Topaz Goldsmiths and Gallery

Topaz Goldsmiths and Gallery

Articles in July 2021

July 1st, 2021
The award-winning "Star of Katandru" — a 16.21-carat Sri Lankan star ruby — has been part of the Smithsonian's National Gem Collection since 2005. This unique example of July's official birthstone displays a perfect star with six clean, symmetrical, unbroken legs.



The rare gem was gifted to the Smithsonian by international gemstone merchant Jeffrey B. Bilgore, who told JCK magazine in June of 2005 of his vivid memories of visiting the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, and falling in love with the phenomenal stones.

Bilgore had learned that Smithsonian gem curator Jeffrey Post was looking for a fine star ruby, so when a series of fortunate circumstances allowed him to buy the Star of Katandru, he had no doubt about where its final destination should be.

"If I sell it, I never get to see it again," Bilgore told JCK. "This way everyone gets to see it."

In 2005, Bilgore and his Star of Katandru earned a 1st Place Cutting Edge Award in the Phenomenal Division. The Cutting Edge Award is sponsored by the American Gem Trade Association and acknowledges outstanding achievements in gem cutting.

The gem's prominent six-rayed asterism is caused by titanium trapped in the corundum while the crystal is forming. As the crystal cools, the titanium orients itself as needle-like structures in three directions. The smooth, rounded cabochon cut allows the light to reflect off the titanium and give the appearance of a six-legged star.

The name Katandru sounds like it may have exotic origins, but is it actually a mashup of the names of Bilgore's children — Katherine and Andrew. The donation was made in memory of I. G. Heyman. Bilgore had worked for luxury dealer Oscar Heyman & Brothers for 16 years, before establishing his own business.

Ruby is a variety of the mineral corundum (aluminium oxide). Gemstone-quality corundum in all shades of red are generally called rubies. Corundum in other colors are called sapphires.

The word “ruby” comes from “ruber,” Latin for red. Rubies gets their color from the element chromium and boast a hardness of 9.0 on the Mohs scale. Only diamonds are rated higher at 10.0.

Legend tells us that rubies were revered as a mystical gem representing love, health and wisdom. It was a long-held belief that wearing a ruby brought good fortune to its owner. The value of a ruby increases based on its color, cut, clarity and carat weight.

While Myanmar (Burma) has earned the reputation of producing the finest rubies, the coveted red gems have also been mined in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Credit: Image courtesy of the Smithsonian.
July 2nd, 2021
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you uplifting songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, Jon Batiste compares his girlfriend's love to a goldmine in his jubilant, jazzy 2021 anthem, "I Need You."



In this tune he co-wrote with Autumn Rowe, we learn that Jon met the love of his life when he was a "lil' country boy" and that they fell in love on the boulevard. He adores everything about her, especially how she's so genuine.

In the first verse, he sings, "We done a lot of living / We're working overtime / Don't need another million / You got that goldmine / I love the way you're livin' / 'Cause you're so genuine / You got that something special / Didn't you know? / I just need you, you, oh yeah."

Best known as the longtime bandleader and musical director for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the multitalented artist shows off his wide range of skills in the second single from his fifth solo album, We Are, which was released in mid-March.

In addition to its romantic theme, the song delivers a universal message of unity, hope and empathy.

He told Forbes magazine in 2019 that music has always been a form of community that brought people together and gave them a common purpose.

"That common purpose was to connect to something that couldn't be expressed in any other way: not with words or gestures, but just something that almost transcends reality," he said. "That's really what music is, and it still is doing that today."

Jonathan Michael Batiste was born in Metairie, LA, in 1986. While his parents earned a living operating a grocery store and a hardware store, other members of the Batiste family were forging their reputations as members of a New Orleans musical dynasty. At age 8, Jon played percussion with the Batiste Brothers Band. Three years later, he switched to piano and took classical music lessons.

Later, he attended The Juilliard School in New York City, where he earned a Master's degree in Music in 2013. Barely two years later, Batiste would earn his spot as the leader of Stay Human, the house band for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Please check out the video of Batiste performing "I Need You" at The Red Room in Chicago. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along…

"I Need You"
Written by Jon Batiste and Autumn Rowe. Performed by Jon Batiste.

We done a lot of living
We're working overtime
Don't need another million
You got that goldmine
I love the way you're livin'
'Cause you're so genuine
You got that something special
Didn't you know?
I just need you, you, oh yeah

Met you when I was a lil' nappy head boy
And I never put down my alto saxophone
Buckjumpin' down on the boulevard
I couldn't wait to blow my own horn
It ain't wrong for you to sing along
Singing this song 'til you die

In this world with a lot of problems
All we need is a little loving
Thank you, thank you
Oh, you make me thank you
Thank you for your love

We've done a lot of living
We're workin' overtime
Don't need another million
You got that goldmine
I love the way you're livin'
'Cause you're so genuine
You got that something special
Didn't you know?
I just need you, you, oh yeah

Met you when I was a lil' country boy
And I never put down that pork chop and salt
Then we fell in love on the boulevard
If you was Jenny, I guess I was Forrest
Nah, it ain't wrong for you to sing along
Singing this song 'til you die

In this world with a lot of problems
All we need is a little lovin'
Thank you, thank you, oh, you make me
Thank you, thank you for your love

We done a lot of living
We working overtime

Don't need another million
You got that goldmine
I love the way you're livin'
'Cause you're so genuine
You got that something special
Didn't you know?

I just need you, you, oh yeah

I just need you, you, you, you, you, you, youuuuuuu



Credit: Screen capture via Youtube.com/Jon Batiste.
July 6th, 2021
Sofia Vergara's impressive diamond engagement ring was the unexpected star of last Tuesday's episode of America's Got Talent.



During a segment featuring psychic Peter Antoniou, TV's highest paid actress was asked by the contestant to hand her ring over to fellow judge Simon Cowell, who would soon hide the ring within one of 1,000 identical ring boxes scattered upon the furniture and floor of the AGT green room.



Even though Vergara did not see where Cowell hid the ring, Antoniou asked her to think about the memory attached to ring so she could psychically guide him to it.

(Vergara's platinum engagement ring reportedly features a 5 to 7 carat brilliant cushion-cut center diamond surrounded by a halo of diamond pavé.)

It took Antoniou about 70 seconds to hone in on his target and pick a ring box from the floor.

"How confident are you that I am holding the ring," Antoniou asked Vergara.

"Like zero," she said. “There’s no way you know that that’s there.”



Then Antoniou opened the box, and there was her ring.

"I'm going to throw up," Vergara said, half-jokingly.

But, then there was more. Somehow, Antoniou knew much more about the circumstances surrounding Joe Manganiello's proposal to Vergara in Hawaii on Christmas Eve of 2014.

“When you were proposed [to], you weren’t at home were you? You were somewhere else, you were far away,” Antoniou said. “And the plans had to change for your engagement.”

Vergara confirmed that Manganiello originally wanted to propose on the beach, but changed his mind at the last moment. Instead, the proposal took place in their hotel suite.

Antoniou then revealed a detail that had never been revealed to the media — that after Manganiello got down on one knee, she looked up and there was a rainbow.



A stunned Vergara explained, "He was gonna propose by the ocean, but then he panicked, and he came upstairs to the room and proposed to me in the room. And then suddenly he gave me the ring, and I look up, and there was a rainbow. It was beautiful."

Vergara seemed very impressed by Antoniou's psychic abilities.

"I want to say that there’s no way that you knew that about a rainbow, because no one knows that," she said. "Like, that story has not been on the press or nothing. So that was amazing."

Manganiello had previously dished about his proposal and the ring in an interview with Haute Living in 2015: “Our first date was in June [2014], and then I proposed to her on Christmas Eve. We had this big bay window [that I opened up], and the sun was going down pink over the mountains and over the bay, and I had this ring. I had looked at every ring in the world, and this is the ring that I wanted. I had a whole speech prepared in Spanish. I proposed to her on one knee in Spanish with the sun going down. It was awesome.”

Interestingly, the couple's rainbow detail didn't make it into the Haute Living story.



At the 2015 SAG Awards, Vergara showed off her new ring using the E! News Mani Cam.

“This is the love hand,” she exclaimed as she slipped her left hand in a tiny set that looks like a red carpet runway. E! News used the box to get neat close-ups of celebrity jewelry and manicures.

Vergara and Manganiello have been married since November 2015.

Antoniou ended up earning four yeses from the judges. The complete AGT segment can be viewed below. Antoniou focuses on Vergara's engagement ring, starting at the 3:55 mark.



Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/America's Got Talent; Screen capture via E! News .
July 7th, 2021
After a year's delay due to global health concerns, Tokyo’s 2020 Summer Olympics will finally take place from July 23 to August 8. The highly anticipated event, which retains the 2020 name for marketing and branding purposes, will bring together world-class athletes from 206 nations.



Each of them will be competing for the coveted gold, silver and bronze medals — the symbols of the ultimate accomplishment in competitive sports.

What many people don't know is that every one of the 5,000 medals awarded at Tokyo's Summer Olympic Games and Summer Paralympic Games will be fabricated from 100% recycled material.

In the two years between April 2017 and March 2019, all of the metal required to manufacture the medals were extracted from small electronic devices contributed by people of Japan. NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s leading mobile carrier, led the effort by placing collection boxes in each of its 2,400 stores.



“Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic medals will be made out of people’s thoughts and appreciation for avoiding waste,” Japanese three-time Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Kohei Uchimura told The Japan Times in April of 2017. “I think there is an important message in this for future generations.”

Despite being a country with virtually no precious metal resources, Japan’s “urban mine” of discarded small consumer electronics is believed to contain the equivalent of 16% of the world’s gold reserves and 22% of the world’s silver reserves.

The Tokyo 2020 Medal Project was a tremendous success as Japanese consumers donated 78,985 tons of electronics, including 6.21 million used mobile phones. Those devices yielded 7,716 pounds of silver and 70.5 pounds of gold, according to the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee.

