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December 15th, 2017
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. In the 1983 holiday release, "2000 Miles," Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders paints a picture of a diamond-embellished winter scene while lamenting the fact that she's far away from the one she loves at Christmastime.


She sings, "In these frozen and silent nights / Sometimes in a dream... you appear / Outside under the purple sky / Diamonds in the snow... sparkle / Our hearts were singing / It felt like Christmastime.

While many people see "2000 Miles" as a sweet Christmas song about a young woman yearning to be closer to her lover during the holidays, the tune is actually Hynde's tribute to guitarist and founding band member James Honeyman-Scott, who died of a drug overdose in 1982 at the age of 25.

"2000 Miles" was released as a single in December of 1983 and appeared as the 10th track of The Pretenders' Learning to Crawl album. The single was popular in the UK, where it peaked at #15 on the UK Singles Chart. Learning to Crawl earned the #5 spot on the U.S. Billboard 200 albums chart.

In 2014, while finishing up her album Stockholm, Hynde collaborated with Swede Bjorn Yttling on an updated version of "2000 Miles. It was released as a Christmas single in the UK that December.

She told Classic Rock Magazine, "I think it captures the mood of the season perfectly as it gets cold in Sweden, reindeer wander the streets freely and the snow was coming down! Happy Christmas!"

Coldplay (2003), The Mighty Mighty Bosstones (2010), Natalie Imbruglia (2010), Mark Kozelek (2014), Kylie Minogue (2015) and Tom Chaplic (2017) have all covered "2000 Miles" for their holiday albums.

Born in Akron, Ohio, in 1951, Hynde formed The Pretenders in Hereford, England, in 1978. The band has performed on and off for the past 39 years, with Hynde embarking on a solo career in 2014. Reunited once again, the band has been touring since 2016. The Pretenders were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.

Please check out the video of Hynde and The Pretenders performing "2000 Miles" live in Sydney, Australia, in 2010. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"2000 Miles"
Written by Christine Hynde. Performed by The Pretenders.

He's gone 2000 miles
It's very far
The snow is falling down
Gets colder day by day
I miss you

The children will sing
He'll be back at Christmastime

In these frozen and silent nights
Sometimes in a dream... you appear
Outside under the purple sky
Diamonds in the snow... sparkle

Our hearts were singing
It felt like Christmastime

2000 miles
Is very far through the snow
I'll think of you
Wherever you go

He's gone 2000 miles
It's very far
The snow is falling down
Gets colder day by day
I miss you

Our hearts were singing
It felt like Christmastime
I can hear people singing
It must be Christmastime


Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.
December 14th, 2017
Tanzanite, one of December's three official birthstones, is celebrating its golden anniversary. Fifty years ago, Maasai tribesmen discovered dazzling bluish-violet gems in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Originally thought to be sapphires, the mesmerizing stones were identified by the Gemological Institute of America as a never-before-seen variation of zoisite.



The unusual mineral caught the attention of Tiffany & Co., which had visions of making it the focus of a major advertising campaign. An initial challenge was that the name “zoisite” sounded very much like “suicide,” so the marketing team at Tiffany came up with “tanzanite,” a name that would honor the gem's country of origin. To this day, a 2km by 4km area in Tanzania is the only place on the earth where this type of zoisite can be found.

Tiffany’s marketing campaign succeeded in making tanzanite a household word and earned it the title of “Gem of the 20th Century.”

In 2002, the American Gem Trade Association added tanzanite to the jewelry industry’s official birthstone list. Tanzanite joined turquoise and zircon as the official birthstones for December. It was the first time the list had been amended since 1912.

Tanzanite’s exquisite color is an intoxicating mix of blue and purple, unlike any other gemstone. Tanzanite comes in a wide range of hues, from light blues or lilacs, to deep indigos and violets. The most valuable tanzanite gemstones display a deep sapphire blue color with highlights of intense violet. The Smithsonian’s website explains that tanzanite exhibits the optical phenomenon of pleochroism, appearing intense blue, violet or red, depending on the direction through which the crystal is viewed.

Due to its single source and limited supply, promoters of tanzanite say that the gemstone is one thousand times rarer than a diamond.



