Monday, January 21, 2019

Israel's 'Carmel Sapphire' Contains Inclusions of Newly Recognized Mineral 'Carmeltazite'

Israeli mining company Shefa Yamim has identified a remarkable new mineral trapped within the inclusions of the sapphires it recovers near Mount Carmel in northern Israel.

The new material was named "carmeltazite" to honor the place of its discovery and its unique mix of chemical components — titanium, aluminum and zirconium (TAZ).

Carmeltazite was officially recognized and approved as a new mineral by the International Mineralogical Association (IMA) Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification. For a new mineral to be declared as such, its composition and crystal structure and properties must be substantially different from those of any existing mineral species.

The sapphires extracted from volcanic rock by Shefa Yamim near Mount Carmel are so unique that the Israeli government granted a trademark for the corundum to be marketed under the name "Carmel Sapphire."

Using state-of-the art technology, scientists at Macquarie University in Australia were able to identify the precise makeup of the Carmel Sapphire inclusions, which included the first non-outer-space occurrence of natural tistarite. Previous discoveries of the mineral tistarite reached the Earth via meteorites. They also found the TAZ chemical components of the newly designated carmeltazite, as well as volcanic glass.

Shefa Yamim described Carmel Sapphire as typically "black, blue to green and orange-brown in color." The largest rough gem found, so far, weighed 33.3 carats.

"We are delighted that our Carmel Sapphire has been recognized as a host to many rare minerals," Shefa Yamim CEO Avi Taub said in a statement. "In today's world where the prices of gems are determined predominantly by their rarity, the Carmel Sapphire is a unique discovery because it has not been found anywhere else in the world and was discovered by Shefa Yamim in the soil of the Holy Land."

Credit: Image courtesy of Shefa Yamim.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Music Friday: Anita Baker's Darlin' Is 'Like a Precious Jewel' in 1988's 'Priceless'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fabulous songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, seven-time Grammy winner Anita Baker compares her darlin' to a precious jewel in the dreamy 1988 ballad, "Priceless."

Released as the first track from her blockbuster album, Giving You the Best That I Got, "Priceless" is Baker's tribute to a lover who not only lights up her life, but inspires her to soar to incredible heights.

She sings, "You are to me like a precious jewel, so valuable baby / Think it shines so bright lighting up my life, with pure delight / You are so priceless to me and loving you has made me see / With your love I can do most anything."

Later in the song, she compares their love to a diamond ring and all the gold in the world.

Giving You the Best That I Got was Baker's most successful album as it reached #1 on both the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and U.S. Billboard Top R&B Albums chart. The album netted more than five million sales worldwide and earned Baker three Grammy Awards and three Soul Train Music Awards.

Born Anita Denise Baker in Toledo, Ohio, the singer-songwriter was abandoned by her mother when she was two years old and raised by a foster family in Detroit, Mich. Her foster parents passed away when she was 12 at which time the responsibility for her care transferred to her foster sister.

By the age of 16, Baker was singing R&B at Detroit nightclubs, where bandleader David Washington recognized her talent. He encouraged her to audition for the band, Chapter 8, and she soon landed a job as the group's lead singer.

When Chapter 8 was dropped by Arista in 1979, Baker headed back to Detroit, where she worked as a receptionist and a waitress. Three years later, based on the encouragement of record executive Otis Smith, Baker embarked on a solo career. The rest is history.

In June 2018, Baker accepted BET's coveted Lifetime Achievement Award.

Baker, who turns 61 on January 26, continues to tour. She will be performing at New York City's Radio City Music Hall in mid-February.

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

"Priceless"
Written by Garry Glenn. Performed by Anita Baker.

