Thursday, December 13, 2018

Christmas Miracle: Anniversary Ring Rescued and Returned After 9 Years in Sewer Line

Paula Stanton will be celebrating her 38th anniversary on December 27 with two diamond anniversary bands, one of which she's calling her "Christmas miracle."

Nine years ago, the Somers Point, N.J., resident had been cleaning her bathroom when her loose-fitting, 20th anniversary diamond ring accidentally fell into the toilet and disappeared down the drain.

“It had been a little big on my finger, because it was wintertime and my hands were smaller," she told pressofatlanticcity.com. "I felt so bad about it. Sad and embarrassed.”

Stanton's husband, Michael, soon replaced the yellow gold anniversary band with a nearly identical one in white gold, but Stanton longed to see the original again.

In fact, three years ago, she approached the city's public works crew chief Ted Gogol when he was on the job near her home.

“She had this look on her face while she was telling me about it that said, ‘I can’t believe I did this,’” Gogol told pressofatlanticcity.com. “I told her really nicely that the chances of us finding it... well, just in passing, we’d keep an eye out for it.”

And he did.

Just after Thanksgiving, Gogol and his crew removed a manhole cover and descended into the sewer line to do routine maintenance about 400 feet from Stanton's house. Despite the poor visibility and blackened water, the crew chief spotted something reflective — a ring — amidst the muck and debris.

When the Stantons returned from their holiday trip, there was a note taped to their door, asking them to contact the city's public works department.

Gogol confirmed it was Stanton's ring when she accurately described the initials that were engraved inside.

“He came by after work and dropped it off," Stanton told pressofatlanticcity.com. "Nobody could believe it. Everyone was in a state of shock. I was hugging him and crying. I was calling my kids and telling people about it. My family had a difficult year, and for this to happen...”

A local jeweler told her the best way to sanitize a ring that had been residing in the sewer for nine years was to boil it in hydrogen peroxide and lemon juice.

"That ring didn't want to leave her family," Gogol told a reporter from the Philadelphia ABC affiliate. "There are so many things that could have happened. It could have been washed away. It could have been crushed, but it was just meant to be."

Stanton believes the return of her diamond anniversary band, which she is now wearing proudly next to the replacement, is her Christmas miracle.

Credits: Screen captures via 6abc.com.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Europe's Most Expensive Christmas Tree Glistens With 2,018 Solid Gold Coins

Munich-based gold dealer Pro Aurum recently unveiled Europe's most expensive Christmas tree, a pyramid-shaped showstopper decorated with 2,018 solid gold coins and topped by a massive 20-ounce coin set into a golden star. In total, the .9999 fine gold weighs 63 kilograms (about 2,222 ounces), putting the precious metal value at $2.7 million.

The coins pay tribute to the Vienna Philharmonic and were designed by the Austrian Mint. The 10-foot-tall golden tree stands on a base that looks like Vienna's Golden Hall of the Wiener Musikverein, regarded as the crown jewel among the world's concert halls.

The obverse of the coin depicts the pipe organ in the Golden Hall and the reverse shows instruments of the Vienna Philharmonic, including a Vienna horn, bassoon, harp and four violins centered on a cello.

The 20-ounce tree-topping coin, sometimes referred to as "Big Phil," was originally issued in 2009 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Vienna Philharmonic coin.

A video posted on YouTube by Pro Aurum shows staffers prepping the tree by slotting the gold coins by hand into the acrylic pyramid, a tedious process that took more than an hour to complete.

Displayed under heavy security in the lobby of Pro Aurum's Goldhaus, the tree will be on display through Saturday, December 15.

Credits: Images via Facebook/Pro Aurum. Screen capture via YouTube/proaurumtv. Coins by I, NobbiP [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5].

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Emirates Airline Sets Twittersphere Ablaze With Post of Diamond-Adorned Plane

Emirates Airline, the Dubai-based carrier famous for its opulent in-flight amenities, such as Bulgari skincare and Bowers & Wilkins headphones, set the Twittersphere ablaze last week when it posted a photo of a Boeing 777 spectacularly embellished with diamonds.

On its official Twitter account, the airline wrote, “Presenting the Emirates ‘Bling’ 777. Image created by Sara Shakeel.” The comment was punctuated with three blue diamond emojis.

