James Middleton Jewelers Blog

Articles in December 2018

December 3rd, 2018
Dominating defensive tackle Aaron Donald of the 11-1 Los Angeles Rams signed a record-breaking $135 million deal in August and rewarded himself with a custom "AD/99" diamond pendant hanging from a 14-karat gold Miami Cuban-link chain — a chain that weighs more than 1.5 pounds.



The 6'1'' 280-pound frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year is hoping his new good luck charm will lead the surging Rams to a Super Bowl appearance. His team clinched the NFC West title yesterday with a 30-16 victory over the Detroit Lions.



The NFL sack leader turned to Instagram to post photos and a video of the new jewelry, which features the stylized initials "AD" encrusted in VS1-clarity colorless diamonds. The "AD" overlays a "99," Donald's jersey number. The diamond total weight of the pendant is 20 carats, according to TMZ.com.

That celebrity news website also reported that the chain alone is valued at $250,000 and contains 60 carats of VVS to VS-clarity colorless diamonds. The pendant and chain were designed by Mohsen Syed of Moe Diamonds in Pittsburgh and took two months to complete. What Donald paid for his new bling remains undisclosed.



Since making his debut in the NFL in 2014, Donald has terrified opposing quarterbacks with his speed, strength and relentless pursuit. He was named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2015 and earned the title of AP's NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2017.

As one of the elite defensive players in the league, the 27-year-old Donald scored a massive $135 million contract that will keep him in a Rams uniform through 2026. At the time, the contract was the richest for a defensive player in NFL history. Interestingly, only one day later, defensive back Khalil Mack of the Chicago Bears eclipsed the Donald deal with a $141 million contract of his own.

Images via Instagram/aarondonald99; Screen capture via YouTube.com/NFL.
December 4th, 2018
The NYPD used the power of the Twittersphere to reunite a British couple with the engagement ring they accidentally dropped through a utility grate in Times Square on Friday night.



Earlier in the evening, John Drennen had proposed to Daniella Anthony in Central Park. Apparently, the ring was too small, so the new bride-to-be was wearing it loosely on the tip of her ring finger.



A surveillance video shared on the NYPD's Twitter page shows the shocked couple in Times Square at five minutes before midnight. An NYPD spokesperson said the ring bounced on the sidewalk and then disappeared into a utility grate. In the seven-second video, Drennan can be seen going belly-down on the sidewalk, peering helplessly through the grate.

The couple reportedly flagged down police officers on the night of the incident, but they were not able to access the ring. The couple returned to the UK the next day without filing a police report or providing their contact information.



What they didn't know was that the NYPD was not about to give up the search. On Saturday morning, Detectives Joseph Bucchignano and Brian Glacken were back at the scene. They removed the grate, descended into the muck eight feet below the sidewalk and pulled out the engagement ring.

“Fortunately, it was actually kind of sitting on top of all of that stuff, so it really wasn’t hard to find,” Bucchignano told the Associated Press.



With the ring recovered and cleaned up, the detectives turned to the local media and the power of Twitter to locate the couple. On Saturday, the department posted surveillance photos of the couple walking through Midtown, as well as a shot of the cleaned-up ring curiously taped to a leather chair at the station.



Also posted was a seven-second video along with this clever note on Twitter: "WANTED for dropping his fiancée’s ring in @TimesSquareNYC! She said Yes - but he was so excited that he dropped the ring in a grate. Our @NYPDSpecialops officers rescued it & would like to return it to the happy couple. Help us find them? Call 800-577-TIPS."

(The NYPD didn't know at the time that the marriage proposal actually took place in Central Park and that the ring didn't fit properly.)

The video was retweeted nearly 30,000 times and was picked up by traditional and web-based news media from around the globe.

By Sunday, the NYPD had located the couple.

"We would like to thank everyone who shared this story!" the department tweeted. "The (now) happy couple is back in their home country, but thanks to your retweets they heard we were looking for them! We’re making arrangements to get them their ring back. Congratulations!"

A few moments later, 36-year-old Drennan and 34-year-old Anthony had tweeted a photo of themselves, toasting the great efforts of the NYPD.



"Gents, I cannot thank you enough, although I will try," Drennan wrote. "A few cold beers when we come back to NYC! We are completely overwhelmed and you will definitely get a mention at our wedding! Thank you again!"

In describing the extraordinary efforts of the NYPD, Drennan told the New York Times, “That would never happen anywhere else in the world. It’s just incredible.”

The couple is planning a 2020 wedding.

Credits: Images courtesy of Twitter.com/NYPD; Twitter.com/NYPD Special Ops.
December 5th, 2018
In honor of turquoise — one of the three official birthstones for December — we shine our spotlight on the Empress Marie-Louise Diadem, a gift from French Emperor Napoleon I to his second wife on the occasion of their marriage in 1810.



The spectacular piece, which now resides in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., features 70 cabochons of Persian turquoise weighing a total of 540 carats, as well as 1,006 old mine-cut diamonds boasting a total weight of 700 carats.

The diadem was one piece in a matching set that included a necklace, earrings and a comb. Interestingly, the emperor's wedding gifts were originally set with emeralds.

