Articles in December 2019

December 2nd, 2019
It was in the late 1960s when the marketing team at Tiffany & Co. got its first peek at a stunning new gemstone. The intense blue-violet gem had been discovered in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania by a Maasai tribesman named Jumanne Ngoma. At first glance, the specimens appeared to be sapphires, but the Gemological Institute of America revealed that the crystals were a never-before-seen variety of zoisite.

Tiffany wanted to feature the gemstone in a broad-based advertising campaign, but the marketing team had to overcome a huge hurdle. The name “blue zoisite” sounded very much like “blue suicide” — and that alone could have tanked the campaign. So, the team at Tiffany decided to promote the gems as “tanzanite,” a name that would honor their country of origin.

Tiffany’s marketing campaign succeeded in making tanzanite a household name 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.

Tanzanite is said to be 1,000 times more rare than diamonds due the fact that tanzanite is mined in only one location on earth. The area measures 2km wide by 4km long and the remaining lifespan of the mine is less than 30 years.

Despite tanzanite’s commercial success, Ngoma had never reaped any financial gains from his discovery.

In 2018, Asha Ngoma made a desperate plea to Tanzanian President John Magufuli on behalf of her nearly 80-year-old dad, who was ill and partially paralyzed. The President responded with a reward and well deserved words of praise.

“Mr. Ngoma is a veritable Tanzanian hero,” Magufuli told The Citizen. “But what did he get after discovering tanzanite about 50 years ago? Nothing. Nothing at all. In fact, it is people from other countries who have benefited more from this unique gemstone.”

Magufuli announced that Ngoma would be receiving 100 million shillings (about $44,000) from the Tanzanian government. That amount is nearly twice the average annual salary for a Tanzanian.

Tanzanite’s color is an intoxicating mix of blue and purple, unlike any other gemstone. The mineral 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.

A Maasai folktale recounts how tanzanite came to be. Once upon a time, the story goes, lightning struck the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, scorching the land. In the aftermath, a spectacular blue crystal was left shimmering in the ashes.

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

Illustrating this story is a beautiful 12.11-carat, trillion-cut tanzanite set in an award-winning platinum ring by Mark Schneider. The designer and his wife, Nancy, gifted the piece to the Smithsonian in 2001, making it the first tanzanite jewelry accessioned into the National Gem Collection.

Credit: Photo by Chip Clark/Smithsonian.
December 3rd, 2019
"The Indian Blue," a 7.55-carat fancy deep grayish-blue diamond, will be the top lot at Sotheby's Magnificent Jewels sale in New York City on December 10.

Described as the "property of a distinguished lady," the cushion-cut center stone has a SI2 clarity and is flanked by two shield-shaped diamonds in a ring that carries a pre-sale estimate of $6 million to $8 million.

Trace amounts of the chemical element boron are responsible for causing the coloration of natural blue diamonds. According to the Museum of Natural History, “less than one boron atom per million carbon atoms is sufficient to produce the blue coloration.”

Another highlight of the New York auction is "The Majestic Pink," a highly flexible bracelet comprised of 204 radiant and marquise-shaped diamonds of various fancy pink and red hues bordered by similar-cut, near-colorless diamonds. The total weight of the colored diamonds, which range in size from 0.10 carats to 0.47 carats, is 43.34 carats. The bracelet bears the maker's mark, Carvin French, and is expected to sell for about $3 million.

Also scheduled to hit the auction block at Sotheby's on December 10 is a ring featuring an ultra-rare 1.38-carat fancy red diamond. Fancy reds so rare that a typical Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender releases only four, or so, per year. Rio Tinto's Argyle Mine in Western Australia — the primary source of red and pink diamonds — is scheduled to cease operations in 2020, so supplies of these beautiful stones are expected to become even more scarce.

It is believed that red diamonds get their rich color from a molecular structure distortion that occurs as the jewel forms in the earth’s crust. By contrast, other colored diamonds get their color from trace elements, such as boron (yielding a blue diamond) or nitrogen (yielding yellow).

The cushion-cut red diamond is framed by round pink-hued diamonds and square-cut colorless diamonds. The estimated selling price is $1.8 million to $2.8 million.

Highlighted by a 14.37-carat fancy vivid yellow diamond, this brooch by Verdura is expected to fetch $1.6 million to $2.4 million. Resembling a delicate iris, the brooch is centered by the round-cornered, square-cut yellow center stone and accented with petals formed by cabochon sapphires and round colorless diamonds.

Credits: Images courtesy of Sotheby's.
December 4th, 2019
Adorned with three million Swarovski crystals, the 900-pound star atop the 77-foot-tall Norway spruce at New York's Rockefeller Center will come to life tonight during the tree-lighting ceremony that will be broadcast on NBC.

The mammoth star, which has a diameter of 9 feet 4 inches, was lifted to the top of the tree by crane operators on November 13, just three days after the tree arrived from Orange County, N.Y. Each of the 70 rays of the Swarovski Star is designed to glow from within, with the light refracted by the crystal surface, creating a sparkling effect.

The tree was a donated by Carol Schultz, who said it originally lived in a pot on her coffee table before it was big enough to be planted in her garden in 1959.

Holiday season 2019 marks the second time the current star has ascended to the top of the Rockefeller Center tree. The new star made its debut exactly one year ago, replacing a Swarovski Star that had been in service since 2004. That star weighed 550 pounds and was studded with 25,000 crystals, barely 8% of the tally of the current star.

The new star was designed by renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, who created the master plan for the reconstruction of New York’s World Trade Center site. Libeskind said that his Swarovski Star is inspired by the beauty of starlight — something that radiates meaning and mystery into the world.

“The Star is a symbol that represents our greatest ambitions for hope, unity and peace,” he said in 2018. “I am tremendously honored to collaborate with Swarovski on the Star, and with the entire design team, to bring cutting-edge innovation and design to crystal technology.”

The tree will remain lit and on display on the plaza between West 48th and 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues through Friday, January 17, 2020. More than half a million people will pass by the tree every day, making Rockefeller Center the epicenter of New York City’s holiday celebrations.

Rockefeller Center officially began its tree-lighting tradition in 1933, when a Christmas tree was erected in front of the then-RCA Building and covered with 700 lights. The lighting ceremony has been broadcast live since 1951.

Tonight's two-hour show starts at 8 p.m. EST and will feature performances by Idina Menzel, Gwen Stefani, John Legend and Lea Michele. The event will be hosted by TODAY show anchors Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Al Roker and Craig Melvin.

Credits: Photo of Daniel Libeskind and the Swarovski Star via Rockefeller Center celebration 2018 by MBurch [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
December 5th, 2019
An extraordinary ruby and emerald once owned by philanthropist Jessie Ball du Pont, the wife of American industrialist Alfred Irénée du Pont, highlight two high-profile lots at Christie’s Magnificent Jewels sale in New York on December 11.

