James Middleton Jewelers Blog
August 23rd, 2016
Country singer Miranda Lambert stunned the crowd at New Jersey's MetLife Stadium on Saturday when she interrupted her set to flash a pink ring and announce her engagement — to a six-year-old superfan.

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"I have to tell you something really important," she said. "I got engaged today."

Instantly, the crowd erupted in applause.

But then she added a few critical facts: "There's a little 6-year-old boy somewhere here named Sebastian. He asked me to marry him and I said, 'Yes, in 25 years.'"

Then, she held the ring up near her face and said, "Isn't this beautiful?"

"When he came to my meet and greet, he got down on one knee and he was such a gentleman," she continued. "It may be my favorite proposal ever… 'Cause, girls, we deserve that. We deserve that. So, that being said, thank you, Sebastian."

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The pint-sized Romeo reportedly bought the ring with his own money back in December and waited for Saturday's concert date to deliver his proposal.

A stroke of good luck allowed Sebastian to attend a meet-and-greet before the show even though he didn't have the proper credentials to get in.

Sarah Goddard, who did possess the required meet-and-greet sticker, was approached by the adorable suitor before the concert. Sebastian asked Goddard if she would propose to Lambert on his behalf.

Goddard had a better plan.

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"I told his mom he could come in with me 'as my son' so he could propose to Miranda himself," Goddard told People.

The 32-year-old Grammy winner, who split with Blake Shelton in 2015 and has been dating Anderson East since December, was absolutely floored by the character of the young man.

The next day, Lambert reported the big news to her 2.8 million followers on Instagram and included a collage of two photos accompanied by this caption: "I said YES! But he has to wait 25 years. This sweet boy Sebastian is a little gentleman. #pinkring #proposal #mademyday #jersey #spreadthelovetour"

The post already has generated 176,000 likes and 1,915 comments, such as this one from @mamassoul: "This is the sweetest EVER... You are an amazing woman @mirandalambert and I am sure little Sebastian had his heart FULL of every emotion possible!!! Way to go girl!!!

Credit: Instagram/Miranda Lambert.
August 22nd, 2016
It's barely 4mm in width and weighs a scant .005 ounces, but this gold bead from a prehistoric settlement in southern Bulgaria may be the world's oldest gold artifact.

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Archaeologists made the discovery at a site just outside the modern town of Pazardzhik. They dated the gold bead to some time between 4,500 to 4,600 BC, making it about 200 years older than the gold artifacts found in Bulgaria's Black Sea city of Varna back in 1972.

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The gold found at the Varna Necropolis was previously believed to be the oldest evidence of gold metallurgy. The burial site at Varna is considered one of the key archaeological sites in world prehistory and included a total of 294 graves containing 3,000 gold artifacts.

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Despite that massive discovery, the archaeologists at Pazardzhik believe their tiny bead is historic.

"I have no doubt that it is older than the Varna gold," Yavor Boyadzhiev, associate professor at the Bulgarian Academy of Science, told Reuters. "It's a really important discovery. It is a tiny piece of gold but big enough to find its place in history."

The tiny gold bead looks a lot like the tube-shaped, short-cut pasta preschoolers might use to string a Mother's Day necklace.

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The bead was found in the remains of a small house. Among the other artifacts found at the site were 150 ceramic birds, an indication that they may have been worshipped by the locals.

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Boyadzhiev told Reuters that he believes the bead was fabricated at the site, which was the first "urban" settlement in Europe. He said the townspeople were highly cultured and had migrated there from Anatolia (in today's Turkey) around 6,000 BC. The settlement covered 25 to 30 acres and was protected by a nine-foot-tall fortress wall.

The professor noted that there is evidence that the settlement was destroyed in 4,100 BC by a rival tribe that invaded from the north.

Once the bead is thoroughly studied, it will be handed over to the historical museum in Pazardzhik for public exhibition.

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/PBS News Hour. Varna tomb image by Yelkrokoyade [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Map by Google Maps.
August 19th, 2016
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great throwback songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. In today's installment, we time travel to Hollywood's Soul Train sound stage, where Freda Payne is singing her biggest hit, "Band of Gold."

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The song is about a young couple that rushes into marriage only to find out on their honeymoon that they are incompatible. He takes off, and she remains in a darkened room, dreaming of what could have been.

Although the woman yearns for her estranged husband to return to her, deep in her heart she knows that all that remains of the relationship is the ring on her finger and the memories of their time together.

