Amateur Prospector Finds 2.78-Carat Diamond in the Same Spot Where ‘Strawn-Wagner’ Was Discovered in 1990

Back in 1990, a Murfreesboro, Ark., resident named Shirley Strawn became an instant celebrity when she struck it rich at the nearby Crater of Diamonds State Park — the only diamond site in the world where amateur prospectors get to keep what they find.

Strawn discovered a 3.03-carat diamond in the East Drain section of the park’s 37 1/2-acre search area. Gemologists determined that the rough stone had so much potential as a faceted diamond that it was sent to New York, where famous diamond cutter Lazare Kaplan International worked its magic. The Arkansas-sourced rough gem was transformed into a world-class, 1.09-carat round brilliant-cut sparkler, and became the first diamond from the state park to earn a perfect grade of “Triple Zero” (Ideal cut/D color/Flawless) from the American Gem Society.

The find was so momentous that the State of Arkansas purchased the gem — now known as the “Strawn-Wagner” diamond — for $34,700 and made it the centerpiece of the park’s special exhibit. There’s even a prominent marker in the East Drain section of the park to show exactly where it was found.

Only a few weeks ago, a retiree named Wendell Fox was scanning the ground very close to the Strawn-Wagner marker when he, too, spotted a diamond on the surface. While Strawn’s gem was white and weighed 3.03 carats in its rough state, Fox’s gem weighed 2.78 carats and displayed a champagne brown color.

“I was 80 to 90 percent sure that it was a diamond when I saw it,” the 70-year-old Fox told park officials. About the size of an English pea, the oval diamond contains a few inclusions and demonstrates an unmistakable metallic shine.

Park Interpreter Waymon Cox noted, “It’s no surprise that Mr. Fox found his diamond by surface searching. It has rained a lot at the park this spring and, so far, we have registered 11 diamonds that were found on top of the ground in May.”

Cox explained that diamonds lack static electricity so dirt doesn’t stick to them. When rainfall uncovers larger diamonds near the surface and the sun comes out, they sparkle and are often easier to see.

Although Fox and his wife, Jennifer, are now retired and living in Joliet, Mont., Fox spent his formative years in Arkansas and always dreamed of searching for diamonds at the park. His wish came true a few weeks ago when the couple visited for the first time.

Wendall and Jennifer have named their diamond “Way Out Yonder” to honor their home in Montana and plan to have the gem mounted in a piece of jewelry.

“All in all, it was a great experience,” said Wendell Fox. “Finding a diamond was just icing on the cake.”

So far this year, the Crater of Diamonds State Park has registered 209 diamonds weighing a total of 52.08 carats. Seven diamonds have weighed in at more than 1 carat each. In March, 14-year-old Kalel Langford of Centerton, Ark., made headlines when he secured a 7.44-carat brown gem that he named “Superman’s Diamond.” The largest diamond ever discovered in the United States was unearthed in Murfreesboro in 1924 during an early mining operation. Named the Uncle Sam, the white diamond with a pink cast weighed 40.23 carats.

Credits: Images courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.

92-Carat Heart-Shaped ‘La Légende’ Diamond Sells for $15 Million, Sets New Auction Record

The 92.15-carat “La Légende” — billed as the largest D-flawless, heart-shaped diamond ever seen at auction — set a new record at Christie’s Geneva when it was scooped up by an anonymous buyer for $15 million.

The previous record-holder was a 56-carat heart-shaped stone that was sold at Christie’s six years ago for $10.9 million.

Described by Christie’s as having excellent polish and symmetry, “La Légende” is the centerpiece of a cultured pearl necklace signed by Parisian jewelers Boehmer and Bassenge. “La Légende” (“The Legend”) is mounted in platinum and positioned between two round diamonds.

The Gemological Institute of America awarded “La Légende” a Type IIa rating. This is the purest type of diamond because it is composed solely of carbon with virtually no trace elements in the crystal lattice.

Christie’s had placed the pre-sale estimate for the auction headliner at $14 million to $20 million.

Other auction highlights included a 15.03-carat ruby ring, which fetched $12.9 million, and a 7.97-carat fancy intense blue diamond that sold for $12.7 million.

Overall, Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction presented 250 lots and reaped $95 million.

Credit: Photos courtesy of Christie’s.

Music Friday: Australian Country Legend John Williamson Sings About the Untold Riches Lying Beneath The Outback

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we take a trip to the Land Down Under where country legend John Williamson sings about the untold riches lying beneath the vast, remote, inland territory known as the Australian Outback.

In his 2002 song called “Sing You The Outback,” Williamson pays homage to generations of miners who have toiled in harsh conditions to extract precious metals and valuable gemstones…

“I’ll sing you the miners, steel and coal / Opals and diamonds, silver and gold / Emeralds and sapphires, I wish for you / Holes in the outback, down below.”

Williamson emphasizes the vital role The Outback has played in Australia’s history and the impact it will have on its future. He contrasts the territory’s harsh and unforgiving environment with its incomparable beauty. The Outback encompasses 2.5 million square miles, but is inhabited by only 60,000 people. He describes The Outback as “impossible,” while also acknowledging that “there is no way he can find an end to what it means to me.”

“Sing You The Outback” is the first track from Williamson’s studio album, Gunyah, which means “home” in the traditional Aboriginal language.

Over the course of a career that has spanned nearly five decades, the 71-year-old singer-songwriter has earned a reputation of being a vocal advocate for the people of the bush. He has also been a prolific recording artist and commercial success. He’s credited with releasing 40 albums, with sales tallying more than four million in Australia alone.

He has received 26 Golden Guitar trophies at the Country Music Awards of Australia and, in 2010, was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame. In 2000, he performed at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games.

