if couples are already engaged or not ready to pop the question, the chain is still offering a Valentine bonus. From February 10-14, couples ordering two entrees from a select Valentine's Day menu will receive one free dessert to share. Couples can pick the Biscuit Beignets or Double-Fudge Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake.

"Cracker Barrel isn't just a restaurant, it's a place where care is the main ingredient," said Cracker Barrel Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Jennifer Tate. "This Valentine's Day, we want to extend our main ingredient even more by inviting guests to show the person they care about most how truly special they are."

The five grand prizes of the "I Said 'Yes' at Cracker Barrel Valentine's Day Contest" have a value of $2,000 each. That will allow the winning couples to run up a $38 tab for two, once a week for 52 weeks. The prizes will be distributed as Cracker Barrel gift cards.

To enter, contestants 18 years of age or older must upload an original in-feed, publicly viewable video to Instagram between February 10-16, depicting the marriage proposal at a Cracker Barrel Old Country Store. They must also do the following:

  • Include a description in the post of why the submitter chose to propose at Cracker Barrel
  • Include the hashtags #ISaidYesAtCrackerBarrel and #Contest
  • Tag Cracker Barrel’s official Instagram account handle @crackerbarrel

According to the official rules, Cracker Barrel judges will be evaluating each qualified video post on three criteria: the connection with the sponsor’s brand, the quality of the entry, and the story included with the post. Winners will be notified by February 28.

Cracker Barrel has come a long way since its first store opened in Lebanon, TN, in September of 1969. Since then, the single store has grown into a chain of 665 stores in every US state except for Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Wyoming and Vermont. Annual revenues top $3 billion. Florida leads all other states with 60 locations, followed by Texas (55), Tennessee (51) and Georgia (48).

Credits: Images courtesy of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc.
February 9th, 2023
To ancient civilizations dating back more than 4,000 years, amethyst was more than just a pretty purply gemstone. It was held in the same high regard as diamond, ruby and emerald, and played an important role in traditions, superstitions and quality of life.


In Greece, wine lovers wore amethyst and used vessels carved from amethyst in an effort to stay sober. In fact, the name “amethyst” is derived from Greek “amethystos” meaning “not drunken.” According to Ancient Greek lore, the stone could ward off the intoxicating powers of Bacchus, the god of wine, and keep the wearer clear-headed and quick-witted.

In Israel, the biblical Aaron (1396 BC – 1273 BC), the first high priest of the Hebrews (and older brother of Moses), wore a gleaming breastplate fashioned with gemstones representing the 12 tribes of Israel. One of the inscribed gems was an amethyst, which symbolized the spirit of God.

In ancient Egypt, skilled artisans carved amethyst into amulets and talismans for religious and magical purposes.

In Rome, philosopher Pliny the Elder (290 BC – 230 BC) believed that an amethyst necklace worn on a cord fashioned from dog's hair would provide protection against snakebites.

During the Renaissance, the brilliant Italian painter and sculptor Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) was sure to keep the purple gem on his working desk, explaining in a dairy passage that “Amethyst dispels evil thoughts and speeds up thinking.”

The color purple was traditionally the color of royalty, and amethyst was used to adorn the richest and most powerful monarchs and rulers. The English revered the stone for its majestic properties — creating emblems and insignia featuring amethysts during the Middle Ages to symbolize royalty.

In Russia, Catherine the Great (1729–1796) was a big fan of February's birthstone and never missed an opportunity to accessorize her lavish wardrobe with amethyst necklaces, earrings and other ornaments. She was so passionate about the gem that she reportedly sent thousands of miners into the Urals to look for it.

The most prized member of the mineral quartz family, amethyst radiates a wide array of regal purple hues ranging from sparkling lilac to sultry deep violet.


(The gorgeous amethyst necklace, above, was part of Sotheby's Fine Jewels sale in London in June of 2020. Designed in the late 19th century and measuring 410 mm (16 inches) in length, the lot sold for £6,875 (approx. $8,300), which beat the pre-sale high estimate by nearly 15%.)

Historically, the highest-quality amethysts were mined in Russia and set into royal European jewelry. While Brazil is now the primary source of this gemstone, fine-quality amethyst can also be found in parts of Zambia, Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia, Italy, Germany, Canada and the US. Among the states producing amethyst are Arizona, Maine, Colorado, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

10 More Facts About Amethyst

  • Amethyst has been used to symbolize deep love, happiness, humility, sincerity and wealth.
  • Amethyst is the recommended gem for those celebrating their 6th or 17th wedding anniversaries.
  • Amethyst is the official gemstone of the province of Ontario and the state of South Carolina.
  • Amethyst rings are traditionally worn by Bishops because the gem is said to symbolize spiritual purity.
  • Farmers believed wearing amethyst would protect their crops from hailstones and locusts.
  • The Hebrew word for amethyst is “ahlamah,” meaning “dream;” the stone was said to cause dreams and visions… and if you dream of amethyst, you will be free from harm.
  • When amethyst and citrine combine in the same crystal it is called an ametrine.
  • One of the largest amethyst geodes in the world is called Empress of Uruguay. It stands 8 feet tall and weighs 5,000 pounds.
  • Cut gems of amethyst are often graded using the terms: Siberian, Uruguayan or Bahian, representing high, medium and low-grade stones regardless of the actual source. 
  • Amethyst rates a 7 out of 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness.

