James Middleton Jewelers Blog
August 16th, 2017
Five years ago, chronic procrastinator Maneesh Sethi hired a woman via Craigslist to slap him in the face any time he strayed off task. The $8-per-hour investment in "Kara The Slapper" quickly paid big dividends, as Sethi quadrupled his productivity AND spawned the concept of Pavlok, a bracelet that can deliver a behavior-altering jolt with the tap of a button.



The idea is based on the 80-year practice of aversion therapy. Each time the user exhibits the undesirable behavior, he or she touches the Pavlok button to self-administer a punishing shock. Over time, the user's brain subconsciously associates the bad behavior with the negative result and the bad behavior is eradicated. The Pavlok website says that the device can be used to break a number of bad habits, including smoking, mindless eating, nail biting and watching too much TV.

A New York Times reviewer noted that the zap could be adjusted from 50 volts (a strong vibration) to 450 volts (like getting stung by a bee with a stinger the size of an ice pick). A police Taser, the writer pointed out, typically delivers about 50,000 volts. The selected intensity of the Pavlok shock can be adjusted with a smartphone app.

Another critic wrote that the Pavlok device was simply a high-tech version of the rubber band, which is sometimes used by patients who are trying to combat anxiety and other disorders. Those patients are instructed to simply put the band around their wrists and deliver a stinging snap to break thoughts related to anxiety, panic and fear.

In 2014, Pavlok got off the ground by generating $284,027 via the crowdfunding site Indiegogo. Today, Pavlok's website boasts more then 40,000 units sold and a slew of video testimonials, including the one from Heather, who credited Pavlok with helping her break a 25-year nail-biting habit, and Carlos, who quit smoking in just five days.

The Pavlok device pairs a silicone, battery-powered shock-inducing bracelet with a Bluetooth-connected mobile app designed for iOS and Android smartphones.

In addition to the self-induced shocks, the device can be set to deliver a stimulus, for instance, if one has been sleeping or resting too long. The device also employs a hand-detection function that can sense if the user might be biting her nails, pulling her hair, or smoking a cigarette. The battery can deliver 150 tiny jolts on a single charge.

What's more, the app includes a five-day guided audio course on how to reverse bad habits.

Pavlok is available in five colors and sells for $179.

Credit: Image via Buy.Pavlok.com
August 15th, 2017
A Fort McMurray man was reunited with his beloved wedding ring — just in time for his 10th anniversary — after it was spotted by an eagle-eyed sorter at the municipal recycling center.



Darren Sammann can't imagine how his wedding ring made its way to the landfill managed by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo in Alberta. What he does remember was that his ring was feeling a bit tight one night in late June, so he switched it from his ring finger to his pinky.

"The ring was bothering me," he told CBC News, "so I took it off and put it on my pinky for the first time in nine years and 10 months."

That strategy proved to be disastrous, because the ring was too big for his pinky and slipped off.

He scoured his workplace and his wife searched their house, but the ring was nowhere to be found.

On July 12, a sorter at the local recycling center spied something unusual on the sorting line. It was a white-metal wedding ring with a personalized inscription on the inside.



The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo posted an alert to its Facebook page, and the item was shared 160 times. The Municipality provided a contact email and encouraged the rightful owner to come forward by accurately identifying the ring.

A family member who saw the post alerted Sammann to the news that the recycling center recovered a ring that might be his.

"I was in total disbelief that it was found at a landfill," Sammann told CBC News.



The recovery couldn't have come at a better time. Darren was proudly wearing his ring when he and his wife, Angie, celebrated their 10th anniversary this past Friday.

Darren Sammann is confident that his ring will never be lost again. He had the ring resized and now it fits perfectly.

"There's no need to take it off anymore," he said.

Credits: Images by Darren Sammann; Facebook.com/rmwoodbuffalo; Facebook.com/darren.sammann.
August 14th, 2017
A retired law-enforcement officer who was dragged nearly 20 feet and run over while attempting an arrest 13 months ago is now the happiest guy in Lexington, Ky., after his girlfriend said "Yes" to an unusual traffic-stop marriage proposal.



Shepherdsville Police Officer Rocco Besednjak, who was forced to retired due to the seriousness of his injuries, recruited the University of Kentucky Police to assist with his romantic, but mischievous, scheme to surprise Lauren Vincent, who is a nurse manager for the pediatric forensics unit at UK Children’s Hospital.

Because Vincent, 36, works for the University of Kentucky, Besednjak wanted the proposal to tie into the school.

