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.

37.8-Carat ‘Chalk Emerald’ Is One of the World’s Finest Examples of May’s Official Birthstone

The Chalk Emerald’s impressive clarity, color, size and regal lineage rank it among the world’s finest examples of May’s official birthstone.

Exhibiting the most highly prized velvety deep green color, the 37.82-carat Chalk Emerald is displayed near the Hope Diamond in the National Gem and Mineral Collection at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

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.

Legend states that the Chalk Emerald was once the centerpiece of an emerald-and-diamond necklace belonging to a Maharani of the former state of Baroda, India. The Smithsonian noted that the faceted stone originally weighed 38.4 carats, but was later recut (losing more than 1/2 carat in weight) and set in a platinum and gold ring designed by Harry Winston. The ring features the square emerald-cut stone surrounded by 60 pear-shaped diamonds totaling 15 carats.

The extraordinary ring was purchased by O. Roy Chalk, the New York-based 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.

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.

The name “emerald” comes indirectly from the ancient Greek word for green gem, “smaragdos.” Besides being the birthstone for the month of May, it’s also the preferred gemstone to honor 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.

Credits: Images courtesy of Smithsonian/Chip Clark.

Survey: 49% of American Brides-to-Be Want Their Engagement Rings to Be a Surprise

When it comes to getting engaged, nearly half of American brides-to-be want their engagement rings to be a surprise. That was the key finding in Ebates’ national Wedding Survey.

The concept of whether the selection of a “forever accessory” should be left strictly within the purview of the future groom has been debated for generations. While everyone can agree it’s commendable that he wants to take the initiative to pick the ring, others may argue whether he’s really best equipped to make that decision. Should she get involved by dropping a hint or two? Or, since she’ll be wearing the engagement ring for the rest of her life, might the future bride prefer to pick it for herself?

Ebates, a company that rewards members with cash back when they shop online, learned that 49% of respondents want the ring to surprise them, while 28% would prefer to go shopping with their partner and provide feedback and 15% admit that they’d like to pick out a ring for themselves.

Of the group that wants to be surprised, 85% reported they would say “yes” even if they hated the ring their partner used to propose.

The idea of settling for a “hated” ring may be tied to still another interesting finding, where 72% said it’s acceptable to upgrade to a better ring later in the marriage.

Respondents weren’t put off by the idea of wearing a previously owned “dream ring.” Exactly 42% said they would happily wear one, even if the ring tied to the previous relationship ended in divorce.

Nearly half of those surveyed said they would expect to spend between $1,000 and $5,000 on an engagement ring. The Knot’s 10th annual Real Weddings Study reported back in February that the amount spent on a engagement ring in 2016 was $6,163.

The Ebates Wedding Survey also revealed that the most popular wedding gift was money (56%), following by a gift card (46%), kitchen supplies (34%), home furnishings (27%), appliances (22%) and an experience or trip (21%). Nearly one in five (19%) admitted that they were OK with re-gifting something as a wedding gift.

The national survey reflects the opinions of 1,008 adults and was conducted online by Propeller Insights.

Credit: Image via BigStockPhoto.com.

Music Friday: Gladys Knight Laments, ‘You’re Like a Diamond But She Treats You Like Glass’ in 1970’s ‘If I Were Your Woman’

Welcome to Music Friday when we often bring you great throwback songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Gladys Knight & the Pips tell a story of unrequited love in their 1970 hit single, “If I Were Your Woman.”

In the song, the protagonist is a young woman whose love interest won’t give her the time of day. His attention is focused on a rival, despite the fact that she treats him so poorly. Songwriters Gloria Jones, Pamela Joan Sawyer and Clay McMurray use a diamond vs. glass comparison to describe how the two women feel toward the same man.

Knight sings, “She tears you down darlin’, says you’re nothing at all / But, I’ll pick you up darling, when she lets you fall / You’re like a diamond but she treats you like glass / Yet you beg her to love you, but, me you don’t ask.”

According to music trivia websites Songfacts.com and Allmusic.com, the song came together while Jones and Sawyer were having a lunchtime discussion about women’s issues, including the Women’s Liberation Movement, which was still in its infancy. They were looking to compose a piece about how women could be committed in their relationships while remaining strong and independent.

“If I Were Your Woman” appears as the first track from Gladys Knight & the Pips’ album of the same name. The single zoomed all the way to #1 on the Billboard Best Selling Soul Singles chart and peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

The song has been covered by a number of top artists, including Stephanie Mills (1988) and Alicia Keys (2006). The Keys version received a nomination for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance at the 2006 Grammy Awards.

