Wednesday, June 20, 2018

3.3-Carat Diamond Pinned Inside Donated Sweater Finds Its Way Back to Relieved Owner

Workers at the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Shop in Derby, Conn., went above and beyond the call of duty to reunite a woman with the 3.3-carat loose diamond she forgot she had pinned to the inside of a donated sweater.

The store's Facebook page explained how one of the thrift shop's trusted sorters was carefully folding the grey sweater when she felt an unusual bump in the fabric. She turned the garment inside out and noticed a little black bag safety-pinned inside. She opened the bag to find another bag, and inside of that, a piece of thick blue parcel paper that is commonly used by diamond traders.

Tucked inside the folded paper was a round 3.3-carat diamond. Hand-written notes on the paper revealed the exact carat weight (3.31), clarity (VS2) and color grade (M-N). Diamonds with these characteristics typically sell for $30,000 or more.

"We were in such disbelief that this could have occurred on our sorting table," shop director Remy Kocurek told ABC affiliate WTNH.

The next task was to find the woman who had donated the sweater. They knew what she looked like, but they didn't have her name.

The thrift shop workers reviewed their security videos and were able to glean the license plate number of the woman's car. The workers sought the help of the local police department, which was able to ID the car's owner and request that she return to the store.

She complied with the police department's request, but was curious to know why she was summoned.

The rest of the story is recounted on the store's Facebook page...

"We asked her if she recalled donating the grey sweater and she said that she did. Very quickly, the color drained from her face as she realized what she had done. Collapsing into a chair, she shook her head and almost started crying. She hugged us and expressed her gratitude over and over at the return of a very valuable family heirloom. An exciting day at the best little thrift shop around!"

"It just felt wonderful to do that for her," Kocurek told WTNH.

It's still not clear why the woman had pinned an unmounted $30,000 diamond inside an old sweater. A safety deposit box may have been a better bet.

Credits: Screen captures via wtnh.com.

FIFA World Cup Trophy Is Made of 11 Pounds of 18-Karat Gold Worth $168,000

On July 15, after a full month of heart-thumping competition, the members of a single national team will emerge as champions and experience one of the ultimate thrills in professional sports — raising aloft the 18-karat gold FIFA World Cup Trophy. Four years ago in Brazil, that honor went to the soccer team from Germany. This year in Russia, 31 teams will be vying to unseat the defending champs.

The coveted trophy, which is 14.5 inches tall and depicts two human figures holding up the earth, is made of 11 pounds of 18-karat gold and features two rows of green malachite at the base. USA Today reported that the trophy is estimated to be worth $20 million, although the actual precious metal value is closer to $168,000.

For years, FIFA, the governing body of soccer, had said the trophy was made of solid gold, but that claim hasn't held up to scrutiny and it's very likely that it has a hollow center.

Martyn Poliakoff of the United Kingdom's Nottingham University did the math and determined that, based on its dimensions, a FIFA trophy made of solid gold would weigh an unwieldy 154 pounds. Gold is nearly 20 times as dense as water, and to get some perspective on just how heavy that is, consider this... A standard gold bar measures just 7 x 3 5/8 x 1 3/4 inches, but weighs more than 27 pounds.

The winning team will be taking home a gold-plated replica of the actual trophy. The real one will remain in the possession of FIFA. The bottom of the base bears the engraved year and name of each FIFA World Cup winner since 1974. The names are not visible when the cup is standing upright.

The tournament takes place every four years, and FIFA announced recently that the North American triumvirate of the U.S., Canada and Mexico will co-host the games in 2026.

For the past 88 years, there have been only two designs for the FIFA trophy. The current one was conceived by Italian artist Silvio Gazzaniga and presented for the first time in 1974.

In describing his design, Gazzaniga said, “The lines spring out from the base, rising in spirals, stretching out to receive the world. From the remarkable dynamic tensions of the compact body of the sculpture rise the figures of two athletes at the stirring moment of victory.”