We hope you enjoy the audio track of Williamson performing “Sing You The Outback.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Sing You The Outback”
Written and performed by John Williamson.

I’ll sing you the desert, where black men sailed
Waterhole to water, where white men failed
See the face of dreamers, forgotten souls
Hear the voice of cattlemen crackle in the coals
Maybe we will learn what’s written in the sand
A thousand generations living off the land
I’ll sing you the waters, runnin’ through the town
Wildflowers and Wattles when it settles down
The Outback is impossible, forever and it’s free
No way can I find an end to what it means to me

The Outback

I’ll sing you the miners, steel and coal
Opals and diamonds, silver and gold
Emeralds and sapphires, I wish for you
Holes in the outback, down below
There’s lakes and there’s rivers, caves to be found
And there’s another landscape underground

I’ll sing you the waters runnin’ through the town
Wildflowers and Wattles when it settles down
The backbone of the women who fight on and on
The healing of the sunset when all is said and done
The Outback is impossible, forever and it’s free
No way can I find an end to what it means to me

To what it means to me
The Outback (4X)

Please note that the embedded video below is delivered via an iFrame from YouTube

Credits: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Brazilian Miners Unearth 600-Pound Emerald; Specimen Will Likely Go on Tour

An enormous emerald weighing more than 600 pounds and standing 4.3 feet tall was unearthed recently in Brazil’s northeastern state of Bahia.

The specimen, which contains numerous emerald crystals embedded in host rock, was extracted from a depth of 656 feet at the Carnaiba mine. Credited with the amazing find are the miners of the Bahia Mineral Cooperative.

The specimen was pulled from Carnaiba about three weeks ago, and its May discovery worked out perfectly because emerald is the official birthstone for this month.

A local mine owner purchased the stone for an undisclosed sum, and said through his lawyer that he intends to present the giant emerald at national exhibitions. He also chose not to be identified due to security-related issues.

“Today, the owner of the stone is authorized to travel with it through all national [Brazilian] territory,” said lawyer Marcio Jandir. “Obviously he wants to do some exhibitions with the stone, present it in museums and libraries, wherever he is able to present it.”

Despite its immense proportions, the recently discovered emerald specimen is not the largest ever found in the region. In 2001, the 752-pound Bahia Emerald was also pulled from a local mine. Over the past 16 years, that stone has been the subject of international intrigue and numerous legal claims. It was once estimated to be worth $400 million, but its actual value remains a mystery. At one point in its murky history, it was listed on eBay for a “Buy It Now” price of $75 million.

Credits: Video screen captures via AOL.com.

Texas Storm Chaser Combines His Two Loves in One Unforgettable Proposal Scene

A Texas storm chaser successfully combined the two loves of his life when he popped the question to his girlfriend with a tornado spinning perilously nearby.

An amazing photo posted to his Facebook page on May 17 shows 25-year-old Alex Bartholomew on bended knee as he proposes to his girlfriend, Britney Fox Cayton. Sharing the romantic scene with the couple is a twister descending from a giant, grey storm cloud.

“I thought it would be kind of cool to combine the two best things in my life,” Bartholomew told Today.com. “I really wanted it to go like this. I really wanted to propose in front of a tornado to combine the two loves of my life.”

Bartholomew’s friend, Jason Cooley, took the shots that caught the attention of high-profile media outlets, such as Inside Edition, USA Today, Brides.com, Huffington Post and NPR.

“I wanted to get the tornado right in between them,” Cooley told Inside Edition. “I was worried the tornado was going to disappear. The tornado waited for us. The scene was perfect.”

Bartholomew, who works with his new fiancée at Home Depot in Temple, Texas, fulfills his passion for tornados by taking a few weeks off every year for what he calls a “chase-cation.” This is when he invites his friends to join him in his pursuit of spectacular weather systems — and twisters.

Cayton and Cooley agreed to participate in Bartholomew’s latest chase, but the future bride had no clue a marriage proposal was in the offing. Bartholomew had purchased the ring in March, but was waiting for just the right time to pop the question.

That time came to pass last Tuesday near picturesque McLean, Texas.

“I had no idea, it was complete shock,” Cayton told Inside Edition. “I just nodded because I couldn’t get the words out I was tearing up so bad.”

“Wow, what a day,” Bartholomew wrote on his Facebook post. “2 (maybe 3 tornadoes), great storms and most importantly she said YES!”

The storm chaser added, “I seriously couldn’t ask for a better life and I can’t wait to spend it with her by my side.”

The couple’s story was immortalized on NPR. Click the link to hear host David Greene reporting for the Morning Edition.

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/529634838/529634839

Credits: Images via Facebook/Alex Bartholomew; Facebook/Britney Fox Cayton.

$13 ‘Fake’ Gem Bought 30 Years Ago at a ‘Car Boot Sale’ Turns Out to Be 26-Carat Diamond Worth $448K

Thirty years ago, a woman from west London scooped up a showy ring for £10 ($13) at a car boot sale. Convinced that it was costume jewelry due to its inexpensive price, oversized center stone and filthy mounting, the woman cleaned it up and made it part of her day-to-day fashion wardrobe. (For Brits, a car boot sale is akin to a flea market.)

Now, decades later, Sotheby’s London will be putting the ring on the auction block on June 7 for a staggering pre-sale high estimate of $448,000. You see, the bauble turned out to be a 26.27-carat, antique cushion-shaped diamond that dates back to the 19th century.

“The owner would wear it out shopping, wear it day-to-day. It’s a good looking ring,” Jessica Wyndham, head of Sotheby’s London jewelry department, told the BBC. “But it was bought as a costume jewel. No one had any idea it had any intrinsic value at all. [She] enjoyed it all this time.”

