February 22nd, 2017
Sourced in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, four museum-quality star rubies weighing a total of 342 carats will hit the auction block at Guernsey’s in New York City this June. The Mountain Star Ruby Collection will be sold together as one lot and could yield an eight-figure windfall for the family of Jarvis Wayne Messer, the humble fishing guide/rockhound who discovered the gems in 1990.


The largest of the four gems, the 139.43-carat Appalachian Star Ruby, has been compared favorably to the Smithsonian's Rosser Reeves Star Ruby, which is one carat lighter. Guernsey’s President Arlan Ettinger told National Jeweler that Messer's find may be superior to the Rosser Reeves because it has six prominent needles, whereas the Rosser Reeves displays only five prominent needles and one broken needle.



In 1992, the Appalachian Star Ruby made its international debut at London's Natural History Museum, where it drew 150,000 visitors in just a few weeks, according to Guernsey's.

When gem enthusiasts discuss the finest star rubies, they generally invoke the famed gem fields of Burma and Sri Lanka. That Messer sourced his star rubies in North Carolina makes their story that much more remarkable.

Guernsey's described Messer as a man of modest means, who made his living as a fishing guide. He also was a self-described rock hound, constantly searching for rare and unusual stones in his native Appalachia.

"I started off as a pebble pup at 6 and worked myself up to a rock hound at 13," Messer told the Associated Press in 1994. "What began as a hobby led me to one of the finest jewels in the world."


In 1990, while searching an ancient stream bed in a still-secret location, Messer made an unprecedented discovery of four star rubies, including the aforementioned Appalachian Star Ruby and the Smoky Mountain Two Star Ruby, which displays distinctive stars on both the front and back of the stone.


"When I found the [Appalachian Star Ruby] I did not realize how important a stone it would become," he said in the 1994 interview. "I knew it was a ruby and a beautiful specimen. But we did not know what we had until we started to cut the stone. I realized what we had found when I made my first cut. The star just popped right out. Right from the beginning I could see it portrayed attributes that no other stone has."


Messer passed away in 2008 at the age of 52, and his collection was returned to his family where it has quietly resided ever since.

Guernsey’s Ettinger told National Jeweler that it is important to keep the four stones together.

“It was suggested to us that part of the extraordinary nature of them is where they were found and their individual brilliance, but also the fact that they are four matching stones and it would be crazy, almost criminal, to destroy the collection and the set,” he said.

The collection will be offered without a minimum reserve, and the auction house did not provide pre-sale estimates.

“These are wonderful and important stones,” Ettinger told National Jeweler. “The world will determine what they’re worth.”

Guernsey's hinted that the collection could yield eight figures, using the Smithsonian's Rosser Reeves as a point of comparison.

The Rosser Reeves was appraised at $25 million in the early 1980s and about 20 years later at $40 million, according to Guernsey's.

Guernsey's has yet to pick a date in June for the sale that will take place live at the Americas Society on Park Avenue in Manhattan. Online bidding will be held concurrently at

Credits: Mountain Star Ruby Collection images courtesy of Guernsey’s. Rosser Reeves photo by Chip Clark/Smithsonian.
February 21st, 2017
The average bridal couple in the U.S. spent $6,163 on the engagement ring in 2016 — an increase of 5% compared to 2015, according to The Knot’s 10th annual Real Weddings Study. The engagement ring remains the second-highest-priced item on the list of wedding expenses. The reception venue easily claimed the top spot at $16,107, which was nearly 9% pricier than in 2015.

The Knot, which surveyed nearly 13,000 U.S. brides and grooms married in 2016, reported that the average total cost of a wedding (excluding the honeymoon) has reached an all-time high at $35,329. That's $2,688, or 8.2%, more than the total tallied in 2015.

Overall, The Knot concluded that couples are spending more per guest — even though the average number of guests are down — to create an unforgettable experience, which often includes a photo booth, musical performances, games and even aerialists.

“Wedding spend continues to rise, but at the same time, guest lists are shrinking as couples spend more per guest to create an unforgettable experience for those closest to them,” said Kellie Gould, editor in chief of The Knot. “Couples are also using their wedding day to make their first big statement as a couple. From invitations to the reception band, couples are spending more to put their personal stamp on every detail.”


