Articles in January 2015

January 2nd, 2015
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you chart-topping songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we welcome the New Year with Meghan Trainor performing her smash hit, “Lips Are Movin,” a song about a confident, young woman taking a stand against her lying, cheating, sweet-talking boyfriend.


Incorporating elements of doo-wop, hip-hop and bubblegum pop, “Lips Are Movin” features a key jewelry reference in the catchy sing-a-long chorus: “You can buy me diamond earrings and deny-ny-ny, ny-ny-ny, deny-ny / But I smell her on your collar so goodbye-bye-bye, bye-bye-bye.”

As Trainor explained to MTV News, “It's like, 'Here's me… trying to get through this feeling of, ugh he's cheating on me again.' Like, 'I know you're lying, but that's OK because I'm gonna find the next guy. I'm good.'"

Currently positioned at #4 on the U.S. Billboard Top 100 and having charted in 13 countries, “Lips Are Movin” is the second single from Trainor’s soon-to-be-released debut studio album, Title. Trainor and her writing partner, Kevin Kadish, reportedly penned the song in eight minutes.


Trainor broke new ground with the “Lips are Movin” official video. She enlisted the talent of the tech company HP and social influencers from the worlds of Vine, Instagram and YouTube to give her performance a unique flavor, from the choreography, set design and styling to the hair and makeup and behind-the-scenes photography. Bri Emery, Marcus Johns and Cody Johns, Robby Ayala, Les Twins, Sara Escudero, Kristin Ess, Mei Kawajiri and Barkley the Pom are just some of the online stars contributing to the video and its viral following.

Fans responded in droves, as “Lips Are Movin” has captured more than 69 million views on YouTube.

The 21-year-old Massachusetts native started singing at age six and wrote her first song at age 11. She attended Berklee College of Music and released two acoustic albums in 2011.

Her big break came in February 2014, when she performed “All About the Bass” on ukulele for L.A. Reid, the chairman and CEO of Epic Records. That resulted in a recording contract and a monumental rise to stardom. “All About the Bass” topped the charts in 58 countries and resulted in a Grammy nomination for “Song of the Year.” Grammy winners will be announced on February 8 during the 57th Annual Grammy Awards.

Please check out Trainor’s official video of “Lips Are Movin.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.

"Lips Are Moving"
Written by Kevin Kadish and Meghan Trainor. Performed by Meghan Trainor.

If your lips are moving, if your lips are moving
If your lips are moving, then you're lyin', lyin', lyin', baby
If your lips are moving, if your lips are moving
If your lips are moving, I said you're lyin', lyin', lyin', baby

Boy, look at me in my face
Tell me that you're not just about this bass
You really think I could be replaced
Nah, I come from outer space
And I'm a classy girl, I'mma hold it up
You're full of something but it ain't love
And what we got, straight overdue
Go find somebody new

You can buy me diamond earrings and deny-ny-ny, ny-ny-ny, deny-ny
But I smell her on your collar so goodbye-bye-bye, bye-bye-bye

I know you lie
'Cause your lips are moving
Tell me do you think I'm dumb?
I might be young, but I ain't stupid
Talking around in circles with your tongue
I gave you bass, you gave me sweet talk
Saying how I'm your number one
But I know you lie
'Cause your lips are moving
Baby, don't you know I'm done

If your lips are moving, if your lips are moving
If your lips are moving, then you're lyin', lyin', lyin', baby
If your lips are moving, if your lips are moving
If your lips are moving, then you're lyin', lyin', lyin', baby

Hey, baby, don't you bring them tears
'Cause it's too late, too late, baby
You only love me when you're here
You're so two-faced, two-faced, babe

You can buy me diamond earrings and deny-ny-ny, ny-ny-ny, deny-ny
But I smell her on your collar so goodbye-bye-bye, bye-bye-bye

I know you lie
'Cause your lips are moving
Tell me do you think I'm dumb?
I might be young, but I ain't stupid
Talking around in circles with your tongue
I gave you bass, you gave me sweet talk
Saying how I'm your number one
But I know you lie
'Cause your lips are moving
Baby, don't you know I'm done

Come on, say!

If your lips are moving, if your lips are moving
If your lips are moving, then you're lyin', lyin', lyin', baby
If your lips are moving (Alright now)
If your lips are moving (I wanna hear ya'll singing with me)
If your lips are moving
Then you're lyin', lyin', lyin', baby (Here we go)

I know you lie
'Cause your lips are moving
Tell me do you think I'm dumb?
I might be young, but I ain't stupid
Talking around in circles with your tongue
I gave you bass, you gave me sweet talk
Saying how I'm your number one
But I know you lie
'Cause your lips are moving
Baby, don't you know I'm done

Images: Screen captures via YouTube.
January 5th, 2015
Strolling hand-in-hand on scenic Crane Beach in Ipswich, Mass., Andrew and Sophie noticed a curious drone flying along the shore and heading in their direction. Hanging off the drone was a black bag containing a very special cargo, which Sophie would soon learn was a diamond engagement ring.


Andrew had conspired with a New England company specializing in aerial drone videography to assist him with an unforgettable, high-flying, surprise marriage proposal.

Not only was the drone making the ring delivery in a most unusual way, but also was capturing the momentous event in crystal clear 1080p high definition — from an amazing vantage point.


The company, Above Summit of Somerville, Mass., posted a video that combines footage generated by the drone-mounted cameras and others on the ground. The result is a masterful presentation that, in the arena of awesome marriage proposals, raises the bar for creativity and sheer beauty.

In the video, we see the drone slowly descending on the couple, and then hovering just above Andrew, who reaches up to remove the bag.


Now, with his grandmother’s heirloom engagement ring in hand, he proposes to Sophie, who says, “Yes.” The couple kisses and embraces.


Then, much like the final scene of a Hollywood romance film, the drone’s camera locks onto the couple as it takes off into the distance, creating an epic end shot.


Drones, which are sometimes called unmanned aerial vehicles, typically have multiple rotors and can fly safely within 10 feet of the subject matter, according to a Q&A published by Above Summit.


