James Middleton Jewelers Blog

Articles in July 2020

July 1st, 2020
A little over five years ago, the 25.59-carat pigeon-blood-red “Sunrise Ruby” rocked the auction world when it obliterated two auction records at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale in Geneva. The hammer price of $30.4 million exceeded Sotheby’s high estimate by more than $12 million and set a new auction mark for the largest sum ever paid for a ruby.



The stone, which was set between two shield-shaped white diamonds in ring designed by Cartier, also established a new high-water mark for the highest price-per-carat ever paid for a ruby ($1.19 million).

Today, the cushion-cut Sunrise Ruby has its own Wiki page and is celebrated as one of the world's finest examples of July's birthstone.

This writer remembers watching the drama unfold in real-time via a video feed embedded in Sothebys.com website.

As the evening's final lot — #502 — was announced at the podium, the room was abuzz with excitement as a dark-haired model in an elegant black dress neared the podium wearing the Sunrise Ruby on the ring finger of her right hand.

Bidding for the Sunrise Ruby started at 11 million Swiss francs (about $11.8 million) and moved steadily upward during a seven-minute battle between two phone bidders, one of whom prevailed with an offer of 25 million francs. (The final price amounted to 28.5 million francs, which included the Buyer's Premium of 13%.)

"A new record price for a ruby," bellowed David Bennett, the chairman of Sotheby's international jewelry division, as he brought down the hammer and the live audience broke loose in applause.

In a subsequent interview, Bennett explained that "during his 40 years in the industry, he has never before seen a ruby of this caliber."

A Sunrise Ruby grading report by Gübelin explained how rubies of this quality are generally found in small crystals.

“Based on our records,” the report noted, “we can conclude that a natural ruby from Burma of this size and color is extremely rare. Thus, the described gemstone with its combination of outstanding characteristics can be considered a unique treasure of nature.”

Since the late 15th century, Burma, particularly the region around Mogok, has been a vital source for high-quality rubies. The area, known as the “Valley of Rubies,” is regarded as the original source of pigeon’s blood rubies.

Ruby is the red variety of the mineral corundum (aluminium oxide). Corundum in other colors is called sapphire. The word “ruby” comes from “ruber,” which is Latin for "red." Rubies gets their color from the element chromium and boast a hardness of 9.0 on the Mohs scale. Only diamonds are rated higher at 10.0.

In addition to Burma, the coveted red gems have been sourced in Thailand, Afghanistan, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, India, Namibia, Japan and Scotland. After World War II, ruby deposits were discovered in Madagascar, Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Tanzania and Vietnam. In the U.S., rubies have been found in Montana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Wyoming.

Credit: Sunrise Ruby image by Sothebys.com.
July 2nd, 2020
A pair of scientists from The University of Hong Kong have developed an autonomous "hunter drone" that can survey wide landscapes and identify valuable gemstone targets using a scanning laser. The drone flies at night and emits a powerful beam that causes fluorescent items on the surface of the ground to glow.



The drone was originally intended to look for fossil bones, hence its name "Laser Raptor," but the scientists quickly realized that the drone's capability was far more reaching. Other florescent targets could include rare minerals, such as ruby, kunzite, opal and diamond, to name a few.

Of the diamonds submitted to the Gemological Institute of America for grading over the past decade, approximately 25% to 35% exhibit some degree of fluorescence, a factor that — for the overwhelming majority of diamonds— has no widely noticeable effect on appearance.

In a paper published in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution, HKU Research Assistant Professor Dr. Michael Pittman and his colleague Thomas G. Kaye of the Foundation for Scientific Advancement described a prototype drone that was programmed to look for fossils at night in the badlands of Arizona and Wyoming.

At first, the Laser Raptor flew rapidly to search locations using its on-board navigation, and then descended and maintained an altitude of 4 meters above ground so it could "mow the lawn" in search of glowing targets as small as a thumbnail.



After each “mission” was complete, a video of the laser scan was processed to find hot spots that were investigated in more detail the next day, leading to the recovery of new fossil specimens.

They explained that the application of laser-stimulated fluorescence (LSF) to an aerial system is possible because of the laser's ability to project over great distances with little loss in power.

Pittman and Kaye reported that they are now working to develop LSF applications for the study of geologic landscapes beyond Earth.

Credits: Images by Thomas G. Kaye & Michael Pittman / The University of Hong Kong.
July 6th, 2020
While working the search field at Crater of Diamonds State Park, Beatrice Watkins joked to her two young granddaughters that their future husbands would need to revisit the site to find diamonds for their wedding rings.



What the 56-year-old Mena, Ark., resident didn't realize at the time is that she had already scored the park's biggest diamond of 2020, a 2.23-carat oblong stone, the size of an English pea and color of iced tea.

Watkins had found the unusual stone within 30 minutes of arriving at the park.



“I was searching with my daughter and granddaughters when I picked it up," Watkins said. "I thought it was shiny, but had no idea it was a diamond! My daughter googled similar-looking stones and thought it might have been iron pyrite, so I stuck it in my sack and kept sifting.”

About an hour later, Watkins and her family took a break at the park's Diamond Discovery Center and got the exciting news from a park staffer that her suspected "iron pyrite" was actually a brown diamond.

“I was so excited, I just couldn’t believe it,” Watkins said. “I still can’t believe it!”

As is customary for all of the biggest finds at the park, the amateur prospector was given the opportunity to name her diamond. She called the stone "Lady Beatrice" and said she'd probably keep it as an inheritance for her kids and grandkids.

Watkins said she found the Lady Beatrice while dry sifting soil on the north end of a culvert near the center of the park's 37.5-acre search area. The search area is actually a plowed field atop the eroded surface of an extinct, diamond-bearing volcanic pipe. Visitors have found more than 33,000 diamonds since the Crater of Diamonds opened as an Arkansas State Park in 1972.

Amateur miners get to keep what they find at the only diamond site in the world that’s open to the general public. The park had been closed for two months due to COVID-19 health concerns, but reopened on May 22, just in time for Memorial Day weekend.

So far in 2020, 139 diamonds weighing a total of 22 carats had been registered at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro. Four of those diamonds weighed at least one carat each.

Credits: Images courtesy of Crater of Diamonds State Park.
July 7th, 2020
New smoking-gun evidence seems to confirm the theory that the world's most famous diamonds — such as the 45-carat Hope and the 3,106-carat Cullinan — have "super-deep" origins, according to Dr. Evan Smith of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), who presented his findings to geochemists at the recent Goldschmidt Conference.



Smaller diamonds are known to materialize under high pressure at a relatively shallow depth of 90 to 125 miles amid oxygen-rich rocks. By contrast, the biggest diamonds are likely forming 200 to 500 miles below the surface within patches of oxygen-deprived liquid metal.

While conducting a spectrum analysis of a 20-carat type IIb blue diamond, Dr. Smith and his associate Dr. Wuyi Wang detected the remains of the mineral bridgmanite — a tell-tale sign that the diamond originated deeper in the mantle.

"Finding these remnants of the elusive mineral bridgmanite is significant," Smith said. "It's very common in the deep Earth, at the extreme pressure conditions of the lower mantle, below a depth of 660 km (410 miles). Bridgmanite doesn't exist in the upper mantle, or at the surface."

Smith explained that what they actually identified in the diamond was not bridgmanite, but the minerals left when it broke down down as the pressure decreased.

"Finding these minerals trapped in a diamond means that the diamond itself must have crystallized at a depth where bridgmanite exists, very deep within the Earth," he concluded.

Back in December of 2016, when he was a GIA Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Smith studied the super-deep origins of “offcuts,” or remnants, of large rough diamonds that had been faceted into precious gemstones.