Other key findings from the survey include the following:
• Most Expensive Place to Get Married: Manhattan, $78,464
• Least Expensive Place to Get Married: Arkansas, $19,522
• Average Spent on a Wedding Dress: $1,564
• Average Marrying Age: Bride, 29 ; Groom, 31
• Average Number of Guests: 141
• Average Number of Bridesmaids: 5
• Average Number of Groomsmen: 5
• Most Popular Month to Get Engaged: December (15%)
• Average Length of Engagement: 15 months
• Most Popular Month to Get Married: October (16%) and September (16%)
• Popular Wedding Colors: Dark blue (29%), gold (28%) and light pink (28%)
• Percentage of Destination Weddings: 20%

The average number of wedding guests in 2016 is down to 141, compared to 149 in 2009, while the cost per wedding guest is up to $245, compared to $194 in 2009, according to the survey. Forty-one percent of respondents said they ordered "custom guest entertainment," such as photo booths (78%), games (18%), musical performances (12%) and fireworks (8%). The portion of couples demanding custom guest entertainment has skyrocketed from 11% to 41% since 2009. The Knot advises: Don’t be surprised to see aerialists, acrobats, live painters or gospel choirs this year, as 2017 wedding trends reach new heights in guest entertainment.

On average, the bride’s parents contribute 44% of the overall wedding budget, the bride and groom contribute 42% and the groom’s parents contribute 13%. (Others account for the remaining 2%.) In 2016, 10% of couples paid for the wedding entirely by themselves, and 8% of couples didn’t contribute any finances to the wedding expenses. Exactly 47% (up from 42% in 2011) admitted going over budget.


These are the average costs of key bridal services: reception band ($4,156), photographer ($2,783), florist/décor ($2,534), ceremony site ($2,197), wedding/event planner ($2,037), videographer ($1,995), wedding dress ($1,564), rehearsal dinner ($1,378), reception DJ ($1,245), transportation ($859), ceremony musicians ($755), wedding cake ($582), invitations ($462), groom’s attire and accessories ($280), officiant ($278), favors ($268), wedding day hair stylist ($119) and wedding day make-up ($100). Catering averaged $71 per person.

The 2016 Real Weddings Study captured responses from nearly 13,000 U.S. brides and grooms married between January 1 and December 31, 2016.

Credits: Image by Infographics courtesy of The Knot.
February 20th, 2017
Upstate New York resident Erin Tobin just had her best day ever. She achieved instant fame when she banked in a half-court shot at a Siena College men's basketball game on Thursday night, not only earning a $500 Dunkin' Donuts gift card, but also a surprise marriage proposal from her boyfriend disguised as a larger-than-life coffee cup named "Cuppy."


Actually, the half-court shot promo was staged by Tobin's boyfriend, Steve Duckett. A Siena College season ticket holder, the 31-year-old romantic schemed with the college's PR department to surprise Tobin with an on-court marriage proposal.

Duckett would pose as the Dunkin' Donut mascot while Tobin, a 2008 Siena graduate, would get an opportunity to hit a half-court shot. After the shot, Duckett would strip off the mascot costume and propose to her in front of 5,500 fans. All this would have to happen quickly, because the events were set to take place during a timeout, not during halftime.

On Thursday, Duckett and the PR staff put their plan in motion. The only thing they didn't expect was that Tobin — a former high school basketball player — would make the shot.

The Albany Times Union reported that in the days leading up to the halt-court attempt, Tobin was allowed to visit the Times Union Center to take a few practice shots. Apparently, one barely reached the end line and another was wide by a mile. Tobin's brother joked that he pay her $50 if she could even hit the rim during the game.


In a 32-second YouTube video that has been viewed more than 250,000 times — including high-profile appearances on Good Morning America and ESPN's SportsCenter — Tobin is wearing a golden Siena Saints T-shirt as she stands at center court, takes one stride and launches a right-handed fling. The ball takes a high arc, banks off the backboard and then right through the net. The school's announcer can be heard exclaiming, "It is up. It is good, good."

Duckett told the Times Union that the visibility within the mascot outfit was very limited. When Tobin, 30, hit the shot, she the threw up her arms and danced out of his view.

"I couldn't see her!" Duckett said. "She makes the shot, and then for me, she disappears. I can't see out the sides of Cuppie. I didn't know where she went."


The Siena College PR staff was able to guide the excited girlfriend back to center court, where Duckett — still disguised as Cuppie — was already down on one knee. A moment later, the costume was lifted to reveal Duckett with a ring box in his hand.


He quickly popped the question (this is all taking place during a timeout of a live game) and Tobin said "Yes."