The units are flown by remote control and often have two operators — one flying the drone and the other controlling the camera. They are allowed to fly in “unregulated” airspace, generally staying under 400 feet in altitude and away from airports and other aerial activity.

Check out the beautifully shot video of the Ipswich marriage proposal below…

Images: Screen captures via YouTube
January 6th, 2015
Using incredible nanotechnology, an Israeli company successfully printed the entire New Testament — all 27 books comprising 180,000 words — on a single silicon chip that’s smaller than your pinky nail.


The chip is easily mounted in a pendant, so devotees can wear the sacred scriptures close to their hearts. They also can be embedded in watches, charms and nearly any other kind of jewelry.

Developed in cooperation with Tel Aviv University’s Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, each silicon chip measures 4.76mm square (about .2 inches) and is expected to be validated by Guinness World Records as the world’s smallest Bible.


According to a spokesman for Jerusalem Nano Bible, each letter measures 600 nano meters, which is so small that it requires an electron microscope in order to see it clearly. The company and its breakthrough product were profiled last week on CBS Evening News.


The nano Bibles are not produced individually. They are mass produced on eight-inch round wafers, each of which contains 1,210 complete copies of the New Testament.

“Our aim is to be able to mass produce it and cater to really every [budget]” said David Almog, head of Jerusalem Nano Bible’s marketing and sales department.


The biblical text of the current nano bible represents the Ancient Greek version of the New Testament. In the photo above, a representative size of a complete nano bible (black square) is compared to the Greek text of a traditionally printed version.

Jerusalem Nano Bible is planning to produce a nano version of the Old Testament (600,000+ words) in the near future.

Screen captures via YouTube/CBS Evening News
January 7th, 2015
The Germantown (Wis.) Police Department closed the file on the “Christmas Ring Mystery” after the owner came forward Monday to claim the diamond engagement ring that was found dangling from a branch of the department’s lobby Christmas tree.


For the five weeks leading up to Christmas, community members — both young and old alike — were invited via Facebook to decorate the department’s tree. Children who put ornaments on the tree received a stuffed animal in return.

But on Saturday, while helpers were taking down the tree, one “ornament” stood out from the rest. It was a diamond engagement ring that was left anonymously — and hardly by accident.


“It wasn’t like it fell off of something, you know. It was intentionally placed on that tree,” Police Chief Peter Hoell told Fox6 News.

Hoell quickly turned to the department’s Facebook page to put out the word about the ring and to determine if the owner had second thoughts about parting with such a valuable and sentimental keepsake.

The response from Facebook users was overwhelming, with inquiries coming in from as far as Dallas. Hoell noted that he received a lot of emails and phone calls from people praying and hoping this was their lost or stolen wedding ring. Sadly, it wasn’t.

Then, on Monday night, Hoell announced via Facebook that the ring’s owner had finally come forward.


“Tonight we have identified the owner who intentionally placed the ring on our Christmas tree,” Hoell wrote. “This was a highly emotional domestic situation and the owner now would like the ring back.”

Hoell had suspected that the ring may have landed on the tree as a result of an impulsive, emotional act.

“This was the primary reason we posted this story on Facebook, thinking this may be the case,” he wrote. “I do not want to give any additional details so as not to embarrass the ring owner and/or the family.”

Hoell reported that the three-day Christmas Ring Mystery left him with a greater understanding of the jewelry business. “I now know more about weddings rings and diamond cuts than I ever thought I would,” he wrote.

Images: Screen captures via
January 8th, 2015
Entombed with the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt and often mistaken for ruby, garnets have been coveted by kings and commoners alike for thousands of years.


The fabulous and versatile garnet comes in a wide array of natural colors, including pink, purple, orange, yellow, violet, green, black, brown — but is best known for the ones of deep-red hue.

The official birthstone for January, garnet gets its name from the Latin word “granatum,” meaning pomegranate seed.

Beautifully representing garnets in the National Gem Collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is the Victorian-era hairpin (above) that was donated in 1937 by Ales and Maria Herdlicka. The piece is set with Bohemian pyrope garnets that were sourced from an area that is now the Czech Republic.

The hairpin is typical of Bohemian garnet jewelry, which was known for its close-set rose-cut stones. The gems were faceted on the top and flat on the bottom.

Pyrope garnets are the most common form of garnet and are typically a rich, deep-red color. According to the Smithsonian, pyrope garnets were often confused with ruby, due to their fiery appearance. In fact, the Greek word “pyropos” means “firelike.”

Until the late 19th century, Bohemia was the main source of pyrope garnets. Although the original source has been depleted, garnets are still mined in Europe, North America, Africa, Asia and Australia.

In addition to the popular pyrope garnets, other varieties commonly seen in jewelry include almandine, andradite, demantoid, grossularite, hessonite, rhodolite, tsavorite, spessartine and uvarovite. Garnets achieve their range of color from trace amounts of iron, manganese, calcium or aluminium their chemical makeup.

Photo by Chip Clark/Smithsonian National Gem Collection
January 9th, 2015
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fabulous songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we present the legendary Stevie Wonder performing “Golden Lady” from his classic 1973 album, Innervisions.


In a 2013 article celebrating the album’s 40th anniversary, Billboard described “Golden Lady” as a “song of all joy.” Stevie sweetly describes his golden lady as “a dream come true.” He sings, “And golden lady, golden lady / I'd like to go there / Golden lady, golden lady / I'd like to go there / Take me right away.”

Innervisions was a remarkable and monumental achievement on so many levels. Not only did the then-23-year-old Wonder write all the songs on the album, he’s also credited with singing the lead and background vocals, as well as playing nearly all the instruments on six of the album’s nine tracks. These include the piano, bass, synthesizer, harmonica, congas, drums and handclaps — a true one-man band.

The album went on to win a Grammy for “Album of the Year” and is considered by critics and fans alike to be one of Wonder’s finest works. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked Innervisions at #23 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Blind since shortly after his birth in 1950, Wonder was a musical prodigy and was signed to a recording contract as an 11-year-old by Motown CEO Berry Gordy. During his youth he performed as Little Stevie Wonder.

