Topaz Goldsmiths and Gallery

Topaz Goldsmiths and Gallery

Articles in August 2021

August 2nd, 2021
If the gold medals awarded at this summer's Olympic Games in Tokyo were made of pure gold, each would carry a precious metal value of $35,556. Unfortunately for the 339 athletes who will earn the ultimate symbol of athletic achievement at these Games, the gold medals are actually made of 500 grams of silver overlaid with 6 grams of gold. The melt value is just $832 — far from the $1.46 million paid in 2013 for Jesse Owens' 1936 Olympic gold medal.



There was a time when Olympic gold medals were actually made from pure 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 rare occasions, Olympic gold medals will appear at auction and this is where their real values are reflected.

Back in 2013, billionaire Ron Burkle plunked down $1.46 million at SCP Auctions for a Jesse Owens gold medal from the 1936 Berlin Olympics. It was the highest price ever paid for a piece of Olympic memorabilia.



Owens’ performance in Berlin was one of the most significant in Olympic history because German führer Adolf Hitler was convinced the Games would showcase what he believed was the superiority of the Aryan race. Instead, the 23-year-old son of an Alabama share cropper embarrassed the German dictator by dominating his athletes with decisive wins in the 100- and 200-meter dash, the long jump and as a member of the 4×100 meter relay team.

In 2019, Goldin Auctions offered for sale a second Owens gold medal from the same Berlin Olympics. That medal was sold to an online bidder for $615,000.

Of the four gold medals captured by Owens, the whereabouts of the other two are unknown. The one purchased by Burkle in 2013 had been gifted by Owens to his good friend, entertainer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. The medal came to SCP Auctions via the estate of Robinson’s wife, Elaine Plaines-Robinson.

The Owens medal sold by Goldin Auctions had been owned by the family of John Terpak, Sr., a weightlifter who met Owens during the 1936 Games. Owens apparently gifted the medal to Terpak in appreciation of his generosity and kindness.

Interestingly, Owens’ 1936 medal is significantly smaller than the ones being awarded in Tokyo. It measures 55mm in diameter (compared to 85mm for the Tokyo medal) is 5mm thick (vs. 7.7mm to 12.1mm thick) and weighs 71 grams (vs. 556 grams).

If Owens' gold medal was made of pure gold it would have a melt value of $4,450. Since it was made primarily of silver, its melt value is just over $442.

Credits: Gold medals courtesy of Goldin Auctions. Jesse Owens photo by N.N., CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
August 4th, 2021
The Ancient Egyptians mined peridot on the Red Sea island of Zabargad and celebrated the vibrant green stone as the “gem of the sun.” Thousands of years later, modern scientists have proven that August’s official birthstone is truly extraterrestrial, as it has been found embedded within meteorites and scattered across the surface of Mars.



While nearly all of the peridot that you see in your jeweler’s showcase was born deep within the Earth’s mantel, some very special specimens originated in deep space.

Did you know that translucent gem-quality peridot is a prominent part of a stony-iron meteorite called a pallasite? The formation contains large gem crystals in a silvery honeycomb of nickel-iron.

A beautiful example of this phenomenon is seen in the Fukang meteorite, which was discovered near Fukang, China, in 2000. The 2,200 lb (1,003 kg) mass was obtained by a Chinese dealer, who removed a 44 lb chunk from the main mass and exhibited the specimen at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show in 2005.

The photo, above, shows a slice from the Fukang pallasite. The greenish-yellow areas are gem-quality peridot in various shapes, from rounded to angular. They range in size from 5 mm to several centimeters.

The main mass of the Fukang pallasite reportedly contains peridot clusters up to 11 cm (4.3 in) in diameter.

Peridot is also credited with being the first gem to be discovered on another planet. The Mars landing of 2003 revealed that green peridot crystals — in the form of the gem’s less-precious cousin, olivine — cover about 19,000 square miles of the Red Planet’s surface.



In addition to being the official birthstone of August, peridot is also the 16th anniversary gemstone. Colors range from pure green to yellowish-green to greenish-yellow, but the finest hue is green without any hint of yellow or brown, according to the Gemological Institute of America.

The world’s largest faceted peridot weighs 310 carats and is part of the Smithsonian’s National Gem and Mineral Collection.

Credits: Pallasite slice by Wolfgang Sauber, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Peridot grouping by Chip Clark/National Gem and Mineral Collection, Smithsonian.
August 5th, 2021
On back-to-back days last week, Lucara Diamonds and Petra Diamonds unveiled gem-quality white diamonds weighing a combined 736.42 carats.



On July 29, Lucara announced the recovery of a 393.5-carat Type IIa gem-quality white diamond from its Karowe Diamond Mine in Botswana.



Just one day earlier, Petra unveiled a 342.92-carat Type IIa exceptional white diamond discovered at its Cullinan mine in South Africa.

Both mines have been in the news lately because of a string of impressive diamonds coming from each location.

In late June, we reported on Lucara’s discovery of 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 noted that the stone was actually the largest fragment from a much larger rough diamond that 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.

Lucara reported that its 393-carat gem is the seventh diamond greater than 300 carats to be recovered at Karowe this year.

Meanwhile, 745 km (462 mi) away at the Cullinan mine, Petra Diamonds was also riding a wave of good fortune. In early June, the mining company unearthed an exceptional 39.34-carat blue diamond that yielded more than $1 million per carat via a special tender on July 12.

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 507-carat Cullinan Heritage, 599-carat Centenary, 755-carat Golden Jubilee and the largest rough diamond ever discover — the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond.

Petra noted that the newly discovered 342.92-carat gem is likely to be sold via the company’s tender in September.