"I was jumping up and down after hitting the shot since my brother said he'd give me $50 if I even hit the rim," Tobin told the Albany Times Union. "And then I turn around expecting a gift card from Dunkin’ Donuts and there he was on his knees and I didn't have any words."


The announcer summed it up for the fans: "The cup of coffee was so excited, he wants to marry that girl that just knocked down a half-court shot."

It was a great night overall for the couple and their favorite team, as Siena College defeated Manhattan 94-71.

Check out the awesome video, below.

Credits: Screen captures via
February 17th, 2017
Welcome to Music Friday when we celebrate classic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today the late, great Jim Croce sings about a giant man with an affection for diamond jewelry in his 1973 chart topper, "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown."


In this song inspired by a friend he met while working as a lineman for the U.S. National Guard, Croce tells the fateful story of one of the toughest guys from the South Side of Chicago. Leroy Brown stood 6'4" and had a reputation of being "meaner than a junkyard dog." He was also a flashy dresser, loved his jewelry and was quite the ladies' man.

Croce sings, "Now Leroy, he a gambler / And he like his fancy clothes / And he like to wave his diamond rings / In front of everybody's nose."

At the end of the song, Leroy approaches Doris at a local bar and learns a tough "lesson about messin' with the wife of a jealous man."

Written by Croce, "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" spent two weeks at the top of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in July of 1973. The song also netted Croce two Grammy Award nominations in the categories of Best Pop Male Vocalist and Record of the Year.

Born in South Philadelphia in 1943, Croce expressed a love for music at a young age. He played his first song, "Lady of Spain," on the accordion at the age of 5. While attending Villanova University, he performed with two singing groups, the Villanova Singers and the Villanova Spires. Croce graduated with a degree in psychology in 1965.

He joined the U.S. National Guard in 1966, and while stationed in Fort Jackson, S.C., he befriended the larger-than-life Chicagoan who would inspire his 1973 hit.

Croce struggled early in his music career, appearing at large coffee houses, on college campuses and at folk festivals. In 1972, he scored a three-record deal with ABC Records.

Later that year, he made his national debut on American Bandstand, which sparked appearances on The Tonight Show, The Dick Cavett Show, The Helen Reddy Show and The Midnight Special.

Sadly, at the peak of his fame, in September 1973, Croce perished in a plane crash near Natchitoches, La. He was 30 years old.

In a letter to his wife, Ingrid, that arrived after his death, Croce told her that he was homesick and couldn't bear the pain of being away from her and their infant son. He was planning to stop touring and to concentrate, instead, on writing short stories. It was never to be.

Please check out the video of Croce's live performance of "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Bad, Bad Leroy Brown"
Written and performed by Jim Croce.

Well the South side of Chicago
Is the baddest part of town
And if you go down there
You better just beware
Of a man named Leroy Brown

Now Leroy, more than trouble
You see he stand 'bout six foot four
All the downtown ladies call him "Treetop Lover"
All the men just call him "Sir"

And it's bad, bad Leroy Brown
The baddest man in the whole damned town
Badder than old King Kong
And meaner than a junkyard dog

Now Leroy, he a gambler
And he like his fancy clothes
And he like to wave his diamond rings
In front of everybody's nose
He got a custom Continental
He got an Eldorado too
He got a 32 gun in his pocket for fun
He got a razor in his shoe

And it's bad, bad Leroy Brown
The baddest man in the whole damned town
Badder than old King Kong
And meaner than a junkyard dog

Now Friday 'bout a week ago
Leroy shootin' dice
And at the edge of the bar
Sat a girl named Doris
And oo that girl looked nice
Well he cast his eyes upon her
And the trouble soon began
'Cause Leroy Brown learned a lesson
'Bout messin' with the wife of a jealous man

And it's bad, bad Leroy Brown
The baddest man in the whole damned town
Badder than old King Kong
And meaner than a junkyard dog

Well the two men took to fighting
And when they pulled them off the floor
Leroy looked like a jigsaw puzzle
With a couple of pieces gone

Credit: Screen capture via
February 16th, 2017
Lucapa Diamond Company's $3.5 million investment in a state-of-the-art XRT large-diamond recovery system is already paying big dividends at the Lulo Diamond Project in Angola. The mine just yielded a 227-carat, Type IIa, D-color gem that's expected to sell for an amount far more than the cost of the technology upgrade.


The extraordinarily pure diamond is the second-largest ever recovered at Lulo. Exactly one year ago, a 404-carat, thumb-shaped diamond that should have been pulverized by an ore crushing device was salvaged, thanks to a stroke of good luck.

