Topaz Goldsmiths and Gallery

Topaz Goldsmiths and Gallery

Articles in June 2021

June 1st, 2021
“The Sienna Star,” a 73.11-carat fancy vivid yellow diamond, is being promoted as the top lot at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels sale in New York City on June 9.



Characterized by the Gemological Institute of America as “a standout item in the extraordinary world of gemstones,” the cut-cornered square, step-cut diamond boasts a VS2 clarity rating and the highest GIA color grading for a yellow diamond.

Sotheby's noted that "The Sienna Star" is one of the largest fancy vivid yellow diamonds ever to be auctioned and is likely to sell for $3 million or more.



The large yellow diamond is at the center of an 18-karat white gold ring intricately set with pavé diamonds and a flexible shank. The total weight of the accent diamonds is 4.45 carats.

Sotheby's commented that the ring and central diamond complement each other perfectly, creating a piece of truly wearable art.

The piece was designed by London-based master jeweler Glenn Shapiro, an East Londoner, who grew up in a working-class family and left school at 15 to become a goldsmith’s apprentice at English Artworks, Cartier’s workshop in London.

After designing for other houses for nearly 25 years, Spiro established his own house, G, in 2014, on Mayfair’s Bruton Street. According to Sotheby's, Shapiro quickly earned the reputation of being an artist whose designs are at once contemporary and timeless, and always set with exceptional stones.



Another highlight of the New York auction is a magnificent 15-inch necklace by Andrew Clunn. Set with 28 oval-shaped diamonds totaling more than 168 carats, the piece carries a high estimate of $3 million. The graduated diamonds range from 3.00 to 17.01 carats in weight, E to H in color and VS2 to Flawless in clarity.



Also scheduled to hit the auction block is a Bulgari-designed ring set with a 25.29-carat Kashmir sapphire flanked by tapered, bullet-shaped diamonds. The auction house is predicting that it will sell for about $3 million.

Sotheby's noted that all the pieces sold on June 9 will be worn during "The Roaring Twenties 2.0," a period that reflects a return to normalcy after more than a year of COVID-19 disruptions.

Credits: Images courtesy of Sotheby’s.
June 2nd, 2021
Back in April 1840, the ship Sultanee arrived in New York Harbor loaded with exotic gifts for President Martin Van Buren. The valuable offerings included two magnificent Arabian horses, a case of rose oil, five demijohns of rose water, four Cashmere shawls, ivory, wild animal skins, Arabian dates, a bale of Persian rugs, a gold-mounted sword and a long string of 148 natural pearls sourced in the Persian Gulf.



The US had recently signed a Treaty of Friendship and Commerce with the Sultanate of Oman, and the Imam of Muscat's generosity was a way for him to curry favor with Van Buren. Oman had always been fiercely independent and feared the encroaching British Empire.

When the lavish gifts had arrived in the US, the Congress debated whether or not Van Buren could accept them at all. The Constitution generally forbids it, so the eventual compromise was that he could accept them — not as a private citizen, but in his official government role.

The cache of natural pearls was fashioned into a luxurious necklace and worn by Van Buren's 22-year-old daughter-in-law, Sarah Angelica Van Buren, who was had been the acting First Lady because the president's wife had passed away in 1819 and he never remarried.

When the incumbent lost his bid for a second term in late 1840, he deposited the pearl necklace at the National Institute Gallery in the US Patent Office.

According to the Smithsonian, about a year later, on December 20, 1841, a thief broke into the “treasure room” at the National Institute Gallery and stole, among other things, the necklace made from the pearls given by the Imam.

The necklace was recovered, but eventually the Patent Commissioner sealed all the valuables in a metal box and deposited it in the U.S. Treasury.

The items were finally transferred to the Smithsonian in the 1880s. Even then, a thief armed with a Bowie knife and chloroform made a failed attempt to overcome a Smithsonian watchman to steal the valuables.

Today, the necklace is part of the historic First Ladies Collection at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. With more than 1,000 objects, the collection documents the lives and contributions of America’s first ladies (and acting first ladies).



In her official portrait, Sarah Angelica Van Buren is wearing pearls around her neck and on her head. The pearls in the portrait don't appear to match the ones gifted by the Imam.

Natural pearls are among the rarest of all gems. In fact, experts believe the odds of opening a random oyster in the wild and finding a natural saltwater pearl is 1 in 100,000. What’s more, if someone was lucky enough to amass a small collection of natural pearls, there’s hardly a chance that they’d match in terms of size, shape, color and luster. This is why the round and near-round pearls gifted by the Imam more than 180 years ago are so special.

June’s official gemstone — the pearl — is unique among all gem types because it is the only one formed entirely within a living creature. Natural pearls occur when an irritant enters the oyster’s shell. To protect itself from the foreign body, the mollusk secretes layers of nacre, which, over time, become a lustrous pearl. To form a cultured pearl, a shell bead is surgically implanted into the mollusk to induce nacre production.

Credits: Natural pearls by NMNH Photo Services. Portrait of Angelica Van Buren by Henry Inman, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
June 3rd, 2021
We were there when the largest rough diamond ever mined in North America — the “552” — made its final public appearance at Phillips auction house in New York City in February of 2019. Next Tuesday, the 204-carat Fancy Intense Yellow diamond cut from that 552-carat rough will be auctioned at Christie's New York. It carries a pre-sale high estimate of $5.5 million.



At first glance, the “552” was unlike any diamond we've ever seen. It exhibited a frosty surface and distinctive bi-color transition from intense yellow to nearly white. The egg-sized gem seemed surreal in its glass case at the street-level exhibit hall of the auction house on Park Avenue and 57th. Giant vertical banners in the Phillips windows delivered a bold and simple message, “Think Big — 552 Carats.”



The spectacular diamond had been unearthed at the Diavik mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories back in October of 2018, and Phillips’ executives pitched Dominion Diamond Mines with the idea of putting the diamond on display in The Big Apple before it went through the cutting process.



Dominion Diamond Mines Director of Marketing Rachel Aaron told us that there were two likely outcomes for the “552.” In scenario one, the rough diamond would yield a primary faceted stone of 150 to 200 carats, as well as a number of satellite faceted diamonds. In scenario two, cutters would opt for a pair of primary diamonds in the 70- to-100-carat range, plus the satellite stones. The pair of smaller diamonds, she said, would be more wearable.

