Articles in August 2020

August 3rd, 2020
Here's a birthstone riddle for the month of August: What do the world's largest faceted peridot and the Brooklyn Bridge have in common?

If you're stumped, a little background may help...

About the Peridot
The 311-carat faceted peridot (shown in the grouping, above) is currently part of the Smithsonian's National Gem Collection in Washington, DC, but originated on Egypt's Saint John's Island in the Red Sea.

As early as 1500 B.C., ancient Egyptians mined peridot on that same island (then known as Topazios) and anointed the vibrant green stone as the “gem of the sun.”

Legend has it that miners on the island worked day and night to collect the green gems for the Pharaoh. Nighttime mining was possible because of the way the gems reacted to lamp light in the darkness. It is also believed that many, if not all, of Cleopatra's emeralds were actually deep green peridot stones from the Topazios mines.

While nearly all of the peridot that you see in your jeweler’s showcase was born deep within the Earth’s mantel, it's also first gem to be discovered on another planet. The Mars landing of 2003 revealed that green peridot crystals — in the form of the gem’s less-precious cousin, olivine — cover about 19,000 square miles of the Red Planet’s surface.

About the Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge was one of the most impressive engineering feats of the 19th century. Designed by John A. Roebling, the world's largest suspension bride at that time would span 1,595.5 feet, linking Brooklyn and Manhattan. The 14-year project was started in 1869, the same year Roebling would pass away at the age of 63.

Roebling's son, Washington, supervised the construction of his dad's vision, with the assistance of his wife, Emily. On May 24, 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was unveiled to the world during a celebration attended by President Chester A. Arthur, Gov. Grover Cleveland of New York and hundreds of thousands of curious onlookers. Circus promoter P.T. Barnum famously displayed the strength of the bridge by leading 21 elephants across it.

What's in Common?
What few people know about Washington Roebling was that the world famous civil engineer was an avid collector of rocks and minerals. Upon his death in 1926, Roebling's collection of 16,000 specimens and an endowment of $150,000 for its maintenance were donated by his son, John A. Roebling II, to the Smithsonian Institution. The collection, which included the world's largest faceted peridot, would became an integral part of the National Gem Collection.

So, what connects the famous peridot with the famous bridge? Washington Roebling.

Credits: Image of peridot grouping by Chip Clark/Smithsonian. Brooklyn Bridge by Suiseiseki / CC BY-SA.
August 4th, 2020
The dramatic fourth and final installment in Gemfields' short-film series paints a vivid picture of how rubies — "the rarest of all colored gemstones" — are born deep within the Earth.

The 78-second film opens with the narrator describing an ominous place, where atoms become minerals under intense heat and pressure.

We learn that when the mineral corundum welcomes chromium, the resulting crystals become ruby red. (Corundum in all other colors are classified as sapphires.)

Lambda Films utilized “liquid art” (a mixture of paint and oil) to simulate how rubies are formed at an elemental level.

We also learn how rubies — the symbol of passion, prosperity and protection — are responsibly sourced in the African country of Mozambique. (Since 2012, Gemfields has been mining rubies from the Montepuez mine in Mozambique, which is situated on the world’s largest ruby deposit.)

The Lambda creative team also used sculptured marble tableaus in 3D to depict ancient warriors who carried rubies to war, as well as contemporary consumers who shop for rubies today.

In the final scene, another marble tableau is used to tie the story together, with the warriors occupying the first level of a two-level structure and the modern shoppers on the upper floor standing under an archway in the likeness of a gemstone ring.

Gemfields is featuring the Rubies film on its website and on its YouTube channel, with shorter teasers posted to Gemfields’ social media.

Gemfields' YouTube channel is where you can also find each of the previous three installments.

The first one emphasized the miner’s commitment to responsible sourcing; the second shone the spotlight on emeralds; and the third introduced the “6Cs” of buying a ruby or emerald.

For the past 12 years, Gemfields has operated Kagem, a Zambian mine that's said to be the world’s largest and most productive source of fine emeralds.
Please check out the Rubies video, below…

Credits: All images © Gemfields.
August 5th, 2020
Heather Rae Young told her 932,000 Instagram followers that she is "absolutely obsessed" with her new 8.08-carat emerald-cut diamond and that she can't stop staring at it.

The 32-year-old former model and Selling Sunset reality TV star received the gorgeous ring during a romantic beachfront proposal orchestrated by Tarek El Moussa, who is best known for his hit HGTV show, Flip or Flop. In the lead-up to the proposal, which was filmed by HGTV, Young was led down a sandy pathway lined with candles and flowers.

El Moussa recruited jewelry designer Benny Hayoun of Los Angeles-based Benny and the Gems to help him source the perfect stone. Emerald is her favorite diamond cut and the carat weight of 8.08 is significant because "8" is Young's lucky number. (Eight is also said to be the luckiest number in Chinese culture, as it represents prosperity and happiness.)

"It’s perfect for me in every way!," Young exclaimed on Instagram. "Thank you Mr. El Moussa for making me the happiest!"

Young posted a series of proposal photos and asked her Instagram followers for feedback about the ring.

"Do you guys love it??? Tell me tell me!!" she wrote.

Comments were unanimously positive, with @gemmaleefarrell stating, "Literally insane," @southern.with.sass adding, "Gorgeous! Emerald cut is my absolute FAVE. Classic and timeless," and @brittanymasonofficial exclaiming, "Incredible!!!! GORGEOUS emeralds are the best! Well done."

Within four days, the post had earned more than 111,000 likes.

Young shared the inside story of how she almost got a peek of the diamond prematurely while El Moussa was filming an episode of Flip or Flop. Young was visiting the set, hanging out in a luxury van, when her boyfriend approached her and said that under no circumstances should she come outside the van or open the blinds.