The offcuts offered a window into the workings of the Earth’s deep mantle because their inclusions were teeming with other elements. Typically, these flaws and imperfections are removed during the cutting and polishing process to maximize the beauty and clarity of the diamond. For the researchers at GIA, the neatly preserved inclusions held all the value even though some were no wider than a human hair.

“You really couldn’t ask for a better vessel to store something in,” Smith told NPR at the time. “Diamond is the ultimate Tupperware.”

The GIA had obtained eight fingernail-sized remnants for the study. After grinding them down and analyzing them with microscopes, lasers, electron beams and magnets, Smith and his team concluded that the diamonds contained a solidified mixture of iron, nickel, carbon and sulfur.

Unexpectedly, they also found traces of fluid methane and hydrogen, which led them to conclude that pure carbon crystallized to form diamonds in an oxygen-deprived mix of molten metallic liquid in Earth’s deep mantle.

“Some of the world’s largest and most valuable diamonds exhibit a distinct set of physical characteristics that have led many to regard them as separate from other, more common, diamonds. However, exactly how these diamonds form and what they tell us about the Earth has remained a mystery until now,” Wang explained in 2016.

Despite their origins far below the Earth’s surface, diamonds can blast to the surface during volcanic eruptions. The vertical superhighways that take the diamonds on their journey to the surface are called kimberlite pipes.

Credit: Hope Diamond photo by Chip Clark / Smithsonian.
July 8th, 2020
Gina Bopp was so certain that her diamond engagement ring had been swallowed up by the Atlantic Ocean that she immediately bought a faux version on Amazon.



The Queens, NY, woman had been enjoying the surf at Rockaway Beach on Monday, June 29, when the young son of one of her friends got caught by a wave.



"So, I went to go grab him, and I felt my ring sliding off my finger,” she told CBS2.

The heartbroken woman searched the shore for the next eight hours, but came up empty. When she arrived home, she went online and found a cheap replacement.

“I went on Amazon and bought a fake one because I thought there’s no way I’m going to get another one,” Bopp said.

But, then she called Merrill Kazanjian, of Metal Detecting NYC, who agreed to continue the search on Tuesday. He scoured the shoreline for three fruitless hours.



Undaunted, Kazanjian put out a call to the Scavengers, a group of friends who share the thrill of finding precious keepsakes and returning them to their owners.

"There's strength in numbers," Kazanjian told CNN, "especially at the Rockaway Beach. It's a long shot [to find a ring] so you call up the talent that you know."

Kazanjian said that metal detectorists are rare people, good folks who really love to give back.

The first Scavenger on the scene was Tracy Behling, who received her metal detector as a Christmas present.

It took Behling only 40 minutes to find Bopp's treasure. It was buried about a foot and a half deep, right where the surf met the beach.



“Here we are six months later, I found a ring,” Behling said. “That is, by far, the coolest thing I ever found.”

Bopp could hardly believe it when Behling and the Scavengers called with the great news.

"Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me?" she exclaimed.

Bopp offered the team a reward for finding her ring, but all that the Scavengers requested was $40 to cover tolls and gas.

"I've seen it again and again," Kazanjian told CNN, "rather than hold on to a ring [we] would rather give it back to a person. It's the joy. It's the positive rush you get from that, to see someone smile. The world needs that in 2020."

Credits: Screen captures via CBS 2 New York.
July 9th, 2020
Fossils preserved within opals on the surface of Mars could prove the existence of extraterrestrial life.



On July 20, NASA will send the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover on a 72-million-mile journey to explore the surface of the Red Planet. In mid-February 2021, the rover will begin collecting samples at the Jezero crater, which contains fields of opaline silica, better known as opal.

NASA scientists purposely targeted the Jezero crater because it was a rich source of a mineral that was likely to preserve microbial or plant material.



But a recent discovery of a cicada trapped within an opal opens up the possibility that the Mars rover could find a much larger fossil. The opal containing the cicada was discovered in Indonesia and studied by an international team of scientists at the ISTerre laboratory in Grenoble, France.

Team member Dr. Gene Kritsky, a cicada expert and the dean of Behavioral and Natural Sciences at Mount St. Joseph University, told Cincinnati Public Radio that opals could dramatically expand our understanding of life on other planets.

"We now know that the next landing sites on Mars contain opaline silica," Kritsky said. "That means if you want to look for fossils on Mars, one of the places you can look is in the opals on Mars. The implications of this discovery extend beyond the pure obvious 'Oh this is kinda neat, we're finding insects in opal.' The broader implications are that it may help us understand some places to look if we want to find evidence of fossil life on extraterrestrial planets."

Back in 2015, we wrote about a tiny fragment of fire opal that University of Glasgow scientists were able to identify in a Martian meteorite that had crashed in Eqypt in 1911. Housed in the Natural History Museum in London, the fragment confirmed information gained during NASA’s imaging and exploration of the Martian surface. NASA had detected deposits of opal and other minerals. The presence of opal was significant because the gemstone famous for its brilliant orange, yellow and red display of color is also known to form in and around hot springs.

“Microbial life thrives in these conditions, and opal can trap and preserve these microbes for millions of years,” Professor Martin Lee of the University of Glasgow’s School of Geographical and Earth Sciences said at the time. “If Martian microbes existed, it’s possible they too may be preserved in opal deposits on the surface of Mars.”

Scientists had predicted at the time that the future exploration of Mars and the search for evidence of life on that planet could focus heavily on the study of opal. They were right.

The surface mission on the Red Planet is scheduled to last at least one Mars year, which is equivalent to 687 Earth days.

Credits: NASA's Mars 2020 rover image by NASA/JPL-Caltech / Public domain. Cicada image by Boris Chauvire, Post-PHD Université Grenoble Alpes (ISTERRE).
July 10th, 2020
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you throwback tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, 27-time Grammy winner Alison Krauss delivers her second-person rendition of "I'm Just a Country Boy," a song originally released by Harry Belafonte in 1954. In Krauss's 2007 version — “You're Just a Country Boy” — she tells the story of a penniless young man who is in love with the prettiest girl in town. The object of his affection wears fine jewelry and he fears that she’ll turn down his marriage proposal because he can’t afford a “store-bought ring.”



In addition to the diamonds and jewelry referenced in the song, precious metals are also used to illustrate the young man's appreciation of nature.

Krauss sings, “Ain’t gonna marry in the fall / Ain’t gonna marry in the spring / For you're in love with a pretty little girl / Who wears a diamond ring. / And you're just a country boy / Money have you none / But you’ve got silver in the stars / And gold in the mornin’ sun / Gold in the mornin’ sun.”

Later in the song, she sings about his financial struggles, "Never could afford / A store-bought ring / With a sparkling diamond stone / All you can afford / Is a loving heart / The only one you own."

Written by Fred Hellerman and Marshall Barer, the original, first-person version of "I'm Just a Country Boy" has been covered by George McCurn, Ronnie Laine, Jimmie Rodgers, Jim Croce, Jimmy Witherspoon, Roger Whittaker, David Ball, John Holt, The Brothers Four, Bobby Vinton and Bobby Vee. The most famous cover was sung by Don Williams, whose 1977 version went all the way to #1 on the Billboard Country chart.

Trivia: Barer was famous for composing the “Mighty Mouse” theme song.

Krauss included “You're Just a Country Boy” as the first track on her compilation album called A Hundred Miles or More: A Collection. That album earned a #3 position on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums chart and #10 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart.

Born in Decatur, IL, in 1971, Alison Maria Krauss studied classical violin at age 5 and was a teenage fiddling phenomenon. She signed with Rounder Records as a 14-year-old and released her first solo album two years later.

