Diamonds My Way
October 18th, 2017
Thousands of astronomers from around the globe joined together on Monday to confirm the first-ever sighting of two neutron stars colliding in space. In just one second, the "kilonova" generated the equivalent of 50 Earth masses of silver, 100 Earth masses of gold and 500 Earth masses of platinum.



The gold alone is estimated to be worth more than $100 octillion. That's $100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (1 followed by 29 zeroes).

The collision, which was detected on August 17, settles the long-standing mystery of how rare precious metals and other “heavy” elements are formed.

“We already knew that iron came from a stellar explosion, the calcium in your bones came from stars, and now we know the gold in your wedding ring came from merging neutron stars,” University of California Santa Cruz’s Ryan Foley told the Associated Press.

Scientists described a scenario in which two ultra-dense neutron stars spiral around each other, moving closer and closer, until they eventually merge in a violent eruption. The material blasted into space contains a variety of heavy elements that are formed through a chain of nuclear reactions know as the "r-process."

After the first detection, astronomers from around the world were alerted and each of them pointed telescopes at the scene to record the visible light, radio waves, X-rays and gamma rays. Their equipment identified massive amounts of platinum, gold and silver.

"You smash these two things together at one-third the speed of light, and that's how you make gold," Duncan Brown, an astronomer at Syracuse University and a member of the research collaboration, told Business Insider.

The smashup took place 130 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Hydra.

Scientists had postulated for years that precious metals were likely forged by the clash of neutron stars, which are the ultra-dense cores of aged stars. A single teaspoon of this neutron-rich material is estimated to weigh roughly one billion tons.

In the two months following the neutron star collision, astronomers from around the world teamed up to make sense of the event, which some have called the "discovery of the century." The resulting research study lists 4,000 authors representing 910 institutions.

Scientists believe that neutron star mergers in our galaxy take place about once every 100,000 years. Because astronomers worldwide are listening to millions of galaxies, they expect to identify a few spectacular collisions per year.

Credit: Image by Robin Dienel/Carnegie Institution for Science.
October 17th, 2017
New York City bride-to-be Ashlee Palacio is a creature of habit. Every night, she follows the same bedtime routine and places her beloved three-carat emerald-cut diamond engagement ring in a special tray on her nightstand.



But, last Monday, Palacio broke her routine and fell asleep on the opposite side of her bed — with her engagement ring still on her finger.



In the middle of the night, half asleep, Palacio slipped the ring off and placed it on a night table amidst a bunch of Starburst candy wrappers.



On Tuesday morning, she slid the mess from her night table into a plastic white garbage bag and placed it in the trash.



When Palacio realized that her ring was gone, she called her fiancé, Mike Diamond (great name for this story), and told him she was sure the ring had accidentally ended up in the garbage.



"My first reaction was, ‘Are you kidding?!’” Diamond told CBS New York. “I thought she was joking around with me.”

To make matters worse, the garbage already had been picked up and was on its way to the dump.

Diamond quickly called the authorities at the NYC Department of Sanitation, who were able to identify the truck that serviced Palacio's neighborhood.

“As soon as they get the phone call, they freeze the truck so it can’t dump,” Department of Sanitation supervisor Louis Guglielmetti told CBS New York.



Guglielmetti diverted the truck to a waste transfer facility in New Jersey, where Diamond and a friend were invited to don hazmat suits and pick through very stinky garbage bags. Luckily, Palacio's building was the last one on the truck's route, so her white plastic bag with the black tie was expected to be one of the first to get unloaded from the truck.

“The truck came in and just dumped over a hundred bags just on the floor... I thought it was going to be impossible to find,” Diamond said.

Diamond and the friend had a few clues, however. They were looking for the candy wrappers and a Halloween cookie box.

Palacio, who was stuck at work during the drama, was kept up to date via Snapchat messages.



Within 15 minutes, Diamond had located the right bag. When he ripped it open, he saw the remnants of the Halloween treats and the shimmering diamond.

“I happened to see something glowing, and I said, 'You know, I think that’s it!’” Diamond told CBS New York.

Palacio received the great news via Snapchat.

“It’s them saying, ‘That’s the ring!’ And I’m like, ‘Oh my God!’ I’m like hysterical crying,” Palacio said.