In 1970, the Brazilians got to keep the previous version of the trophy — the Jules Rimet Cup — when the team captured its third world title.

Rimet, the founding father of the FIFA World Cup, had stipulated 40 years earlier that any team that won three titles could have the cup permanently. FIFA made good on that promise in 1970, but in 1983 the cup was stolen in Rio de Janeiro and never seen again.

The Jules Rimet Cup, which was originally called “Coupe du Monde,” was designed by French sculptor Abel Lafleur and depicted the goddess of victory holding an octagonal vessel above her. It was 13.7 inches tall and weighed 8.4 pounds. It was made of gold-plated sterling silver, with a base of lapis lazuli.

In 1966, an earlier version of the Jules Rimet Cup was stolen from a public display in London just before the Brits were about to host the World Cup. It was discovered seven days later at the bottom of a suburban garden hedge by a clever canine named Pickles.

During World War II, the Jules Rimet Cup spent some time in a shoebox under the bed of FIFA vice president Dr. Ottorino Barassi, who feared it might fall into the hands of the Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.

Brazil currently holds the record for the most FIFA World Cup victories (5), followed by Italy and Germany with four wins each. Favored teams in the current tournament include Brazil, Germany, Spain, France, Argentina, Belgium and England.

Credits: German team celebration in 2014. Screen capture via YouTube.com. FIFA World Cup by Biser Todorov [CC BY 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons. La Coupe Jules Rimet by Español: El Grafico del 12 de Julio de 1966. Edicion 2440 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Twittersphere Buzz: Volcano Is Raining Green Gemstones on Hawaii... Or Is It?

The Twittersphere was abuzz last week with the bitter-sweet story of how the destructive and horrifying volcanic eruptions of Kilauea were raining tiny green gemstones on the Big Island of Hawaii.

On Monday, June 11, Twitter user @ErinJordan_WX wrote, "Friends of mine live in Hawaii, right next to the area impacted by the most recent lava flows. In the midst of the destruction nearby & stress of the unknown, they woke up to this — tiny pieces of olivine all over the ground. It is literally raining gems. Nature is truly amazing."

Within days, major media outlets breathlessly reported that "Hawaii's volcano is literally erupting gems." They explained how olivine — the non-gemstone variety of the August birthstone peridot — is a common mineral component of Hawaiian lavas and one of the first crystals to form as magma cools.

These outlets explained the raining-gemstone phenomenon this way: "As the volcano erupts, it blasts apart molten lava, allowing for green olivine minerals to be separated from the rest of the melt and fall as tiny gemstones."

Later in the week, however, other outlets questioned how large gobs of molten lava would instantaneously release the olivine crystals into the air.

Cheryl Gansecki, a geologist at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, told sputniknews.com that the green gems seen in the photos circulating online do not separate from the lava themselves and had likely come out during past eruptions.

"There is not olivine raining from the sky, except in clumps of lava. If you happen to be where tephra is falling from the sky, there [are] tiny olivines embedded in it, but you probably aren't going to see them," she said.

Natives of Hawaii's Big Island are well aware of the association between olivine and volcanoes.

Mahana Beach on Hawaii’s Papakolea coast, for example, is one of only three green sand beaches in the world. The abundance of olivine crystals filling the beach comes from the eroded cutaway interior of Pu’u Mahana, a volcanic cone produced more than 49,000 years ago by the explosive combination of lava and groundwater.

Locals have an affection for peridot and refer to the gemstone as the “Hawaiian Diamond.” Small peridot stones are sold as “Pele’s tears” in honor of Pele, the goddess of volcanoes. In ancient Hawaiian chants, Pele was described as “She-who-shapes-the-sacred-land,” and her temper was known to be both as abundant and dangerous as the lava.

The latest eruption of Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, began in early May and has since destroyed as many as 600 homes on the island.