Interestingly, Olympic gold medals contain just a small amount of gold. The weight of the Tokyo 2020 gold medal is 556 grams, but only 6 grams of that total is 24-karat gold. The rest is silver.



Each silver medal is fabricated from 550 grams of pure silver. Each bronze medal weighs 450 grams and is made from red brass, which is a combination of 95% copper and 5% zinc.

Olympic gold medals were once made of solid gold, with the last ones awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, back in 1912. Starting in 1916, the International Olympic Committee mandated that gold medals be made with a 24-karat gilding of exactly 6 grams (.211 ounces).

On the front side of the medals designed by Junichi Kawanishi, Nike, the mythical Greek goddess of victory, stands in front of the Panathinaikos Stadium. The back side features a raised, pebble-like center, reflective Olympic rings, and a checkered Tokyo 2020 “ichimatsu moyo” emblem inside a swirl design. Kawanishi designed the medals to resemble rough stones that have been newly polished, and now “shine with light and brilliance.”

The medals measure 85mm in diameter and have a thickness of 7.7mm.

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics start August 24 and run through September 5.

Credits: Images courtesy of Tokyo 2020.
July 8th, 2021
Minnesota United midfielder Hassani Dotson stunned his girlfriend, Petra Vuckovic, with a post-game proposal on the pitch at Allianz Field in Saint Paul, MN.



Dotson and his teammates were walking off the field after a hard-fought 2-2 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday when the 24-year-old pro soccer player met Vuckovic at the sideline, went down on one knee and and pulled out a blue box containing a diamond engagement ring.

The Minnesota United's social media team recorded the event from every angle as Dotson asked Vuckovic if she would marry him. Dotson's Croatia-born girlfriend said "Yes" and he slowly placed the ring on her finger.

The fans who had decided to linger in the stands after the game stood and cheered.



On Instagram, Vuckovic posted a slideshow of proposal photos and added this caption: "There aren’t words that express anything close to the happiness my heart feels. To be loved by you is a blessing Hassani… A HUGE thank you for all of the wishes and to everyone who was involved in helping put this beautiful everlasting memory into my life #IsaidYes."



Bally Sports color commentator Kyndra de St. Aubin commented how Vuckovic happened to be wearing the perfect outfit for the surprise engagement.

"She wore a white dress, to boot," de Saint Aubin said. "I mean, I guess most girls just know. We have a sixth sense about us. Good for them! Congratulations! That's awesome!"

What de Saint Aubin didn't know at the time of the broadcast was that Dotson had asked his girlfriend to get dressed up so they could go to dinner right after the game.

The ruse worked.

"It was totally a surprise," Dotson told the Star Tribune. "She was still shaking into the tunnel and all that [after the proposal]. It was just a really good moment and really awesome to have it on video as well."

Added Dotson, "I thought it was pretty meaningful because she's been through a lot in my career and I thought it would be something different, something special and also nice to do it in front of the fans."

Check out the romantic proposal, below.



Credits: Screen captures via YouTube / Major League Soccer. Image via Instagram / mnufc.
July 9th, 2021
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, folk-rock legend Gordon Lightfoot sings “14 Karat Gold,” a song that uses a precious metal metaphor to express just how much he appreciates the love of his life.



Repeated throughout the song is this memorable phrase: “She’s more than money / She’s 14 karat gold.”

“14 Karat Gold” appeared as the first track on Lightfoot’s 15th original album, Shadows. Prior to its 1982 release, the Canadian singer/songwriter/musician provided radio stations with an "interview album" that included his commentary about each of the tracks.

The velvet-throated vocalist described “14 Karat Gold” as surrealistic and a departure from some of the other songs he's done.

“It has to do with the human relationship," he said. "What it says is that you don’t know everything there is to know, about everybody else, or about each other, or about anything for that matter. But [the song is] saying that you appreciate your lady in very positive terms.”

“14 Karat Gold” was apparently one of Lightfoot’s favorite performance pieces.

“The song works extremely well on stage,” he said, “because I’ve sung it many times.”

Rated fifth on the CBC's list of the greatest Canadian songwriters ever, Lightfoot’s music career has spanned 63 years and counting. Lightfoot has produced more than 200 recordings, including the chart topping “If You Could Read My Mind” (1970), “Sundown” (1974), “Carefree Highway” (1974), “Rainy Day People” (1975) and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” (1976).

He has written songs for prominent artists, such as Bob Dylan, Dan Fogelberg, Jimmy Buffett and Jim Croce.

Dylan famously said of Lightfoot, "Every time I hear a song of his, it's like I wish it would last forever."

In March of 2020, the 82-year-old released his 21st studio album.

Please check out the audio track of Lightfoot performing “14 Karat Gold.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“14 Karat Gold”
Written and performed by Gordon Lightfoot.