"The Du Pont Ruby" is set in an elaborate platinum and 18-karat gold brooch that's expected to sell in the range of $3.5 million and $5.5 million. The cushion mixed-cut Burmese ruby weighing 11.20 carats is mounted in the center of a heart formed by rectangular and trapezoid-shaped emeralds, as well as French, old and marquise-cut diamonds. Dangling at the sides and bottom of the brooch are five natural saltwater pearls.

"The Du Pont Emerald" weighs 9.11 carats and is adorned with old-cut diamonds in a platinum ring designed by Tiffany & Co. circa 1920. The rectangular step-cut emerald was sourced in Colombia and the ring is expected to fetch $500,000 to $700,000.

Both pieces had been donated to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts by Mrs. du Pont's estate after her death in 1970. The proceeds from the sale of these items will be used by the museum to facilitate future acquisitions.

Mrs. du Pont had been born into Virginia's respected Ball family, with family roots that extended to Mary Ball, the mother of George Washington. Jessie had met Alfred du Pont in 1898 when she was just 14 years old. Twenty-three years later, she would become his third wife.

Alfred was 20 years her senior and rose to prominence through his work in the Du Pont family's gunpowder manufacturing plant. Later, he would amass a fortune through his investments in land and banking. He passed away in 1935.

In the years that followed, Mrs. du Pont became a founding member and original trustee of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Through her influence and generosity, the museum's largest gallery would be named for her distant relative, Mary Ball.

Another top lot at Christie’s Magnificent Jewels sale is a 30.14-carat Belle Époque sapphire and diamond ring. Designed circa 1915, the ring features a Kashmir sapphire and a platinum band studded with old-cut diamonds. The piece is expected to sell in the range of $3.5 million to $5.5 million.

Auction bidders will also have their eyes on a 3.07-carat fancy vivid blue diamond ring. It features a round-cornered rectangular modified brilliant-cut center stone boasting a clarity of VVS1. The estimated selling price is $3 million to $4 million.

Rounding out the top lots at the auction is a diamond ring of 24.13 carats. The rectangular-cut center stone is rated D-flawless and is accented with trapezoid-shaped side stones. It is expected to fetch $2 million to $3 million.

An auction preview will be held at Christie’s Galleries at 20 Rockefeller Center in New York City from December 6 to December 10.

Credits: Images courtesy of Christie's.
December 6th, 2019
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great throwback songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we kick off the season of giving with this little ditty by Andy Williams called "Christmas Holiday."

In the song, Williams describes a picturesque Yuletide scene: A turkey cooking in the oven, fresh snow on the ground and our hero about to surprise the love of his life with a very special gift of fine jewelry.

He sings, "This year, we shall know a wonderful Christmas / And the glow of candlelight / Let's have a fling! / I'll give you my present, a wedding ring! / Hear me sing."

Written by Craig Vincent Smith, "Christmas Holiday" appeared as the sixth track of Williams' popular Merry Christmas album, which was released in 1965 and charted for six consecutive years on the Billboard Christmas Albums list. The album earned a platinum certification, with more than one million copies sold.

Long before he became a star, Williams and his three older brothers performed in a children's choir at the local Presbyterian church in Cincinnati. They formed the Williams Brothers quartet in 1938 when Andy was just 11 years old and made their mark by doing live performances on local radio stations.

After moving to Los Angeles in 1943, the brothers got their big break when Bing Crosby asked them to sing on his hit record "Swinging on a Star." Soon after, the Williams boys got to perform together in a number of musical films.

The youngest Williams brother began his solo career in 1953 and became a regular guest on the Tonight Show Starring Steve Allen.

From 1962 to 1972, Williams was considered one of the most popular vocalists in the U.S. Some of his biggest hits included "Moon River," "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" and the holiday song "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year."

During the peak of his career, Williams had recorded more gold albums than any solo performer except for Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis and Elvis Presley. He also hosted his own TV show, which earned three Emmy Awards for Outstanding Variety Series.

Williams, whose voice was described by President Ronald Reagan as a "national treasure," passed away in Branson, Mo., in 2012 at the age of 84.

Please check out the video of Williams' performance of "Christmas Holiday." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Christmas Holiday"
Written by Craig Vincent Smith. Performed by Andy Williams.

Hear the bells ringing
Their ting-a-ling sound.
See the fresh snow,
It's white on the ground.
Hang up the stockings and
Let's have a holiday, today.

Bring out the holly, we mustn't delay!
'Cause all of our friends will be stopping today.
Warm the hot chocolate
And bring out the marshmallow tray.

This year, we shall know a wonderful Christmas
And the glow of candlelight
Let's have a fling!
I'll give you my present, a wedding ring!
Hear me sing.

Turkey's a-cookin' and candy cane sticks,
With reindeer and sleigh bells and good old Saint Nick
Two kids sneakin' kisses beneath all the mistletoe,
As if we didn't know!

This year, we shall know a wonderful Christmas
And the glow of candlelight
Let's have a fling!
I'll give you my present, a wedding ring!
Hear me sing.

Yuletide, good cheer!
Christmas is here.
This one, we'll share,
We haven't a care.

It's Christmas!
Such a very Merry Christmas!
Extraordinary Christmastime is here!

Credits: Screen capture via
December 9th, 2019
Suggestive of the sky at dusk, "Classic Blue" has been named Pantone’s 2020 Color of the Year. Consumers looking to match their jewelry wardrobes to Pantone’s calm, confident, enduring shade of blue will likely consider sapphire, blue topaz, lapis lazuli and kyanite.

"We are living in a time that requires trust and faith," said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of The Pantone Color Institute. "It is a kind of constancy and confidence that is expressed by Pantone 19-4052 Classic Blue, a solid and dependable blue hue we can always rely on."

Eiseman also described Classic Blue as "elegant in its simplicity."

"Imbued with deep resonance," she said, "Classic Blue provides an anchoring foundation. A boundless blue evocative of the vast and infinite sky, Classic Blue encourages us to look beyond the obvious to expanding our thinking, challenging us to think more deeply, increase our perspective and open the flow of communication."

Fine Ceylon sapphires, such as the 423-carat "Logan Sapphire" seen here, reflect the characteristics of Pantone's Color of the Year. A gift to the Smithsonian by Rebecca Pollard Guggenheim in December 1960, the gem remained in her possession until April 1971. By that time, her then-husband Col. M. Robert Guggenheim had passed away and she had married John A. Logan — hence the sapphire's Logan name. The beautiful blue stone has the distinction of being the heaviest mounted gem in the National Gem Collection.