Credits: Images courtesy of Sotheby's.
February 10th, 2023
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. In their 2016 ditty called "It's Valentine's Day," YouTube sensations and identical twins Veronica and Vanessa Merrell poke fun at why their peers might absolutely love or hate the holiday.


For the Merrell Twins, the joy or misery of Valentine's Day comes down to whether or not one has a bae. In this case, Vanessa is getting dressed up to celebrate with a boyfriend she really loves, while Veronica is relegated to throwing on some sweats and watching Netflix alone.

Vanessa's boyfriend gifts her a giant teddy bear, a heart-shaped box of chocolate and diamond jewelry. Veronica comes up empty.


Vanessa sings, "My valentine also gave me a lovely ring."
Veronica replies, "Oh, good for you. I still didn't get anything."

They throw in a comic twist when they sing, "It's Valentine's Day / And I really really love (hate) this day," with Vanessa singing the "love" lyric at the same time Veronica sings "hate."

At the end of the song, the tides turn when Veronica reminds her sister that she's forgotten to buy a Valentine's Day gift for her boyfriend. Now the vengeful Veronica is overjoyed while her sister is stressed out.

In their YouTube description of the video, the sisters call "It's Valentine's Day" a cheesy song, but their followers obviously liked it. The video has been viewed 18.7 million times.

The sisters were just 19 year old when the video premiered on YouTube. Since then, the unlucky-in-love Veronica married fellow YouTuber Aaron Burriss (2021) and sister Vanessa announced her engagement to musician John Vaughn (2022).

Born in Kansas City, MO, the Merrell Twins moved to Los Angeles when they were 16 to pursue acting careers and to work on content for their YouTube channel, which they launched as 13-year-olds in 2009.

Today, the sisters boast 6.17 million YouTube subscribers and 1.4 billion total views. The Merrell Twins enjoyed recurring roles on the popular TV show Jane the Virgin and frequently appear in AwesomenessTV videos.

Please check out the video of the Merrell Twins performing "It's Valentine's Day." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along…

"It's Valentine's Day"
Written by Veronica and Vanessa Merrell. Performed by the Merrell Twins.

It's Valentine's Day
A day to be happy when you have a bae
It's Valentine's Day
A day to remind you that you have no bae

I'll eat a lot of chocolate
I didn't get chocolate
All these roses smell very nice

It's Valentine's Day
And I really really love (hate) this day

I've got a date with someone that I love
I've got some dates you know that kind of nut (I think that's a fruit)

I have a red dress that I'm going to wear tonight
I'm going to wear a T-shirt and sweats tonight, and watch Netflix all by myself

Today's a happy (crappy) day

It's Valentine's Day
A day to be happy when you have a bae

It's Valentine's Day
A day to remind you that you have no bae

Do you want some chocolate?
No it'll give me acne
All these roses smell very nice

It's Valentine's Day
And I really really love (hate) this day

My valentine got me a big giant teddy bear
Well this is my dog and he looks like a teddy bear
(Kinda, not really)

My valentine also gave me a lovely ring
Oh, good for you. I still didn't get anything
I still have nothing

Today's a happy (crappy) day

It's Valentine's Day
A day to be happy when you have a bae

It's Valentine's Day
A day to remind you that you have no bae

I ate all of my chocolate
I bought myself some chocolate
All these roses smell very nice

It's Valentine's Day
And I really really love (hate) this day

Valentine's Day is a dream come true
At least I get to spend this day with you

"Um no I just told you I'm going on a date tonight
Were you not paying attention to this song?"

"I was but okay what are you going to get your Valentine?"

"Uh, oh no"

It's Valentine's Day
Now I have to get something for my bae
I still have money cause I have no bae

Should I buy him chocolate?
He just bought you chocolate
How about a sweater?
You can do so much better
Now I'm starting to stress out

Cause it's Valentine's Day
And I have to get something for my…
I don't have to worry 'bout a… bae

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube / merrelltwins.
February 13th, 2023
Actress Vanessa Hudgens recently confirmed her engagement to professional baseball player Cole Tucker, which took place at one of the most romantic places on the planet — at the halfway point of the 123-year-old, Beaux-Arts-style Alexander III bridge in Paris.


With a statue of a gilded nymph in the foreground and the lights of the Eiffel Tower reflecting in the River Seine in the background, the High School Musical alum shot a selfie of the impressive oval-cut diamond engagement ring gracing her meticulously manicured left hand.

Tucker apparently popped the question during the couple's trip to Paris in November, but Hudgens didn't make it Instagram-official until she posted a pair of pics to her page on Thursday.


She captioned the photos, "YES. We couldn’t be happier," and punctuated the sentence with a grey heart emoji.

The oval-cut diamond is estimated to weigh about 7 carats and could be worth upwards of $250,000, according to jewelry-industry insiders. The couple's choice of a thin yellow-gold band allows the diamond to take center stage.

The 34-year-old Hudgens met the 26-year-old Colorado Rockies utility player during a Zoom meditation group call in 2020.

“I get on the Zoom, and I’m like, ‘Who is that?'” she said on The Drew Barrymore Show. “I found him, and we started talking.”

She added, "I fully just slid into his DMs and was like, ‘Hey, it was nice to meet you.’ So I think there is no shame in making the first move.”