She sings, "Now that you're gone / All that's left is a band of gold / All that's left of the dreams I hold / Is a band of gold / And the memories of what love could be / If you were still here with me."

Released in April 1970, the song became a instant hit with worldwide sales of more than two million records. "Band of Gold" ascended to #3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and was #1 in the U.K. for six consecutive weeks. It was Payne's first gold record and remains her signature song 46 years later.

Interestingly, Payne originally refused to record the song when it was offered to her by co-writer Ron Dunbar. She didn't like the lyrics and didn't like the idea of a relationship falling apart during a honeymoon.

Dunbar encouraged Payne to perform the song, despite her reluctance. He said, "Don't worry. You don't have to like [the lyrics]. Just learn [them]."

Payne agreed, and the rest is history. In 2004, "Band of Gold" was voted #391 in Rolling Stone magazine's listing of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Payne told authors Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh that she had no idea that "Band of Gold" would be such a big hit.

Born in Detroit in 1942, Freda Charcilia Payne grew up listening to jazz singers, such as Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. As a teenager, she attended the Detroit Institute of Musical Arts and her first professional jobs were singing radio commercial jingles. In 1963, she moved to New York City and worked with many different entertainers, including Quincy Jones and Pearl Bailey. She release her first album in 1964, but didn't hit it big until she returned to Detroit in 1969 and signed with the record label Invictus.

By 1970, Payne was a household name, thanks to the success of "Band of Gold."

Please check out the video of Payne's Soul Train performance of today's featured song. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Band of Gold"
Written by Ronald Dunbar and Edythe Wayne. Performed by Freda Payne.

Now that you're gone,
All that's left is a band of gold
All that's left of the dreams I hold
Is a band of gold
And the memories of what love could be
If you were still here with me

You took me from the shelter of my mother
I had never known or loved any other
We kissed after taking vows
But that night on our honeymoon,
We stayed in separate rooms

I wait in the darkness of my lonely room
Filled with sadness, filled with gloom
Hoping soon
That you'll walk back through that door
And love me like you tried before

Since you've been gone,
All that's left is a band of gold
All that's left of the dreams I hold
Is a band of gold
And the dream of what love could be
If you were still here with me

Ohhh

Don't you know that I wait
In the darkness of my lonely room
Filled with sadness, filled with gloom
Hoping soon
That you'll walk back through that door
And love me like you tried before

Since you've been gone,
All that's left is a band of gold
All that's left of the dreams I hold
Is a band of gold
And the dream of what love could be
If you were still here with me

Since you've been gone,
All that's left is a band of gold
All that's left of the dreams I hold
Is a band of gold
And the dream of what love could be
If you were still here with me


Credit: By CBS Television [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
August 18th, 2016
Fifteen hundred years ago in Datong City, China, there lived an aristocrat named Farong. The wife of Magistrate Cui Zhen, Farong owned an elaborate pair of gold earrings that demonstrated meticulous craftsmanship and amazing technical prowess.

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The earrings were beautiful from every angle. From one view, one could see the likenesses of a human figure flanked by dragons.

The detailing was extraordinary. The human figure on the earrings had curly hair, deep-set eyes and a high nose. The character wore a pendant with a sequin-bead pattern on the neck and had inverted lotus flowers carved under its shoulders.

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From the side, admirers would marvel at the round and teardrop-shaped adornments inlaid with multicolored gemstones. Delicate gold chains hanging from cabochon-cut amethysts dangled below, and one could imaging how they would have draped down the sides of Farong's face.

Also among her prized possessions was an elaborate necklace made from 5,000 pearls, gold pieces, crystals and colored glass beads.

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A team of Chinese archaeologists with the Datong Municipal Institute of Archaeology unearthed Farong's tomb when they were surveying the area before a construction project. Although her skeleton was badly decomposed, her exquisite jewelry — which had been buried with her — remained in near-pristine condition. Farong's story was originally reported in the Chinese journal Wenwu and translated into English in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics.

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The necklace consisted of 10 large and small gold beads, nine flat gold pieces, two crystals, 42 natural pearls and more than 4,800 colorful glass beads. The archaeologists explained that the small beads were "the size of millet grains, some black and some green, and all are [flattened], each with a perforation in the middle."

Although the thread on which the 5,000 beads were strung had disintegrated long ago, the beads remained in their original positions, making the reconstruction of the piece much easier for the archaeologists.

Farong's epitaph was discovered at the tomb's entrance. Carved into a stone tablet was the phrase: "Han Farong, the wife of Magistrate Cui Zhen." Han is her surname. (In China, the surname was traditionally written first and the given name second, according to Live Science.)