According to the Smithsonian, Marie-Louise (1791-1847) bequeathed the diadem and accompanying jewelry to her Hapsburg aunt, Archduchess Elise. In 1953, Van Cleef & Arpels acquired the jewelry from one of Elise's descendants, the Archduke Karl Stefan Hapsburg of Sweden.

During the next two years, the jeweler removed the emeralds from the diadem and sold them individually in other pieces of jewelry. Its advertising campaign at the time promised “An emerald for you from the historic Napoleonic Tiara…”

Some time between 1956 and 1962, Van Cleef & Arpels reset the diadem with beautiful sky blue turquoise. The new-look diadem was exhibited at the Louvre Museum in Paris along with the necklace, earrings and comb, as part of a special exhibition in 1962 focusing on the life of Empress Marie-Louise.

American socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887-1973) purchased the diadem and donated it to the Smithsonian in 1971. (The Smithsonian clarified that a diadem is the type of crown that is not a complete circle. It usually goes three-quarters around and is open in the back.)

Turquoise enjoys a storied history that dates back more than 5,000 years. The ancient Egyptians coveted the gem for its beauty and the belief that it protected the wearer from harm. They set turquoise into elaborate jewelry and carved it into decorative amulets. King Tut’s iconic burial mask was inlayed with turquoise. The Egyptian word for turquoise was "mefkat," which meant “joy” and “delight.”

The best-quality turquoise is a pure, radiant sky blue. While the earliest known turquoise mines were in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, today turquoise is found in the USA, Mexico, Israel, Iran, Afghanistan and China.

Turquoise is one of three official birthstones for the month of December. The others are tanzanite and zircon.

Credit: Photo by Chip Clark/Smithsonian, digitally enhanced by SquareMoose.
December 6th, 2018
Players press their luck as they go mining for seven types of gemstones in a brand new board game featuring Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.



In December 1937, the animated musical fantasy premiered to great fanfare at the majestic Carthay Circle Theatre in Hollywood. Today, a whole new generation is embracing the diminutive jewel miners known as Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy and Dopey.



In the game, each player takes on the role of one of the Seven Dwarfs. During the day, they work tirelessly to provide Snow White with a beautiful assortment of precious gemstones. Valuable "pie" points are earned by mining specific combinations of topaz, amethyst, emerald, sapphire, ruby and diamond, but players must watch out for the dreaded obsidian, a black gem worth zero points. Collect two of these whammies and the player has to leave the mine and go home empty-handed.

(While the point-earning gems in the game are well known, obsidian is a relatively obscure glasslike volcanic rock that forms during the rapid solidification of lava. It's shiny and usually black in color.)

Players get to keep or exchange what they mine at the end of every workday, and the dwarf with the most points after five workdays wins. “Action” cards keep the game fun and unpredictable, as they can force another dwarf to forfeit his or her finds or unload surplus inventory. The game includes 68 plastic gemstones.



"Disney Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: A Gemstone Mining Game" generally takes less than 60 minutes to complete and is recommended for players 8 and older. It is based on the board game "Quartz" and was designed by Sergio Halaban and André Zatz.

The game by USAopoly earned a 7.6 out of 10 rating at boardgamegeek.com and has an MSRP of $34.95.

Screen capture via Youtube.com/USAopoly. Images via USAopoly.com.
December 7th, 2018
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, country music artist Jason Michael Carroll proposes with a half-carat diamond ring in his 2011 release, "Numbers."



In the song, Carroll takes a comical look at how a dizzying array of numbers seem to dominate the world around him. Most of them are insignificant, he reasons, but a precious few can be life changing.

Carroll sings, "Then three years later 'neath a million stars / In my F-150 on her granddad's farm / I slipped a half-carat diamond on the third finger, of her left hand / And asked to be her one and only man."

The 40-year-old North Carolinian explained how "Numbers" piqued his interest the first time he heard it.

"It was written by Patrick Davis and Rodney Clausen and it's about the way certain numbers, like dates and times, can represent some of life's most significant moments. Moments like your first date, meeting the love of your life and the day your child is born," he said in a statement. "Those dates and times have real meaning in our lives. I think everyone can identify with that concept."

He continued: "Most numbers mean absolutely nothing, but some of them, like the date you meet the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with, mean everything."

"Numbers" was officially released in March 2011 as the title track from his third album. The album, which reached #33 on the U.S. Billboard Country Albums chart, was sold exclusively through Cracker Barrel stores. Interestingly, Carroll got his start singing in public while working as a server at a Cracker Barrel in Henderson, N.C.

Born in Youngsville, N.C., in 1978, Carroll got his first big break as a 26 year old when he won the "Gimme the Mic" singing competition sponsored by local TV station WRAZ FOX 50. Two years later, in 2006, he scored a record deal with Arista Nashville.

Carroll is currently on tour, with stops in North Carolina, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Virginia.

Please check out the audio track of Carroll performing "Numbers." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Numbers"
Written by Rodney Clawson and Patrick Davis. Performed by Jason Michael Carroll.

