August 17th, 2022
NASA's highly anticipated summer 2022 mission to "16 Psyche" — a 140-mile-wide asteroid made of gold, platinum, iron and nickel — has been postponed due to the late delivery of the spacecraft's flight software and testing equipment.

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A 15-member independent review board is currently re-evaluating the costs and benefits of the Psyche mission before NASA can reschedule the launch. The results, to be released in late September, will have heavy implications for space-mining entrepreneurs who are looking to capitalize on what could become a quintillion-dollar industry.

When we first wrote about 16 Psyche in the summer of 2019, NASA had no immediate plans to do any mining on the asteroid and it was deemed way too large to tow back to Earth.

But, during the past three years, in the run-up to the actual launch, scientists described how a SpaceX Starship, for example, could theoretically orbit the asteroid while mining robots worked the surface. The Starship would be capable of carrying upwards of 100 metric tons of ore to facilities in low-Earth orbit for processing.

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The value of 16 Psyche's natural resources is hotly debated. The estimate of $700 quintillion (700 followed by 18 zeroes) lies on the high end of the spectrum while $11.65 trillion occupies the low end. The wide discrepancy is rooted in one estimate that assumes the precious metals run throughout the asteroid as opposed to only the surface.

A team of researchers from Purdue University and Brown University suggested that the "golden asteroid" — which orbits the Sun between Mars and Jupiter — was less dense than previously believed. They argued that 16 Psyche is actually a rocky object covered with a layer of metal that erupted from the core.

The US government has already made legal preparations for the eventuality of space mining. The SPACE Act, which became law in 2015, includes provisions for private companies to extract resources from asteroids with limited government interference. Although the law does not allow for companies to claim, say, an asteroid, for their own, miners may keep anything they obtain from their exploration and mining.

Beyond the precious metal implications, NASA and its university partners were excited to explore 16 Psyche because it appears to be the exposed core of an early planet, perhaps the size of Mars, that lost its rocky outer layers due to violent collisions that occurred while the solar system was forming.

Measuring about 140 miles (226 km) in diameter, Psyche 16 is named after the nymph Psyche, who, according to Roman mythology, married Cupid but was put to death by Venus. At Cupid’s request, Jupiter — the king of the Gods — made Psyche immortal. The unique metal asteroid was discovered in 1852 by Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis.

NASA's original plan was to launch the Psyche spacecraft in the summer of 2022 from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. After a 1.5-billion-mile, 3 1/2-year journey, the NASA spacecraft would have arrived at the asteroid in 2026.

If the review board gives the project a thumbs-up in September, the launch date is expected to be rescheduled for 2023 or 2024.

Credits: Orbiter illustration by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin. 16 Psyche illustration by NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU.
August 16th, 2022
Throughout much of history, gem "experts" couldn't distinguish a ruby from a spinel. It was not until 1783 that spinel — August's newest official birthstone — was recognized as a mineral distinct from its far more famous red lookalike.

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Ruby is composed of aluminum oxide, while spinel is made of magnesium aluminum oxide that forms when impure limestone is altered by extreme heat and pressure. Both gems get their reddish color from impurities of chromium in their chemical structure. In nature, they are often found side by side.

The physical similarities between the two gems created a jumble of confusion evidenced in these high-profile blunders.

Catherine the Great commissioned the Imperial Crown of Russia in 1763 and never knew that the impressive “ruby” topping the regal headpiece was actually a spinel.

At her coronation in 1838, Queen Victoria wore a newly designed Imperial State Crown, which prominently displayed the 170-carat Black Prince Ruby. It 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 in 1851, also was a misidentified spinel.

In Burma (now Myanmar), the high luster, perfect octahedral spinel crystals found in the Mogok region have a special name, according to the Smithsonian. They are called "anyon nat thwe," meaning spinels that have been cut and polished by the spirits.