"I asked him for days 'What were you doing? When can you tell me?' He wouldn’t budge. It was a hard no! Well turns out he was meeting with Benny to look at the diamond. They had it shipped in from Europe."

On his Instagram page, the 38-year-old El Moussa proudly posted pics of the emerald-cut diamond ring, adding the caption, "After receiving hundreds of messages, here it is...the RING!! My good buddy and jeweler @bennyandthegems searched all over the world for this stone!. I went with an 8.08 Carat Emerald cut diamond for my love @heatherraeyoung. So...How did I do!? Hope you like it!"

El Moussa hinted that the ring is actually a work in progress.

"Right now, I just got her the main stone, but what I want to do is design the rest of the ring together," he said. "I provide the stone, and now we actually build the ring.”

The couple told a celebrity website that they won't officially tie the knot until things are "back to normal." They're hoping that health risks related to the coronavirus pandemic will subside so they can tie the knot in about 12 months.

Credits: Images via
August 5th, 2020
Gemstone lovers rejoiced in the summer of 2016 when two leading jewelry-industry associations recognized spinel as an official birthstone for August. Best known for its vivid red color — but also available in brilliant shades of pink, purple, green and blue — spinel has been called "the great imposter" because of the prevalence of "regal rubies" that were later reclassified as spinel.

The joint announcement by the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) and Jewelers of America (JA) that spinel was joining yellow-green peridot as an August birthstone was momentous because it was only the third time the modern birthstone list was amended.

“At certain moments in history, when there is a strong call from gem enthusiasts to expand the list of official birthstones, Jewelers of America believes in recognizing the importance of historically significant gemstones and giving gemstone lovers a choice that suits their preferences,” JA President and CEO David Bonaparte said at the time.

Originally created in 1912 by the American National Retail Jewelers Association (now known as Jewelers of America), the official list was expanded in 1952 to accommodate alexandrite, citrine, tourmaline and zircon, and again in 2002 when tanzanite was welcomed as an alternate birthstone for December.

Deep red spinels that were famously mistaken for rubies include the 170-carat “Black Prince Ruby,” which is set in the Imperial State Crown in the British Crown Jewels, the 398-carat ruby-colored gem that tops the Imperial Crown of Russia and the 361-carat Timur Ruby, which was presented by the East India Company to Queen Victoria in 1851.

The cases of mistaken identity persisted until gemologists and mineralogists finally developed the technical ability to distinguish spinel from ruby. Ruby is aluminum oxide, while spinel is magnesium aluminum oxide. The latter is formed when impure limestone is altered by heat and pressure. Both spinel and ruby get their reddish color from impurities of chromium.

Spinel is durable, rating from 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs hardness scale. Ruby and sapphire, by comparison, score a 9, while diamond tops the hardness list with a 10.

The gems in the photo, above, are part of a suite consisting of 32 round brilliant-cut spinels that range in weight from 0.60 carats to 4.60 carats. They were sourced in Vietnam and became part of the Smithsonian's National Gem Collection in 2013.

In addition to Vietnam, major sources of spinel include Burma, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Tanzania and Russia.

Credit: Photo by Ken Larsen/Smithsonian.
August 7th, 2020
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, country star Jake Owen celebrates a sensational Southern summer in his 2013 release, "Days of Gold."

Owen reminisces about the days of yesteryear when he could hang out with good friends, drive his long-bed truck, sip ice-cold beer and feel the sun beating down on his skin.

He sings, "Beers ice cold and got a pretty little lady to hold / Southern summer and that sun shining down like Daddy’s silver dollar / Gotta hop on the old dirt road to the days of gold."

The 38-year-old Owen explained to that "the days of gold are the good times… the times we remember, the times we reflect on. I'll always look back on my life and remember these days... the days of gold!"

"Days of Gold" was written and released in 2012 by Jaren Johnston and Neil Mason of the music group, The Cadillac Three. Owen liked the song so much, he asked the writers if he could cover it for his next album. Owen's rendition quickly climbed to #19 on Billboard’s U.S. Hot Country Songs chart and #28 on the Canada Country chart. Its instant success was helped along by the singer’s appearance on NBC’s Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, where he performed the song live.

"Growing up in Florida and being someone who was used to always living in the sunshine… I thought it was really important to have a song that personified that," Owen told "[And] just with the melodic structure and the tempo of that song, it seemed very conducive for the kind of atmosphere I want to have at my concerts."

The title track from Owen’s fourth studio album, “Days of Gold” has earned critical acclaim. Taste of Country music reviewer Billy Dukes wrote that “Days of Gold” isn’t a song, it’s a statement. “Words like ‘uptempo’ or ‘rockin’ don’t even begin to describe the pace the singer keeps up for over three spellbinding minutes,” he wrote.

The Vero Beach, Fla., native first captured the national spotlight with his hits “Startin’ With Me,” “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You” and “Eight Second Ride.” He earned a Grammy nomination in 2008 and was named the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Vocalist in 2009.

Owen has toured with chart-topping country artists Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Little Big Town, Sugarland, Keith Urban and Jason Aldean.

Trivia: Owen's dream of becoming a professional golfer was sidelined when he was injured in a wakeboarding accident. During his recovery from reconstructive surgery, he borrowed a neighbor's guitar and taught himself how to play. The rest is history.

Please check out the video of Owen's rendition of “Days of Gold.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.

“Days of Gold”
Written by Jaren Johnston and Neil Mason. Performed by Jake Owen.