I'm doin' seventy-two in a sixty-five,
On I-24 in a four-wheel drive
Got a ten o'clock on Eighteenth Avenue

And there's a thirty percent chance of rain all week
And the high today is gonna be eighty-three
They're playing Highway 101 on 102.5
An eighteen wheeler by my side

Numbers all around, flying by, up and down,
Some as slow as Christmas coming,
Some like the speed of sound,
And we all wonder, what they mean,
The highs, the lows, the in betweens,
Most of them mean absolutely nothing
But some of them mean everything

I met her at 9:15 on my buddy's back porch
Shootin' bottle rockets on July fourth
We were both nineteen and she was a perfect 10

Then three years later 'neath a million stars,
In my F-150 on her granddad's farm,
I slipped a half-carat diamond on the third finger, of her left hand
And asked to be her one and only man

Numbers all around, flying by, up and down,
Some as slow as Christmas coming,
Some like the speed of sound,
And we all wonder, what they mean,
The highs, the lows, the in betweens,
Most of them mean absolutely nothing
But some of them mean everything

John 3:16, the Fab four,
The fifty yard line, the thirteenth floor,
9/11, the dirty dozen,
We're all waiting on the Second Coming

Numbers all around, flying by, up and down,
Some as slow as Christmas coming,
Some like the speed of sound,
And we all wonder, what they mean,
The highs, the lows, the in betweens,
Most of them mean absolutely nothing,
Oh most of them mean absolutely nothing,
But some of them mean everything
Oh numbers

I'm doin' seventy-two in a sixty-five,
On I-24 in a four-wheel drive
Got a ten o'clock on Eighteenth Avenue


Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com/JMichaelCarrollVEVO.
December 10th, 2018
"Living Coral," a pinkish-orange hue that embraces us with warmth and embodies our desire for playful expression, has been named Pantone's 2019 Color of the Year. Among the gemstones exhibiting Pantone's vibrant, yet mellow, seaborne color are spinel, morganite, padparadscha sapphire and precious coral.



Leatrice Eiseman, Pantone's executive director, said the Color Institute selected Living Coral to counter the effects of digital technology and social media that are "increasingly embedding into daily life."

"We are seeking authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy," she noted. "Sociable and spirited, the engaging nature of Living Coral welcomes and encourages lighthearted activity."



Vogue.com called the Pantone pick a cool-girl lipstick color that jives well with gold jewelry and a big straw bag.

Each year since 2000, the color experts at Pantone have picked a color that reflects the current cultural climate. Typically, Pantone’s selection influences the worlds of high fashion, beauty, housewares, home and industrial design and consumer packaging.

This is the fourth time in the past 10 years that the Color Institute has picked a Pantone color named after a precious gemstone. Previous picks have included Turquoise (2010), Emerald (2013) and Rose Quartz (2016).

2019's Living Coral emits the desired, familiar and energizing aspects of color found in nature, according to Pantone. In its glorious display beneath the sea, this vivifying and effervescent color mesmerizes the eye and mind. Lying at the center of our naturally vivid and chromatic ecosystem, Living Coral is evocative of how coral reefs provide shelter to a diverse kaleidoscope of color.



Coral is one of just a handful of organic materials that are classified as gemstones. Corals are produced by tiny living creatures called polyps. They excrete a carbonic substance from which the corals grow like trees and branches. Interestingly, pearl and coral are chemically very similar as both consist of more than 90% calcium carbonate.

According to the American Gem Society, there are hundreds of species of coral throughout the world, but only two pinkish-orange types are used for fine jewelry — Corallium japonicum and Corallium rubrum.

The process of choosing the Color of the Year takes about nine months, with Pantone’s trend watchers scanning the globe’s fashion runways and high-profile events for “proof points” until one color emerges as the clear winner.

A year ago, Pantone’s Color of the Year was “Ultra Violet,” a dramatically provocative and thoughtful shade of purple that communicates originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking.



Here are the most recent Pantone Colors of the Year…

PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet (2018)
PANTONE 15-0343 Greenery (2017)
PANTONE 13-1520 Rose Quartz (2016)
PANTONE 15-3919 Serenity (2016)
PANTONE 18-1438 Marsala (2015)
PANTONE 18-3224 Radiant Orchid (2014)
PANTONE 17-5641 Emerald (2013)
PANTONE 17-1463 Tangerine Tango (2012)
PANTONE 18-2120 Honeysuckle (2011)
PANTONE 15-5519 Turquoise (2010)

Credit: Screen capture via Pantone.com. Gem photo of 16.79-carat spinel by Chip Clark/Smithsonian. Photo of coral jewelry by Walters Art Museum [Public domain, CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL].
December 11th, 2018
Emirates Airline, the Dubai-based carrier famous for its opulent in-flight amenities, such as Bulgari skincare and Bowers & Wilkins headphones, set the Twittersphere ablaze last week when it posted a photo of a Boeing 777 spectacularly embellished with diamonds.



On its official Twitter account, the airline wrote, “Presenting the Emirates ‘Bling’ 777. Image created by Sara Shakeel.” The comment was punctuated with three blue diamond emojis.



The image went viral instantly, as supporters and naysayers alike chimed in on what they believed to be the first-of-its-kind, gem-encrusted aircraft. The original post earned 20,000 likes and 7,700 retweets, with cross-over commentary appearing on Facebook, Instagram and many news outlets.

Among those impressed by the plane was Twitter user @spotjane78, who wrote, "Emirates, you truly represent Dubai in every perspective. Keep blinging."