The image went viral instantly, as supporters and naysayers alike chimed in on what they believed to be the first-of-its-kind, gem-encrusted aircraft. The original post earned 20,000 likes and 7,700 retweets, with cross-over commentary appearing on Facebook, Instagram and many news outlets.

Among those impressed by the plane was Twitter user @spotjane78, who wrote, "Emirates, you truly represent Dubai in every perspective. Keep blinging."

Also on Twitter, @FredPompei added, "That’s really cool. Would love to see what the inside's like."

Critics blistered the airline for what seemed to be a showy, misguided use of its funds.

"This is disgusting and a shame!! wrote Facebook user Khoder Osman. "Children do not have food to eat and this happens."

Twitter user Abogago Bravado wrote, "Pointless and gaudy. [The airline] should focus on... providing comfortable seats."

These and many other social commentators failed to realize that the blinged-out 777 didn't exist in real life. If was born from the imagination of award-winning Pakistani artist Sara Shakeel, who specializes in adding "bling" to otherwise-ordinary objects.

Obviously pleased with the viral nature of Shakeel's artwork, but concerned about getting the backstory straight, an airline spokesperson told Gulf News, "We just posted an art piece made by crystal artist Sara Shakeel. I can confirm it’s not real.”

The original post of Shakeel's bejeweled plane appeared on the artist's Instagram page, accompanied by the caption, "Waiting for my ride."

The artist was about to embark on a trip to Milan to take in the culture and art of the beautiful Italian city.

After the original post went viral, Shakeel added a second plane photo to Instagram, writing, "P.S. Thank you guys! I truly and honestly made the diamond plane for the love of the trip and the excitement! Never in a million years did I know it [would] end up on the news / tv / trending on #twitter all over the place! So thank you a million times!"

Besides the publicity, the artist earned an upgrade on her flight to Milan.

A Boeing 777 is 242 feet long, so we did the math to determine the number of 1-carat diamonds it would take to span the aircraft end to end. A 1-carat diamond is approximately 6.5 mm wide (about .26 inches), so about 48 diamonds placed side by side would measure 1 foot. It would, therefore, take 11,616 diamonds to adorn one side of the plane with just a single row of 1-carat diamonds.

Credits: Images via Twitter/Emirates; Instagram/sarashakeel.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Pinkish-Orange 'Living Coral' Is Named Pantone's Color of the Year for 2019

"Living Coral," a pinkish-orange hue that embraces us with warmth and embodies our desire for playful expression, has been named Pantone's 2019 Color of the Year. Among the gemstones exhibiting Pantone's vibrant, yet mellow, seaborne color are spinel, morganite, padparadscha sapphire and precious coral.

Leatrice Eiseman, Pantone's executive director, said the Color Institute selected Living Coral to counter the effects of digital technology and social media that are "increasingly embedding into daily life."

"We are seeking authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy," she noted. "Sociable and spirited, the engaging nature of Living Coral welcomes and encourages lighthearted activity."

Vogue.com called the Pantone pick a cool-girl lipstick color that jives well with gold jewelry and a big straw bag.

Each year since 2000, the color experts at Pantone have picked a color that reflects the current cultural climate. Typically, Pantone’s selection influences the worlds of high fashion, beauty, housewares, home and industrial design and consumer packaging.

This is the fourth time in the past 10 years that the Color Institute has picked a Pantone color named after a precious gemstone. Previous picks have included Turquoise (2010), Emerald (2013) and Rose Quartz (2016).

2019's Living Coral emits the desired, familiar and energizing aspects of color found in nature, according to Pantone. In its glorious display beneath the sea, this vivifying and effervescent color mesmerizes the eye and mind. Lying at the center of our naturally vivid and chromatic ecosystem, Living Coral is evocative of how coral reefs provide shelter to a diverse kaleidoscope of color.

Coral is one of just a handful of organic materials that are classified as gemstones. Corals are produced by tiny living creatures called polyps. They excrete a carbonic substance from which the corals grow like trees and branches. Interestingly, pearl and coral are chemically very similar as both consist of more than 90% calcium carbonate.

According to the American Gem Society, there are hundreds of species of coral throughout the world, but only two pinkish-orange types are used for fine jewelry — Corallium japonicum and Corallium rubrum.