Each year since 2000, the color experts at Pantone have picked a color that reflects the current cultural climate. Typically, Pantone’s selection influences product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home furnishings and industrial design, as well as product packaging and graphic design.

This is the first time in the history of the Pantone Color of the Year that a saturated, pure blue color has been named. In 2000, Pantone picked a pale blue-purple Cerulean Blue, followed by a pale greenish-blue Aqua Sky in 2003 and a similarly pale bluish-green Blue Turquoise in 2005. A more greenish Turquoise was selected in 2010 and the pale purplish-blue Serenity shared the spotlight with Rose Quartz in 2016.

The process of choosing the Color of the Year takes about nine months, with Pantone’s trend watchers scanning the globe’s fashion runways, movie sets 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 “Living Coral,” a color described by Eiseman as a sociable and spirited shade of pinkish-orange.

Here are the most recent Pantone Colors of the Year…

PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral (2019)
PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet (2018)
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)
PANTONE 14-0848 Mimosa (2009)

Credit: Screen capture, color swatches via Gem photo Logan Sapphire by Chip Clark/Smithsonian.
December 10th, 2019
What could possibly be more romantic than the breathtaking "Wild Lights" holiday display at the Detroit Zoo, where more than five million twinkling LED lights brighten the evening sky and illuminate buildings, trees and 280 sculptures, most of which are in the shape of animals?

Now in its seventh year, "Wild Lights" has become a popular place for suitors young and old to pop the question — and they can even enlist the help of the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) staff.

For a fee of $150, the DZS staff will arrange for red lights to swirl to form the words “Marry Me” in a private area of the Cotton Family Wetlands Boardwalk. The illumination is queued up to perfectly match the timing of the proposal.

Suitors also have the option to add extra romantic touches, such as rose petals sprinkled from above, or a violinist serenading in the background.

“We’re thrilled so many couples have chosen the Detroit Zoo as a place to celebrate this momentous occasion,” said Gerry VanAcker, DZS chief operating officer. “Wild Lights is a perfect place to pop the question because the lights and sights create such a romantic atmosphere.”

Among the new sculptures for 2019 are foxes, sea lions, a blue heron and a giraffe.

The DZS staff will be available to assist couples with their Wild Lights marriage proposals through January 5, 2020.

Couples who get engaged at the zoo may consider making it their wedding venue, as well. Couples have said "I do" at the Wildlife Interpretive Gallery, Polk Penguin Conservation Center, Rackham Fountain, Arctic Ring of Life and Cotton Family Wetlands Boardwalk.

The Detroit Zoo is located in Royal Oak, Mich., and the ticket prices to see Wild Lights range from $11 to $18, based on the hour of the day. Children under 2 are admitted for free.

Credits: Screen captures via
December 11th, 2019
When actress Emma Stone and her new fiancé, SNL writer Dave McCary, announced their engagement this past Wednesday with dual Instagram posts, Stone's adorning fan base had a hard time figuring out what she was wearing on the ring finger of her left hand. Was it a diamond? Might it be... a pearl?

The Instagram photo shows the beaming couple posing for a selfie while Stone extends her fist to the camera. While their faces are in focus, her ring is just a sparkly blur.

As the news broke, some reporters ran with the assumption that the ring's center stone must be an out-of-focus diamond in a diamond halo setting. said Stone was "flashing a diamond engagement ring with a twisted platinum band." said Stone "showed off a pretty impressive diamond ring."

But then an engagement ring expert told Us Magazine that the ring appeared to be an antique-inspired design featuring either a 3 to 3.5-carat Old European cut diamond or a 9 to 10mm pearl.

As more information became available, we learned that Stone's ring by Tokyo designer Kataoka does, indeed, feature a lustrous 8mm untreated saltwater pearl surrounded by .37 carats of diamonds in a snowflake motif. The ring's 18-karat gold band is also encrusted with diamonds.

McCary purchased the ring at a Brooklyn, N.Y., boutique called Catbird. The retailer's website features a similar ring priced at $4,780.

While style writers gushed over the pearl ring, calling it "striking," "on trend" and "the perfect winter engagement ring," jewelry-industry experts wondered if McCary's unconventional choice was misinformed.

Cultured pearls are typically not used as center stones in engagement rings because they are delicate and not suited to daily wear and tear. While a diamond rates 10 on the Mohs hardness scale (it's the hardest of all gemstones), the pearl earns a 2.5 (one of the softest). Corundum, which includes sapphires and rubies, rates a 9.

The Gemological Institute of America warns that pearls can be easily scratched or abraded, but acknowledges that with reasonable care pearl jewelry can be a lasting treasure.

Pearl lovers who insist on following Stone's lead should know the risks and responsibilities that come with owning a pearl engagement ring.

• If you wear the ring every day and work with your hands, it's very likely the pearl will get dinged over time.

• Pearls can be damaged by household products, including vinegar, ammonia and chlorine. They need to be kept away from hairspray, perfume, cosmetics, and even perspiration.

• Always remove a pearl ring when showering, swimming or doing the dishes.

• Consider keeping small ring holders in your bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and work desk so you are less likely to lose track of the ring if you need to take it off during the day.

• Be prepared to replace the pearl every so often.

Stone, 31, and McCary, 34, have reportedly been dating since the summer of 2017. McCary works as a writer and segment director on Saturday Night Live. Stone is an Academy Award winner and one of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood. According to reports, they met more than two years ago when Stone hosted SNL.

Credits: Couple image via; Inset ring image courtesy of Catbird.
December 12th, 2019
For more than 12 years, the Diamond Empowerment Fund (DEF) has helped diamond communities around the world to become strong, stable, prosperous and socially empowered. On December 5, the program announced that its familiar tagline — "Diamonds Do Good" — will now be used as the business name of the organization.

According to an official statement, the Diamond Empowerment Fund's name change seizes on the "simplicity, significance and resonance" of the "Diamonds Do Good" tagline. And, in keeping with the change, the non-profit organization also reimagined its logo.

Inspired by social rights activist Nelson Mandela and founded in 2007 by business entrepreneur Russell Simmons and leaders in the diamond and jewelry industries, the nonprofit DEF has changed lives in the communities where diamonds are mined, cut, polished and sold.

In recent years, the DEF (now Diamonds Do Good) has told the stories of its good work on social media and through Public Service Announcements (PSAs).

Those stories have resonated with consumers and the trade alike. Consumers now have a better image of the natural diamond industry and are more interested in purchasing a natural diamond after reading the "do good" stories hosted on

• In the Madhya Pradesh region of central India, for instance, 4,700 villagers now have access to clean drinking water thanks to the initiatives of diamond producer Rio Tinto.

• In the Siberian town of Mirny, 2,000 youngsters have access to a state-of-the-art Cultural and Sports Complex built and funded by the diamond mining company ALROSA.