Established in Atlanta as The Pips in 1952, the group led by founding member Gladys Knight topped the music charts for more than three decades. Gladys Knight & the Pips are multiple Grammy and American Music Award winners and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. The group disbanded in 1989, but Knight went on to a successful solo career. Also known as The Empress of Soul, Knight continues to tour at the age of 72.

Please check out the audio track of Gladys Knight & the Pips’ original version of “If I Were Your Woman.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“If I Were Your Woman”
Written by Gloria Jones, Pamela Joan Sawyer and Clay McMurray. Performed by Gladys Knight & the Pips.

If I were your woman and you were my man,
you’d have no other woman, you’d be weak as a lamb.
If you had the strength to walk out that door,
My love would over rule my sense, and I’d call you back for more,
If I were your woman.
If I were your woman, and you were my man. Um baby.

She tears you down darlin’, says you’re nothing at all.
But, I’ll pick you up darling, when she lets you fall.
You’re like a diamond but she treats you like glass.
Yet you beg her to love you, but, me you don’t ask.
If I were your woman, If I were your woman.
If I were your woman, here’s what I’d do,
I’d never, no, no, stop loving you.
Yeah, yeah, um

Life is so crazy, a love is unkind.
Because she came first, darling, will she hang on your mind?
You’re a part of me, and you don’t even know it.
I’m what you need, but I’m too afraid to show it.
If I were your woman, If I were your woman,
If I were your woman, here’s what I’d do.
Never, no, no, no, stop loving you, ah, yeah.
If I were your woman, here’s what I’d do.
Never, never stop loving you if

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

Credit: Photo by Rob Mieremet (ANEFO) (GaHetNa (Nationaal Archief NL)) [CC BY-SA 3.0],

via Wikimedia Commons

.

Vancouver Woman Is Stunned When Movie Trailer Turns Out to Be a Marriage Proposal

A super-creative and very romantic graphic animator thrilled his girlfriend recently with a sweet marriage proposal cleverly masked as a Hollywood movie trailer.

Vancouver, Wash., resident Adrianna Neil was so excited to attend an early screening of the blockbuster, live-action Beauty and the Beast as a 26th birthday present from her boyfriend, Ryan Langston. What she didn’t realize was that a two-minute movie trailer would change her life forever.

A YouTube video documenting the event shows a split screen, with the trailer on the right and Neil’s reaction shots on the left.

At first, we hear an announcer speaking about how sometimes people who started as strangers become good friends over time, and how, sometimes, a good friend becomes much more.

“You feel butterflies when you see them,” says the announcer. “You feel at a loss when they are not around.”

The images on the screen at this point are blurry silhouettes of nondescript couples.

But, then the announcer gets much more specific, noting the specific trips they’ve shared and the places they’ve dreamed of visiting together. The images transition into sweeping views of Italy, Scotland and their hometown, along with romantic shots of the couple, their friends and family.

The left side of the split screen captures the very moment Neil realizes that she’s the star of the trailer and that her boyfriend is about to propose. The trailer concludes with a title screen reading, “Adrianna, Will You Marry Me?”

Langston then gets down on one knee and pops the question. Neil says, “Yes,” and her boyfriend slides a diamond ring on her finger. The couple embraces and the movie-goers in attendance cheer their approval.

“We both love movies or anything that brings an emotional experience,” the 28-year-old Langston told The Huffington Post. “And I wanted to propose in a way that would be memorable. I knew that I wanted it to be something really special for her.”

As a graphic animator for Cinetopia theaters, Langston was well versed in the ins and outs of producing a professional-grade two-minute trailer. And it wasn’t by chance that the fake trailer/proposal took place in a Cinetopia theater. Langston told The Huffington Post that it took a month to get the trailer just right.

“The staff [of Cinetopia] was amazing at helping me pull this off,” he said. “They ran the test of the trailer several times that day during intermissions just to make sure it would run without a hitch.”

Neil and Langston have known each other for 10 years, but started dating a year ago. They’re planning a September 2018 wedding and a honeymoon in Scotland or Italy.

In the caption of his YouTube video, Langston wrote, “I proposed to the most amazing woman, Adrianna Neil. I wanted to do something special so I created a short video that appears to be an advertisement at first. I love her reaction.”

You can check out the video, below.

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

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/Ryan Langston. Facebook.com/Ryan Langston.

Mother’s Day Jewelry Gift-Giving Expected to Set New Record at $5 Billion, Reports NRF

Shoppers will be showering their moms with $5 billion in jewelry gifts on Sunday, May 14, setting a new Mother’s Day record for that category. That tally represents an increase of 19% compared with the $4.2 billion spent in 2016.