During her stellar career, Krauss has released 14 albums while helping to renew the public's interest in bluegrass music. Krauss is the top female Grammy winner of all time with 27 wins. Only Georg Solti (31) and Quincy Jones (28) have more.

Please check out the video of Krauss performing “You're Just a Country Boy.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“You're Just a Country Boy”
Written by Marshall Barer and Fred Kellerman. Performed by Alison Krauss.

Ain’t gonna marry in the fall
Ain’t gonna marry in the spring
For you're in love with a pretty little girl
Who wears a diamond ring.

And you're just a country boy
Money have you none
But you’ve got silver in the stars
And gold in the mornin’ sun
Gold in the mornin’ sun.

Never gonna kiss
The ruby red lips
Of the prettiest girl in town
Never gonna ask her if she’d
Marry you
She'll only turn you down.

You're just a country boy
Money have you none
But you’ve got silver in the stars
And gold in the mornin’ sun
Gold in the mornin’ sun.

Never could afford
A store-bought ring
With a sparkling diamond stone
All you can afford
Is a loving heart
The only one you own.

‘Cause you're just a country boy
Money have you none
But you’ve got silver in the stars
And gold in the mornin’ sun
Gold in the mornin’ sun…


Credit: Photo by Filberthockey at en.wikipedia / Public domain.
July 13th, 2020
An exquisite 37.8-carat emerald once possessed by the royal rulers of Baroda is the next stop on our virtual tour of the Smithsonian’s National Gem Collection.



The Chalk Emerald is so special, in fact, that it is the singular occupant of a wall case titled "A Royal Legacy" on the second floor of the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals.

Normally, the hall hosts more than six million visitors annually. But with all the Smithsonian museums in Washington, DC, remaining temporarily closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, we’ve been offering these virtual tours.



Previous stops on the tour have included “Gifts from Napoleon,“ “Stars and Cat’s Eyes,“ the Logan Sapphire, the Dom Pedro aquamarine, the Steamboat tourmaline and a collection of enormous topaz.

Here’s how to navigate to the exhibit called “A Royal Legacy.”

– First, click on this link… The resulting page will be a gallery called “Geology, Gems & Minerals: Precious Gems 1.”

– Click the double-right arrows once to navigate to the gallery called “Geology, Gems & Minerals: Precious Gems 2.”

– Click and drag the screen 180 degrees so you can see the back wall of cases.

– Touch the Plus Sign to zoom into the exhibit titled “A Royal Legacy.”

(You may touch the “X” to remove the map. This will give you a better view of the jewelry. You may restore the map by clicking the “Second” floor navigation on the top-right of the screen.)

The panel next to the exhibit explains how the royal rulers of Baroda, a state in India, once owned the emerald in the ring: "It was the centerpiece of an emerald and diamond necklace worn the Maharani Saheba, who passed it down to her son, the Maharajah Cooch Behar. In the 20th century, the emerald was recut from its original weight of 38.4 carats and set in a ring designed by Harry Winston, Inc."



The platinum and gold ring features the square emerald-cut stone surrounded by 60 pear-shaped diamonds totaling 15 carats. The emerald displays the most highly prized velvety deep green color.

The extraordinary ring was purchased by O. Roy Chalk, the real estate, transportation and media mogul, for his wife, Claire. The couple generously donated the Chalk Emerald to the Smithsonian in 1972, where it has been on exhibit ever since.

The Chalk Emerald’s superb clarity, color, size and regal lineage contribute to its status as one of the world’s finest emeralds.

The gem was sourced in the famous emerald-mining area near Muzo, Colombia — a destination widely known as the world capital of emeralds. The Smithsonian reported that emeralds were cherished by the indigenous people of Colombia for at least 1,000 years before the arrival of Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s.

The riches coming from the Colombia mines were of great interest to the Mughal rulers of India, who were captivated by the green gems. This demand sparked a robust gem trade linking the New World to the Middle East and India.

Emerald is the most valuable variety of the beryl family and is known to display a wide variety of visible inclusions, which are referred to as “jardin” (French for “garden”). These imperfections do not detract from the stone’s beauty but, instead, give each stone a unique fingerprint and distinct character.

Credits: Images by Chip Clark / Smithsonian; NMNH Photo Services.
July 14th, 2020
Six custom-cut rubies and an equal number of custom-cut sapphires make up the swooping "DC" logo on the 2019 championship rings of the WNBA's Washington Mystics.



In total, the innovative and symbolic 10-karat gold rings shimmer with 120 diamonds, 35 rubies and 23 sapphires for a combined gemstone weight of 9 carats.

The rings, which tell a story of a historic basketball season during which the high-scoring first-time champs went 26-8 in the regular season, were presented recently to players and coaches in a private ceremony.

Ring manufacturer Jostens explained how the 12 custom-cut rubies and sapphires on the face of the ring symbolize the 12 players on the team's roster and the singular round sapphire that adorns the "C" represents head coach Mike Thibault.

The colorful logo is outlined in white metal and set atop the WNBA Championship Trophy, which is set in a ground of 23 white diamonds. The trophy has six small diamonds adorning its base. These represent the number of games won by the Mystics during the 2019 playoffs.

Ringing the "DC" logo and the championship trophy are 29 tapered rubies, representing the 26 regular-season wins and the three games won in the finals against the Connecticut Suns.

Completing the top of the ring is a cascade of 90 diamonds and raised white-metal letters against a black background spelling out "2019 WNBA CHAMPIONS."

The rest of the ring celebrates the players and the city that supported the team on its run to the first championship in the 22-year history of the franchise.

The top and bottom edges of the ring are accented with eight princess-cut sapphires, a nod to the team's home court advantage at its new home in DC's Ward 8. The team's record at home was a stellar 18-3, including the momentous Game 5 victory against the Suns in the WNBA Finals.



The left side of the ring features the player's name in raised white-metal letters against a black ground. Just below the name is the WNBA logo, the player's number and the detailed depictions of three DC landmarks — the Washington Monument, Capitol Building and Lincoln Memorial.

The right side of the ring spells out the team's 2019 motto, RUN IT BACK. The phrase can be traced to May 5, 2019, when coach Thibault gathered his players for a festive Cinco de Mayo-themed meal. During the meal Thibault showed a video of the Seattle Storm sweeping the Mystics to win the 2018 championship. "Run it back" is a phrase represents the chance for redemption.

Also on the right side of the ring is the name of the Mystics hometown, the Mystics jersey logo outlined in the team's signature blue color and the team's 2019 regular-season record of 26-8.

The interior of the ring features the Mystics jersey logo set above the playoff series results and logos of their opponents.

Jostens reported that each ring has an average of 120 diamonds for a total of 2.35 carats, six custom-cut and 29 taper-cut rubies totaling 3.5 carats, and six custom-cut sapphires, one round sapphire and 16 princess-cut sapphires totaling 3.15 carats.

Credits: Images courtesy of Jostens.
July 15th, 2020
Sometimes good fortune comes down to being in the right place at the right time. It's called "serendipity" and that's the name Dr. Mindy Pomtree gave to the 6.39-carat, gem-quality diamond she plucked from the ground at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, AR.



About the size of a pumpkin seed, the Serendipity is, by far, the largest diamond found at the park this year, easily eclipsing the previous 2020 record of 2.23 carats. The doctor's gem is the 12th largest diamond recorded at the park since 1972.

Dr. Pomtree discovered her diamond near Beatty's Hill, a landmark within the park’s 37.5-acre search area.

She saw the glittering pebble on the surface of the ground and put it in a zippered pocket.