The diamonds revealed by the two mining companies last week are both Type IIa stones, which means they are colorless and chemically pure with no traces of nitrogen or boron impurities.

Credits: 393.5-carat diamond image courtesy of Lucara Diamonds. 342.92-carat diamond image courtesy of Petra Diamonds.
August 6th, 2021
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam sing about a 14-karat love in their #1 hit from the summer of 1987, “Head to Toe.”



Lisa Lisa (born Lisa Velez) uses jewelry metaphors, pop culture references and what Ad Age magazine called the best advertising slogan of the 20th century to illustrate just how much she cherishes her guy — a guy who used to be her best friend and now is her boyfriend. She sings, “14-karat love, you are my Jewel of the Nile / When we make love, diamonds are forever.”

Penned for a De Beers marketing campaign in 1947 by NW Ayer copywriter Mary Frances Gerety, the brilliant four-word tagline “A Diamond Is Forever” has inspired an Ian Fleming novel, a James Bond flick, an iconic theme song by Shirley Bassey and Lisa Lisa's "Head to Toe."

The Jewel of the Nile was a blockbuster action-adventure movie from 1985 starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner.

The dance number, which zoomed to the top of the U.S. Billboard 100 chart, is one of the iconic dance tunes of the 1980s. It features a Freestyle vibe seasoned with a generous sprinkling of soul, electro-funk, Latin rhythms and hip-hop. It’s the type of song that would come up on a playlist alongside the early work of Paula Abdul, Gloria Estefan and Sheila E.

“Head to Toe” was composed by Full Force, a long-time production and songwriting powerhouse. According to music trivia website SongFacts.com, the girlfriend of Full Force member Paul Anthony blurted out what would become the song’s catchy hook during their gym workout.

Apparently she was so impressed by his physique that she screamed that “she loved him from head to toe.” Anthony brought that nugget to the rest of the group and, before long, a chart topper was born with the unforgettable hook, “Ooh, baby, I think I love you / From head to toe.”

“Head to Toe” appeared on Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam’s Spanish Fly album, a critically acclaimed work that sold more than one million copies and spawned two #1 hits. The other was the memorable “Lost in Emotion.”

The Harlem-based Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam consisted of lead vocalist Velez, guitarist/bassist Alex “Spanador” Moseley and drummer/keyboardist Mike Hughes. The group was assembled and produced by Full Force, which has worked with a long list of top acts, such as Britney Spears, James Brown, Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, La Toya Jackson, Patty LaBelle and Selena.

Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam enjoyed a successful seven-year run from 1984 to 1991. We invite you to check out the official video of “Head to Toe.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Head To Toe”
Written by Full Force. Performed by Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam.

Head to toe
I know

Today started with a crazy kiss
On our way home
We were in for a surprise
Who would have known

Who would have thought that we would become lovers
As friends we were so, so tight
Can’t help myself, you make me feel so right
I got to, got to, got to tell you, darlin’

Ooh, baby, I think I love you
From head to toe
Ooh, baby, I think I love you
From head to toe

I think I love you from head to toe
I know

Here today, gone tomorrow
It’s possible, but I doubt it
His kiss is credit in the bank of love
I never leave home without it

He’s different from any boy I know
Body supreme
Bedroom eyes, head back to the side
Please don’t be so mean

14-karat love, you are my Jewel of the Nile
When we make love, diamonds are forever
Top to bottom I love you, I will leave you never
I got to, got to, got to tell you, darlin’

Ooh, baby, I think I love you
From head to toe
Ooh, baby, I’ve got to kiss you
From head to toe

Ooh, baby, I think I love you
You got to know
Ooh, baby, I think I love you
From head to toe

I think I love you from head to toe
You can’t hurry love, you got to take it slow
But my angel, you forget your wings tonight [Heaven up above]
Baby, you got the love

14-karat love, you are my Jewel of the Nile
When we make love, diamonds are forever
Top to bottom I love you, I will leave you never
I got to, got to, got to tell you, darlin’

Ooh, baby, I think I love you
From head to toe
Ooh, baby, I want to kiss you
From head to toe

Ooh, baby, I think I love you
You got to know
Ooh, baby, I think I love you
From head to toe

I think I love you from head to toe
I know

Ooh, baby, I want to kiss you
From head to toe
Ooh, baby, I think I love you
You got to know

Ooh, baby, I think I love you
From head to toe



Credit: Screen capture via Youtube.com.
August 9th, 2021
Back in 2016, the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) and Jewelers of America (JA) announced that spinel would be joining peridot and sardonyx as an official birthstone for the month of August.



It was only the third update to the modern birthstone list, which was created in 1912 by the American National Retail Jewelers Association, now known as JA.

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

Spinel has been called “the great impostor of gemstone history” because some of the most famous “rubies” seen in crown jewels around the world are actually spinels.

“Ancient gemstone merchants revered spinel, and it was widely sought after by royalty," AGTA CEO Doug Hucker added. “It was then known as ‘balas ruby.’ It wasn’t until the late 18th century that we developed the technology acumen necessary to distinguish spinel as a separate mineral from ruby. We are very excited to announce it as the newest member of the official birthstone list.”

According to the Smithsonian, it wasn’t until 1783 that spinel was recognized as a mineral distinct from corundum (ruby and sapphire). Ruby is composed of aluminum oxide, while spinel is made of magnesium aluminum oxide. Both get their reddish color from impurities of chromium in their chemical structure.

For centuries, royal jewelry “experts” could not tell the difference between a ruby and a spinel.