Farong lived in the capital of Datong City, about 215 miles west of Beijing, during the latter part of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534). Her age at death was unknown, but the story of her fine jewelry may live on forever.

Credits: Photos courtesy of Chinese Cultural Relics.
August 17th, 2016
When the U.S. women's Olympic gymnastics team overpowered its competition to defend the gold medal in the team all-around competition at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio the athletes were certainly dressed for the success. Their patriotic leotards radiated with 4,000 white and red Swarovski crystals.



Teammates Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian beamed with confidence, thanks to GK Elite, the official outfitter of the U.S. national team.



Kelly McKeown, executive vice president at GK Elite, told USA Today how her company designed the leotards to deliver the maximum impact for a world stage. GK worked with U.S. Olympics gymnastics coach Martha Koroly to make sure they were creating a "wow" moment for the athletes.



"Marta has said it many times: 'It has to be like a prom dress.' She wants them to walk out and look regal, and unique and exquisite and dynamic. She’s not interested in having something very plain. She wants it to be their day out there."

Each athlete was outfitted with 12 practice leotards at $60 to $200 each, and eight competition leotards priced from $700 to $1,200, depending on the number of crystals used in the design. A U.S. female gymnast's Olympic wardrobe can cost upward of $12,000.

"They prepared their whole lives to be out there, in the biggest arena in the entire world," McKeown said. "You have to feel beautiful. It feeds into how you feel when you walk out there. It's a combination of morale boost and confidence and everything they are trying to achieve."

The stunning leotards seemed to have a light source of their own. Joked McKeown, "People keep asking me, 'So where do you hide the battery packs? Because it looks like they are glowing.' I laugh because it’s all the fastening of the crystal."

In Olympics past, the task of affixing crystals to a leotard was an expensive, manual task. The leotard worn by American Nastia Liukin in Beijing eight years ago, for example, featured 184 crystals that were mostly hand-placed.

Crystal-application technology has come a long way since then, McKeown reported. GK Elite now has specialized bejeweling equipment that can robotically place a variety of crystal colors in a infinite range of designs.

Credit: Image by Agência Brasil Fotografias [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
August 16th, 2016
After completing her near-flawless floor routine for which she earned a 15.433, U.S. gymnastics team captain Aly Raisman burst into tears when she realized she had edged out Russia's Aliya Mustafina for the Olympic silver medal in the women's all-around competition.

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As NBC's cameras zoomed in on the thrilling and emotional moment in Rio, we noticed that Raisman was wearing a very familiar pair of red, white and blue stud earrings — the lucky earrings she wore four years earlier at the London Games.

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The Newton, Mass., native said at the time that the earrings were her good luck charms and that she had rarely taken them off. Raisman wore them when she qualified for her all-around final, during pre-Olympic interviews and even during her Sports Illustrated cover shoot.



Designed by her hometown jeweler, Adamas Fine Jewelry, the simple earring feature round rubies and sapphires surrounding a larger round diamond.

“I designed the white-gold earrings in a shape of a starburst with red, white and blue stones,” Adamas co-owner Anto Aboyan told JCK magazine in 2012. “Aly is representing the U.S., so it was a fitting design and color scheme.”

“I love the patriotism look,” Raisman told Boston’s Channel 7 News.

The jeweler had gifted the earrings to Raisman without knowing whether the world-class gymnast would be allowed to wear them during the Olympic competitions.

Officially, the Olympic Committee has no formal rules about the subject. Instead, the governing body of each sport sets its own rules. Gymnasts may wear earrings as long as they are simple studs (one in each ear).

With more than 31 million viewers glued to their TVs on Thursday night as the 22-year-old Raisman and 19-year-old dynamo Simone Biles scored a silver/gold exacta for the U.S. in the women's all-around competition, we're wondering how many people watching at home were secretly coveting their own pair of patriotic starburst earrings.

Credits: Aly Raisman screen captures via YouTube.com. Earring studs photo by Adamas Fine Jewelry. Aly Raisman by Agência Brasil Fotografias [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
August 15th, 2016
If you've been mesmerized by the swimming feats of Olympic legend Michael Phelps, you may be equally impressed by his taste in bridal jewelry. The engagement ring you see here was presented by Phelps to former Miss California Nicole Johnson when he proposed to her in February of 2015.

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Exactly a year later, Johnson posted a closeup of the ring and offered a peek into the symbolism of the large oval-cut diamond center stone and what seem to be shield-shaped side stones.