On Thursday, August 10, Vincent and her supervisor, Dr. Christina Howard, who was in on Besednjak's scheme, took a drive to pick up a donation for the hospital. During the trip, which passed in front of UK's Kroger Field, Vincent was pulled over by a University of Kentucky officer.



The officer told Vincent that she had something dragging from the back of the car and that she needed to get out and take a look.



When she circled to the back of the car, Besednjak, 38, who had been hiding in the passenger seat of the officer's car, was already down on one knee with a ring box in his hand.

Vincent was startled for two reasons. Certainly, the marriage proposal during a traffic stop was surprising enough, but the nurse also couldn't believe her boyfriend was kneeling on his damaged leg only one week removed from spinal decompression surgery.

On July 3, 2016, Besednjak nearly lost his life while attempting to arrest a suspect at a gas station. The woman had an outstanding warrant, but instead of surrendering, she rammed Besednjak with her car and dragged him nearly 20 feet. His leg was run over during the tragic incident. The perpetrator received a 40-year sentence in May.

Now in the shadow of Kroger Field, Besednjak was ready with a diamond ring and a proposal for the love of his life.

"You know you make every day happy. You make my life the happiest it could have ever been," he said. "I hope you're not too embarrassed, but I love you a lot and I want you to marry me."

Before she answered, the healthcare professional had to admonish him.

"I love you," she said, "but why are you on your knees?

"So, are you going to marry me?" he interrupted.

"Yes," she screamed, adding, “Why are you on your knee? You’re not supposed to be on your knee. I love you."

The couple embraced and then Besednjak handed Vincent the halo-style, yellow-gold ring to place on her own finger.



Vincent giggled with excitement, bending backward while viewing her new ring with her arms extended to the front.



Unable to stay in the romantic moment, Vincent returned to the theme of Besednjak needing to take better care of himself.

"I was worried about why you were on your knee when you had surgery last week," she admonished.

"That's what I'm supposed to do," he said.



The proposal was captured from three camera angles — one shot by a videographer, one from the officer's body cam and one from a camera mounted in the ring box. See the video below.


Rocco Besednjak Proposal from Antonio Pantoja on Vimeo.

Credits: Screen captures via Vimeo.com.
August 11th, 2017
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you hot, new tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Chris Lucas and Preston Brust of LoCash have fun with the concept of "a diamond is forever" in their latest hit, "Ring on Every Finger."



In the song, the country pop duo sets the scene for an over-the-top marriage proposal. Instead of going down on one knee, they promise to go down on two. And instead of offering a single engagement ring, they plan to put a ring on every finger.

They sing, "I ain't gettin' down on one knee / Girl, I'm gettin' on two / Might be over the top / But I tell you what I'm gonna do / I'll put on a ring on every finger / Just to show that I'm legit / Gonna try my last name on ya girl / Just to see if it fits."

Josh Kear, who wrote the song with Thomas Rhett and Jesse Frasure, told Billboard magazine that the song is based on the following theme: "If one ring says I'll love you forever, what would a ring on every finger mean?"

Kear and his collaborators also peppered the banjo-backed song with romantic bridal imagery.

Kear commented, "Most guys want to give their dream girl the wedding of their dreams, so I think men care about making women happy on their wedding day. Maybe less about the specifics and more about giving their bride the day they deserve."

"Ring on Every Finger" was released in November of 2016 as the third single from The Fighters. The song has been on an upward trajectory ever since. This week it rose to #26 on the Billboard US Hot Country Songs chart. The Taste of Country website called the song "an infectious, melodic jam."

Vocalists Lucas and Brust released their first LoCash single in the spring of 2010. Even though they've been on the music scene together for seven years and scored a #1 country hit for "I Know Somebody" in February of 2016, they were nominated in the category of best New Duo or Group of 2017 by the Academy of Country Music.

Please check out the video of LoCash's live performance of "Ring on Every Finger." The video was shot in Omaha on March 9, 2017. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Ring on Every Finger"
Written by Jesse Frasure, Josh Kear and Thomas Rhett. Performed by LoCash.

