Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Miners Seek Coveted 'AO' Status for Colombian Emeralds, Claim They're Geographically Unique

Colombian miners are seeking to gain coveted "AO" status for their emeralds, widely considered to be the finest in the world. "AO" is shorthand for "appellation of origin," which is a designation given to products that possess unique characteristics associated with their geographic location.

One of the most notable products with "AO" status is Parma ham from Italy. For ham to be marked with the Parma name, it must be produced in the Italian province of Parma using pigs exclusively from that area. Other famous "AO" products include Tequila from Mexico, Bordeaux wine from France and Gruyere cheese from Switzerland.

Colombia's national emerald producers’ association, Aprecol, is planning to submit its "AO" application to Colombia’s patent and registration office by the end of this year, according to the Financial Times. Once approved by that office, the application will be forwarded to the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, for further consideration. A final decision could come as early as March 2019.

The association will argue that Colombia's emeralds are distinctively different than emeralds mined in other parts of the world. Not only do they possess a rare combination of intense color and crystalline transparency, but they also have a unique chemical fingerprint, according to gemologists. With the use of X-ray spectroscopy, they can pinpoint whether a stone was sourced at Colombia's Muzo, Coscuez or Chivor mine.

“We want customers to know that when they buy a Colombian emerald, they are getting the genuine thing, that it was exported from Colombia legally and that it was mined ethically and responsibly,” Aprecol president Edwin Molina told the Financial Times.

The Colombian-sourced Gachala Emerald, above, weighs 858 carats and was gifted to the Smithsonian by Harry Winston in 1969. The extraordinary gem was mined in Gachala in 1967.

Credit: Image by Chip Clark/Smithsonian.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Graff Unveils First 67 Diamonds Cut From the 1,109-Carat Lesedi La Rona

Sixty-seven diamonds ranging from just under 1 carat to more than 100 carats will be known forever as the legacy of Lesedi La Rona, the 1,109-carat gem-quality rough diamond that was discovered at the Lucara Karowe mine in Botswana in 2015.

When billionaire diamantaire Laurence Graff purchased the rough stone for $53 million in 2017, he was reverential in his statements about the second-largest rough diamond ever discovered. He said at the time, "The stone will tell us its story, it will dictate how it wants to be cut, and we will take the utmost care to respect its exceptional properties.”

Graff Diamonds noted Monday that after more than a year of detailed analysis, cutting and polishing by its elite team of gemologists and master craftsmen, the first 67 stones were ready to be revealed. The company also dropped a teaser that "a principal diamond of unprecedented size" was still in the works.

All of the Lesedi La Rona diamonds boast a D-color and "exceptional clarity," according to the company. In addition, each stone will be laser inscribed with the words “Lesedi La Rona” and "GRAFF" alongside a Gemological Institute of America identification number.

On its website, Graff Diamonds demonstrated the intricate three-dimensional mapping used to maximize the yield from the massive rough diamond.

Once cut and polished, the first 67 Lesedi La Rona finished diamonds were incorporated into beautiful jewelry, including solitaire rings, earring and pendants. Graff said the jewelry represented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a piece of diamond history.

"Destined to be passed down through generations, the legacy of this historic stone will live on in this truly remarkable collection of jewels," noted the website.

Despite its original size of 1,109 carats, Lesedi La Rona was nearly 2,000 carats smaller than the Cullinan diamond, which was discovered in 1905 and tipped the scales at 3,106 carats.

Graff also owns the 373.72-carat chunk that broke off the Lesedi La Rona during the mining process. That piece, which was purchased for $17.5 million, has yet to be processed.

Credits: Images courtesy of Graff Diamonds. Screen captures via graffdiamonds.com.

Monday, November 12, 2018

All-Diamond Ring Crafted From a Single Rough Gem May Fetch $250,000 at Benefit Auction

An all-diamond ring custom crafted from a single rough gem is expected to fetch up to $250,000 when Sotheby's offers it for sale December 5 at the third (RED) Auction in Miami. Proceeds from the sale will support HIV/AIDS programs in Africa.

Conceived by Sir Jony Ive, Apple’s Chief Design Officer, and renowned industrial designer Marc Newson, The (Red) Diamond Ring will contain no metal elements. The lab-grown rough diamond will be carved into a ring shape by master cutters in Antwerp using laser beam and water jet technology. It will come to life by removing material rather than adding it.

“It is not a precious stone in a metal setting mounted on a metal band,” Ive told robbreport.com. “It is truly a diamond ring.”

In the end, the ring will feature between 2,000 and 3,000 individual facets, some as small as several hundred micrometers (1,000 micrometers equals 1 millimeter). According to Sotheby's, the ring's interior will be cylindrically cut for the desired smoothness using a micrometer-thick water jet.

The ring in the photo, above, is conceptual. The actual piece will be custom-made for the winning bidder in any ring size up to 5. Sotheby's set the pre-sale estimate at $150,000 to $250,000.