Hudgens told Glamour UK in 2021, "Our interests are very different, but our fundamentals are the same. He’s goofy and I’m very goofy."

According to, Tucker once revealed in an interview with Nevada Sports Net that Hudgens has helped him take better care of his long, curly hair, calling her the “detangling queen.”

The actress-singer hinted that the relationship had entered a new phase when she recently posted a romantic pic of her and her bae on Instagram with the caption, "I’ll stop the world and melt with you."

Hudgens and Tucker were first spotted together in November 2020 and confirmed their relationship on Valentine's Day 2021.

Hudgens is best known for portraying Gabriella Montez in the High School Musical film series (2006–2008). Cole had played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks before signing as a free agent with the Colorado Rockies in the offseason.

Credits: Images via / vanessahudgens.
February 14th, 2023
In honor of Valentine's Day, we'd like to share the love stories of Elva Orton, whose life changed forever during a magical summer at Utah's picturesque Bryce Canyon National Park, and her granddaughter, Paige, who recreated her grandmother's memory 63 years later.


Throughout 2023, Bryce Canyon is celebrating its centennial year by encouraging visitors to share experiences that define the past, present and future of this special place. In fact, this is how the Orton's story came to light.

The park is famous for its unique hoodoos — tall, thin spires of rock that rise up to 200 feet. The red, orange, and white colors of the rocks provide spectacular views for park visitors. The beautiful, otherworldly atmosphere of the park has made it a romantic destination. The park's official slogan is "Hoodoo You Love" (a fun take on Bo Diddley's 1956 classic).

Which brings us back to the story of a Salt Lake City girl named Elva and of small-town teenager named Steve Orton in the summer of 1959.


According to a Facebook post by the National Park Service, Elva first saw Steve while gazing out the window of a Utah Parks Company employee bus bound for a summer working at Bryce. The girl sitting beside her happened to know Steve, so Elva wished aloud, “I want him to ask me to go on a date.”

When the friend told Steve of Elva's interest in him, he could hardly believe his luck. Why would a cheerleader from the big city be interested in him? Nevertheless, the timid Steve asked her to attend a Sunday fireside program and less than a week later they shared their first kiss.

She worked at the park as a waitress and he was a bellhop/assistant manager. Together they'd discover the park was full of romantic venues.

“We could walk straight out in front of the lodge to the rim," she said. "There was a great place to make out. So we did that quite frequently. What can I say? We were madly in love.”

By the end of the summer, they were certain they would marry, but Steve was already scheduled to leave on a two-year church mission to Australia. They exchanged many letters and vowed to reunite at their beloved Bryce Canyon.

Two summers later, Elva was now working at Grand Canyon when she got word that Steve was back at Bryce. She caught the first bus available and remembered that the “gearjammer” announced to all the passengers that she was returning to Bryce to meet her sweetheart.

She said, "As soon as we got close to the lodge, he started honking the horn and they were all clapping for me… and [Steve] was standing there.”


The couple soon wed and during their 55 years of marriage often shared their romantic Bryce Canyon origin story with family and friends.

Steve sadly passed away in 2017, but in celebration of what would have been their 60th wedding anniversary, Elva returned to Bryce to be interviewed by the park staff and share some photos from her past.

She was accompanied by many of her children and grandchildren, including her granddaughter, Paige.


They toured the lodge deluxe cabins and a linen cabin where past employees have covered the walls and rafters with signatures. To the astonishment of all present, Steve Orton’s signature from 1957 was discovered near the door.

The next morning would bring even more amazement and tears.


Paige’s boyfriend, Garrett, drove through the night and surprised her with a sunrise marriage proposal along the canyon rim (She said, "Yes").

In homage to Paige's grandparents, they then recreated a photo taken of Elva and Steve at Bryce Point in 1959.

As Paige would tell her grandmother, “Growing up, this has been the most romantic place in the world to me because of your story.”

Said Elva, "Bryce Canyon has been in my life and my love for generations."

Credits: Photos of Elva and Steve's signature courtesy of the National Park Service; Photos of Elva and Steve, Paige and Garrett courtesy of the Orton family.
February 15th, 2023
Bolstered by strong economic indicators and a positive swing in consumer confidence, US retail sales jumped a healthy 8.8% year-over-year in January 2023, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse™. The credit card company’s January report spotlighted the jewelry and restaurant sectors due to their impressive performances.


Jewelry sales were up 6.5% YOY in January, potentially reflecting early Valentine's Day shopping. The positive January sales stats reversed a slight decline seen in December of 2022.

Jewelry-sector sales were down 5.4% YOY in December 2022, but still very respectable considering the sector was trying to keep up with the off-the-charts December 2021 performance, when jewelry sales increased YOY by 32%.

Eateries had a particularly good holiday season and start to 2023. Coming off a strong year of growth in 2022, spending at restaurants remained a high priority for consumers. That segment registered a 24.2% YOY increase in January.

"Consumer spending remains resilient in the first few weeks of 2023,” said Steve Sadove, Mastercard Senior Advisor and Former CEO of Saks, Inc. “Mastercard SpendingPulse insights show that the overall retail story remains largely positive with January posting a solid month of growth across the country.”

The Mastercard analysts believe consumers have been encouraged by the state of the labor market and rising wages.

"The primary factor driving spending decisions is income – not just income today but the expectation for income tomorrow.” said Michelle Meyer, North America Chief Economist, Mastercard Economics Institute. “The strength in the labor market remains a critical support for consumer purchasing power and we’re seeing this reflected in our SpendingPulse insights for January.”

The US unemployment rate dropped to 3.4% in January 2023, the lowest level seen in 54 years. Meanwhile, the US economy added 517,000 jobs in January, the most in six months.

The Conference Board "Consumer Confidence Index" recently published a revised assessment of how Americans view current business and labor conditions.

Exactly 20.2% of respondents said business conditions were "good," up from 19.2% a month ago, while 48.2% said jobs were "plentiful," up from 46.4%.

Mastercard SpendingPulse™ 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.

Credit: Image by
February 16th, 2023
Just days prior to LeBron James surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, the Los Angeles Lakers gifted the 75-year-old "Tower of Power" with a massive, custom-made ring set with 578 brilliant-cut white diamonds.


For 38 years, the 7'2'' center held the scoring record that many experts believed would never be broken. But, on Tuesday, February 7, fellow Laker LeBron James made history as he topped Abdul-Jabbar's point total of 38,387 in a contest against the Oklahoma Thunder.

Abdul-Jabbar was in attendance at Arena on Tuesday, and eye witnesses reported that the elder statesman was sporting his new bling when he walked onto the court to congratulate James.

Designed by Jason Arasheben, the CEO of Jason of Beverly Hills, the six-time NBA champ's ring tells the story of one of the most enduring records in all of sports.

“The Lakers are a first-class organization and always cherish and recognize players both old and new," Arasheben told TMZ Sports. "We were very excited to help bring this ring to life and celebrate the career of one of the all-time greats."


The face of the ring features a diamond-adorned silhouette of the Hall of Famer shooting his iconic sky hook superimposed over his "33" jersey number, also rendered in diamonds. A Lakers-purple enamel frame adds a bright accent color to the yellow gold and diamond motif.


One side of the ring shows Abdul-Jabbar's name and jersey number in raised gold letters, and his career scoring total of 38,387 chiseled out of a polished gold horizontal band.


The other side of the ring lists the date Abdul-Jabbar broke the record previously held by another Lakers superstar, Wilt Chamberlain. On April 5, 1984, he surpassed Chamberlain's mark of 31,419 points. Also shown on this side of the ring is the phrase "38 Years," which is the duration Abdul-Jabbar held the record. More precisely, he held it for 38 years, 10 months and two days.

Abdul-Jabbar's storied career spanned 21 seasons, 14 of which were with the Los Angeles Lakers. During that time, he led the team to five championships.

On his blog, a gracious Abdul-Jabbar complimented James' accomplishment.

"This is all about LeBron doing something no one else has done, about scoring more points than anyone has been able to in 75 years," he wrote. "There are no 'yeah, buts,' just praise where it is rightfully and righteously due."

On his Twitter page, Abdul-Jabbar narrated a video honoring LeBron, while pointing out the oddity that he broke Chamberlain's record in the same year LeBron was born.

He said, "There couldn't have been a better person to do it than LeBron. He earned it. He worked hard for it. It's kinda interesting that he was born the year that I had set the record. All this is kinda serendipity, as I guess they call it."

Credits: Ring screen captures via Instagram / jasonofbeverlyhills. Black and white action shot by New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Close-up photo by Yahoo from Sunnyvale, California, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Sky hook photo by copyright Steve lipofsky, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
February 17th, 2023
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today’s installment features Demi Lovato performing “Stone Cold,” her rousing, platinum-selling, 2015 power ballad about the pain of watching an ex-boyfriend moving on to a new relationship.


Lovato seems to channel English superstar Adele as she sings, “Stone cold, stone cold / I was your amber, but now she’s your shade of gold.”

Lovato compares herself to amber, a soothing gemstone known to symbolize wisdom, maturity and protection. But Lovato's amber characteristics can't compete with the intoxicating allure of gold.

“This song hurts so unbelievably bad," she told her her 42 million Instagram followers in 2015. "And when I perform it on a TV show, in rehearsals or even in a bathtub, it completely takes me to a different place.” (Her Instagram following has since grown to 149 million.)

Lovato noted that the process of writing and recording “Stone Cold” was therapeutic. For her, the song became a source of healing and catharsis. She said at the time that “Stone Cold” is a song people can listen to when they’re going through a breakup, or they’re thinking about a time when they were heartbroken.

“It’s gonna give them that voice that they need to hear in order to get past things and process how they feel,” she told

Lovato called “Stone Cold” her favorite single from her Confident album and was hoping that it would net her a Grammy.

She told Complex, “I want the Grammy committee to hear [that song] so that one day they can see that I know that I’m capable of getting there. You can’t go higher than the Grammys in the music industry. That was a huge goal for this album. I watched the Grammy nominations last year and I was like, ‘I want to be there so bad.'”

She didn't get a nomination for "Stone Cold," but did eventually capture two Grammy nominations, one in 2017 for Best Pop Vocal Album and in 2019 for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.

Born in Dallas in 1992, Demetria Devonne Lovato got her first break at the age of 7 as a cast member of Barney and Friends. Acting alongside Lovato on the popular kids' TV show was fellow songstress Selena Gomez. In 2008, Lovato starred in the Disney Channel television film Camp Rock and, shortly thereafter, signed a recording contract with Hollywood Records. At age 19, she became the youngest-ever X Factor judge.

