Anschar Diamonds Blog

Anschar Diamonds Blog

Articles in August 2016

August 1st, 2016
Available in a rainbow of vibrant colors, but best known as a ruby doppelgänger, the spinel has joined the yellow-green peridot as an official birthstone for the month of August.

spinelaugust1

The American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) and Jewelers of America (JA) delivered the surprising news in June. It was only third time in the past 104 years that the modern birthstone list had been updated.

"At certain moments in history, when there is a strong call from gem enthusiasts to expand the list of official birthstones, Jewelers of America believes in recognizing the importance of historically significant gemstones and giving gemstone lovers a choice that suits their preferences,” said JA President and CEO David Bonaparte.

The International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA) called spinel "the great impostor of gemstone history." That's because some of the most famous "rubies" in crown jewels around the world are actually spinels.

spinelaugust3

Prominently displayed on the Imperial State Crown of England is the 170-carat Black Prince Ruby, which is actually a uncut spinel.

spinelaugust2

The 361-carat Timur Ruby, which was presented by the East India Company to Queen Victoria as a gift in 1851, and is engraved with the names of some of the Mughal emperors who previously owned it, was later identified as a spinel.

spinelaugust4

And the 398-carat ruby-red gem that tops the Imperial Crown of Russia commissioned by Catherine the Great in 1763 turned out to be, you guessed it, a spinel.

The masquerade continued until gemologists and mineralogists finally developed the technical ability to distinguish spinel from ruby.

Chemically, the two gems are similar. Both spinel and ruby are aluminum oxides, but spinel contains magnesium and ruby doesn't.

Both spinel and ruby get their red coloring from minute amounts of chromium, which replace some of the aluminum within the crystal. The chromium so vital to the ruby’s blazing color is also responsible for causing fissures in the crystal, making rubies larger than 3 carats in size extremely rare and very valuable.

Established in 1912 by the American National Retail Jewelers Association (now known as JA), the modern birthstone list was updated in 1952 to add alexandrite (June), citrine (November), tourmaline (October) and zircon (December). The listed was amended again in 2002 when tanzanite joined the group of December birthstones.

Spinel comes in a variety of vibrant colors, including soft pastel shades of pink and purple, fiery oranges, and cool hues ranging from powdery gray to intense blue. It is a durable gem with a a hardness of 8.0 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. By comparison, diamond rates a 10 and ruby rates a 9.

Some of the most beautiful spinels — especially the pink, red and orange-red varieties — are found in Myanmar. They're also sourced from Afghanistan, Brazil, Cambodia, Kenya, Russia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand and Vietnam.

Credits: Spinel crystal by Smallru (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons; Imperial State Crown of England by Cyril Davenport (1848 – 1941) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Timur Ruby via the Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2012; Smolensk Diamonds' modern interpretation of the Imperial Crown of Russia by Shakko (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
August 2nd, 2016
Did you know that July 31 was the busiest moving day of the year and that the summer is the most popular moving season? So, if you're planning to resettle across town or even across the country, please consider these tips compiled by Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company and amended by our team for keeping your jewelry safe...

Cute girl during moving home

• Do not pack valuable jewelry in boxes and do not put your jewelry into storage. It can get lost with other items or stolen.

• If you’re moving locally, keep valuable items in a safety deposit box at a bank until you’re settled in and ready to retrieve them. If you’re moving a long distance, keep valuable jewelry with you at all times.

• Don’t wear jewelry while you’re packing, unpacking or doing heavy lifting. You may damage, bend or scratch precious metals, or chip valuable stones.

• Pack earrings, necklaces and bracelets separately so they don’t get tangled. Use zip-type small storage bags or pill organizers.

• Keep track of your items. Take a picture of each piece and create a detailed list of the items. Be sure to write a description for each piece and include serial numbers for items that have them. Make two copies of the list – take one with you when you move, and store the other one in a safety deposit box.

• Make sure your valuable items have been recently appraised to reflect their current values and replacement costs. If necessary, adjust your coverage accordingly. Make copies of appraisals and receipts. Again, take one copy with you and place the other in a safety deposit box.

• Your jewelry should be properly insured. If your jewelry is covered under your homeowners’ or rental policy, it may only be insured for up to $1,000. Also, be sure your insurance company covers "mysterious disappearance." Often, it won't.

• Resist using social media. As tempting as it is to share the excitement of your move, save the stories and photos for your housewarming party. Well intentioned posts can easily extend past your group of friends. Your family's jewels are more vulnerable during your move, so the fewer people who know about it, the better.

For more information on protecting your jewelry, visit Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company's website here.

Credit: Image by BigStockPhoto.com.
August 3rd, 2016
A wedding band found on the beach in Maui made its way back to a grateful couple in Kansas — more than 3,800 miles away — thanks to a set of GPS coordinates inscribed inside the band.

mauiring4

About a month ago, Brandon and Megan Schumacher of Overland Park, Kan., were enjoying their honeymoon on the Hawaiian island of Maui when Brandon took off his wedding band to keep it from getting caked with sunscreen and sand. He dropped it in the nosepiece of his goggles for safekeeping, but then forgot about it.

mauiring3

“I started to mess with my GoPro, got distracted and walked out to the water," he told KMBC 9 News. "The next thing I know an hour had passed and the ring was gone.”

mauiring7

He had taken the goggles into the surf to rinse out the sand, so the missing ring could have been in the water or on the beach.

“I ran back to where I originally took it off and searched for about an hour,” Brandon told ABC News. “My wife ran up to the beach [bartender] who told her about this guy whose main job is using a metal detector to find wedding rings. We called him and he searched for a few hours and found nothing.”

Before they left the island to return home to Kansas, the couple filed a police report and alerted local pawn shops of their loss.

About a week later, the couple agreed that the ring was likely gone forever, so they ordered a replacement.

Meanwhile, back in Maui, Oregonian vacationers Dean and Young Barnes, were taking a romantic stroll in ankle-deep water when Young saw something unusual in the sand. It was 9:30 at night and the visibility was poor, but the object caught Young's attention and forced her to stop to take a closer look. It was a man's wedding band.

mauiring2

Dean and Young noticed a series of numbers inscribed in the band, but didn't understand what they could mean. Later, they showed the inscription to their son-in-law and daughter, and the young couple immediately recognized the numbers as GPS coordinates.

mauiring6

When they typed the numbers into GoogleMaps, the resulting pin landed right on the Legacy Christian Church in Overland Park, where the Schumachers were wed only weeks before.

The Barnes family contacted representatives of the Legacy Christian Church, who emailed the Schumachers with the improbable news. The Schumachers offered a reward but the Barneses refused.

mauiring1

A reporter from local ABC affiliate KMBC 9 News was on hand when the UPS truck arrived with Brandon's ring. In a heartwarming moment, the newlyweds reenacted their ring ceremony and Megan made Brandon promise to never take the ring off again.

In a letter that accompanied the returned jewelry, Dean Barnes explained why a reward was unnecessary.

“I informed Megan that we did not do anything and that God deserved ‘all’ of the glory," he said. "None of us did anything.”

The Schumachers also spoke about divine intervention...

“There were too many things that had to go right,” said Brandon. “Be in the right spot at the right time, step on something in the water, had to have the coordinates, everything. And it just worked out too perfectly. We keep looking back and there was just too many things for it to just be a coincidence.”

Credits: Images courtesy of Megan Schumacher; screen captures via kmbc.com.
August 4th, 2016
More than 8.4 million fans of The Bachelorette watched breathlessly as JoJo Fletcher professed her love to Jordan Rodgers during Monday's climactic two-hour season finale.

bachelorette1

The former NFL player responded by getting down on one knee and presenting the real estate developer with a 3.5-carat diamond engagement ring valued at $85,000. The ring features an oval-cut center stone accented with pavé diamonds on a platinum band.

bachelorette4

In the romantic lead up to the proposal, the 27-year-old aspiring sports broadcaster said, “It’s moments like this, where I’m holding your hand, I’m looking in your eyes, and I know I’m so unbelievably in love with you. You’re my best friend, you’re my soulmate."

bachelorette3

Fletcher responded by saying, “I love you so much, and I’ve been waiting to tell you how I feel. I just love you so much… I didn’t want you to get down on one knee until you knew that.”

“It’s real, and it’s been real,” he said of their whirlwind romance. “I love you so much, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Joelle Hannah Fletcher, will you marry me?”

Of course, she said, "Yes."

bachelorette2

An insider told Us Weekly that the oval-cut diamond ring by Neil Lane was Rodgers' favorite from the moment he saw it.

"She also loves it," said the insider, "and it's one of the most unusual and rare cut stones to be seen on the show thus far."

Earlier in the episode Fletcher, 25, was forced to send runner-up Robby Hayes packing.