When you ask me how I feel about you
I try to find the words that best describe you
You are to me like a precious jewel, so valuable baby
Think it shines so bright lighting up my life, with pure delight

You are so priceless to me and loving you has made me see
With your love I can do most anything
You are so priceless to me, you're like the first rainbow in spring
Your love comforts my heart with joy you bring

I envision you and me in love together
Getting closer, as we share each day together
Gimme all the gold in the world, it will not replace this love baby, yeah
Take a diamond ring, a worth a lot what we got cannot be bought or sold

You are so priceless to me and loving you has made me see
With your love I can do most anything
You are so priceless to me, you're like the first rainbow in spring
Your love comforts my heart with joy you bring

Never had a lover, babe
My baby, my baby, my darlin'

You are so priceless to me and loving you has made me see
With your love I can do most anything
You are so priceless to me, you're like the first rainbow in spring
Your love comforts my heart with joy you bring

You are so priceless to me and loving you has made me see
With your love I can do most anything
You are so priceless to me, you're like the first rainbow in spring
Your love comforts my heart with joy you bring

You are so priceless to me and loving you has made me see
With your love I can do most anything

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Emerald Ring That Survived the Sinking of the Titanic Is Featured on BBC's 'Antiques Roadshow'

An emerald engagement ring that survived the fateful final voyage of the Titanic in 1912 made a surprise appearance on BBC's Antiques Roadshow this past Sunday.

The ring, which features an emerald center stone flanked by smaller emeralds and diamonds in a platinum setting, was owned by the guest's grandmother, who was newly married and only 18 years old at the time.

Her grandmother managed to board a lifeboat and escape the sinking ship, but her grandfather was not as lucky.

Antiques Roadshow expert Joanna Hardy said the emerald ring by La Cloche was first class in every sense of the word. She explained that the famous jeweler had a shop in Paris, but also opened a location on Bond Street in London in 1904.

“All of the rich and the famous and the dignitaries would buy La Cloche jewelry," Hardy said. "And this is definitely an engagement ring because you have the emerald there, which means hope and renewal, rebirth and life, and the diamonds are all set in platinum."

Hardy noted that she was surprised that the emerald ring has remained in such stunning condition.

“The fact it has survived [the sinking of the Titanic] is quite incredible," she said.

The guest noted that her grandmother was traveling in second class and was accompanied by her husband, mother and aunt when the ship hit an iceberg and started to take on water 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland. The disaster took the lives of 1,503 people.

“I believe they were told to put on any jewelry they had at the time," the guest explained. "[My grandmother] had other jewelry, which was in the safe which went down with the ship, but yes she was wearing this.”

“That makes me have goosebumps just to think about it," Hardy responded.

The expert then offered two valuations for this special family heirloom.

Without considering the provenance of having traveled on the last voyage of the Titanic, the ring would be worth £6,000 to £8,000 ($7,726 to $10,296), she said.

If the ring's presence on the Titanic could be verified, its value could easily jump to £30,000 ($38,612) or more, Hardy added.

Despite the promise of a big windfall, the guest indicated that she had no intention of selling it.

“OK, wow," she said. "It will stay in the family.”

Images: Screen captures via BBC One.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Officer Earns Bowl of Meatballs, High Praise for Finding Crossing Guard's Engagement Diamond

An eagle-eyed New Jersey police officer earned a bowl of meatballs and high praise for finding a diamond that had popped out of a crossing guard's engagement ring at a Tenafly intersection. What made the find even more remarkable was that the diamond was mixed in with broken glass, gravel, ice and other reflective debris.

A day earlier, crossing guard Kathy Iannantuano had been overcome with grief when she noticed the diamond missing from her engagement ring while she was on duty at the corner of Riveredge Road and Jefferson Avenue last week. Iannantuano's late husband proposed with that ring 52 years ago and it has never left her finger.

"I can't even tell you the feeling that I had," Iannantuano told New York's ABC7. "I can't even talk about it now without getting emotional."

Iannantuano first searched the intersection, then her car, home, jacket and gloves. She and her son returned to her intersection later that evening, but they came up empty.

"Oh, I didn't sleep, let me tell you. It was awful," Iannantuano told ABC7. "It just was like the last part of my husband was gone. Because he's been dead three years and I never took that ring off, never."

Iannantuano proved her point by displaying a deep depression in the base of her ring finger, apparently caused by a ring that was a tad too small for the better part of a half century.

When Iannantuano returned to her job the next day, she was greeted by Officer Louis Smaragdakis, who cheerfully said "Good morning" and then he asked the crossing guard how she was.

"She put her head down and I knew something was wrong," he said.

"It was the wrong question to ask," said Iannantuano. "I started to cry."