“I kept feeling my pocket throughout the day to make sure it was still there," she told park officials. "I didn’t know if it was a diamond but thought it looked cool, and it was definitely shiny!”

A few days after returning home, Dr. Pomtree decided to show the stone to a jeweler friend, who confirmed that it was, indeed, a genuine diamond.

Little Rock-based jeweler Laura Stanley, who is an American Gem Society Certified Gemologist Appraiser, said the stone was very white in color and likely of gem quality. She said that it measures 15.21mm x 8.00mm x 5.86mm.

Dr. Pomtree returned to the park to have her record-setting diamond officially weighed and registered.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Serendipity was taking a bath in the jeweler's ultrasonic cleaner. There was still a stubborn dark area on the surface, but Stanley was confident that it would come off with a "good acid boil."

At Crater of Diamonds State Park, amateur miners get to keep what they find at the only diamond site in the world that’s open to the general public. The park had been closed for two months due to COVID-19 health concerns, but reopened on May 22, just in time for Memorial Day weekend.



Since then, there has been an exciting run of large diamonds. Just days after Dr. Pomtree discovered "Serendipity," William “David” Dempsey from Athens, Ala., scored what is now the park's second-largest diamond of 2020 — a 2.73-carat bright white gem.

Dempsey first learned about Arkansas’s diamond site from his fourth-grade teacher.

“I've been wanting to visit for more than 30 years,” said Dempsey. “Recent news stories about the park brought it back to my attention, so we planned a trip.”

Dempsey was wet sifting with his youngest daughter when he found the diamond.

“I was running my finger through some gravel I had just sifted, and the diamond popped right out," he said.

Dempsey named his gem the "Dempsey-Ducharme Diamond," as a tribute to his family’s unforgettable experience at the park. He plans to have the diamond examined and appraised before deciding whether to keep or sell it.

“This unique park is one of our state’s most popular destinations,” said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. “It’s always exciting for one of our guests to find a gem, and the staff is really great at working with them to confirm what they have found and hear each particular story of how they found it.”

Credits: Images courtesy of Arkansas State Parks.
July 16th, 2020
Two-time Olympian Sam Mikulak recently popped the question to his TV host girlfriend, Mia Atkins, with a dazzling pear-shaped diamond engagement ring.



The surprise proposal took place on California's picturesque Catalina Island. Photos and videos on the couple's respective Instagram pages captured the exciting moment when Mikulak dropped to one knee.



On Atkin's Instagram page, a quick clip treated her fans to a closeup look at her new ring, which features a sizable white center stone set on a dainty, diamond-adorned band.

Atkins, who is a field host for Living Local, an hourlong lifestyles program on Fox affiliate KXRM in Colorado Springs, Colorado, captioned the post, "Can’t wait to spend forever with my person." She punctuated the phrase with a heart emoji.



Mikulak, a six-time U.S. all-around champ who trains in Colorado Springs, posted a similar series of photos on his Instagram page. His caption read, “Engaged to my best friend! You are the love of my life and forever isn’t long enough!!" The romantic Mikulak added three emojis: a winky-kissy face, engagement ring and couple holding hands.

The world-class gymnast has had his sights on the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, but the highly anticipated event has been postponed one year due to COVID-19. During the 2019 U.S. championships, Mikulak captured his sixth all-around title, while winning individual gold medals in four events: floor exercise, pommel horse, parallel bars and high bar.

Atkins joined FOX21 in January 2018 after graduating from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.

Mikulak and Atkins started dating in September of 2016. They've created a page on The Knot that announces a wedding date of October 1, 2022. The ceremony will take place in Keystone, CO.

Images via Instagram.com/miaatkinstv; Instagram.com/samuelmikulak.
July 17th, 2020
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Alexander Hamilton sees himself as a "diamond in the rough" in "My Shot," the rousing Act 1 hit from Lin-Manuel Miranda's blockbuster Broadway show. Miranda famously portrays the 19-year-old founding father in a musical about young revolutionaries and their determination to rise up against the British. Hamilton on Broadway has grossed more than a half billion dollars.



In the first verse of the 5:34 rap, Miranda's character knows he's smart and well spoken, but acknowledges that he's also young and a bit rough around the edges.

He sings, "I probably shouldn't brag, but dag, I amaze and astonish / The problem is I got a lot of brains but no polish / I gotta holler just to be heard / With every word, I drop knowledge! / I'm a diamond in the rough, a shiny piece of coal / Tryin' to reach my goal."

The "young, scrappy and hungry" Hamilton vows to lead the charge against oppression, repeating throughout the song that he's not going to throw away his shot at making a difference.

Although Hamilton opened on Broadway more than five years ago, the show recently earned a big boost and broader audience when Disney Plus released the Hamilton movie on its popular streaming service just before U.S. Independence Day. The offering spiked Disney Plus downloads by 752,000 over the holiday weekend.

The Hamilton movie features the original cast and is essentially a "live" recording — using six cameras — of an actual Broadway performance.

In 2016, Hamilton earned a record 16 Tony nominations and won 11 awards, including Best Musical. The play also won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Despite the accolades, Miranda reminded fans that the show was "no overnight success." It took the composer/lyricist/actor/singer seven years to write the play, including a full year of revisions to today's featured song, "My Shot."

Please check out the audio clip of Miranda and the cast of Hamilton performing "My Shot." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"My Shot"
Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Kejuan Waliek and Albert Johnson. Performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda and the original cast of Hamilton.

I am not throwing away my shot!
I am not throwing away my shot!
Hey yo, I'm just like my country
I'm young, scrappy and hungry
And I'm not throwing away my shot!
I'm 'a get a scholarship to King's College
I probably shouldn't brag, but dag, I amaze and astonish
The problem is I got a lot of brains but no polish
I gotta holler just to be heard
With every word, I drop knowledge!
I'm a diamond in the rough, a shiny piece of coal
Tryin' to reach my goal. My power of speech: unimpeachable
Only nineteen but my mind is older
These New York City streets get colder, I shoulder
Every burden, every disadvantage
I have learned to manage, I don't have a gun to brandish
I walk these streets famished

Ooh!

The plan is to fan this spark into a flame
But damn, it's getting dark, so let me spell out the name
I am the

A-L-E-X-A-N-D
E-R we are meant to be…

A colony that runs independently
Meanwhile, Britain keeps shittin' on us endlessly
Essentially, they tax us relentlessly
Then King George turns around, runs a spending spree
He ain't ever gonna set his descendants free
So there will be a revolution in this century
Enter me!

(He says in parentheses)

Don't be shocked when your history book mentions me
I will lay down my life if it sets us free
Eventually, you'll see my ascendancy

And I am not throwing away
My shot (My shot)
I am not throwing away
My shot (My shot)
Hey yo, I'm just like my country
I'm young, scrappy and hungry
And I'm not throwing away my shot (And I'm not throwing away my shot)

I am not throwing away my shot
I am not throwing away my shot
Hey yo, I'm just like my country
I'm young, scrappy and hungry
And I'm not throwing away my shot
It's time to take a shot!

I dream of life without a monarchy
The unrest in France will lead to 'onarchy?
'Onarchy? How you say, how you say, oh, 'Anarchy'!
When I fight, I make the other side panicky
With my

Shot!

Yo, I'm a tailor's apprentice
And I got y'all knuckleheads in loco parentis
I'm joining the rebellion 'cause I know it's my chance
To socially advance, instead of sewin' some pants!
I'm gonna take a

Shot!

And but we'll never be truly free
Until those in bondage have the same rights as you and me
(That's right!)
You and I. Do or die. Wait 'til I sally in
On a stallion with the first black battalion
Have another

Shot!

Geniuses, lower your voices
You keep out of trouble and you double your choices
I'm with you, but the situation is fraught
You've got to be carefully taught:
If you talk, you're gonna get shot!

Burr, check what we got
Mister Lafayette, hard rock like Lancelot
I think your pants look hot
Laurens, I like you a lot
Let's hatch a plot blacker than the kettle callin' the pot...
What are the odds the gods would put us all in one spot
Poppin' a squat on conventional wisdom, like it or not
A bunch of revolutionary manumission abolitionists?
Give me a position, show me where the ammunition is!

Oh, am I talkin' too loud?
Sometimes I get over-excited, shoot off at the mouth
I never had a group of friends before
I promise that I'll make y'all proud

Let's get this guy in front of a crowd

I am not throwing away my shot
I am not throwing away my shot
Hey yo, I'm just like my country
I'm young, scrappy and hungry
And I'm not throwing away my shot

I am not throwing away my shot
I am not throwing away my shot
Hey yo, I'm just like my country
I'm young, scrappy and hungry
And I'm not throwing away my shot

Everybody sing:
Whoa, whoa, whoa (Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!)
Hey!
Whoa! (Whoa!)
Wooh!
Whoa! (Whoa!)
Ay, let 'em hear ya!
(Yeah!)
Let's go!

(Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!)
I said shout it to the rooftops! (Whoa!)
Said, to the rooftops! (Whoa!)
Come on!
(Yeah!)
Come on, let's go!

Rise up!
When you're living on your knees, you rise up
Tell your brother that he's gotta rise up
Tell your sister that she's gotta rise up

When are these colonies gonna rise up?
When are these colonies gonna rise up? (Whoa!)
When are these colonies gonna rise up? (Whoa!)
When are these colonies gonna rise up? (Whoa!)
Rise up!

I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory
When's it gonna get me?
In my sleep? Seven feet ahead of me?
If I see it comin', do I run or do I let it be?
Is it like a beat without a melody?
See, I never thought I'd live past twenty
Where I come from some get half as many
Ask anybody why we livin' fast and we laugh, reach for a flask
We have to make this moment last, that's plenty

Scratch that
This is not a moment, it's the movement
Where all the hungriest brothers with something to prove went.
Foes oppose us, we take an honest stand
We roll like Moses, claimin' our promised land
And? If we win our independence?
Is that a guarantee of freedom for our descendants?
Or will the blood we shed begin an endless
Cycle of vengeance and death with no defendants?

I know the action in the street is excitin'
But Jesus, between all the bleedin' 'n fightin'
I've been readin' 'n writin'
We need to handle our financial situation
Are we a nation of states? What's the state of our nation?

I'm past patiently waitin'. I'm passionately
Smashin' every expectation
Every action's an act of creation!
I'm laughin' in the face of casualties and sorrow
For the first time, I'm thinkin' past tomorrow.

And I am not throwing away my shot
I am not throwing away my shot
Hey yo, I'm just like my country
I'm young, scrappy and hungry
And I'm not throwing away my shot

We're gonna rise up! (Not throwing away my shot) Time to take a shot!
We're gonna rise up! (Not throwing away my shot) Time to take a shot!
We're gonna (Rise up! Rise up!)
It's time to take a shot! (Rise up! Rise up!)
It's time to take a shot! (Rise up!)
(Rise up!) (Woooah!)
It's time to take a shot! (Rise up!)
Take a shot! Shot! Shot!
A-yo it's time to take a shot!
Time to take a shot!
And I am not throwing away my
Not throwing away my shot!


Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.
July 20th, 2020
A 115.83-carat pear-shaped diamond is the star of Christie's upcoming Magnificent Jewels auction in New York. The F-color, VVS1 gem dangles from a majestic 19-inch platinum necklace that is completely encircled by 51 pear-shaped diamonds, 31 of which range in size from 0.97 to 5.50 carats.



This headliner — The Property of a Lady — is expected to fetch between $5 million and $7 million when the hammer comes down on July 29. The piece has the highest pre-sale estimate and any item in the sale and is slated to be the last of 264 lots offered.



The Christies sale includes a wide range of head turning gems and jewelry from prominent private collections. Here are some of our favorites...



• The item with the second-highest presale estimate is a platinum ring featuring a fancy intense blue pear-shaped diamond weighing 7.16 carats. The center stone is rated internally flawless and is expected to sell in the range of $3.5 million to $5 million.



• Another impressive pear-shaped diamond in the sale is this 25.22-carat gem, which boasts a D color and VVS2 clarity. The diamond is set on a platinum diamond band accented with circular-cut diamonds. This piece is expected to sell for $1.5 million to $2.5 million.



• Listed as the property of an important private collector, this "Sky Tower" necklace was designed by Anna Hu. The piece, which carries a presale estimate of $1 million to $1.5 million, features a carved jadeite plaque placed over an irregularly-shaped shield inlayed with circular-cut white and yellow diamonds. The central portion of the titanium and 18-karat white gold necklace may be detached and worn as a brooch.



• A superb Art Deco sapphire and diamond sautoir by Bulgari features an oval cabochon star sapphire and 28 oval cabochon sapphires in a piece that can be detached and worn as two bracelets. The platinum and white gold necklace was created circa 1930 and carries an estimated price of $650,000 to $850,000.



• A cushion mixed-cut Ceylon sapphire weighing 53.48 carats is set on a platinum band accented by circular-cut diamonds. Christie's expects the piece to sell in the range of $500,000 to $700,000.



• Weighing 7.65 carats is the fancy light purplish pink pear-shaped diamond at the center of this platinum and 18-karat rose gold ring. The pretty, VS2-clarity center stone is accented with tapered baguette-cut diamonds. The presale estimate for this piece is $400,000 to $600,000.



• Fans of yellow diamonds will be excited to see this internally flawless 11.06-carat cut-cornered, rectangular-cut diamond. The stone is rated fancy vivid yellow and is set on an 18-karat yellow gold band accented with circular-cut diamonds. Presale estimate: $400,000 to $500,000.

Credits: Images courtesy of Christie's.
July 21st, 2020
Princess Beatrice wore a very special diamond tiara as she exchanged wedding vows with Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi during an understated, private ceremony at The Royal Chapel of All Saints on Friday. Famously known as the Queen Mary Fringe Tiara, the headdress is the same one worn by Beatrice's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, on her wedding day in 1947.



The 94-year-old monarch is reportedly extremely close with her 31-year-old granddaughter and wanted her to wear what is arguably the most sentimental piece in her vast jewelry collection.



The treasured heirloom was originally crafted in 1919 for Elizabeth's grandmother, Queen Mary, by royal jewelers Garrard and Co. The diamonds adorning the 47 vertical bars of the tiara were harvested from diamond necklaces given by Queen Victoria to Mary on the occasion of her wedding in 1893.



While Princess Beatrice wore the Queen Mary Fringe Tiara with no incidents on Friday, the same piece was nearly a "no show" at Queen Elizabeth's wedding 73 years earlier. In 1947, as the 21-year-old bride-to-be was getting ready at Buckingham Palace before leaving for Westminster Abbey, a hair stylist accidentally snapped the frame of the tiara.

Fortunately, a jeweler from Garrard and Co. was standing by in case of an emergency. Legend has it that the jeweler was rushed back to his workshop via police escort. There, he quickly mended the tiara and returned it to Westminster Abbey just before the ceremony.

During the Queen's long reign, she has generously lent tiaras from her collection to the young brides of the royal family.