Over a career that has spanned six decades, Wonder has recorded more than 30 U.S. top 10 hits and earned 25 Grammy Awards, the most ever awarded to a male solo artist. He has sold more than 100 million albums and singles worldwide and was ranked #5 on Billboard’s list of the “Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists.”

We know you will enjoy the video of Stevie Wonder singing “Golden Lady.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

"Golden Lady"
Written and performed by Stevie Wonder.

Looking in your eyes
Kind of heaven eyes
Closing both my eyes
Waiting for surprise

To see the heaven in your eyes is not so far
'Cause I'm not afraid to try and go it
To know the love and the beauty never known before
I'll leave it up to you to show it

And golden lady, golden lady
I'd like to go there
Golden lady, golden lady
I'd like to go there
Take me right away

Looking at your hands
Hands can understand
Waiting for the chance
Just to hold your hand

A touch of rain and sunshine made the flower grow
Into a lovely smile that's blooming
And it's so clear to me that you're a dream come true
There's no way that I'll be losing

And golden lady, golden lady
I'd like to go there
Golden lady, golden lady
I'd like to go there
Take me right away

A touch of rain and sunshine made the flower grow
Into a lovely smile that's blooming
And it's so clear to me that you're my dream come true
There is no way that I'll be losing

And golden lady, golden lady
I'd like to go there
Golden lady, golden lady
I'd like to go there

And golden lady, golden lady
I'd like to go there
Golden lady, golden lady
I'd like to go there

And golden lady, golden lady
I'd like to go there
Golden lady, golden lady
I'd like to go there

Image: Screen capture via YouTube
January 12th, 2015
A mischievous Labrador puppy underwent emergency surgery Wednesday to remove $23,000 worth of bridal jewelry from her stomach.


Tulsa, Okla., resident Stephanie Lamb told FOX23 News that she had placed her diamond engagement ring and plain wedding band on her kitchen table for a moment. But when she looked to retrieve them, they were gone.


Lamb has two dogs, Tahoe and Sierra, but she knew exactly who the culprit was.


"I knew that it was Sierra because she's just a little bit of a troublemaker. She's kind of the instigator," Lamb said.


X-rays clearly revealed that Sierra had, indeed, gobbled them down. The two rings were in her stomach and threatened to damage her intestines, according to Dr. Rodney Robards of Southern Hills Veterinary Hospital. He determined that waiting for the rings to pass naturally was too risky.

Instead, the doctor called for emergency surgery to remove the jewelry.


After the successful operation, the doctor joked that Sierra is more like a goat than a dog. In addition to extracting a diamond engagement ring and slightly squashed wedding band, he discovered a number of rocks, bones and sticks.


"She eats more than just rings, I'm afraid," the doctor told FOX23 News.

Sierra will need only a few days to recover," noted Dr. Robards. With her stomach cleared of all the foreign objects, she will be as good as new.

It seems as if dogs have an unusual fondness for eating fine jewelry.

In July of 2014, we wrote about Tucker, a 10-year-old Rottweiler mix from Stevens Point, Wis., who coughed up his owner’s long-lost engagement ring after gobbling a frozen Popsicle® treat, stick and all. Apparently, the Popsicle® stick dislodged the ring that had been stuck in his stomach for more than half his life.
January 13th, 2015
If you’re fascinated by the mosaic-like stone inlay work of Native American jewelry you must visit the exhibition called “Glittering World” at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in New York City.


Running through January 10, 2016, the showcase of nearly 400 items tells the story of Navajo jewelry through the lens of the gifted Yazzie family of Gallup, N.M. Many of the items are so labor intensive that brothers Lee and Raymond must limit their output to no more than 10 pieces per year. It’s not unusual for a single bracelet to contain 500 meticulously inlaid stones.


Many of the extraordinary items on display are crafted in turquoise, which is a sacred stone of the Navajo people. Turquoise reflects the color of the water and the sky, and is an essential part of Navajo prayer offerings. Its use in Native American culture dates back to about 300 A.D. and the gem continues to carry both a spiritual and economic value.


The Yazzies take traditional themes and materials and then add a contemporary aesthetic. Lee is a master of metal and stone, while Raymond specializes in brilliantly composed mosaic inlays. Sister Mary Marie is known for her fine beadwork and stonework.


The Yazzie children — 12 in all — grew up in an eight-foot hogan, which is a traditional hut made of logs and earth. Their father was a medicine man and both parents made jewelry, according to the Albuquerque Journal.


The contemporary Yazzie designs — which include rings, bracelets, necklaces, belt buckles and more — are juxtaposed against a background of historical pieces from the museum’s collections. Together, they tell a story of art, commerce and cultural expression. Recurring themes include sun, wind, corn and mountains.


Guest curator Lois Sherr Dublin told the Albuquerque Journal, “I like the pieces that in miniature capture heroic and epic ideas. It’s the echo of the landscape and the sculptured content of the stone. It’s the play of the blue and the red. It’s evocative, but at the same time they can stand alone. It gives that extra layer of meaning.”

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian is located at the George Gustav Heye Center in the U.S. Custom House near Battery Park. The attraction is in Lower Manhattan, a short distance from the Freedom Tower and the Statue of Liberty. Admission is free. For more information, call 212-514-3700 or visit

Screen grabs via
January 14th, 2015
Believe it or not, silver, the lustrous fashion-forward precious metal that is a staple of so many jewelry wardrobes, could soon save you $200 per year on your heating bill.

Winter Baby

A team of researchers at Stanford University report that clothing coated with silver nanowire has the ability to reflect back nearly 90 percent of the wearer’s body heat.

Because the silver-enhanced super-insulated clothing works so efficiently, the researchers argue that there may be a time in the near future when “personal thermal management” will make far more sense than wasting energy heating large open spaces, such as homes or office buildings. The concept is simple: Heat the person, not the space.


A paper published in the journal Nano Letters explained that the coating is made of easily bendable silver nanowires that have the ability to trap heat inside a person’s clothing. Indoor heating accounts for 47 percent of total global energy usage, so widespread use of silver-enhanced clothing could deliver enormous benefits.