In 2016, the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) and Jewelers of America (JA) announced jointly that spinel would join peridot as an official birthstone for the month of August. The news came as a surprise to gem aficionados because the modern birthstone list — up until that point — had been amended only a few times during its 100-plus-year existence.

Established in 1912 by the American National Retail Jewelers Association (now known as JA), the modern birthstone list saw a significant change in 1952 when alexandrite (June), citrine (November), tourmaline (October) and zircon (December) were added. The list was amended again in 2002 when tanzanite joined the group of December birthstones.

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According to the Smithsonian, pure spinel is colorless, but impurities give rise to a range of colors, most typically pink or red, but also purple, green and blue.

The spinels on this page are from the Smithsonian’s National Gem Collection.

The leading sources of spinel are Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand, while other significant spinel production takes place in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Vietnam and Russia.

Spinel 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.

Credits: Spinel trio (top) by D. Penland / Smithsonian. Spinel grouping (bottom) by Ken Larsen / Smithsonian.
August 15th, 2022
A team of archaeologists has uncovered a hoard of 169 gold rings dating back 6,500 years during the excavation of a burial site near the Romanian-Hungarian border. The tomb was discovered during the construction of a new road linking the Romanian city of Oradea with the A3 freeway.

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The rings, which weigh a combined 200 grams (0.44 pounds), were extracted from a tomb of a "high status" woman near Biharia, Romania, according to a statement from the Tarii Crisurilor Museum.

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During a recent press conference, Dr. Calin Ghemis described how the 169 gold rings were not intended to be worn on the woman's fingers but, instead, adorned her hair. Also found in her tomb was a multi-spiral copper bracelet, two golden beads and about 800 mother-of-pearl beads. Based on an examination of her teeth and stature, the Tiszapolgár woman is believed to have been a person of high social status.

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Ghemis said the find is "sensational" because the total number of gold pieces ever recovered from the Carpathian Basin — a vast area centered on modern-day Hungary, but also including parts of Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria — is only 150.

"Here, there are over 160 in just one inventory,” he said.

Gold items representing the Tiszapolgár culture (4500–4000 BC) are very rare because gold was very hard to come by in that prehistoric time period. The rings were made from alluvial gold extracted from sand using a washing process that removes the lighter sand and leaves the dense gold particles. This time period pre-dates the technique of extracting gold from rock.

Labs in Romania and the Netherlands will be using carbon-14, DNA analysis and anthropological research to determine a precise dating of the tomb's contents. After the analysis is completed, the hoard will go on display at the Tarii Crisurilor Museum in Oradea, Romania.

Credits: Images courtesy of Tarii Crisurilor Museum. Map by Google Maps.
August 12th, 2022
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you classic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, we present Heart’s amazing rendition of what is arguably one of the greatest rock songs of all time, Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.”

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Co-writer and lead vocalist Robert Plant revealed in Led Zeppelin: The Biography that the gilded lyrics came to him in a flash of inspiration.

“I was holding a pencil and paper, and for some reason I was in a very bad mood," he said. "Then all of a sudden my hand was writing out the words, ‘There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold / And she’s buying a stairway to heaven.’ I just sat there and looked at the words and then I almost leapt out of my seat.”

Plant explained that the story is about a woman who gets everything she wants without giving anything back. She accumulates great wealth, only to find out her life has no meaning and that her money won’t get her into heaven.

Despite that basic premise, the song is filled with thought-provoking metaphors, allusions and mystical references.

“Depending on what day it is, I still interpret the song a different way — and I wrote the lyrics,” Plant said, according to songfacts.com.

Released in 1971 as the fourth track of Led Zeppelin IV, “Stairway to Heaven” became the group’s signature song. Amazingly, it was the most requested song on FM radio stations in the US in the 1970s even through the original version ran 8:02 and was never released as a single.

DJs played promotional singles, which quickly became collector’s items. In 2000, VH1 selected “Stairway to Heaven” #3 on its list of the 100 Greatest Rock Songs of all time.

Led Zeppelin, which is widely considered one of the most successful and influential rock groups in history, disbanded shortly after the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980.

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In December 2012, Led Zeppelin’s legacy was the focus of a star-studded tribute at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Surviving members Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones watched from the balcony with great pride as Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart — supported by a full orchestra and powerful choir — brought down the house with an inspired performance of “Stairway to Heaven.”

The video of the performance earned more than 86 million views on YouTube.

Playing the drums was Jason Bonham, who looked strikingly like his dad, John, and is a fabulous talent in his own right. Plant is clearly misty eyed as the song builds to a rousing crescendo.

It’s an amazing moment in rock history, and we have a great video to share. We know you will love Heart’s brilliant rendition of “Stairway to Heaven,” which was broadcast on CBS. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Stairway to Heaven”
Written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. Originally performed by Led Zeppelin. Tribute performed by Heart.

There’s a lady who’s sure
All that glitters is gold
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven

When she gets there she knows
If the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for

Ooh ooh ooh ooh
and she’s buying a stairway to heaven

There’s a sign on the wall
But she wants to be sure
‘Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings

In a tree by the brook
There’s a songbird who sings
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiving

Ooh, it makes me wonder

There’s a feeling I get
When I look to the west
And my spirit is crying for leaving

In my thoughts I have seen
Rings of smoke through the trees
And the voices of those who stand looking

Ooh, yeah
Ooh, yeah

Your head is humming and it won’t go
In case you don’t know
The piper’s calling you to join him
Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow
And did you know
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind

And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our soul
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last
When all are one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll

And she’s buying the stairway to heaven



Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.
August 11th, 2022
The Perth Mint has just unveiled the "Great Southern Land" coin, a limited-edition 2-ounce pure gold collectible set with colorful, iridescent opal slices puzzled together in the shape of the Australian continent and illustrated with a menagerie of native species.

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The Perth Mint frequently pays tribute to themes that are truly Australian. Opal is Australia’s national gemstone and about 90% to 95% of the world’s finest opals are mined in the harsh outback of Australia, where a unique combination of geological conditions permitted the formation of opal near the margins of an ancient inland sea.

Opals have been an important part of Australian culture since ancient times. Dating back 65,000 years, the Aboriginal "Dreamtime" stories describe how opal was created when the colors of the rainbow touched the earth.

The map-shaped opal insert is encircled by representations of iconic Australian animals, including the Tasmanian devil, koala, emu, kangaroo, wombat, bilby, monitor lizard, echidna, snake and frilled-neck lizard. Also included on the reverse is the coin’s "2oz" weight, "9999" fineness, "2022" year-date and "P" mintmark. The reverse of the coin was designed by Aleysha Howarth, a renowned artist specializing in wildlife.

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The obverse features the Jody Clark effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II surrounded by a ray pattern, the "200 DOLLARS" monetary denomination, "AUSTRALIA" and the Queen’s name.

Limited to a mintage of 200 pieces, the new proof-quality coins are considered Australian legal tender. Measuring 36.6mm in diameter, the Great Southern Land coin is about twice the width of a US quarter.

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Each collectible coin is priced at AUD$7,998.99 and comes in a wooden display case along with a numbered certificate of authenticity. The Perth Mint's website is currently showing the status of the item as backordered.

Scientists believe that between 100 million and 97 million years ago, Australia’s vast inland sea, which was populated by marine dinosaurs, began retreating. As the sea regressed, a rare episode of acidic weather was taking place, exposing pyrite minerals and releasing sulphuric acid. As the surface of the basin dried further and cracked, silica-rich gel became trapped in the veins of the rock. Over time, the silica solidified to form opals.

Credits: Images courtesy of The Perth Mint.
August 10th, 2022
Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, AR, is celebrating its 50th Anniversary by offering park guests a limited-edition replica of the famous 4.60-carat, D-flawless Esperanza diamond pendant.