Only recently, a local jeweler told the owner that the ring could be very valuable. The owner, who did not want to be identified, took the ring to Sotheby’s, which confirmed the authenticity of the diamond with a report from the Gemological Institute of America. The diamond earned an impressive clarity grade of VVS2 and an “I” color rating.

Sotheby’s believes the ring will sell in the range of $320,000 to $448,000.

The owner had been convinced that her stone was a fake because it didn’t sparkle like a modern diamond.

“With an old style of cutting… the light doesn’t reflect back as much as it would from a modern stone cutting,” Wyndham said. “Cutters worked more with the natural shape of the crystal, to conserve as much weight rather than make it as brilliant as possible.”

Wyndham said the sale of the ring would be life-changing for the owner. She called the ring a “one-off windfall, an amazing find.”

Credit: Image courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Two of Australia’s Finest Opals Head to Qatar for Three-Week Exhibition

Two of world’s finest opals — the Virgin Rainbow and the Fire of Australia — are jetting 7,000 miles from Adelaide to Doha to headline a three-week special exhibition at the Australian Embassy in Qatar. This will be the first time the gems have been seen outside of Australia.

Valued at more than $1 million combined, the famous pair will join 60 others selected from the South Australian Museum’s wildly popular “Opals” exhibition, which ended its run in 2016. The Doha exhibition will be open to the public from May 24 through June 15, 2017.

South Australian Museum Director Brian Oldman noted that he was thrilled to share the finest examples of Australia’s national gemstone with the people of Qatar.

“The Virgin Rainbow is the finest crystal opal specimen ever unearthed,” he said. “It has only been on public display once before, and will provide visitors to the exhibition with an unmatched spectacle of color and beauty.”

Measuring 2.4 inches long and displaying a full spectrum of brilliant color, the finger-shaped specimen seems to have a light source all its own.

“It’s almost as if there’s a fire in there,” Oldman had told AFP in 2015. “You see all different colors. As the light changes, the opal itself changes. It’s quite an amazing trick of nature.”

The 4,990-carat Fire of Australia is acknowledged as the world’s most valuable piece of rough opal. The opal was purchased for AU$500,000 ($372,000) through the generosity of a private donor and funding from the Australian government’s National Cultural Heritage Account. Two faces of the Fire of Australia have been polished to reveal the magical colorations inside, transitioning from green to yellow to red, depending on the angle from which it is viewed.

Scientists claim that between 97 million and 100 million years ago, Australia’s vast inland sea, which was populated by marine dinosaurs, began retreating. As the sea regressed, a rare episode of acidic weather was taking place, exposing pyrite minerals and releasing sulphuric acid. As the surface of the basin dried further and cracked, silica-rich gel became trapped in the veins of the rock. Over time, the silica solidified to form opals.

Today, Australia produces more than 90% of the world’s precious opals.

The exhibition reflects a growing relationship between Australia and Qatar, which saw the commencement of Qatar Airways’ direct flights to Adelaide in 2016.

Photo of Virgin Rainbow opal by Richard Lyons, courtesy of South Australian Museum. Photo of Fire of Australia opal via Facebook.com/SouthAustralianMuseum.

Music Friday: In Exchange ‘For Your Love,’ The Yardbirds Will Bring Diamond Rings to Your Door

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you classic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today’s featured track is “For Your Love” by the British-invasion band The Yardbirds. The 1965 hit, which features key “diamond” references, was the group’s biggest commercial success, but also triggered the departure of future superstar Eric Clapton.

The song is essentially a love treatise, with lead singer Keith Relf ticking off all the things he would give “for your love.” In addition to offering the moon, the sun and the stars, Relf starts off with a jewelry-related proposition…

Relf sings, “I’d give you everything and more and that’s for sure / I’d bring you diamond rings and things right to your door / To thrill you with delight / I’d give you diamonds bright/ Double takes I will excite / Make you dream of me at night.”

Even though the song rose to #6 on the U.S. Billboard Top 100 chart and scored #1 spots in both the UK and Canada, “For Your Love” was the straw that broke the camel’s back for a 20-year-old Clapton. The lead guitarist left the band eight days after the song’s release because he believed it signaled that The Yardbirds were abandoning their blues roots and becoming too commercial. Music historians claim he was also disgruntled having to duplicate the song’s unusual harpsichord intro on his 12-string electric guitar when playing live.

On The Yardbirds official site, guitarist Chris Dreja said “For Your Love” was responsible for bringing the group international fame. He also said that the “weirdness” of the song’s time-signature change in the middle became a template for future hits.

“‘For Your Love’ was an interesting song,” Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty told songfacts.com. “It had an interesting chord sequence, very moody, very powerful. And the fact that it stopped in the middle and went into a different time signature, we liked that, that was interesting. Quite different, really, from all the bluesy stuff that we’d been playing up till then. But somehow we liked it. It was original and different.”

Ironically, The Yardbirds’ signature song and biggest hit wasn’t originally intended for the group. Music legend states that songwriter Graham Gouldman wrote it for his own group, the Mockingbirds, but their demo was rejected by Columbia Records. Apparently, the song was also turned down by the producers of Herman’s Hermits and the Animals before landing with The Yardbirds.

Musician Dave Liebman, who was hired to write the introduction to “For Your Love,” revealed years later that the use of the harpsichord was a total accident. Upon arriving at the recording studio, he realized that the organ he intended to use was nowhere in site. He had to settle for a harpsichord and history was made — the first rock song featuring a harpsichord.

The Yardbirds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and are included in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.”

Please check out the video at the end of this post. It’s a rare 1965 clip of The Yardbirds performing “For Your Love” on Shindig!, a U.S. musical variety show. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.

“For Your Love”
Written by Graham Gouldman. Performed by The Yardbirds.

For your love.
For your love.
For your love.
I’d give you everything and more, and that’s for sure.
For your love.
I’d bring you diamond rings and things right to your door.
For your love.