I've got a pounding in my chest baby
Feels like I'm seventeen again
Got something burning a hole in my pocket lately
Done asked your daddy, done told your friends

I ain't gettin' down on one knee
Girl, I'm gettin' on two
Might be over the top
But I tell you what I'm gonna do

I'll put on a ring on every finger
Just to show that I'm legit
Gonna try my last name on ya girl
Just to see if it fits
If I could baby I would marry you a million times,
Put a ring on every finger
Just to show the whole world that you are mine
Show the whole world that you're mine

Well señorita, can't nothing be sweeter
Than you in that white wedding dress,
Even the church and white limousine
Girl, why you cryin', it ain't rocket science
All you gotta do is say yes
Spend the rest of your life with me

Don't you know I ain't gettin' down on one knee
Until I'm gettin' down on two
It might be over the top
But I tell you what I'm gonna do

I'll put on a ring on every finger
Just to show that I'm legit
Gonna try my last name on ya girl
Just to see if it fits
If I could baby I would marry you a million times,
Put a ring on every finger
Just to show the whole world that you are mine
Show the whole world that you're mine

Come on let's spend this life together
Dropping f bombs like forever
With the whole world as a witness
Gonna flip that Miss to a Mrs.
Gonna spend this life together
Dropping f bombs like forever
With the whole world as a witness
Then I flip that Miss to a Mrs.

I'll put on a ring on every finger
Just to show that I'm legit
Go ahead and try my last name on
Just to see if it fits
If I could baby I would marry you a million times,
Put a ring on every finger
Just to show the whole world that you are mine
I'll put a ring on every finger
Just to show that I'm legit
Go ahead and try my last name on girl
Just to see if it fits
If I could baby I would marry you a million times,
Put a ring on every finger
Just to show the whole world that you are mine
Show the whole world that you are mine


Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.
August 10th, 2017
A full season of suspenseful rose ceremonies culminated Monday night in "Bachelorette" Rachel Lindsay accepting a marriage proposal from Bryan Abasolo, along with a stunning 3-carat pear-shaped diamond engagement ring estimated to be worth more than $100,000.



Delicate and elegant, the platinum ring features an impressive center stone surrounded by a halo of smaller round diamonds. Diamond accents also go three-quarters around the band.



Designer Neil Lane told People magazine that although Abasolo was initially drawn to a more elaborate ring with a princess-cut center stone, he eventually went with the more feminine pear-shaped design. Lindsay had apparently told her suitor how much she loved pear-shaped diamonds, so Abasolo "lit up" when he saw Lane's design.

More than 7.5 million fans tuned in to ABC Monday night for the The Bachelorette Season 13 finale, during which Lindsay had to pick the winner from among the three finalists — Abasolo, Eric Bigger and Peter Kraus. In the end, the 32-year-old attorney from Dallas went with the 37-year-old chiropractor from Miami.



Abasolo went down on bended knee and asked Lindsay to be his bride: "I am the best version of myself when I'm with you. You are so easy and effortless to love. And I just want to love you for the rest of my life."

Lindsay responded, "I just wanna tell you that I love you and I'm in love with you and I can't imagine spending my life with anyone else."

In the lead-up to Monday's show, which was pre-recorded, Lindsay had been been sporting a temporary gold band on her ring finger so the style of the actual engagement ring would remain a mystery until the show aired.

Lane revealed that he typically presents the finalists with six rings. A few are the same designs offered during previous seasons, others are re-designed and some are brand new.

Before taking center stage as the Season 13 Bachelorette, Lindsay had been a fan favorite during the 21st season of The Bachelor, starring Nick Viall.



Earlier this week, the couple appeared on Entertainment Tonight, where Lindsay compared her ring with that of ET's Lauren Zima. They also received a warm welcome from the studio audience of Live with Kelly and Ryan.



Credits: The Bachelorette screen captures via ABC; Jewelry screen capture via Instagram/neillanejewelry. Entertainment Tonight and Live with Kelly and Ryan screen captures via YouTube.com.
August 9th, 2017
On Monday, August 21, skygazers from Salem, Ore., to Charleston, S.C., will see a rare total solar eclipse and — for just a brief moment — a fantastical celestial display that looks remarkably like a diamond ring.



The "Diamond Ring Effect," which was first explained by Francis Baily in 1836, occurs when the moon completely masks out the sun during a total solar eclipse. Due to the rugged lunar landscape, the black outline of the moon is not smooth. Tiny beads of sunlight can still shine through in some places and not in others as the moon slowly grazes past the sun.

These are called Baily’s Beads. When only one dazzling “bead” remains, momentarily, the view of the eclipse resembles a diamond ring. The ring’s glow is produced by the sun’s corona remaining dimly visible around the lunar silhouette.

The Diamond Ring Effect will actually happen twice on August 21. The first time will occur in the moment just before the total eclipse, and the second will occur just after the total eclipse. The so-called Great American Solar Eclipse will last about 2 minutes and 40 seconds, and effectively turn day into night.

NASA warned that skywatchers should NEVER look at a partial solar eclipse without proper eye protection. Looking directly at the sun, even when it is partially covered by the moon, can cause serious eye damage or blindness. Only during totality, when the sun's disk is completely covered by the moon, is it safe to view the eclipse with the naked eye, says NASA. Learn more about solar eclipse eye protection at Space.com.

During the solar eclipse, the moon's shadow will pass over all of North America. The path of the umbra, where the eclipse is total, will stretch on a bent path from Salem on the West Coast to Charleston on the East Coast. This will be the first total solar eclipse visible in the contiguous United States in 38 years. The next total solar eclipse will take place in North America on April 8, 2024.

Credits: Image by Lutfar Rahman Nirjhar (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
August 8th, 2017
It was exactly 50 years ago when a prospector named Manuel d’Souza got his first look at a cluster of intense blue crystals that had been discovered by a Maasai tribesman in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.



At first glance, the crystals appeared to be sapphires. But a hardness test quickly ruled that out.

According to one published account, the somewhat perplexed prospector checked the characteristics of his samples against a resource guide and narrowed down the possibilities. Might they be olivine, or dumortierite, or cordierite or zoisite? The prospector took his best guess and registered an "olivine" claim with the Tanzanian government in the summer of 1967.



Later, the Gemological Institute of America revealed that the stones were, in fact, a never-before-seen variation of zoisite. To this day, a 2km by 4km area in Tanzania is the only place on the earth where this type of zoisite can be found.

The gorgeous blue mineral quickly caught the attention of Tiffany & Co., which wanted to feature the gemstone in a broad-based advertising campaign. The only problem was that the name "zoisite" sounded very much like "suicide," and that wouldn't do. So, the marketing team at Tiffany decided to promote the gems as “tanzanite,” a name that would honor its country of origin.

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

The most valuable tanzanite gemstones display a deep sapphire blue color with highlights of intense violet. The Smithsonian's website explains that tanzanite exhibits the optical phenomenon of pleochroism, appearing intense blue, violet or red, depending on the direction through which the crystal is viewed.

Tanzanite rates a 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs hardness scale. By comparison, diamond rates a 10 and sapphire rates a 9.

A Maasai folktale recounts how tanzanite came to be. Once upon a time, the story goes, lightning struck the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, scorching the land. In the aftermath, a spectacular blue crystal was left shimmering in the ashes.

Tanzanite continues to shimmer in jewelry stores around the world as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Credits: Photo of tanzanite crystals by Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo of tanzanite jewelry by Mark Schneider (Award collection from Mark Schneider) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
August 7th, 2017
With a nod to the Maquech Brooch — a live beetle jewelry accessory famous on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula — students at MIT have invented tiny robot crawlers that can move across garments as “shape-changing and pattern-changing jewelry."



Developed by the MIT Media Lab, "Project Kino" employs palm-sized robots that affix to clothing using magnets. The robots ride on wheels and are cloaked with colorful shields that can serve aesthetic and practical functions. The phrase "kino" is shorthand for "kinetic wearables."



In one scenario, bots placed on the front of a dress can alter their positions in an odd bot ballet that give the garment an ever-changing look. In a second scenario, a bot fit with a microphone senses a phone call and quickly migrates to the top of the garment so the user can use it to chat with a caller. In a third scenario, the bots' temperature sensors trigger a response to pull down a hood's drawstrings.



Currently, MIT engineers are working through some technical challenges, such as extending the bots' battery life, which now stands at about 45 minutes, and making them less clunky.

“We’re thinking of wearables as a personal assistant,” team member Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao told TechCrunch. “We think in the future, when they can have a brain of their own, they can learn your habits, learn your professional style, and when they get smaller, they can blend into the things you wear.”



Back in the Yucatan, the wingless Maquech beetle has been a favorite of tourists for decades. The bejeweled bug crawls on the wearer’s shirt within range of its three-inch-long chain “leash” that’s attached with a decorative safety pin.



The bugs don’t seem to mind having baubles glued to their backs, and they generally live for up to three years on a diet of apples and wet, rotted wood.

The Maquech beetles have played a romantic role in Yucatan foklore. According to legend, a Mayan princess fell in love with a prince from a rival clan. This was not permitted, so when they were discovered, the lover was sentenced to death. Recognizing their plight, a shaman changed the man into a shining beetle that could be decorated and worn over the princess’s heart as a reminder of their eternal bond.