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Discovered in 2015 by Bobbie Oskarson, the icicle-shaped Esperanza weighed 8.52 carats uncut and was the fifth-largest diamond ever found at the park. The Coloradan spotted the diamond within 20 minutes of entering “The Pig Pen,” a section of the 37 1/2-acre plowed field that is actually the eroded surface of an extinct, diamond-bearing volcanic pipe.

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A ceremonial shovel affixed to an informative sign now marks the exact spot where the Esperanza diamond was unearthed.

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Later in 2015, the oblong rough was cut into a first-of-its-kind triolette shape by master diamond cutter Mike Botha during a weeklong live-streamed event at Stanley Jewelers Gemologist in North Little Rock, AR.

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Botha’s 147-facet triolette resembles a teardrop and merges the elements of both emerald and trapezoid shapes. The painstaking cutting and polishing process took 130 hours.

Upon completion, the diamond was shipped to the American Gem Society Laboratories, where it was graded as colorless (D) and internally flawless (IF). The Gemological Institute of America later affirmed the D-flawless grading.

Now owned by a team of three investors, the Esperanza (meaning “hope” in Spanish) is said to be worth upwards of $1 million, making it one of the most valuable diamonds ever found in the U.S.

Master jeweler Ian Douglas designed a custom setting for the Esperanza, featuring flowing shapes that complement the diamond’s cut. Jewelry manufacturer Byard Brogan crafted the pendant out of platinum.

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The replicas — in a limited series of 35 units — feature a cubic zirconia faux Esperanza set in sterling silver. Each piece was crafted under the strict supervision of the original team. The photo above shows the actual Esperanza diamond pendant (left) alongside its near-identical replica, minus the diamond accents.

Each replica comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by Mike Botha - Master Diamond Cutter, and may be purchased at the park for $500.

More than 33,100 diamonds have been found by park visitors since the Crater of Diamonds became an Arkansas state park in 1972.

Credits: Images courtesy of Crater of Diamonds State Park; Facebook.com/theesperanza; Laura Stanley.
August 9th, 2022
Spotlighting treasures recovered from the shipwrecked 17th century Spanish galleon the Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas, Allen Exploration’s Bahamas Maritime Museum in Freeport, Grand Bahama, opened its doors to the public for the first time on Monday.

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The museum tells the story of The Bahamas’ rich maritime legacy, from the history of Lucayan free-divers and the horrors of the slave trade to the magnificent treasures hidden in the bellies of Spanish fleets and the pirates that lurked nearby.

Often called "The Bahamas’ Sunken Crown Jewel," the Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas (Our Lady of Wonders) was lost off the northern islands on January 4, 1656.

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The 891-ton Maravillas was the vice-flagship of the Tierra Firme (mainland) fleet, homeward-bound to Spain from Havana, Cuba, and loaded with royal and private consignments. Also on board was the recovered bounty of a Spanish ship that had wrecked off the coast of Ecuador 18 months earlier.

According to smithsonianmag.com, the Maravillas lost its bearings near midnight and was rammed by its flagship. Thirty minutes later, it violently collided with a reef and sank like a stone, weighed down by its double cargo. Of the 650 crewmen, only 45 survived.

Allen Exploration is currently exploring a debris trail left behind by the Maravillas and uncovering remarkable finds. The wreck is scattered across an area of at least 18 by 8 kilometers.

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Alongside Spanish olive jars, Chinese porcelain, iron rigging, and gold and silver coins, the team has discovered fantastic gemstones and jewelry, including rough emeralds and amethysts, and a pendant featuring a gold Cross of St. James atop a large green oval Colombian emerald. The outer edge is framed by 12 more square emeralds, perhaps symbolizing the 12 apostles.

“When we brought up the oval emerald and gold pendant, my breath caught in my throat,” said Carl Allen, entrepreneur, explorer, philanthropist and the founder of Allen Exploration. “The pendant mesmerizes me when I hold it and think about its history. How these tiny pendants survived in these harsh waters, and how we managed to find them, is the miracle of the Maravillas.”