Mother’s Day gifts across all categories will total a record $23.6 billion, outpacing 2016’s performance by $2.2 billion, or 10.2%, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. The NRF noted that the overall increase will be driven largely by the jewelry and personal services categories.

Jewelry is, by far, the strongest of all gift categories, topping the list that includes the $4.2 billion earmarked for special outings, such as a dinner or brunch, $2.6 billion for flowers, $2.5 billion for gift cards, $2.1 billion for clothing, $2.1 billion for consumer electronics and $1.9 billion for personal services, such as a spa day.

The NRF’s survey predicts that more than one in three (35.5%) Mother’s Day shoppers will be buying a jewelry item this year.

“With spring in full bloom, many Americans are looking forward to splurging on their mothers this Mother’s Day,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Retailers will be ready with a wide range of gift options and a variety of promotions for their customers.”

Eighty-five percent of consumers will be giving a Mother’s Day gift in 2017, and their average budget will be $186.39, up 8.2% compared to the $172.22 recorded in 2016. Exactly 20.7% reported that they will be spending more this Mother’s Day, while 7.9% said they’d be spending less and 56.4% expected to spend the same amount as last year.

The survey, which asked 7,406 consumers about their Mother’s Day plans, was conducted April 4-11 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.

Credit: Image via Bigstockphoto.com. Charts via National Retail Federation.

Piano Tuner to Share Six-Figure Reward for Finding 913 Gold Coins Hidden Under the Keys of a Donated Upright

A British piano tuner is about to share a six-figure reward for discovering a stash of 913 gold coins hidden beneath the keyboard of an upright that had been donated to a community college. The gold sovereigns, which date from 1847 to 1915, have a face value of £773, which is equivalent to £500,000 ($640,000) today.

Martin Backhouse, 61, had been hired by Bishop’s Castle Community College in Shropshire, England, to work on a Broadwood & Sons piano that had been donated to the school by the Hemmings family. The piano was made in 1906 and the Hemmings family had owned the instrument for 33 years.

“I had only taken out the first octave when I realized something was going on,” Backhouse told the Daily Mail.

The piano tuner discovered seven cloth-bound packets and a leather drawstring purse under the keyboard. He was shocked to learn that each was filled with gold sovereigns and half sovereigns, the majority dating to the reign of Queen Victoria. Experts at The British Museum believe the coins — now called the Piano Hoard — were tucked away in the late 1920s, perhaps in reaction to the Great Depression or the events leading up to World War II. Cardboard lining from one of the packages suggests the hoard was hidden between 1926 and 1946. The identity of the original owner is still a mystery.

As is required by the British Treasure Act of 1996, Backhouse and college officials reported their find to the local coroner. The sovereigns were declared to be treasure at an inquest at Shrewsbury Coroner’s Court, and this meant that Backhouse and the college could be compensated for the value of the coins as determined by the Treasure Valuation Committee. The Treasure Act allows for a reward to be shared among the finder and the owner of the land on which the treasure was found. The Treasure Act is administered by staff at The British Museum.

Normally, treasure is considered to be more than 300 years old and made of gold or silver. Although the Piano Hoard was not nearly that old, the Treasure Act also states that items of any age made substantially of gold or silver, whose original owners or heirs are unknown, and which are deemed to have been deliberately hidden with the intention of recovery, are also “treasure.”

“The individual coins are not particularly rare being the button coinage of the British Empire,” noted a spokesperson for The British Museum. “However, it is the largest hoard of its type known and the find is of significant importance from a historical perspective. It is a fascinating story. We are not aware of any other coin hoards being secreted in pianos.”

While Backhouse and the college are likely to share hundreds of thousands of dollars, the piano’s most recent owners — the Hemmings family — are entitled to nothing under British law.

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/The British Museum; Piano Hoard image © Trustees of The British Museum.

Legendary Stotesbury Emerald Headlines a Cavalcade of Magnificent Jewels at Sotheby’s Tomorrow

The 34.40-carat Stotesbury Emerald, a six-sided gem with a famed history that spans more than 100 years, headlines a cavalcade of magnificent jewels at Sotheby’s New York on Tuesday.

The Colombian-mined emerald was previously in the collections of three high-profile American jewelry collectors: Evalyn Walsh McLean (1908), Eva Stotesbury (1926) and May Bonfils Stanton (1947).