For instance, the 398-carat ruby-red gem that tops the Imperial Crown of Russia commissioned by Catherine the Great in was thought to be a ruby, but turned out to be a spinel. The 361-carat Timur Ruby, which was presented by the East India Company to Queen Victoria as a gift, was also later identified as a spinel. And the 170-carat Black Prince Ruby, which is prominently displayed on the Imperial State Crown of England, was, in fact, an uncut spinel.

While spinel is best known for its ability to imitate the color of ruby, the gem comes in a variety of colors, including soft pastel shades of pink and purple, fiery oranges, and cool hues ranging from powdery gray to intense blue. It is a durable gem with a hardness of 8.0 on the Mohs scale. By comparison, diamond rates a 10 and ruby rates a 9.

The spinel ring shown, above, was sourced in Tanzania and is now part of the Smithsonian's National Gem Collection. According to the Smithsonian, in 2007, several large spinel crystals were found near Mahenge, Tanzania. The 10.19-carat spinel in the ring exhibits the intense pink-red color and exceptional clarity attributed to this locality. The Smithsonian acquired the ring in 2017.

The Mahenge spinel specimens were unique because they seemed to possess an inner glow, even in low-light conditions. The colors of these spinels ranged from orangey pink to vivid pinkish red to cherry red. Miners searched the Mahenge region extensively for larger deposits of this beautiful gemstone, but came up empty.

Spinels are most commonly sourced in Myanmar, Afghanistan, Brazil, Cambodia, Kenya, Russia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

Credit: Ring photo by Greg Polley/Smithsonian.
August 10th, 2021
A Grand Island, NE, man celebrated his 80th birthday with a class ring he lost more than 60 years ago — thanks to the "pay it forward" attitude of a North Platte couple that shares a love for metal detecting and making the world a better place.



Greg and Crystal Mattke were treasure hunting in front of a local high school recently when Greg picked up an unusual signal on his metal detector.

“The machines talk to you if you know how to listen to them and what to look for on your screen,” Greg told The Grand Island Independent. “It was actually a number that I wouldn’t normally dig.”

Fortunately for octogenarian Dale Sheeks, Greg decided to give it a go.

He took his trowel and dug down 6 inches and encountered a tangle of surface roots.

Greg nearly gave up, but decided to dig a little further.

At 7 inches deep, he reached into the hole and found Sheeks' 1958 Wood River High School class ring.

Greg couldn't imagine how the Wood River ring found its way to Madison Senior High School more than 100 miles away.

After the couple got home and cleaned off the ring, they could tell that there were initials inscribed, which led them to Sheeks in Grand Island. Administrators at the Wood River school were able to connect the ring to Sheeks within two hours.

In a strange stroke of luck, Sheeks' nephew works for the Wood River schools, and as soon as he heard about the school ring find, he connected his uncle with the Mattkes.

Gregg recounted, “He called me and said, ‘I just had my 80th birthday and I’m just so excited to get this back.’”

Sheeks told Greg that he married his high school sweetheart right after their graduation in 1958 and divorced one year later.

She apparently took the ring without him knowing it and lost it at a football game at Madison High School.

The Mattkes hand-delivered Sheeks' class ring, along with balloons, a congratulatory cake and a T-shirt from his high school.



Sheeks was brought to tears when he saw his class ring for the first time in 62 years.

“Paying it forward, you’ve got to pay things forward,” Greg told The Grand Island Independent. “People have done stuff for me and this is an opportunity for us to do something for somebody else, which is a part of who we are.”



Please check out The Grand Island Independent's full story and video at this link.

Credits: Screen captures via theindependent.com.
August 11th, 2021
A new study confirms what most of us already know — that jewelry plays an important role in our daily lives. Two out of three respondents said that they wear specific jewelry pieces to express their personality and mood. And exactly 64% of respondents believe that — to some extent — the symbols used in jewelry have the power to convey emotion or to protect.



These were just two takeaways from a recent survey initiated by The Plumb Club, a coalition of 45 best-in-class suppliers to the jewelry and watch industries.

Consumers noted that when it comes to expressing their personality, 44% prefer traditional or classic styling, 20% select a minimalistic approach, 14% like contemporary jewelry and 12% opt for vintage looks. Trendy or fun styling preferences were cited by 9%.

Approximately 8 out of 10 consumers (78%) said that colorful jewelry lifts their mood, and they define "colorful jewelry" as pieces that contain a single hue of gemstones (43%) or a mix of many hues (42%).

When purchasing colored gemstone jewelry, 41% of respondents said they prefer a somewhat neutral color palette that might work for more outfits, while 31% want a brighter color palette of gems. Multi-color and pastel preferences were split, each at 14%.

Survey respondents said they generally prefer white pearls (53%) over color pearls (24%), and when it comes to styling, 52% said they like classic strands, while 37% said they like more modern looks.

In addition to the research related to jewelry style preferences, the survey also sought to learn how the pandemic was impacting consumers' perception of jewelry.

Exactly 30% of consumers surveyed stated that the pandemic positively impacted their jewelry purchasing, compared to 21% who said that it impacted their purchasing negatively. Just under half (49%) said that their jewelry purchasing levels remained steady.

A surge in virtual meetings has more people conscious of how they look online. Exactly 41% of consumers said they were more tempted to wear jewelry that would be seen on the screen during video meetings and online gatherings.

The research, titled "The Plumb Club Industry and Market Insights 2021," was initiated by The Plumb Club with the help of Paola Deluca, The Futurist and Qualitrics. The study was conducted with a sampling of 1,049 men and women, from the ages of 25-60 with a focus on 10 “test markets” across the US. Respondents had all attended some college or higher, had a combined household income of at least $75K/year and claimed to have either purchased jewelry in the past year and/or were intending to purchase jewelry in the upcoming year.