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Allen explained how the Maravillas has had a tough history. It was heavily salvaged by Spanish, English, French, Dutch, Bahamian and American expeditions in the 17th and 18th centuries, and blitzed by salvors from the 1970s to early 1990s.

“Some say the remains were ground to dust," Allen said. "[But] using modern technology and hard science, we’re now tracking a long and winding debris trail of finds. We’re delighted to be licensed by the Bahamian government to explore the Maravillas scientifically and share its wonders with everyone in the first maritime museum in The Bahamas.”

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A stunning AllenX discovery is an 887-gram gold filigree chain, 176 centimeters long, made up of 80 alternating circular links. They are decorated with four-lobed rosette motifs.

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Unlike former projects that had a commercial focus, Allen Exploration is committed to keeping its entire collection together for public display in The Bahamas Maritime Museum.

Nothing is being sold. In fact, Allen is buying back past shipwreck material to return it to The Bahamas.

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“For a nation built from the ocean, it’s astonishing how little is understood about The Bahamas’ maritime links,” said Dr. Michael Pateman, director of The Bahamas Maritime Museum. “Few know that the indigenous Lucayan peoples, for instance, settled here 1,300 years ago. Or that the whole population, up to 50,000 people, was forced out by Spanish guns, made to dive for pearls off Venezuela, and killed off in less than three decades. There was a dazzling Old World culture in The Bahamas long before European ships thought they found a New World. The Lucayans, slave trade, pirates and the Maravillas are core stories we’re sharing in the museum.”

While searching for the missing Maravillas, Allen Exploration has so far discovered approximately 18 other wrecks. There are hundreds more on the Little Bahama Bank and thousands spread across The Bahamas, according to Allen.

Credits: High-status personal belongings. © Brendan Chavez - Allen Exploration. Ship photo © Allen Exploration. Gold and emerald pendant. © Nathaniel Harrington - Allen Exploration. Carl Allen holds an amethyst on the Maravillas site. © Matthew Rissell - Allen Exploration. Golden filigree chain. © Nathaniel Harrington - Allen Exploration. Gold and pearl ring. © Nathaniel Harrington - Allen Exploration. Maravillas exhibit at the Bahamas Maritime Museum. ©Matthew Lowe – Bahamas Maritime Museum.
August 8th, 2022
Legend has it that in the year 41 BC Cleopatra gulped down a pearl-infused cocktail to demonstrate to her lover — the Roman leader Marc Antony — her immense wealth and power.

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Roman naturalist and philosopher Pliny the Elder (23 - 79 AD) offered a detailed account of the event in his book, Natural History. It's been called one of the most celebrated banquets in literature and here's how it went down.

Pliny the Elder wrote, "There were formerly two pearls, the largest that had been ever seen in the whole world: Cleopatra, the last of the queens of Egypt, was in possession of them both, they having come to her by descent from the kings of the East."

The 28-year-old Cleopatra (69 - 30 BC) was Egypt's hostess with the mostest, and with Antony (83 – 30 BC) as her guest, she spared no expense to impress him. The meals she presented were so extravagant that the Roman politician and general wondered out loud if it was even possible to make the banquets more magnificent.

Cleopatra responded that she could spend 10 million sesterces on a single dinner. (Scholars believe the equivalent value in today's dollars might be $25 million or more).

Pliny the Elder explained, "Antony was extremely desirous to learn how that could be done, but looked upon it as a thing quite impossible; and a wager was the result."

On the following day, Cleopatra — her face set alight by her priceless pearl earrings — hosted another spectacular banquet, but it was no better than what Antony had experienced before.

When the second course was served, Antony curiously looked on as a single vessel filled with vinegar was placed before the queen.

According to Plany the Elder, the liquid possessed the sharpness and strength to dissolve pearls.