She told the officer about the lost diamond and he was eager to help find it, but this would be no easy task.

"There was a motor vehicle accident last week. And there were some glass fragments and shards in the ground," he said. "There was also ice on the ground. Everywhere you looked there was some kind of reflection. So I said to myself, 'There is no way I'm going to find this.'"

Smaragdakis had been scouring the area for about 20 minutes when he decided to check Iannantuano's car one more time.

"I said to Kathy, 'Make sure you unlock the car.' As I stepped forward, for some reason I was looking down on the ground and the diamond was just resting right here," he said, pointing to an area near the curb.

"I swear I didn't believe him," she said. "I just could not believe it. I was hugging [him] and calling him an angel. I told him I'd make him a bowl of meatballs. I mean, I did everything."

"This is what we do," officer Smaragdakis told ABC7. "It's about helping others."

Credits: Ring photo via Facebook/Tenafly Police Department. Screen captures via abc7ny.com.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Lapis Lazuli Found in the Teeth of Medieval Nun Suggests She Was a Manuscript Painter

Archaeologists studying the skull of a nun who lived in a German monastery nearly 1,000 years ago were initially baffled by the presence of vivid blue flecks embedded in her teeth. Using X-ray spectroscopy, they were finally able to identify the blue pigment as the gemstone lapis lazuli.

Why would a nun living in the Middle Ages have lapis lazuli layered within the tartar of her teeth? Was she ingesting it as a lapidary medicine, or did it get on her teeth during the course of her life's work?

University of York archaeologist Anita Radini told The Telegraph that the nun was likely an illustrator of lavish medieval religious manuscripts. During that time, artists ground and processed lapis lazuli to make the intense blue pigment ultramarine. It was also common for artists to lick their brushes to get the finest tip possible to complete their detailed work.

The blue pigment was distributed throughout the many layers of plaque on her teeth, suggesting she was an illustrator throughout her life.

Highly prized and considered more valuable than gold, lapis lazuli had a singular source at the time — the remote mountains of Afghanistan.

“Only scribes and painters of exceptional skill would have been entrusted with its use,” Ohio State University historian Alison Beach told The Telegraph. Researchers believe the nun was alive from 997 to 1162 A.D.

The archaeologists, who published their study in the journal Science Advances, believe the presence of lapis lazuli on the nun's teeth highlight two remarkable findings...

First, it was previously believed that monks alone were tasked with illustrating biblical texts. Now it is apparent that women were entrusted with this important and painstaking work.

Second, the presence of lapis lazuli in Dalheim, Germany — 3,000 miles from its source in Afghanistan — reveals routes through the trading metropolises of Islamic Egypt and Byzantine Constantinople were already well established in the year 1100 A.D., according to researchers.

The use of ultramarine in paintings continued well beyond the Middle Ages. It was used by some of the most important artists of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, ending in the early 19th century when chemically identical synthetics became available.

Johannes Vermeer's 1665 painting, “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” is distinguished by a striking depiction of a head scarf using the pigment ultramarine.

The mines of northeast Afghanistan are still the major source of lapis lazuli. Other sources include Russia, Chile, Italy, Mongolia, the U.S. and Canada.

Credits: Lapis lazuli photo by Chris Oxford [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons. Lapis lazuli bracelet photo by Raulfj [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons. 'Girl With a Pearl Earring' painting by Johannes Vermeer [Public domain].

Monday, January 14, 2019

Tim Tebow to 2017's Miss Universe: 'This Ring Is Internally Flawless… Just Like You'

Sports star Tim Tebow popped the question to 2017 Miss Universe Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters with a 7.25-carat diamond solitaire ring at his family's farm in Jacksonville, Fla., this past Wednesday. He reportedly got down on one knee and declared, "This ring is internally flawless… just like you."

According to People magazine, the 31-year-old former NFL quarterback and current New York Mets farmhand toured the picturesque property with the 23-year-old former Miss South Africa, eventually leading her to a bench near the lake. Engraved on the bench was the date they first met.

After Nel-Peters said, "Yes," and Tebow placed the impressive ring on her finger, South African singer-songwriter Matthew Mole stepped out from behind a hay bale to serenade them with a live rendition of Nel-Peters' favorite tune, "The Wedding Song."