According to British Vogue, Kate Middleton chose the 1936 Cartier Halo tiara (2011), Meghan Markle favored Queen Mary’s 1932 Diamond Bandeau (2018) and Princess Eugenie selected Boucheron’s 1919 Greville Emerald Kokoshnik tiara (2018).



Rarely has the Queen Mary Fringe Tiara been seen in public and it was last loaned to Princess Anne for her wedding to Mark Phillips in 1973. In the photo, above, the Queen is wearing the tiara for her official Diamond Jubilee portrait for New Zealand.

Princess Beatrice's wedding celebration was kept low key due to health concerns stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. It was attended by The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and close family. A much larger ceremony — originally set for May 29 — had been postponed.

Credits: Princess Beatrice photos by Benjamin Wheeler / Handout. Queen Elizabeth photograph taken by Julian Calder for Governor-General of New Zealand / CC BY-SA.
July 22nd, 2020
When Doug Faucher pulled a men's wedding band from the sand near Cato's Bridge in Jupiter, FL, he was determined to use the power of social media to solve the mystery and right the wrong.



"Marriage is sacred and I’m sure the rightful owner was devastated when [he] lost this wedding ring," the Tequesta, FL, resident wrote on Facebook.

Interestingly, the Good Samaritan didn't hesitate to post photos of the white gold ring even though it wasn't inscribed and had no other unusual markings. The way Faucher was able to verify the owner was the same way Prince Charming was able to match the glass slipper with Cinderella. It was all about the fit.



It was late June when Faucher turned to Facebook to implore his friends from Jupiter and Tequesta to share his post until the owner could be found.

Along with three photos of the rings, Faucher offered details of how he was "chillin in lap deep water" south of Cato's Bridge in a spot the locals call "Sand Mountain."

He also told the Palm Beach CBS affiliate, CBS12, that he had been sitting in the water with his hands in the sand.

"Next thing I knew, I found the ring,” Faucher said. “I free dive a lot in the local area. Sometimes I find a $10 bill or a $20 bill that might have fallen out of a surfer’s pocket, but nothing of this significance.”

About three weeks later, one of the 500-plus shared posts found its way to Jason Baxter, a resident of Palm Beach Gardens, who had accidentally dropped his ring in the water while on a boat outing. That was three years ago.

“I got a post from Jason and Jason said, ‘Hey, I think that’s my ring. Then he also attached two photographs with it. One photograph was when he was signing his marriage certificate,” Faucher said. “You can really see how the ring looked and obviously it was a perfect match.”

More importantly, Faucher needed to confirm Baxter's very unusual ring size.

(A well known online jeweler claims the most commonly purchased men's rings range between size 8 and 10.5, with size 9 being the most popular. Other sources report that their most popular men's ring size is 10.)

Faucher knew he had his man “because it’s a very large ring and Jason has a size 13 finger,” Faucher told CBS12. “He was so excited and I can’t wait to get the ring to him.”

The TV station reported that life has changed dramatically for Baxter since his lost his wedding ring three years ago. He's now a father of three, including newborn twins.

“Never in a million years did I ever think I would see this ring again,” he told CBS12.

“It shows a lot about his character, that he would take the time and the effort to try to find the owner," Baxter continued. "I’m sure he was thinking it’s a one in a million shot that he would find me, and he did. Again, it shows a lot about Doug’s character and the kind of person he is and I’m very thankful.”

Credits: Images via facebook.com/douglas.faucher.77.
July 23rd, 2020
Princess Beatrice, the newest Royal Family bride, bucked nearly 100 years of tradition by choosing an ornate platinum-and-diamond wedding band instead of a simple band of Welsh gold.



Since the Queen Mother’s nuptials in 1923, royal wedding bands have been crafted of pure Welsh gold, sourced at the Clogau mine in Bontddu. The mine dates back to the Bronze Age, and commercial mining began there in the mid-1880s. The mine was closed in the 1990s, but Queen Elizabeth II had received a kilogram of the rare gold for her 60th birthday in 1986. The Queen’s reserves have been the source of royal wedding bands ever since.

Princess Eugenie, Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton each received a Welsh gold band as they took their vows.



Princess Beatrice, who tied the knot with real estate developer Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi during a private ceremony on Friday, preferred a platinum wedding band that complements her engagement ring.

Designed by British jeweler Shaun Leane, the handcrafted, diamond-adorned wedding band fits perfectly to the shape of the engagement ring so the two rings sit seamlessly together.

Leane described the engagement ring as a "fusion of Victorian and Art Deco designs," and revealed that the piece "is filled with personal and sentimental signifiers for the couple and unique to them."

On his Instagram page, Leane explained how he and Mozzi collaborated on the design.

“The bespoke experience was a beautiful journey; from imagining the design with Edoardo to the crafting of the finished rings," he wrote. "Being able to incorporate both Edoardo and Princess Beatrice’s characters into the design has resulted in a unique ring that represents their love and lives entwining.”

Even though Princess Beatrice pushed back on the Welsh gold tradition, she fully embraced the opportunity to don the same wedding tiara her grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, wore on her wedding day in 1947.

The Queen Mary Fringe Tiara was originally crafted in 1919 for Elizabeth’s grandmother, Queen Mary, by royal jewelers Garrard and Co. The diamonds set upon the 47 vertical bars of the tiara were harvested from diamond necklaces given by Queen Victoria to Mary on the occasion of her wedding in 1893.



Back in May of 2018, an estimated three billion people worldwide tuned into see American Meghan Markle tie the knot with Prince Harry of Wales. In the photo, above, you can see the Prince placing a Welsh gold band on his bride's finger.

Credits: Platinum bridal jewelry image courtesy of Shaun Leane; Princess Beatrice wedding photo by Benjamin Wheeler / Handout. Megan Markle screen capture via YouTube.com/BBC.
July 24th, 2020
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you new tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Netherlands-born Danny Vera extols the virtues of hard work in his 2019 international release, "Pressure Makes Diamonds."



The song's basic theme draws on the fact that pure carbon can become a diamond when the element is subjected to high temperatures and extreme pressure deep within the Earth. In the song, "pressure makes diamonds" becomes a metaphor for how success can only be achieved by learning from our mistakes and powering through obstacles.

He sings, "Pressure makes diamonds, not silver or gold / It breaks to pieces the hardest of stone / And it shines brighter than the stars that you know / Pressure makes diamonds and hard work pays off."

Later in the song, the 43-year-old singer-songwriter-musician gives a nod to the labor-intensive diamond-cutting process when making his case for having a strong work ethic: "You have to sharpen the edges, smoothen the surface / It’ll take you some time ’cause it’s rough and it’s tough."

Written by Vera under his birth name, Danny Polfliet, "Pressure Makes Diamonds" is the ninth track of Vera's 2019 album, Pressure Makes Diamonds 1&2.

Although he was born and raised in the southern Dutch province of Zeeland, Vera's musical style was heavily influenced by Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Chris Isaak and his idol, Elvis Presley. In The Netherlands, Vera's genre is considered "Americana" — a mix of country, rock, folk, bluegrass and blues.

Vera formed his first band in 1999 and earned a record contract with Universal Music in 2002. Vera's career got a big boost in 2009, when he and his band landed a running gig on Holland's popular sports talk show, Voetbal Inside.

Please check out the video of Vera's live performance of "Pressure Makes Diamonds." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Pressure Makes Diamonds"
Written by Danny Polfliet. Performed by Danny Vera.