Tourist shops in the Yucatan have been selling Maquech jewelry since the 1980s. The glittery crawlers cost about $10, but tourists are prohibited from bringing them into the U.S.

The video below offers a quick overview of "Project Kino."


Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com.
August 4th, 2017
Welcome to Music Friday when we often bring you throwback tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, country legend Emmylou Harris pledges eternal devotion to a noncommittal beau in her 1975 hit, "If I Could Only Win Your Love."



In the song, Harris focuses on a very significant piece of jewelry while making the case for why her love interest should take the plunge.

In the very first verse, she sings, "If I could only win your love / I'd make the most of everything / I'd proudly wear your wedding ring / My heart would never stray one dream away."

Originally written and performed by The Louvin Brothers in 1958, "If I Could Only Win Your Love" became a country hit 17 years later when Harris included it on her highly praised Pieces of the Sky album. The song shot to #4 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and earned the #1 spot on the RPM Country Tracks chart in Canada.

Throughout a stellar career, which has spanned six decades, Harris has maintained a soft spot in her heart for The Louvin Brothers' tune. While introducing the song in the video, below, Harris calls it her "first single." This is significant because Harris would go on to release 70 singles, 26 studio albums, three live albums and 11 compilation albums. She has won 13 Grammys and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Now 70 years old and still touring internationally, Harris was born in Birmingham, Ala., to a Marine Corps officer dad and wartime military mom. Her dad endured 10 months as a prisoner of war in Korea when Emmylou was just five years old. She spent her childhood in North Carolina and was the class valedictorian of her high school. Later, she dropped out of college to pursue a music career in New York City. She worked as a waitress during the day and performed in Greenwich Village coffeehouses in the evening. She recorded her first album, Gliding Bird, in 1969.

Please check out the video of Harris' performance of "If I Could Only Win Your Love." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"If I Could Only Win Your Love"
Written by Charlie and Ira Louvin. Performed by Emmylou Harris.

If I could only win your love
I'd make the most of everything
I'd proudly wear your wedding ring
My heart would never stray one dream away

If I could only win your love
I'd give my all to make it live
You'll never know how much I give
If I could only win your love

Oh how can I ever say
How I crave your love when your gone away
Oh how can I ever show
How I burn inside when you hold me tight

If I could only win your love
I'd give my all to make it live
You'll never know how much I give
If I could only win your love

Oh how (oh how)
can I ever say (can I ever say)
How I crave your love when your gone away
Oh how
can I ever show
How I burn inside when you hold me tight

If I could only win your love
I'd give my all to make it live
You'll never know how much I give
If I could only win your love


Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.
August 3rd, 2017
Russian mining giant Alrosa trumpeted its big-diamond cutting prowess with the unveiling of The Dynasty, a 51.38-carat round brilliant-cut sparkler.



The 57-facet, D-color, VVS1 gem is the largest of five polished diamonds all culled from The Romanovs, a 179-carat rough stone recovered from the Nyurbinskaya kimberlite pipe in the Russian Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in 2015. The cutting and polishing process took 18 months. All five stones will be offered for sale during an online auction in November.



The polished diamond collection, which is also called The Dynasty, represents a new initiative for the mining company, which produces more diamonds (in carats) than any other mining company in the world. Alrosa's cutting division is stepping up its game in the arena of extra-large and colored diamonds.

“The creation of The Dynasty was of great importance," noted Pavel Vinikhin, Director of Diamonds for Alrosa. "This stone gives a start to a new stage in the development of Alrosa’s cutting division. The Dynasty demonstrated that we can do it at the highest level. We work a lot on the technique, combining modern technologies with the secrets of jewelers of the Russian Imperial Court."

Alrosa named the collection The Dynasty to revive the traditions and memory of renowned Russian jewelers, who were famous for their craftsmanship and filigree. Russia’s first cutting and polishing factory was founded by Peter the Great early in the 18th century.

Other diamonds in the collection are named after the dynasties that played a crucial role in the development of Russian jewelry. A 16.67-carat round brilliant-cut diamond, the second by weight, was named The Sheremetevs. The Orlovs is a 5.05-carat oval diamond. The Vorontsovs is a 1.73-carat pear-shaped diamond and The Yusupovs is a 1.39-carat oval diamond.

Credits: Images courtesy of Alrosa.