Please check out the video of Lovato performing “Stone Cold” on Saturday Night Live in October of 2015. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Stone Cold”
Written by Demi Lovato and Laleh Pourkarim. Performed by Demi Lovato.

Stone cold, stone cold
You see me standing, but I’m dying on the floor
Stone cold, stone cold
Maybe if I don’t cry, I won’t feel anymore

Stone cold, baby
God knows I tried to feel
Happy for you
Know that I am, even if I
Can’t understand, I’ll take the pain
Give me the truth, me and my heart
We’ll make it through
If happy is her, I’m happy for you

Stone cold, stone cold
You’re dancing with her, while I’m staring at my phone
Stone cold, stone cold
I was your amber, but now she’s your shade of gold

Stone cold, baby
God knows I tried to feel
Happy for you
Know that I am, even if I
Can’t understand, I’ll take the pain
Give me the truth, me and my heart
We’ll make it through
If happy is her, I’m happy for you

Credits: Screen captures via
February 20th, 2023
It looks like the Mississippi Opal is on the fast track to becoming the Magnolia State's official gemstone. In early February, the Mississippi House voted 115-0 to recognize the unique gem as its newest state symbol.


If Bill 2138 passes the Senate, the speckled grey gem that displays opal-like flashes of orange and green will earn the state's special distinction alongside the official bird (mockingbird), flower (magnolia), fish (largemouth bass) and insect (honeybee).

“In Mississippi, we don’t have diamonds, we don’t have rubies… but we do have vast supplies of the opal,” Republican Rep. Becky Currie of Brookhaven told the Associated Press.


Geologist James Starnes is credited with discovering the Mississippi Opal less than 20 years ago when he and his team at the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) were mapping the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River in Claiborne County, near Vicksburg.

The geologists believe the Mississippi Opal was formed millions of years ago from volcanic ash.

The MDEQ joined forces with members of the North Mississippi Gem and Mineral Society and the Mississippi State Board of Registered Professional Geologists to endorse the Mississippi Opal as the state's official gemstone.

Starnes told NBC affiliate WDAM-TV in Hattiesburg that the Mississippi Opal's elevated status would "encourage folks to take interest in the state's geology."

What's more, Starnes explained that the same geological formations that allowed for the creation of Mississippi Opal in Claiborne County is also present throughout the state's pine belt.

He encouraged amateur gem hunters to seek them out.


"You’re not just looking for the sandstone," he said, "but you’re looking for the flashes of different colors from greens to reds. The color of this opal is different than any opal in the world. It is very electric in color."

The MDEQ would love to hear about any discoveries. Starnes encouraged amateur prospectors to contact the state's environmental quality department via its website at

Specimens of Mississippi Opal are currently available for public viewing at both the Museum of the Mississippi Delta in Greenwood and the Oren Dunn City Museum in Tupelo.

Credits: Screen captures via
February 21st, 2023
An elaborate gold brooch designed for California's first millionaire, Sam Brannan, will headline the final auction of historic Gold Rush jewelry and other artifacts recovered from the 1857 sinking of the fabled “Ship of Gold,” the S.S. Central America.


The large 18-karat brooch consists of a buckle-like piece at the top and gold-bearing white quartz on the bottom. The gold-speckled quartz is bezel set in a hinged mount so the stone can rotate on a horizontal axis to see both sides.

The piece, which carries a pre-sale high estimate of $100,000, will be offered by Holabird Western Americana Collections, LLC. The auction will be held on March 4 and 5 in Reno, NV.

Brannan had the brooch made at the request of his 12-year-old son, Sam Brannan, Jr., who was planning to gift it to his favorite teacher at the school he attended in Geneva, Switzerland.

The overall length of the brooch is 77 x 48 mm. The auction house noted that the presence of the buckle suggests that it may have held a colored ribbon of some sort which then draped behind and below the stone to highlight it. The back of the buckle is engraved “A. Roediger / from his little pupil / Sam Brannan Jr. / California.”

Neither Brannan nor his son were aboard the ill-fated ship. Historians believe the brooch was either in transit to Geneva by mail, by express service, or being carried by a personal friend of Brannan to be hand-delivered.

The Brannan Brooch and 30,000 pounds of Gold Rush-era treasure would fail to complete the trip from Panama to New York City. The S.S. Central America would succumb to a devastating hurricane, and all the Gold Rush-era treasure would end up 7,200 feet beneath the surface, about 200 miles off the coast of South Carolina.

Only 153 people of its 578 passengers survived the disaster. Headlines across the country declared the sinking of the 280-foot SS Central America as the country’s worst peacetime disaster at sea. For more than 130 years, the sunken side-wheeler and its cargo rested undisturbed in the Atlantic Ocean.

But, then in 1988 the ship was back in the news when an inventor named Tommy Thompson spearheaded a recovery operation, which involved exploring the ocean floor with a remotely operated vehicle named Nemo. Recovery efforts from the shipwreck site occurred in several stages between 1988-1991 and again in 2014, according to Fred Holabird, president of Holabird Western Americana Collections.