Pressure makes diamonds, not silver or gold
It breaks to pieces the hardest of stone
And it shines brighter than the stars that you know
Pressure makes diamonds and hard work pays off

Pressure makes diamonds, no giant can hold
He thought he could carry this world on his own
But even the strongest can’t do it alone
Pressure makes diamonds and hard work pays off

You have to sharpen the edges, smoothen the surface
It’ll take you some time ’cause it’s rough and it’s tough

Then you will find what you’re looking for
They’ll appear like a falling star
Shake off the dirt and let it shine

Pressure makes diamonds, a long heavy road
First the weight on your shoulders, it’s crushing your bones
And then it gets darker than the blackest of coal
Then pressure makes diamonds, ’cause hard work pays off

You have to sharpen the edges, smoothen the surface
It’ll take you some time ’cause it’s rough and it’s tough

Then you will find what you’re looking for
They’ll appear like a falling star
Shake off the dirt and let it shine

Pressure makes diamonds, not silver or gold
It breaks to pieces the hardest of stone
And it shines brighter than the stars that you know
Pressure makes diamonds and hard work pays off
Pressure makes diamonds and hard work pays off


Credit: Image by Paul Luberti / CC BY.
July 27th, 2020
This past Thursday, songstress Demi Lovato thrilled her 88.9 million Instagram followers with romantic pics of her Malibu engagement to actor Max Ehrich, who proposed with a massive emerald-cut diamond ring.



Jewelry-industry insiders told various celebrity websites that the center stone appeared to be 8 to 10 carats with a value of $500,000 or more, depending on the color, cut and clarity of the stone.



The center stone is set with double-claw prongs in white metal (likely platinum) and is flanked by two trapezoid-shaped diamonds, adding approximately 2 carats to the total weight of the ring.

Eonline.com reported that the ring was designed by Beverly Hills-based Peter Marco using the center stone from an heirloom necklace.

Lovato and Ehrich shared of series of pics on their respective Instagram pages.

The “Skyscraper” singer wrote, "@maxehrich - I knew I loved you the moment I met you. It was something I can’t describe to anyone who hasn’t experienced it firsthand but luckily you did too. I’ve never felt so unconditionally loved by someone in my life (other than my parents) flaws and all. You never pressure me to be anything other than myself. And you make me want to be the best version of myself. I’m honored to accept your hand in marriage. I love you more than a caption could express but I’m ecstatic to start a family and life with you. I love you forever my baby. My partner. Here’s to our future!!!!

Lovato, 27, also gave a shoutout to photographer Angelo Kritikos, who hid behind boulders to capture the romantic, beachside proposal.



Ehrich's caption read, "Ahhhh. You are every love song, every film, every lyric, every poem, everything I could ever dream of and then some in a partner in life. Words cannot express how infinitely in love with you I am forever and always and then some. I cannot spend another second of my time here on Earth without the miracle of having you as my wife. here’s to forever baby. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh."

The former Young and the Restless actor, 29, punctuated the post with an engagement ring emoji.

The couple's engagement comes less than four months after People magazine revealed they were dating.

Us magazine reported that the surge in popularity of emerald-cut diamonds is attributed to the way the elongated shape flatters the wearer's finger. The shape has been favored by Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Lawrence, Nikki Bella and Alex Guarnashelli, to name a few.

Credits: Images via Instagram/ddlovato; Instagram.com/maxehrich.
July 28th, 2020
The emerald-and-diamond engagement ring that billionaire business tycoon Howard Hughes gave to Hollywood legend Katharine Hepburn in 1938 was recently purchased for $108,000 at Los Angeles auction house Profiles in History. The anonymous buyer's winning bid exceeded the presale high estimate by $78,000.



Hughes and Hepburn never married, but the couple's 18-month romance was chronicled in the 2004 film, The Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Cate Blanchett.



According to the Profiles in History auction catalog, the ring features a 2.67-carat rectangular step-cut emerald flanked by four diamonds — two near colorless emerald-cut stones weighing approximately 1.20 carats and two near colorless epaulet-cut diamonds weighing approximately 0.70 carats. Epaulet-cut gems have five sides and resemble a shield.

The platinum ring is stamped with the symbol, "B & Co.," which represents Brock & Co., a Los Angeles-based jeweler catering to the Hollywood set, according to Profiles in History.

Overall, the sale of Hughes memorabilia grossed $1.4 million and included the magnate's iconic fedora ($51,200) and the two-tone jacket ($89,600) he wore while piloting his ill-fated Spruce Goose flying boat. Also included in the sale were 55 handwritten notes, cards and love letters penned by Hepburn using her pet names, "Country Mouse", "C. Mouse," "Mrs. H.R. Countrymouse," "Mrs. Boss" and "H. Muskrat." Hepburn's writings sold for $44,800.

Hughes and Hepburn had been introduced to each other by Cary Grant during the production of Sylvia Scarlett in 1935.

During the 1920s and early 1930s, Hughes gained worldwide fame by producing big-budget Hollywood films. In the 1930s and 1940s, he turned his attention to aeronautics as he formed Hughes Aircraft Company and set multiple world air speed records.

In his later years, Hughes confided to associates that the biggest mistake he ever made in his life was not being able to convince Hepburn to marry him. He passed away in 1976 at the age of 70. Hepburn lived to the age of 96 and passed away in 2003.

The extensive collection of Hughes memorabilia had been assembled by the late Vernon C. Olson, who was the billionaire's private accountant. When Olson passed away in 2012, he left the collection to his daughter, Mindy.

Credits: Jewelry images via profilesinhistory.com; Howard Hughes photo by Acme Newspictures / Public domain. Katharine Hepburn photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio (work for hire) / Public domain.
July 29th, 2020
In a move that promises to fundamentally change the way diamonds are graded for clarity, the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) has joined forces with tech giant IBM to add artificial intelligence (AI) to the process.



GIA, the world’s leading independent diamond identification and grading authority, and IBM Research, one of the world’s largest and most influential corporate research labs, are developing an advanced AI system built on the standards of GIA’s universally recognized International Diamond Grading System™. The artificial intelligence is fueled by data from tens of millions of diamonds examined by GIA’s expert diamond graders in the Institute’s state-of-the-art grading laboratories around the world.

The example, above, shows how an image captured using GIA-developed hardware trains IBM Research’s artificial intelligence software to recognize inclusions and reflections. In the computer rendering, the AI system has correctly identified the clarity characteristics, enabling the AI system to assign a clarity grade.

“GIA is uniquely positioned to leverage AI and set a new bar in diamond grading standards,” said Tom Moses, GIA executive vice president and chief laboratory and research officer. “IBM’s AI technology combined with GIA’s expertise, extensive data and gemological research capabilities enables us to deliver advancements in consistency, accuracy and speed unlike any other organization.”

The proprietary system, which is now in limited use in the Institute’s New York and Carlsbad laboratories, will dramatically expand the reach of GIA’s independent diamond grading reports. Initially concentrating on the most popular diamond sizes, GIA will scale the AI system to bring accurate and efficient diamond grading to more diamond sizes, shapes and qualities.

“Adding AI to our grading methodology reflects GIA’s commitment to protecting consumers in new ways,” said Pritesh Patel, GIA’s senior vice president and chief operating officer, who leads the Institute’s digital transformation effort. “We are proud to be the first to collaborate with IBM to bring this innovative approach to the gem and jewelry industry, especially as we prepare to adapt to the accelerated changes we know are coming. This is just the beginning.”

“This newest application of IBM Research’s AI technology for the diamond industry combines GIA’s deep gemological knowledge and data with IBM’s leadership in AI innovation,” said Donna Dillenberger, IBM Fellow, Enterprise Solutions at IBM Research. “This system has the ability to accurately and consistently evaluate the overall effect of diamond clarity features like never before.”