• In South Africa, the De Beers Group is supporting small business initiatives and providing promising youth with access to higher education.

• In a remote Chinese village, retailer Chow Tai Fook is helping to provide vital medical care to new mothers and small children.

• And across North America, jewelers are helping youngsters in need through their own generosity and via the initiatives of a charitable fund called Jewelers For Children.

Credits: Images via
December 13th, 2019
Welcome to a special holiday edition of Music Friday. Today, a cash-strapped Toby Keith reluctantly agrees to visit his local jeweler in the comical 1995 release, "Christmas Rock."

In the song, we learn that Keith's wife has been spending a lot of time looking at jewelry catalogs. She knows what she wants for Christmas, and practical, household items, such as pots and pans or a long nightshirt, are not going to cut it this year. She wants "something shinin' on her hand" and it had better be a diamond or an emerald.

Keith tries to plead his case: They're on a strict budget and they have to keep their spending down. Her reaction: She sheds a "big ol' tear."

The man who complains that his "billfold doesn't have a prayer" finds himself en route to his local jeweler.

He sings, "Down to the jewelry store, here I go / Hear the clerk say, "Ho, ho, ho" / She wants a Christmas rock / But Santa's pockets ain't got no roll."

Ironically, 18 years after the song was released, Keith appeared on the cover of Forbes magazine under the headline "Country Music's $500 Million Man."

"Christmas Rock" appeared as the third track from his first holiday album, Christmas To Christmas. Over the course of his 26-year music career, Keith has produced 19 studio albums, two Christmas albums and five compilation albums, with worldwide sales of 40 million units. Sixty-one singles have hit the Billboard Hot Country songs list, including 20 chart toppers.

Born in Clinton, Okla, in 1961, Toby Keith Covel became interested in music as a youngster. His grandmother owned a supper club in Fort Smith, Ark., and the young boy would visit during the summers. Keith did odd jobs around the club and got to interact with the band members. He got is first guitar at the age of eight.

After graduating high school, Keith worked as a derrick hand in the oil fields, but also performed for $35 a night at local bars as the frontman for the Easy Money Band. The band played the honky tonk circuit in Oklahoma and Texas, but never made it big.

Nearing 30 years of age, Keith decided to move to Nashville to see if he could land a recording contract and fulfill his dreams of a career in the music business. He distributed demo tapes to record companies in the city, but there was no interest.

Keith's luck changed when a flight attendant and fan gave one of his demo tapes to Harold Shedd, a Mercury Records executive. Shedd later saw Keith perform live and quickly signed him to a record deal.

Since 2002, the singer, songwriter, actor and record producer has made numerous trips to the Middle East to support and entertain the U.S. men and women serving near the front lines.

Please check out the audio track of Keith performing "Christmas Rock." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Christmas Rock"
Written by Lewis Anderson. Performed by Toby Keith.

My billfold doesn't have a prayer
There's Christmas catalogs everywhere
She keeps looking at the jewelry section
Cutting pictures out of her selections

I said, "We need to hold it down this year"
And in her eye she got a big ol' tear
She wants a Christmas rock
But Santa's pockets ain't got no roll

She don't want pots and pans
Just something shinin' on her hand
With an emerald or a diamond on it
I had a budget but she's gone and blown it

Down to the jewelry store, here I go
Hear the clerk say, "Ho, ho, ho"
She wants a Christmas rock
But Santa's pockets ain't got no roll

She don't want anything from Sears
No tools or garden shears
There's something special on her mind
And I can't even afford the shine

I wish she'd settled for a long nightshirt
No, I've got to give till it hurts
She wants a Christmas rock
But Santa's pockets ain't got no roll

She don't want pots and pans
Just something shinin' on her hand
With an emerald or a diamond on it
I had a budget but she's gone and blown it

Down to the jewelry store, here I go
Hear the clerk say, "Ho, ho, ho"
She wants a Christmas rock
But Santa's pockets ain't got no roll

She wants a Christmas rock
But ol' Santa's pockets ain't got no roll

Credit: Photo by Spc. Aaron Rosencrans [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
December 16th, 2019
Dripping with gem-adorned ornaments, the Christmas tree in the lobby of the ultra-chic Kempinski Hotel Bahia in Marbella, Spain, is the most expensive in the world. The tree was created by British haute couture designer Debbie Wingham and is valued at a staggering $15 million.

According to published reports, the show-stopping tree boasts a number of over-the-top decorations, including a miniature BVLGARI handbag, a Louis Vuitton carriage, a blue diamond nutcracker and a red diamond-encrusted emu egg.

Wingham — who is credited with designing the world's most expensive wedding cake (a $55 million treat commissioned by a client in Dubai) and the world's most expensive shoes (sandals made with gold, pink and blue diamonds worth $17 million) — peppered the tree with diamond dust and 24-karat gold leaf.

Inspired by the verdant feathers of a peacock and the modernist Art Deco era, the tree also features unique martini glasses, feathers, perfume bottles and even 3D printed chocolate peacocks. She also included more tradition decorations, such as snowflakes, fairies and pearl-filled snow globes.

Wingham's client list includes Katy Perry, the Kardashian family, Dita Von Teese and Amanda Holden.

The current Guinness World Record holder for the world's most expensive Christmas tree belongs to the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi. Its tree was valued at about $11 million, stood 43 feet tall and was decorated with 181 pieces of jewelry and watches. Although the Kempinski Hotel Bahia has yet to submit its holiday tree for official Guinness recognition, the reported value seems to easily surpass that of the Emirates Palace tree.

On December 28, the Spanish hotel will be hosting its Diamond and Champagne Night, when guests will indulge in a "decadently curated cocktail dining experience" and have a chance to take home a diamond valued at about $2,700. Each guest will select a key and attempt to unlock a box containing the valuable treasure. Whoever’s key fits the lock will take home the dazzling diamond.

Kempinski Hotel Bahia, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, is situated near the palm tree-lined promenade of Estepona, about 20 miles west of Marbella on the Spanish Costa del Sol. The luxury beachfront property was recently named "Spain’s Best Hotel Spa" during the fifth annual World Spa Awards.

Credits: Images courtesy of Kempinski Hotel Bahia.
December 17th, 2019
Back in 1993, billionaire Warren Buffett tried to convince fellow billionaire Bill Gates to spend $370 million on an engagement ring, according to author Glen Arnold in his newly released book, The Deals of Warren Buffett Volume 2: The Making of a Billionaire.

According to Arnold's account, Gates and his future wife, Melinda, were visiting Omaha to attend a Berkshire Hathaway shareholder's conference. Buffett met the couple at the airport and whisked them to one of his businesses, Borsheims, to do some engagement ring shopping.