Long truck bed hop in it, fire engine red like her lipstick
Out here we can let it go
But just me and my good friends
Jug of wine, a little sip
Out here baby you just never know

Yeah, these are the days of gold
Well it’s a Southern summer, whiskey's in the air, dogs on the burner
Beer's ice cold and got a pretty little lady to hold
Southern summer and that sun shining down like Daddy’s silver dollar
Gotta hop on the old dirt road to the days of gold

A little July sky so high, moon shine by the riverside
Stealing hearts and running wild
Yeah our own world, Tennessee boys and girls running free out here it’s good times for miles
Yeah, these are the days of gold

Well it’s a Southern summer, whiskey's in the air, dogs on the burner
Beer's ice cold and got a pretty little lady to hold
Southern summer and that sun shining down like Daddy’s silver dollar
Gotta hop on the old dirt road to the days of gold

A little bit of you, a little bit of me
What you wanna do, what’s it’s gonna be
We can get wild, we can live free
Or you can shake it for me baby like a tambourine
Slice of watermelon and you spit the seeds

Sweat on your back stickin' to the seats
We can take off and beat the heat
I'll be buzzin' on you honey like a bumblebee

Yeah it’s a Southern summer, whiskey's in the air dogs on the burner
Beer's ice cold and got a pretty little lady to hold
Southern summer and that sun shining down like Daddy’s silver dollar
Gotta hop on the old dirt road to the days of gold

Credit: Photo by Lunchbox LP / CC BY.
August 10th, 2020
A young Long Island man got the best birthday gift he could have ever asked for when a thumbprint locket containing his brother's ashes was returned to him by a Good Samaritan with a metal detector.

Fiction writer and avid metal detectorist Danny McAleese discovered the precious keepsake at Smith Point County Park beach in New York's Suffolk County this past Wednesday.

The father of four said he's had a metal detector for a long time. He's found gold items and silver items, but this recent discovery was the most unusual.

"I was sweeping the beach for about two hours and I was just about to quit and I got a really nice hit," he said. "It was 8 or 10 inches down. Right where the water meets the sand. It popped out, this thumbprint. It looked really strange to me."

The oval locket measured 1 1/2 inches tall and was inscribed with this message: "Joseph I will carry you with me until I see you again."

McAleese thought the inscription might be a prayer, but his wife, Aurelia, correctly identified it as a deeply personal sentiment. The locket was a cremation pendant.

Aurelia told her husband, "We have to find who owns this."

McAleese and his wife posted pics of the thumbprint pendant to Facebook, where is was quickly shared by more than 1,000 users.

Within a few hours, the message had made its was to Hershey Park, Pa., where Dylan Miller was celebrating his birthday with his family.

Miller posted his response: "Wow today's my birthday and that's my necklace with my brother's ashes that I lost last week -- thank you so much I didn't think anyone would ever find that."

Dylan's old brother and role model, Joseph, had passed away two years ago. The younger Miller lost the pendant while tossing a football around at the beach.

"For three hours I was basically crawling on the sand, moving my hands around trying to find it," Miller told News12.

With Miller still in Hershey, Pa., a News12 reporter was able set up a video conference to connect the young man with the husband-and-wife team responsible for finding the cherished pendant and locating him on social media.

"Thank you so much. I can't put into words how grateful I am that you found it," Miller said.

"I can't put into words how happy I am that you're going to get your brother back. That's awesome," Danny McAleese responded.

"Thanks. I couldn't have asked for a better birthday gift," the young man said.

Credits: Screen captures via
August 11th, 2020
Conor McGregor, one of the most feared mixed martial artists in UFC history, revealed his sensitive side Saturday when he and his longtime girlfriend, Dee Devlin, announced their engagement on McGregor's Instagram page.

In a photo captioned, "What a birthday, my future wife," McGregor and Devlin are seen smiling ear-to-ear as the bride-to-be rests her left hand on her right shoulder so her new emerald-cut diamond ring can share the spotlight. The stone appears to be framed by a halo of small diamonds and set on a diamond band. McGregor popped the question on Devlin's 33rd birthday weekend.

Devlin's emerald-cut diamond is right on trend, as many high-profile celebrities have preferred the stepped-cut, rectangular shape that shows off the diamond's clarity.

Just last week, Heather Rae Young told her Instagram followers that she is "absolutely obsessed" with her the 8.08-carat emerald-cut diamond she received from HGTV's Tarek El Moussa. Just a week before that, songstress Demi Lovato thrilled her fans with romantic Instagram pics of her Malibu engagement to actor Max Ehrich, who proposed with a massive emerald-cut diamond ring.

Diamond experts often say the emerald shape is "built for brilliance."

A two-division UFC World Champion, the recently retired McGregor has frequently credited Devlin, his partner of 12 years, with much of his success.

“My girlfriend has been there since the start,” he told the Irish Mirror in March 2016. “She has helped me throughout this career. If it wasn’t for her, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.”

The 32-year-old McGregor's official Instagram page was flooded with well wishes. Fellow MMA fighter Holly Holm wrote, "Congratulations! Many blessings," while The Real World's JWoww (Jenni Farley) punctuated her "Congratulations" note with two heart-eyes smiling face emojis.

The Irish MMA fighter announced his retirement this past June. He had stepped away from the ring and, subsequently, returned on two previous occasions.

In 2015, McGregor captured the UFC Featherweight Championship by knocking out his opponent 13 seconds into the first round. He was also the first UFC fighter to hold titles in two weight divisions at the same time.

The couple has yet to announce a wedding date. In 2017, McGregor and Devlin became parents to their son, Conor Jr., and in early 2019, they welcomed a daughter, Croia.

Credit: Image via
August 12th, 2020
Russian mining giant Alrosa recently unearthed a massive 236-carat fancy intense yellow-brown diamond at its Ebelyakh mine in Yakutia. It's the largest natural color rough diamond ever found in Russia.

The beautiful specimen, which seems to display a surreal inner glow, measures 47mm x 24mm x 22mm (slightly wider than a golf ball). Its "fancy intense" color is one grade below the highest classification of "fancy vivid."