Shawish Geneva was the first company to form a ring from a single diamond. Shawish unveiled the innovative ring to the public during the 2012 Baseworld Watch and Jewelry Show. That ring was laser-cut from a 150-carat rough diamond. While the Shawish ring was certainly groundbreaking, the Ive-Newson design is said to be more wearable.

The company responsible for creating the lab-grown rough diamond for this project is San Francisco-based Diamond Foundry. The rough is expected to be larger than 45 carats.

The (Red) Diamond Ring will be auctioned by Sotheby’s during Art Basel Miami. Previous (RED) Auctions have generated $68 million for AIDS research.

Credit: Image courtesy of Sotheby's.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Music Friday: Tommy and Janey Visit a Jeweler in 'Don't Love Make a Diamond Shine'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, country music artist Tracy Byrd tells the story of Tommy and Janey's life-changing trip to a jewelry store in 1997's "Don't Love Make a Diamond Shine."

In the very first verse, we are introduced to a young couple looking for the perfect engagement ring. They're holding hands and staring into the bridal case when a particular ring catches Tommy's eye.

Byrd sings, "Mister bring it closer, mister can we hold it / I think it's gonna fit just fine / As he slipped it on her hand, Janey kissed her man / Don't love make a diamond shine."

Byrd goes on to explain that any diamond — no matter what size — looks like a million bucks "sittin' on the hand of a girl in love." He also takes a shot at a rich couple whose perfect 15-carat diamond is "duller than dirt" because their relationship is on the rocks.

Written by Mike Dekle and Craig Wiseman, "Don't Love Make a Diamond Shine" was released as the third single from Byrd's fourth album, Big Love. The song reached #17 on the U.S. Billboard Country Songs chart and #13 on the Canada Country Tracks chart. Big Love became Byrd's third gold-selling album.

Born in Vidor, Texas, Byrd explored his musical talents with a local band called Rimfire while attending Southwest Texas State. A friend encouraged Byrd to sing a cover of Hank Williams' "Your Cheatin' Heart" at a mall recording studio and the result was so impressive that the studio's owner entered Byrd into a local talent contest. The artist caught the attention of MCA Records, which offered him a recording contract in 1992.

The 51-year-old has charted more than 30 singles, including 11 Top Ten hits. He's produced 10 studio albums and two greatest-hits albums.

Please check out the audio clip of Byrd performing "Don't Love Make A Diamond Shine." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Don't Love Make A Diamond Shine"
Written by Craig Wiseman and Mike Dekle. Performed by Tracy Byrd.

Tommy and Janey barely eighteen
Holding hands at the jewelry store
Eyes open wide staring inside
At the ring that they wanted for her

Mister bring it closer, mister can we hold it
I think it's gonna fit just fine
As he slipped it on her hand, Janey kissed her man
Don't love make a diamond shine.

Don't love make a diamond shine
It don't matter if it costs a dime
Dang thing looks like a million bucks
Sittin' on the hand of a girl in love.

A perfect fifteen carat is duller than dirt
If the heart don't wear it
With three little words it'll knock you blind
Don't love make a diamond shine.

There's a rich lady with a new Mercedes
Livin' up in a high rise
She's got a big ol' rock on her left hand
That looks cheaper than a Cracker Jack prize.

'Cause her man don't know that it ain't the dough
No all he needs to spend is time
And that big marquis'd be a laser beam
Don't love make a diamond shine.

Don't love make a diamond shine
It don't matter if it costs a dime
Dang thing looks like a million bucks
Sittin' on the hand of a girl in love.

A perfect fifteen carat is duller than dirt
If the heart don't wear it
With three little words it'll knock you blind
Don't love make a diamond shine.

Don't love make a diamond shine
It don't matter if it costs a dime
Dang thing looks like a million bucks
Sittin' on the hand of a girl in love.

A perfect fifteen carat is duller than dirt
If the heart don't wear it
With three little words it'll knock you blind
Don't love make a diamond shine.

Don't love make a diamond shine...

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

$1 Million Dream Angels Fantasy Bra Glitters With 2,100 Diamonds Weighing 71 Carats

It took the designers and artisans at Atelier Swarovski a total of 930 hours to complete the bejeweled 2018 Dream Angels Fantasy Bra, an impressive work that will be worn by supermodel Elsa Hosk at this year's Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. The $1 million bra and body chain are adorned with 2,100 diamonds weighing a total of 71 carats. The gems are set in sterling silver.

"The Fantasy Bra is blinding," the Swedish model told Elle.com. "It's like, 'Whoa.' [There are] 2,000 diamonds on it. That's a little crazy."

Hosk was working at a photo shoot recently when a special package from Victoria's Secret arrived on the set. Hosk guessed it was a birthday cake because her birthday was coming up. When she pulled off the ribbon and popped open the box, she was surprised to see the 2018 Fantasy Bra inside.