Credit: Image by Bigstockphoto.com.
August 12th, 2021
As the hardest material known to man, diamond is often used in tools to cut glass. But, research scientists at China's Yanshan University have developed a new type of glass that can actually scratch a diamond.



This new high-tech glass — tentatively named AM-III — rated 113 gigapascals (GPa) in the Vickers hardness test, compared to natural diamonds, which typically score in the 70-to-100 GPa range.

So, how hard is this new material exactly? Researchers say it is 10 times harder than steel and 20 to 100 times tougher than most bulletproof windows.

The researchers were also clear to point out that the new material — while amazingly hard — is not terribly attractive. The yellowish material is not suitable for jewelry applications.

It does have excellent semiconductor qualities, however, so it will likely show up in photovoltaic applications, solar panels and electronics, as well as bulletproof glass and protective phone cases. The material is not yet transparent enough to be used as phone screens.

As described in the journal National Science Review, the researchers started off with a material called fullerene, which is rich in carbon atoms. They subjected the material to 25 GPa of pressure and 1,200 degrees Celsius (2,192 degrees Fahrenheit). Normally, carbon exposed to that type of pressure and heat may have transformed into a diamond. But, the scientists were careful to reach those conditions gradually over the course of 12 hours. They also allowed the material to cool for another 12 hours.

Instead of the carbon organizing itself in an orderly crystal lattice (producing a diamond), the new material became a chaotic mix of crystal and amorphous structures (super-strong glass).

“Comprehensive mechanical tests demonstrate that the synthesized AM-III carbon is the hardest and strongest amorphous material known so far, which can scratch diamond crystal and approach its strength," noted the authors of the study. "The produced AM carbon materials combine outstanding mechanical and electronic properties, and may potentially be used in photovoltaic applications that require ultrahigh strength and wear resistance.”

Credit: Diamond image by Gemsparkdiamonds, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
August 13th, 2021
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you feel-good songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, Beyoncé and P. Diddy sing about falling in love and cruising the world for pearls in “Summertime.”



In this 2003 collaboration, Beyoncé celebrates that special moment when a woman knows she’s finally found her true love — someone who'll really listen, a friend.

In P. Diddy’s rap at the end of the song, he says how much he loves her and how she brings out the best in him. He also promises to take her on a summertime adventure, which includes a search for precious gems.

He sings, “We can cruise the world for pearls.”

Oh, and there's also a surprise engagement. The rap continues, "And that’s your plan, where’s your hand let me ice that / You my heart ain’t no chance you could fight that."

Released on 12-inch vinyl as the B-side to #1 mega-hit “Crazy in Love,” “Summertime” also charted, peaking at #35 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Critics praised “Summertime” as a “breezy dance number” that leaves the listener “on a smooth laid-back high.”

Beyoncé acknowledged early in her career that “Summertime” was one of her favorite songs. It was part of her set list for both the “Dangerously in Love Tour” in 2003 and the “Verizon Ladies First Tour” in 2004. Her performance of “Summertime” in front of more than 20,000 fans in New York City led MTV News to comment that Knowles “stepped in the name of love” during the breakdown of the song.

Born in Houston in 1981, Beyoncé is one of the world's best-selling recording artists, with more than 118 million records sold worldwide. She's captured 28 Grammy Awards, 26 MTV Video Music Awards, 31 BET Awards and 17 Soul Train Music Awards. In 2020, Time magazine included Beyoncé on its list of the "100 women who defined the last century."

Please check out the audio track of Beyoncé and P. Diddy performing “Summertime.” The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along.

“Summertime”
Written by Beyoncé Knowles, Angela Beyince, Sean Combs, Steven “Steven J.” Jordan, Adonis Shropshire, Varick “Smitty” Smith, Mario Winans. Performed by Beyoncé Knowles, feat. P. Diddy.

[P. Diddy]
Yeah
There’s three things I like about the summertime
Drop tops, long hot nights and summer love
Yeah
Hey yo, B
Tell ’em what time it is
Let’s go

[Beyoncé]
Out of all the guys that approached me
Walking up to me like they know me
You were the one that stayed aside
Waited a while and took your time
You don’t know how impressing
Your curiosity was to me
It was the fourth day of July
Looked in my eyes and saw that I

[Break – Beyoncé]
I wanted more than just a man (man)
I needed a friend (I want a friend)
Someone I can talk to (oh)
Someone who’ll really listen (yeah)
When you touched my hand (yeah yeah)
The sun got brighter then (brighter then)
Trusting you I closed my eyes
And felt our love begin

[Chorus – Beyoncé]
It was the summertime (when we fell in love)
It was the summertime (when heaven shined on us)
It was the summertime (baby there is nothing like the)
Summertime, summertime (ohh)

[Beyoncé]
Now it’s been a year and we’re closer
Fall in love again when I hold ya
I know that God set you aside
For me and now you are my prize
Wanna grow old with ya
Fill a house with ya pictures
Have a son for you, a little girl for me
Together we’ll raise a family

[Break – Beyoncé]
I wanted more then just a man
I needed a friend
You are my best friend (yeah)
Someone I could talk to
Someone who’ll really listen (yeah)
When you touched my hand (yeah)
The sun got brighter then (brighter then)
Trusting you I closed my eyes
and felt our love begin

[Chorus]

[P. Diddy]
Yo let me holla at you for a sec
So what’s in gonna be, him or me? (yeah)
We can cruise the world for pearls
And bare boots for girls
Summertime in the linen, fresh fruit
Livin the life that’s forbidden for just you (let’s go)
No worries you ain’t gotta be stressed out
No hurries you ain’t gotta be rushed out
Sit back relax ma take your time
Now have a taste of the finest wine
Every minute that we have’s a blessing to me
And in your heart you’s a “Child of Destiny” (that’s right)
Them hot summers that we had especially
Love who you is girl, you bring out the best of me
And it’s like that, you know it’s like that (that’s right)
And that’s your plan, where’s your hand let me ice that
You my heart ain’t no chance you could fight that
The summertime, when you hot baby take that, take that
Yeah.