The process of choosing the Color of the Year takes about nine months, with Pantone’s trend watchers scanning the globe’s fashion runways and high-profile events for “proof points” until one color emerges as the clear winner.

A year ago, Pantone’s Color of the Year was “Ultra Violet,” a dramatically provocative and thoughtful shade of purple that communicates originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking.

Here are the most recent Pantone Colors of the Year…

PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet (2018)
PANTONE 15-0343 Greenery (2017)
PANTONE 13-1520 Rose Quartz (2016)
PANTONE 15-3919 Serenity (2016)
PANTONE 18-1438 Marsala (2015)
PANTONE 18-3224 Radiant Orchid (2014)
PANTONE 17-5641 Emerald (2013)
PANTONE 17-1463 Tangerine Tango (2012)
PANTONE 18-2120 Honeysuckle (2011)
PANTONE 15-5519 Turquoise (2010)

Credit: Screen capture via Pantone.com. Gem photo of 16.79-carat spinel by Chip Clark/Smithsonian. Photo of coral jewelry by Walters Art Museum [Public domain, CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL].

Friday, December 7, 2018

Music Friday: Jason Michael Carroll Pops the Question With a Half-Carat Diamond in 'Numbers'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, country music artist Jason Michael Carroll proposes with a half-carat diamond ring in his 2011 release, "Numbers."

In the song, Carroll takes a comical look at how a dizzying array of numbers seem to dominate the world around him. Most of them are insignificant, he reasons, but a precious few can be life changing.

Carroll sings, "Then three years later 'neath a million stars / In my F-150 on her granddad's farm / I slipped a half-carat diamond on the third finger, of her left hand / And asked to be her one and only man."

The 40-year-old North Carolinian explained how "Numbers" piqued his interest the first time he heard it.

"It was written by Patrick Davis and Rodney Clausen and it's about the way certain numbers, like dates and times, can represent some of life's most significant moments. Moments like your first date, meeting the love of your life and the day your child is born," he said in a statement. "Those dates and times have real meaning in our lives. I think everyone can identify with that concept."

He continued: "Most numbers mean absolutely nothing, but some of them, like the date you meet the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with, mean everything."

"Numbers" was officially released in March 2011 as the title track from his third album. The album, which reached #33 on the U.S. Billboard Country Albums chart, was sold exclusively through Cracker Barrel stores. Interestingly, Carroll got his start singing in public while working as a server at a Cracker Barrel in Henderson, N.C.

Born in Youngsville, N.C., in 1978, Carroll got his first big break as a 26 year old when he won the "Gimme the Mic" singing competition sponsored by local TV station WRAZ FOX 50. Two years later, in 2006, he scored a record deal with Arista Nashville.

Carroll is currently on tour, with stops in North Carolina, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Virginia.

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

"Numbers"
Written by Rodney Clawson and Patrick Davis. Performed by Jason Michael Carroll.

I'm doin' seventy-two in a sixty-five,
On I-24 in a four-wheel drive
Got a ten o'clock on Eighteenth Avenue

And there's a thirty percent chance of rain all week
And the high today is gonna be eighty-three
They're playing Highway 101 on 102.5
An eighteen wheeler by my side

Numbers all around, flying by, up and down,
Some as slow as Christmas coming,
Some like the speed of sound,
And we all wonder, what they mean,
The highs, the lows, the in betweens,
Most of them mean absolutely nothing
But some of them mean everything

I met her at 9:15 on my buddy's back porch
Shootin' bottle rockets on July fourth
We were both nineteen and she was a perfect 10

Then three years later 'neath a million stars,
In my F-150 on her granddad's farm,
I slipped a half-carat diamond on the third finger, of her left hand
And asked to be her one and only man

Numbers all around, flying by, up and down,
Some as slow as Christmas coming,
Some like the speed of sound,
And we all wonder, what they mean,
The highs, the lows, the in betweens,
Most of them mean absolutely nothing
But some of them mean everything

John 3:16, the Fab four,
The fifty yard line, the thirteenth floor,
9/11, the dirty dozen,
We're all waiting on the Second Coming

Numbers all around, flying by, up and down,
Some as slow as Christmas coming,
Some like the speed of sound,
And we all wonder, what they mean,
The highs, the lows, the in betweens,
Most of them mean absolutely nothing,
Oh most of them mean absolutely nothing,
But some of them mean everything
Oh numbers

I'm doin' seventy-two in a sixty-five,
On I-24 in a four-wheel drive
Got a ten o'clock on Eighteenth Avenue

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com/JMichaelCarrollVEVO.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Gemstones Star in New Board Game Featuring Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Players press their luck as they go mining for seven types of gemstones in a brand new board game featuring Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

In December 1937, the animated musical fantasy premiered to great fanfare at the majestic Carthay Circle Theatre in Hollywood. Today, a whole new generation is embracing the diminutive jewel miners known as Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy and Dopey.