To thrill you with delight,
I’ll give you diamonds bright.
There’ll be things that will excite,
To make you dream of me at night.

For your love.
For your love.
For your love.

For your love, for your love,
I would give the stars above.
For your love, for your love,
I would give you all I could.

For your love.
For your love.
For your love.
I’d give the moon if it were mine to give.
For your love.
I’d give the stars and the sun ‘fore I live.
For your love.

To thrill you with delight,
I’ll give you diamonds bright.
There’ll be things that will excite,
To make you dream of me at night.

For your love.
For your love.
For your love.
For your love.

Please note that the embedded video below is delivered via an iFrame from YouTube

Credit: For Your Love album cover by The Yardbirds/Epic Records.

Apollo and Artemis Earrings Sell for $57.4 Million, Set Auction Record at Sotheby’s Geneva

A non-matching pair of fancy-color diamond earrings named after the twin deities Apollo and Artemis set an auction record at Sotheby’s Geneva yesterday when they sold for a combined $57.4 million. The pink and blue pear-shaped duo now hold the title of the most valuable pair of earrings ever sold at auction.

Sotheby’s had promoted the earrings as a pair, but offered them as separate lots. Any fears that the Apollo Blue and Artemis Pink would be separated forever were put to rest when a single anonymous buyer claimed both siblings.

“I am delighted that the stones will remain together as earrings,” noted David Bennett, Worldwide Chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewelry Division.

In the lead-up to the sale, Bennett had accurately portrayed the Apollo and Artemis diamonds as “by far the most important pair of earrings ever offered at auction.”

The auction house also announced that the new buyer had renamed both stones. The “Apollo Blue,” a fancy vivid blue diamond weighing 14.54 carats, is now called “The Memory of Autumn Leaves,” while the “Artemis Pink,” a fancy intense pink diamond weighing 16.00 carats, is now called “The Dream of Autumn Leaves.”

The Apollo Blue had the distinction of being the largest internally flawless fancy vivid blue diamond ever to be offered at auction. Sotheby’s had set a pre-sale estimated price range of $38.3 million to $50.4 million. The hammer price, including the buyer’s premium, was $42.1 million. Just last year, the 14.62-carat “Oppenheimer Blue” set a record when it yielded $57.5 million at Christie’s Geneva.

Boasting a clarity rating of VVS2, the pink diamond carried a pre-sale estimate of $12.6 million to $18.1 million and eventually sold for $15.3 million.

Overall, Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Geneva presented nearly 400 pieces and reaped more than $150 million in sales. More than 90% of the lots found buyers and three auction records were broken.

In addition to the record-setting earrings, Sotheby’s collected a record price for a fancy intense purplish pink diamond at $13.2 million. That same stone also established a record per-carat price at $1.9 million.

Credit: Image courtesy of Sotheby’s. Screen capture via sothebys.com.

Newlyweds Reunited With Wedding Rings 8 Days After Tornado Obliterates Their Home

Described as a “miracle that came out of tragedy,” Texas newlyweds Ariel and Justin Duke were reunited with Ariel’s engagement ring and wedding band eight days after a deadly tornado flattened their home and scattered debris for miles.

Having learned of the couple’s plight on Facebook, amateur metal-detector enthusiast and Good Samaritan Nathan Wright meticulously scanned the Dukes’ devastated property for five hours before finally scoring both rings.

Ariel told Spectrum News that she removed her rings to do some yard work just before the twister obliterated their small, yellow farmhouse in Canton on April 29.

“Literally our house was just leveled. It wasn’t destroyed, it just wasn’t there,” Justin told ABC News.

In the aftermath of the storm, the couple — who had been married only three months — attempted to recover Ariel’s precious keepsakes with the help of some friends, but they came up empty.

Their next strategy was to post photos of the rings to Facebook, hoping that someone would find and return them.

“By the time I had come across [the Facebook post] they had kind of given up,” Wright told ABC News. “It was about eight days since [the tornado] happened and they had a bunch of people out there using rakes and doing everything they could to find [the rings].”

Wright explained that it’s very difficult to use a metal detector in an area where debris is strewn everywhere, but the small chance of finding the rings was “worth a shot.”

After three hours, Wright’s search had yielded just a bunch of bullets and pull tabs.

But then, in a grassy field about 100 yards from where the house used to be, he finally started finding coins and kitchen utensils.

“Then I found an earring!” Wright wrote on Facebook. “I was excited, thinking maybe I was getting in the right area. I was praying this whole time that I’d be to find this ring and give some happiness back to this girl after such a rough week. Finally, I bent down to pick up what I thought would be another pull tab and, BAM, I see the gold ring laying under the grass! I hollered out and thanked the Lord!”

Wright had discovered Ariel’s engagement ring. Shortly after, about 30 feet away, he detected Ariel’s wedding band, as well.

“I bent down and knew the gold looked exactly like the engagement ring,” Wright said. “To be able to find both of those in the debris-strewn field like that was unreal. I’ll remember that forever.”

Wright explained on Facebook how he teased Ariel, by revealing the wedding band, at first, but not the engagement ring.

“I showed her the small wedding band first and said, ‘I found your ring!’ She was very excited but you could tell she was hoping for the other one,” he wrote. “Then I pulled the other one out of my pocket. She screamed and bulldozed me with a big hug! She couldn’t believe I found both of them. I’m so happy to be able to get these back to her!

“There is a miracle that can come out of tragedy,” Justin told ABC News. “It seemed like we were on downward spiral, but with him finding the rings, we’re on an upswing and getting on with life. We’re going to see what the good Lord has in store for us.”