Credit: Image by J.ébey, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
August 16th, 2021
Last Thursday, the wedding ring that Philadelphian Jim McAllister wore continuously since 1974 slipped off his finger in the surf at Ocean City, NJ.



McAllister was with his son, Ryan, when a large wave nearly knocked them over. Jim felt the ring falling off his finger, and the water was clear enough for him to see the plain gold band slowly disappearing from his view.



"It was a sinking feeling because my wife passed away three years ago," the 70-year-old McAllister told Philadelphia's ABC-TV affiliate, WPVI. "Her name was Ellen, and we were married for 47 years."

The ring was inscribed, "Love Always."

The loss was also emotionally devastating to Ryan.



"Memories of my mom just crushed me," he told WPVI. "I remember going over there... and sliding my feet around, trying, hoping that I can find this circle. And not finding it just made me feel broken."

The McAllisters didn't give up hope, however. Ryan's wife's friend posted an alert to a bunch of Ocean City Facebook groups. Facebook users were quick to direct the McAllisters to a local metal detector enthusiast, John Favano, who is a member of the international group called The Ring Finders.



Favano, who runs the South Jersey chapter of The Ring Finders, started his search for McAllister's ring at low tide, mapping out a grid based on where Jim said he was standing when the ring sank to the bottom.

He searched for about an hour unsuccessfully, but then decided to expand his grid to an area farther into the ocean.

Favano's hunch paid off.



"And then I get another signal," he said. "And it's really deep. I dig it, bring it up, sift the sand out, shells are in there, and I see this big ring in there."

Jim watched as Favano scored his miraculous find.

"He dug a couple of scoops and all of a sudden he shouted, 'I found it!' And there it was," Jim explained.

Ryan needed only one word to describe how he felt when his dad got his ring back: "Elation."

Ellen's brother told Jim, "I can't help but to believe that Ellen helped you find this."

Favano told WPVI that he feels great when he is able to return a lost item to its owner.

"It makes me happy that I'm helping someone," he said.

As for Jim, his ring finger will be unadorned on his next visit to the beach at Ocean City.

"No ring," he said. "It'll stay home."

The Ring Finders is a loosely knit network of more than 1,000 members in 25 countries. Each member shares a love of metal detecting and reuniting people with their cherished keepsakes. The group's website claims that members have recorded more than 8,441 successful recoveries since it was founded 12 years ago.

See the ABC affiliate's full report here.

Credits: Screen captures via 6abc.com.
August 17th, 2021
It's one of the most difficult beaches to access on Hawaii's Big Island, but certainly worth the extra effort. Because when you get there, you'll be walking barefoot on a blanket of sparkling green sand that owes its astounding color to olivine crystals eroded from the belly of an ancient volcano and delivered to the shore by ocean waves.



Mahana Beach on Hawaii’s Papakolea coast is one of only four green sand beaches in the world. The beach sand on the Big Island’s undeveloped southern tip is rich in the mineral olivine (gem-quality olivine is known as peridot, the August birthstone). Olivine is a common mineral component of Hawaiian lavas and one of the first crystals to form as magma cools.



Locals refer to peridot as the “Hawaiian Diamond,” and small peridot stones are sold as “Pele’s tears” in honor of Pele, the goddess of volcanoes. In ancient Hawaiian chants, Pele was described as “She-who-shapes-the-sacred-land,” and her temper was known to be both as abundant and dangerous as the lava.

Those daring enough to take the three-mile hike through lava fields to the remote beach at the crescent-shaped bay of Pu’u Mahana, will be treated to a display of one of nature’s crowning achievements — a green beach that appears surreal against the backdrop of steely grey cliffs, turquoise blue ocean and bright blue sky. (Locals with four-wheel-drive vehicles are also available to shuttle visitors to and from the beach.)

“At sunset, the play of colors against the sand is simply breathtaking,” noted the website to-hawaii.com.

The abundance of olivine crystals filling the beach comes from the eroded cutaway interior of Pu’u Mahana, a volcanic cone produced more than 49,000 years ago by the explosive combination of lava and groundwater.

As tempting as it may be to take home a small sample of the green olivine sand, the practice is illegal and subject to fines as high as $100,000.

Hawaii's Mahana Beach (also known as as Papakolea Beach and the Green Sand Beach) is one of only four "green" beaches in the world. The others are Talofofo Beach on Guam, Punta Cormorant on Floreana Island in the Galapagos Islands and Hornindalsvatnet in Norway.

The official birthstone for August, peridot is one of the few gemstones that occurs in only one color: generally an olive green. The amount of iron in the crystal structures determines the intensity and tint of the green color. Specimens can range from yellow-green through olive green to brownish green. The dark-olive color is the most valuable.

Credits: Mahana Beach image by Wasif Malik, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Olivine sand by Brian W. Schaller, FAL, via Wikimedia Commons.
August 18th, 2021
In a startling report, Mastercard singled out "jewelry" as the fastest growing retail sector, with July 2021 sales jumping a whopping 54.2% compared to pre-pandemic July 2019 levels. When comparing July 2021 jewelry sales to those in July 2020, the growth is even more dramatic, with the jewelry sector accelerating 82.6%.