If you’re thinking that silver-infused clothing would be uncomfortable, heavy or extraordinarily expensive, think again. The researchers reported that the nanowire-coated cloth is breathable, light and relatively cheap. Less than $1 worth of silver — only a gram — is all that is needed to cover the clothing for a whole body, lead researcher Yi Cui told Popular Science.

People who wear silver nanowire-coated clothing will be able to turn their thermostats down while still being toasty warm. Cui said that the average person would save $200 a year on heating costs and conserve the energy equivalent of powering 1,000 light bulbs for 10 hours.

Silver nanowire cloth still needs to undergo safety testing. If it proves viable, the product could hit the market in a few years.

Baby photo:; Nano fabric photo: Courtesy of Yi Cui/Stanford University; Silver photo: Public domain.
January 15th, 2015
The flashy, feisty and amazingly talented Christiano Ronaldo captured his third Ballon d’Or trophy on Monday, affirming his status, once again, as “the best soccer player in the world.”


But, in addition to taking home the gilded trophy (yes, it is covered in real gold), the high-scoring striker for Portugal and Real Madrid was also honored by Nike with custom-made diamond-encrusted boots.


Primarily gold in color and accented by golden cleats, the “Mercurial CR7 Rare Gold” soccer boots are highlighted by a CR7 symbol that’s completely covered with hand-applied micro-diamonds.

Ronaldo, who accepted Monday's trophy while sporting diamond stud earrings, will be wearing the blingy, one-of-a-kind footwear today during Real Madrid’s match against Atletico Madrid in the second leg of Spain’s Copa del Rey tournament. Real Madrid is the defending champ.


Nike described the symbolism behind the gold color and use of micro-diamonds in the design.

“Gold was selected as the main color on the boot because gold is earned. Ronaldo earned his golden award with tremendous play for club and country,” Nike noted in a statement. “As a tribute to Ronaldo’s work ethic, Nike added a special touch to the Mercurial CR7 Rare Gold. For the first time in Nike history, micro-diamonds have been applied by hand to the CR7 logo of the boot.”


“The micro-diamonds are remnants from larger stones that are painstakingly perfected by craftsmen,” Nike added. “As the diamonds are refined and the details sharpened, tiny pieces are cut away, leaving micro-diamonds behind as evidence of work in progress. The commitment to keep chipping away at something already impressive reminded Nike’s design team of Ronaldo’s work ethic. While many see Ronaldo as the best in the world, he sees room for improvement.”

A native of Portugal, the 29-year-old Ronaldo scored an incredible 52 goals in 43 matches in 2014 — a year in which he won the Champions League, Copa del Rey, European Super Cup, Club World Cup and Ballon d'Or.

Boot images courtesy of Nike
January 16th, 2015
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fantastic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, we introduce you to the powerful voice of Swedish singer/songwriter Jill Johnson and her 2000 anthem, “Mother’s Jewel,” which delivers a vital message about having compassion for those less fortunate.


Originally released as the first track from her Daughter of Ever album, “Mother’s Jewel” explains how some people are given a lot of choices in life, and others get none. But despite one’s circumstances, everybody should be treated with empathy and kindness.

She sings, “She's somebody's daughter / A mother's jewel / He is somebody's son / Baby just like you / And behind those eyes / There's an innocent child / A daughter of Eve / A son of the sweetest kind.”

Born in the remote town of Ängelholm, Sweden, Johnson's music roots go back to her pre-teen years. She joined a country and western band at age 12 and toured professionally throughout Scandinavia. She was signed to a record deal in the mid-1990s and earned critical acclaim for her dazzling performances in a Swedish music competition, Melodifestivalen, in 1998, 2003 and 2005.

Today, she’s considered to be one of the most successful music artists in Sweden, with several gold and platinum records. Reviewers have compared her delivery and vocal range to that of Celine Dion and other world-class performers. In 2013, she became the host of her own TV show called Jill’s Veranda, which explores the roots of country music in Nashville, Tenn. The show has a national following in her native Sweden.

We know that once you hear the first few bars of Johnson’s captivating live performance of “Mother’s Jewel,” you will be wondering why she isn’t a household name in North America. See the video at the end of this post and check out the lyrics below if you’d like to sing along.

"Mother's Jewel"
Written by Lotta Ahlin. Performed by Jill Johnson.

Some of us were given a number of
Some of us were given none
Life can be so easy though
Life can be hard for some
Let tears fall
Let hearts ache
Let love flow
Just don't turn away

She's somebody's daughter
A mother's jewel
He is somebody's son
Baby just like you
And behind those eyes
There's an innocent child
A daughter of Eve
A son of the sweetest kind

This is our world, give our home sweet home
A little of that human touch
This is a place where we talk about love
Well talking will not do that much

Let tears fall
Let hearts ache
Let love flow
Just don't turn away

She's somebody's daughter
A mother's jewel
He is somebody's son
Baby just like you
And behind those eyes
There's an innocent child
A daughter of Eve
A son of the sweetest kind

Home sweet home, home sweet home
Home, home sweet home

She's somebody's daughter
A mother's jewel...

Image: WikiCommons/Bengt Nyman
January 19th, 2015
Dozens of Russians waded into the pounding surf of the numbing Baltic Sea to stake their claims on valuable amber that had been ripped from the seabed and washed onto the beach after a violent winter storm.


The amber found on the shoreline at Pionersky in the Russian-controlled territory of Kaliningrad on January 7 was free for the taking — as long as the would-be treasure hunters were willing to risk the harsh conditions.


Despite air temperatures that were reported to be minus 6°C (21°F), dozens of hardy individuals from the region turned up in their wet suits, nets in hand. Many waded into the frigid and turbulent surf in the hopes of snagging precious chunks the amber, which actually floats in saltwater.


Other prospectors stayed on the shore, picking through mounds of seaweed and scouring the beach.

Individual amber specimens can range in value from $20 to $40,000 or more, according to the International Colored Gemstone Association.