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She wrote: "[The] center is a pool representing our pool of love and each side stone is shaped like rain drops that continue to fill our pool. Thank you @intagemsanddiamonds for helping @m_phelps00 create the most beautiful ring I've ever seen. #imnotbiased #ringselfie #rings #engaged #soontobemrs"

Her February post was well received by her 303,000 followers as it generated 15,400 likes and 1,081 comments.

Interestingly, Johnson knows a lot about fine jewelry and is more than comfortable behind a loupe. She earned an Accredited Jewelry Professional designation through the Gemological Institute of America in 2011 and worked as an assistant marketing manager and sales associate for Los Angeles-based INTA Gems & Diamonds. Among her accomplishments at the firm was assisting in the design and development of the official crown for the Miss California Teen USA pageant. (Note: GIA's AJP designation has been renamed from Accredited Jewelry Professional to Applied Jewelry Professional.)

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While Phelps became the biggest story of the Rio Olympic Games, NBC's television cameras repeatedly cut away to emotional shots of the swimmer's supportive fiancée and their new baby, Boomer Robert Phelps, who was born on May 5th.

Phelps entered the Rio Games as the most decorated Olympian in history, with 22 medals, including 18 golds. As a 31-year-old, he added five golds and a silver during eight grueling days of competition — a competition that he says will be his last. He won his 23rd, and final, Olympic gold medal Saturday night by swimming his best stroke, the butterfly, in the 4x100 medley.

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Phelps and Johnson met at the ESPY Awards in 2007 and have dated since 2009. They announced their engagement in February of 2015 and their wedding is scheduled for the end of this year.

Credits: Images via Instagram/nicole.m.johnson.
August 12th, 2016
Hey, it's Music Friday when we bring you fabulous songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, a cowboy learns a valuable life lesson in Kenny Rogers' 1991 hit, "If You Want to Find Love."

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Co-written by Rogers, Skip Ewing and Max D. Barnes, the song uses multiple jewelry and precious metal references to tell the story of two strangers who meet in a bar. The man has a cheating heart, but the woman sets him straight.

She reacts to the cowboy's advances with the following advice: "If you wanna find gold / Go looking in the mountains / If you wanna find silver / Go digging in stones / If you wanna find heaven / Go reading in the Bible / If you wanna find love / Go looking at home."

Later in the song, the woman focuses on the cowboy's wedding band. Rogers sings, "She touched the gold ring on his finger / And held it to the jukebox light / And she said, 'Stranger, think what you're losing / If you leave here with me tonight."

"If You Want to Find Love" was released as the first single from Back Home Again, the county music superstar's 24th studio album. The single reached #11 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.

Born in Houston in 1938, Kenneth Ray "Kenny" Rogers is one of the most successful country artists of all time. He has charted more than 120 singles and topped the country and pop album charts for more than 200 individual weeks. In all, he has sold more than 120 million records worldwide and, amazingly, charted a record within each of the last seven decades.

The soon-to-be 78-year-old (his birthday is August 21) announced in 2015 that he would be retiring from show business after a final tour, which he is calling "The Gambler’s Last Deal.” Shows will run through April of 2017.

Please check out the video of Rogers' live performance of "If You Want To Find Love." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"If You Want To Find Love"
Written by Skip Ewing, Max D. Barnes and Kenny Rogers. Performed by Kenny Rogers.

He was sitting on a bar stool
A picture from a cheating song
She'd been standing by the jukebox
Dropping quarters all night long.

He said, tell me: are you lonely?
Is there some place we can go?
She said: cowboy, you know I'm lonely
But there's something you should know:

If you wanna find gold
Go looking in the mountains
If you wanna find silver
Go digging in stones
If you wanna find heaven
Go reading in the Bible
If you wanna find love
Go looking at home.

She touched the gold ring on his finger
And held it to the jukebox light
And she said. Stranger, think what you're losing
If you leave here with me tonight.

So he pulled her body closer
She felt feelings she'd never known
And he said: thank you, for the lesson
And if you need me I'll be at home.

If you wanna find gold
Go looking in the mountains
If you wanna find silver
Go digging in stones
If you wanna find heaven
Go reading in the Bible
If you wanna find love
Go looking at home.

If you wanna find gold
Go looking in the mountains
If you wanna find silver
Go digging in stones
If you wanna find heaven
Go reading in the Bible
If you wanna find love
Go looking at home.

If you wanna find love
Go looking at home.