The stone is currently being evaluated by specialists at Alrosa’s United Selling Organization.

"After that, we will decide whether to give it to our manufacturers for cutting or sell it as a rough," said Pavel Vinikhin, the head of diamonds for Alrosa's cutting and polishing division. "Of course, cutters in any country will be interested in such a [specimen], as it has the potential to [yield] several high-quality polished diamonds.”

The Ebelyakh alluvial diamond deposit is located on the Anabar River, which runs through the Central Siberian Plateau. The remote area is 3,800 km northeast of Moscow, near the Arctic Ocean.

The mine was previously in the news for yielding a number of high-profile fancy color diamonds. In the summer of 2017, Alrosa mined three unique fancy color diamonds within a single month: a yellow, pink and purple-pink. All three stones were cut by the Diamonds of Alrosa division and presented as polished diamonds to the public.

At the end of 2019, a polished 20.69-carat fancy vivid yellow diamond called Firebird was sold by Alrosa to luxury jeweler Graff Diamonds.

Already the world’s leading diamond producer in terms of sheer output, Alrosa is looking to become a bigger player in a segment of the industry that had been dominated by Rio Tinto and Anglo American’s De Beers — gem-quality colored diamonds.

Alrosa’s push is coming at a time when Rio Tinto’s Argyle Mine in Western Australia — the world’s primary source for pink, red and blue diamonds — is just about tapped out. The mine is scheduled to close at the end of 2020.

Credits: Images courtesy of Alrosa.
August 13th, 2020
Cut from a 240-carat rough stone found in 1951 at the Premier Mine in Transvaal, South Africa, the "Victoria-Transvaal Diamond" is one of the most prized possessions in the Smithsonian’s National Gem Collection. Today’s virtual tour of the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals takes you right to the case where the 67.89-carat champagne-colored gem is featured in a stunning necklace and positioned alongside many other famous colored diamonds.

Originally called the "Transvaal Diamond" to honor its place of origin, the gem was claimed by timber baron Leonard E. Wilkinson after he placed the winning bid of $430,000 at a Palm Springs, CA, auction in 1976. (That sum is equivalent to about $2 million in today's dollars.) He later renamed the stone as a lasting tribute to his wife, Victoria.

Until this past spring, hoards of excited gem lovers would have been lining up to see the Victoria-Transvaal Diamond in person. But with all the Smithsonian museums in Washington, DC, remaining temporarily closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, we’ve been presenting these virtual tours.

Previous stops on the tour have included the “Carmen Lúcia Ruby,“ “Chalk Emerald,“ “Gifts from Napoleon,“ “Stars and Cat’s Eyes,“ the “Logan Sapphire,“ the “Dom Pedro“ aquamarine, the “Steamboat“ tourmaline and a grouping of enormous topaz.

Here’s how to navigate to the exhibit called "Diamonds." The second display in the case is the Victoria-Transvaal Diamond.

— First, click on this link…

The resulting page will be a gallery called “Geology, Gems & Minerals: Precious Gems 1.”

— Next, click the double-right-arrow once to navigate to the gallery called “Geology, Gems & Minerals: Precious Gems 2.”

When you arrive, the foreground on the center-left of the screen will be filled with a topaz exhibit. To the right of the topaz case, on the far wall, is a wide showcase called "Diamonds."

– Click and drag the screen slightly from right to left and then touch the Plus Sign to zoom in. There you will see the Victoria-Transvaal Diamond Necklace. In the screen capture, above, we have the necklace highlighted in a yellow box.

(You may touch the “X” to remove the map. This will give you a better view of the jewelry. You may restore the map by clicking the “Second” floor navigation on the top-right of the screen.)

The Victoria-Transvaal Diamond Necklace shares its case with some of the most famous diamonds in the world, including the 30.62-carat Blue Heart Diamond, the 18.30-carat yellow Shepard Diamond and the super-rare 5.03-carat DeYoung Red Diamond.

Our champagne-colored featured diamond originally had been cut to 75 carats, but then trimmed to its current weight of 67.89 carats to improve its proportions and brilliance. The natural fancy brown-yellow diamond boasts 116 facets and a clarity grade of VS2.

The pear-shaped stone is set in an elaborate necklace highlighted by 106 diamonds weighing approximately 45 carats. Baumgold Brothers Inc. is credited with designing the yellow gold necklace, which is fringed with 10 drop motifs.

Leonard Wilkinson made his fortune in the timber industry. At its peak, his milling business — Coin Millworks — was turning out 320,000 board feet of pine lumber per day and 20-plus railroad cars of finished millwork per week.

Trivia: The Victoria-Transvaal Diamond made its silver screen debut in 1952's Tarzan's Savage Fury. Tarzan's love interest, Jane (played by Dorothy Hart), wears the diamond near the end of the film.

The Victoria-Transvaal Diamond Necklace was generously gifted by the Wilkinsons to the Smithsonian in 1977.

Credits: Jewelry photos by Chip Clark / Smithsonian; Screen capture via
August 14th, 2020
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you classic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today we feature 1989’s “End of the Line” by the Traveling Wilburys, a supergroup composed of Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty.

The hopeful, upbeat song about how everything will be all right in the end includes a key jewelry reference in the verse sung by Petty: "You can sit around and wait for the phone to ring / Waiting for someone to tell you everything / Sit around and wonder what tomorrow will bring / Maybe a diamond ring."

Characterized by its driving, riding-on-the-rails rhythm, “End of the Line” features all of the Wilburys (except for Dylan) on lead vocals. Harrison, Lynne and Orbison take turns singing the chorus, while Petty sings the verses.

Each legendary artist delivers a tidbit of sagely advice — from doing the best you can and always lending a hand, to remembering to live and let live and doing your best to forgive.