Credits: Tiny olivine pebbles by Siim Sepp (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Faceted peridot by DonGuennie (G-Empire The World of Gems – Die Welt der Edelsteine) (Own work http://www.g-empire.de) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Papakolea Beach by Natarajanganesan [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia. Handfuls of olivine-rich sand by Tomintx (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Philadelphia Eagles' First-Ever Super Bowl Rings Soar With 219 Diamonds and 17 Green Sapphires

The Philadelphia Eagles marked their historic 2017 season and epic Super Bowl triumph over the New England Patriots with championship rings emblazoned with 219 diamonds and 17 green sapphires. Each ring boasts a gemstone total weight of 9.15 carats.

The 10-karat gold rings are teeming with symbols on every surface to tell the story of an underdog team that overcame all obstacles to roll through the playoffs and eventually defeat the Tom Brady-led Patriots by a score of 41-33 in Super Bowl LII. It was the first time the Eagles raised the Vince Lombardi Trophy aloft in their 85-year history.

The top of the ring features the iconic eagle head logo rendered with 52 pavé-set diamonds to signify Super Bowl LII (52). The eagle head is set atop the Lombardi Trophy, which is, in turn, layered over a series of tapered-baguette green sapphires, fanned out in a circle. Ring manufacturer and designer Jostens noted that the rare green sapphires were specially sourced to match the official team color. The 13 sapphires represent the Eagles' 13 regular season victories, which tied a franchise record.

The top of the trophy is adorned with three diamonds, representing the number of times the Eagles were deemed underdogs, and also the number of post-season victories it took to be crowned World Champions.

A large marquise-cut diamond sits majestically at the top of the Lombardi Trophy to represent the first Super Bowl Championship in the Eagles' franchise history. Bordering the top and bottom of the top of the ring are the words “WORLD" and "CHAMPIONS” in raised white-gold lettering against a black enamel ground.

The ring's bezel is adorned with a waterfall of 127 diamonds, a number that pays tribute to one of the most exciting and memorable moments in the team's history. "The Philly Special" was a trick play that resulted in a touchdown on a fourth-down-and-goal situation at the opponent's 1-yard line. Three key Eagles were involved in the memorable play, and the number 127 is the sum of their jersey numbers — Corey Clement (30), Trey Burton (88) and Nick Foles (9).

Four round, genuine green sapphires adorn the corners of the base of the ring and symbolize the team’s four NFL Championships – three World Championships (1948, 1949, 1960) and one Super Bowl Championship (2017).

The left side of the ring prominently shows the player’s name set above an end zone view of Lincoln Financial Field, the home of the Eagles. The stadium graphic pays tribute to the passionate and dedicated fan base that has supported the team since its formation. The player’s number is studded with pavé-set diamonds and set in the middle of the rendered football field.

The right side of the ring features the score from Super Bowl LII (PHI 41 – NE 33), and one of the team’s messages of unity throughout the season, "We All We Got, We All We Need,” is set above the Super Bowl LII logo. The word “FAMILY” sits below the logo and serves as a reminder of the team’s commitment and dedication to each other.

The words from the team’s fight song, “Fly Eagles Fly” are written on the bottom of the outer band. The top of the inside arbor of the ring is inscribed with the scores from the team’s three postseason victories and an image of an underdog mask, an acknowledgement of how the Eagles embraced their underdog role to galvanize the team, the fans and the entire city of Philadelphia. The bottom of the inside arbor is inscribed with each player’s signature – the first time championship rings have ever featured engraved signatures.

Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie admitted that he didn't realize the level of consideration that goes into the design of a Super Bowl ring.

“I thought, ‘You know, you just sort of come up with some ring, and you make many, and you have a party,’ Luria said in a statement. "I never really thought of the details that were required. You go through so much during a season. What are the statements that you want to make about the team, about the season, about the kinds of players and coaches that we had? It’s kind of like, how do you want to be remembered 20 years from now?”

The Eagles players and coaches received their rings during a special ceremony last week. In all, more than 400 rings were distributed to key personnel at every level of the Eagles organization.