If you see me smile don’t think I’m acting strange
I got my just reward for all my pains
If you see me on the TV talkin' proud
Please understand if I don’t talk too loud

Step around and dance a bit
Polish up the dice
Set ’em loose and let ’em roll
This is my advice
Keep your mind a mystery
Running hot ‘n cold
She’s more than money
She’s 14 karat gold

If you wonder why I’m acting up this way
Gonna cash my chips I’m leaving town today
I got more love than I could ever spend
So long, farewell, good-bye, this is the end

Step around and dance a bit
Polish up the dice
Set ’em loose and let ’em roll
Be as cool as ice
Keep your mind a mystery
Running hot ‘n cold
She’s more than money
She’s 14 karat gold

If you get hit by the bug that bit on me
If you get caught with something soft and sweet
If you get found with something you can’t waste
Then listen bud, let me give you a taste

Step around and dance a bit
Polish up the dice
Set ’em loose and let ’em roll
This is my advice
Keep your mind a mystery
Running hot ‘n cold
She’s more than money
She’s 14 karat gold. Sold.

Step around and dance a bit
Polish up the dice
Set ’em loose and let ’em roll
Be as cool as ice
Keep your mind a mystery
Running hot ‘n cold
She’s more than money
She’s 14 karat gold



Credit: Image by Arnielee, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
July 12th, 2021
A Seattle adventurer now holds the American record for the world's "highest" marriage proposal — and we mean elevation.



On the morning of May 23, Andrew Hughes reached the summit of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world at 29,032 feet. But instead of basking in his accomplishment of having climbed all Seven Summits (the highest mountain on each of the seven continents), his focus was on a much bigger dream of declaring to his girlfriend, Lauren Beard, from atop the world that her love was his world.

In the thin air 5.5 miles above sea level, an exhausted Hughes reached into an inner pocket, dropped to his knees and unfurled a small flag that read, "Lauren, will you marry me?"

While Hughes had just set a new record for the highest known wedding proposal by any American ever — and only the second known proposal from the summit of Everest — he did not get an immediate answer. That's because Beard was not on the climbing expedition and didn't know about his intentions.

And so the Everest proposal remained a secret held alone by those on the summit.



Back in Seattle on July 3, while boating across Lake Washington, Hughes presented Beard with a small box. Inside was a photo of his Everest proposal wrapped in the flag he carried to the summit.

Beard responded with a long-awaited "Yes."

The Everest expedition had taken its toll on Hughes. The adventurer had to overcome a lung infection, cold injuries and more than 20 pounds of weight loss. He and his team endured extreme conditions from cyclone weather systems and survived ice fall collapses.

"When you arrive in such summit moments in life, you also arrive at a realization that no summit is arrived at absent the love and support of all of those in one's life," said Hughes. "And that while summits are meaningful, it is those you love in your life [who] truly matter."

He said that making his girlfriend and their shared love central to the Everest moment was the most important part of reaching the summit.

In addition to conquering the Seven Summits, Hughes established a unique record on Antarctica. In 2020, he became the first American man and third person ever to complete the Antarctica Trifecta by consecutively "Skiing the Last Degree to the South Pole" and reaching the summits of Mount Vinson (Antarctica's highest mountain) and Mount Sidley (its highest volcano).

Credits: Images courtesy of Andrew Hughes.
July 13th, 2021
Russian mining giant Alrosa has just introduced a non-invasive, three-dimensional laser marking technology that will provide detailed information about a diamond's origins.



Unlike common laser inscriptions that are applied near the surface of a diamond, this new marking cannot be destroyed or polished off because the laser nanomark code is imprinted inside the crystal lattice and across the atomic structure of the entire diamond. The code is only visible using a special scanner.



“Guided by growing market demand, we are focusing our efforts on tracing and guaranteeing the origin of our diamonds,” commented Alrosa CEO Sergey Ivanov. “As the world’s largest vertically integrated diamond-mining company, Alrosa is in a unique position. With access to the full cycle of manufacturing, we have all the necessary information about our polished diamonds and the rough diamonds from which they were cut.”

The three-dimensional code, which is linked to Alrosa's Provenance platform, will offer in-depth information about the diamond's origin and characteristics, as well as a unique identification number, photo, video and details about how it has been cut. The digital passport will also include details of the socio-economic benefits associated with the diamond's production.

Scientists believe that, as the technology evolves, it is likely to become an important way of embedding large amounts of data within the diamond, including media files, images and music.

The new technology was developed with the help of scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences, as well as Alrosa's Research Geological Enterprise (NIGP) and the Yakutniproalmaz Institute.

According to Oleg Kovalchuk, PhD, who supervises the project at the Yakutniproalmaz Institute, “A nanomark is applied using a laser pulse of a certain wavelength, intensity and duration. This causes nanoregions to form across the entire crystal, which can only be viewed with a scanner created specifically for reading the marks. As such, we have now developed standardized procedures for embedding information and marking a rough diamond with a distributed mark to identify it.”

Credits: Images courtesy of Alrosa.
July 14th, 2021
De Beers and Diacore just jointly acquired an exceptional 39.34-carat blue rough diamond sourced at South Africa's iconic Cullinan Mine for $40.1 million, or just over $1 million per carat.