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"At this moment she was wearing in her ears those choicest and most rare and unique productions of Nature," he wrote, "and while Antony was waiting to see what she was going to do, taking one of them from out of her ear, she threw it into the vinegar, and directly it was melted, swallowed it."

Lucius Plancus, who had been named umpire in the wager, placed his hand upon the other pearl at the very instant Cleopatra was making preparations to dissolve it in a similar manner, and declared that Antony had lost the bet.

Pliny the Elder's accounting of this story has sparked the imagination of scientists and gemologists, who wondered if melting a pearl in vinegar is really a thing.

Youtubers have tried to duplicate the feat, and scholars have written about it in professional journals. The bottom line is that, yes, pearls can be dissolved in vinegar but, no, they don't dissolve instantly, as Pliny described.

Pearls consist of calcium carbonate. Vinegar is acetic acid. When combined, there is a chemical reaction that initiates the breakdown of the pearl into calcium acetate, water and carbon dioxide.

In the Youtube experiments, pearls can be seen losing their form and turning into a gel-like substance within a few days of vinegar submersion.

Tip: In addition to vinegar, pearls shouldn't be exposed to chlorine bleach, hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, hairspray, perfume, cosmetics or any harsh chemicals.

It is plausible that Cleopatra crushed the pearl before immersing it in vinegar and swallowing it down. Many recent accounts of the Cleopatra-Antony banquet wager attempt to correct Pliny the Elder's apparent scientific inaccuracies by describing the pearl as crushed or pulverized.

Credit: Painting by Andrea Casali (1705-1784). Andrea Casali, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
August 5th, 2022
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fabulous songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, rock legend Paul Simon tells the story of an unlikely romance between a poor boy and a rich girl in New York City. Simon says the boy is as "empty as a pocket" and she's got "diamonds on the soles of her shoes."

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The meaning behind the gem-embellished footwear has been hotly debated since Simon first performed "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" on Saturday Night Live in 1986. Do the diamonds simply symbolize conspicuous consumption or is there something much deeper that the singer-songwriter wanted to convey?

Simon sings, "People say she’s crazy / She’s got diamonds on the soles of her shoes / Well, that’s one way to lose these / Walking blues / Diamonds on the soles of her shoes."

Some critics see the girl in Simon's story as an unlikeable character who is so rich she can afford to set diamonds into the bottoms of her shoes. Others believe she is metaphorically hiding her wealth.

But, perhaps Simon has created an enchanting character who sees the best in everything. One contributor to songmeanings.com compared wearing diamonds on the soles of one's shoes to looking at the world through rose-colored glasses.

"Everywhere you go, your interaction is done through the diamonds on your shoes," he wrote, "and diamonds as a symbol of wealth, happiness and love mean you are interacting with your world through a constant 'happy' filter, you have a skip to your step, you are happy."

The same writer believes the poor boy may have not been poor in the literal sense of the word. He wears ordinary shoes, which may mean he's just poor in spirit.

After a night of dancing, the couple falls asleep in a doorway on Upper Broadway in Manhattan. At that point, the lyrics change. They're now wearing diamonds on the soles of "their" shoes. The poor boy has finally discovered love and true happiness.

"Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes," which features guest vocals by a South African group called Ladysmith Black Mambazo, was released as the fifth track on Simon's wildly successful Graceland album. Frequently cited as one of the best albums of all time, Graceland sold more than 14 million copies and won the 1987 Grammy for Album of the Year.

Born in Newark, NJ, and raised in Queens, NY, the 80-year-old Simon is one of the world's most accomplished singer/songwriters. He’s won 12 Grammy Awards and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice (once as a solo artist and the other time as half of Simon & Garfunkel). He also was named by Time Magazine as one of the “100 People Who Shaped the World.”

Trivia: The brainy Simon attended Brooklyn Law School for one semester in 1963.

Please check out the video of Simon's live performance of "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" at The African Concert in 1987. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along…

"Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes"
Written by Paul Simon and Joseph Shabalala. Performed by Paul Simon with Ladysmith Black Mambazo singing group.