On June 8, just a few blocks from the Phillips auction house, the faceted version of the “552” will hit the auction block at Christie's headquarters in Rockefeller Center.



It turns out that Dominion opted for scenario one. The primary faceted stone is called “The Dancing Sun.” The cushion modified brilliant-cut gem boasts a clarity grade of VVS2, as well as excellent polish and symmetry. Christie's is estimating that the gem will fetch between $3.5 million and $5.5 million.

The gem’s yellow color was an anomaly at the Diavik mine. Diamonds from the mine typically rate in the D, E and F color range (colorless to near colorless).



Christie's is also offering six satellite diamonds that were cut from the “552.” Set in platinum rings, the pear brilliant-cut diamonds range in size from 1.06 carats to 14.53 carats and seemed to have been cut from the white portion of the large rough stone. The largest of the satellite stones has a color range of Y to Z and carries a high estimate of $150,000. The others range from J to V, with high estimates starting at $3,000 and going up to $70,000.

Credits: Phillips exhibition images by The Jeweler Blog. Images of "The Dancing Sun" courtesy of Christie's. Screen capture of the satellite diamonds via christies.com.
June 4th, 2021
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today we feature the incomparable Wilson sisters — also known as Heart — performing “There’s the Girl,” a song about a "diamond" of a guy who keeps returning to a toxic relationship.



The first lines of “There’s the Girl” go like this: “You’re a polished diamond / Now you’re feeling kinda rough / Yes I know how long you been searching / for the perfect touch.”

Co-writers Nancy Wilson and Holly Knight use diamond metaphors to describe a guy who can’t get over an old flame even though she’s a “complete disaster.” He’s a polished diamond (a great guy), and the prospect of reconnecting with his ex-girlfriend has his heart beating faster. But Wilson knows this situation is not going to end well.

At the Albany, NY, Palace Theater in 2015, Wilson explained why she wrote the song for her best friend back in the 1980s.

"My guy friend fell in love with a terribly wrong girl," she told the audience. "And when you're best friends you can't really make the mistake for them. You just have to stand by and watch it happen."

“There’s the Girl” is special to Heart fans because the lead vocals are performed by guitarist Nancy Wilson, not Ann, whose towering voice has been a hallmark of the band since it was established in Seattle, WA, in 1967. In fact, many fans never realized Nancy sang the lead vocals for this song until they saw the music video or were lucky enough to attend a Heart performance.

“There’s the Girl” is the third track from Heart’s ninth studio album, Bad Animals. In 1987, it climbed as high as #12 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart — one of 20 Top-40 singles credited to the band. Over their illustrious careers, the Wilson sisters have sold more than 35 million records worldwide. They scored seven Top-10 albums and earned four Grammy nominations. Heart was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.

The sisters revealed in an interview that they were both inspired to form a rock band when they saw the Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.

“The lightning bolt came out of the heavens and struck Ann and me the first time we saw the Beatles,” Nancy Wilson told Maura Kelly of Believer Magazine in 2007. “There’d been so much anticipation and hype about the Beatles that it was a huge event, like the lunar landing. That was the moment Ann and I heard the call to become rock musicians.”

We know you will enjoy the official video of “There’s the Girl.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“There’s the Girl”
Written by Holly Knight and Nancy Wilson. Performed by Heart.

You’re a polished diamond
Now you’re feeling kinda rough
Yes I know how long you been searching
for the perfect touch
You better hear what I say
I can tell your eyes are just about to
give you away

Cause there’s the girl
that you were after
Feel your heart beating faster now
There’s the girl that you were after
Can you say that you don’t
want her anymore

Just take my word now
Cause you know it’s true
she ain’t good enough
for the likes of you
You better hear what I say
I can tell your eyes are just about
to give you away

Cause there’s the girl
that you were after
Feel your heart beating faster now
There’s the girl that you were after
And all the time you can’t get past her
There’s the girl that you were after
Broken glass, complete disaster
There’s the girl that you were after
Can you say that you don’t
want her anymore

I believed you once
When you explained
That it wasn’t so tough
To forget her name

Cause there’s the girl
that you were after
Feel your heart beating faster now
There’s the girl that you were after
And all the time you can’t get past her
There’s the girl that you were after
Broken glass, complete disaster
There’s the girl that you were after
Can you say that you don’t
want her anymore

There’s the girl
There’s the girl
There’s the girl
There’s the girl



Credit: Image by Strange euphoria93, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
June 7th, 2021
Borrowing an idea from college football's Miami Hurricanes, the San Diego Padres recently unveiled the "Swagg Chain," a 10-inch tall, two-inch thick pendant emblazoned with 8,000 yellow and brown semi-precious stones. A player gets to wear the pendant if he hits a home run or is chosen as the Player of the Game. The piece features a spinning "SD" logo.



Made from 3,500 grams (7.7 pounds) of gold-plated sterling silver, the "Swagg Chain" resulted from a collaboration between Padres third baseman Manny Machado and New York-based luxury jeweler Gabriel Jacobs, who owns Rafaello & Co.

Jacobs pitched the idea to his long-time friend Machado during spring training in Arizona.

The jeweler told Fox 5 San Diego that he wanted to bring some swag to Major League Baseball.

"It's the oldest pastime sport in America," he said. "We wanted to give it a little flair, a bit of excitement, you know?"



Jacobs said that he and Machado traded design ideas, sending pictures back and forth. It was Machado's idea to include the spinning "SD" feature.

Back in 2017, the University of Miami football team introduced the "Turnover Chain," a massive, gem-encrusted pendant that was awarded to a defender who made an interception or fumble recovery. The chain featured a diamond-encrusted “U” hanging from a Cuban link chain. Shaped like the state of Florida, the 2020 edition of the chain was dotted with 4,000 orange, green and white sapphires set in 10-karat yellow gold.

In late May, slugger Fernando Tatis wore the "Swagg Chain" after the Padres' 9-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners, a game that included two Tatis dingers.