Credit: Kenny Rogers by Eva Rinaldi [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
August 11th, 2016
Back in early April, jewelry designer JS Diamonds posted this incredible 80-carat emerald-cut diamond engagement ring on its Instagram page, along with the caption, "Not your every day ring!! 80 carat emerald cut #diamond #bigrock." Over the next four months, the post accumulated 567 likes and 90 comments.

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But, then on August 6, the fine jewelry blog Gem Hunt reposted the ring on its Instagram page, and the results were astonishing.

Not only did the post earn 2,700 likes and 327 comments in just four days, but it also caught the attention of style writers from Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, WhoWhatWear and Brit + Co., among others.

The writers seemed to enjoy the fact that the 80-carat diamond was far larger than even the blingiest engagement rings worn by such A-listers as Kim Kardashian-West (15 carats), Ciara (12-15 carats) and Mariah Carey (35 carats).

One scribe did some quick math to extrapolate the approximate value of the 80-carat stunner. If Carey's ring was worth $7.4 million, she reasoned, the much larger ring would probably sell for more than $15 million.

In Cosmopolitan UK, readers were asked about their preference of engagement rings: "big and bling" or "understated and simple." Then the writer injected her own opinion: "Well, after seeing [this] ring, your dream scenario may just hit new, extravagant heights of sparkling, shiny beauty."

The writer concluded that although this style might not be for everyone, and that less-is-more is just as beautiful and elegant, "there's no denying that this would turn a few heads. Do you fancy yourself sparkling in it?"

At Marie Claire, the style writer asked her readers, "Would you wear it, if you could? Is this really the dream engagement ring?"

"Knowing that your carat count is higher than Mariah, Kim K and Ciara’s combined would be a pretty fun statement to throw around at parties," she wrote, "and there’s no doubt you’re going to turn heads with this, blinding all onlookers."

She conceded, however, that with a rock that big, some people would think the diamond was a "shard of cubic zirconia."

A writer at WhoWhatWear.com admitted the 80-carat diamond engagement ring was unlike any jewelry she's ever seen.

"We came across the hugest diamond engagement ring we've seen in a long time. Scratch that—it's the hugest one ever," she wrote. "The emerald-cut stone is a whopping 80 carats! We can only imagine what it feels like to put a ring like that on your finger. It's nearly half the size of the model's hand and is probably pretty heavy. In any case, it's stunningly beautiful."

And Brit + Co. summed it up perfectly, when a style writer concluded, "Just when you thought you couldn’t possibly be shocked by the size of a diamond after seeing examples like Ciara’s jaw-droppingly giant engagement ring and double-band diamond sparkler wedding ring, BAM, here’s an 80-carat engagement ring to totally blow your mind. That’s right, 80-whopping-carats of stunning diamond beauty that is truly beyond spectacular."

Credit: Instagram.com/jsdiamonds.
August 10th, 2016
De Beers and Canadian partner Mountain Province recently took the wraps off their Gahcho Kué diamond mine, a $1 billion project that promises to generate 4.5 million carats per year.

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The mining companies believe there is a great chance of finding large, fine diamonds at the mine because test samples already have yielded two gem-quality stones, weighing 24.65 carats and 12.1 carats, respectively.

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Situated at the edge of Kennady Lake in Canada's remote Northwest Territories, the Gahcho Kué mine sits atop a labyrinth of kimberlite pipes, which are usually surefire indicators that diamonds are nearby. The pipes are often likened to volcanic superhighways that can deliver precious diamonds from deep within the earth to the surface.

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Gahcho Kué's officially opening next month will mark the culmination of a 23-year odyssey that began with some basic geological sampling and built up to a $1 billion, two-year development project.

The mine will go into full commercial production by early 2017 and is expected to have a 13-year life span.

"Starting the ramp-up to production at Gahcho Kué — on time, on budget and in a challenging environment — is a remarkable achievement," De Beers Chief Executive Bruce Cleaver said in a statement.

Gahcho Kué means "place of the big rabbit" in the Dene Suline language of the region's native Chipewyan people.

De Beers and Mountain Province are 51/49 partners in the Gahcho Kué mine, and this is De Beers' third mine in Canada. The other two are located at Snap Lake (Northwest Territories) and Victor (Ontario).

De Beers described Gahcho Kué as a remote fly-in/fly-out location just 140 miles (280km) northeast of its existing Yellowknife diamond mine.

Credit: Images by De Beers Canada, GoogleMaps.com and DeBeersGroup.com.