Local resident Olga Bazhenova told a Russian TV crew that the gem seekers were picking up small- and medium-sized pieces of amber from seaweed and sand from dawn till dusk.

“It was a free for all,” she said. “Some people made themselves a lot of money to start the New Year.”

Bazhenova also witnessed elderly residents getting in on the action.

“They forgot their ailments and age, and scratched the frozen soil with sticks like babies in a sand[box],” she said.


Ninety percent of the world’s amber — a beautiful yellowish-orange gemstone that is formed from fossilized tree resin — comes from Kaliningrad, a Russian territory that is sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania. Due to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Kaliningrad Oblast became an exclave, geographically separated from the rest of Russia.


Amber is a major source of income for the region, according to the Daily Mail, with the local Kaliningrad Amber Factory extracting 250 tons of it in 2014.

Amber, which was popularized by the 1993 thriller Jurassic Park, has been used in jewelry for thousands of years. Amber ornaments dating back to 1600BC have been found in the Mycenaean tombs of Ancient Greece.


Because amber is the product of fossilized pine tree resin, some specimens contain the trapped remains of tiny bugs and other creatures, seemingly frozen in time. Some scientists believe that it may be possible to extract the DNA from these creatures.

Screen captures via Youtube. Baltic amber necklace with insect inclusions via WikiCommons. Photo of unpolished amber stones via WikiCommons. Ant inside Baltic amber via WikiCommons © Anders L. Damgaard.
January 20th, 2015
Even the Football Gods must have been shaking their heads in disbelief.

If you watched Sunday’s NFC Championship game between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers, you witnessed one of the most improbable comebacks in pro football history.


And if you watched the pre-game show on FOX, you were shocked the learn of the NFL’s threat to eject Seattle’s star running back Marshawn Lynch from the contest for his intention to wear 24-karat clad cleats.

First, a quick review of the game. After being badly outplayed, and down 19-7 with less than three minutes to go, the Seahawks mounted a relentless comeback — including a recovered onside kick and a successful two-point conversion — that resulted in a heart-stopping 28-22 overtime victory and a ticket to the Super Bowl. Lynch wouldn’t be denied as he rumbled for 157 yards on 25 carries and scored a touchdown.

Before the game, however, Fox analysts speculated whether Lynch would play at all — and the controversy hinged on an apparent NFL dress-code violation. FOX Sports NFL insider Jay Glazer reported that Lynch would be ejected from Sunday game if he insisted on wearing a pair of $1,100 gold cleats designed by shoe-customizing guru Soles by Sir.


The Nike Vapor Speed Mid TD shoes were gilded in 24-karat gold flake paint and accented with a gold-plated sole and cleats. Lime green laces — to complement the Seahawks' official colors of lime green and blue — completed the motif.

TMZ reported that Lynch had the shoes especially made for his anticipated return to the Super Bowl, but decided to wear them in the NFC Championship game because he was so pleased with the way they turned out.

NFL officials were not pleased. The league demands that each player wear officially sanctioned footwear. The shoes have to be black, white, or one of the official colors of the team. In Lynch's case, metallic gold did not qualify.


Typically, a violation would result in a fine, which is a penalty most players are willing to absorb. Lynch, for example, was fined $10,000 for wearing “Skittles” shoes against the San Francisco 49ers in December of 2011. On Sunday, the NFL was ready to get tougher.


Just before game time on Sunday, FOX reported that the crisis had been averted. Lynch had complied with the NFL’s request and wore green-and-blue shoes — although they did have what appeared to be metallic gold soles and cleats (not a violation, apparently).

Gold shoe photos: Instagram/Soles by Sir; Lynch photos: courtesy Getty Images; Skittles shoe photo:
January 21st, 2015
A California man plunked down $2.585 million for a U.S. penny dated 1792, setting an auction record for the highest price ever paid for a one-cent piece. On the following day, his winning bid of $2.232 million at Heritage Auctions secured a 1792 quarter, bringing his two-day tally to $4.8 million for a pair of coins with a face value of a mere 26 cents.


Crazy, you might say.

Not so, counters Beverly Hills coin wholesaler Kevin Lipton, who compared his newly acquired 1792 “Birch Cent” and “Wright Quarter” to the priceless paintings of Leonardo da Vinci. “They are literally Mona Lisas of our coinage,” he told the Los Angeles Times.

The 1792 Birch Cent, which is named after its engraver, Robert Birch, is the finest example of only 10 similar coins known to exist. They were experimentally produced after the founding of the U.S. Mint as part of a series of prototype coins.

“It’s like our very first penny,” Lipton told the Times. “It’s such a spectacular coin. It’s so important, so rare.”


The Birch Cent features the profile of Miss Liberty with flowing hair framed by a motto that was soon abandoned, “Liberty Parent of Science & Industry.” The other side says, “United States of America” and shows the denomination of “One Cent" within a wreath. At the bottom is the fraction "1/100."

"It’s a gorgeous coin, breathtaking,” Lipton told Reuters. “And the history is important. This is our earliest depiction of what we thought of ourselves as a nation.”

Lipton told the Times that he had his eye on the Birch Cent since he saw it for the first time at a New York auction house in 1981. At the time, it was purchased for $200,000 by a New York City developer.


Lipton’s 1792 "Wright Quarter" is special because it's America's first quarter and because the only other example known to exist is in the Smithsonian.

The intended denomination of the Wright Quarter has been debated for many years because there is no indication of value engraved on the coin. It features a beautifully executed profile of a woman with the word "Liberty" written atop and the date below.


The reverse side has an eagle standing on a globe with the words "United States of America" surrounding it. The coin was designed by Joseph Wright only one year before his death.

Images: Heritage Auctions
January 22nd, 2015
With a career that spanned 70 years in film, television and stage, actress Lauren Bacall was a beauty with an attitude. She lit up the silver screen playing opposite the biggest names in Hollywood, including her first husband, Humphrey Bogart.


Bacall, who passed away in August of 2014 at age 89, had a sophisticated taste in art, collectibles, furnishings and fine jewelry. About 750 items from her estate, including 30 pieces of jewelry, will be auctioned by Bonhams New York on March 31 and April 1.


Among the treasures on the Bonhams' auction block will be branded items from Cartier, Chanel and Tiffany & Co., as well as several pieces by one of Bacall's favorite designers, Jean Schlumberger.


“Lauren Bacall loved this amethyst, turquoise and diamond ring,” noted Jon King, Bonhams’ vice president and director of business development. "Paris was her favorite city and while she was there, she would go to Hermès and Yves Saint Laurent and all the houses, including Schlumberger and buy from him directly." The coordinating gems on the Schlumberger earrings were designed to move with her as she moved, King explained.


The ring is estimated to sell in the range of $8,000 to $12,000, and the earrings are expected to fetch from $7,000 to $9,000.


A second Schlumberger piece was also favored by the actress. The 18-karat yellow gold bracelet is designed as a series of blue pailloné enamel panels, detailed with polished gold bars, leaves and cones. The bracelet is expected to sell from $20,000 and $30,000.

Bonhams’ auction notes reveal that 18-karat yellow gold rope bracelets were a fashion staple for Bacall, as she frequently wore multiples on the same wrist.


Bacall wore the bracelet (above) together with a similar, diamond-encrusted ropework bracelet "all the time," said King. "She liked layering and texture. That was part of her distinctive style." The bracelet is expected to fetch $5,000 to $7,000.

The actress also loved the camel brooch, above. Bonhams reported that British designer Elizabeth Gage was charged with turning an enamel camel Bacall owned into a brooch.


Items by designer Darlene de Selde will be featured, as well. These include a pair of 22-karat yellow gold and sapphire earrings, as well as a jadeite and 22-karat yellow gold ring (above).

Many of the items on sale are modestly priced, so here’s your chance to own a piece of Hollywood history.

In addition to the fine jewelry, the auction will feature bronze sculptures, decorative arts, tribal works of art, prints and paintings. Bonhams believes the entire collection will yield $3 million.

A tour of the Lauren Bacall Collection began in Hong Kong (Jan. 14 - 19) and is scheduled to head out to Paris (Jan. 29 – Feb. 5). Then the collection lands in London (Feb. 15 – 19), and moves onward to Los Angeles (Feb. 27 – Mar. 6). The final stop is New York, where the entire collection will be previewed from March 25 – 30, with the auction commencing the following day.

Jewelry images via Bonhams. Lauren Bacall publicity shots.
January 23rd, 2015
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great new songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we give you a sneak peek at what promises to be a sure-fire country music hit — Tim McGraw’s “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools.”


Set to be released next Monday as the fourth single from McGraw’s chart-topping Sundown Heaven Town album, “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” was touted by Billboard magazine as “the crowning moment of the disc.”

“It’s high on emotional drama, high on steel, and high on some outstanding harmony from McGraw’s cousin Catherine Dunn — who proves there’s more talent in the family genetic pool,” Billboard gushed.

“Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” is a song about former lovers who finally accept the bitter truth that their relationship will never work out. In the first verse, McGraw sings, “Diamond rings and old barstools / One's for queens and one's for fools / One's the future and one's the past / One's forever and one won't last.”

In the chorus, he continues, “I guess some things just don't mix like you hoped / Like me and you / And diamond rings and old barstools.”

McGraw will be performing “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” during his upcoming “Shotgun Rider Tour ’15,” which will kick off in June and visit 30 cities in North America. McGraw will bring his high-energy show to a combination of amphitheaters, arenas and festivals. The tour is named for the three-time Grammy Award-winning artist’s most recent #1 single, “Shotgun Rider,” which spent four weeks at the top of the country charts. The album Sundown Heaven Town was released in September 2014 and peaked at #1 on the Billboard U.S. Top Country Albums chart.

McGraw, who has been married to country star Faith Hill since 1996, has sold more than 40 million albums since he first burst onto the country music scene in 1992. Twenty-five of his singles have gone to #1 on the Billboard U.S. Hot Country Songs chart, and 10 of his 12 studio albums have topped the Billboard U.S. Top Country Albums chart.

We know you will enjoy McGraw’s live performance of “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools.” Click the video below and check out the lyrics if you’d like to sing along…

"Diamond Rings and Old Barstools"
Written by Barry Dean, Luke Laird. Performed by Tim McGraw with Catherine Dunn.

Diamond rings and old barstools
One's for queens and one's for fools
One's the future and one's the past
One's forever and one won't last

It ain't like midnight and cigarette smoke
It ain't like watered down whiskey and coke
I guess some things just don't mix like you hoped
Like me and you
And diamond rings and old barstools

The wrongs and rights, the highs and lows
The "I love you's," the "I told you so's"
Past few miles to wherever's home
Another morning waking up alone

[Repeat Chorus]

We ain't like midnight and cigarette smoke
Nothing like watered down whiskey and coke
I guess some things just don't mix like you hoped
Like me and you
And diamond rings and old barstools

January 26th, 2015
With Super Bowl XLIX right around the corner, we’d like to point out that not all NFL Championship rings are created equal. Did you know that the ring earned last year by the defending champion Seattle Seahawks was barely half the weight of the one captured by the three-time champion New England Patriots nine years earlier?


In real-world terms, Super Bowl rings range in size from from really large to gargantuan. The latter defined the ring commemorating the Patriots’ Super Bowl XXXIX victory in 2005, when quarterback Tom Brady led his team to its third Super Bowl title in four years.

That ring weighed a stunning 110 grams, one of the largest in NFL history. Its weight was equivalent to a roll of 44 pennies, or a touch under a quarter of a pound. A Patriots lineman told that the ring was so big and so heavy that it was impossible to wear.


The recent Seattle Seahawks 2013 Championship ring was diminutive by comparison. Weighing in at a modest 56 grams, the ring was one of the smallest in recent Super Bowl history.

Apparently, the NFL maintains an unwritten rule that the size of the ring — and its diamond content — must be in relation to the number of championships won. The more championships, the bigger and more blingy the ring can be.