“Oh man, it’s amazing. We played good, and we deserve to look good,” Tatis said of the new bling. “It’s team bonding. We’re pushing for each other and we’re just having fun so far.”

Despite being pressed by a Fox 5 reporter, Jacobs would not reveal the value of the "Swagg Chain."

Credits: Screen captures via Youtube.com; Instagram.com/rafaelloandco.
June 8th, 2021
Classified as “exceptional” for both its color and clarity, a 39.34-carat blue diamond recently recovered at the celebrated Cullinan mine in South Africa is likely to yield upwards of $1 million per carat when it is sold by Petra Diamonds via special tender on July 12.



What happens to the rough stone after it is transformed into a polished diamond could be historic. Here's why…

Back in January of 2014, a blue 29.6-carat rough from the same mine was purchased by luxury jeweler Cora International for $25.6 million. Cora transformed the large rough gem into a 12.03-carat internally flawless cushion-cut blue masterpiece that would be named The Blue Moon of Josephine.

That polished stone rated “fancy vivid” blue in color and “internally flawless” in clarity. It was eventually sold at a 2015 Sotheby’s auction for $48.5 million, or more than $4 million per carat — the world record price per carat ever paid for a diamond.

The Blue Moon of Josephine lost about 59% of its mass during the cutting process. If the same holds true for Petra's 39.34-carat blue diamond, the result would be a head-turning, 16-plus-carat gem. At $4 million per carat, the polished stone would be worth $64 million.

Petra will be showcasing the Type IIb rough stone in Antwerp, Dubai, Hong Kong and New York from mid-June to early July. Bidding will close on Monday, July 12.

Located at the foothills of the Magaliesberg mountain range, 37 kilometers northeast of Pretoria in South Africa, the Cullinan Mine is arguably the world’s most heralded diamond mine.

The 119-year-old Cullinan Mine (originally known as the Premier Mine) is credited with producing seven of the world’s largest 50 rough diamonds based on carat weight. These include the Cullinan Heritage (#30, 507 carats, 2009), Centenary (#25, 599 carats, 1986), The Golden Jubilee (#13, 755 carats, 1985) and the granddaddy of them all — the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond (#1).

Discovered in 1905, the Cullinan Diamond was segmented into nine major finished stones, each of which was given the name Cullinan and a Roman numeral. Two of the gems are part of the the British Crown Jewels — the Great Star of Africa (Cullinan I) at 530.4 carats and the Second Star of Africa (Cullinan II) at 317.4 carats.

Not only is the Cullinan Mine still producing world-class white diamonds, it is also the world’s most important source of blue diamonds.

Diamonds get their natural blue color from small amounts of the chemical element boron trapped in the crystal carbon structure during its formation.

Scientists believe blue diamonds are amongst the deepest-formed diamonds ever found, created at depths in excess of 500km (310 miles) below the Earth’s surface.

Credit: Image courtesy of Petra Diamonds.
June 9th, 2021
Framed by an oversized graphic of New York City's iconic Chrysler Building, auctioneer Rahul Kadakia slammed his hammer down to close out the bidding on the top lot at Christie's Magnificent Jewels event on Tuesday. It was 1:25 in the afternoon, and the 54.03-carat "Chrysler Diamond" — Lot 136 — had just fetched $5.07 million, narrowly edging out the 204.36-carat "Dancing Sun" diamond, which earned $4.95 million 90 minutes earlier in the session.



Based on Christie's choice of background graphics, the New York auction house clearly anticipated that the Chrysler Diamond would be the star of the high-profile event. The internally flawless diamond had been owned by Thelma Chrysler, the daughter of industrialist Walter Chrysler, who self-financed the 1,046-foot-tall Chrysler Building, an Art Deco marvel that was, for a short time in 1930, the tallest building in the world.



As the heir to the Chrysler fortune, Thelma became a prominent figure in New York high society. Her wardrobe was so spectacular that much of it was bequeathed to the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art before her death in 1957.

Among Thelma's prized possessions was the pear-shaped Chrysler Diamond, which was then known as the Louis XIV diamond and weighed 62 carats. Later, under the direction of luxury jeweler Harry Winston, the Chrysler Diamond was recut to achieve the highest potential color and clarity of D-flawless. At 58.6 carats, the newly trimmed stone was mounted as the centerpiece of a tiara, which included six pear-shaped diamonds totaling 22 carats and 233 smaller diamonds weighing 120 carats.

Christie's reported that the opulent headpiece was exhibited in 1962 at the Louvre in Paris as part of the museum’s "Ten Centuries of French Jewels" exhibition.

Just a year later, the Chrysler Diamond was removed from the headpiece and paired with a second diamond weighing 61.08 carats. The pair of diamonds — now called "The Geminis" — were made into matching earrings and sold to Canadian socialite Eleanor Loder. During this time, the original Chrysler Diamond was recut to its current size of 54.03 carats.



In 1983, the earrings were acquired by a private collector, who chose to separate the Geminis and, instead, highlight the Chrysler Diamond as the centerpiece of a regal necklace adorned with 43 brilliant-cut, pear-shaped diamonds.

Bidding on the Chrysler Diamond started at $2.6 million and edged up in increments of $200,000, finally topping out at $4.2 million. With the Buyer's Premium, the final price was $5.07 million.



Two hours earlier, bidding on Lot 68, The Dancing Sun, also started at $2.6 million. Bidding accelerated in increments of $200,000, then $100,000 and then $50,000 until the price settled at $4.1 million. With the Buyer's Premium, the final price was $4.95 million.

The Fancy Intense Yellow, cushion modified brilliant-cut, VVS2-clarity gem had been cut from a rough stone called "552," a name that was a nod to its enormous 552.74-carat size. The gem had been unearthed at the Diavik Diamond Mine in Canada's Northwest Territories and has the distinction of being the largest rough diamond ever discovered in North America.

The winner bidders for the Chrysler Diamond and The Dancing Sun were not immediately revealed.

Credits: Screen capture via christies.com; Images courtesy of Christie's.
June 10th, 2021
After six days of scouring the surf at Egmont Key on Florida's Gulf Coast, a brokenhearted Isliany Rawshdeh was nearly ready to give up her quest to find her cherished engagement ring — an irreplaceable custom keepsake that was lost on Memorial Day.



But, instead of throwing in the towel, the St. Petersburg, FL, resident acted on a tip and reached out to the West State Archeological Society, a Tampa-based club comprising amateur treasure hunters dedicated to preserving Florida history. Utilizing their keen skills and advanced equipment, the team was able to rescue the young woman's ring.

Rawshdeh couldn't have imagined that a joyful Memorial Day romp at the beach would be quickly turning into a nightmare. She had been playing volleyball in about five feet of water when her engagement ring went flying off her hand.



“I was like ‘Oh my God, no! I can’t believe this is happening.’ I told everyone not to move. ‘Please don’t move. We are going to find it,'” Rawshdeh told Tampa-based CW44.

Nearby beachgoers assisted in the search, but their efforts were in vain.

“People were snorkeling. We even got someone with a metal detector right quick and we couldn’t’ find anything,” she said.

Rawshdeh's determination to find the ring was motivated by what the one-of-a-kind ring symbolized to her and her family. It was custom made by her husband and his design included many special elements.

“Like everything has a meaning in the ring, so we were really devastated,” said Rawshdeh.



Jim Thobe, the president of the West State Archeological Society, acknowledged to CW44 that finding an engagement ring was a unique challenge for his group. They most often search for historical artifacts and coins.

Thobe assembled his members and they worked as a team to find Rawshdeh's ring. After a few hours on the scene, metal detectorist Mike picked up a signal and dug the ring out of the sandy bottom.

Mike gave the ring to Rawshdeh's husband, who saw this as a great opportunity for a surprise second proposal.



Rawshdeh explained how it went down… “He sat next to me and he kissed me and he says, ‘Sometimes life just smiles at you,' and put the ring on my finger again."

Credits: Screen captures via CW44 Tampa Bay.
June 14th, 2021
In August of 2017, the "Great American Eclipse" introduced astronomy enthusiasts to a phenomenon called the “Diamond Ring Effect.” On Thursday of last week, a breathtaking "ring of fire" solar eclipse — also known as a wedding band in the sky — dazzled viewers in Canada, Greenland and the Arctic.



Here's why a solar eclipse can sometimes look like an engagement ring and at other times look like a wedding band…

During a total solar eclipse, the Moon's orbit places it precisely between the Sun and Earth. With the Moon at just the right distance in its elliptical orbit around the Earth to completely blot out the sun, the Diamond Ring Effect can occur in the instant just before the total solar eclipse and in the moment just after.



Francis Baily in 1836 surmised that the Diamond Ring Effect owed its magic to the rugged surface of the moon. As the moon slowly grazes past the sun, tiny beads of sunlight, now known as Baily’s Beads, can shine through in some places and not in others. When only one single point of sunlight remains, the burst resembles a solitaire diamond and the halo of the sun still visible behind the moon looks like a ring.

Scientists described Thursday's eclipse as "annular," a word derived from "annulus," which means ring-like object. The annular eclipse differs from a total solar eclipse because the apparent diameter of the Moon and the Sun are not exactly the same. The Moon, in its elliptical orbit, is near its farthest point from Earth and seems smaller than average.

With the "ring of fire" solar eclipse, the Moon passes direct in front of the Sun, but does not block it out completely. In this scenario, the golden halo of the Sun peeks out from the blacked-out center, giving the appearance of a wedding band. The rare display lasted for 3 minutes and 51 seconds.

Viewers in a swath of territory across Eastern Canada, Greenland and the Arctic got to see the wedding band in the sky. Viewers in other parts of the Northern Hemisphere experienced a partial eclipse, but no celestial bling.

Solar eclipses happen due to a fascinating mathematical coincidence. The Moon is 400 times smaller than the Sun, but is 400 times closer to the Earth. This results in two celestial discs that are virtually the same size visually.

The next total solar eclipse over North America will take place on April 8, 2024. The next annular eclipse over North America is set for October 14, 2023.

Credits: Ring of Fire image by Brocken Inaglory, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Diamond Ring Effect image by Lutfar Rahman Nirjhar, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
June 15th, 2021
The gallery housing the Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, will finally reopen to the public Friday, June 18, after being shuttered for 461 days.



The Hope Diamond is the museum's most popular exhibit, as more than 100 million visitors have marveled at the 45.52-carat blue gem since it was donated to the Smithsonian by famed jeweler Harry Winston in 1958. Today, the Hope Diamond is estimated to be worth $250 million, making it the single most valuable item at the Smithsonian.

“After 15 months, we’re excited to welcome visitors back to the museum safely,” said Kirk Johnson, Sant Director of the National Museum of Natural History. “We’ve missed the millions of people who come here every year to deepen their appreciation for science and the natural world and look forward to inspiring them once again.”



While the Hope Diamond in the Harry Winston Gallery will be thrilling guests, the rest of the gem and mineral galleries on the second floor of the museum will remain closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Additional exhibitions are expected to open through the fall.



Visitors excited to see the Hope Diamond and other exhibitions, including the Nation’s T. rex, will need to reserve a free timed-entry pass. Visitors will be entering the museum from the National Mall side of the building and exiting via the Constitution Avenue side. The museum will be open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the initial reopening phase.

The museum's official website says that passes will be released on a rolling 30-day basis. They will become available each day, beginning at 8:00 a.m., for time slots 30 days out. Use this link to reserve a maximum of six tickets per party.

Opened in 1910, the National Museum of Natural History is dedicated to maintaining and preserving the world’s most extensive collection of natural history specimens and human artifacts, including 350,000 mineral specimens and 10,000 gems.

Credits: The Hope Diamond photo by Chip Clark / Smithsonian. Virtual tour screenshots via https://naturalhistory2.si.edu/vt3/NMNH/z_tour-022.html.
June 16th, 2021
A Depression-Era $20 gold coin that wasn’t meant to see the light of day became the world's most valuable coin last week when it was scooped up by an anonymous bidder at Sotheby's New York for a cool $18.9 million.



Although 445,500 Double Eagle gold coins were struck by the Philadelphia Mint in 1933, none of them were intended for circulation. In the midst of The Great Depression and faced with a banking crisis that spooked consumers into hoarding gold, the federal government outlawed the possession of gold coins.



President Franklin D. Roosevelt insisted that all Double Eagle coins — except for two museum specimens — were to be melted into gold bars.



Two of the beautiful coins had been set aside to be part of the National Numismatic Collection and one additional coin eventually turned up in the collection of King Farouk of Egypt, who had obtained it in 1944. More recently, the U.S. government confiscated 10 Double Eagles discovered by a Philadelphia family at the bottom of an old safe deposit box in 2003. Those Double Eagles are now in the hands of the National Mint.

When King Farouk was deposed in 1952, many of his possessions were liquidated at auction, including his prized 1933 Double Eagle.

The Farouk coin remained under the radar until 1996, when it resurfaced in the possession of British coin dealer Stephen Fenton. He was arrested by U.S. Secret Service agents at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York as part of a sting operation. Fenton testified that the 1933 Double Eagle was from the Farouk collection and the charges against Fenton were subsequently dropped. The case was settled in 2001 when the defendant agreed to relinquish ownership to the U.S. government and the coin could be sold at auction.

In 2002, the coin was sold to a then-anonymous bidder at a Sotheby’s auction for $7.59 million. We've since learned that the winning bid was cast by luxury shoe designer Stuart Weitzman.

Last week, the only privately owned, legally obtained 1933 Double Eagle set a new auction record at a hammer price that was more than double what the 79-year-old designer paid 19 years ago. Sotheby's had estimated that the coin would sell in the range of $10 million to $15 million.

The design for the $20 Double Eagle was the work of famous sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who chose an advancing figure of Liberty for the obverse and a flying eagle on the reverse. The coin was nicknamed “Double Eagle” because $10 coins at that time were called “eagles.”

Along with the Double Eagle, Weitzman also offered two other high-profile items for sale at Sotheby's. One was a grouping of four famously misprinted stamps called the “Inverted Jenny," which fetched $4.9 million, and a rare stamp called the 1856 British Guiana One-Cent Magenta, which sold for $8.3 million.

Weitzman told news agencies that he will use the proceeds from the three items to help fund his charitable ventures.


Credits: Images courtesy of Sotheby's.
June 17th, 2021
And the gigantic diamonds just keep coming… Lucara just released details about a 470-carat top light brown diamond — the latest high-profile discovery from its prolific Karowe Mine in Botswana. The diamond ranks #36 on the list of the largest rough diamonds of all time.



During the past six years, the Karowe Mine has made an indelible mark on the precious stone sector by producing seven of the world's top 36 diamonds, including the #2-ranked 1,758-carat Sewelô (2019), the #3-ranked 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona (2015), the #4-ranked 998-carat unnamed diamond (2020) and the #9-ranked 812-carat Constellation (2015).

Year to date, Karowe has produced 10 diamonds greater than 100 carats, including the 341-carat and 378-carat top white diamonds recovered back-to-back in January of this year.

Lucara's latest find, which measures 49mm x 42mm x 26mm (about the size of a golf ball) and displays a light-brown tint, was recovered in the the company's Coarse XRT circuit, a system that uses advanced technology to identify 100-carat-plus diamonds. By monitoring the rocky material for X-ray luminescence, atomic density and transparency, the new technology can identify and isolate large diamonds before they go through the destructive crushing process.

Despite its massive size, Lucara’s newest find tips the scales at barely 15% of the weight of the granddaddy of them all — the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond, which was discovered in South Africa in 1905. Polished gems cut from the Cullinan Diamond include the Cullinan I (530.20 carats) and the Cullinan II (317.4 carats).

Lucara reported that its May 2021 production run produced an unexpectedly high percentage of diamonds greater than 10.8 carats. These larger rough gems accounted for 12.7% of the mine's output, by weight.

The Karowe Mine is expected to be turning out high-value rough gems until 2046 under a renewed licensing agreement between Lucara Diamond Corp. and the Government of Botswana. Signed in January, the 25-year deal between Lucara Diamond Corp. and the Government of Botswana will pave the way for the underground expansion of Karowe, which has been operating since 2012.

Credit: Image courtesy of Lucara Diamond Corp.
June 18th, 2021
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you amazing songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Lady Gaga performs her breathtakingly beautiful masterpiece, "Always Remember Us This Way," from the blockbuster 2018 motion picture A Star is Born.



Gaga plays Ally, an aspiring singer/songwriter, whose career is set into motion by Jackson "Jack" Maine, a famous country rock star, played by Bradley Cooper. The two fall for each other and Ally professes her love in our featured song, which contains a first-verse reference to a famous 1849 gold rush.

She sings, "That Arizona sky burning in your eyes / You look at me and babe, I wanna catch on fire / It's buried in my soul like California gold / You found the light in me that I couldn't find."



Jack spontaneously proposes to Ally with a make-shift engagement ring made from an intricately twisted guitar string, and the couple weds the same day at a church ministered by a relative of their friend, Noodles.

Written by Gaga (under her birth name Stefani Germanotta) and three collaborators, "Always Remember Us This Way" became an international hit. It charted in 30 countries and was nominated for Song of the Year at the 62nd Grammy Awards. It eventually lost out to "Shallow," another Gaga song from the same film.

As of May 2021, "Always Remember Us This Way" has received over 600 million streams on Spotify, and the official video has been viewed on YouTube more than 317 million times.

The video starts with Jack encouraging an apprehensive Ally to sing her original song at the end of his concert. Ally sits at the piano and delivers a performance that has been called "mesmerizing," "emotional" and "powerful." Many YouTube commenters admitted that the song brought them to tears.

Please check out Gaga performing "Always Remember Us This Way." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along…

"Always Remember Us This Way"
Written by Natalie Hemby, Hillary Lindsey, Stefani Germanotta and Lori McKenna. Performed by Lady Gaga.

That Arizona sky burning in your eyes
You look at me and babe, I wanna catch on fire
It's buried in my soul like California gold
You found the light in me that I couldn't find

So when I'm all choked up
But I can't find the words
Every time we say goodbye
Baby, it hurts
When the sun goes down
And the band won't play
I'll always remember us this way

Lovers in the night
Poets tryin' to write
We don't know how to rhyme
But, damn, we try
But all I really know
You're where I wanna go
The part of me that's you will never die

So when I'm all choked up
But I can't find the words
Every time we say goodbye
Baby, it hurts
When the sun goes down
And the band won't play
I'll always remember us this way

Oh, yeah
I don't wanna be just a memory, baby, yeah
Whooo, whooo, who who
Whooo, whooo, who who
Whooo, whooo, who who

When I'm all choked up
And I can't find the words
Every time we say goodbye
Baby, it hurts
When the sun goes down
And the band won't play
I'll always remember us this way, way, yeah

When you look at me
And the whole world fades
I'll always remember us this way

Credit: Screen captures via Youtube.com / Lady Gaga.
June 21st, 2021
Debswana unveiled on Wednesday a three-inch-tall, 1,098-carat, gem-quality rough diamond discovered at its Jwaneng mine in Botswana. Estimated to be worth more than $55 million, the gem ranks fourth on Wikipedia's list of the largest rough diamonds of all time.



Debswana's acting managing director Lynette Armstrong presented the stone to Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Wednesday. About the size of a tennis ball, the frosty-white gem measures 73mm (2.87in) long, 52mm (2.04in) wide and 27mm (1.06in) thick. Discovered on June 1, it's the largest diamond ever recovered by the mining company, which has been operating for more than 50 years.

Interestingly, four of the top five rough diamonds on the Wikipedia list were sourced in Botswana, a tiny African nation that is one of the world’s leading producers of top-quality diamonds. Botswana’s Karowe mine was the source of the 1,758-carat Sewelô (#2, 2019), the 1,109-carat Lesedi la Rona (#3, 2015) and a 998-carat unnamed stone (#5, 2020). At the top of the list is the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond, which was discovered in South Africa in 1905.

The exciting thing about massive rough diamonds is that they are often transformed into incredibly large finished diamonds. For example, gems cut from the Cullinan Diamond include the Cullinan I (530.20 carats) and the Cullinan II (317.4 carats).

Back in April 2019, luxury jeweler Laurence Graff revealed the principle diamond cut from the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona. The 302.37-carat square emerald-cut stunner was believed to be the largest D-flawless gem ever certified by the Gemological Institute of America. Also cut from that large rough were 67 “satellite” diamonds ranging in size from just under 1 carat to more than 100 carats.

Debswana, which is a joint venture between De Beers and the Botswana government, has yet to determine how its 1,098-carat gem will be sold. It might go through the De Beers channel or via the state-owned Okavango Diamond Company. It will be exciting to see if the principle diamond from this stone will weigh 300 carats or more.

Just last month, we reported that Debswana is committed to spending $6 billion on a massive project that will extend by 20 years the lifespan of Jwaneng, which is widely acknowledged as the world’s richest diamond mine. When it reaches full capacity in 2034, Jwaneng will be generating 9 million carats per year. Since 1982, Jwaneng has been an open-pit mine, but the next phase of its operations will see the company channeling underground.

Diamonds are Botswana’s main source of income and account for about 80% of its exports.

Credit: Image via Facebook.com/Debswana Diamond Company.
June 23rd, 2021
The close-knit community of Pacific Beach, just north of San Diego, came together recently to reunite a woman with her cherished diamond engagement ring.



Lee Miller had been on a mission to purchase a gift certificate from a popular Italian restaurant on Cass Street when she realized her engagement ring was missing. Earlier, she had taken it off and placed it in her pocket while doing some house cleaning.

“I was extremely upset! Miller told San Diego's CBS8. "This is one of my favorite rings. I had actually picked it out myself. I just loved it."

Miller was not sure exactly when the ring fell out of her pocket. She retraced her steps, but her efforts were fruitless. She spoke to local business owners, but nobody had turned in her precious jewelry. On the afternoon of June 9, she posted a plea to a local community group on Facebook.

She wrote, "Lost engagement ring anywhere between Cass in front of Enoteca Adriano to intersection of Cass & Tourmaline… Please comment if you see it!"

Later that day, a Facebook user commented that someone had just posted a flyer about a ring that was found. It was taped to a pole in front of Carousel Cleaners on Cass Street, only one block from the Italian restaurant.



A local couple, who wished to remain anonymous, told CBS8 that they were walking to a restaurant on Cass St. when they saw an object sparkling on the ground. They secured the ring and immediately posted a flyer that noted that the ring was found on June 9. They provided an email address and requested that anyone attempting to claim the ring must provide a complete description and their contact information.

Thanks to the efforts of the Good Samaritans and Facebook community, Miller now has her ring back.

“It was the most amazing and wonderful thing ever," Miller told CBS8. "I gave them a thank you card. I just said, 'Thank you so very much!' It was wonderful."

According to the CBS8 report, Miller's thank you card included a cash reward.

So, what was the key takeaway from Miller's experience?

“I am probably never going to put a ring in my pocket ever again," she said, smiling, "even if it has a very secure zipper, because you never know!”

Credits: Video captures via CBS8.com.
June 23rd, 2021
In the world of fine gemstones, looks can sometimes be deceiving. This was the hard lesson learned by 3,000 fortune seekers who descended on Ladysmith, South Africa, early last week after a cattle herder stumbled upon a large clear crystal that appeared to be a diamond.



The resulting "diamond rush" was supported by the fact that South Africa has been a world leader in diamond production for the past 150 years. The country currently hosts seven major diamond mines and generates more than 7 million carats per year. In fact, the largest diamond ever discovered — the 3,106-carat Cullinan — was unearthed in 1905 about 400km northwest of Ladysmith, near Pretoria.

Armed with picks and shovels, people from across the country rushed to the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province, where a 50-hectare (123-acre) search area became a field of dreams.

Sadly, those dreams were dashed when a local official announced on Sunday that the rare "diamonds" of Ladysmith were merely quartz crystals.

“The tests conducted conclusively revealed that the stones discovered in the area are not diamonds as some had hoped,” said Ravi Pillay, a provincial executive council member for economic development and tourism.

Quartz is the second-most-abundant mineral on planet Earth, just behind feldspar. The quartz crystals mined at the site in Ladysmith carried little or no value.

While most of the amateur miners packed up their belongings and headed home, about 500 stayed on the site, convinced that the stones had real value and that the government officials may not have been telling the truth.

Meanwhile, Pillay said that the search area posed a threat to grazing cattle because it was pocked with numerous holes, some as deep as one meter.

Credit: Image by Michael J. Stahl, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
June 24th, 2021
Lucara's Karowe Diamond Mine in Botswana continues to rewrite the record books. On Tuesday, the mining company revealed a 1,174-carat rough diamond, the third-largest in history and the fourth diamond from Botswana to tip the scales at more than 1,000 carats.



The mining company believes the stone is actually the largest fragment from a rough diamond that weighed 2,000-plus carats, but failed to survive the sorting process. Several other similar-color fragments from the main stone weighed 471 carats, 218 carats and 159 carats, for a grand total of 2,022.

The 1,174-carat stone was recovered by Lucara's MDR (Mega Diamond Recovery) XRT circuit, a system that uses advanced technology to identify 100-carat-plus diamonds. By monitoring the rocky material for X-ray luminescence, atomic density and transparency, the new technology can identify and isolate large diamonds before they go through the destructive crushing process.

In this case, the system was not calibrated to identify a 2,000-plus-carat diamond. Sadly, it got mashed by the primary crusher. Lucara explained that the MDR is positioned after the primary crusher and is the first opportunity for diamond recovery within the circuit.

About the size of a baseball, the 1,174-carat diamond measures 77mm (3.03in) long, 55mm (2.17in) wide and 33mm (1.3in) thick. The gem exhibits variable quality with significant domains of high-quality white gem material, according to Lucara.

The yet-unnamed diamond takes its place at #3 on the list of the largest rough diamonds of all time, unseating the 1,109-carat Lesedi la Rona, which was discovered at the Karowe mine in 2015.

The Karowe mine was also the source of the 1,758-carat Sewelô (#2, 2019) and a 998-carat unnamed stone (#6, 2020). Only a few days ago, we reported on a 1,098-carat, gem-quality rough diamond discovered at Debswana's Jwaneng mine, also in Botswana. That gem now ranks fifth on the largest diamonds list.

At the top of the list is the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond, which was discovered in South Africa in 1905.

Interestingly, after the Cullinan was unearthed, it took the world's mining companies 110 years to discover another rough diamond weighing more than 1,000 carats. From 2015 to 2021, that feat has been accomplished four times due to the new technology aimed at protecting extremely large diamonds.



Besides the 1,174-carat fragment and its satellite stones, Lucara recovered many other high-quality white gems at the Karowe mine in early June. These stones weighed 148 carats, 90 carats, 88 carats, 86 carats and 67 carats, respectively.

Year to date, Karowe has produced 17 diamonds greater than 100 carats, including 5 diamonds greater than 300 carats.

Credits: Images courtesy of Lucara Diamond Corp.
June 25th, 2021
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today we feature Meghan Trainor performing “Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” a chart-topping, jazzy ballad about never taking loved ones for granted and always making the most of life’s precious moments. The song's official YouTube video boasts 696 million views.



In the first verse, Trainor sings, “I found myself dreaming in silver and gold / Like a scene from a movie that every broken heart knows / We were walking on moonlight and you pulled me close / Split second and you disappeared and then I was all alone.”

Trainer, who co-wrote the song with Justin Weaver and Caitlyn Smith, explained to Digital Spy that the impassioned song was spawned by an all-too-real nightmare.

“[‘Like I’m Gonna Lose You’ has] very emotional lyrics that take you to a real place,” she said. “You know when you have those nightmares that your brother or sister or boyfriend just dies? And you wake up sweating and crying, and then you have to go check on them to make sure they’re still alive, and they are. And you’re like, ‘Oh my God, thank God.’ It’s like, I’m going to love you like I’m going to lose you because I know what it feels like from that dream and I’m not going to let it happen.”

Released as the fourth single from her chart-topping 2015 album, Title, “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” charted in 16 countries, including the #1 position on both the US Billboard Adult Top 40 chart and the Canada AC Billboard chart.

The song was originally intended to be a solo recording, but Trainor and her management team presented her demo to John Legend, who reportedly told Trainor, “I love this, I want to be a part of it. It’s gonna be cool.” The result is a beautiful collaboration between two of the music industry’s brightest talents.

The music video depicts Trainor staring through the window of a candlelit room as the rain pours outside. Legend sings his part from the outside of the building, separated from Trainor by a paned-glass wall. Interspersed are scenes of companions standing in the rain. Among them are a mother and infant child, a homeless man and his dog, a woman and her elderly mother, a man on crutches and his girlfriend, and a soaked-to-the-skin Legend, who plays Trainor’s love interest.

In the end, the sun breaks out, the sky brightens and Trainor and Legend join hands as if to symbolize a love that has conquered all.

Born on the Massachusetts island of Nantucket to retail jewelers Kelli and Gary Trainor, Meghan started singing at age six and wrote her first song at age 11. She attended Berklee College of Music and released two acoustic albums in 2011.

The 27-year-old’s big break came in February 2014, when she performed “All About the Bass” on ukulele for L.A. Reid, the chairman and CEO of Epic Records. That resulted in a recording contract and a monumental rise to stardom.

Please enjoy Trainor and Legend performing “Like I’m Gonna Lose You.” The lyrics are included if you’d like to sing along.

“Like I’m Gonna Lose You”
Written by Meghan Trainor, Justin Weaver, Caitlyn Smith. Performed by Meghan Trainor, featuring John Legend.