In making his pitch to the Microsoft founder, Buffett explained that he spent 6% of his net worth on an engagement ring in 1951 and that Gates should follow suit. At the time, Gates' net worth was $6.2 billion, so the 6% budget would put the ring price at $370 million.

When Buffett bought his ring as a 21-year-old in 1951, his net worth was $10,000, so the ring price was about $600. Accounting for inflation, the value of the ring today would be about $6,000.

While Gates didn't buy into Buffett's pitch, a $370 million purchase in 1993 would be equivalent to $660 million in today's dollars.

If Gates did, in fact, have an engagement ring budget of $660 million today, what could he buy?

Imagine a Gates fantasy ring set with the 59.6-carat "Pink Star" ($71.2 million), the 18.96-carat "Pink Legacy" ($50.3 million), the 14.62-carat "Oppenheimer Blue" ($57.5 million), the 12.03-carat Blue Moon of Josephine ($48.5 million), the 15.38-carat "Unique Pink" ($31.5 million), the 24.18-carat "Cullinan Dream" ($25.4 million). The total weight of the ring would be 144.77 carats and the billionaire would have used barely half his budget.

It's been reported that Gates proposed to Melinda with a 1-carat diamond ring. The couple took their vows in Hawaii in 1994 and have been married for 25 years.

Having failed to convince his friend to make the $370 million purchase in 1993, Buffett reportedly joked, "We didn't have quite as big a day that Sunday as I had hoped."

Buffett, 89, and Gates, 64, remain close friends and are considered two of the richest men in the world. Buffett's net worth is estimated at $87 billion, and Gates' net worth is approximately $106 billion.

A famously frugal man despite his riches, Buffett was remarried to Astrid Menks in 2006 after his first wife passed away. He bought the engagement ring at Borsheims and his daughter reportedly said that she was "sure" her dad took advantage of the employee discount.

Credits: Bill Gates photo by ENERGY.GOV [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Warren Buffett photo by USA White House [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
December 18th, 2019
Nestled in the picture-postcard town of Bethel, Maine (pop. 2,689) is a world-class museum and education facility featuring 40,000 gems and minerals, 6,000 meteorites, a library of 10,000 volumes and nearly two dozen interactive exhibits. The Maine Mineral & Gem Museum (MMGM) opened its doors to the public for the first time last Thursday.

Comprising a 15,000-square-foot space on three floors, the museum is home to the single oldest igneous rock in the solar system and a moon rock five time larger than any returned to earth by an Apollo mission. It also features exotic specimens from Mars and fragments of asteroids embedded with extraterrestrial gemstones.

The MMGM also celebrates Maine's rich mining tradition. Exhibited are several historic mineral collections, including the Perham Collection, which has been on view in Maine for 90 years. In addition, many of Maine’s most celebrated specimens of tourmaline, beryl and other native gems are presented along with captivating narratives from the earliest days of gem exploration through today. Among the highlights are a 1,450-carat smoky quartz (the largest cut gemstone from Maine) and a Tiffany necklace highlighting a Maine tourmaline.

The museum was co-founded by the husband-and-wife team of Dr. Lawrence Stifler and Mary McFadden. It was the couple's passion for conservation that led to the establishment of the MMGM. Over the course of decades, they created a land trust of more than 15,000 acres that encompassed the historic Bumpus Mine, home to the famous giant beryl crystal discoveries of the 1920s. The legacy of this mine spawned the idea of building a museum to honor Maine’s gems, minerals and mining history.

The founders are supported by an all-star team of geologists, pegmatologists and cosmochemists. Museum curator Dr. Carl Francis was for decades the Curator of Harvard’s Mineralogical and Geological Museum, and Dr. William “Skip” Simmons is one of the world’s foremost pegmatologists. The research team includes two cosmochemists: UCLA’S Dr. Alan Rubin and Dr. Henning Haack, the former Curator of Meteorites at the Natural History Museum of Denmark. They were both brought on board by Darryl Pitt of the Macovich Collection in New York City, who was responsible for acquiring 99 percent of the meteorites on display, according to The Boston Globe.

Stifler and McFadden were also determined to ensure that the MMGM would be a research and educational facility sought out by scholars from around the world. Unrivaled for a museum of its size, the on-site laboratory houses an electron microprobe, a scanning electron microscope, an X-ray diffractometer and other instruments that provide the foundation for advanced mineralogical research.

“We have more of the moon than the world’s 10 leading science museums combined,” Stifler told The Boston Globe. “Anyone who wants to study the moon would have to come here.”

The MMGM was designed by the Paulus Design Group, which counts The Smithsonian among its clients. The interactive exhibits were fabricated by 1220 Exhibits, which is credited with creating the displays for the National Football League’s and International Tennis Federation’s Halls of Fame. Armatures were produced by 10-31, which has worked for the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“The Maine Mineral and Gem Museum celebrates the miners who made the discoveries, scientists and their research, lapidaries who transform rough stones into stunning gems, and educators who make science fun for us all. This is their story,” said Stifler. “Creating the MMGM has been both inspiring and humbling. We are deeply honored to share it with the people of Maine and citizens of the world.”

“People of all ages will leave here inspired," added McFadden "and not just as a result of this being a place to be able to hold a piece of the moon or Mars.”

The MMGM is located in western Maine near the New Hampshire border. It's about a 90-minute drive from Portland, Maine. The museum is open six days a week (closed on Tuesdays). The cost of admission is $15 for adults (12+), $12 for seniors, $10 for students. Children 12 and under are free. For more information, visit

Credits: Images courtesy of Maine Mineral & Gem Museum; Pear-cut amethyst (161.8 carats); Beryl group of three gems includes trilliant-cut heliodore (16.0 carats), radiant-cut aquamarine (59.2 carats), trilliant-cut goshenite (12.4 carats); cinnamon-colored elbaite tourmaline (52.1 carats); Tourmaline crystal.
December 19th, 2019
In announcing her re-engagement to former basketball pro Juan Dixon, Real Housewives of Potomac star Robyn Dixon explained why the couple opted for a pink morganite engagement ring.

"An untraditional relationship calls for a non-traditional ring!" Robyn exclaimed in an Instagram post seen Monday by her 316,000 followers.

She went on to describe how she told "a little birdie" that if Juan was to ever propose to her again, she would prefer the pink stone instead of a traditional diamond.

The second proposal took place this past Friday at the holiday wrap party for Season 5 of their Bravo reality show.

"Juan gave the sweetest speech and set the whole room into an uproar when he got down on one knee!" Robyn told "It was truly a special night and is definitely much sweeter the second time around. Oh, and he knows me well and got my ring just right!"

On Instagram, Robyn explained how morganite symbolizes her relationship with Juan.