Discovered by Petra Diamonds in April and sold to the De Beers/Diacore partnership via a special tender on Monday, the extraordinarily rare stone has the industry buzzing because it is remarkably similar to a blue diamond unearthed at the same mine in 2014.

That 29.6-carat rough stone was subsequently purchased by luxury jeweler Cora International for $25.6 million ($846,000 per carat) and transformed into a 12.03-carat, internally flawless, cushion-cut, fancy vivid blue headliner that would be named The Blue Moon of Josephine.

In 2015, the polished gem was sold at a Sotheby’s auction for $48.5 million, or more than $4 million per carat. It was the highest price per carat ever paid for a diamond.

The Blue Moon of Josephine maintained nearly 41% of its total weight during the cutting process. If the same holds true for the 39.34-carat blue diamond, the result would be a 16-carat finished gem. At $4 million per carat, the gem could be worth $64 million.

“This sets a new milestone for Petra in achieving its highest price for a single stone,” commented the mining company's chief executive officer, Richard Duffy.

Tasked with unlocking the hidden beauty in the rough and creating a spectacular polished diamond is Diacore, a specialty cutter that has produced a number of high-profile diamonds, including the 203.04-carat De Beers Millennium Star and the 59.60-carat Pink Star.

The 39.34-carat rough diamond was unearthed in the C-Cut of Cullinan, a mine located at the foothills of the Magaliesberg mountain range, 37 kilometers northeast of Pretoria in South Africa.

In an ironic twist, De Beers sold the Cullinan mine to Petra in 2007.

The Cullinan Mine is arguably the world’s most heralded diamond mine, having produced seven of the world’s 50 largest rough diamonds based on carat weight, including the largest ever found — the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond.

Discovered in 1905, the Cullinan Diamond was divided into nine major finished stones, each of which took the Cullinan name 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.

In addition to producing world-class white diamonds, the Cullinan mine is also the world’s most important source of blue diamonds. Blue diamonds owe their color to the presence of boron in the chemical makeup of the gem.

Scientists believe blue diamonds are among 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.

July 15th, 2021
The Botswana diamond mine that introduced the world to the 1,758-carat Sewelô (2019), the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona (2015), the 813-carat Constellation (2015) and other massive finds just unveiled a colorful, new arrival: the fancy pink, 62.7-carat "Boitumelo."



Meaning "joy" in Setswana, Boitumelo was recovered from the South Lobe of Lucara's famous Karowe Diamond Mine. Lucara described the stone as a high-quality, fancy pink, Type IIa gem measuring 26mm x 17mm x 16mm (about 1 inch tall).



Interestingly, three other superb, fancy pink rough gems were recovered during the same production period. They weighed 22.21 carats, 11.17 carats and 5.05 carats, respectively, and are likely fragments of the main stone. Had the main stone survived intact, it would have weighed at least 101.13 carats.

Boitumelo represents the largest fancy pink diamond ever recovered in Botswana and one of the world's largest rough pink diamonds on record. Looking forward, the 62.7-carat rough diamond might become a finished gem weighing 25 carats or more.

Fancy pink diamonds of these sizes are extremely rare. According to Christie’s, fewer than 10% of pink diamonds weigh more than 1/5 of a carat.

Adding to the importance of these finds is the fact that the world's main source of pink diamonds — the Argyle Mine in Australia — was shuttered in 2020. For 37 years, that mine had accounted for more than 90% of the world's supply.

"Lucara is delighted to announce another historic diamond with the recovery of the Boitumelo," said Lucara CEO Eira Thomas. "[We are] very pleased to demonstrate the continued potential for large, colored diamonds from the South Lobe production."

Boitumelo is a Type IIa diamond, which means that it has exceptional optical transparency and is chemically pure. Unlike yellow or blue diamonds that owe their color to the presence of nitrogen or boron in their chemical makeup, pink diamonds owe their color to the effects of intense pressure and heat while they were still deep within the Earth. These factors caused distortions in the diamond’s crystal lattice that influence the way the gem absorbs green light, thus reflecting a pink hue.

In March, Lucara announced a plan to extend the lifespan of the Karowe mine by moving mining operations underground.

At a cost of more than $500 million, the open pit mine at a depth of 324 meters will transition to an underground mine at a depth of 750 meters. The expansion will take five years and promises to extend the life of the mine by 20 years.

The 59.6-carat, flawless, oval mixed-cut, fancy vivid pink diamond called the "CTF Pink Star” holds the record for the highest price paid at auction for a pink diamond. That stone was purchased by Hong Kong luxury jeweler Chow Tai Fook for $71.2 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in 2017. It was the highest price ever paid for any gem at auction.

Credits: Images courtesy of Lucara.
July 16th, 2021
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you spectacular songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, we feature the silky, soaring vocals of Grammy-award-winning Helen Folasade Adu, better known as Sade. In the original version of her 1984 hit, “Smooth Operator,” she employs all three Music Friday qualifiers to tell the story of a globetrotting playboy.