"I was just shaking, and I didn't believe they were serious," Hosk continued. "It was so beautiful. The whole day I was just in a constant smile because I was just so happy."

The fashion show is set to take place today in New York City and will air on ABC December 2. Joining Hosk on the runway will be Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Winnie Harlow and many other top-name models.

Hosk is following in the footsteps of 2017's Dream Angel Lais Ribeiro, who modeled a $2 million “Champagne Nights” Fantasy Bra glittering with 600 carats of white diamonds, yellow sapphires and blue topaz.

The 2018 Fantasy Bra is dialed down by comparison. Swarovksi's designers used lab-created diamonds for the bra and responsibly sourced topaz for the sterling silver body chain. The chain is highlighted by a pear-shaped 2.03-carat Atelier Swarovski Created Diamond, which has the same chemical composition, hardness, brilliance and fire of a traditionally mined diamond, according to the company.

For the first time, Victoria's Secret customers will be able to purchase a version of the Fantasy Bra made with Swarovski crystals instead of diamonds. The $250 replica will be available on November 29 at select Victoria’s Secret stores and online at victoriassecret.com.

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/ExtraTV.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

King Tut's Breastplate Features a Scarab Carved From Rare Libyan Desert Glass

When British archaeologist and Egyptologist Howard Carter entered the intact tomb of King Tutankhamun in 1922, he encountered thousands of luxury objects intended to accompany the boy king into the afterworld.

Among the items decorated with gold, silver and precious gemstones was a breastplate depicting the god Ra as a winged scarab carrying the sun and moon into the sky. The scarab was carved from a pale greenish-yellow stone that Carter originally identified as chalcedony, a translucent variety of quartz.

A decade later, British geographer Patrick Clayton found samples of a similar glass-like material while exploring the Libyan Desert along the border of modern Egypt and Libya and classified it as Libyan Desert Glass (LDG).

In a recent article published at Forbes.com, geologist David Bressan explains that LDG forms when quartz-rich desert sand is exposed to a heat burst of 3,600°F and then rapidly cools. Modern researchers noted that LDG has a different crystal structure than common quartz and contains traces of rare minerals and unusual elements, suggesting they could have been part of a vaporized meteorite.

The LDG sample shown here weighs 22 grams (0.78 ounces) and measures 55 mm (2.17 inches) wide.

The lack of an impact crater near the areas where LDG has been found lends credence to the theory that a comet may have exploded before touching down in the desert — generating enough heat to melt the sands. Scientists have compared LDG to trinitite, which is created when sand is exposed to the thermal radiation of a nuclear explosion.

Because of the unusual factors needed to create Libyan Desert Glass, it is truly among the rarest minerals on Earth. LDG is found only in Libya's desolate Great Sand Sea north of the Gilf Kebir Plateau. Whether King Tut's handlers in 1323 BCE were aware of this rarity remains a mystery.

Credit: Tutankhamun breastplate by Jon Bodsworth [Copyrighted free use], via Wikimedia Commons. LDG image by H. Raab (User:Vesta) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.0 at], from Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Rami Malek Reveals on 'Ellen' Why He Cast His Freddie Mercury Fake Buck Teeth in Gold

Rami Malek, who portrays Freddie Mercury in the newly released Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, pulled off the uncanny resemblance by wearing a mouth apparatus that mimicked the music legend's buck teeth.

“It was hard to sing in them, hard to talk in them, hard to kiss in them,” the 37-year-old actor revealed on the Ellen show Thursday. "But I appreciated them so much by the end [of filming], I just felt naked without them. They were so Freddie."

Malek recounted how he decided to keep the teeth as a memento and honor Mercury in doing so...

"I said, 'What would Freddie do to keep something?' He'd go full Freddie with it and do the most ostentatious thing he could, so I had them cast in gold."

At that point, Malek reached into his pocket and pulled out the gilded buck teeth uppers. They appeared to be cast in white gold.

"That's fantastic," commented host Ellen DeGeneres. "You have a grill now."

"I have a Freddie grill," added Malek. "I think he'd be tickled by these bad boys."

Bohemian Rhapsody outpaced all other releases by generating $50 million at the box office in its opening weekend in North America. The film details the life of the Queen frontman who topped the charts and dazzled audiences with his four-octave vocal range and flamboyant stage persona. Mercury passed away in 1991 at the age of 45.

Malek told DeGeneres how he immersed himself in the role of the iconic rocker — even before the project was greenlit by the studio. He took singing lessons, learned choreography and worked with a movement coach.

To imitate Mercury's signature onstage move, the coach encouraged Malek to imagine himself standing in a bath with bubbles streaming down his back, and then serving spaghetti. Malek demonstrated the move for DeGeneres's delighted audience.

Check out the full segment below...

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/TheEllenShow.