"I fell in love with the Pink Morganite stone because I wanted something with significance and meaning," she wrote. "Morganite represents unconditional love — something that our relationship exhibits and has relied upon. My beautiful ring, commissioned by Juan and custom made by @nicolerosejewelry, is an emerald cut, double diamond halo with pink morganite center."

The 18-karat white gold ring features a 5-carat morganite with a double halo of diamonds weighing a total of 1.2 carats.

The couple's relationship had been somewhat complicated for the past seven years.

The high school sweethearts were engaged for the first time in October 2005. Then a star on the Washington Wizards, Juan popped the question on Miami Beach by spelling out in the sand, "RB – Will you marry me?”

Robyn, 40, and Juan, 41, had two children together, but divorced in 2012. In an odd arrangement, the couple continued to live in the same house for the sake of maintaining the family unit. Over time, they grew even closer together and decided to give marriage another go.

Robyn thanked her fans and friends for their support.

"Sweeter the second time around!" she wrote. "Thank you to everyone who loved, supported, rooted and prayed for Juan and I. We truly appreciate all of the love and congratulatory wishes as we embark on #DixonsPartDeux." She punctuated the post with a red heart emoji.

Morganite as an engagement stone has gotten more attention recently. In The Knot’s 2019 Jewelry and Engagement Study, morganite was mentioned as a favorite alternative stone.

While 83% of those surveyed said they preferred a traditional diamond center stone, 10% chose "other precious stones." Of that group, morganite accounted for 12%, just behind sapphire at 19%.

Morganite is a member of the beryl family of gemstones, which includes emerald and aquamarine. Once known simply as pink beryl, the gemstone got its current name in 1911 when the famous New York gemologist G. F. Kunz recommended that the pretty pink stone be named for banker and mineral collector John Pierpont Morgan. The New York Academy of Sciences agreed and the pink variety of beryl was officially designated as "morganite."

Credits: Images via Instagram/robyndixon10.
December 20th, 2019
Welcome to a special holiday edition of Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, 98 Degrees frontman Nick Lachey is ready to pop the question in the 1999 Christmas hit, "This Gift."

In the chorus of the song, we learn that the "gift” is actually an engagement ring. He sings, “'Cause I’ve been waiting to give this gift tonight / I’m down on my knees / There’s no better time / It’s something to last for as long as you live / Tonight I’m gonna give you all my heart can give.”

The song also includes a gemstone reference in the first verse. Here's how Lachey sets the romantic scene: “The snow is falling / The city is white / Your eyes are shining / like diamonds tonight.”

“This Gift” was the first single released from the group’s third studio album and first holiday album, This Christmas, which sold more than one million copies in the U.S. alone. “This Gift” also was well received, as it peaked at #40 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, #25 on the Canadian Singles chart and #14 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart.

98 Degrees — comprising band members Lachey, brother Drew Lachey, Jeff Timmons and Justin Jeffre — enjoyed a phenomenal run from 1996 to 2003. The group notched eight Top 40 singles in the U.S. and sold 10 million records worldwide.

The group disbanded in 2003, although Nick Lachey stated on the group’s official web site that there was no breakup, just an extended hiatus. Group members pursued other creative endeavors during the “hiatus” but came back together in 2012 for what was supposed to be a one-time performance at the Mixtape Festival in Hershey, Pa.

After the show, group members agreed to get back into the studio to work on a new album, 2.0, which released in May of 2013. They also thrilled their fans during “The Package” tour of 2013 — a series of nearly 50 concerts featuring three prominent boy bands (Boys II Men, New Kids on the Block and 98 Degrees.)

Trivia: The group agreed on the name 98 Degrees after rejecting two other possibilities: Just Us and Next Issue.

The group continues to tour, with upcoming performances in Windsor and Niagara Falls, Canada, Honolulu, Singapore and Manila.

Please check out the video of Nick Lachey and 98 Degrees performing "This Gift." The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“This Gift”
Written by Anders Bagge, Arnthor Birgisson, Dane Deviller and Sean Hosein. Performed by 98 Degrees.

The snow is falling
The city is white
Your eyes are shining
like diamonds tonight
And we’re all alone
There’s no one home
You’re finally in my arms again

The night is silent
And Christmas is here
I couldn’t ask for more than having you near
‘Cause I love you girl (love you girl)
And I always will (always will)
And now I know the moment is right
The moment is right

‘Cause I’ve been waiting to give this gift tonight
I’m down on my knees
There’s no better time
It’s something to last for as long as you live
Tonight I’m gonna give you all my heart can give

I thought I’d give you something shiny and new
I’d try to find something worthy of you
But I realized when I looked inside
There’s some things that money can’t buy (oh no)

I feel the magic whenever you’re near
I feel it even more this time of the year
‘Cause I love you girl (love you girl)
I always will (always will)
And now I know the moment is right
The moment is right


You know I’ll always be true to you
And you know I’m the one you can turn to
Any time, any place, or anywhere
You know that I’ll always be there


Credit: Screen capture via
December 23rd, 2019
A Frisco, Texas, woman was miraculously reunited with her missing engagement ring after a car detailing specialist spotted it in the dusty bucket of his Shop-Vac®.

Gregory Weatherford, the owner of Mr. G's Mobile Car Wash and Detailing, makes a living by restoring showroom freshness to dirty and grimy autos. This often entails vacuuming the icky stuff that gets between the seats and collects on the car mats.

Recently, his high-powered vacuum was giving him trouble, so he popped off the top.

"You know sometimes things get stuck in there," Weatherford told Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA.

He poked around in the bucket and was shocked by what he found under layers of dirt, pet hair and food crumbs.

"I happened to be fumbling around and I looked down, and I see this ring," he said.

Meanwhile, Michelle Seale was trying to noodle out the best way to tell her husband that she lost her engagement ring.

"It was scary knowing that I had to tell him I officially may have lost it this time," Seale told WFAA.

Weatherford and his team knock out about 10 vehicles each day, so he knew the ring had to belong to one of the clients they served most recently.

He made a list of 70 customers and launched a text message to each of them. One of the recipients was Seale.

"I got so excited. I was like, 'It has to be mine, it has to be!'" Seale exclaimed.

After Weatherford sent her a pic of the ring, Seale new that her detailer had saved the day.

"I was super excited," Seale said. "And I got to tell my husband I lost it, but it was found!"

Check out WFAA's report at this link...

Credits: Screen captures via

December 24th, 2019
Sports fans and jewelry lovers will certainly remember 2019 as the year of wonderful, over-the-top championship rings.

It was a year the New England Patriots celebrated their sixth Super Bowl victory, the Boston Red Sox commemorated a franchise-record 108 wins, the Toronto Raptors brought the Larry O’Brien trophy to Canada for the first time, the St. Louis Blues finally carried the Stanley Cup aloft, breaking a 52-year drought, and Atlanta United players came out on top in just their second MLS season.