Among the 45 other recovered jewelry pieces offered in the final auction is a REGARD ring, named for the first letter of each of the six gemstones it contains: ruby (missing from the ring), emerald, garnet, amethyst, ruby and diamond. This style of ring became popular in the early 1800s when it was introduced in France.

“When I found this little ring — its stones flashing in the night — I was immediately charmed," said Bob Evans, Chief Scientist of the S.S. Central America Project. "I thought it could be a birthstone ring, intended as a mother’s representation of her children. Research by our historians ashore revealed the custom of the REGARD ring, intended as a gentleman’s token of affection for a lady, pre-engagement, but very serious.”

“This is the last opportunity for collectors to acquire previously unoffered, historic artifacts from what Life magazine proclaimed was ‘America’s greatest treasure,’" said Holabird. "The 420 lots in the auction represent an incredible time capsule of the California Gold Rush era."


Other recovered California Gold Rush jewelry in the auction includes gold nugget stickpins, gold nugget pinback brooches and gold cuff links. The auctioneers also pointed to an intriguing 1850s daguerreotype photograph of an unknown young woman now nicknamed “Mona Lisa of the Deep,” who is wearing a choker and brooch of the era.

All items in the auction are being offered unreserved. For additional information, visit Holabird Western Americana Collections of Reno, Nevada, at

Credits: All images courtesy of Holabird Western Americana Collections.
February 22nd, 2023
In the tiny town of Peterstown at the southern tip of West Virginia, a weathered historical marker describes the remarkable find of William "Punch" Jones and his father Grover C. Jones Sr., who unearthed North America's largest alluvial diamond — a 34.46-carat silvery octahedron — while pitching horseshoes in April of 1928.


How the enormous diamond ended up in the Jones's sandy lot near Rich Creek remains one of the wildest gemological mysteries of all time. Diamonds are not native to West Virginia.

Known as the Jones Diamond, the Punch Jones Diamond, the Grover Jones Diamond and the Horseshoe Diamond, the gem measured 5/8-inch in diameter and displayed 12 diamond-shaped facets. The 11-year-old Punch and his dad believed, at first, that the shiny stone was clear quartz, which is common to the area. But the young man — the oldest of 17 children — liked the stone and decided to keep it in a wooden cigar box in the family's tool shed.


It remained there for the next 14 years, but then in 1942, Punch showed renewed interest in the shiny rock due to its crystalline shine and brought it to Virginia Polytechnic Institute (now Virginia Tech), where geology professor Roy J. Holden confirmed that the stone was actually a bluish-white alluvial diamond. Alluvial diamonds generally have softer, worn edges because they've been carried by rivers or streams from their primary source.

Dr. Holden told Punch that due to its "carry impact marks" and size, the stone had probably washed down the New River into Rich Creek from a source in Virginia, North Carolina or Tennessee.


Over time, other gem experts tossed around other ideas about how such an extraordinary diamond could have found its way into the Jones's horseshoe pit.

Perhaps the stone was consumed by a waterfowl in Brazil and then deposited over the Jones's property during a migration flight. Still others believe it's impossible to rule out human intervention. It could have been dropped on the property by earlier settlers or Native Americans.

The Joneses lent the stone to the Smithsonian, where it went on display at the Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC., and remained there from 1944 until 1964. Sadly, Punch, the oldest of 16 Jones sons (a record for consecutive male births) was killed in combat during WWII while serving as an Army Private First Class in 1945.

The gem was then returned to West Virginia, where it starred at the State Fair. Otherwise, it stayed out of the public eye — locked up in a safety deposit box at First Valley National Bank in Rich Creek, VA.

The Jones family finally sold the gem at a Sotheby's auction in 1984. The selling price of $74,250 is equivalent to $213,000 in today dollars. It was purchased by an agent representing a lawyer in an undisclosed Asian country.


Although the Punch Diamond hasn't been seen in many decades, the historical marker celebrating its discovery remains in Peterstown on U.S. Route 219 at the corner of Sycamore and Market Streets.

Credits: Street view captures via Google Maps. Example of an alluvial diamond courtesy of Lucapa.
February 23rd, 2023
Now more than ever, consumers are sensitive to the environmental impacts of their shopping decisions. A Platinum Guild International (PGI) cross-market survey conducted during the third quarter of 2022 confirmed that a great majority of consumers in four countries — the US, China, India and Japan — believe that responsible jewelry sourcing is critical to their buying decisions.


Exactly 94% of Indians, 87% of Chinese and 72% of Americans said that when buying jewelry it was "Important" to know that items were denoted as responsibly sourced. Only 34% of Japanese respondents said it was "Important."

Three-quarters of the Indian respondents rated responsible sourcing at the highest level ("Very Important"), compared to 41% of Chinese, 44% of Americans and 12% of Japanese. Less than 4% of consumers in India, China and the US said responsible sourcing was "Not Important At All." Japanese consumers were least sensitive about the issue, with 15% answering "Not Important At All."

Responding to a widespread demand for information about this subject, PGI launched a special portal to help both consumers and tradespeople navigate the actions taken by platinum mining companies to abide by industry-leading guidelines. These cover environmental standards, social impact and governance practices.

"Leading platinum producers, who are also funding PGI, are actively driving a wide range of activities that put the environment and society at the heart of what they do," said Huw Daniel, CEO of PGI. "This platform showcases some of these initiatives that drive responsible platinum production and support local communities."