On Facebook, Ariel posted photos related to ring recovery, as well as a message directed to Wright: “Thanks again for all of your hard work and determination! It’s nice to have some miracles from a tragedy. God sent Nathan out for a reason and we couldn’t be more blessed! God is good!”

Credits: Images via Facebook.com/alexis.wright.509.

Chip Off the Old Block: 373-Carat Diamond Shard Sells for $17.5 Million at Lucara’s ‘Exceptional Stone Tender’

A 373.72-carat chip off the old block recently sold for $17.5 million at Lucara Diamond Corp.’s “Exceptional Stone Tender” in Botswana’s capital city of Gabarone.

Immense by most standards, the rough gem is actually a broken shard from the second-largest diamond ever discovered — the 1,109-carat Lesedi la Rona. Discovered in 2015, that diamond is about the size of a tennis ball and weighs nearly a half pound. Only the 3,106-carat Cullinan, unearthed in South Africa in 1905, was larger.

The shard was the largest of the rough diamonds included in Lucara’s Exceptional Stone Tender. In total, the extraordinary collection of high-value diamonds showcased 15 stones totaling 1,765.73 carats. The entire grouping yielded $54.8 million.

Interestingly, the 373.7-carat shard was the smaller of two shards broken off the Lesedi la Rona. The other was “The Constellation,” an 813-carat marvel that sold for $63 million in 2016, setting a world record for a rough gem. All three stone are rated Type IIa, the purest of all diamonds because they are composed solely of carbon with virtually no trace elements in the crystal lattice. Each of the three was found within two days of each other in mid-November 2015.

Had the Lesedi la Rona remained intact during the mining and sorting process, the rough gem would have tipped the scales at more than 2,295 carats. While the shards have found buyers, Lesedi la Rona remains unsold. A $61 million bid at Sotheby’s in 2016 failed to meet the reserve price.

The gems in Lucara’s “Exceptional Stone Tender” ranged in size from 29.90 carats to 373.72 carats, with three individual stones weighing more than 200 carats and seven selling for more than $2 million each.

All of the gems were unearthed at Lucara’s Karowe mine in central Botswana. The mine has been in operation since mid-2012 and has consistently yielded a steady stream of truly exceptional diamonds. The rough diamond tender ran from May 3 to May 11.

Credits: Images courtesy of Lucara.

Aussie Woman Wears Her Engagement Ring for 18 Months Without Realizing It

An Australian woman named Anna wore her engagement ring around her neck for 18 months without realizing it.

Anna’s boyfriend, Terry, had given her a hand-carved necklace made out of Huon pine — a variety native to Tasmania — for their one-year anniversary in 2015. Little did she know that hidden in the center of the unique keepsake was a secret compartment containing a diamond engagement ring.

“I had always loved the idea of giving someone a gift where they didn’t know its true value,” Terry told metro.co.uk.

Anna cherished the thoughtful gift and wore it continuously for the next year and a half.

Terry planned to propose to Anna last fall on a trip to Smoo Cave in northern Scotland. It was a place the couple dreamed of visiting since they first met, and “smoo,” appropriately, is an old Norse word meaning “hiding place.”

Before they got to their Scottish destination, Terry feared that his surprise might be foiled. For instance, he worried that the X-ray machine at airport security might expose the precious metal-and-diamond treasure tucked in the wooden necklace. It didn’t.

Months earlier, Terry learned that a local blacksmith had admired Anna’s carved necklace and that his girlfriend had contemplated trading it for some of the blacksmith’s work. She didn’t.

Finally at Smoo Cave, Terry convinced Anna to take off the necklace so he could photograph it against a rocky backdrop. After taking the shot, he used a knife to crack open the seal that kept the two halves of the necklace together.

With his camera focused on the couple and set on automatic, he went down on bended knee and slid the opposing halves of the necklace apart to expose the engagement ring inside.

“She stood there with this completely confused and dumbfounded look on her face,” Terry told the Huffington Post. “And when she finally worked out what had just happened, she yelled, ‘Yes!’ and pounced on me.”

After she was able to collect her thoughts, Anna expressed some lighthearted objections to her fiancé’s clever — but risky — ruse.

“Wait, it’s been in there the entire time?” she yelled. “I could have lost it, you… idiot!”

The couple is now saving to purchase a home, which promises to be the venue of their wedding.

Credits: Images courtesy of the couple.

Music Friday: Ed Sheeran’s Grandpa Makes a Wedding Ring From Dental Gold in 2017’s ‘Nancy Mulligan’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, the sensational Ed Sheeran sings about how his struggling grandfather made a wedding ring from dental gold in his 2017 hit, “Nancy Mulligan.”

The song details the wartime love story of his grandparents and how their relationship flourished despite religious differences and the objections of their families.

With the scene set during the Second World War, Sheeran recounts in his grandpa William Sheeran’s voice how he fell in love with Nancy Mulligan at London’s Guy’s hospital. He was a struggling dentist and she was a nurse.

Sheeran sings, “On the summer day when I proposed, I made that wedding ring from dentist gold / And I asked her father but her daddy said no / You can’t marry my daughter.”

“One was a Protestant from Belfast and [the other] was a Catholic from southern Ireland,” Sheeran explained on the Beats 1 radio show. “They got engaged and no one turned up to the wedding.”

Sheeran, 26, noted that his grandparents were so poor that they had to borrow clothes for their wedding and that the gold for his grandmother’s wedding ring came from a collection of gold teeth his grandfather had collected during dental surgeries.

(Note: While gold used in jewelry is generally 14-karat or 18-karat and alloyed with copper, silver and zinc, dental gold is usually a 16-karat alloy containing palladium, silver, copper and/or tin.)

“[They] had this sort of Romeo and Juliet romance, which is like the most romantic thing. I thought I’d write a song about it and make it a jig,” said Sheeran.