At the time, the older diamond sorting equipment was not calibrated to capture a diamond that large. By some fluke, the odd-shaped rough diamond oriented itself vertically, instead of horizontally, while it crawled across the sorting screen and was able to fall through. Had it not found its way through the screen, it would have been crushed. Lucapa has since sold the 404-carat rough diamond — the largest ever discovered in Angola — for $16 million.

Recognizing the upside potential of being able to capture much larger diamonds, Lucapa installed advanced X-ray transmission technology (XRT) and larger screens (55mm) so diamonds up to 1,100 carats can be identified and cherry picked. The company also noted that the XRT technology is more efficient at recovering low-luminescing, ultra-pure Type IIa diamonds.

The Australia-based mining company has recovered seven diamonds of 100 carats or more from the Lulo mining area, which comprises 1,100 square miles along the length of the 31-mile Cacuilo River. Lucapa and its partners have explored only 20% of the Lulo concession, so far.

“It is fitting that within a week of the anniversary of recovering Angola’s biggest diamond, we have now recovered Angola’s second-biggest diamond on record, our 227-carat Lulo gem," commented Lucapa Managing Director Stephen Wetherall. "Both were recovered during the Angolan wet season.”

Lucapa, which holds a 40% stake in the Lulo mine, has two partners in the project — Empresa Nacional de Diamantes EP and Rosas & Petales.

Photo courtesy of Lucapa Diamond Company.
February 15th, 2017
Domino's in the UK just celebrated Valentine's Day by giving away a one-of-kind, 22-karat pizza-slice engagement ring topped with diamond pepperoni.


The fast-food chain delivered nearly a half-million pizzas throughout the UK yesterday, and the company was certain that a significant portion of those dining in would be proposing to their significant others on the most romantic day of the year. Domino's own study revealed that 72% of Brits were planning to eat in on Valentine's Day, with 6% of men planning to pop the question during the meal.


The unusual ring was introduced on Domino's Facebook page under the title "DOUGH-MANTIC ANNOUNCEMENT."

The company posted a series of pizza-ring photos along with this teaser: "Fancy popping the BIG question to your pizza lover while you #ValenDineIn this year? Comment below for your chance to win our one-off, unique pizza engagement ring. Probably the most taste-ful way to seal the deal, ever!"

Contestants were required to comment on the post between noon and 10 p.m. on February 13. The company promised to pick a winner and deliver the engagement ring on Valentine's Day.


The yellow gold ring is designed to look like a lifelike slice of pizza topped with four round diamonds that are made to appear as if they are pepperoni slices.

Domino's did not reveal the individual diamond sizes nor their quality characteristics. Still, this item was a must-have for the 500-plus participants who left clever comments on the Domino's Facebook post. Here's a sampling of what they wrote...

Penned Kate Smith, "My fella has just proposed to me, but this would be a true symbol of our love. Our first Valentine's Day was actually spent with a Domino's pizza and watching football on TV nearly five years ago now. This would be the topping on the pizza if I had this ring."

Added Shannon Wilmot, "I just showed my husband this ring and his response was "WHY ARE WE MARRIED ALREADY!?" When I then explained [the contest is] open to everyone, he told me I had to enter. I think he'd probably end up wearing it more than me or we could share if it fit both of us."

Founded in 1960, Domino's Pizza has 11,000 stores in 75 countries. The company employs 260,000 and generates annual sales of $2.2 billion. That's a lot of pizza.

Credits: Photos courtesy of Domino's.
February 14th, 2017
On February 27, cadets from West Point's Class of 2018 will honor the families of U.S. Military Academy graduates dating back to 1924 as part of a symbolic and solemn ceremony called the "Ring Melt."


During the event at Pease & Curren's headquarters in Warwick, R.I., the donated class rings of 41 West Point graduates — many of whom have passed away — will be dropped in a crucible along with a "legacy sample" of gold from the 410 previously donated rings.


The resulting ingot will be merged with new gold to create the class rings for the current cadets, symbolically and physically reaffirming the bond between the West Point Class of 2018 and the Long Gray Line of West Point graduates. The U.S. Military Academy was founded in 1802, and the legacy sample contains precious metal from rings spanning the classes of 1896 to 1997.


This is the 17th consecutive year that cadets have been invited to the Pease & Curren refinery to witness the Ring Melt.


Many of the families of the donors will be on hand to present the rings for melting. Before the rings are melted, each one will be displayed along with a bio of the donor. Then, one by one, the names of all 41 donors will be read aloud and a member of the donor's family will take the ring and place it in the crucible. The rings are then melted in a furnace and the liquid metal is poured into the form, creating an ingot.


The cleaned and cooled ingot is then passed around from cadet to cadet, further demonstrating continuity of the current class with the ones that came before it.

Pease & Curren reports that one of the rings donated this year belonged to Lt. Gen. James M. Gavin, Class of 1929. Nicknamed “Jumpin’ Jim,” Gavin was the third Commanding General of the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II and was the only American general officer to make four combat jumps in the war.

Another ring in the melt was donated by Thomas H. Paprocki, USMA Class of 1954. Paprocki’s granddaughter, Cadet Amy Johnston, is a member of the Class of 2018.

The Ring Melt was conceived by retired Lt. Col. Ron Turner, Class of 1958. He proposed that donations of class rings would be collected from West Point alumni and their descendants.

“We all were proud to receive our ring, the symbol of membership in the Long Gray Line," Turner wrote. "Perhaps we would have been even prouder had our new class rings included traces of the gold from rings of past graduates — some of whom served many years before we, our parents, or even our grandparents were born.”

West Point is credited with originating the concept of the class ring in 1835, as West Point became the first American university to honor its senior class with a treasured keepsake of gold.

Credits: Cadets class ring photo via Flickr by John Pellino/USMA DPTMS VI Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0; Screen captures via
February 13th, 2017
Moon Express, a private company charged with unlocking the immense potential of the moon's valuable resources, has gotten approval from the U.S. government to begin lunar exploration before the end of this year. The company will be looking to mine gold, platinum, moon rocks and other materials with an estimated potential value of $16 quadrillion. (One thousand trillion is a quadrillion.)


Before long, it's conceivable that the center stone of your engagement ring could be a moon rock instead of a diamond and that the precious metal used for that ring may have originated on the lunar surface.


Moon Express co-founder and chairman Naveen Jain sees it this way: "Today, people look at diamonds as this rare thing on Earth," he said. "Imagine telling someone you love her by giving her the moon."

Jain expressed two major goals of moon exploration. On one hand, he recognizes the huge commercial upside, and on the other, he sees the settlement of the Moon as a way to ensure the continuation of the human race in the event of a cataclysmic disaster on Earth.


"In the immediate future, we envision bringing precious resources, metals and Moon rocks back to Earth," the billionaire entrepreneur noted. "The sky is not the limit for Moon Express — it is the launchpad. This breakthrough ruling is another giant leap for humanity. Space travel is our only path forward to ensure our survival and create a limitless future for our children."

Far from being made from green cheese, the moon is rich in gold, cobalt, iron, palladium, platinum, tungsten and Helium-3, a gas that could be used in fusion reactors, providing nuclear power without radioactive waste.

"We shouldn't only be mining the Earth," he said. "We should be thinking of the moon as our eighth continent."

Getting the green light to explore the moon was no easy task for the Moon Express team. It required in-depth consultations with the FAA, the White House, the State Department, NASA and other federal agencies. The group also had to demonstrate to NASA experts at Kennedy Space Center in Florida how its robotic spacecraft would operate on the moon's surface. Moon Express is the only private firm to have been granted permission to leave the Earth and land on the moon.

Moon Express, which is based in Cape Canaveral, Fla., is competing for Google's Lunar XPRIZE, a $20 million award for the first team to put a robotic spacecraft on the moon and deliver data, images and video from the landing site and from 500 meters away. The Moon Express lander is named MX-1 and is about the size of a washing machine.

Within 10 years, Moon Express expects to offer a whole new category of tourism — holidays to the moon. Jain also noted that the moon could act as a fueling station, enabling easier travel for exploration to and from other planets.

"We went to the moon 50 years ago, yet today we have more computing power with our iPhones than the computers that sent men into space," Jain told "That type of exponential technological growth is allowing things to happen that [were] never possible before."

Credits: Renderings courtesy of Moon Express; Screen capture via
February 10th, 2017
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Oscar-winning Irish singer-songwriter-actor-musician Glen Hansard wonders if a simple wedding band has the power to save his marriage in the 2015 folk song "Wedding Ring."


Written by Hansard, "Wedding Ring" is about a man who loves his wife but has doubts about her fidelity. He describes her as a "wildcat on the prowl" and fears he may be losing her.

In the catchy refrain, Hansard asks, "Wedding ring, wedding ring / Little band of gold / Will you be strong enough to keep her / Keep her love from going cold?"