The official music video for “End of the Line” was shot in December 1988, just weeks after the death of Orbison. The Wilburys are having a jam session in what seems to be a vintage rail car, with Orbison represented by a guitar sitting in a rocking chair.

The song appeared as the final track on the group's debut album, Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1, which sold more than 4 million copies and charted in 12 countries, including a #3 position on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and the #1 spot on the Canadian RPM 100 Albums chart. The album also earned a 1990 Grammy award for "Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal."

Of the original Wilburys, only the 72-year old Lynne and the 79-year-old Dylan are still alive. Orbison passed away in 1988 at the age of 52, Harrison died in 2001 at the age of 58 and Petty passed in 2017 at the age of 66.

The supergroup’s unusual name is credited to Harrison, who used “wilbury” as a slang term to describe recording errors caused by faulty equipment. Harrison had recommended “The Trembling Wilburys” as the group’s name, but Lynne came up with “Traveling Wilburys,” and the rest is history.

We hope you enjoy the official video for “End of the Line.” It has been viewed on YouTube more than 54 million times and the lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along...

“End of the Line”
Written by Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty. Performed by the Traveling Wilburys.

Well it’s all right, riding around in the breeze
Well it’s all right, if you live the life you please
Well it’s all right, doing the best you can
Well it’s all right, as long as you lend a hand

You can sit around and wait for the phone to ring
Waiting for someone to tell you everything
Sit around and wonder what tomorrow will bring
Maybe a diamond ring

Well it’s all right, even if they say you’re wrong
Well it’s all right, sometimes you gotta be strong
Well it’s all right, As long as you got somewhere to lay
Well it’s all right, everyday is Judgement Day

Maybe somewhere down the road aways
You’ll think of me, and wonder where I am these days
Maybe somewhere down the road when somebody plays
Purple haze

Well it’s all right, even when push comes to shove
Well it’s all right, if you got someone to love
Well it’s all right, everything’ll work out fine
Well it’s all right, we’re going to the end of the line

Don’t have to be ashamed of the car I drive
I’m just glad to be here, happy to be alive
It don’t matter if you’re by my side
I’m satisfied

Well it’s all right, even if you’re old and grey
Well it’s all right, you still got something to say
Well it’s all right, remember to live and let live
Well it’s all right, the best you can do is forgive

Well it’s all right, riding around in the breeze
Well it’s all right, if you live the life you please
Well it’s all right, even if the sun don’t shine
Well it’s all right, we’re going to the end of the line

Credits: Screen capture via Fender Stratocaster photo by Andrew King / CC BY-SA.
August 17th, 2020
After finding a diamond engagement ring and wedding band on the sidewalk in Philadelphia's Center City, Ian Buchannon was able to locate the rightful owner in a matter of minutes — thanks to the power of social media.

Buchannon happened upon the rings at Spruce and 16th after fumbling his pen. He bent over to pick it up, and the rings were right next to the curb. At first, he thought they were plastic, possibly toy jewelry. Then he realized they were very real.

"The closer I looked, I could see engraving on the bottom with the wedding date on there," Buchannon told NBC10.

Buchannon turned to a Philadelphia community Facebook page, where he posted a message about his discovery and a plea for the owner to come forward to claim the rings.

He wrote, "Engagement ring and wedding band found next to curb around 16th and and Spruce. If you have lost or know someone who has, please message me and include an accurate description of the rings (size, color, stone type/number of stones, description of engravings, etc.) and contact info. Hoping to find the owner."

Within minutes, the posting found its way to Reetika Kumar, who had been at an appointment at 16th and and Spruce and took the rings off to sanitize her hands. She had parked at the curb and believes she dropped the rings while entering the vehicle. She was already accepting the grim reality that her rings were gone forever.

NBC10 captured the moment when Kumar met with Buchannon to claim her rings.

"I wish we weren't social distancing and I would hug you," she said to Buchannon as she presented him with a card and a gift bag. "You definitely restored my faith in humanity."

Kumar told the NBC10 reporter that she was "really, really excited."

"You can replace an object, but you can't replace what they meant to me," she said. "So, I'm just glad to have them back."

The return of her rings couldn't have come at a better time. She and her husband are celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary.

Buchannon explained why it was so important to find the rightful owner.

"Just do something nice for somebody, you know," he said. "I know everybody's struggling during these times, but everybody's got to stick together."

Credits: Screen captures via
August 18th, 2020
Officials at Aussie mining company IBDH (India Bore Diamond Holdings) were surprised to learn that many of its signature "Ellendale" fancy yellow diamonds are displaying an extremely rare purple fluorescence when placed under ultraviolet light.

This is extremely unusual because violet or purple fluorescence is normally associated with blue diamonds.

The anomaly came to light when the Perth-based Delta Diamond Laboratory began taking a closer look at the alluvial diamonds found within the L-Channel at the Ellendale diamond field in the West Kimberley region of Western Australia. The lab quickly discovered that the yellow diamonds from that source were unlike any others.

“The purple color came as a complete surprise and may indicate that a new primary source of diamonds is nearby," said IBDH spokesperson Patrick Stringer. "So far, we know that these special diamonds are contained within a specific area known as the L-Channel. We have a very detailed understanding of the L-Channel deposit, but we never expected to discover that brilliant fancy yellow diamonds would fluoresce purple.”

The miner explained that fluorescence occurs in about 30% of natural diamonds and more than 95% of these fluoresce blue, with yellow and green representing just a few percent.

Since 2002, the Ellendale Diamond Mine in the West Kimberley region of Western Australia has produced some of the world's highest-quality yellow diamonds. According to the miner, Ellendale fancy yellows have been featured in the cases of the world's leading luxury jewelers. During its operation, Ellendale produced about half of the world's fancy yellow diamonds, according to IBDH.