(a-wa) O kod wa u zo-nge li-sa namhlange
(a-wa a-wa) Si-bona kwenze ka kanjani
(a-wa a-wa) Amanto mbazane ayeza

She’s a rich girl
She don’t try to hide it
Diamonds on the soles of her shoes

He’s a poor boy
Empty as a pocket
Empty as a pocket with nothing to lose
Sing, Ta na na
Ta na na na
She got diamonds on the soles of her shoes
Ta na na
Ta na na na
She got diamonds on the soles of her shoes
Diamonds on the soles of her shoes
Diamonds on the soles of her shoes
Diamonds on the soles of her shoes
Diamonds on the soles of her shoes
People say she’s crazy
She’s got diamonds on the soles of her shoes
Well, that’s one way to lose these
Walking blues
Diamonds on the soles of her shoes

She was physically forgotten
Then she slipped into my pocket
With my car keys
She said, “You’ve taken me for granted
Because I please you
Wearing these diamonds”

And I could say, Oo oo oo
As if everybody knows
What I’m talking about
As if everybody here would know
What I was talking about
Talking about diamonds on the soles of her shoes

She makes the sign of a teaspoon
He makes the sign of a wave
The poor boy changes clothes
And puts on aftershave
To compensate for his ordinary shoes

And she said, “Honey take me dancing”
But they ended up by sleeping
In a doorway
By the bodegas and the lights on
Upper Broadway
Wearing diamonds on the soles of their shoes

And I could say Oo oo oo
And everybody here would know
What I was talking about
I mean, everybody here would know exactly
What I was talking about
Talking about diamonds

People say I’m crazy
I got diamonds on the soles of my shoes
Well, that’s one way to lose
These walking blues
Diamonds on the soles of your shoes



Credit: Photo by Matthew Straubmuller (imatty35), CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
August 4th, 2022
Did you know that olivine, the non-precious variety of August's birthstone — peridot — could play a key role in the global effort to reverse the effects of climate change?

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According to scientists at the Project Vesta, olivine's chemical makeup is perfectly suited to counter ocean acidification and permanently remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

They've calculated that a billion tons of olivine sand distributed over 28,000 miles of coastline annually will result in the capture of 1 gigaton of CO2. The wave action of beaches on crushed olivine allows for more rapid weathering than other natural deposits of olivine.

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"Olivine absorbs carbon dioxide through a chemical reaction similar to the rusting of iron metals," explained The Daily Beast, "except that instead of iron + water + oxygen = rust, the reaction goes olivine + carbon dioxide + water = silicate + calcium carbonate + magnesium ions."

Olivine is nature's air purifier, sucking carbon dioxide out of the sky and ocean and locking it up in harmless products that can form things like coral reefs, noted The Daily Beast.

“If we spread olivine over 2% of the world’s shelf sea, then that will be enough to capture 100% of human emissions,” Tom Green, executive director of Project Vesta, told fastcompany.com.

The scientists at the Vesta Project emphasized that olivine is globally abundant and accessible. It makes up more than 50% of the Earth's upper mantle and more than a trillion tons can be collected easily.

At full scale, they claim, the distribution of olivine will cost less than 10% of the price of other carbon capture technologies.

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If, and when, the Vesta Project gets off the ground, beaches around the globe will start looking a lot like Hawaii’s Mahana Beach.

Today, that's the most popular 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.

These beaches owe their astounding color to olivine crystals eroded from the belly of ancient volcanoes and delivered to the shore by ocean waves.

Hawaiians 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 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.

Peridot is currently sourced in Burma, the US, Norway, Brazil, China, Australia and Pakistan. The world’s largest faceted peridot weighs 310 carats and is part of the Smithsonian’s National Gem and Mineral Collection.

Credit: Peridot photo by Chip Clark / Smithsonian. Beach image by Wasif Malik, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Closeup of beach sand by Tom Trower, NASA Ames Research Center, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.