The couple was married for more than 60 years and had a profound impact on their grandson’s life. William passed away in 2013, but Nancy remains a big fan of her internationally famous grandson.

“Nancy Mulligan” is part of the Deluxe Edition of Ed Sheeran’s third studio album ÷ (pronounced Divide), and despite the fact that it wasn’t officially released as a single, the song still managed to chart in 17 countries. Divide made its debut at #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. On the day of its release, the tracks from Divide achieved 56.73 million streams on Spotify.

Please check out the official audio track of Sheeran’s “Nancy Mulligan,” which has been viewed 32.3 million times. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.

“Nancy Mulligan”
Written by Ed Sheeran, Benjamin Levin, Johnny Mcdaid, Foy Vance, Amy Wadge and Murray Cummings. Performed by Ed Sheeran.

I was 24 years old when I met the woman I would call my own
Twenty two grand kids now growing old, in the house that your brother brought ya
On the summer day when I proposed, I made that wedding ring from dentist gold
And I asked her father but her daddy said no
You can’t marry my daughter

She and I went on the run
Don’t care about religion
I’m gonna marry the woman I love
Down by the Wexford border
She was Nancy Mulligan, and I was William Sheeran
She took my name and then we were one
Down by the Wexford border

Well I met at her Guys in the second world war
She was working on a soldier’s ward
Never had I seen such beauty before
The moment that I saw her
Nancy was my yellow rose
And we got married wearing borrowed clothes
We got eight children now growing old
Five sons and three daughters

She and I went on the run
Don’t care about religion
I’m gonna marry the woman I love
Down by the Wexford border
She was Nancy Mulligan, and I was William Sheeran
She took my name and then we were one
Down by the Wexford border

From her snow white streak in her jet black hair
Over 60 years I’ve been loving her
Now we’re sat by the fire, in our old armchairs
You know Nancy I adore ya

From a farm boy born near Belfast town
I never worried about the king and crown
Cause I found my heart upon the southern ground
There’s no difference, I assure ya

She and I went on the run
Don’t care about religion
I’m gonna marry the woman I love
Down by the Wexford border
She was Nancy Mulligan, and I was William Sheeran
She took my name and then we were one
Down by the Wexford border

Please note that the embedded video below is delivered via an iFrame from YouTube

Credit: Ed Sheeran image by Lunchbox LP [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Christie’s Jewelry Specialist Reveals Why Nearly Identical 10-Carat Sapphires Have Surprisingly Different Values

At first glance, these two gorgeous sapphires seem to be nearly identical. They both weigh approximately 10 carats and boast a comparable cut and hue. However, when offered for sale at Christie’s New York, one fetched $50,000, while the other commanded $305,000. Why the big difference?

Christie’s jewelry specialist Jessica Peshall shed light on the seemingly subtle differences in the stones that can dramatically affect their valuation.

In an article titled, “Unlock the Mysteries of Your Jewel Box,” the London-based specialist explained that, when it comes to world-class sapphires, it’s all about the origin.

“The three most important geographical locations for sapphires, in order of the premiums their origins command, are Kashmir, Burma and Sri Lanka,” Peshall wrote on christies.com.

The sapphire on the left, which weighs 10.27 carats and was sourced in Sri Lanka, exhibits a well saturated, bright, clean appearance, according to Peshall. When the hammer went down at Christie’s New York in September of 2016, the winning bid for the gem was $50,000.

The 10.50-carat sapphire on the right originated in Kashmir, the source famous for yielding the most highly sought sapphires in the world. These gems, according to Peshall, have a vivid, rich blue saturation and velvety texture. The gems appear to be glowing from within.

When the Kashmir sapphire was auctioned at Christie’s New York in December of 2015, it sold for $305,000 — more than six times the amount of its Sri Lankan cousin.

In her article, Peshall also outlines the key differences between cultured and natural pearls, treated and untreated emeralds, as well as heated and natural rubies. Click this link for the full story.

Credits: Images via Christies.com.

Super-Dense ‘Diamond’ Planet Orbits a Pulsar 4,000 Light Years Away

Four thousand light years away in the constellation of Serpens, a priceless planet five times the size of our Earth races around a tiny neutron star in an orbit that takes barely 130 minutes. Comprised mainly of carbon and oxygen, the planet is so incredibly dense that astronomers believe that the carbon has taken on a crystalline structure — and that means the entire planet could consist largely of diamond.

The unnamed planet, which scientists describe as the dead core of a once-massive star, orbits a pulsar named PSR J1719-1438. Pulsars are fascinating because these tiny neutron stars spin hundreds of times per second, emitting beams of radiation that can be detected here on Earth. PSR J1719-1438 is just 12.4 miles in diameter, but has a mass that is 1.4 times as much as our Sun.

Matthew Bailes and his team at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, first reported on the likelihood of a diamond planet in 2011.

“The evolutionary history and amazing density of the planet all suggest it is comprised of carbon — i.e. a massive diamond orbiting a neutron star every two hours in an orbit so tight it would fit inside our own Sun,” said Bailes.

Although the diamond planet is not visible, astronomers can detect it when monitoring the pulsar. Beams from the pulsar are emitted in regular intervals, but are altered due to the gravitational pull of the planet, which is 3,000 times larger than the pulsar.

PSR J1719-1438 and its companion diamond planet are located about one-eighth of the way toward the middle of the Milky Way, which spreads 100,000 light years in diameter.

Although Bailes’ diamond planet was the first to make headlines, Yale astrophysicists in 2012 theorized that super-Earth 55 Cancri e was also a diamond planet. Located 40 light years away, the carbon-based super-planet is about two times the size of Earth, eight times more dense and has a surface temperature of 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit.

Credits: Images courtesy of Swinburne Astronomy Productions.