Each amazing accomplishment was accompanied by an equally impressive ring.

• In June, the New England Patriots' sixth Super Bowl ring was described by the team as the largest and most ornate ring ever created for any team in any sport. The football-shaped, 10-karat ring glistened with 422 diamonds weighing 8.25 carats and 20 blue sapphires totaling 1.60 carats.

The ring's design was loaded with symbolism. For instance, the design called for the iconic blue and red Patriots logo to be surrounded by 38 diamonds, with a 39th diamond set in the star. Combined, these 39 diamonds represented two NFL records achieved by the Pats with their Super Bowl LIII win. It was the franchise’s 37th playoff victory — more than any other NFL team. In addition, the Pats became the second team in NFL history to win six Super Bowls.

• Two months earlier, the Boston Red Sox received their World Series rings set with 185 gemstones weighing a total of 15 carats. The ring was a fitting tribute to what has been called a "team for the ages." The dominant Red Sox of 2018 notched a franchise-record 108 wins during the regular season and then pummeled three postseason opponents — the Yankees, Astros and Dodgers — at an 11-3 clip to secure their fourth title since 2004.

The 185 gems represent the 162 regular season games, 14 post-season games and nine World Series titles now held by the Red Sox. The iconic Boston “B” logo on the face of the 14-karat white gold ring is formed by 21 custom-cut genuine rubies, which represent the four World Series titles won by the Red Sox during the 17 seasons of Fenway Sports Group ownership.

• In October, the Toronto Raptors celebrated their first-ever NBA championship with gigantic 14-karat yellow gold rings emblazoned with 650 diamonds weighing 14 carats. The number of diamonds and the total diamond carat weight were touted at the time as records for a championship ring in any sport.

The ring also set a new record for the largest single diamond in any professional championship ring. A 1.25-carat round diamond stands in for the basketball in the ring's representation of the Larry O’Brien trophy. The face of the ring is made up of 74 diamonds, representing the number of wins during the 2018-19 season.

• At the end of September, the St. Louis Blues' received their first-ever Stanley Cup rings, which sparkled with 282 diamonds and 51 sapphires. The impressive 14-karat white and yellow gold rings boasted a total gem weight of 10.6 carats.

The ring face features the Blues' distinctive Blue Note logo rendered with 16 genuine, custom-cut blue sapphires. The number 16 represents the number of playoff victories earned by the Blues on their path to the championship. The Blue Note logo sits atop the Stanley Cup, rendered with 45 pavé-set diamonds. To the left and right of the Cup are 30 more diamonds for a total of 75 — a number representing the goals scored by the Blues during the 2019 postseason.

• And, finally, we revisit the rings presented to the Atlanta United players this past March. The ring's design uses white diamonds, yellow diamonds, custom cuts of garnet and onyx, and a single ruby to tell the story of a remarkable franchise that shot to the top of the soccer world in just its second season. The diamonds weigh a total of 2.03 carats.

Crafted in 10-karat white and yellow gold, the rings were adorned with 101 white diamonds that create a cascading waterfall effect on the ring top. An additional 14 color-enhanced yellow diamonds form the “A,” which sits atop the iconic five stripes, which mimics the distinctive red and black uniform of the team. Ring manufacturer Jostens rendered the five stripes in alternating custom-cut slices of garnet and black onyx. The stripes represent the five pillars of the team: unity, determination, community, excellence and innovation.

Credits: Red Sox, Patriots, Blues and Atlanta United images courtesy of Jostens. Raptors ring courtesy of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and Baron Championship Rings.
December 27th, 2019
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you classic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Marilyn Monroe lights up the silver screen with her iconic 1953 performance of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" from the hit movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Playing the gold-digging Lorelei Lee, Monroe sings, "The French are glad to die for love / They delight in fighting duels / But I prefer a man who lives / And gives expensive jewels / A kiss on the hand may be quite continental / But diamonds are a girl's best friend."

Later in the the song, Monroe acknowledges that physical beauty won't last forever, but diamonds will always stand the test of time: "But square-cut or pear-shaped / These rocks don't lose their shape / Diamonds are a girl's best friend."

Written by Jule Styne and Leo Robin, "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" was sung by Carol Channing in the original 1949 Broadway production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

It was Monroe's version, however, that has stood the test of time. Her performance has inspired contemporary interpretations by Beyonce, Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Gerri Halliwell, Nicole Kidman, Christina Aguilera, Anna Nicole Smith and many more. The American Film Institute voted Monroe's performance the 12th most important film song of all time.

It's been reported that the elaborate showstopper took four days to shoot on the Fox lot, with Monroe providing nearly all of the vocals. The operatic "No, no, no's" at the beginning of the song were dubbed by soprano Marni Nixon.

Please check out the video of Monroe's amazing rendition of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along...

"Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend"
Written by Leo Robin and Jule Styne. Performed by Marilyn Monroe.

The French are glad to die for love
They delight in fighting duels
But I prefer a man who lives
And gives expensive jewels
A kiss on the hand may be quite continental
But diamonds are a girl's best friend

A kiss may be grand but it won't pay the rental
On your humble flat, or help you at the automat
Men grow cold as girls grow old
And we all lose our charms in the end
But square-cut or pear-shaped
These rocks don't lose their shape
Diamonds are a girl's best friend

...Tiffany's... Cartier... Black Star, Frost, Gorham
Talk to me, Harry, Winston, tell me all about it!
There may come a time when a lass needs a lawyer
But diamonds are a girl's best friend

There may come a time when a hard-boiled employer
Thinks you're awful nice
But get that ice or else no dice
He's your guy when stocks are high
But beware when they start to descend
It's then that those louses go back to their spouses
Diamonds are a girl's best friend

I've heard of affairs that are strictly platonic
But diamonds are a girl's best friend

And I think affairs that you must keep liaisonic
Are better bets if little pets get big baguettes
Time rolls on and youth is gone
And you can't straighten up when you bend
But stiff back or stiff knees
You stand straight at Tiffany's

Diamonds... diamonds...
- I don't mean rhinestones -
But diamonds, are a girl's best friend

Credit: Screen capture via
December 30th, 2019
Archaeologists with the University of Cincinnati have unearthed two Bronze Age tombs containing a trove of engraved jewelry that help tell the story of life along the Mediterranean 3,500 years ago.

The two beehive-shaped tombs are located in Pylos, Greece, just a stone's throw from the grave of the “Griffin Warrior,” a powerful Greek figure whose precious jewelry, weapons and grooming supplies were discovered by the same team in 2015.

The researchers were surprised to find that the princely tombs were littered with gold flakes, indicating that gold leaf once adorned the stone walls.

“Like with the Griffin Warrior grave, by the end of the first week we knew we had something that was really important,” said Sharon Stocker, an archaeologist in UC's classics department, who supervised the excavation.