While the Ellendale hard rock mines were shuttered in 2015, a nearby alluvial was discovered by IBDH in 2017. The miner claims that the L-Channel deposit is estimated to contain 1.3 million carats of diamonds, including the world renowned Ellendale fancy yellows.

In January of 2020, IBDH exported its first batch of yellow diamonds to Antwerp for evaluation and appraisal by some of the world's leading diamantaires.

Beyond the famous Ellendale yellow diamonds, IBDH has also sourced fine diamonds in a rainbow of other colors, including green, red, pink, brown, blue, grey, purple and violet.

The mining area is located 120 km east of Derby in Western Australia.

Credits: Images courtesy of IBDH.
August 19th, 2020
Hustling to meet a billionaire's December 31 deadline, Israeli luxury brand Yvel has assembled a team of 25 jewelers and diamond setters to fabricate a COVID-19 protective mask decorated with 3,608 black and white diamonds.

The team will be working in shifts to complete the bespoke mask, which is valued at $1.5 million and is being billed as the most expensive protective mask in the world.

Designed by Orna and Isaac Levy, the face gear will be made of 250 grams (8.8 ounces) of 18-karat gold and boasts a diamond total weight of 210 carats.

Isaac Levy said the order for the wearable art was commissioned by a Shanghai billionaire who remains anonymous.

The billionaire is asking the Levys to meet three conditions: The mask must be certified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European authorities for having the highest level of filtration (N-99); it must be delivered before December 31, 2020; and it has to be the most expensive in the world.

In a press release, the company revealed that the billionaire art collector has been an Yvel customer for decades and that the mask was ordered as an act of financial support for the company and its 150 employees in Israel and the U.S.

Yvel had been forced to cease operations temporarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For a lot of people around the world it may be the most expensive mask in the world, and maybe that’s a really big thing,” Isaac Levy told The Independent. “For us, it’s a way to protect the positions of the people in the factory in order for them to be able to support their families.”

See the video report here...

Credit: Image courtesy of Yvel.
August 24th, 2020
The Letšeng mine in the tiny southern African kingdom of Lesotho has produced another colossal gem-quality diamond. The 442-carat, Type IIa stone could be worth as much as $18 million.

The still-unnamed rough gem is the fifth-largest gem-quality diamond ever unearthed at Letšeng, a mine that is recognized as the highest dollar-per-carat kimberlite mine in the world.

Despite having a land mass slightly smaller than Maryland, Lesotho is an international powerhouse when it comes to turning out huge, top-quality stones. Some of Letšeng’s most impressive finds include the Lesotho Legend (910 carats), Lesotho Promise (603 carats), Letšeng Star (550 carats) and Lesotho Legacy (493 carats). Of the largest 50 rough diamonds ever discovered, nine have come from Lesotho.

While mining company Gem Diamonds didn't place a value on the 442-carat rough gem, a mining-industry analyst told that is was worth about $18 million, based on recent sales of similar Type IIa stones.

In 2018, the Lesotho Legend (about twice the weight of the newest discovery) was sold for $40 million. The 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona (#3 on the all-time list) fetched $53 million in September of 2017, while the 812-carat Constellation (#8 on the all-time list) was sold for $63 million in May of 2016. All were D-color, Type IIa diamonds, which means they were colorless and chemically pure with no traces of nitrogen or boron impurities.

Since Gem Diamonds acquired the mine in 2006, Letšeng has produced more than 60 100-plus-carat diamonds.

“The recovery of this remarkable 442-carat diamond, one of the world’s largest gem-quality diamonds to be recovered this year, is further confirmation of the caliber of the Letšeng mine and its ability to consistently produce large, high-quality diamonds,” noted Gem Diamonds CEO Clifford Elphick. “It is also a fitting testament to the dedication of the employees in the Group to have recovered such an extraordinary diamond, whilst at the same time maintaining strict adherence to health and safety precautions during the global Covid pandemic.”

The Gem Diamonds executive also reported that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this diamond will be used to fund a special community project.

The United Kingdom-based Gem Diamonds holds a 70% stake in the Letšeng mine with the government of Lesotho owning the remaining 30%. In October 2019, the partners renewed the mining lease for another 10 years.

Credits: Images courtesy of Gem Diamonds.
August 25th, 2020
Within the span of just a few hours, a family of gold prospectors pulled two huge gold nuggets from the ground near Tarnagulla in the Australian state of Victoria. The dramatic scene played out during Thursday's episode of Aussie Gold Hunters on the Discovery Channel.

The nuggets weigh a combined 3.5 kilograms (7.7 pounds) and are valued at $336,000 AUD ($240,000 USD) based on today's spot gold price. According to a Discovery Channel press release, the nuggets could be worth 30% more if sold to a collector.

Brothers-in-law Brent Shannon and Ethan West discovered the nuggets with the assistance of West's dad, Paul, near the old gold mining town of Tarnagulla, which once boasted the world's deepest mine at 4,613 feet. The family had a hunch that there was still gold to be mined in this area and waited months for a permit.

The hunch paid off — big time.

The team, which calls itself the Poseidon Crew, used an excavator to move a large chunk of earth and then pushed it out thinly so they could use their metal detectors to find the gold.

"We can recover more gold that way, and it's a better way to do it and a safer way to mine," Shannon told News7.

Ethan West explained that he has encountered thousands of pieces of gold during the four years he's been mining, but none can compare with the latest discoveries.

"These are definitely one of the most significant finds," West said. "To have two large chunks in one day is quite amazing."

The area’s first Gold Rush period was in the 1850s and gold has been found continuously in Australia's "Golden Triangle" ever since.