The Stotesbury Emerald was last seen in the public in 1971. At the time, it had been set into a platinum ring by Harry Winston and was being offered for sale at auction. Tomorrow, Sotheby’s will be showing the ring in that same Harry Winston setting — a unique design that buttresses the emerald with two rows of pear-shaped diamonds. The estimated selling price is $800,000 to $1.2 million.

The lot with the highest estimated selling price is a pair of platinum earrings featuring D-flawless square emerald-cut diamonds, each weighing slightly more than 20 carats. Estimated to sell for $4.5 million to $5.5 million, the earrings are topped by two smaller square emerald-cut diamonds weighing 1.01 carats each.

Another notable piece is a platinum ring set with an extraordinarily rare 1.64-carat fancy vivid green diamond flanked by two cut-cornered triangle-shaped white diamonds. While fancy-color diamonds are seen in a wide range of hues, red and green are the rarest of all. Green diamonds get their color when radiation displaces carbon atoms from their normal positions in the crystal structure. This can happen naturally when diamond deposits lie near radioactive rocks, according to the Gemological Institute of America. Sotheby’s expects the ring to sell in the range of $1 million to $1.5 million.

A sapphire-and-diamond brooch dating back to the 1930s is expected to get a lot of attention at Sotheby’s sale due to its unique pedigree. The Art Deco piece by Cartier was formerly in the collection of Mrs. John E. Rovensky, who had been previously married to railroad tycoon Morton F. Plant.

Plant famously traded his corner lot on Fifth Avenue for two strands of Cartier natural pearls in 1917. The pearls were said to be valued at $1 million. That location at Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street remains the New York headquarters for the jeweler. The brooch, which is set with two emerald-cut sapphires weighing approximately 10.40 and 7.75 carats, has a floral motif interpreted in round, baguette, old European-cut, pear and marquise-shaped diamonds weighing approximately 13.95 carats. The piece is expected to fetch between $200,000 and $300,000.

Credits: Images courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Music Friday: In His Signature ‘Stable Song,’ Gregory Alan Isakov ‘Turns These Diamonds Into Coal’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. In his signature “Stable Song,” singer-songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov uses gemstone and precious-metal metaphors to describe an artist who struggles to find his muse and ultimately returns to his roots.

He sings, “Ring like crazy, ring like hell / Turn me back into that wild haired gale / Ring like silver, ring like gold / Turn these diamonds straight back into coal / Turn these diamonds straight back into coal.”

In the YouTube clip below, Isakov introduces the song by telling a live audience that “The Stable Song” is a poem “about everything.”

In our interpretation, the artist seems to be unable to deal with the stress that comes with success. He’s under tremendous pressure to compose something perfect (diamond) and, instead, decides to return home where he can get back to basics (coal) and recapture the energy of his youth.

Written by Isakov, “The Stable Song” was the second track of his 2007 debut album, That Sea, The Gambler. The song also returned as the fourth track of the artist’s 2016 collaboration with the Colorado Symphony.

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, raised in Philadelphia and now calling Colorado home, the 37-year-old Isakov has been traveling most of his life. His songs tell the story of his time on the road and his constant yearning for a sense of place. Music critics have described him as “strong, subtle, a lyrical genius.”

Isakov is currently on a 16-city tour with stops in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Oregon, British Columbia, Alberta, Montana and Wyoming.

Please check out the video of his 2012 live performance at The Bing Lounge in Portland, Ore. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“The Stable Song”
Written and performed by Gregory Alan Isakov.

Remember when our songs were just like prayer
Like gospel hymns that you called in the air
Come down, come down sweet reverence
Unto my simple house and ring… and ring

Ring like silver, ring like gold
Ring out those ghosts on the Ohio
Ring like clear day wedding bells
Were we the belly of the beast, or the sword that fell?
We’ll never tell

Come to me, clear and cold
On some sea
Watch the world spinning waves
Like that machine

Now I’ve been crazy, couldn’t you tell?
I threw stones at the stars, but the whole sky fell
Now I’m covered up in straw, belly up on the table
Well I drank and sang, and I passed in the stable

That tall grass grows high and brown
Well I dragged you straight in the muddy ground
And you sent me back to where I roam
Well I cursed and I cried, but now I know
Now I know

And I ran back to that hollow again
The moon was just a sliver back then
And I ached for my heart like some tin man
When it came, oh it beat and it boiled and it rang
Oh, it’s ringing

Ring like crazy, ring like hell
Turn me back into that wild haired gale
Ring like silver, ring like gold
Turn these diamonds straight back into coal
Turn these diamonds straight back into coal

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

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/KINK Radio.