The original, longer version of the song features a spoken-word intro that includes the phrase, “Jewel box life, diamond nights and ruby lights.” Because the song ran about five minutes, many radio DJs chose to use the abbreviated version (about a minute shorter) that deletes the spoken lead-in and starts, instead, with the familiar instrumental saxophone solo and line, “Diamond life, lover boy.”

Later in the song, Sade uses a precious-metal metaphor: “A license to love, insurance to hold. Melts all your memories, change into gold.”

As the second single from Sade's debut studio album, Diamond Life, “Smooth Operator” became her biggest U.S. hit, topping out at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #1 on the Billboard US Adult Contemporary chart. It was also an international sensation, charting in 14 countries. Diamond Life would go on to sell more than 10 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums of the 1980s.

Born in Ibadan, Nigeria, Sade moved to Essex, England, to live with her grandmother after her parents separated when she was four years old. She took a three-year course in fashion design at London's Saint Martin's School of Art and modeled briefly before joining a band called Pride as a backup singer.

Within a short time, she was offered the opportunity to perform her song, "Smooth Operator," which attracted the attention of record companies. She formed her own band called Sade and, in 1983, scored a recording contract with Epic Records. Just one year later, she would become an international sensation with the release of Diamond Life.

The 62-year-old singer-songwriter is one of the most successful female solo artists in British history, having sold more than 110 million albums worldwide. In 1986, Sade earned a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. In 2012, she took the 30th spot on VH1’s list of the 100 Greatest Women in Music.

Please check out the video of Sade's live performance of “Smooth Operator.” (Yes, it’s the preferred long version). The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.

“Smooth Operator”
Written by Sade Adu and Ray St. John. Performed by Sade.

He's laughing with another girl
And playing with another heart
Placing high stakes, making hearts ache
He's loved in seven languages
Jewel box life, diamond nights and ruby lights, high in the sky
Heaven help him, when he falls

Diamond life, lover boy
He move in space with minimum waste and maximum joy
City lights and business nights
When you require streetcar desire for higher heights

No place for beginners or sensitive hearts
When sentiment is left to chance
No place to be ending but somewhere to start

No need to ask
He's a smooth operator
Smooth operator, smooth operator
Smooth operator

Coast to coast, LA to Chicago, western male
Across the north and south, to Key Largo, love for sale

Face to face, each classic case
We shadow box and double cross
Yet need the chase

A license to love, insurance to hold
Melts all your memories and change into gold
His eyes are like angels but his heart is cold

No need to ask
He's a smooth operator
Smooth operator, smooth operator
Smooth operator

Coast to coast, LA to Chicago, western male
Across the north and south, to Key Largo, love for sale

Smooth operator, smooth operator
Smooth operator, smooth operator
Smooth operator, smooth operator
Smooth operator, smooth operator
Smooth operator, smooth operator



Credit: Photo by Thilo Parg, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
July 21st, 2021
A long-delayed honeymoon to an exotic destination got off to a rocky start when a young couple lost their engagement diamond while going through security at JFK International Airport in New York City.



The Queens, NY, couple was excited to finally take off on their tropical honeymoon to Guam — a trip that had to be rebooked due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. The Durranis successfully passed through Terminal 7's security checkpoint and then stopped to get coffee on the way to their gate when the new bride realized her brand new diamond was missing from its setting.

“My wife was crying hysterically as we did not know what happened, nor did we know how to approach the situation,” Amir Khan Durrani wrote in an email to TSA.

Amir ran back to the security checkpoint and alerted the TSA officers of the missing diamond.

“Everyone was extremely kind and helped me as much as they could to locate the lost diamond,” he said. “Everyone present helped look for the diamond to no avail.”

The heartbroken couple boarded their international flight, wondering if they would ever see their engagement diamond again.

Long before they landed in Guam, an eagle-eyed TSA supervisor had already saved the day.



Standing at his supervisory podium at the Terminal 7 checkpoint, TSA Officer John Killian was surveying the flow of travelers moving through security when something caught his eye.

“That’s when I spotted the sparkle and thought to myself, ‘No way that could really be it.’ I walked over and picked it up.”

The stone was on the floor between the metal detector and the X-ray machine.

“The shine caught my eye,” he said. “I was like, ‘Wow, I just found this diamond!’”

By the time the Durranis landed (the flight to Guam requires a stop-over and takes nearly 24 hours), there was a text message and voice mail from the TSA.

The Durranis forwarded a photo of the engagement ring to the TSA at JFK, and the center stone matched the recovered diamond exactly.

“Our trip went from a chaotic moment to one at peace,” Durrani wrote in an email thanking the TSA team for their honesty and professionalism. “I would like to commend everyone and their efforts for finding our diamond and safekeeping it before our return back to New York. I want to mention deep down in my heart, that this moment put us in relief. I hope everyone understands how much this meant to my wife and me.”

Durrani specifically singled out Officer Killian.

“Thank you so much to all the staff present and especially to officer John Killian,” he wrote. “I might not ever meet you, but you had an impact on us at that moment and I will never forget it. I wish you all the best for your efforts and honesty.”