Plans are in development to expand the collaboration between GIA and IBM for future projects combining gemological evaluation and AI.

Credits: Images © GIA.
July 30th, 2020
Today's virtual tour of the Smithsonian’s National Gem Collection delivers an up-close-and-personal look at the incomparable “Carmen Lúcia Ruby.” The 23.10-carat specimen has the distinction of being the largest faceted ruby in the collection and one of the finest Burmese rubies ever known.



Exhibiting a richly saturated red color known as “pigeon’s blood,” the Carmen Lúcia Ruby generated a wave of excitement when it arrived at the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals back in 2004. At the time, curator Jeffrey Post called the gem “the most important addition to the collection in the 20 years that I’ve been here.”

Until this past spring, it would have been easy for visitors to see the Carmen Lúcia Ruby. But with all the Smithsonian museums in Washington, DC, remaining temporarily closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, we’ve been presenting these virtual tours.

Previous stops on the tour have included the “Chalk Emerald,“ “Gifts from Napoleon,“ “Stars and Cat’s Eyes,“ the “Logan Sapphire,“ the “Dom Pedro“ aquamarine, the “Steamboat“ tourmaline and a collection of enormous topaz.



Here’s how to navigate to the exhibit called “Rubies and Sapphire.” The first item in the ruby case is the Carmen Lúcia.

— First, click on this link… The resulting page will be a gallery called “Geology, Gems & Minerals: Precious Gems 1.”

— Next, click the double-right-arrow once to navigate to the gallery called “Geology, Gems & Minerals: Precious Gems 2.”

When you arrive, the center-left of the screen will be filled with a topaz exhibit.

– Click and drag the screen 90 degrees so you can view the wall of cases to the right.

– Touch the Plus Sign to zoom into the exhibit titled "Rubies and Sapphires."

(You may touch the “X” to remove the map. This will give you a better view of the jewelry. You may restore the map by clicking the “Second” floor navigation on the top-right of the screen.)

The panel between the ruby and sapphire cases explains that they are both gem varieties of the mineral corundum.

"Colorless in its pure state, corundum rarely has sufficient clarity or richness of color to be a gemstone," the display states. "When it does, the difference between a ruby and a sapphire is just a tiny bit of impurity. Rubies are, by definition, red. The color results from light interacting with a few atoms of chromium trapped as the crystals grew. Ruby is the July birthstone. Sapphires are corundum crystals in all colors but red. Best known are the blue varieties, tinted by iron and titanium impurities. Sapphire is the September birthstone."

The Carmen Lúcia Ruby is named for Carmen Lúcia Buck, the beloved wife of Dr. Peter Buck, who donated the ring to the Smithsonian after her passing in 2003. Carmen had been undergoing cancer treatments in 2002 and had heard rumors that the magnificent ruby might be coming on the market after being in private hands for decades. Carmen had hoped to purchase the ring to celebrate her recovery. Sadly, she would never wear it.

Knowing how much she admired the ring, Peter Buck, decided to provide the Smithsonian with the funds to purchase it and put it permanently on display. The Carmen Lúcia Ruby would be a gift to the American people and a testament to his everlasting love.

“So it seemed like a really appropriate thing to do, to give it to the nation so people could come and see it,” he told The New York Times in 2004. “She would have really liked that people could see it and know it was the Carmen Lúcia Ruby, and that it wasn’t locked away in a vault somewhere.”

The oval stone was sourced in the fabled Mogok region of Burma in the 1930s. While sapphire, emerald and diamond gems weighing hundreds of carats exist, high-quality Burmese rubies larger than 20 carats are extraordinarily rare.

A nuclear physicist by trade, Peter Buck is famous for making one of the most brilliant investments in U.S. history. In 1965, at the age of 35, Buck loaned $1,000 to his family friend, Fred DeLuca, so he could open a sandwich shop. That shop was intended to help the 18-year-old DeLuca pay for college at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. DeLuca honored his benefactor by naming the shop “Pete’s Super Submarines.” That single store has since grown into the Subway sandwich chain, with 44,758 restaurants in more than 100 countries.

Credits: Photo by Chip Clark / Smithsonian; Screen capture via naturalhistory2.si.edu.
July 31st, 2020
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, country star Cody Johnson's hands are shaking like a canebrake rattler as he pops the question in his 2011 release, "Diamond In My Pocket."



In the song, Johnson portrays a young man who realizes, despite his anxiety, that there will never be a better time to make the ultimate commitment to the love of his life. He can't afford to take her to a Broadway play, so he opts for a midnight ride to Kickapoo Creek, where the crickets are singing to the radio. With a shooting star flashing across the sky, Johnson lays it all on the line.

He sings, "Cause baby, there's a shooting star, / That was for me and you. / So, hold me tight, and make that wish, and pray that it comes true. / I ain't sure of much, / But this I know... / I got a diamond in my pocket and my baby's got a heart of gold."

Written by Johnson, Trent Wayne Willmon and Thomas Daniel Green, "Diamond In My Pocket" appeared as the third track on Johnson's self-released album, A Different Day.

Johnson is credited with six self-released albums, the last of which made its debut at #2 on the Billboard U.S. Country Albums chart without the benefit of major label support or widespread radio play. His seventh album, Ain't Nothin' to It, was released via Warner Bros. Records Nashville and reached #1 on the Billboard U.S. Country Albums chart.

The 33-year-old country star's road to success was hardly paved with gold. Born in Sebastopol, Texas, Johnson discovered his passion for music as a pre-teen and started writing songs in junior high school. In 2006, at the age of 19, he formed the Cody Johnson Band with his dad, Carl, and drummer Nathan Reedy. The group played the rodeo circuit and sold albums out of the back of Johnson's pickup truck.

The struggling artist worked as a corrections officer in Huntsville, Texas, but his wife, Brandi, encouraged him to pursue his dream and record full time. In 2011, Johnson got a big break when he won the Texas Regional Music Award for New Male Vocalist of the Year. That accomplishment landed him better gigs at larger venues. He became the first unsigned independent artist to play to a sold-out crowd at the 74,177-seat Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

Please check out the video of Johnson's live performance of "Diamond In My Pocket" at the Troubadour music room in Dallas. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Diamond In My Pocket"
Written by Trent Wayne Willmon, Thomas Daniel Green and Cody Daniel Johnson. Performed by Cody Johnson.

Saturday night and the moon is out
Just shinin' over top of the pines
I'm headin' on down to my baby's house
Gonna take her on a midnight ride
Down those backroads winding down to Kickapoo Creek
Dancin' and singin' to some good ol' boys like me

Baby, there's a shooting star,
That was for me and you.
So, hold me tight, and make that wish, and pray that it comes true.
I ain't sure of much,
But this I know...
I got a diamond in my pocket and my baby's got a heart of gold.

I brought along a little courage and Coleman cooler just to help me out
My hands are shaking like canebrake rattler,
Nothing's gonna save me now
Might as well jump in head first, lay it all on the line
What am I worrying about never gonna be a more perfect time

Cause baby, there's a shooting star,
That was for me and you.
So, hold me tight, and make that wish, and pray that it comes true.
I ain't sure of much,
But this I know...
I got a diamond in my pocket and my baby's got a heart of gold.

Well I didn't have money for a Broadway show but the crickets are singing to the radio.
And we got tickets, on the very front porch.

Baby, there's a shooting star,
That was for me and you.
So, hold me tight, and make that wish, and pray that it comes true.
I ain't sure of much,
But this I know...
Well, I got a diamond in my pocket and my baby's got a heart of gold.

I got a diamond in my pocket and my baby's got a heart of gold.
Yeah, my baby's got a heart of gold.


Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.