While the two nuggets weighing 3.5 kilograms are impressive by most standards, they are just a fraction of the weight of “The Welcome Stranger,” which was discovered near Moliagul, Victoria, in 1869. That record-setting nugget weighed a staggering 2,300 ounces (143.75 pounds) and would have a precious metal value today of more than $4.4 million USD. Legend states that it had to be broken on an anvil before it could fit on a bank scale.

In 1981, the 256-ounce “Pride of Australia” was unearthed nearby in Mosquito Gully, just north of Wedderburn.

Credits: Gold photos courtesy of Discovery Channel. Map by GoogleMaps.
August 26th, 2020
Actress Gal Gadot gets to wear the 128.54-carat "Tiffany Diamond" in the soon-to-be-released big screen adaptation of Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile. The famous — but rarely worn — gem dangles from a platinum necklace featuring an openwork motif of sun rays glistening with 481 diamonds totaling more than 100 carats.

A Tiffany representative told the Hollywood Reporter that the necklace is showcased prominently in the murder mystery, starring Tom Bateman, Kenneth Branagh, Russell Brand, Dawn French, Armie Hammer, Annette Bening, Emma Mackey and Letitia Wright. Gadot plays a glamorous heiress who meets with foul play during her honeymoon aboard a cruise ship on the Nile River.

During its storied 143-year history, the cushion-cut yellow diamond has been worn by only four women. The gem made its first public appearance on the neck of Mrs. E. Sheldon Whitehouse at the 1957 Tiffany Ball. Actress Audrey Hepburn famously wore it in 1961 publicity posters for the motion picture Breakfast at Tiffany’s. And, in February of 2019, Lady Gaga turned heads when she wore it at the 91st Academy Awards.

Gaga revealed in June of this year how The Tiffany Diamond remained on her neck during a Madonna-hosted afterparty — and a late-night excursion to Taco Bell.

“When we were heading to Taco Bell, my car was pulled over, and Tiffany’s security politely removed [the necklace] from my neck,” Gaga said during a virtual appearance on The Graham Norton Show.

Promoted by Tiffany as one of the largest and finest fancy yellow diamonds in the world, the 128.54-carat gem was cut from a 287.42-carat rough stone discovered in the Kimberley diamond mines of South Africa in 1877. It was acquired the following year for $18,000 by Tiffany’s founder, Charles Lewis Tiffany. Today, it's estimated to be worth $30 million.

The rough stone was brought to Paris, where Tiffany’s chief gemologist, Dr. George Frederick Kunz, supervised the cutting of the diamond into a cushion-shape brilliant with an unprecedented 82 facets — 24 more facets than the traditional 58-facet brilliant cut. The stone is just over an inch wide and seven-eighths of an inch from top to bottom.

In 1961, the diamond was set in a ribbon rosette necklace to promote Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In 1995, it became part of a brooch called "Bird on a Rock," which was exhibited at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

The Tiffany Diamond necklace worn by Gadot was designed in 2012 to mark Tiffany’s 175th anniversary celebration. When the necklace is not attending the Academy Awards or on a movie set, it can be seen on the main floor of Tiffany's flagship store in New York City.

Death on the Nile is scheduled to hit theaters in October.

Credits: Promotional photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. Tiffany Diamond image by Shipguy / CC BY-SA.
August 27th, 2020
Israeli teenagers unearthed a hoard of 425 ancient gold coins while volunteering at an archeological site during their summer vacations. The two youths were helping the Israel Antiquities Authority with an excavation in the central part of the country when they noticed something shimmering in the ground.

“It was amazing,” said Oz Cohen. “I dug in the ground, and when I excavated the soil, saw what looked like very thin leaves. When I looked again, I saw these were gold coins. It was really exciting to find such a special and ancient treasure.”

The coins, which date back to the Islamic Abbasid period about 1,100 years ago, had been buried in a clay jar. Their combined weight was 845 grams (about 30 ounces) and would have represented a small fortune for a family living at the end of the 9th century.

“The person who buried this treasure 1,100 years ago must have expected to retrieve it and even secured the vessel with a nail so that it would not move,” noted Israel Antiquities Authority directors Liat Nadav-Ziv and Dr. Elie Haddad. “We can only guess what prevented him from returning to collect this treasure.”

“With such a sum, a person could buy a luxurious house in one of the best neighborhoods in Fustat, the enormously wealthy capital of Egypt in those days," added Dr. Robert Kool, a coin expert at the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The pure gold coins were found in pristine condition due to the unique properties of the precious metal, which resists corrosion and does not oxidize when exposed to air.

The cache of gold coins included 270 small gold cuttings, which are fractional pieces of the original dinars that served during this period as “small change.“

Of particular interest to the directors was a cutting that depicted the Byzantine emperor Theophilos (829 – 842 CE). The fractional coin was minted in the empire’s capital of Constantinople. This was a surprising find since all the other coins in the vessel were minted by the Islamic Abbasid Caliphate, which stretched from Persia to North Africa and whose center of government was in Baghdad, Iraq. The mix of coinage presented some evidence that the rival empires had continuous connections — either via war or trade — during this period.

“This rare treasure will undoubtedly be a major contribution to research, as finds from the Abbasid period in Israel are relatively few,“ Kool added. “Hopefully, the study of the hoard will tell us more about a period of which we still know very little.“

Credits: Hoard photos by Yoli Schwartz/Israel Antiquities Authority. Photo of Byzantine coin fragment by Robert Kool/Israel Antiquities Authority.
August 28th, 2020
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you throwback songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we flip the 45 of The Kingston Trio's 1958 chart-topping hit, "Tom Dooley," to find a surprising gem of a song on the B-side, "Ruby Red."

Writers Lee Pockriss and Paul Vance employ rubies, diamonds, emeralds and sapphires in the lyrics to describe the one that got away.