Palacio told CBS New York that she is eternally grateful to her fiancé, the New York City Sanitation Department and everyone who went above and beyond to recover her ring.

Credits: Screen captures via CBS New York.
October 16th, 2017
All eyes will be on the "Raj Pink," the world's largest known fancy intense pink diamond, when it hits the auction block at Sotheby's Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale in Geneva on November 15. The exceptional 37.30-carat, cushion-modified, brilliant-cut gem is estimated to fetch between $20 million and $30 million — but could yield much more.



The current record holder for a fancy intense pink diamond is the 24.78-carat “Graff Pink,” which sold for more than $46.1 million at Sotheby’s Geneva in November of 2010. The rectangular-cut Graff Pink, which carries a clarity grade of VVS2, netted $1.86 million per carat.

The Raj Pink has a slightly lower clarity grade of VS1, but weighs 12.52 carats more than the Graff Pink. Sotheby's high estimate for the Raj Pink sets the per-carat price at $804,000, or less than half of what the Graff Pink earned per carat.

Auction watchers believe that the Raj Pink has the potential to crush the pre-sale estimates. The owner of the Raj Pink has chosen to remain anonymous.

“The discovery of any pink diamond is exceptional," noted David Bennett, worldwide chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewelry Division, "but the Raj Pink's remarkable size and intensity of color places it in the rarefied company of the most important pink diamonds known.”

Discovered in 2015, the rough diamond that yielded the Raj Pink was studied for more than a year. It was then entrusted to a master cutter, who crafted it into an exceptional cushion-modified, brilliant-cut polished diamond.

The Gemological Institute of America characterized the Raj Pink as an “astonishing stone” and described its hue as “a very bright and ravishing fancy intense pink color.” The GIA also noted that it is rare for a diamond of such considerable weight to display such a "strong, unmodified pink color."

Of all diamonds submitted to the GIA each year, less than 0.02% are predominantly pink.

The Raj Pink will be on tour — along with other highlighted lots — during the weeks leading up to the November 15 auction. The exhibition will make stops in London (Oct. 13-17), Singapore (Oct. 20-21), Hong Kong (Oct. 23-24), Taiwan (Oct. 26-27), New York (Nov. 3-4) and Geneva (Nov. 11-15).

Credit: Image courtesy of Sotheby's.
October 13th, 2017
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you classic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Styx lead singer Dennis DeYoung searches for a pot of gold in the classic 1977 hit, "Come Sail Away."



An inspirational song about following one's dreams no matter how challenging the journey may be, "Come Sail Away" starts as a sweet ballad and then transitions into a powerful rock and roll anthem.

DeYoung sings, "We live happily forever so the story goes / But somehow we missed out on that pot of gold / But we'll try best that we can to carry on."

The lead singer revealed years later that he wrote the song to provide some inspiration to "carry on" during a down time in his life. Styx had achieved commercial success with 1973's "Lady," but then fell flat with its next two albums, Equinox (1975) and Crystal Ball (1976). He was hoping that "Come Sail Away" and the Grand Illusion album would turn their luck around. Up until that point, the band was an opening act, never the headliner.

Powered by the tremendous success of "Come Sail Away," Grand Illusion became the band's breakthrough album. It sold more than three million copies and set the stage for a run of four consecutive multi-platinum albums and 16 top-40 singles in the US. "Come Sail Away" charted at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and, 40 years later, is still one of the band's signature songs.

Formed in Chicago in 1972, Styx borrows its name from a mythological river that forms the boundary between Earth and the underworld. DeYoung revealed that after debating hundreds of options, the band members agreed on "Styx," because it was the only name no one in the group hated.

Styx continues to "carry on" with an active tour schedule that will see the band appearing over the next few months in Mississippi, Alabama, Indiana, Michigan and Ontario.

Please check out the video of Styx performing "Come Sail Away." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Come Sail Away"
Written by Dennis DeYoung. Performed by Styx.

I'm sailing away set an open course for the virgin sea
I've got to be free free to face the life that's ahead of me
On board I'm the captain so climb aboard
We'll search for tomorrow on every shore
And I'll try oh Lord I'll try to carry on

I look to the sea reflections in the waves spark my memory
Some happy some sad
I think of childhood friends and the dreams we had
We live happily forever so the story goes
But somehow we missed out on that pot of gold
But we'll try best that we can to carry on

A gathering of angels appeared above my head
They sang to me this song of hope and this is what they said
They said come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me

I thought that they were angels but to my surprise
They climbed aboard their starship and headed for the skies
Singing, come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me


Credit: Image by Ralph Arvesen [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
October 12th, 2017
Back in March, we recounted the amazing story of pastor and part-time miner Emmanuel Momoh, who extracted a 706-carat diamond from the sediment of a Sierra Leone riverbed using his bare hands and a sieve.



The shimmering yellowish specimen, which is slightly smaller than a hockey puck, is considered to be one of the 20 largest rough diamonds ever recorded.

As is required by Sierra Leone law, Momoh handed his lucky find over to the government and will be entitled to a portion of the final sale. But when the government put the diamond up for bid this past May, the highest offer of $7.7 million failed to meet the undisclosed reserve price.

Now, the 39-year-old pastor and a contingent from Sierra Leone's National Minerals Agency are visiting the international diamond center of Antwerp, Belgium, in search of a suitable buyer with deeper pockets. The team from Sierra Leone was set to meet with sales agents, auction houses and potential buyers.



"I'm expecting not less than $50 million from the diamond," Momoh told Agence France Presse.

The recent sales of two mammoth diamonds may offer a hint as to what Momoh's diamond will fetch on the international market.

Just last month, the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona — the second-largest gem-quality rough diamond ever found — was sold to British billionaire and diamantaire Laurence Graff for $53 million. In May of 2016, the 813-carat diamond named Constellation sold for $63 million.

The government's portion of the proceeds is earmarked to fund development projects throughout Sierra Leone.

Momoh discovered the 706-carat diamond along a river in the diamond-rich area of Kono. While diamonds are usually found within kimberlite pipes, over time, the pipes can be eroded by rivers and the diamonds will be washed downstream. It is extraordinarily rare to find an alluvial diamond that weighs hundreds of carats.

Credits: Video screen captures via YouTube.com.
October 11th, 2017
The practice of using gemstones to vitalize water dates back to ancient Greece. The energy emitted from opals, garnets, emeralds, amethysts, quartz or even diamond slivers can boost water's alkalinity and oxygenation, and some believe the gems have the ability to infuse H2O with their own unique properties and characteristics.



Because of the impractical nature of dropping loose stones into a water glass or other container, Germany-based VitaJuwel devised an elegantly designed water bottle that contains a removable glass pod filled with an assortment of gemstones.



According to the company, "the gems inside VitaJuwel vials transfer their energy to the water that surrounds the vial improving the water’s vitalization level."

Interestingly, the gem-filled glass pods are completely sealed and the gems never come in contact with the water. The benefits come from the subtle radiation of the gems, according to the company's website. The effect is similar to that of sun rays, magnetic rays or microwaves — radiation waves that can pass through glass. The company points to scientific evidence that the pods do, in fact, add alkalinity and oxygenation to the water in which they are submerged.

Each of the 18 interchangeable pods contains a unique combinations of gems, and each has a name that gives a clue to its potential health benefit.



For instance, "Wellness" contains a mix of amethyst, rose quartz and clear quartz. VitaJuwel claims that this blend aims to stimulate and soothe the mind and emotions, foster tranquility and support healthy and radiant skin.



"Fitness," which contains red jasper, magnesite and clear quartz, is said to promote physical endurance, detoxify and distribute energy throughout the body.



"Sunny Morning" has a bright mix of orange calcite and clear quartz. This blend promises to alleviate chronic fatigue and supports healthy hair, skin and nails, according the company.

Even if you're skeptical about the feel-good effects of gemstone-infused water, there is no denying that the gem-adorned VitaJuwel water bottles offer a beautiful and unique way to stay hydrated.

They are sold and distributed in the U.S. by Gem-Water.com and range in price from $78 to $340. Other products in the line include glass decanters, droplets and wands.

Credits: Images via gem-water.com.
October 10th, 2017
Carrying an asking price of $5 million, the recently revealed "Star of Jolie" weighs 888.88 carats and is said to be the largest gem-quality star sapphire in the world.



The pear-shaped, double-cabochon black star sapphire, which is named for actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie, made its debut last week when jewelry designer Robert Procop unveiled it at a press event in Costa Mesa, Calif.