The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., houses the "Petersen Tanzanite Brooch," a piece that was designed by Harry Winston in 1991 and donated to the museum by Donald E. and Jo A. Petersen in 2002. The triangular-cut matched tanzanites weigh approximately 30 carats and are adorned by 24 carats of marquise, pear and baguette-cut diamonds in a floral motif. The tanzanite "flowers" may be detached and worn as earrings.

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

Credits: Tanzanite crystals by Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Petersen Tanzanite Brooch photo by Penland/Smithsonian.
December 13th, 2017
A blackened wedding ring recovered from the ashes of their lost home symbolizes a new beginning for Southern California wildfire survivors Julie and Don Myers.



The Ventura County couple was forced to flee their home when the fast-moving, wind-whipped fires tore through their neighborhood.

When fire officials allowed them to return to their property, Julie and Don found their home and all their possessions reduced to a smoldering heap of ash and rubble.

The couple did maintain one glimmer of hope, however. Somewhere in the rubble was a fire safe that contained a few important possessions, including Julie's original wedding ring. Don had given her a new ring to commemorate their 25th anniversary and the original ring had been put away for safekeeping.



After sifting through the ashes with the assistance of local firefighters, Don was able to find the safe. Everything in the safe was "unrecognizable," according to Julie, except for her slightly charred ring.

"It was truly amazing that he found it, I thought we had lost it forever," Julie told GoodHousekeeping.com.



In a spontaneous expression of his love, Don got down on one knee and used the original ring to propose to Julie all over again.

The ring represents a fresh start for the couple — a symbol of their resilience and a brighter future.

How the ring survived in the fire safe has a lot to do with the temperature of the wildfire blaze and the performance of the safe. Although the blaze was likely as hot as 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit, an average fire safe can protect its contents up to a temperature of 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit.

Even without the safe, the gold and diamond ring may have survived because the melting point of the precious metal is about 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit and the ignition temperature of a diamond is about 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit. (Yes, diamonds can burn.)

The Thomas Fire that destroyed the Myers' home is one of six fires that have consumed 1,000 structures in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. The footprint of the fires is larger than the cities of New York and Boston combined, reported CNN.

Credits: Images by Julie Myers.
December 12th, 2017
On Saturday, visitors to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles were the first to view an elite collection of ultra-rare green diamonds. Called "Green Diamonds: Natural Radiance," the exhibit includes 60 gems on loan from New York-based Optimum Diamonds, a company that has amassed the largest collection of natural green diamonds in the world.



The gems displayed among eight cases in the museum's Gem and Mineral Hall cover a wide range of green varieties, from yellow-greens on one end of the green spectrum to blue-greens on the other. Highlighting the exhibition is “The Mantis,” the largest vivid yellowish-green diamond ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America at 4.17 carats. A second headliner is “The Shangri-La,” a vivid green diamond weighing 3.88 carats.



“Like the works of the great masters, the supply of these diamonds is finite, and the investors, collectors and jewelers that pursue them do so with incredible intensity,” said David Shara, owner of Optimum Diamonds. “I’m very pleased to be able to share my passion for these rare gems and the result of nearly 15 years of chasing these stones. They are something that most people rarely have the opportunity to see.”

When it comes to fancy-colored diamonds, the two rarest colors are red and green. Green diamonds are so rare that only a handful are introduced to the market each year, with the very finest ones fetching upwards of $3 million per carat.



Even though the exhibit has a green theme, Optimum will be presenting two very rare diamonds obtained at the 2017 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender. The Argyle Everglow™ is a 2.11-carat radiant-cut fancy red diamond and the Argyle Liberté™ is a 0.91-carat radiant-cut Fancy Deep Gray-Violet diamond.

Museum visitors will not only get to see some of the rarest diamonds on the planet, they will also learn how the amazing color of green diamonds is attributed to the natural gamma radiation present during their formation deep within the earth. The shade of green varies depending on the amount of radiation exposure, and appears more yellow or blue if the crystal has other impurities, noted the NHMLA.

The exhibition will run through April 1, 2018. For more information about the green diamond exhibition, check out the Natural History Museum's website at this link.