John Bambury, TSA’s Federal Security Director at JFK, noted that travelers often leave items behind at the security checkpoint, but this situation was much different.

“We frequently return a jacket, a Teddy bear or a set of keys that have been left at one of our checkpoints,” he said. “But returning a lost diamond will certainly be one we will always remember.”

Credits: Images courtesy of the TSA.
July 22nd, 2021
A gem-quality, flawless diamond is made from pure lattices of carbon. This elemental purity contributes to a diamond's unrivaled brilliance when set in fine jewelry, but offers little information about its age or origin.



Imperfect diamonds, on the other hand, can harbor tiny pockets of complex fluids that reveal the history of how they evolved. So, when Yaakov Weiss, an adjunct scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, needed 10 diamonds to study, he asked De Beers for some sad-looking specimens. The uglier, the better.

"We like the ones that no one else really wants," said Weiss.

Specifically, he was looking for fibrous, dirty-looking specimens containing solid or liquid impurities that disqualify them as jewelry, but provide a trove of valuable chemical information for scientists.

By studying the ugly diamonds, Weiss and his team have devised a way to solve two longstanding puzzles: the ages of individual fluid-bearing diamonds, and the chemistry of their parent material.

"It opens a window, well, let's say, even a door, to some of the really big questions" about the evolution of the deep earth and the continents, said Weiss, the lead author of the study and senior lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "This is the first time we can get reliable ages for these fluids."

The findings were recently published in the journal Nature Communications.

It is generally believed that most diamonds form 150 to 200 kilometers (93 to 124 miles) under the surface and are carried upwards by powerful volcanic eruptions called kimberlites.

Until now, most researchers have tried to determine the age of diamonds by concentrating on solid inclusions, such as tiny bits of garnet. But using solid inclusions as an indicator of age can be inaccurate because the inclusions may or may not have formed at the same time as the diamond itself.

Encapsulated fluids, on the other hand, are the "real thing," according to the study — the stuff from which the diamond itself formed.

Weiss and his colleagues found a way to date the fluids by measuring traces of radioactive thorium and uranium, and their ratios to helium-4, a rare isotope that results from their decay.

Based on this method, the team identified three distinct periods of diamond formation in South Africa, where all 10 specimens originated.

The team believes that the oldest specimens took form between 2.6 billion and 700 million years ago. Fluid inclusions from that time show a distinct composition extremely rich in carbonate minerals.

The next diamond-formation phase spanned a timeframe of 550 million to 300 million years ago. The liquid in these inclusions was high in silica minerals.

The most recent known phase took place between 130 million years and 85 million years ago, according to the researchers. The fluid composition in these specimens was high in saline compounds containing sodium and potassium.

This suggests that the carbon from which these diamonds formed did not come directly from the deep earth, but rather from an ocean floor that was dragged under a continental mass by subduction.

The scientists highlighted another intriguing find: At least one diamond encapsulated fluid from both the oldest and youngest eras. This shows that new layers can be added to old crystals, allowing individual diamonds to evolve over vast periods of time.

Weiss noted that his team's methods could be applied to specimens unearthed in other diamond-producing areas of the world, including Australia, Brazil, Canada and Russia. He said that the goal is to disentangle the deep histories of those regions and develop new insights into how continents evolve.

Credit: Image by Yaakov Weiss.
July 23rd, 2021
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, Grammy Award-winning Shawn Colvin overcomes self-doubt and finds her voice in the 1989 autobiographical release, "Diamond in the Rough."



Colvin uses jewelry and diamond imagery to describe an epiphany moment when she regained the confidence to pursue a music career.

Colvin begins the song by describing herself as an upbeat, self-assured, ambitious youngster.

She sings, "As a little girl I came down to the water / With a little stone in my hand / It would shimmer and sing / And we knew everything / As a little girl I came down."

But then self-doubt set in and Colvin's dreams became shrouded in darkness and despair.

She sings, "Heaven only knows what went wrong / There is nothing so cruel than / to bury that jewel / When it was mine all along / I'm gonna find it."

In the end, she finds her voice and achieves her dream of becoming a successful singer/songwriter. She compares that dream to a diamond in the rough: "You're shining I can see you / You're smiling that's enough / I'm holding on to you / Like a diamond in the rough"

Written by Colvin and John Leventhal, "Diamond in the Rough" appeared at the second track of Colvin's debut studio album, Steady On.

"Diamond in the Rough" also became the title of the artist's painfully honest 2012 memoir, in which she recounts her bouts of self-doubt and depression.

Born in Vermillion, SD, in 1956, Colvin learned to play the guitar at the age of 10 and honed her vocal skills as a member of her church's choir. She performed in all of her school's musicals and started singing in clubs as an 18 year old. As a college student performing at bars near Southern Illinois University, Colvin would earn $30 for four 45-minute sets.

After moving to New York City and performing in off-Broadway shows, Colvin was featured in Fast Folk magazine, which led to a gig singing backup on the song "Luka" by Suzanne Vega. Colvin toured with Vega, opening the door for a contract with Columbia Records.