The sapphire hangs as a pendant from an 18-karat rose gold necklace punctuated by 70 additional black star sapphires weighing a total of 104.42 carats.



The 888.88-carat Star of Jolie was cut from a 1,113-carat rough gem that had been discovered in Queensland, Australia, in 1937. The rough sapphire had been owned by Beverly Hills-based gem dealer James Kazanjian and eventually sold to Procop by James' son, Michael, in 2011.

The unique optical phenomenon responsible for the shimmering rays of a star sapphire is called asterism. The word is derived from the Latin word "astrum," for “star.”

According to the Smithsonian, the asterism is actually 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 cabochon cut's smooth, rounded surface allows the light to reflect off the titanium, revealing a six-legged star.

All the proceeds from the sale of the Star of Jolie will be dedicated to EPCC: Education Partnership for Children of Conflict, the non-profit organization Jolie founded in 2006 to build schools for children in conflict-affected regions of the world. The school she established in war-torn Afghanistan in 2013 educates 200 to 300 girls each year.

The Star of Jolie will be on temporary display at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., starting in December.

Credits: Jewelry images courtesy of Robert Procop. Angelina Jolie image by Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
October 6th, 2017
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Tremolo frontman Justin Dillon sings about a treasured piece of jewelry in the group's 2005 release, "Promise Ring."



Dillon believes that beyond being a symbol of the bond between him and his girlfriend, the promise ring will protect them from "the bitter tide."

He sings, "Long ago, I drew a line into the sand / Jumped across and held your hand / Band of gold protect us from the bitter tide / That comes to wash away our words with time / Hello you, Hello me / Hello hello, can't you see / Love is more than what it seems / So I wear your promise ring."

Described by one reviewer as being "ethereal and catchy," "Promise Ring" is the fifth track from the San Francisco-based band's first full-length album, Love Is The Greatest Revenge. The album is a collection of songs written and recorded by the band during 2003 and 2004.

Trivia: An early demo version of "Promise Ring" was used in the 2003 Mandy Moore flick, How to Deal.

When the album came out in August of 2005, Tremolo announced that 50% of their profits would be dedicated to the "Love>Revenge Fund." Interestingly, the fund allowed fans to determine which organizations would benefit. At the time, the fund's website described Tremolo's debut album as “an auto-biographical social commentating post-deconstructionist protest record” that asks “what if love was the greatest revenge” and “music could change the world?”

In an interview with last.fm, Dillon described Tremolo’s music as “one hand holding onto the roots of the grass and one hand reaching to the stars in the sky."

"I’m looking for this 'otherliness,' this transcendence. That’s the reason I think music is here," he said. "I want to be part of touching something that is greater than the sum of its parts."

In 2011, Dillon founded the award-winning website Slavery Footprint in conjunction with the U.S. State Department. The site, which asks the question, “How Many Slaves Work For You?” allows consumers to visualize how their consumption habits are connected to modern-day slavery.

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

"Promise Ring"
Written by Justin Dillon. Performed by Tremolo.

Long ago, I drew a line into the sand
Jumped across and held your hand
Band of gold protect us from the bitter tide
That comes to wash away our words with time

Hello you, Hello me
Hello hello, can't you see
Love is more than what it seems
So I wear your promise ring

Promises made under the rite of spring
Heavy under summer's sting
Say you know,
I'd run to where the spaceships land
A million miles between my mouth and hand

Hello you, Hello me
Hello hello, can't you see
Love is more than what it seems
So I wear your promise ring

Love labors through the night
It bleeds and never fights
And like a seed it lives because it dies

So don't forget, just like cash
I walk the line
Like a soldier guarding what is mine

Hello you, Hello me
Hello hello, can't you see
Love is more than what it seems
So I wear your promise ring


Credit: Promotional image via myspace.com/tremolomusic.
October 5th, 2017
Emblazoned with 394 hand-set diamonds weighing a total of 9.25 carats, the eye-popping Pittsburgh Penguins 2017 Stanley Cup ring commemorates the team's impressive back-to-back championships. It was the first time in 19 years that a National Hockey League team has accomplished that feat.



The face of the ring features the iconic Penguins logo rendered in diamonds atop a 14-karat yellow gold triangle set with 10 canary yellow diamonds. Mounted on the penguin's torso is a .75-carat pear-shaped white diamond, and on the blade of its hockey stick is a baguette-shaped diamond. The number "5" creates the eye of the penguin, a subtle nod to the team's five Stanley Cups. Above and below the skating penguin are the words STANLEY CUP and CHAMPIONS in raised 14-karat yellow gold letters on a yellow gold background.