$1.4 Million Solid Gold Darth Vader Mask Marks a 40-Year ‘Star Wars’ Milestone

Tokyo-based luxury jeweler Ginza Tanaka just unveiled a 33-pound, solid gold Darth Vader mask to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of the original Star Wars movie.

Carrying a retail price of $1.4 million, the 24-karat gold mask has so many components that it took a crew of 10 goldsmiths three months to perfect the prototype. That piece is now on display at the jeweler’s flagship store in the heart of Tokyo’s upscale Ginza shopping district.

“The most difficult aspect was that each section of the mask was created by a different gold craftsman and then assembled to make one Darth Vader mask,” Hirotsugu Tsuchiyaa, Marketing Manager for Ginza Tanaka, told the Associated Press.

The dazzling life-size replica was offered for sale on Star Wars Day, traditionally the 4th of May. Star Wars fans mark that day because “May the fourth” is a clever pun of the film’s iconic line, “May the force be with you.”

The original Star Wars hit theaters on May 25, 1977. That movie spawned a franchise of seven subsequent films, including Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which will be released later this year.

Interestingly, the Darth Vader “mask” created by Ginza Tanaka is not a mask at all because it can’t be worn. At 33 pounds, it’s too heavy to be a mask and, secondly, there’s no place to put one’s face. The golden replica of the original black Darth Vader helmet measures 11.8 inches tall and 10.4 inches wide. The precious metal alone is worth $650,000.

Ginza Tanaka noted that the gilded Darth Vader helmets have a three-month delivery time.

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com/NipponNewsNet.

Half-Ton Stone Embedded With 170,000 Carats of Emeralds Steals the Show in Abu Dhabi

Standing nearly four feet tall and weighing more than a half ton, the world's largest emerald-embedded stone attracted impressive crowds last week at the Abu Dhabi International Jewellery & Watch Show.

The priceless stone, which is 45 inches tall and 29 inches wide, is embedded with 130 emerald crystals weighing about 170,000 carats.

During the opening of the international exhibition, Show Director Nehmat Fadel told the Khaleej Times that the surprise of the show was the emerald-embedded stone.

"It was discovered 10 years ago in Brazil, and it's being displayed in the region for the first time," he said.

In fact, this was the first time the mammoth stone had been seen outside of Brazil.

The hexagonal emerald crystals exhibit a wide range of colors — from translucent and opaque variegated green to dark green. The largest of the crystals range from one-half inch to 9 inches in size.

The emerald crystals are embedded in a metamorphic rock called mica schist. The host rock is made up of quartz and mica.

"You got an entire mine full of emerald crystals embedded in just one piece and it's beautiful. It stands upright, is presentable and unique," noted John Martin, who represents the emerald attraction.

Martin was hard-pressed to estimate how much the emeralds could be worth, stating that the only way to properly value the precious gems would be to extract the crystals from the host and study them individually.

The spokesman said the crystal-embedded stone is symbolic of the show's host city, specifically alluding to Greek philosopher Aristotle's observation that often “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

"Abu Dhabi is a special place to unveil the stone, as it is symbolic of the emirates," Martin said. "In 1971, when all the emirates came together, it impressed the world with its unity. Similarly, each crystal will have a value, but together it's much more powerful and beautiful. So, this is a stone that makes a statement for the emirates."

Credits: Images courtesy of JWS Abu Dhabi.

Music Friday: Kelly Clarkson Describes Herself as ‘A Diamond From Black Dust’ in 2012’s ‘Dark Side’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you hit songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Kelly Clarkson reveals her vulnerable side and wonders out loud if her boyfriend can love her — despite her flaws — in her 2012 hit, “Dark Side.”

In this soaring synth-pop ballad, songwriters Alexander Geringas and Michael Busbee employ a gemstone’s genesis to illustrate Clarkson’s true potential.

Specifically, they reference how carbon has the ability, over time, to transform into a precious diamond. Clarkson argues that even though she’s not “picture perfect” and has an ominous “dark side,” she is still a gem at her core.

The 2002 American Idol winner sings, “Like a diamond / From black dust / It’s hard to know / It can become / If you give up / So don’t give up on me.”

Clarkson told New York radio station Z100 that she liked “Dark Side” because “it’s still got a beat to it. It’s a sweet-sounding song, but with a dark lyric, and I like that.”

In reviewing the song, Kat George of VH1 said, “This is what we love best about Kelly — that she’s just a regular girl. Acknowledging the pitfalls of her personality, Kelly invites us all to be imperfect without letting us (or herself) be any less perfectly lovable.”

“Dark Side” was released as the third single from Clarkson’s Grammy-award winning album, Stronger. The song topped the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart and peaked at #42 on the Billboard Hot 100. Overall, it charted in 13 countries.

A year after the release of “Dark Side,” Clarkson made jewelry-industry news when she was stymied in her bid to claim the 200-year-old turquoise ring once owned by famed British novelist Jane Austen. Clarkson had won the ring in 2012 at a Sotheby’s auction in London.

Clarkson’s winning bid of $235,000 was more than five times the auction house’s high estimate. But instead of allowing Clarkson to take the ring back to the U.S., British authorities unexpectedly declared the ring a “national treasure” and blocked its export. If a British patron could match Clarkson’s winning bid, the singer would have to forfeit the ring so it could stay in the U.K.

Jane Austen’s House Museum launched an aggressive fundraising appeal through its website and Facebook page. Donations from around the world flooded into the “Bring the Ring Home” campaign, generating an infusion of $253,000 — more than enough to match Clarkson’s bid.

Born in Ft. Worth, Texas, in 1982, Kelly Brianne Clarkson rose to fame in 2002 after winning the inaugural season of American Idol. Since then, Clarkson has sold more than 61 million singles worldwide, making her the best-selling American Idol contestant to date.