Colvin is best known for her 1997 smash hit, "Sunny Came Home," which won the 1998 Grammy Awards for both Song and Record of the Year.

The artist will be starting a coast-to-coast, eight-month tour on September 29, with appearances in 25 states.

Please check out Colvin's live performance of "Diamond in the Rough." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along…

"Diamond in the Rough"
Written by Shawn Colvin and John Leventhal. Performed by Shawn Colvin.

As a little girl I came down to the water
With a little stone in my hand
It would shimmer and sing
And we knew everything
As a little girl I came down

But in a little while I got steeped in authority
Heaven only knows what went wrong
There is nothing so cruel than
to bury that jewel
When it was mine all along
I'm gonna find it

You're shining I can see you
You're smiling that's enough
I'm holding on to you
Like a diamond in the rough

Every now and then
I can see that I'm getting somewhere
Where I have to go is so deep
I was angry back then and you
know I still am
I have lost too much sleep
But I'm gonna find it

You're shining I can see you
You're smiling that's enough
I'm holding on to you
Like a diamond in the rough
Like a diamond in the rough

In my dreams I go down by the water
With a little girl in my arms
And we shimmer and sing
And we know everything
In my dreams I go down

You're shining I can see you
You're smiling that's enough
I'm holding on to you
Like a diamond in the rough
Like a diamond in the rough



Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com / eTown.
July 26th, 2021
Seven-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady couldn't be more impressed with his brand new Tampa Bay Buccaneers championship ring — a spectacular, commemorative piece featuring 319 diamonds and an innovative twist-off top.



“They’re not so much rings, they’re more like trophies that you wear on your finger,” the age-defying quarterback said in a video posted by the Buccaneers. “This is by far the most incredible ring that’s ever been made.”

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' players, coaches and staff received their championship rings during a private ceremony in Tampa on Thursday. The next day, Brady turned to Twitter to show off his growing collection of Super Bowl bling and captioned his photo, "How it started vs How it’s going."



Now entering his 22nd NFL season, Brady won his first six Super Bowl rings with the New England Patriots. Brady will turn 44 on August 3.



The most surprising element of the Buccaneers' Super Bowl LV ring is a twist-off top that reveals a hand-engraved, three-dimensional replica of Raymond James Stadium. According to the team, those two features – the removable top and the stadium tableau – have never before been included in a Super Bowl ring. Both are meant to celebrate the 2020 Buccaneers becoming the first team ever to win the Super Bowl at their own home stadium.

(Unlike most other sports, the NFL picks its Super Bowl host cities years in advance. For instance, 2022 Super Bowl will take place at the Rams' home stadium in Inglewood, CA, and the 2023 Super Bowl is set for Cardinals' home stadium in Glendale, AZ)

The twist-off top has a number of neat elements. When the top is flipped upside down, the players can read a laser-etched inscription titled "HISTORIC," along with a description of the unusual home-field Super Bowl victory. In the interior of the ring, a single diamond is set on the handcrafted replica of Raymond James Stadium. That diamond represents the tunnel where Buccaneers players entered during Super Bowl LV. Around the top of the stadium on each of the four sides are displays of the four game scores from Tampa Bay’s postseason run – victories against the Washington Football Team, New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs.

“We knew that this ring had to be completely unique and representative of the special journey this team took to the championship,” said Buccaneers Co-owner Darcie Glazer Kassewitz. “We know it will be an emotional touchstone for everyone involved for many, many years to come.”

On the top of the 14-karat yellow and white gold ring are two Lombardi Trophies – representing the franchise’s two Super Bowl Championships – and the team’s signature flag logo, carved from a red stone. The 319 diamonds represent the 31-9 final score in Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl LV victory. The total weight of the diamonds is 15 carats.

Above and below the trophies are the words “World Champions,” which are diamond encrusted. Those two words are connected along the edge of each side by eight baguette-shaped diamonds, representing the franchise-record eight-game winning streak to end the season.

The Buccaneers chose celebrity jeweler Jason of Beverly Hills to design the Super Bowl rings.

“Super Bowl rings are known for being the biggest and having the most carat weight, but eventually you can’t go bigger, and you have to go better,” said Jason Arasheben, CEO of Jason of Beverly Hills. “Defying NFL tradition, the Buccaneers commissioned us to redefine what an NFL Super Bowl ring looks like. Our team did a tremendous job pushing the limits of design and incorporating several key storylines from the season into this ring. I am beyond proud.”



The left side of the ring displays each individual’s name, the jersey number and the team’s motto, “One Team, One Cause.”



The right side features the Buccaneers logo and the Super Bowl LV logo, flanked by the score of the game, with 2020 – representing the season – listed below. The four diamonds on the Super Bowl Trophy represent the team’s four playoff wins. The final feature is found inside the band, where the phrase “Trust, Loyalty, Respect” is inscribed.

Credits: Ring images courtesy of Jason of Beverly Hills. Tom Brady image via Twitter / TomBrady.