In the 2021 vs 2019 comparison, jewelry far outpaced apparel (+10.2%), department stores (+7.2%), furniture & furnishings (26.8%), grocery (+10.9%), hardware (+18.6%) and restaurants (+30.2%).

Overall, Mastercard SpendingPulse™ — which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment — revealed that retail sales in the U.S. grew for the 11th consecutive month in July. Overall sales were up 10.9% in July and in-store sales were up 15.5% over that same period.



July's retail sales growth of 10.9% is nearly quadruple the recent four-year average, which registered just 2.9%.

The analysts at Mastercard SpendingPulse™ believe that the spending growth was spurred, in part, by the infusion of cash provided by the Child Tax Credit, as well as pent-up savings.

They also pointed to a rush of shoppers returning to physical stores.

“While e-commerce continues to play an increasingly significant role for retail, nothing replaces the in-store experience,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and Chairman of Saks Incorporated. “July numbers reflect a return to the store. Consumers are shopping, spending and splurging across channels.”

Credits: Image by Bigstockphoto.com. Chart by Mastercard SpendingPulse™.
August 19th, 2021
Dogo, a police dog with the Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Office, recently showed off his amazing olfactory skills by sniffing out an engagement ring that was lost at a Michigan beach on the shore of Lake Superior.



The five-year-old Dutch shepherd is trained to locate hidden drugs and weapons, but is also skilled at detecting human scent on small objects.

So, when Sgt. Brad Pelli learned that Elsa Green had lost her bridal jewelry at the beach in Eagle River, he had a hunch that Dogo could use his nose to save the day.



Dogs possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to about six million in humans. This gives dogs an ability to detect a teaspoon of sugar in a million gallons of water, or a single rotten apple in two million barrels. Their keen sense of smell can even detect human disease, such as cancer, diabetes and tuberculosis.

Of course, Green wouldn't have needed Dogo's assistance if an ugly black beetle hadn't crawled across a baseball cap that she had set upon the sand. Green flung the cap, hoping to scare off the beetle. What she didn't remember at the time was that she had placed her cherished engagement ring and wedding band in the cap while she was applying sunscreen. The rings went flying and disappeared into the sand.

Green and her friends searched the area and came up empty. They even solicited the help of a beachgoer with a metal detector. He also failed to find the rings.

“I’d been wearing those rings every day for 17 years,” Green told the Washington Post. “But at that moment, I figured they were gone.”

With no cell phone coverage at the beach, Green asked her friend to seek help from the sheriff’s office about a half mile away.

Sgt. Pelli initially told the friend that there was not much he could do. The department didn't have a metal detector.

“But then after she left, I thought, ‘Why not take the dog down to the beach?’" Pelli said.

A few minutes later, the officer and his K-9 partner arrived at the beach ready to do to some searching.

Pelli told Green and her group to wait in the parking area so Dogo wouldn't be distracted by their scents.

Pelli gave Dogo a "search" command, and within a few minutes the talented K-9 laid his body on the sand, signaling that he had found something.

“I got down on my knees to brush away the sand and saw something glimmering,” Pelli told the Washington Post.

It was Green's platinum engagement ring.

Pelli reunited Green with her engagement ring, but soon learned that the wedding band was still missing. Pelli didn't need Dogo's help for the second search. The wedding band was in the same area, just an inch beneath the surface.

“My son and I both gave the dog a huge hug,” Green said.

She also posted a glowing “thank you” on her Facebook page.

“K9 Dogo, you will forever be my hero!” she wrote. "I started my beach day at Eagle River by losing my wedding rings in the sand… Dogo put his training and skills to use and sure enough he found my rings! Dogo, I’ll be bringing you ice cream to say thank you!"

The Keweenaw County Sheriff's Office's Facebook page featured a photo of Green, her son, the sergeant and his K-9 buddy, along with this caption: "This is what we call going above and beyond. Great job Sgt. Pelli and K9 Dogo!"

Credits: Group pic via Facebook.com/Elsa Green; Dogo pic via Facebook.com/keweenawsheriff.
August 20th, 2021
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great throwback songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, we shine the spotlight on Don Cherry's 1955 hit, "Band of Gold," which made a resurgence more than 50 years later on the Emmy-award-winning AMC series Mad Men.



In the song, Cherry explains how he would gladly trade fame and fortune for a simple life with his true love. And he symbolizes that eternal bond with a gold wedding band.

Backed by Ray Conniff & His Orchestra, Cherry sings, "Don't want the world to have and hold / For fame is not my line / Just want a little band of gold / To prove that you are mine."

With music by Jack Taylor and lyrics by Bob Musel, "Band of Gold" became Cherry's biggest hit, reaching #4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. It was also covered by Kit Carson, Petula Clark, Mel Carter, and Cherry, again, in 1968 for his album There Goes My Everything.

The song may have faded from our collective memories had it not been for critically acclaimed Mad Men, which chronicled the fast-paced world of New York's Madison Avenue advertising executives during the turbulent 1960s.

Mad Men fans may remember that "Band of Gold" was the first song played after the opening credits of the first episode of Season 1 in 2007. It also returned for Mad Men's sixth season finale. The series included 92 episodes and concluded in 2015.

In November 2015, "Band of Gold" was featured as the second song on a 24-track compilation album called Retrospective: The Music Of Mad Men.

Born in Wichita Falls, TX, in 1924, Cherry was a successful big band singer and a top-ranked amateur golfer. In 1960's U.S. Open, Cherry finished only four strokes behind the winner, Arnold Palmer. Cherry passed away in 2018 at the age of 94.

Please check out the audio track of Cherry singing "Band of Gold." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along…

"Band of Gold"
Written by Bob Musel and Jack Taylor. Performed by Don Cherry.