The layering of the yellow and white elements give the ring a three-dimensional appearance.

Of the ring's nearly 400 diamonds, 199 of them are used on the face of the ring to accomplish a full-domed waterfall effect, making for smooth, cascading edges.



The right side of the ring features the year “2017” set with 23 pavé diamonds. Just below are five white gold Stanley Cups, each marked with the year of the championship.

The left side of the ring has the recipient’s name and number. Framing the number are two Stanley Cups, each adorned in pavé-set diamonds. Tucked under the number is a banner that reads “BACK 2 BACK.”

The interior of the band is engraved with the team's motto, “PLAY THE RIGHT WAY,” as well as the record of the four playoff series and the logos of the opponents the Penguins defeated on the way to the championship.

National Jeweler reported that Penguins players with three Stanley Cup wins got three extra diamonds on the back side of their rings. Hall of Famer Mario Lemeiux's ring has five extra diamonds, representing the two Cups he won as a player and the three he's won as an owner.

Jostens noted that the Penguins' rings represent the first time a championship ring has been crafted using a special technique that allowed for the insertion of solid 14-karat yellow gold panels on each side.

The players, coaches and staff received their rings in a private ceremony on Monday at the the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.

“It always is a very special day, and a dream come true, for an NHL player, coach or staff member to receive a Stanley Cup ring,” said David Morehouse, president and CEO of the Penguins. “We want to thank everyone at Jostens for doing a great job in creating this phenomenal ring to honor our back-to-back Stanley Cup champions. We are proud of what they accomplished and proud of what they mean to our city. The ring is a lasting tribute to their season of excellence.”

Credits: Photos courtesy of Jostens.
October 4th, 2017
Mili the Giraffe, one of the most popular attractions at Dickerson Park Zoo, literally stuck her neck out to help a Missouri man with a surprise marriage proposal.



Cody Hall had arranged for him and his girlfriend, Makayla Blankey, to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the zoo in Springfield, Mo. The special access would give the couple an intimate look at how the zookeepers feed and train the friendly 15-foot-tall giraffe.

What Blankey didn't know was that Hall had conspired with zoo spokesperson Joey Powell to enlist Mili as the central figure in a unique and truly unforgettable marriage proposal. The animal would be fitted with a lanyard necklace, and dangling from the necklace would be the engagement ring.

The zoo had always been a place of wonder for Hall and he dreamed of proposing to Blankey at the zoo since the day he realized that she was the one.



"They showed us the training exercise, getting Mili to point at a big tennis ball with her nose," Hall said. "Then they gave Makayla a tree branch to feed the giraffe, and when it craned its neck out, the ring was hanging."



Hall detached the ring from the lanyard and got down one knee to pop the question. Mili seemed to be enjoying the romantic moment as she dipped her head toward the couple.



"Marriage was something we had talked about, so I knew she'd say, 'Yes,'" Hall told the Springfield News-Leader. "But it's a different feeling when you ask the question and she says, 'Yes.' It's still surreal."

Hall and Blankey, both from Willard, Mo., are planning a spring 2018 wedding.

Zoo officials joked that Mili should be part of that special day.

"Congrats to Cody and Makayla," noted a photo caption on the zoo's official Facebook page. "We think Mili should be your honorary ring bearer on your big day."

On her Facebook page, Blankey posted a photo of her and her boyfriend embracing at the entrance of the Dickerson Park Zoo. Her caption read: "I'm so in love." She also posted a group shot with Mili posing in the background.



In a gracious thank-you note on the zoo's Facebook page, Hall wrote, "The zoo was a place of wonder and special to me before, but now Dickerson Park Zoo, you all hold a very dear and special place in my life which I'll never forget. I can't thank you all enough."

"I dreamt of this as soon as I knew that Makayla was the one for me," he added. "You turned my dream into a reality and your generosity touched me in such an unexplainable way. I cannot wait until the future when we can bring our own family to the zoo and share the wonder, knowledge and kindness you all have shown us.

Credits: Images via Facebook.com/DPZoo; Facebook.com/makayla.blakey.