To make the surprise even more special, Tebow had arranged for Nel-Peters' family and several friends to be flown in from South Africa so they could participate in the celebration.

Ritani vice president Josh Marion told HollywoodLife.com that the ring features a classic ideal-cut round diamond in an elegant platinum setting. He placed the value of the ring at $600,000 to $700,000.

Tebow had invited Nel-Peters to the farm under the cover story that they were making a belated Christmas visit to his family and surprising his dad with a new truck. Tebow even borrowed a vehicle from a local dealership so the ruse would be more believable.

On Instagram, Nel-Peters shared romantic engagement photos and wrote, "Any dreams I’ve ever had, you’ve exceeded them all! I love you and I can’t wait to spend forever with you! @timtebow." She punctuated the post with emojis of a blue diamond ring and a red heart.

Tebow was equally sentimental, posting similar photos and writing on Instagram, "Thank you for saying YES and making me the happiest man in the world. You’re the love of my life, and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you."

People reported that the couple started dating in the summer of 2018 and that no wedding date has been set.

Credits: Images via Instagram/kellybramanphotography; Instagram/demileighnp.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Music Friday: 'Loving You Is Like Finding a Diamond in a Rhinestone World,' Sings Dallas Smith

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you new song with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Canadian country music star Dallas Smith finds the girl of his dreams in his brand new release, "Rhinestone World."

In the song, Smith admits that he was "lost on highway, a little dazed and confused," but everything changed when she came along.

Country metaphors bring the story to life as he describes a girl who is unlike all the rest. He compares his new love to a little white church in Mississippi, a red Corvette on a Carolina two lane — and to a rare and precious gem.

"Look at you shine," he sings. "Loving you is like finding a diamond in a rhinestone world."

The song made its debut in November of 2018 and hit #30 on Billboard Canadian Country chart.

A native of British Columbia, the 41-year-old Smith was named Male Artist of the Year at the 2018 Canadian Country Music Awards, where his “Sky Stays This Blue” won Video of the Year. He's set to be the opening act at this summer's Country Thunder Saskatchewan, July 11-14. Other top performers at the event will be Jake Owen, Tim McGraw, Chris Stapleton, Terri Clark, Gord Bamford, Travis Tritt and Steve Earle and the Dukes.

Smith always had a passion for music growing up, but was reluctant to perform in public. As a young adult he finally decided to face his fears and joined a band consisting of some good friends. By the age of 21, the young man who's said to have one of the best voices in country music earned his first record deal.

Please check out the video of Smith performing "Rhinestone World." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Rhinestone World"
Written and performed by Dallas Smith.

See the Sun
Coming up
From the from seat of a greyhound bus
Felt the rain
On the faces
I was standing at the gates of Graceland
Searching for something
Searching for someone
Lost on the highway
A little dazed and confused
But the haze of the road dust
Comes into focus
Every time I look at you

You're a little white church
On a corner in Mississippi
The front porch light that feels like home, girl
Look at you shine
Loving you is like finding
A diamond in a rhinestone world

You're a red Corvette on a Carolina two lane
Lighter in the air to a damn good song
Girl, can't believe you're mine
Loving you is like finding
A diamond in a rhinestone world

You're a diamond in a rhinestone world

Waking up
All alone
Means you might have just been chasing ghosts
And all the glitter fades fast
And a gold rush ain't made to last

You're a little white church
On a corner in Mississippi
A front porch light that feels like home, girl
Look at you shine
Loving you is like finding
A diamond in a rhinestone world

You're a red Corvette on a Carolina two lane
Lighter in the air to a damn good song
Girl, can't believe you're mine
Loving you is like finding
A diamond in a rhinestone world

You're a diamond in a rhinestone world

You're a little white church
On a corner in Mississippi
A front porch light that feels like home, girl
Look at you shine
Loving you is like finding
A diamond in a rhinestone world

You're a red Corvette on a Carolina two lane
Lighter in the air to a damn good song
Girl, can't believe you're mine
Loving you is like finding
A diamond in a rhinestone world

You're a diamond in a rhinestone world

You're a diamond in a rhinestone world

Credit: Photo by Enjoy151 [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons.