Monday, January 25, 2021

Maryland Zoo Gives Gem Names to 'Precious and Rare' African Penguin Hatchlings

The Maryland Zoo has given gemstone names to the first four chicks from this year's breeding class of endangered African penguins. On its Twitter page, zoo officials explained that the adorable hatchlings are being named for gems because they are also precious and rare.

The zoo posted to its Twitter page individual graphics to represent each chick. Their names are Diamond, Pearl, Onyx and Topaz. Each graphic panel included a photo of the new arrival, gemstone icons representing each name and a "rare penguin fact." The post was punctuated with a blue diamond emoji.

In a 30-second video, also posted on Twitter, zoo officials showed how adult penguin "ambassadors" helped choose a name for the first chick of this season. The four names were printed on round, cardboard medallions and hung in front of the adult birds. "Diamond" became the first name when one of the adults marched directly to that medallion and pecked at it aggressively.

A week earlier, the zoo began a Twitter post with the pun, "Chick this out." That post introduced the world to the newest members of this year's breeding class, but didn't hint that their names would be gem-related. Check out the zoo's fun Twitter page here…

The Maryland Zoo's "gem" babies are bringing well deserved attention to its unique breeding program. Since 1967, more than 1,000 African penguins have hatched at the Zoo, which boasts the largest colony of African penguins in North America. The exhibit is called "Penguin Coast."

According to the zoo's website, the African penguin is an endangered species whose population has declined by 90% since the turn of the 20th century. The current wild population is estimated at about 52,000 birds.

The zoo's breeding program begins in mid-September and runs until the end of February, mimicking the temperatures of the fall breeding season for these endangered birds in their native South Africa. Penguin chicks will hatch 38 to 42 days after the eggs are laid.

The hatchlings are covered in dark gray downy feathers. At about three months old, they reach their adult weight of about six pounds. At the same time, their fluffy gray down is replaced by the more familiar black-and-white waterproof feathers.

The babies are not viewable to the public, but the juvenile and adult penguins can be seen at Penguin Coast. Until February 28, The Maryland Zoo's admission fee is discounted at $15 per person (free to children under 2). Timed tickets are reserved online, as the number of guests is limited to support social distancing initiatives. The zoo is currently operating four days per week, Friday through Monday. On March 1, the schedule changes to seven days per week.

Credits: Images via Twitter.com/Maryland Zoo.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Music Friday: Huey Lewis Claims ‘The Power of Love’ Is ‘Tougher Than Diamonds’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today we have Huey Lewis and the News performing “The Power of Love” from the blockbuster film, Back to the Future. In the chart-topping 1985 hit, Lewis claims that the power of love is a curious thing. It’s “tougher than diamonds, rich like cream.”

Being tougher than diamonds is an impressive claim, indeed. Diamonds possess a number of impressive attributes, including unparalleled beauty, rarity and toughness. Yes, diamonds are the hardest natural substance ever known to man. Based on the song, if diamonds rate a 10 on the Mohs hardness scale, the "power of love" would likely score an 11 or better.

Fans of actor Michael J. Fox and the Back to the Future trilogy may remember that “The Power of Love” was featured in one of the first scenes of the original release (1985). The song plays in the background as Fox’s Marty McFly character is skateboarding to school.

Later in the film, the song surfaces again when McFly and his group are auditioning for the Battle of the Bands. Lewis makes a cameo appearance in the film as a grumpy faculty member who rejects the band before McFly can sing the first verse. Says Lewis, “Sorry, fellas… I’m afraid you’re just too darn loud.”

The backstory reveals that the real reason Marty doesn't sing is because there were no lyrics at the time of filming. Lewis and two collaborators wrote "The Power of Love" especially for Back to the Future, but could only deliver an unfinished song by the time the movie was in post production.

According to songfacts.com, Lewis's family provided inspiration for the lyrics. The singer was newly married and had two young children when he wrote it with his bandmates Johnny Colla and Chris Hayes.

Driven by the film’s universal appeal (it grossed $388 million at the box office), “The Power of Love” charted in 17 countries, including #1 spots on both the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and the Canadian RPM Top Singles chart. The song was nominated for Best Original Song at the 58th Academy Awards, but lost to Lionel Richie's "Say You, Say Me."

“The Power of Love” also makes brief cameos in both Back to the Future Part II (1989) and Back to the Future Part III (1990).

Huey Lewis was born in New York City in 1950, but was raised in Marin County, CA. In an interview with David Letterman, Lewis said he learned to play the harmonica while waiting for rides as he hitchhiked across the country back to New York City as a teenager. Later in his youth, Lewis stowed away on a plane to Europe and supported himself in Madrid by busking with his harmonica.

Trivia: Lewis, whose birth name is Hugh Anthony Cregg III, scored a perfect 800 on his math SAT, attended Ivy League Cornell University and had aspirations of being an engineer.

We invite you to check out the video of Huey Lewis and the News performing "The Power of Love." The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“The Power of Love”
Written by Johnny Colla, Chris Hayes and Huey Lewis. Performed by Huey Lewis and the News.

The power of love is a curious thing
Make a one man weep, make another man sing
Change a hawk to a little white dove
More than a feeling that’s the power of love

Tougher than diamonds, rich like cream
Stronger and harder than a bad girl’s dream
Make a bad one good make a wrong one right
Power of love that keeps you home at night

You don’t need money, don’t take fame
Don’t need no credit card to ride this train
It’s strong and it’s sudden and it’s cruel sometimes
But it might just save your life
That’s the power of love
That’s the power of love

First time you feel it, it might make you sad
Next time you feel it, it might make you mad
But you’ll be glad baby when you’ve found
That’s the power makes the world go ’round

And it don’t take money, don’t take fame
Don’t need no credit card to ride this train
It’s strong and it’s sudden it can be cruel sometimes
But it might just save your life

They say that all in love is fair
Yeah, but you don’t care
But you know what to do
When it gets hold of you
And with a little help from above
You feel the power of love
You feel the power of love
Can you feel it?
Hmmm

It don’t take money and it don’t take fame
Don’t need no credit card to ride this train
Tougher than diamonds and stronger than steel
You won’t feel nothin’ till you feel
You feel the power, just the power of love
That’s the power, that’s the power of love
You feel the power of love
You feel the power of love
Feel the power of love

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Survey: Natural Diamond Jewelry Is Most Desired Luxury Item Among Millennials

Millennials rank natural diamond jewelry as the most desirable luxury item, according to survey results just released by the Natural Diamond Council.

When offered a list of nine luxury gifts and and asked to consider which they would most want to buy or receive if money were no object, millennials (currently aged 25–39) rated natural diamond jewelry ahead of clothing, cosmetics, electronics, handbag/accessories, perfume, shoes or a watch. The only luxury gift that rated higher than diamond jewelry for millennials was the only non-tangible item on the list — a vacation.

Most Generation Z respondents (currently aged 18–24) also preferred a vacation, but rated diamond jewelry as the second-most-preferred tangible item, just behind clothing.

Interestingly, natural diamond jewelry beat out the vacation category for two subgroups — females who recently purchased jewelry and males who recently received jewelry.

These findings were recently published in the "Consumer Insights Report on Diamond Desirability (US)," which was conducted online by 360 Market Reach in October 2020 and reflects the attitudes of 5,000 respondents. The study is keenly interested in the purchasing habits of millennials and Gen Zers because the two groups — while accounting for 38% of the adult population — are responsible for more than 60% of the demand for natural diamond jewelry. It's also projected that their incomes, in real terms, are expected to rise by more than 70% in the coming decade.

According to the Natural Diamond Council, millennials and Gen Zers share a strong relationship with diamond jewelry. They see the diamond jewelry category as having lasting value, uniqueness, emotional connections and versatility. Exactly 70% strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement that each diamond is “one of a kind.” And respondents also widely agreed that diamonds represent a symbol of love and exclusivity (68%), authenticity (65%) and rarity (57%).

The survey reveals that about half of all jewelry purchasers over the past 24 months have acquired natural diamond jewelry.

-- Of that group, about 50% bought diamond jewelry to be worn personally. For these women, the key reasons for buying for themselves included the following: design (mentioned by 51% — they “found a piece of jewelry they really loved”), versatility (49% — “it can be worn and appreciated every day”) and long-term style and value (46%).

-- 80% of jewelry purchasers have bought diamond jewelry as a gift. Key reasons for giving diamond jewelry as a gift included its long-term value (45%), the fact that it can worn every day (39%), the design “a piece that the recipient would love” (40%) and because diamond jewelry is "a perfect symbol of one's love for someone else" (33%).

-- About 25% of jewelry purchasers bought a piece of diamond jewelry "just because," with no special occasion in mind.

Independent jewelry stores continue to be the preferred source for diamond jewelry (30%), followed by online (28%), national jewelry chains (25%), high-end retail stores (8%) and "other in-person" outlets (9%).

Interestingly, diamond jewelry purchasing has been favoring the earring category. Diamond earrings are the most popular category (28%), followed by necklaces (23%), fashion rings (14%), engagement rings (10%), wedding/anniversary bands (10%), bracelets (10%) and watches (5%).

The average price paid for diamond jewelry acquired in the past two years was $2,400, with male purchasers spending $3,000 and females spending $1,900.

The Natural Diamond Council pointed out that buyers require more than four retail touch points before making a diamond jewelry purchase. On the average, two of the touch points were in person and 2.6 were online.

Credit: Image by BigStockPhoto.com.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

With Tokyo Games in Jeopardy, Medal Design, Recycling Efforts May Have Been in Vain

With the fate of the rescheduled Tokyo Summer Olympic Games in serious jeopardy due to a surge of coronavirus cases in Japan, there's a very real possibility that all the work that went into designing the medals and procuring the recycled precious metal to create them may have been in vain.

The 2020 Summer Olympics were originally slated to begin on July 24, 2020, but those plans were scrapped due to the worldwide pandemic. The organizers reset the opening ceremonies for July 23, 2021, anticipating that COVID-19 infection rates would be low enough a year later to allow for large gatherings. It was the first time in history that the Games had been postponed.

But the risks have only gotten worse. Earlier this month, a new state of emergency was declared in several areas in Japan, including the Olympic and Paralympic host city of Tokyo. A recent survey of Japanese citizens showed that 77% believe the Games should be cancelled or postponed.

The Games came with a price tag of $12.35 billion, but beyond the possible loss in revenue are the squandered efforts related to the precious medals that would have been awarded to the 5,000 Olympic competitors.

In 2017, the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project was established to encourage Japanese citizens to donate their used mobile phones, digital cameras, laptops and games units so they could be harvested for the small amounts of precious metals they contained. The goals was to produce the first Olympic medals fabricated 100% from recycled material.

By the end of March 2019, the collection goal had been achieved. Nearly 80,000 tons of devices were collected, yielding 32kg of gold, 3,500kg of silver and 2,200kg of bronze. The donations included 6.21 million devices.

Despite being a country with virtually no precious metal mining, Japan’s discarded small consumer electronics is believed to contain the equivalent of 16% of the world’s gold reserves and 22% of the world’s silver reserves.

If the Games are cancelled, the beautifully designed medals by Junichi Kawanishi may not see the light of day.

The front of the 2020 medal depicts Nike, the mythical Greek goddess of victory, standing in front of the Panathinaikos Stadium. The back features a raised, pebble-like center, reflective Olympic rings, and a checkered Tokyo 2020 “ichimatsu moyo” emblem inside a swirl design. Kawanishi designed the medals to resemble rough stones that have been newly polished, and now “shine with light and brilliance.”

Olympic gold medals, in general, are made mostly of silver, containing just six grams of pure gold. The silver medals are pure silver. The bronze medals are made from gunmetal, a corrosion-resistant form of bronze that contains zinc. Olympic gold medals were once made of solid gold, with the last ones awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, back in 1912.

Credits: Images courtesy of Tokyo 2020.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Today's Quiz: Can You Identify All Four English-Language Words That Are Pronounced 'Keh·ruht'?

Some time long ago, your elementary school teacher introduced you to "homophones," those fun words — such as so, sew and sow — that sound alike, but have very different meanings.

Which brings us to today's quiz: Can you identify all four words in the English language that are pronounced "keh·ruht"?

Here's a hint: Each has a unique spelling and two are distinctively jewelry related.

If you're having trouble naming all four, or would like to know more about all things "keh·ruht," please check out the explanation below…

• car·rot. A favorite of Bugs Bunny and any chef worth his salt and pepper, a carrot is a long, tapered orange-colored root eaten as a vegetable. Carrots are know to be a good source of beta carotene, fiber, vitamin K1, potassium and antioxidants. The delicious, diet-friendly vegetable is also associated with good eye health and low cholesterol levels. Carrots cook up well in soups and can be eaten raw in salads or as a snack.

• car·et. Many people don't know that the inverted V-shaped symbol sitting above the "6" on most keyboards is called a "caret." The symbol is used in proofreading and typography to indicate that a punctuation mark, word or phrase needs to be inserted at a specific point in the text.

• car·at. A tiny unit of weight designed to measure gemstones or pearls, a "carat" is equivalent to 200 mg (or 0.2 grams). Each carat may be divided into 100 points. A one-quarter carat diamond could be referred to as a 25 pointer and gems larger than 1 carat will be described as a whole number and decimal. For example, "the ring featured a 1.25-carat center stone." The Lucara-sourced rough diamond shown here weighs 341 carats, or 2.40 ounces.

The word "carat" stems from the Italian word, "carato," which was borrowed from the Greek word for "carob seed" — an Ancient standard for measuring small quantities. The current standard for what a "carat" represents was adopted in 1907 at the Fourth General Conference on Weights and Measures. Before 1907, the value of a carat ranged widely, from 187 mg in Cyprus to 215 mg in Bucharest.

• kar·at. Used to describe the fineness of gold, a "karat" measures the parts per 24. For instance, 24-karat gold is absolutely pure — 100% gold with no alloy metals included. Pure gold, however, is not used for making jewelry because of its softness.

Instead, most gold jewelry seen in fine jewelry stores is represented as 14-karat or 18-karat. Fourteen-karat gold is the equivalent to 14/24ths, or 58.33%, pure gold. Eighteen-karat gold is 18/24ths, or 75%, pure gold. Jewelry manufacturers will commonly add metals, such as zinc, nickel, silver and copper, to make the alloy more durable. The other metals also can be used to change the metal's color. A greater portion of copper, for instance, would produce rose gold.

Credits: 341-carat diamond courtesy of Lucara. Gold nugget from Kalgoorlie-Boulder in Australia by Marie-Lan Taÿ Pamart, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Carrots by Kander, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Caret symbol, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Packers' Aaron Jones Scores TD and Celebrates by Showing Off Logo Necklace

With the help of 320-pound offensive guard Elgton Jenkins, Green Bay Packers star running back Aaron Jones showed the world a very special piece of jewelry he was wearing under his #33 jersey during his team's 32-18 thumping of the Los Angeles Rams in Saturday's divisional-round playoff game.

On the very first play of the third quarter, Aaron Rodgers handed off to Jones, who busted through the middle of the line and scampered 60 yards to the Rams' 15 yard line. Two plays later, the man they call "Showtyme" plunged one yard into the end zone, giving the Packers a 25-10 lead.

As he celebrated the touchdown, the elated four-year veteran attempted to dig into the neckline of his jersey, but was having trouble getting a grip on the jewelry underneath because his gloves were too bulky. Fortunately, Jenkins — the 6' 5" lineman — knew exactly what to do.

In a quick seven-second sequence, Fox TV cameras caught the moment when Jenkins successfully pulled out a diamond-and-emerald encrusted necklace featuring the Packers' iconic "G" logo.

The spectacle caught the attention of Emmy Award-winning TV and radio personality, Bryant McFadden, who mentioned the celebration and the jewelry while hosting a post-game analysis for CBS Sports HQ, the network's streaming video sports channel.

"He scores a lot of touchdowns, man, and he also has a lot of cool jewelry," said McFadden. "That's awesome…that little Green Bay [logo] in diamonds. I couldn't rock it, but he can."

Jones shared the Fox video clip on his Instagram Story while giving a shoutout to Jenkins and the jewelry firm that designed his necklace. He wrote, "My bro @elgton74 had to pull it out for me! @shopgld"

@shopgld is the Instagram handle for GLD, a Miami-based jewelry firm that specializes in over-the-top, diamond designs for celebrities and sports stars. A sample of the Packers' logo design is shown on the company's website.

GLD shared the Fox celebration clip on its Instagram page along with this caption, "Shout out to the legend @showtyme_33.. Yea you see that packers chain baby. Every TD it’s coming out."

Aaron Rodgers and the top-seeded Green Bay Packers will take on Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in pursuit of a Super Bowl title.

We're guessing that Jones's Green Bay bling will be making a few more cameos along the way.

See Jones's touchdown run and end zone celebration, below. The sequence starts at the 18:30 mark.

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube / CBS Sports HQ; Pendant photo via Instagram / Shopgld.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Music Friday: In 'Willow,' Taylor Swift Compares Elusive Lover to a Championship Ring

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great, new songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, Taylor Swift compares an elusive lover to a championship ring in "Willow," the chart-topping lead single from her 2020 album, Evermore.

Written by Swift and Aaron Dessner, "Willow" follows the magical and mysterious journey of a young woman who does everything in her power to win over the man of her dreams.

She sings, "Life was a willow and it bent right to your wind / Head on the pillow, I could feel you sneaking in / As if you were a mythical thing / Like you were a trophy or a champion ring / There was one prize I'd cheat to win."

In the song's official video, Swift's character follows a glowing, golden string that lures her into the back of a magical piano, down a rabbit hole, through time portals and eventually to her lover. The "Willow" video follows the storyline from an earlier video for "Cardigan."

In an interview with Apple Music, Swift explained why she wanted "Willow" to lead off her ninth studio album.

"I loved the feeling I got immediately upon hearing the instrumental that Aaron created for it," she said. "It felt strangely, I say, witchy. And I stand by that. It felt like somebody making a love potion, dreaming up the person they desire and trying to figure out how to get that person in their life."

Many fans and critics believe Swift's fictional narrative in "Willow" parallels her own life experience. They believe the song really tells the story about how she won the heart of British actor Joe Alwyn.

"Willow" made its debut at the top of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, scoring Swift her seventh #1 single, and the third that entered the chart at #1.

Born in Wyomissing, Pa., Swift was not an average schoolgirl. By the time she was 11, Swift was already performing regularly at karaoke contests, festivals and fairs near her home in Berks County. When she was 14, her parents moved the family to Nashville, where Swift would be better positioned to pursue a career in country music. At the age of 17, Swift was topping the country charts.

Now 31, Swift is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 200 million records worldwide. She has won 10 Grammy Awards, one Emmy, 23 Billboard Music Awards and 32 American Music Awards. In December of 2019, Billboard named her Woman of the Decade (2010s).

Please check out the official video of Swift performing "Willow." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along…

"Willow"
Written by Taylor Swift and Aaron Dessner. Performed by Taylor Swift.

I'm like the water when your ship rolled in that night
Rough on the surface but you cut through like a knife
And if it was an open/shut case
I never would've known from that look on your face
Lost in your current like a priceless wine

The more that you say, the less I know
Wherever you stray, I follow
I'm begging for you to take my hand
Wreck my plans, that's my man

Life was a willow and it bent right to your wind
Head on the pillow, I could feel you sneaking in
As if you were a mythical thing
Like you were a trophy or a champion ring
There was one prize I'd cheat to win

The more that you say, the less I know
Wherever you stray, I follow
I'm begging for you to take my hand
Wreck my plans, that's my man
You know that my train could take you home
Anywhere else is hollow
I'm begging for you to take my hand
Wreck my plans, that's my man

Life was a willow and it bent right to your wind
They count me out time and time again
Life was a willow and it bent right to your wind
But I come back stronger than a 90's trend

Wait for the signal and I'll meet you after dark
Show me the places where the others gave you scars
Now this is an open/shut case
I guess I should've known from the look on your face
Every bait and switch was a work of art

The more that you say, the less I know
Wherever you stray, I follow
I'm begging for you to take my hand
Wreck my plans, that's my man
You know that my train could take you home
Anywhere else is hollow
I'm begging for you to take my hand
Wreck my plans, that's my man

The more that you say, the less I know
Wherever you stray, I follow
I'm begging for you to take my hand
Wreck my plans, that's my man
You know that my train could take you home
Anywhere else is hollow
I'm begging for you to take my hand
Wreck my plans, that's my man

Hey, that's my man
That's my man
Yeah, that's my man
Every bait and switch was a work of art
That's my man
Hey, that's my man
I'm begging for you to take my hand
Wreck my plans, that's my man

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.