Also on Twitter, @FredPompei added, "That’s really cool. Would love to see what the inside's like."

Critics blistered the airline for what seemed to be a showy, misguided use of its funds.

"This is disgusting and a shame!! wrote Facebook user Khoder Osman. "Children do not have food to eat and this happens."

Twitter user Abogago Bravado wrote, "Pointless and gaudy. [The airline] should focus on... providing comfortable seats."

These and many other social commentators failed to realize that the blinged-out 777 didn't exist in real life. If was born from the imagination of award-winning Pakistani artist Sara Shakeel, who specializes in adding "bling" to otherwise-ordinary objects.

Obviously pleased with the viral nature of Shakeel's artwork, but concerned about getting the backstory straight, an airline spokesperson told Gulf News, "We just posted an art piece made by crystal artist Sara Shakeel. I can confirm it’s not real.”

The original post of Shakeel's bejeweled plane appeared on the artist's Instagram page, accompanied by the caption, "Waiting for my ride."

The artist was about to embark on a trip to Milan to take in the culture and art of the beautiful Italian city.



After the original post went viral, Shakeel added a second plane photo to Instagram, writing, "P.S. Thank you guys! I truly and honestly made the diamond plane for the love of the trip and the excitement! Never in a million years did I know it [would] end up on the news / tv / trending on #twitter all over the place! So thank you a million times!"

Besides the publicity, the artist earned an upgrade on her flight to Milan.

A Boeing 777 is 242 feet long, so we did the math to determine the number of 1-carat diamonds it would take to span the aircraft end to end. A 1-carat diamond is approximately 6.5 mm wide (about .26 inches), so about 48 diamonds placed side by side would measure 1 foot. It would, therefore, take 11,616 diamonds to adorn one side of the plane with just a single row of 1-carat diamonds.

Credits: Images via Twitter/Emirates; Instagram/sarashakeel.
December 12th, 2018
Munich-based gold dealer Pro Aurum recently unveiled Europe's most expensive Christmas tree, a pyramid-shaped showstopper decorated with 2,018 solid gold coins and topped by a massive 20-ounce coin set into a golden star. In total, the .9999 fine gold weighs 63 kilograms (about 2,222 ounces), putting the precious metal value at $2.7 million.



The coins pay tribute to the Vienna Philharmonic and were designed by the Austrian Mint. The 10-foot-tall golden tree stands on a base that looks like Vienna's Golden Hall of the Wiener Musikverein, regarded as the crown jewel among the world's concert halls.



The obverse of the coin depicts the pipe organ in the Golden Hall and the reverse shows instruments of the Vienna Philharmonic, including a Vienna horn, bassoon, harp and four violins centered on a cello.

The 20-ounce tree-topping coin, sometimes referred to as "Big Phil," was originally issued in 2009 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Vienna Philharmonic coin.



A video posted on YouTube by Pro Aurum shows staffers prepping the tree by slotting the gold coins by hand into the acrylic pyramid, a tedious process that took more than an hour to complete.

Displayed under heavy security in the lobby of Pro Aurum's Goldhaus, the tree will be on display through Saturday, December 15.

Credits: Images via Facebook/Pro Aurum. Screen capture via YouTube/proaurumtv. Coins by I, NobbiP [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5].
December 13th, 2018
Paula Stanton will be celebrating her 38th anniversary on December 27 with two diamond anniversary bands, one of which she's calling her "Christmas miracle."



Nine years ago, the Somers Point, N.J., resident had been cleaning her bathroom when her loose-fitting, 20th anniversary diamond ring accidentally fell into the toilet and disappeared down the drain.



“It had been a little big on my finger, because it was wintertime and my hands were smaller," she told pressofatlanticcity.com. "I felt so bad about it. Sad and embarrassed.”

Stanton's husband, Michael, soon replaced the yellow gold anniversary band with a nearly identical one in white gold, but Stanton longed to see the original again.

In fact, three years ago, she approached the city's public works crew chief Ted Gogol when he was on the job near her home.



“She had this look on her face while she was telling me about it that said, ‘I can’t believe I did this,’” Gogol told pressofatlanticcity.com. “I told her really nicely that the chances of us finding it... well, just in passing, we’d keep an eye out for it.”

And he did.

Just after Thanksgiving, Gogol and his crew removed a manhole cover and descended into the sewer line to do routine maintenance about 400 feet from Stanton's house. Despite the poor visibility and blackened water, the crew chief spotted something reflective — a ring — amidst the muck and debris.

When the Stantons returned from their holiday trip, there was a note taped to their door, asking them to contact the city's public works department.

Gogol confirmed it was Stanton's ring when she accurately described the initials that were engraved inside.

“He came by after work and dropped it off," Stanton told pressofatlanticcity.com. "Nobody could believe it. Everyone was in a state of shock. I was hugging him and crying. I was calling my kids and telling people about it. My family had a difficult year, and for this to happen...”

A local jeweler told her the best way to sanitize a ring that had been residing in the sewer for nine years was to boil it in hydrogen peroxide and lemon juice.

"That ring didn't want to leave her family," Gogol told a reporter from the Philadelphia ABC affiliate. "There are so many things that could have happened. It could have been washed away. It could have been crushed, but it was just meant to be."

Stanton believes the return of her diamond anniversary band, which she is now wearing proudly next to the replacement, is her Christmas miracle.

Credits: Screen captures via 6abc.com.
December 14th, 2018
Welcome to a special holiday edition of Music Friday, when we feature awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, rock legend Rod Stewart sings about a new diamond ring in his soulful rendition of the 1947 classic, “Merry Christmas, Baby.”



In the first verse of the song, we learn that Stewart couldn't be more thrilled with his girlfriend's holiday gift selection — a gift that he's clearly wearing on the pinky of his right hand.

He sings, "Merry Christmas baby / Sure did treat me nice / I said Merry Christmas baby / You sure did treat me nice / Bought me a diamond ring for Christmas / And I feel like I'm in paradise, alright."

Originally recorded more than 70 years ago by Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers, this R&B holiday standard has been covered by a Who’s Who of music-industry royalty, including Chuck Berry, Otis Redding, B.B. King, Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen, Etta James, Melissa Etheridge and Christina Aguilera.

“Merry Christmas, Baby” is the title track of Stewart's first Christmas album, which sold more than 2.6 million copies and charted in 21 countries when it was released in 2012. The album rose to #3 on the U.S. Billboard 200 albums chart and scored a #1 position on the Canadian albums chart.

Stewart, who was knighted in 2016, is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 100 million records worldwide.

Interestingly, his road to success was hardly paved with gold. Born in London in 1945, Stewart was the youngest of five children and aspired to be a professional soccer player. He was also a big fan of Al Jolson, Little Richard and Bill Haley. Stewart got his first guitar as a 14-year-old and performed with a local jazz group.

He dropped out of school at age 15 and tried out unsuccessfully for a third-division soccer club. With his career options limited, Stewart turned to music.

In his 2012 autobiography he admitted, "They're the only two things I can do actually: play football and sing."

In 1962, he and folk singer Wizz Jones honed their musical skills as they performed for tips on the street corners at Leicester Square and other London spots. They took their act to Paris and then to Barcelona, where Stewart was famously deported for vagrancy in 1963. Upon returning to London, Stewart joined the Dimensions as a harmonica player and part-time vocalist. His big break would come four years later when he was recruited by Jeff Beck to be a vocalist for the Jeff Beck Group.

Please check out the video of Stewart’s live performance of “Merry Christmas, Baby” at Stirling Castle in Scotland in 2017. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along...

“Merry Christmas, Baby”
Written by Johnny Moore and Lou Baxter. Performed by Rob Stewart.

Merry Christmas, Baby
Sure did treat me nice
I said Merry Christmas, Baby
You sure did treat me nice
Bought me a diamond ring for Christmas
And I feel like I'm in paradise, alright

I feel mighty fine, y'all
I've got music on the radio
Said I'm feeling mighty nice y'all
I've got music on the radio
I feel like I' wanna kiss you
Standing beneath that mistletoe

Santa came down the chimney
Half past three, y'all
And he left all them good presents
For my baby

I said Merry Christmas, Baby
Sure did treat me nice
You bought me all them presents
Now I feel like I'm in paradise

Well Santa came down the chimney
About half past four
Left all them presents for me
Dryin' on the floor

I said Merry Christmas, Baby
Sure did treat me nice
Bought me a diamond ring for Christmas
And I feel like I'm in paradise

Merry Christmas
You sure have treated me well
Merry, merry Christmas
You sure have treated me well
You bought me that Cartier watch for Christmas
And I feel I'm in paradise

Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas
May the good Lord be with ya
May the good Lord be with ya
May the good Lord be with ya


Credit: Screen capture via YouTube/Petridisgeorge.</em
December 17th, 2018
In Canada’s frozen Northwest Territories, just 135 miles south of the Arctic Circle, the Diavik mine unexpectedly yielded a 552-carat fancy yellow diamond, the largest ever discovered in North America. The finding is remarkable because Canadian mines are known to produce high-quality diamonds, but not particularly large ones.



The quarter-pound gem-quality stone, which is the size of a chicken egg, is nearly three times heavier than the previous North American record holder, the 187.7-carat "Diavik Foxfire."

Despite its impressive dimensions, the Canadamark™ diamond rates only 25th on the all-time list of the world's largest rough diamonds, just ahead of the Lesotho's Letseng Star (550 carats) and just behind the Central African Republic's Spirit of de Grisogono (587 carats). The top seven diamonds on the list are all from the continent of Africa, including the granddaddy of them all, the 3,106-carat Cullinan, which was discovered near Pretoria, South Africa, in 1905.



Due to the historic nature of the stone, Dominion Diamond Mines, which owns 40% of Diavik, reported that it will be selecting a partner in the coming weeks to cut and polish it. The task is so risky and complex that only a handful of master cutters are capable of handling the assignment. Dominion expects to achieve a "significant" main stone once the diamond is polished.



Dominion Chief Executive Officer Shane Durgin told Bloomberg.com that it was miraculous that the diamond survived the mining process, which entails passing diamond-bearing ore through crushing machines. The 552.74-carat stone was uncovered during the initial screening process at Diavik’s recovery plant and abrasion markings on the stone’s surface attest to the difficult journey it underwent during recovery.