While the bulk of all platinum mined each year is used in jewelry fabrication, the new portal points out platinum's key roles in other industries, as well, including automotive, energy, medical and chemical.

For example, platinum is an important ingredient in diesel catalysts to reduce emissions and the brilliant white metal is also a key component of the hydrogen economy, which has the potential to provide zero-emission vehicles and energy storage solutions that all contribute to combating climate change. Platinum is also biocompatible and used in pacemakers and other medical instruments placed in the body, and platinum-based therapies have been at the forefront of cancer treatment.

More than 80% of the world's total platinum comes from one of four countries: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Canada and the US. According to PGI, the majority of the platinum used to make jewelry is produced in accordance with the robust Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) standards.

Credit: Image by
February 24th, 2023
Welcome to Music Friday when we like to bring you nostalgic tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, Neil Sedaka, the man who topped the charts with timeless singalongs such as "Calendar Girl" (1960), "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen" (1961) and "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" (1962), delivers still another teen-themed hit with "Let's Go Steady Again."


Released exactly 60 years ago when Sedaka was in his early 20s and reaching the height of his popularity, today's featured tune is about a young man who's having second thoughts after breaking up with his girlfriend.

It's been just a week since they said "goodbye," but the separation anxiety is getting the best of him. He wants to hit the restart button on the relationship and pleas with his ex to wear the jewelry symbolizing their love.

He sings, "Let's go steady again like we did before / Let's go steady again and be lovers once more / Wear my ring around your neck like you used to do / Don't you know it's wrong to break up / Come on baby let's kiss and make up."

Co-written by Sedaka and long-time collaborator, Howard Greenfield, "Let's Go Steady Again" peaked at #26 on the pop charts in 1963.

Rooted in the famed Brill Building in New York City, Sedaka and his writing partners have churned out more than 500 songs. Sedaka was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1983 and boasts a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The son of a taxi driver, Sedaka was born in Brooklyn in 1939. As a second grader, he showed such musical aptitude that his teacher recommended to his parents that he take piano lessons. Sedaka's mom landed a part-time job at a department store to earn enough money to buy her son a secondhand piano.

Her efforts paid off when the young Sedaka earned a music scholarship at the Juilliard School's Preparatory Division for Children. At the age of 13, a neighbor introduced Sedaka to Greenfield, an aspiring lyricist, who was three years his senior. Together, they would become one of the most prolific writing teams of all time.

Trivia: While attending Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, Sedaka dated singer-songwriter Carole King, who inspired his 1959 hit, "Oh! Carol."

Sedaka's career has spanned eight decades and he's still performing at the age of 83. He'll turn 84 in March. Please check out the audio track of Sedaka singing "Let's Go Steady Again." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along…

"Let's Go Steady Again"
Written by Howard Greenfield and Neil Sedaka. Performed by Neil Sedaka.

Down down down rada to, let's go steady again
Down down down rada to, let's go steady again

Let's go steady again like we did before
Let's go steady again and be lovers once more
Wear my ring around your neck like you used to do
Don't you know it's wrong to break up
Come on baby let's kiss and make up

Let's go steady again like in the past
Let's show all of our friends that our love can last
I don't care who was wrong, come back here where you belong
Come on baby let's go steady again

Monday, we said goodbye
Tuesday, all I did was cry
Wednesday, I almost lost my mind

Thursday, I was feeling blue
Friday, was the same way, too
Never had a day sad as Saturday
Even Sunday was no fun day

Let's go steady again like we used to do
Say you're ready and then we can start anew
Seven days we didn't speak
It's been a long and lonely week
Come on baby, let's go steady again

Down, down, down, rada to, let's go steady again
Down, down, down, rada to, let's go steady again
Down, down, down, rada to, let's go steady again
Down, down, down, rada to, let's go steady again
Down, down, down, rada to, let's go steady again

Credit: Photo by Raph_PH, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
February 27th, 2023
A year ago, the wedding experts at The Knot predicted that a "return to normalcy" would spawn a post-pandemic wedding boom in 2022. They were confident that 2.6 million couples would be exchanging vows last year, far outpacing even the pre-pandemic number of 2.2 million tallied in 2019, and according to The Knot’s newly released 2022 “Real Weddings Study,” they were exactly right.


Only 7% of respondents said their 2022 wedding date was impacted by COVID-19, down from 27% in 2021. 

“Real Weddings Study” included a lot of questions about proposals, engagements and jewelry preferences.

For instance, The Knot reported that nearly all (95%) of their respondents exchanged engagement rings and that diamonds remained the overwhelming choice of center stone (85%). While the round center stone still ranked as the most popular shape (favored by 37%), the oval has been making strong advances (21%, up from just 7% in 2017).

The engagement ring — at $5,800 — remained the second-highest-priced item on the list of all wedding expenses (the venue was #1). The popularity of more affordable lab-grown diamonds has allowed customers to consider larger center stones. In 2022, 23% of couples reported a center stone that weighed 2 carats or more. That's 11 percentage points higher than in 2017.

Once again, December was the top engagement month, as 15% of couples opted to celebrate during the holiday season (Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were the top dates to pop the question). Respondents said the average length of their engagements was 15 months. Exactly 91% announced their engagements on social media, 87% proposed on bended knee and 71% asked for their partner's parents for permission.