“Robby, I woke up this morning wanting it to be you," said Fletcher. "Every day, I’ve been wanting it to be you. I fell in love with you, but for some reason my heart is somewhere else.”

Fletcher and Rodgers will get to keep the $85,000 ring if their relationship remains intact. The Bachelor host Chris Harrison was unclear about the rules regarding when a ring must be returned to designer Lane.

"There's some rule, after a certain number of years, you get to keep it anyway," he told Us Weekly. "But after months [if there is a breakup]... it goes back."

Us Weekly noted that out of 20 seasons of The Bachelor and 11 seasons of The Bachelorette, only a handful of couples have remained together, including married pairs Trista and Ryan Sutter, Desiree Hartsock and Chris Siegfried, Sean Lowe and Catherine Giudici, and Ashley Hebert and J.P. Rosenbaum. Season 11 Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe and her final pick, Shawn Booth, are still happily engaged.

Credit: Bachelorette images and screen captures via ABC. Ring image courtesy of Neil Lane.
August 5th, 2016
Welcome to Music Friday when we regularly bring you amazing songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we change up the criteria a bit to pay tribute to the opening of the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

whitney2

As thousands of athletes from around the world go for the gold we thought it would be a great time to feature Whitney Houston's "One Moment in Time," a pop anthem USA Today called "the gold standard by which all Olympic theme songs should be judged."

A song that focuses on what it takes to reach the pinnacle of one's life, "One Moment in Time" became the theme song for NBC's coverage of the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.

In rating it the best Olympic song of all time, USA Today noted that the lyrics perfectly define the spirit of the Games — working hard, overcoming setbacks, believing in oneself and ultimately becoming a champion.

Putting the song over the top is Houston's Emmy award-winning performance.

She sings, "Give me one moment in time / When I'm more than I thought I could be / When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away / And the answers are all up to me / Give me one moment in time / When I'm racing with destiny / Then in that one moment of time / I will feel / I will feel eternity."

Written by John Bettis and Albert Hammond, "One Moment in Time" was released as a single from The 1988 Summer Olympics Album: One Moment in Time and charted in 17 countries, including a top-5 position on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Bettis famously wrote "Top of the World" for the Carpenters and Hammond wrote and performed "It Never Rains in Southern California."

Whitney Elizabeth Houston was born in 1963 in Newark, N.J. Her mom was an accomplished gospel singer and her dad was an entertainment executive. She was also a first cousin of singer Dionne Warwick. At age 11, Houston started performing in the junior gospel choir at her church, and throughout her youth was inspired by some of top names in the business, including Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight and Roberta Flack. At age 20, she was signed to a record deal by Arista head Clive Davis. In 2001, she negotiated the biggest contract in music history: an eight-album deal worth $100 million.

During her career, Houston amassed 200 million record sales and 11 #1 hits, including "I Will Always Love You."

Houston died tragically in 2012 at the age of 48.

Please check out Houston's performance of "One Moment in Time" in the tribute video below. Here are the lyrics if you'd like to sing along...

"One Moment in Time"
Written by John Bettis and Albert Hammond. Performed by Whitney Houston.

Each day I live
I want to be
A day to give
The best of me
I'm only one
But not alone
My finest day
Is yet unknown

I broke my heart
Fought every gain
To taste the sweet
I face the pain
I rise and fall
Yet through it all
This much remains

I want one moment in time
When I'm more than I thought I could be
When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away
And the answers are all up to me
Give me one moment in time
When I'm racing with destiny
Then in that one moment of time
I will feel
I will feel eternity

I've lived to be
The very best
I want it all
No time for less
I've laid the plans
Now lay the chance
Here in my hands

Give me one moment in time
When I'm more than I thought I could be
When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away
And the answers are all up to me
Give me one moment in time
When I'm racing with destiny
Then in that one moment of time
I will feel
I will feel eternity

You're a winner for a lifetime
If you seize that one moment in time
Make it shine

Give me one moment in time
When I'm more than I thought I could be
When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away
And the answers are all up to me
Give me one moment in time
When I'm racing with destiny
Then in that one moment of time
I will be
I will be
I will be free
I will be
I will be free


Credits: Whitney Houston photo by Asterio Tecson (Flickr: 111) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
August 9th, 2016
The Office star Angela Kinsey and her long-time beau, Joshua Snyder, are engaged. Kinsey took to Instagram last Thursday to announce the good news and to show off a non-traditional colored gemstone engagement ring that honors her new blended family.

kinsey1

The actress revealed that the couple’s three children from previous relationships witnessed Snyder popping the question with a unique ring featuring a vibrant emerald center stone set horizontally into a simple yellow-gold band.

Kinsey posted a photo of herself and a closeup of the ring with the following caption: “The ring is an emerald because it’s all three of our kids’ birthstone. The kids made me cards and pictures and I cried. I cried that happy ugly cry. #gonnagethitched”

The sweet Instagram post also outlined how the children participated in the proposal... “We were going out to dinner and my daughter said that first she wanted to show me the fort in the backyard that she and my boyfriend’s sons had been working on. She led me outside and there was a blanket by the pool and she said I had to sit on it. His sons brought me flowers and then [Joshua] came around the corner with a ring. He had called my mom and asked for her blessing... that would have made my Dad so happy. He proposed and I said yes.”

Emerald engagement rings are an option for those who want to “go green” to express their individual style. Kinsey joins former First Lady Jackie Kennedy on the short list of luminaries who have worn emerald engagement rings.

• Kennedy’s famous engagement ring featured a 2.88-carat diamond mounted alongside a 2.84-carat emerald. During John F. Kennedy’s presidency, the ring was redesigned with more than 2 carats of round and marquise accent diamonds.

• In 2012, French film actor Olivier Martinez famously asked actress Halle Berry for her hand with a diamond and emerald engagement ring designed by Robert Mazlo. The couple split in 2015.

• In 2013, comedian and screenwriter Jason Sudeikis presented Olivia Wilde with a classic round diamond surrounded by a gorgeous emerald halo (to match her eyes). The couple is expecting their second child.

• Earlier this year, former tennis pro Ruben Torres proposed to actress Hilary Swank with a natural Colombian emerald on a platinum Art Deco-inspired setting. The ring was beautiful, but the couple split a few months later.

Kinsey is best known for her role as the uptight, religious cat-loving accountant Angela Martin in the NBC mega hit, The Office. Joshua Snyder is an actor and writer best known for his roles in Shopgirl (2005), The Glass Beads (2005) and Short Track (2008).

Kinsey was previously married to Warren Lieberstein, with whom she shares an eight-year-old daughter, Isabelle. The couple divorced in 2010.

Credits: Photos via Instagram/AngelaKinsey.
August 10th, 2016
De Beers and Canadian partner Mountain Province recently took the wraps off their Gahcho Kué diamond mine, a $1 billion project that promises to generate 4.5 million carats per year.

canadianmine1

The mining companies believe there is a great chance of finding large, fine diamonds at the mine because test samples already have yielded two gem-quality stones, weighing 24.65 carats and 12.1 carats, respectively.

canadianmine2

Situated at the edge of Kennady Lake in Canada's remote Northwest Territories, the Gahcho Kué mine sits atop a labyrinth of kimberlite pipes, which are usually surefire indicators that diamonds are nearby. The pipes are often likened to volcanic superhighways that can deliver precious diamonds from deep within the earth to the surface.

canadianmine3

Gahcho Kué's officially opening next month will mark the culmination of a 23-year odyssey that began with some basic geological sampling and built up to a $1 billion, two-year development project.

The mine will go into full commercial production by early 2017 and is expected to have a 13-year life span.

"Starting the ramp-up to production at Gahcho Kué — on time, on budget and in a challenging environment — is a remarkable achievement," De Beers Chief Executive Bruce Cleaver said in a statement.

Gahcho Kué means "place of the big rabbit" in the Dene Suline language of the region's native Chipewyan people.

De Beers and Mountain Province are 51/49 partners in the Gahcho Kué mine, and this is De Beers' third mine in Canada. The other two are located at Snap Lake (Northwest Territories) and Victor (Ontario).

De Beers described Gahcho Kué as a remote fly-in/fly-out location just 140 miles (280km) northeast of its existing Yellowknife diamond mine.

Credit: Images by De Beers Canada, GoogleMaps.com and DeBeersGroup.com.
August 11th, 2016
Back in early April, jewelry designer JS Diamonds posted this incredible 80-carat emerald-cut diamond engagement ring on its Instagram page, along with the caption, "Not your every day ring!! 80 carat emerald cut #diamond #bigrock." Over the next four months, the post accumulated 567 likes and 90 comments.

80carats1

But, then on August 6, the fine jewelry blog Gem Hunt reposted the ring on its Instagram page, and the results were astonishing.