Measuring 33.74mm x 54.56mm, a diamond of this size is completely unexpected for this part of the world and marks a true milestone for diamond mining in North America and Canadamark™ diamonds overall, the company said in a statement.

Mining companies across the globe have been able to preserve 100-plus-carat diamonds due to improved screening technology that allows them to identify and extract large stones before being smashed.

Back in 2015, we reported how the 187-carat Diavik Foxfire diamond narrowly escaped being pulverized because of its unusual finger-like shape. The elongated diamond was saved when it slipped sideways through the filtering screen.

Credits: Diamond images courtesy of Dominion Diamond Mines. Map by Google.
December 18th, 2018
The British tourists who became internet celebrities after a video of them losing their engagement ring down a utility grate in New York City went viral returned to the U.S. on Thursday to appear on the Ellen show.



During the emotional eight-minute segment, the couple finally got their ring back, met the hero detectives who rescued it, hit the reset button on their marriage proposal and received a whopping $10,000 wedding gift from the show.

Host Ellen DeGeneres recounted to her studio audience how John Drennan had proposed to Daniella Anthony in Central Park on November 30, but the diamond engagement ring didn't fit properly — it was way too big. Although Anthony was worried that it might slip off, Drennan insisted that she wear it as they attended a Broadway show and toured the city.



Brennan explained, "I just said, 'Daniella we've just got engaged. Ten years we've been together. Ten years you've waited on this ring. Come on, it's staying on your finger. It'll be fine.'"

Later in the evening, while walking in Times Square, Drennan reached for Anthony's hand and accidentally jostled the ring off her finger. The ring bounced twice on the sidewalk and then disappeared into a utility grate.

Surveillance video timestamped 11:59 p.m. caught the exact instant when the ring fell through the grate and the panic that ensued as the couple tried to figure out what to do next. The video shows Drennan belly-down on the sidewalk, peering helplessly through the grate.

The couple reportedly flagged down police officers on the night of the incident, but they were not able to access the ring in the darkness. The couple returned to the UK the next day without filing a police report or providing their contact information.

What they didn’t know was that the NYPD was not about to give up the search. On Saturday morning, Detectives Joseph Bucchignano and Brian Glacken were back at the scene. They removed the grate, descended into the muck eight feet below the sidewalk and pulled out the engagement ring.

With the ring in their possession, the next step was to find the couple.

On Saturday, the NYPD posted to Twitter the surveillance video and still shots of the couple walking through Midtown. They also posted a photo of the cleaned-up ring. The caption: “WANTED for dropping his fiancée’s ring in @TimesSquareNYC! She said Yes – but he was so excited that he dropped the ring in a grate. Our @NYPDSpecialops officers rescued it & would like to return it to the happy couple. Help us find them? Call 800-577-TIPS.”

The story became a viral sensation, and by the next day — December 2 — the newly engaged Brits had come forward as the mystery couple.



DeGeneres surprised the couple by introducing the two detectives responsible for saving the ring. Bucchignano and Glacken walked onto the set, where they exchanged hugs with the appreciative couple. The officers were also visiting the show to hand-deliver the ring to the couple.



Drennan used this opportunity to propose to Anthony — for a second time — on national television. Before taking the ring out the box, he jokingly asked DeGeneres if there were any utility grates on the set.



DeGeneres concluded the segment with one final surprise for the couple, a super-sized check in the amount of $10,000.

The couple is planning a 2020 wedding.

Check out the full segment below...


Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/TheEllenShow.
December 19th, 2018
When Ohio teenager Jim Biehl misplaced his brand new Parma Senior High School class ring 30 years ago on a church trip that oddly stopped overnight in Parma, Mich., the 17-year-old was hardly emotional about the loss. He called it a "stupid little ring."



"I woke up one morning to move on to the next destination of our trip, the next leg, and couldn't find it," Biehl told News 5 Cleveland. "Hadn't seen hide nor hair of it since then."

That all changed recently when Linda Risner of Parma, Mich. (200 miles northwest of Parma, Ohio) discovered the Facebook page of the Parma Senior High School Alumni Association.

Risner had found Biehl's class ring 30 years ago, but was never able to locate the rightful owner. She searched on and off for decades, but always seemed to run into a road block.



The Good Samaritan posted a message to the alumni page saying that she found a 1989 class ring inscribed with the name Jim Biehl. She also included her phone number and email address. Biehl responded to Risner and his ring was soon in the mail — from Parma to Parma.

Days later, a news crew from Cleveland's ABC affiliate was on hand when Biehl opened the package.



"Holy cow," Biehl said as he viewed the ring for the first time in 30 years.

"I was just flabbergasted that somebody would go through that amount of effort, that amount of work, over a stupid little ring," he said.

But, then he explained why he's since gained a new appreciation for the jewelry.



"In her note to me, she said her husband had given his high school ring to their son and kind of passed it on. It got me thinking, 'It's not a stupid little piece of jewelry. It's something I can pass on to my kids when my time is long and done,'" he said.

He said that he plans to have his "unexpected Christmas gift" resized so he can wear it from time to time as a reminder of his roots and as a symbol of the good people in the world.

"The only thing I can say is, 'Thank you,'" he said. "And it doesn't even seem to scratch the surface of being able to show the proper amount of gratitude."
See the full segment from News 5 Cleveland, below...