The Knot emphasized how couples are more thoughtfully crafting their proposals. In fact, a majority of proposers (58%) said they felt pressure to plan a "highly unique proposal," and roughly half planned their proposal one to three months in advance compared to 31% in 2017.

For the seventh year in a row, October will be the most popular month to get married, with three of the top five most popular dates falling during that month. The top wedding date of 2023 is expected to be Saturday 9/23/23 (because of the neat repeating number), followed by these Saturday dates: 10/7/23, 10/14/23, 5/20/23 and 10/21/23.

Couples spent an average of $30,000 on their ceremony and reception in 2022, up $2,000 compared to 2021, but the numbers varied widely based on location.

A look at wedding costs in the 20 largest US metro areas shows New York ($60,000), San Francisco-San Jose-Oakland ($54,000), Boston ($50,000), Chicago ($47,000) and Washington, DC ($40,000) topping the list.

Couples paid the least in Dallas-Fort Worth ($28,000), Houston ($28,000), Seattle-Tacoma ($28,000), Tampa-St. Petersburg-Sarasota ($28,000), Cleveland ($27,000), Sacramento-Modesto ($26,000) and Minneapolis-St. Paul ($25,000).

In a special section of its survey dedicated to "Shifting Trends," The Knot identified these items on the rise: 45% requested an "unplugged ceremony" with no photos/videos (up 23%), 40% wanted a signature cocktail (up 17%), 39% offered gluten-free options at the reception (up 16%).

These items are on their way down: 48% handed out wedding favors (down 21%), 37% had a bouquet toss (down 12%), 32% created a wedding hashtag (down 23%).

There was a tie for the most popular type of wedding venue in 2022, with both banquet halls and farm/barn/ranch earning 20% of the total. Those were followed by historic building/home (13%), hotel/resort (11%) and country club (8%).

These were the average costs of key bridal services in 2022: reception venue ($11,200); photographer ($2,600), florist ($2,400), wedding dress ($1,900), DJ ($1,500), wedding cake ($510), groom's attire ($290), hair/makeup ($250). Catering averaged $75 per person.

The average number of wedding guests in 2022 grew to 117, significantly more than the 105 invited in 2021, but far less than the pre-pandmic 2019 average of 131.

The “Real Weddings Study” is based on responses from nearly 12,000 U.S. couples married between January 1 and December 31, 2022.

Credit: Image by
February 28th, 2023
Just a month after Prince Harry threw cold water on the romanticized story of how his brother, William, ended up with Princess Diana's famous sapphire engagement ring, the source of that story — Diana's butler, Paul Burrell — is on the counterattack.


In his best-selling tell-all memoir, Spare, Prince Harry had dismissed as "absolutely rubbish" the popular myth that he inherited his late mother Princess Diana’s iconic ring, but then selflessly offered it to his older brother, Prince William, to use for his proposal to Kate Middleton in 2010.

"The papers published florid stories about the moment I realized Willy and Kate were well matched, the moment I appreciated the depth of their love and thus decided to gift Willy the ring I'd inherited from Mummy, the legendary sapphire," he wrote.

"A tender moment between brothers, a bonding moment for all three of us, and absolute rubbish. None of it ever happened. I never gave Willy that ring because it wasn't mine to give. He already had it. He'd asked for it after Mummy died, and I'd been more than happy to let it go."

Burrell, who served as Diana's personal butler, remembered the scene much differently.

In an interview with the Daily Mirror, the 64-year-old Burrell said he actually watched the boys pick the pieces of jewelry they wanted to keep after her death. William and Harry were 15 and 12, respectively, when their mom tragically died in a car accident in 1997.

"When the boys came to Kensington Palace, I said to them, 'You must take something of your mother's. You must take something to remind yourself of your time here at Kensington Palace and your mother's life.'"

"So William piped up, 'I'd like the Cartier tank watch, which Grandpa Spencer gave her for her 21st birthday because I remember mummy wearing that, keeping the time.'"

"Harry said, 'Well, can I have mummy's engagement ring? Because that's the ring I remember from my childhood.'"

"So the boys went away with two very different prizes from their mother's life."

Burrell went on to explain that when William became engaged to Kate, some deal must have been done behind the scenes because Harry had the ring.

"Harry obviously gave up his treasure to his brother so that it could be on the ring finger of his wife who would one day be Queen," Burrell said.

Burrell recalled that when the boys were choosing items from their mom's collection, William did not push back on his younger brother taking the engagement ring.

"William was happy with the arrangement," Burrell said. "William is not materialistic, so he didn't look for the flashiest jewel in mummy's collection. He didn't."

"What they chose were the two very simple things really, a ring and a watch. Not fantastic jewels. But they meant something to the boys."


In 1981, the then-20-year-old Lady Diana shocked some members of the British royal family when she picked her engagement ring from the Garrard catalog.

In Diana’s eyes, the 18-karat white gold ring set with a 12-carat oval Ceylon sapphire surrounded by a halo of 14 round white diamonds was perfect. She loved it so much that she didn’t request any modifications or customizations.

Today, it remains one of the most famous and recognizable engagement rings of all time.

Credits: Paul Burrell screen capture via Instagram / officialpaulburrell. Prince Harry image by E. J. Hersom, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Princess Diana ring replica by Ann Porteus from Tasmania, Australia, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Princess Diana with President Ronald Reagan photo by White House/ Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.