I found myself dreaming in silver and gold
Like a scene from a movie that every broken heart knows
We were walking on moonlight and you pulled me close
Split second and you disappeared and then I was all alone

I woke up in tears
With you by my side
A breath of relief
And I realized
No, we’re not promised tomorrow

So I’m gonna love you
Like I’m gonna lose you
I’m gonna hold you
Like I’m saying goodbye wherever we’re standing
I won’t take you for granted ’cause we’ll never know when
When we’ll run out of time so I’m gonna love you
Like I’m gonna lose you
I’m gonna love you like I’m gonna lose you

In the blink of an eye
Just a whisper of smoke
You could lose everything
The truth is you never know

So I’ll kiss you longer baby
Any chance that I get
I’ll make the most of the minutes and love with no regrets

Let’s take our time
To say what we want
Use what we got
Before it’s all gone
‘Cause no, we’re not promised tomorrow

So I’m gonna love you
Like I’m gonna lose you
I’m gonna hold you
Like I’m saying goodbye wherever we’re standing
I won’t take you for granted ’cause we’ll never know when
When we’ll run out of time so I’m gonna love you
Like I’m gonna lose you
I’m gonna love you like I’m gonna lose you

Hey
Whoa

I’m gonna love you
Like I’m gonna lose you
I’m gonna hold you
Like I’m saying goodbye wherever we’re standing
I won’t take you for granted ’cause we’ll never know when
When we’ll run out of time so I’m gonna love you
Like I’m gonna lose you
I’m gonna love you like I’m gonna lose you



Credits: Screen capture via Youtube.com / Meghan Trainor.
June 28th, 2021
In an unprecedented move, Sotheby's will be accepting cryptocurrency as payment for the 101.38-carat, pear-shaped, D-flawless diamond that will be hitting its auction block in Hong Kong on July 9.



The rare gem — dubbed "The Key 10138" — carries a pre-sale high estimate of $15 million and is only the second pear-shaped D-flawless diamond of more than 100 carats to ever appear at auction.

It will be offered in a single-lot live sale, with bidding available online starting June 25. While traditional payment methods will be available, the winning bidder will also have the option to use Ether or Bitcoin, facilitated through Coinbase Commerce, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges.

"This is a truly symbolic moment," noted Wenhao Yu, deputy chairman of Sotheby's Jewellery in Asia. "The most ancient and emblematic denominator of value can now, for the first time, be purchased using humanity’s newest universal currency. Never was there a better moment to bring a world-class diamond such as this to the market."

Sotheby's called the July 9 auction a "landmark event" not only because of the cryptocurrency option, but due to the extreme rarity of 100-plus-carat D-flawless diamonds being offered at auction. The number is fewer than 10, according to the auction house.

The gem's unusual name was chosen by Sotheby's to capture the past, present and future.

“Diamonds are keys to understanding the history of the Earth, reminding us of our human condition and the transcendental power of beauty," said Yu. "With the name ‘The Key 10138,’ we wanted to celebrate this enlightening virtue, while also alluding to the crucial function of digital keys in the world of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and cryptocurrency.”

The single-lot sale is part of Sotheby's cross-category Luxury Series in Hong Kong. Featured products will range from jewels and watches to handbags and rare sneakers.

"Over the past year we’ve seen a voracious appetite for jewels and other luxury items from collectors across the globe," said Josh Pullan, managing director of Sotheby's Global Luxury Division. "Increasingly that demand is coming from a younger, digitally native generation, many of whom are in Asia. We’re thrilled to present this exceptional diamond as the highlight of our cross-category Luxury Edit series in Hong Kong and to continue our commitment to innovation by accepting payment in cryptocurrency for this landmark item."

The 101.38-carat gem will be on display at Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery from July 3 to 8.

Credit: Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.
June 29th, 2021
Victoria's Secret model Taylor Hill turned to Instagram on Saturday to announce to her 16.1 million followers that she was engaged to businessman Daniel Fryer. It was also the perfect opportunity to show off her new emerald-cut diamond engagement ring.



Hill's yellow-gold ring features a sizable center stone flanked by bezel-set triangular side stones. The clean, symmetrical, three-stone motif is steeped in symbolism, as it represents the model's past, present and future.



Made popular during the 1920’s Art Deco movement, the emerald cut continues to convey an understated, regal elegance. The stepped facets allow the admirer to see clearly into the stone, revealing its perfection. Beyoncé, Amal Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey are just a few of the celebrities who favored the emerald cut.



The 25-year-old model shared candid photos of the proposal, which took place during the couple's coastal Italy getaway. In the first of three photos, the groom-to-be is on bended knee with the ocean and mountains in the background.

Accompanying the photos was this caption: "My best friend, my soulmate, I'll love you always."

Taylor‘s fellow Angels were quick to comment on the post. Among them were Lily Aldridge, Lais Ribeiro, Martha Hunt, Sara Sampaio and Josephine Skriver.

Born in Palatine, IL, and raised in Arvada, CO, the bride-to-be previously expressed her determination to have a positive influence on young people.

"[There are] actresses who touch people through their movies and the amazing things they do," she said. "I can influence a younger generation by being a role model and sharing my lifestyle and the things I love."

Hill and Fryer were first seen together in public in 2020. He is a principal at Cannatlantic, a London-based firm focusing on the global cannabis industry. She has been a Victoria’s Secret Angel since 2015. The couple has yet to announce a wedding date.

Credits: Images via Instagram.com/taylor_hill.
June 30th, 2021
Over the past 39 years, Nike's ever-popular Air Force 1 sneaker has seen more than 1,700 color variations, but this summer the company is introducing a "Bling" version that features vibrant faux jewels interwoven into the left shoe's laces.



Affixed to the upper laces is an octagonal, faceted yellowish-green stone in a bezel setting. The second bauble takes the shape of the famous Nike Swoosh, which is outlined in sparkly, white faux diamonds. The third jewel — also a faceted octagonal stone — mimics the color of an amethyst and is framed by faux diamond accents.

A surprising design element is a black Swoosh that can be seen through the transparent stones.



This summer's release of the Nike Air Force 1 Low “Bling” includes a number of interesting design elements, including vintage-like cream white outsoles and mismatched branded insoles — which happen to complement the colors of the faux gems.



Why would a footwear company add jewelry to a classic sneaker? A style writer for inputmag.com put it this way: "With consumers looking to don more and more bling, sneakers can’t be left bare."

She also wondered if some consumers may purchase the standard AF1 and add the bling on their own, making the end result a completely personalized statement.

Originally created by designer Bruce Kilgore and released in 1982, the Nike Air Force 1 has remained at the forefront of fashion, generating about $800 million per year in revenue. The name of the sneaker is a nod to the specially equipped jet airliners that are used by U.S. presidents.

Priced at $120, the "Bling" sneakers are expected to drop in the coming weeks.

Credits: Images by Nike.