Credits: Screen captures via YouTube/News 5 Cleveland.
December 20th, 2018
Virgin Galactic reached a remarkable milestone last week when it successfully launched two pilots into suborbital space 50 miles above the Earth aboard the VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo. While the company led by Richard Branson made a giant leap in its efforts to achieve safe commercial space flight, a little known fact about the mission is that a diamond engagement ring had been stowed on board.



Branson, who is obviously a romantic at heart, ordered that the ring take the ride to the edge of space. And when the ring returned with the crew safely to Earth last Thursday, Branson was ready to hand it off to flight test engineer Brandon Parrish.

As Branson explained in a tweet, "What better way to propose than with a ring that had just flown to space?"



On the tarmac, Parrish went down on bended knee and delivered his surprise proposal to Veronica McGowan, a structural engineer.

"You are more beautiful inside and out than an entire universe full of stars," Parrish said. "And there is no one I can picture spending the rest of my life with better than you, so..."



At this point, Branson stepped forward and passed the space-flown ring to Parrish.

With the ring in hand, the groom-to-be turned back to McGowan and said, "Will you marry me?"



McGowan excitedly nodded, "Yes," the couple embraced and then he placed the ring on her finger.



Parrish and McGowan work for The Spaceship Company, an affiliate of Virgin Galactic that was responsible for manufacturing the SpaceShipTwo, a craft that travels at three times the speed of sound. That's about 2,283 miles per hour.

It is likely that McGowan now possesses the only engagement ring on the planet that has traveled to the edge of space. (Technically, the flight reached the "edge of space" because NASA says "space" officially starts at 62 miles above the Earth.)

Interestingly, the US Air Force gives astronaut wings to pilots who fly at heights greater than 50 miles above the Earth. A CNET.com reporter wondered if McGowan's diamond engagement ring should earn honorary astronaut wings for its journey.

We're wondering if Parrish and McGowan are considering a Star Trek-themed wedding aboard a Virgin Galactic spaceship.

Credit: Images courtesy of Virgin Galactic. Screen captures via Twitter/Richard Branson.
December 21st, 2018
Welcome to a special holiday edition of Music Friday when we bring you fabulous songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today we present one of the most popular Christmas tunes on YouTube — Straight No Chaser’s clever mashup of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” To date, the original version of a cappella group's “12 Days” has been viewed more than 22 million times.



As everyone knows, the jewelry reference in this holiday favorite comes on the fifth day of Christmas when “my true love gave to me, five golden rings.”

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

Originated on the campus of Indiana University in 1996, Straight No Chaser is truly a grassroots, internet-inspired phenomenon. The 10-man group owes its worldwide fame to a video of its 1998 performance that was first posted to YouTube eight years later. That video went viral and caught the attention of Atlantic Records CEO Craig Kallman, who signed the group to a five-album deal in 2008.

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

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

Straight No Chaser is currently on tour with shows set for in Indianapolis, Mesa, Hollywood, Oakland, Portland, Honolulu, Kahului and Waimea.

Check out the video of Straight No Chaser’s live performance of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” We know it will brighten your holidays. Enjoy!


Credit: Promotional photo courtesy of Atlantic Records.
December 26th, 2018
A senior research scientist at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) believes the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona — the second largest rough diamond ever found — actually weighed at least 2,774 carats before it fractured into five pieces during the sorting process at Lucara's Karowe mine in Botswana in November 2015.



Lucara had previously reported that the 813-carat "Constellation” and a 374-carat unnamed "shard" had broken off Lesedi La Rona. The total weight of the original rough diamond, had it remained intact, would have been 2,296 carats.



But, after getting a chance to study the trio, plus other large diamonds recovered during the same time period at Karowe, Dr. Ulrika D’Haenens-Johansson and her team from the GIA were able to identify two other rough diamonds that likely broke off the original. Those gems weighed 296 carats and 183 carats, respectively.



"Due to the similarity in their external characteristics — which include cleavage faces — as well as their extraction locations and dates, it was suspected that these stones might have originated from a larger rough that had broken," Dr. D’Haenens-Johansson wrote in the Fall 2018 issue of Gems & Gemology.



The five pieces totaled 2,774 carats, which is equivalent to 1.22 pounds (.55 kilograms). Had the original survived the recovery process, it would have still rated second behind the largest gem-quality rough diamond of all time — the 3,106-carat Cullinan, unearthed in South Africa in 1905.



Lucara CEO Eira Thomas told diamonds.net that evidence indicates the larger stone broke up both because of natural effects and being knocked around during the recovery process. The mining company has reportedly installed additional X-ray transmission (XRT) technology to ensure exceptional stones are identified and pulled from the line before they can be fractured.

The Constellation set a world record for a rough gem when Nemesis International and De Grisogono partnered to purchase it for $63 million in 2016. Graff bought the 374-carat "shard" for $17.5 million in May 2017 and subsequently paid $53 million in September 2017 for Lesedi La Rona.

Credits: Images courtesy of Lucara Diamonds.
December 27th, 2018
Super-Earth 55 Cancri e, which made headlines in 2012 as "the diamond planet," needs to be reclassified as a sapphire planet, according to astronomers at the Universities of Zurich and Cambridge.