Dave Guard, Bob Shane and Nick Reynolds of The Kingston Trio sing, "Ruby red were her lips. Diamond pure was her heart / Emerald green (emerald green) was the color of her eyes / A priceless gem of perfection, but I lost her 'neath the sapphire sky."

"Ruby Red" earned tremendous exposure on the B-side of a record that would sell more than three million copies and top the charts in five countries, including the U.S., Canada, Australia, Norway and Italy.

As the following songs attest, there is no shame in being on the B-side of a hit record...

• "Hound Dog," Elvis Presley (1953) / B-side of "Don't Be Cruel"

• "I Saw Her Standing There," The Beatles (1963) / B-side of "I Want To Hold Your Hand"

• "We Will Rock You," Queen (1977) / B-Side of "We Are the Champions"

• "You Can't Always Get What You Want," Rolling Stones (1969) / B-side of "Honky Tonk Women"

"Ruby Red" made its album debut as the 10th track of The Kingston Trio's second live album called Stereo Concert, which was released in 1959.

Only one year later, Pockriss and Vance would score their own #1 hit with "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini." Recorded by Brian Hyland, the song became a worldwide smash and sparked the sales of two-piece bathing suits.

The Kingston Trio is credited with launching the folk revival of the late 1950s. The group started as a San Francisco lounge act, but quickly gained international fame. The Kingston Trio received an honorary Grammy in 2011.

Although Shane, the last surviving original member of The Kingston Trio, passed away in January at the age of 85, the band continues to tour with a new cast of musicians.

Please check out the audio track of "Ruby Red." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Ruby Red"
Written by Lee Pockriss and Paul Vance. Performed by The Kingston Trio.

Ruby red, Ruby red

Ruby red were her lips. Diamond pure was her heart
Emerald green (emerald green) was the color of her eyes
A priceless gem of perfection, but I lost her 'neath the sapphire sky
Ruby red, Ruby red, Ruby red

I'd cross the wide Pacific and swim the China Sea
To have those lips of ruby red back here again with me
Ruby red, Ruby red
To have those lips of Ruby red back here, again, with me

Ruby red were her lips. Diamond pure was her heart
Emerald green (emerald green) was the color of her eyes
A priceless gem of perfection, but I lost her 'neath the sapphire sky
Ruby red, Ruby red, Ruby red

I thought I could forget, and so I sailed away, but I lived to regret until this very day
Ruby red, Ruby red
To have those lips of Ruby red back here, again, with me

Ruby red were her lips. Diamond pure was her heart
Emerald green (emerald green) was the color of her eyes
A priceless gem of perfection, but I lost her 'neath the sapphire sky
Ruby red, Ruby red, Ruby red

Ruby red. Ruby red

Credit: Screen capture via
August 31st, 2020
Featuring 36 cushion-cut Sri Lankan sapphires totaling 195 carats, the spectacular "Hall Sapphire Necklace" is the next stop on our virtual tour of the Smithsonian’s National Gem Collection, which resides in the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals in Washington, DC.

The platinum necklace — a gift to the Smithsonian in 1979 by philanthropist Evelyn Annenberg Hall — is accented with 435 pear-shaped and round brilliant-cut diamonds boasting a total weight of 83.75 carats.

(Evelyn Annenberg Hall is the younger sister of Janet Annenberg Hooker and, interestingly, both women have "Hall" connections. Evelyn's last name is Hall, while Janet has a "Hall" named in her honor. The sisters share a famous brother, Walter Annenberg, who owned and operated Triangle Publications, which included TV Guide, The Saturday Evening Post, The Atlantic Monthly, Essence and Seventeen magazine.)

Designed by luxury jeweler Harry Winston, the Hall Sapphire Necklace is arguably the most lavish of the three eye-popping sapphire pieces featured in a display called "Rubies and Sapphires." The other two are the 423-carat "Logan Sapphire" and the 98.57-carat "Bismarck Sapphire Necklace."

While the Smithsonian museums in Washington, DC, remain temporarily closed in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, we continue to present these virtual tours of the finest items in the National Gem Collection. Previous stops have included the “Victoria-Transvaal Diamond,” “Carmen Lúcia Ruby,“ “Chalk Emerald,“ “Gifts from Napoleon,“ “Stars and Cat’s Eyes,“ “Logan Sapphire,“ “Dom Pedro“ aquamarine, “Steamboat“ tourmaline and a grouping of enormous topaz.

Here’s how to navigate to the exhibit called “Rubies and Sapphires.” The first item in the case is the Hall Sapphire Necklace.

— First, click on this link…

The resulting page will be a gallery called “Geology, Gems & Minerals: Precious Gems 1.”

When you arrive, the foreground in the center of the screen will show a four-sided glass case housing a topaz exhibit. Visible to the right of the topaz display, on the back wall, is a partitioned showcase called “Rubies and Sapphires.” The sapphire items are on the left and the ruby items are on the right.

– Click and drag the screen slightly from right to left and then touch the Plus Sign to zoom in. There you will see the Hall Sapphire Necklace.

(You may touch the “X” to remove the map. This will give you a better view of the jewelry. You may restore the map by clicking the “Second” floor navigation on the top-right of the screen.)

The Hall Sapphire Necklace displays three dozen well-matched sapphires of impressive size and quality. As the Smithsonian notes on its website, Sri Lanka has been an important source of sapphires, rubies and other gemstones for more than 2,000 years. The sapphires from this area are famous for their soft, sky-blue color.

The Smithsonian also explained that the precious stones from Sri Lanka have eroded from the country's central mountains and are picked by hand from alluvial ground deposits.

Evelyn Annenberg Hall passed away in 2005 at the age of 93.

Credits: Jewelry photos by Chip Clark / Smithsonian; Screen capture via