Credit: Image courtesy of Jostens.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Music Friday: Country Stars Sing the Praises of a Gold Ring, 'Size Seven, Round'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you the sweetest songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, country stars George Jones and Lacy J. Dalton sing the praises of a very special ring in their 1984 ditty, "Size Seven Round (And Made of Gold)."

The song chronicles the love story of a couple, from their wedding day through their golden years. Even as they grow old together, her size-seven wedding band remains a shining symbol of their enduring relationship.

They sing, "Size seven, round and made of gold / This circle joins us heart and soul / And it won't let our love grow cold / Size seven, round and made of gold."

"Size Seven Round (And Made of Gold)" appeared as the seventh track of George Jones's 1984 album, Ladies' Choice, which was composed mostly of duets with female country artists. Twenty-one years later, the song returned on the 2005 reissue of the country legend's LP, My Very Special Guests.

The song peaked at #19 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and #11 on the Canadian RPM Country Tracks chart.

Born in a log cabin in the small town of Saratoga, Texas, Jones got his first guitar at the age of nine. By 1955, at the age of 24, Jones had already served in the Marines, was married twice and recorded his first hit song, “Why Baby Why.” In 1969, he married Tammy Wynette. They were divorced six years later, although they continued to perform together after the breakup.

Jones told Billboard in 2006 that when it comes to his music, “It’s never been for the love of money. I thank God for it because it makes me a living. But I sing because I love it, not because of the dollar signs.”

Over a career that spanned seven decades, Jones is credited with charting 168 country songs. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992. Jones passed away in 2013 at the age of 81.

Born Jill Lynne Byrem in Bloomsburg, Pa., Lacy J. Dalton scored a number of hits songs in the 1980s, including "Takin' It Easy," "Crazy Blue Eyes" and "16th Avenue." She's still actively touring at the age of 71.

Please check out the audio track of the Jones/Dalton duet of "Size Seven Round (And Made of Gold)." The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

"Size Seven Round (And Made of Gold)"
Written by Monroe Fields and Gary Lumpkin. Performed by George Jones and Lacy J. Dalton.

With all my love, my dreams and plans
I placed a ring upon your hand
To tell the endless love we found
Love's golden band, size seven, round

Size seven, round and made of gold
This circle joins us heart and soul
And it won't let our love grow cold
Size seven, round and made of gold

The years have passed, our ring is old
But time can't tarnish pure love's gold
Each day our love is young and new
There's just no end to love that's true.

Size seven, round and made of gold
This circle joins us heart and soul
And it won't let our love grow cold
Size seven, round and made of gold.

Size seven, round and made of gold
This circle joins us heart and soul
And it won't let our love grow cold
Size seven, round and made of gold.

Size seven, round and made of gold.

Credit:Credit: George Jones photo by BstarXO Chester L. Roberts (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Mystery Solved: Tiny Diamonds Are Responsible for Curious Microwave ‘Glow’ in Night Sky

After more than 20 years of Sherlock Holmes-like sleuthing, scientists are crediting teeny, rapidly spinning diamonds for generating the curious microwave "glow" coming from a number of regions in the night sky.

In a new study led by researchers at Great Britain's Cardiff University and published earlier this week in the journal Nature Astronomy, an international team has shown that it is likely the microwaves emanating from star systems far out in the Milky Way are coming from tiny crystals of carbon, otherwise known as nanodiamonds, inside of dust and gas that surrounds newly formed stars.

For decades scientists have been able to measure a faint and mysterious stream of microwaves, dubbed the anomalous microwave emission (AME), but could never pinpoint the exact source. The microwaves seemed to be emanating from clouds of "spinning dust."

"In a Sherlock Holmes-like method of eliminating all other causes, we can confidently say the best and likely only candidate capable of producing this microwaves glow is the presences of nanodiamonds around these newly formed stars," said lead author of the study Dr. Jane Greaves from Cardiff University's School of Physics and Astronomy.