"We are turning the supposed diamond planet into a sapphire planet," said astrophysicist Caroline Dorn, the lead author of new research published in the British journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS).

Previously, scientists speculated that one-third of the 55 Cancri e super-Earth, which is 40 light-years away in the constellation of Cancer, might be composed of pure diamond. The presence of carbon, combined with the planet's high density and extreme heat created the perfect conditions for creating diamonds. Taking a stab at the potential value of a diamond planet, a Forbes columnist did the math and came up with a value of $26.9 nonillion. That’s $26.9 followed by 30 zeros.

But, Dorn and her team say that new observations of 55 Cancri e, as well as two other super-Earths, have forced them to discard the theory of a "diamond in the sky." They determined that these new, exotic planets share a number of characteristics. They all formed at high temperatures close to their host star and contain high quantities of aluminum oxide — the compound that makes up sapphire and ruby.

"Perhaps it shimmers red to blue like rubies and sapphires, because these gemstones are aluminium oxides which are common on the exoplanet," said Dorn.

One of the super-Earths studied by Dorn and her colleagues is just 21 light-years away in the constellation Cassiopeia. Super-Earth HD 219134 b orbits its star in just three days and boasts five times the mass of Earth, but has a lower density. Computer models showed that it is likely rich in the chemical building blocks of sapphires and rubies, but — unlike the Earth — contains very little iron.

Credit: Image by NASA/JPL-Caltech.
December 28th, 2018
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome new songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, country music newcomer Seth Ennis shares the story behind his holiday marriage proposal in the newly released "Xmas."



The Georgia-raised 23-year-old turned to Instagram on December 23 to share a snippet of his new song, along with the caption, "She said yes." Then, three days later, he confirmed his engagement with a photo of him and his now-fiancée Janna Nevil celebrating with glasses of champagne.

In the song, Ennis says he can't wait to see his girlfriend's face when she sees the ring that he picked out. We also learn that Ennis' proposal has been a year in the making. It started last Christmas when he revealed his intentions to Nevil's dad.

Ennis sings, "I bet you didn't know at Christmas / I was talkin' to your daddy / I told him me and you were in love / And I just want to make you happy / For ever and ever keep loving you better / And never give up or leave / And baby next Christmas / I'm gonna ask you to marry me."

In a romantic example of life imitating art, Ennis stood by his lyrics and popped the question during the Christmas holiday. In the catchy chorus, he sings "Say yes, say yes, I hope you say yes / Say yes to me" — and she did.

Born in Dothan, Ala., Ennis began playing the piano at the age of 7. By the time he was in middle school, he was also a talented guitarist and drummer. The son of a military colonel, Ennis honed his talents as he spent his formative years on a military base in Japan.

“Country music is not that big in Japan,” he noted in his official bio. “If I were raised in Georgia my whole life, I’d probably sound a lot different than I do. But because of how much I moved around, and all the cultures I experienced, my sound is especially diverse.”

Ennis got his big break by being in the right place at the right time.

“There was a battle of the bands competition here in Nashville and when one of the bands dropped out, I got the call,” Ennis said. “I called my players together and we killed it.”

The victory earned Ennis a coveted spot at CMA Music Festival. That performance caught the eye of Sony, which signed him to a record deal in 2016.

In early 2019, Ennis will be embarking on a 14-city tour with performances in New York, Boston, Silver Spring, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Detroit, Minneapolis, Louisville, Atlanta, Orlando, North Myrtle Beach, Charlotte and Raleigh.

Please check out the audio track of Ennis performing "Xmas." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Xmas"
Written and performed by Seth Ennis.

I bet you didn't know at Christmas
I was talkin' to your daddy
I told him me and you were in love
And I just want to make you happy

For ever and ever keep loving you better
And never give up our leave
And baby next Christmas
I'm gonna ask you to marry me

Say yes, say yes, I hope you say yes
Say yes to me
Say yes, say yes, I hope you say yes
Say yes to me

Keeping it a secret
and trying to keep it that way
Until the holiday season
Gets harder every day

But even more than I do
When I just tell you
I want to see your face alright
When you see the ring I picked out
Old friends in your new home town
In December when you say

I can't believe I didn't know at Christmas
When I was talkin' to your daddy
I told him me and you were in love
And I just want to make you happy

For ever and ever keep loving you better
And never give up or leave
And baby next Christmas
I'm gonna ask you to marry me

Say yes, say yes, I hope you say yes
Say yes to me
Say yes, say yes, I hope you say yes
Say yes to me

I remember back in high school
Dreaming of what you'd be like
Hoping that I'd find the kind of girl who
is from a hometown like mine

Before I met you in that church
Took you out to that concert
Told my momma that I found my wife
When you know you know I knew the whole time

But I bet you didn't know at Christmas
That I was talkin' to your daddy
I told him me and you were in love
And all I want to do is make you happy

If you had me for ever and ever keep loving you better
And never give up or leave
And baby next Christmas
I'm gonna ask you to marry me

Say yes, say yes, I hope you say yes
Say yes to me
Say yes, say yes, I hope you say yes
Say yes to me

Say yes, say yes, I hope you say yes
Say yes to me
Say yes, say yes, I hope you say yes
Say yes to me


Credit: Image via Instagram.com/seth_ennis.