When the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002, the commemorative ring weighed approximately 70 grams. When the team won the NFL championship again in 2004, the ring grew to a then-record 100 grams. After taking the title for the third time in 2005, the ring set a new record at 110 grams.

Despite its relatively small size, the Seahawks’ 14-karat white gold ring contained 104 diamonds, 40 blue sapphires and a neon-green tsavorite that represented the Seahawk symbol’s eye.

The super-sized Patriots’ ring commemorating the team’s third Super Bowl title was also designed in 14-karat white gold and featured 124 diamonds with a total weight of 4.94 carats.

It was reported at the time that Corey Dillon and Keith Traylor, both of whom were fitted with a size 17, ordered the largest ring sizes.

The NFL awards 150 rings to the Super Bowl victor and spends approximately $7,000 per ring. Teams that have won multiple Super Bowls, as will be the case with the Seahawks and Patriots, are allotted a higher budget for diamonds. Ring designs typically use larger marquise-shape diamonds to represent footballs, and each football represents a championship.

Winning teams may present Super Bowl rings to whomever they choose, and these could include players, coaches, trainers, executives, personnel and general staff. Some teams have awarded Super Bowl rings to former players and coaches.

Teams often create “B” and “C” level rings — designs with faux diamonds or fewer diamonds — for distribution to the front office staff.

January 27th, 2015
Colombia’s Paulina Vega edged out Nia Sanchez of the U.S. to take the title of Miss Universe on Sunday night in Miami, and atop her head was a newly designed crown valued at $300,000.


Reminiscent of the New York City skyline, the bejeweled headpiece comprises diamonds, sapphires, topazes and crystals set in 18-karat white gold.


Thirty-three translucent Bohemian crystals of varying heights represent the buildings of the cityscape, while five light blue topazes (symbolizing strength and loyalty) add a brilliant burst of color. The base of the crown is crafted from 220 grams of 18-karat gold and is rimmed by 311 diamonds weighing 10.37 carats and 198 dark blue sapphires weighing 29.7 carats.

The colorless crystals are backed with a metallic material to enhance the light reflection, according to the crown’s designer and pageant sponsor Diamonds International Corp.


The Miss Universe organization noted that the crown “symbolizes and expresses the beauty, stability, confidence and power of women around the world.” DIC reported that the crown took more than 3,000 hours to create and incorporates themes from the company’s Czech Republic roots and those of the Big Apple, where the Miss Universe organization is based. DIC signed a 10-year contract to be the pageant’s official crown provider.

Overall, the crown weighs in at 411 grams (just under 1 pound). It travels in a case made of Italian leather.

Vega, a 22-year-old student of business administration from the city of Barranquilla, beat out a strong field that included contestants from more than 80 countries.

Donald Trump, the reality TV star and real estate mogul who owns the pageant, had a hunch that Vega would be wearing the crown on Sunday. "From the minute she walked in the building, people said, 'She's a star,'" Trump told the Associated Press.


Vega accepted her new crown with great poise during the culmination of the pageant — unlike her predecessor, who nearly suffered the ultimate humiliation of dropping her bejeweled crown in front of an international television audience of one billion.

Fans of the Miss Universe pageant may remember that Venezuela’s Gabriela Isler fumbled — but didn’t drop — the crown after it was accidentally dislodged from her head during the crowning ceremony.

The new Miss Universe will receive an undisclosed salary, a luxury apartment in New York, a wardrobe, beauty products and a one-year scholarship from the New York Film Academy.

Vega was only the second Colombian to win the title of Miss Universe. The first was Luz Marina Zuluaga in 1958.

Images: Facebook/Miss Universe; YouTube screen grab.
January 28th, 2015
Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello have been engaged for about a month, but getting a good look at her engagement diamond has been a bit of a challenge — until Sunday night in Los Angeles at the SAG Awards.


Walking the red carpet together, the Modern Family starlet and her True Blood fiancé posed for the paparazzi, spoke openly about their upcoming nuptials and even offered a close-up look at the new engagement bling via the E! News Mani Cam.


“Huge,” “massive” and “planet-sized” were some of the words celebrity journalists used to describe the oval center diamond of Vergara’s halo-style engagement ring — a ring estimated to be worth about $500,000.

An anonymous tipster told Glamour columnist Kim Fusaro that Vergara’s diamond was 7 carats in size, the same size as the diamond worn by Manganiello’s mother, but Fusaro reasoned that the diamond must be even larger.

“Sofia is 5'7" so it’s not like she has child-size hands,” Fusaro wrote, “and that center stone is almost as wide as her finger.”

We referenced our millimeter-to-carat conversion chart to validate Fusaro's theory. A close look at the photo shows that the orientation of the ring has the narrower dimension of the oval diamond extending across the width of her finger. Assuming Vergara’s ring finger is approximately 15mm wide at the base, and the oval stone is 14mm x 12mm, the carat weight would be 8.21 carats. If the diamond is 16mm x 14 mm, it would convert to 11.88 carats.

During an interview with Access Hollywood, Vergara — television’s highest-paid actress — joked about the ring’s size. “You know me, it's all about the bling-bling, so he knew what I needed,” she said. “I opened it up and I checked it to see.”

And what if the ring didn’t meet her expectations? “He's so handsome,” she said, “that it would have been OK, you know? I would have said, 'OK, yeah.'"


Vergara was apparently very pleased with Manganiello’s engagement ring selection — so much so that she agreed to show it to the world using the E! News Mani Cam. “This is the love hand,” she exclaimed as she slipped her left hand in a tiny set that looks like a red carpet runway. E! News uses the box to get neat close-ups of celebrity jewelry and manicures.

The couple plans to marry later this year, possibly in the fall, and the Colombian-born beauty revealed that the wedding is going to be “big.”

“We started off with 20 and now there's like pages and pages,” she said.

Manganiello popped the question to Vergara on Christmas Day while they were vacationing in Hawaii. They had been dating for about six months at the time.