Credits: Green diamonds copyright © Digital Jewelry Photography. Red and violet diamonds copyright © 2017 Argyle Diamonds Limited.
December 11th, 2017
"Ultra Violet" is Pantone's 2018 Color of the Year and we're excited by the possibilities. While Pantone says the vibrant color communicates originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking, we see the Color Institute's pick as a great reason to shine the spotlight on some of our favorite gemstones, including amethyst, tanzanite, iolite, spinel and violet sapphire.



We're expecting jewelry designers to pepper their 2018 lines with ultraviolet accessories to complement the arrival of ultraviolet fashions.



A fabulous representation of "Ultra Violet" is seen in the "Tiffany Amethyst Necklace," a piece that June Rosner and Russell Bilgore donated to the Smithsonian in 2007. The 56-carat square cushion-cut amethyst is set in an 18-karat yellow gold necklace designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, circa 1915.

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

Pantone calls Ultra Violet a dramatically provocative and thoughtful shade of purple, suggesting the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead and the discoveries beyond where we are now. Pantone says Ultra Violet is nuanced and full of emotion. It's a color that symbolizes experimentation and non-conformity, spurring individuals to imagine their unique mark on the world and push boundaries through creative outlets.

Among the musical icons who used shades of ultraviolet to express their individuality were Prince, David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix, noted Pantone.

Ultra Violet also has a calmer, spiritual side. For example, purple-tone lighting has been used in meditation spaces because the color is said to have the ability to inspire connections. Ultraviolet is also said to offer a higher ground to those seeking refuge from today's overstimulated world.

“The Pantone Color of the Year has come to mean so much more than ‘what’s trending’ in the world of design," said Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute. "It’s truly a reflection of what’s needed in our world today.”

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

A year ago, Pantone's Color of the Year was "Greenery," a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring.

In 2016, Pantone blended two shades — Rose Quartz and Serenity Blue — to create its 2016 Color of the Year. Together, the mineral pink and tranquil blue combined to communicate a sense of wellness and peacefulness, with a dash of gender equality.



Here are the most recent Pantone Colors of the Year…

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

Credits: Color of the Year images courtesy of Pantone. Tiffany Amethyst Necklace image by Chip Clark/Smithsonian.
December 8th, 2017
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you festive songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Ashanti tells jolly old St. Nick what she wants for Christmas in her 2003 holiday tune, "Hey Santa."



In the first verse, she asks for "something sweet," such as chocolate Kisses or candy canes. Then, Ashanti steps up her game in the second verse, as her request for "something new" includes a diamond bracelet or diamond ring.

(In a nod to the 1953 classic, "Santa Baby," Ashanti echos Eartha Kitt's call for a baby blue convertible.)

She sings, "Hey Santa, can you bring me something new / (Something new, something, something new)? / Like a diamond bracelet or a diamond ring / How about a shiny new, baby blue, convertible? / Hey Santa, can you bring me everything?"

Written by Ashanti and Irving Lorenzo, "Hey Santa" was released as the third track from Ashanti's Christmas. The album, which included an equal mix of original songs and covers of holiday classics, peaked at #43 on the Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Ashanti performed "Hey Santa" during the tree-lighting festivities at New York City's Rockefeller Center.

Born Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas in 1980, the singer-songwriter, record producer, dancer and actress is named after the 17th century Ashanti Empire, in what is now modern-day Ghana. In that kingdom, women held positions of power and influence, and Ashanti's mother believed the name might help inspire her daughter to achieve greatness.

That strategy seems to have worked to perfection, as Ashanti joined a gospel choir at the age of six and scored her first recording contract at the age of 14. The Glen Cove, N.Y., native won a Grammy Award in 2003 and went on to become the first female artist to occupy the top two positions on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart simultaneously with "Always on Time" and "What's Luv?" She has also nabbed eight Billboard Music Awards and two American Music Awards.

Please check out the audio track of Ashanti singing "Hey Santa." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Hey Santa"
Written by Ashanti Douglas and Irving Lorenzo. Performed by Ashanti.

Hey Santa, can you bring me something good
(Something good, something good)?
Hey Santa, can you bring me something sweet
(Something sweet, something, something sweet)?
Like chocolate kisses or candy canes.
Gumdrops or butterscotch, fruity flavor, chewy rings.

Hey Santa, can you bring me something nice
(Something nice, something nice)?
Hey Santa, can you bring me something new
(Something new, something, something new)?
Like a diamond bracelet or a diamond ring.
How about a shiny new, baby blue, convertible?
Hey Santa, can you bring me everything?

Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh?

Hey Santa, can I sing this song to you
(Sing to you, sing to you)?
Hey Santa, can you make my wish come true
(Make it true, make it, make it true)?
Can you fill my stocking with lots of treats?
Boxes with red and green, underneath the Christmas tree?
Hey Santa, can you bring me everything?


Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com.
December 7th, 2017
Beatles superfan Saya and boyfriend Martin saw their dreams come true Saturday night when music legend Paul McCartney invited them onstage in the Land Down Under for a very special marriage proposal.



More than 24,000 fans at the sold-out "nib Stadium" in Perth, Australia, shared the love as McCartney interrupted his encore to focus on the young couple and the romantic task at hand.

McCartney had spotted the lovebirds in the crowd earlier in his performance. Martin had been holding up a large placard that read, "Can I Propose To My Love On Stage?" and Saya held a brightly colored sign that read, "I'll Give Him the Answer to Love Eternally If I Can Meet You, Paul."

McCartney was happy to oblige and invited the couple onstage. With all the action captured in realtime on the stadium's giant video screens, McCartney chatted briefly with Saya, learning that she was originally from Japan, but now living in Perth. She told McCartney that she liked the city because of the friendly people and the nice weather.

Then McCartney brought Martin into the spotlight, joking, "Are you going to do this thing? You got a ring?"

Once McCartney had confirmed that Martin had the ring box in hand, he instructed the young suitor to "tell her on your knee."



"I know now that I have the world's biggest Beatles fan and it would do me an honor, Saya, if you would take my hand in marriage. Will you marry me?" he said.

"Yes," Saya answered, and the crowd screamed their approval.



McCartney called the couple over for a three-way hug and then signed Saya's jacket.

At 75 years old and still going strong, McCartney proved once again that "all you need is love."

The complete scene was captured by a concertgoer and posted to YouTube. The proposal takes place during the first three minutes of the video.


Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com.
December 6th, 2017
A 5.69-carat fancy vivid blue diamond fetched $15.1 million at Sotheby's New York yesterday, making it the top lot of the day and advancing the narrative that aficionados are eager to pay top dollar for blue diamonds that carry the ultra-rare "fancy vivid" classification.



The hammer price, which is equivalent to $2.66 million per carat, came in slightly above the pre-sale high estimate of $15 million.

The emerald-cut gem, which is set in a platinum ring and flanked by two baguette-shaped diamonds, has a VVS1 clarity grade. The auction house pointed out that the stone — if recut — has the potential to be internally flawless.

"Fancy Vivid" is the ultimate color classification for blue diamonds. Those that display lower levels of color saturation may be rated "Fancy Intense," "Fancy," "Fancy Light" or "Light," according to the Gemological Institute of America. Blue diamonds owe their color to the presence of boron in the chemical makeup of the gem.

Back in May of this year, the “Oppenheimer Blue” — a 14.62-carat fancy vivid blue diamond — fetched an astounding $57.5 million at Christie’s Geneva. The Oppenheimer Blue’s per-carat price of $3.93 million came up just shy of the record of $4.03 million held by the 12.03-carat Blue Moon of Josephine, another magnificent blue diamond that sold for $48.5 million at Sotheby’s Geneva in November of 2015.



A second highlight of yesterday's Sotheby's auction was a sapphire-and-diamond bracelet by Van Cleef & Arpels. The piece carried a pre-sale estimate of $1 million to $1.5 million, but eventually yielded $3.16 million — more than double the high estimate. Designed circa 1935, the bracelet has five sugarloaf Ceylon cabochon sapphires weighing approximately 193.73 carats.

Among the disappointing lots were two that failed to meet Sotheby's reserve price and remained unsold. One was a 110.92-carat round diamond, which had been touted as the largest round diamond to be offered at auction. The diamond boasted a VS1 clarity, but an L color (faint brown). Another high-profile, unsold lot was a 5.24-carat, fancy intense orangy-pink diamond that was expected to sell in the range of $1.8 million to $2.2 million.

Credits: Images courtesy of Sotheby’s.
December 5th, 2017
Who knew gold was a flavor? On Friday, Hershey's Gold — a candy bar crafted from caramelized creme and packed with peanuts and pretzels — started hitting shelves at supermarkets and sweet shops from coast to coast.