Added Jack Davis, head of UC’s classics department, “It soon became clear to us that lightning had struck again.”

One of the most fascinating jewelry items pulled from the site was a gold ring depicting two bulls flanked by sheaves of grain, specifically barley.

“It’s an interesting scene of animal husbandry — cattle mixed with grain production. It’s the foundation of agriculture,” Davis said. “As far as we know, it’s the only representation of grain in the art of Crete or Minoan civilization.”

An agate sealstone featured two lion-like mythical creatures called "genii" standing upright on clawed feet. They carry a serving vase and an incense burner, a tribute for the altar before them featuring a sprouting sapling between horns of consecration, Stocker said. Above the genii is an unusual 16-pointed star.

“It’s rare. There aren’t many 16-pointed stars in Mycenaean iconography," she said.

The UC archaeologists also found a gold pendant in the family tombs at Pylos featuring the likeness of Hathor, an Egyptian goddess who was a protector of the dead.

According to Stocker, the evidence gathered from the tombs paints a picture of accumulated wealth and status. The tombs contained amber from the Baltic, amethyst from Egypt, imported carnelian and lots of gold. The tombs sit on a scenic vista overlooking the Mediterranean Sea on the spot where the Palace of Nestor would later rise and fall to ruins.

“I think these are probably people who were very sophisticated for their time,” Stocker said. “They have come out of a place in history where there were few luxury items and imported goods. And all of a sudden at the time of the first Tholos tombs, luxury items appear in Greece. You have this explosion of wealth.”

Although Pylos is considered a remote region of Greece because one has to cross mountains to get there, during the Bronze Age it was an important hub for commerce and trade due to its proximity to the sea.

Stocker said that the tombs were protected from the elements and potential looters by an estimated 40,000 stones the size of watermelons. To access the tombs, each stone had to be removed individually.

The UC’s team is planning to continue its work at Pylos for at least the next two years while they and other researchers from around the globe unravel mysteries contained in the artifacts.

“It has been 50 years since any substantial tombs of this sort have been found at any Bronze Age palatial site. That makes this extraordinary,” Davis said.

Credits: Images courtesy of the Department of Classics, University of Cincinnati.
December 31st, 2019
Welcome to our year-end review of the rough diamonds that rocked our world in 2019. Each is unique in its own way and has a fascinating story to tell...

Diamond in a Diamond.
Revealed to the world via a social media post, Alrosa's “diamond in a diamond” is a head-scratching, natural phenomenon that rates #1 in our survey.

Alrosa had surprised its Instagram followers in September with a video that seemed to show a tiny rough diamond moving freely in the cavity of a larger one. The caption read, “A diamond in a diamond? We couldn’t help but share this very special find with you.”

After its scientists confirmed that both the host and smaller crystal were diamonds, Alrosa named the double-diamond “Matryoshka” because its strange configuration was reminiscent of the popular Russian nesting dolls. In November, the Russian mining company added the 0.62-carat specimen to its collection of rare finds and declared that it was not for sale.

World's Second-Largest Rough Diamond.
In April, Lucara recovered a massive 1,758-carat grey-black diamond from its Karowe mine in Botswana and, in July, the world's second-largest rough diamond was named “Sewelô,” which means “rare find” in the native Setswana language.

Sewelô is the size of a tennis ball and weighs about 12.4 ounces. Measuring 83mm x 62mm x 46mm, the rough diamond was characterized by Lucara as “near” gem quality with “domains of high-quality white gem.” The unbroken 1,758-carat stone was recovered through Lucara’s XRT circuit in April 2019.

By employing XRT scanners, diamonds can be separated from other material based on their chemical composition. Since commissioning the XRT circuit in 2015, a total of 12 diamonds in excess of 300 carats have been recovered at Karowe, including two greater than 1,000 carats.

Pulled From the Scrapheap.
Imagine finding treasure in your trash. That’s exactly what happened when Lucara salvaged a 375-carat gem-quality diamond from a pile of old tailings at its Karowe mine. Tailings are the residue of the diamond-bearing ore that was processed during an original mining operation.

The company revisited the tailings because they were generated prior to the 2015 implementation of its advanced XRT diamond scanners (mentioned in the Sewelô review), which were designed to identify and preserve high-value diamonds of 100 carats or larger. The 375-carat rough diamond was just one of nine 100-plus-carat diamonds recovered from the re-processing of old material.

Lucara’s Karowe Mine has yielded many of the world’s largest diamonds, including the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona, the 813-carat Constellation and the 1,758-carat Sewelô.

A Legacy Continues.
Also famous for producing many of the world's largest rough diamonds — including the 3,106-carat Cullinan — the Cullinan mine in South Africa is still going strong after 117 years. In March, Petra Diamonds reported that it had unearthed a D-color, Type IIa rough diamond weighing 425 carats. Type IIa gems are the purest of all diamonds because they are composed solely of carbon with virtually no trace elements in the crystal lattice.

Two months later, the mining company sold the rough gem for just under $15 million to Dubai-based Stargems Group and Belgium-based Choron, and named the impressive stone “Legacy of the Cullinan Diamond Mine” to honor its connection to the legendary diamond source.

Originally known as the Premier Mine, the Cullinan mine has delivered seven of the world’s largest 50 rough diamonds, based on carat weight. These include the Cullinan Heritage (507 carats), Centenary (599 carats), The Golden Jubilee (755 carats) and the biggest gem-quality rough diamond of all time — the Cullinan.

Once-in-a-Lifetime Find.
The largest blue diamond ever discovered in Botswana was revealed to the world by the state-run Okavango Diamond Company in April. The 20.46-carat faceted gem was cut from a 41.11-carat rough diamond sourced at the Orapa mine. The gem was named “The Okavango Blue” to honor the World Heritage Site known as the Okavango Delta. The lush delta is the home to hippos, elephants, crocodiles, lions, leopards, giraffes and rhinos.

“It is incredibly unusual for a stone of this color and nature to have come from Botswana. [It’s] a once-in-a-lifetime find,” said Okavango’s managing director Marcus ter Haar.

While the company did not reveal what The Okavango Blue might be worth, a similar diamond sold at a Christie’s auction in 2016 may hold the answer. The Cullinan Dream, a 24.18-carat intense blue diamond with a VS2 clarity rating, sold for $25.4 million at Christie’s New York in June of 2016. Based on that performance, one might presume The Okavango Blue has the potential to yield about $1 million per carat.

Credits: Diamond in a diamond image courtesy of Alrosa; Sewelô image courtesy of Lucara; 375-carat diamond image courtesy of Lucara; Legacy of the Cullinan Diamond Mine image courtesy of Petra Diamonds. Okavango Blue diamond images courtesy of Okavango Diamond Company.