"Wedding Ring" appears as the second track of his second studio album Didn't He Ramble. The 2015 LP scored a nomination for Best Folk Album at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards. It also performed well on the charts, rising to #5 on the U.S. Billboard Folk Albums chart and #16 on the U.S. Billboard Top Alternative Albums chart.

Born in Dublin in 1970, Hansard dropped out of school as a 13-year-old and eked out a living as a street performer. At the age of 20, he formed a band called The Frames and later became one half of the folk rock duo The Swell Season.

He showed off is acting chops in The Commitments (1991) and starred in the musical Once (2007). In that role, he performed the lead ballad "Falling Slowly" with co-star Markéta Irglová. The tune netted him an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

According to, Hansard is an artist who is not afraid to lay bare his soul for his audience to see. Hansard claims his music inspiration comes from three world-class artists.

Says Hansard, "In my house, when I was a kid, there was the holy trinity, which was Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison and Bob Dylan — with Bob sitting center."

Please check the video of Hansard's live performance of "Wedding Ring." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Wedding Ring"
Written and performed by Glen Hansard.

Where you running to now, baby
Running all the time
Where you running to now, darlin'
Running to all the time
Well, I sure hope it's to your sister
And not that mean brother of mine

I've been trying to reach you, darlin'
I try, I try in vain
I've been trying to reach you, darlin'
Though I try, I try in vain
I always end up losing you
And walking home in the rain

Wedding ring, wedding ring
Little band of gold
Wedding ring, wedding ring
Little band of gold
Will you be strong enough to keep her
Keep her love from going cold?

There's a wildcat in you, woman
A wildcat on the prowl
There's a wildcat in you, woman
A wildcat on the prowl
Every time I put my arms around you
I can hear that wildcat growl

I remember when I met you
There was something about the moon
I remember the night I met you
There was something about the moon
I don't know if it was waxing or waning
But I knew that you'd be leaving soon

Wedding ring, wedding ring
Little band of gold
Wedding ring, wedding ring
Little band of gold
Will you be strong enough to keep her
To keep her love from getting old?

Wedding ring, wedding ring
Little band of gold
Wedding ring, wedding ring
Little band of gold
Will you be strong enough to keep her
To keep her love from going cold?

Will you be strong enough to keep her
To keep her love from getting old
Will you be strong enough to keep her
To keep her love from going cold?

Credit: Image capture via
February 9th, 2017
Jewelry is expected to be the strongest Valentine's Day gift-giving category in 2017, with romantic consumers set to spend $4.3 billion on necklaces, rings, earrings, pendants and other jewels for their loved ones.

The survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics shows the jewelry category taking the top slot from 2016's frontrunner "an evening out," which is expected to underperform this year at $3.8 billion. One year ago, "an evening out" generated $4.49 billion, narrowly beating out the jewelry category at $4.45 billion.

Jewelry will be the gift of choice for 19% of shoppers, while "an evening out" will be preferred by 37%. Valentine consumers are also expected to spend $2 billion on flowers (to be gifted by 35%), $1.9 billion on clothing (19%), $1.7 billion on candy (50%), $1.4 billion on gift cards/gift certificates (16%) and $1 billion on greeting cards (47%).

The jewelry figure of $4.3 billion reflected a slight softening in consumer's overall enthusiasm for the day dedicated to Cupid. Overall spending for Valentine's Day is expected to be $18.2 billion, down from a survey high of $19.7 billion a year ago.

“Valentine’s Day continues to be a popular gift-giving occasion even if consumers are being more frugal this year,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “This is one day of the year when millions find a way to show their loved ones they care regardless of their budget.”

The average consumer is expected to spend $136.57 on Valentine's Day gifts this year, compared to the $146.84 recorded in 2016. Gift-givers will spend an average of $85.21 on their significant other/spouse, $26.59 on other family members, such as children or parents, $6.56 on children’s classmates/teachers, $6.51 on friends, $4.27 on co-workers, and $4.44 on pets.

Despite the huge numbers expected at retail, statistical evidence reveals that the appeal of Valentine’s Day has been slowly fading over the past decade. Exactly 54% of respondents said they will celebrate on February 14, down from 63.4% in 2007.

The NRF’s 2017 Valentine’s Day spending survey was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to Valentine’s Day. The survey was conducted for NRF by Prosper Insights & Analytics. The poll of 7,591 consumers was conducted from January 4-11, 2017, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.