I've never wanted wealth untold
My life has one design
A simple little band of gold
To prove that you are mine

Don't want the world to have and hold
For fame is not my line
Just want a little band of gold
To prove that you are mine

Some sail away to Araby and other lands of mystery
But all the wonders that they see will never tempt me

Their memories will soon grow cold
But till the end of time
There'll be a little band of gold
To prove that you are mine

Don't want the world to have and hold
For fame is not my line
Just want a little band of gold
To prove that you are mine



Credit: Screen capture via Youtube.com.
August 23rd, 2021
Today starts an occasional series covering the rarest gems you've probably never heard of. The remarkable 9.41-carat light-pink oval gem seen here is one of the largest — if not the largest — faceted poudretteite in existence, according to the Smithsonian.



A faceted poudretteite is so rare, says the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), that few professional gemologists will ever encounter one.

Poudretteite gets its name from the Poudrette family, owners and operators of a quarry near Mont Saint-Hilaire, Quebec, Canada, where a few tiny crystals of the curious material was first unearthed in the mid-1960s. It would take until 1986 for poudretteite to finally be recognized and registered as a new mineral.

In 2000, the first documented gem-quality specimen of poudretteite was discovered nearly half-a-world away in Mogok, Burma — an area famous for its pigeon's blood rubies, as well as lapis lazuli, garnet, moonstone, amethyst, peridot and chrysoberyl. The 3-carat poudretteite was submitted to the Gubelin Gem Lab for examination, and the findings were published in the scholarly journal Gems & Gemology in 2003.

Also sourced in Burma, the much larger, nearly flawless 9.41-carat poudretteite is the only gem of its kind in the Smithsonian's National Gem Collection. The gem was generously gifted to the Smithsonian in 2007 by Frances Miller Seay.

Poudretteite can range from colorless to purple-pink and owes its color to the presence of manganese in its chemical composition. Specimens with few inclusions and saturated color are said to be worth $6,000 per carat or more.

On the Mohs hardness scale, poudretteite rates a 5, compared to amethyst (7), topaz (8), sapphire (9) and diamond (10). The relative softness of the gem makes it unsuitable to be used in a ring, but it could be used, with care, in earrings, a pendant or pin.

Credit: Photo by Ken Larsen / Smithsonian.
August 24th, 2021
A 24.45-carat, internally flawless, heart-shaped diamond fetched $2.01 million at Christie's Summer Sparkle sale, narrowly missing the record for the highest-valued jewel ever sold online. Christie's had established that record in June 2020 when a 28.86-carat, D-color, emerald-cut diamond achieved $2.11 million.



The heart-shaped stunner, which came into the auction with a pre-sale estimate of $1.55 million to $2.55 million, was designated as Lot #1 in Christie's second iteration of Jewels Online: Summer Sparkle. In the lead-up to the sale, Christie's had promoted the sale's top lot as the "highest valued jewel ever offered in an online sale at Christie's." The record holder from 2020 had entered its auction with a pre-sale estimate of $1 million to $2 million.



The top lot of the 2021 Summer Sparkle sale is set as a platinum pendant and surrounded by internally flawless pear-shaped brilliant-cut diamonds weighing 1.37 carats. The heart-shaped center stone belongs to the rare Type IIa category. These diamonds are the most chemically pure and characterized by their exceptional transparency.

Featuring 51 lots, the sale celebrated a wide variety of diamonds, from colorless to colorful.



One of the most colorful was "The Summer Sunrise," a fancy vivid, orange-yellow, round-cornered rectangular modified brilliant-cut diamond weighing 9.83 carats. The Summer Sunrise was scooped up for $810,000, just above the pre-sale high estimate of $800,000. Set in a platinum ring and framed by triangular-shaped diamonds, the center stone boasts a clarity rating of VS1.

Other diamonds in the sale spanned a wide variety of colors, including pinks, greens, browns and yellows.

Overall, the August 4 - 18 online sale raked in $5.13 million.

Credits: Images courtesy of Christie's.
August 25th, 2021
It's not easy for sweethearts to maintain a long-distance relationship, especially when they live 800 miles apart. But over the past two years, Brennan and Skyler have maintained their Dallas-to-Atlanta romance via countless hours on Delta flights.



While flying solo recently, Brennan came to the realization that he and Skyler were "destined" to be together so he started plotting options for making the proposal truly memorable.

Since Delta was such a big part of their lives — not only did they commute back and forth between Dallas and Atlanta, but they also took vacations to fun destinations, such as Cancun and New Orleans — Brennan knocked out an email to Delta CEO Ed Bastian.

“Airplanes have a special place in our hearts," Brennan wrote. "Specifically, Delta jets brought us and kept us together. I have given a lot of thought to all the potential options for my proposal, and I keep coming back to somehow involving an airplane and Delta.”

Brennan didn't really believe that the note would amount to much, but he was very wrong.

Within 24 hours, Erica Almena of the CEO's correspondence team wrote back saying that Delta would love to help.

At the direction of Delta's CEO, dozens of Delta employees in Texas and Georgia sprung into action.

“I’m a sap for a good love story,” said Almena. “So planning this engagement with Brennan and our teams was like living a in a real life romance movie!”

During her latest trip from Dallas to Atlanta, Skyler had a hunch that something special was about to happen.

“When I walked into DFW, all the Delta agents looked at me like I was a celebrity,” Skyler said.

The pilots and flight attendants on her flight to Atlanta were in on the plan, too, delivering cards from Brennan and posing for pictures.

Once she arrived in Atlanta, she was met at the boarding door by a Delta operations manager and whisked away in a Porsche.