Scientists used high-powered telescopes in West Virginia and Australia to monitor three young stars that were known to emit AME light.

By studying the infrared light that was coming from the protoplanetary disks surrounding the stars, the team was able to match the infrared light with the unique signature that is naturally given off by nanodiamonds.

The team noted that the unique signal came from rapidly spinning, hydrogenated nanodiamonds. These minuscule particles — hundreds of thousands of times smaller than a grain of sand — have a crystalline carbon structure surrounded by hydrogen-bearing molecules on its surface. The nanodiamonds can occur, say the scientists, when carbon atoms become superheated in the highly energized star-forming regions of space.

"This is a cool and unexpected resolution of the puzzle of anomalous microwaves radiation," Greaves continued. "It's even more interesting that it was obtained by looking at protoplanetary disks, shedding light on the chemical features of early solar systems, including our own."

Credit: Image by S. Dagnello, NRAO/AUI/NSF.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Rockefeller Jewelry Collection Far Outperforms Pre-Sale Estimates at Christie's New York

In 1940, billionaire banker and philanthropist David Rockefeller married Margaret "Peggy" McGrath, and during their 56-year marriage the couple collected magnificent works of art and fine jewelry. Yesterday, 19 jewelry items from their massive collection hit the auction block at Christie's New York, with most far outperforming pre-sale estimates.

An aquamarine and diamond “Leaves and Flowers” bracelet (circa 1960) designed by Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co., for example, was estimated to sell for $40,000 to $60,000. When the hammer went down, the bracelet had fetched $250,000 — more than four times the high estimate.

Schlumberger designed the bracelet as a series of five rectangular-cut aquamarines weighing from 14.80 to 28.77 carats, within circular-cut diamond leaf surrounds, joined by circular-cut diamonds and polished gold links.

The jewelry offerings at Christie's represented the continuation of the auction house's mammoth Rockefeller family estate sale of some 1,550 lots across six auctions. The proceeds of the sales — a tally that is likely to exceed $1 billion — will be used to support 11 philanthropies.

Before David Rockefeller died in March of 2017 at the age of 101, he ordered that the bulk of his estate — including three homes, and a collection of museum-quality paintings, tapestries, furniture and fine jewelry — would be used to fund bequests to his favorite charities. His beloved wife had passed away in 1996.

Peggy and David Rockefeller's purchases reflected a high level of refinement. They owned impressionist and modern art from Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Juan Gris and Paul Gauguin, for example. Their sophisticated taste expanded into the realm of fine jewelry, with more of the finest examples shown, below...

• Also designed by Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co., circa 1958, is this sapphire, diamond and emerald "Sea Shells" bracelet. Christie's set the pre-sale estimate at $50,000 to $70,000, but the realized price was $250,000. The pear-shaped sapphire and circular-cut emerald openwork band is set with six diamond-embellished sculpted gold shells.

• This ruby and diamond bracelet by Raymond Yard, Rockefeller's personal jeweler, is designed as three articulated circular and fancy-cut diamond panels, each centering upon an oval-cut Burmese ruby. The pre-sale estimate was $40,000 to $60,000, but the selling price climbed all the way to $348,500.

• Another Yard piece (circa 1944) — a sapphire and diamond ring — was one of the auction's top lots. Originally expected to sell in the range of $150,000 to $200,000, the platinum ring set with a 5-carat oval-cut Kashmir sapphire and surrounded by circular, baguette and half moon-shaped diamonds sold for $372,500.

• Lot 174 of the auction included a suite of peridot and diamond jewelry by Van Cleef & Arpels. When the hammer went down at Christie's, the sale price of $348,000 had surpassed the pre-sale high estimate by $228,000. Suspended from the peridot necklace is a detachable pear- and oval-cut peridot pendant-brooch. Also included in the suite are peridot earrings, bracelet and ring.

Credits: Images courtesy of Christie's.