Please check out the video of Clarkson’s live performance of “Dark Side” at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Dark Side”
Written by Alexander Geringas and Michael Busbee. Performed by Kelly Clarkson.

There’s a place that I know
It’s not pretty there and few have ever gone
If I show it to you now
Will it make you run away

Or will you stay
Even if it hurts
Even if I try to push you out
Will you return?
And remind me who I really am
Please remind me who I really am

Everybody’s got a dark side
Do you love me?
Can you love mine?
Nobody’s a picture perfect
But we’re worth it
You know that we’re worth it
Will you love me?
Even with my dark side?

Like a diamond
From black dust
It’s hard to know
It can become
If you give up
So don’t give up on me
Please remind me who I really am

Everybody’s got a dark side
Do you love me?
Can you love mine?
Nobody’s a picture perfect
But we’re worth it
You know that we’re worth it
Will you love me?
Even with my dark side?

Don’t run away
Don’t run away
Just tell me that you will stay
Promise me you will stay
Don’t run away
Don’t run away
Just promise me you will stay
Promise me you will stay

Will you love me? Ohh
Everybody’s got a dark side
Do you love me?
Can you love mine?
Nobody’s a picture perfect
But we’re worth it
You know that we’re worth it
Will you love me?
Even with my dark side?

Please note that the embedded video below is delivered via an iFrame from YouTube

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Scuba Diver Rescues Newlywed’s Engagement Ring From the Bottom of Alabama’s Coosa River

A professional scuba diver pulled off a “needle in a haystack” recovery when he used a metal detector to rescue a newlywed’s engagement ring from the depths of Alabama’s Coosa River.

Brooke Leavins had accidentally pitched the diamond ring into river days earlier while shooing a bug on her family’s newly christened pontoon boat.

“I just cleaned it that morning and I thought, ‘Oh, I don’t want to get sunscreen all over it’ and put it in the cup holder,” Brooke told ABC News. “I had it in my fingertips and a bug landed on my arm and I went to flick the bug and I hit my fingertips on the Bimini rail and it just flew out into the water.”

“I heard it plop in the water, and I’ll never forget that sound,” she told WIAT.com.

Despite the shock of losing the ring, Brooke and her husband, Steven, alertly took photos of their exact location on the river. Those photos would come in handy a few days later.

The couple hired Spencer Phillips, a scuba instructor and co-owner of Southern Skin Divers Supply, to head up the recovery efforts. Phillips used the photos to position himself exactly where the ring entered the water. Hampered by swift currents and poor visibility, Phillips used a metal detector to assist in what he called “a tremendous needle-in-a-haystack situation.”

While navigating the river floor, Phillips found a discarded propeller to which he anchored himself.

“God put that propeller down there just for us,” Brooke told ABC News.

Phillips surfaced within 20 minutes. Acting a bit nonchalant, at first, the scuba instructor didn’t let on that he had found the ring.

“I think he winked at my husband and then he came back around to the back of the boat to get back in,” said Brooke. “He got up on the boat and he peeled back his glove and out comes the ring. Before he showed it to me, he said, ‘I don’t know if this is the right ring, but it’s a nice one.'”

Brooke cried at the sight of her cherished keepsake.

Steven told ABC News that finding the ring was a miracle.

“We had a lot of friends and family praying,” he said.

On Brooke’s Facebook page, she posted a close-up shot of the recovered ring snuggled safely back on her finger. The headline read: Saved By His Amazing Grace.”

Brooke, who exchanged marriage vows with Steve on New Year’s Eve, said she’s learned a life lesson about wearing precious jewelry on the water.

“The rings are never going on the boat again,” said Brooke. “We both feel naked without our rings on so we’ll probably get some cheap boat rings to wear.”

Credits: Images via Facebook.com/Brooke LaRae Leavins; Facebook.com/Spencer Phillips.

17th Century Royal Spinel, Once Lost and Mistaken for Glass, Sells at Sotheby’s for $353,800

A 17th century spinel pendant once worn by Mughal emperors — and then mistaken 90 years ago as a worthless bauble — sold at Sotheby’s London last week for $353,800.

The 54.5-carat, wine-colored, uncut gem — which is inscribed in Persian script with the names of three emperors dating back to 1615 AD — oddly ended up in the possession of a British woman named Mrs. David Graham Pole in the 1920s. Pole misplaced the gem on a train trip to the north of England and somehow the gem ended up on the train tracks near Leicester, according to a published report from 1927.

The stone was scooped up by railroad employee Joseph H. Wade, who, believing the gem was worthless glass, gave it to his twin children to play with. The spinel was returned to its rightful owner two weeks later after Pole placed an ad in a local paper. The newspaper account said the gem was found “with considerable difficulty” in the corner of a room “where it had been flung by the children.” The article placed the value of the gem at $25,000.

Sotheby’s believes the rare gem may have been gifted to Mrs. Pole by her daughter, Dorothy, who lived with her diplomat husband in India from 1921-1929.

The irregular-shaped spinel, which is pierced through the center, hangs from a gold chain and is adorned by a tassel of seed pearls.

The spinel is inscribed with the names of Emperors Jahangir, Prince Khurram and Alamgir Aurangzeb, illustrating a common practice among Mughal emperors of marking the stones and passing them on to their descendants. Two dates are also shown — 1615 AD and 1670 AD. Sotheby’s noted that spinels were mined in Badakhshan, the region between Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Before the 19th century, spinels were often mistaken for rubies.

Sotheby’s London had set the pre-sale estimate for the piece at £60,000 ($77,600) to £80,000 ($103,400). A private collector placed the final bid at £272,750 ($353,800), or 340% of the high estimate.

Credits: Images courtesy of Sotheby’s.