Her destination would be the "rain forest" tunnel between the A and B terminals. This was a special place for the couple.

During their two-year relationship, texted pictures of the tunnel came to symbolize the wordless message, "I'm on my way!"

Of course, Brennan was waiting for Skyler in the rain forest, where he went down on one knee and proposed.

Through tears of joy, she said, "Yes."



But then there was more. Riding in Delta's Porsche, the couple was treated to an insider's tour of the airport, including a photo op in front of the 306-seat Airbus A350. They were also escorted to the Delta Sky Club, where CEO Bastian sent them a congratulatory video message.



As the couple was about to board their flight to Dallas, posters of the couple decorated the entry to the gateway. One of the posters was titled, "Diamonds in the Sky."



On the flight, the celebration continued as passengers and the crew celebrated with Brennan-and-Skyler signs and clappers.



“It was the most fun I have ever had in one day,” Skyler said.

“This experience has been above and beyond,” Brennan added. “Delta will always be our airline and thus will be part of countless memories and celebrations in our future together.”

Credits: Photos by Alec Thomas, Delta Air Lines.
August 30th, 2021
The Natural Diamond Council's new ad campaign titled, "Thank You, By the Way," communicates the massive socioeconomic benefits generated by the diamond mining industry. The campaign targets jewelry consumers, who now more than ever before want to know where their products come from, and the impact their purchases have on the producing countries and local communities.



Via the campaign, consumers learn that by choosing a natural diamond, they’ll make a positive impact on the lives of millions of people in the most remote corners of the earth. In the example, above, consumers learn that their marriage proposal with a natural diamond protects endangered rhinos and safeguards 200,000 hectares across Southern Africa.

Created with the support of the Responsible Jewellery Council, the series of nine creative executions can been seen across the NDC’s social media channels, with a dedicated page on Only Natural Diamonds.

“This isn’t a new topic for the diamond industry,” said David Kellie, CEO of the Natural Diamond Council. “For the last two decades the industry has been doing this work, putting sustainability at the forefront of everything they do. But now more than ever, consumers have an appetite for it, they want to know the impact of what they are buying, and how their purchases are contributing to the regions and communities producing them. Through this campaign, we would like to thank our consumers for their trust and support in doing good around us.”

On the NDC website, consumers learn that their natural diamond purchase has far-reaching positive effects, building healthier, more prosperous futures for people in vulnerable communities.

A natural diamond purchase will do the following:

  • Contribute $16 billion of annual benefits for our world. That includes healthcare, jobs, education, biodiversity and infrastructure.
  • Support the livelihood of 10 million people around the world.
  • Help provide access to healthcare for more than 4 million people.
  • Help provide access to education for children around the world, including more than a half million children in rural communities.
  • Benefit the indigenous communities of Canada’s Northwest Territories with investments aimed at all age groups, from preschoolers to elders.
  • Invest in livelihoods at the source – from nurturing local business start-ups, to building new schools, roads and hospitals.
  • Help fund more than 400 women-owned businesses across Africa.
  • Help protect biodiversity over an area of land the size of Paris, London and New York City.
  • Help protect the lives of millions of wild animals globally, saving threatened species from extinction.

Credit: Image courtesy of The Natural Diamond Council.
August 31st, 2021
Modern Family star Eric Stonestreet recently popped the question to long-time girlfriend and pediatric nurse Lindsay Schweitzer with an oval-cut diamond ring. The two-time Emmy-award-winning comedic actor, who plays Cameron Tucker on the ABC hit series, chronicled the happy news with a series of amusing photos on his Instagram page. His caption read, "She said, 'She'd have her people call my people.'"



A closeup look at Schweitzer's new ring, reveals a sizable oval-cut center stone, surrounded by a halo of much smaller accent diamonds. The band seems to be a simple split-shank design.



In the days that ensued, the 49-year-old actor (he'll turn 50 on September 9) took some ribbing on Instagram because he looked so much older than his fiancée, who is nearly 42. Nevertheless, Stonestreet rolled with the punches and reposted a few of the couple's engagement pictures that he cleverly edited with an aging filter.



Along with the edited photos, he wrote, "Apparently a lot of people think I look too old, as a 49 year old man, to be engaged to my almost 42 year old fiancé. Look, she can’t help that she looks so great at 42 and I can’t help that I apparently look like her grandad so, I fixed it for everyone. #engaged #love #engagedlife #herlifeforever #imfunny #shesaidyestothis." He punctuated the post with an engagement ring emoji.

Stonestreet's light-hearted response to the Instagram trolls was picked up by a slew of high-profile celebrity outlets, including Insider, Eonline, People, The Blast, Hello Magazine and Yahoo News. Stonestreet and Schweitzer met at the Big Slick charity weekend in Kansas City in 2016 and have been dating ever since.

The engagement announcement on Instagram also sparked an outpouring of well wishes from his fans (he has 2.3 million followers on Instagram) and celebrity brethren.

Howie Mandel wrote, "Wow congratulations."

Kate Hudson added, "Yeah!!!! Congrats!"

Gwyneth Paltrow chimed in, "YAY!!! We are so happy for you."

His Modern Family co-star, Sofia Vergara, told the TV show Extra: “I was so happy for him because, you know, she is amazing. He deserves to be with someone like her. I was telling him, 'Finally!' Because they’ve been together for a long time.”

Back in 2017, Stonestreet opened up about his relationship with Schweitzer during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The host joked that having a nurse for a girlfriend was perfect for him because his is such a hypochondriac.

Stonestreet replied, "I'm a big baby, too! She calms me. She calms my nerves! I'm a very high-strung person."

Credits: Photos via Instagram / ericstonestreet.