In the game, each player takes on the role of one of the Seven Dwarfs. During the day, they work tirelessly to provide Snow White with a beautiful assortment of precious gemstones. Valuable "pie" points are earned by mining specific combinations of topaz, amethyst, emerald, sapphire, ruby and diamond, but players must watch out for the dreaded obsidian, a black gem worth zero points. Collect two of these whammies and the player has to leave the mine and go home empty-handed.

(While the point-earning gems in the game are well known, obsidian is a relatively obscure glasslike volcanic rock that forms during the rapid solidification of lava. It's shiny and usually black in color.)

Players get to keep or exchange what they mine at the end of every workday, and the dwarf with the most points after five workdays wins. “Action” cards keep the game fun and unpredictable, as they can force another dwarf to forfeit his or her finds or unload surplus inventory. The game includes 68 plastic gemstones.

"Disney Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: A Gemstone Mining Game" generally takes less than 60 minutes to complete and is recommended for players 8 and older. It is based on the board game "Quartz" and was designed by Sergio Halaban and André Zatz.

The game by USAopoly earned a 7.6 out of 10 rating at boardgamegeek.com and has an MSRP of $34.95.

Screen capture via Youtube.com/USAopoly. Images via USAopoly.com.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Birthstone Feature: 540 Carats of Persian Turquoise Shine in the Empress Marie-Louise Diadem

In honor of turquoise — one of the three official birthstones for December — we shine our spotlight on the Empress Marie-Louise Diadem, a gift from French Emperor Napoleon I to his second wife on the occasion of their marriage in 1810.

The spectacular piece, which now resides in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., features 70 cabochons of Persian turquoise weighing a total of 540 carats, as well as 1,006 old mine-cut diamonds boasting a total weight of 700 carats.

The diadem was one piece in a matching set that included a necklace, earrings and a comb. Interestingly, the emperor's wedding gifts were originally set with emeralds.

According to the Smithsonian, Marie-Louise (1791-1847) bequeathed the diadem and accompanying jewelry to her Hapsburg aunt, Archduchess Elise. In 1953, Van Cleef & Arpels acquired the jewelry from one of Elise's descendants, the Archduke Karl Stefan Hapsburg of Sweden.

During the next two years, the jeweler removed the emeralds from the diadem and sold them individually in other pieces of jewelry. Its advertising campaign at the time promised “An emerald for you from the historic Napoleonic Tiara…”

Some time between 1956 and 1962, Van Cleef & Arpels reset the diadem with beautiful sky blue turquoise. The new-look diadem was exhibited at the Louvre Museum in Paris along with the necklace, earrings and comb, as part of a special exhibition in 1962 focusing on the life of Empress Marie-Louise.

American socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887-1973) purchased the diadem and donated it to the Smithsonian in 1971. (The Smithsonian clarified that a diadem is the type of crown that is not a complete circle. It usually goes three-quarters around and is open in the back.)

Turquoise enjoys a storied history that dates back more than 5,000 years. The ancient Egyptians coveted the gem for its beauty and the belief that it protected the wearer from harm. They set turquoise into elaborate jewelry and carved it into decorative amulets. King Tut’s iconic burial mask was inlayed with turquoise. The Egyptian word for turquoise was "mefkat," which meant “joy” and “delight.”

The best-quality turquoise is a pure, radiant sky blue. While the earliest known turquoise mines were in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, today turquoise is found in the USA, Mexico, Israel, Iran, Afghanistan and China.

Turquoise is one of three official birthstones for the month of December. The others are tanzanite and zircon.

Credit: Photo by Chip Clark/Smithsonian, digitally enhanced by SquareMoose.