"Gold" is only the fourth flavor profile in the 123-year history of the iconic brand, which first delighted consumers with its milk chocolate confection in 1900. Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate was introduced in 1939 and Cookies ‘n Creme came along in 1995.

What's particularly interesting about Hershey's first new flavor in 22 years is that it contains no chocolate at all.

“The buttery, sweet taste of Hershey’s Gold bars provides an entirely new way for consumers to enjoy our brand,” said Melinda Lewis, senior director and general manager at The Hershey Company. “We use a proprietary cooking process to transform the white creme into a golden bar by caramelizing the creme, which helps maintain a sweet, creamy taste. The launch of Hershey’s Gold will introduce Americans to a new flavor and a new experience unlike any others before.”



The introduction of Hershey's gold-themed bar is perfectly timed to align with the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Hershey's is an official sponsor of the United States Olympic Committee and has lined up high-profile brand ambassadors, including speedskater Apolo Ohno, gymnast Simone Biles and Paralympian Rico Roman.

Describing the bar's taste on NBC's Today show, Ohno stated, "It's perfect. We all we want to be able to get a bite of gold."



Whenever Team USA wins a gold medal, the brand will be posting a coupon on social media that could result in a free Hershey's Gold bar.

The Hershey Company noted that the development of the new bar was driven by the changing tastes of a demanding consumer base. Trends show the rising popularity of crunchy multi-textured candy. With Hershey’s Gold bars, the company recognized that consumers favor a complex combination of ingredients, which led to the unique variation of sweet and salty, crunchy and creamy.

The new flavor is available in both standard and king-sized bars.

Credits: Images courtesy of Hershey's.
December 4th, 2017
A juicy hamburger served at the Gnarly Gar floating restaurant on Lake Travis in Texas nearly cost Hannah Austin her engagement ring last Sunday. The Colorado Springs native was enjoying a casual lunch with her family at the open-air eatery near Austin when she took off her "priceless" family heirloom and rested it on the table so it wouldn't get messy.



A moment later the unthinkable happened. Her husband, Chris, accidentally knocked the ring off the table and it disappeared through a gap in the decking.

When staffers of the Gnarly Gar removed a few planks to get a better view of where the ring may have landed, they realized that it narrowly missed the dock below and, instead, plopped directly into the lake.

“I was terrified and felt stupid for taking my ring off over a lake,” Hannah Austin told the Austin American-Statesman.

She added that the ring was "priceless" and "irreplaceable" because it was custom made with diamonds from her mother’s wedding ring and her great-grandmother’s engagement ring.

Restaurant staffers recommended that the Austins enlist the help of Robert Weiss, owner of Lake Travis Scuba. Just this year, Weiss and his team have recovered more than $100,000 worth of lost items, including pricey cell phones, sunglasses and jewelry.

When Weiss arrived on the scene, his first task was to drop a weighted line through the decking and into the lake. Because the ring is a solid, relatively heavy object, it should have descended straight to the bottom. Weiss dove into the lake and followed the line about 60 feet before it got so dark that he needed to use his search light. At this point, his visibility was only about five feet.

Weiss touched bottom at exactly 74 feet and started a search in ever-widening circles around the downline marker.



“On my third pass I saw something sitting in the mud and I reached in, and there it was,” he told the Austin American-Statesman.

It took him only 10 minutes to find the ring.



The astounding video, below, shows underwater footage of Weiss' impressive discovery, as well as his slow ascent to the surface, where he reunites the ring with an overwhelmed Hannah Austin.



"Hannah was overjoyed to be reunited with her wedding ring," Weiss said. "She fell to her knees crying."

“I thought there was a 90 percent chance it had got eaten by a fish or just drifted away,” said Hannah Austin.

“It was kind of like this miracle moment,” added Chris Austin.



The Austins of Colorado now have a wild story to tell about their trip to Lake Travis, which happens to be 22 miles from the capital city of Austin.

Hannah Austin also told local NBC-affiliate KXAN that she will never remove her engagement ring again, no matter how messy her meal gets.


Credits: Images courtesy of Robert Weiss, Lake Travis Scuba.