Photos: Courtesy of Getty Images; E! News screen grab.
January 29th, 2015
For the past few years, we’ve been tracking the odyssey of the ill-fated Bahia Emerald, an 840-pound grey rock seemingly impaled with nine enormous emerald crystals weighing an estimated 180,000 carats. Once valued at nearly $400 million, the specimen has been the subject of an onerous custody battle that recently added a powerful new player — the government of Brazil, which is arguing that the Bahia Emerald was mined and exported illegally.


"We're trying to get back what belongs to us," Marconi Costa Melo, a lawyer in Brazil's attorney general's office, told the Los Angeles Times. "The emerald belongs to Brazil."

Unearthed in Bahia, Brazil, in 2001, the rock contains what is considered to be largest and heaviest emeralds ever found. One of the nine crystals in the formation is the thickness of a man’s thigh.


Despite its majesty, the Bahia Emerald has been a magnet for trouble starting the day it was pulled from the remote Bahia Mine and carried out of the rain forest by a team of pack mules.

According to a National Geographic documentary titled, “$400 Million Emerald Mystery,” the mules were attacked and killed by a pair of black panthers, so the hefty Bahia Emerald had to be lugged by a crew of men using a handmade stretcher.


After that incident, no fewer than eight parties have claimed to be the rightful owner of the rock, as it changed hands many times and traveled from Brazil to California to New Orleans, then back to California and then to Las Vegas, where it was eventually seized by police.

For now, the Bahia Emerald awaits its fate in a secured vault at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Methodically, the court system has been reviewing the claims and narrowing the field of litigants, some of which agreed to settle their claims with competing parties in return for a cut of possible sale profits, according to the Los Angeles Times.


Just as the case was nearing a conclusion, the country of Brazil added a surprising new twist to the saga when it asked the court to set aside all other claims and consider it the sole and rightful owner of the Bahia Emerald.

Brazil’s argument: the specimen was illegally mined on Brazilian land and exported without the authority of the Brazilian government. Hence, the Bahia Emerald has immense cultural and scientific value, belongs to the people of Brazil, and should be on display for all to see.

"We discovered that there was no authorization for the extraction of the emerald, no state permission to transport it or to export the emerald," Melo told the Los Angeles Times.

A group led by Idaho businessman Kit Morrison is the only other party left in the legal case. Morrison’s attorney, Andrew Spielberger, told the Los Angeles Times that Brazil waited too long to make a claim.

"Five years of litigation, then all of a sudden at the end of all this a governmental entity says that they want to take it and repatriate it," he said. "If the country of Brazil is interested in buying it from [Morrison] and taking it back to put it on display — we see the value in that."

Countered John Nadolenco, Brazil’s Los Angeles-based attorney, “Brazil does not need to buy it from anyone. The Bahia [Emerald] simply needs to be returned to its rightful home."

And so the odyssey of the Bahia Emerald will continue for a bit longer. A hearing on the motion by the nation of Brazil was scheduled for this week, and a Los Angeles Superior Court judge is set to hear more testimony from Morrison’s group on May 11. Stay tuned…

Images:; Facebook/Bahia Emerald
January 30th, 2015
If you’ve ever attended a Fleetwood Mac concert, you know that the band always leads off with “The Chain,” a song that represents the strength and resilience of their bond despite more than four decades of personal and professional obstacles.


For Christine McVie, who recently rejoined the band after 16 years away, “The Chain” is more than a song. It’s a cherished and symbolic silver chain bracelet given to her by fellow band member Stevie Nicks.

“Stevie gave me this chain,” she recently told The New Yorker. “It used to have a diamond feather on it. It’s a metaphor, you know. That the chain of the band will never be broken. Not by me, anyways. Not again by me.”


Even though Fleetwood Mac enjoyed enormous success, McVie left the band in 1998 after being overwhelmed by a fear of flying. The other band members, including Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie and Lindsey Buckingham, continued to tour, but the band did not seem complete without Christine McVie.

At 71 years old, McVie came to the realization that she missed the audience. She wanted to tour again and asked each of her former mates, individually, if she could rejoin the band. Each was thrilled to have her back, although Buckingham maintained one caveat: She couldn’t waltz in and waltz back out again. She had to be in it “for the whole nine yards.”

McVie agreed, worked with a psychiatrist to get her past her phobia, and rejoined the band just in time for their 33-city North American tour, which opened in September of 2014.

Every Fleetwood Mac concert starts off with the steady, thumping, rhythmic instrumental lead-in to “The Chain,” the only song on the 1977 Rumours album to be credited to all five band members. The song was literally spliced together from combinations of several previously rejected materials.

The song originally represented the internal fractures — both romantically and professionally — of the band members, but eventually came to symbolize their triumph in staying together.

The Rumours album sold more than 45 million copies and is one of the best selling albums of all time. In total, the band has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide.

Please check out the video Fleetwood Mac performing “The Chain.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.

"The Chain"
Written by Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie, John McVie and Lindsey Buckingham. Performed by Fleetwood Mac.

Listen to the wind blow
Watch the sun rise

Run in the shadows
Damn your love, damn your lies

And if you don't love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you sayin'
You would never break the chain
(Never break the chain)

And if you don't love me now
(You don't love me now)
You will never love me again
I can still hear you sayin'
(Still hear you sayin')
You would never break the chain
(Never break the chain)

Listen to the wind blow
Down comes the night

Run in the shadows
Damn your love, damn your lies

Break the silence
Damn the dark, damn the light

And if you don't love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you sayin'
You would never break the chain
(Never break the chain)

And if you don't love me now
(You don't love me now)
You will never love me again
I can still hear you sayin'
(Still hear you sayin')
You would never break the chain
(Never break the chain)

And if you don't love me now
(You don't love me now)
You will never love me again
I can still hear you sayin'
(Still hear you sayin')
You would never break the chain
(Never break the chain)

(Yea, keep us together)
Run in the shadows
(Yea, keep us together)
Run into the shadows
(Yea, keep us together)
Run into the shadows
(Yea, keep us together)
Run in the shadows
(Yea, keep us together)

Photos: Facebook/Fleetwood Mac; Fleetwood Mac publicity shot