Not only did the post earn 2,700 likes and 327 comments in just four days, but it also caught the attention of style writers from Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, WhoWhatWear and Brit + Co., among others.

The writers seemed to enjoy the fact that the 80-carat diamond was far larger than even the blingiest engagement rings worn by such A-listers as Kim Kardashian-West (15 carats), Ciara (12-15 carats) and Mariah Carey (35 carats).

One scribe did some quick math to extrapolate the approximate value of the 80-carat stunner. If Carey's ring was worth $7.4 million, she reasoned, the much larger ring would probably sell for more than $15 million.

In Cosmopolitan UK, readers were asked about their preference of engagement rings: "big and bling" or "understated and simple." Then the writer injected her own opinion: "Well, after seeing [this] ring, your dream scenario may just hit new, extravagant heights of sparkling, shiny beauty."

The writer concluded that although this style might not be for everyone, and that less-is-more is just as beautiful and elegant, "there's no denying that this would turn a few heads. Do you fancy yourself sparkling in it?"

At Marie Claire, the style writer asked her readers, "Would you wear it, if you could? Is this really the dream engagement ring?"

"Knowing that your carat count is higher than Mariah, Kim K and Ciara’s combined would be a pretty fun statement to throw around at parties," she wrote, "and there’s no doubt you’re going to turn heads with this, blinding all onlookers."

She conceded, however, that with a rock that big, some people would think the diamond was a "shard of cubic zirconia."

A writer at WhoWhatWear.com admitted the 80-carat diamond engagement ring was unlike any jewelry she's ever seen.

"We came across the hugest diamond engagement ring we've seen in a long time. Scratch that—it's the hugest one ever," she wrote. "The emerald-cut stone is a whopping 80 carats! We can only imagine what it feels like to put a ring like that on your finger. It's nearly half the size of the model's hand and is probably pretty heavy. In any case, it's stunningly beautiful."

And Brit + Co. summed it up perfectly, when a style writer concluded, "Just when you thought you couldn’t possibly be shocked by the size of a diamond after seeing examples like Ciara’s jaw-droppingly giant engagement ring and double-band diamond sparkler wedding ring, BAM, here’s an 80-carat engagement ring to totally blow your mind. That’s right, 80-whopping-carats of stunning diamond beauty that is truly beyond spectacular."

Credit: Instagram.com/jsdiamonds.
August 12th, 2016
Hey, it's Music Friday when we bring you fabulous songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, a cowboy learns a valuable life lesson in Kenny Rogers' 1991 hit, "If You Want to Find Love."

kenny1

Co-written by Rogers, Skip Ewing and Max D. Barnes, the song uses multiple jewelry and precious metal references to tell the story of two strangers who meet in a bar. The man has a cheating heart, but the woman sets him straight.

She reacts to the cowboy's advances with the following advice: "If you wanna find gold / Go looking in the mountains / If you wanna find silver / Go digging in stones / If you wanna find heaven / Go reading in the Bible / If you wanna find love / Go looking at home."

Later in the song, the woman focuses on the cowboy's wedding band. Rogers sings, "She touched the gold ring on his finger / And held it to the jukebox light / And she said, 'Stranger, think what you're losing / If you leave here with me tonight."

"If You Want to Find Love" was released as the first single from Back Home Again, the county music superstar's 24th studio album. The single reached #11 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.

Born in Houston in 1938, Kenneth Ray "Kenny" Rogers is one of the most successful country artists of all time. He has charted more than 120 singles and topped the country and pop album charts for more than 200 individual weeks. In all, he has sold more than 120 million records worldwide and, amazingly, charted a record within each of the last seven decades.

The soon-to-be 78-year-old (his birthday is August 21) announced in 2015 that he would be retiring from show business after a final tour, which he is calling "The Gambler’s Last Deal.” Shows will run through April of 2017.

Please check out the video of Rogers' live performance of "If You Want To Find Love." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"If You Want To Find Love"
Written by Skip Ewing, Max D. Barnes and Kenny Rogers. Performed by Kenny Rogers.

He was sitting on a bar stool
A picture from a cheating song
She'd been standing by the jukebox
Dropping quarters all night long.

He said, tell me: are you lonely?
Is there some place we can go?
She said: cowboy, you know I'm lonely
But there's something you should know:

If you wanna find gold
Go looking in the mountains
If you wanna find silver
Go digging in stones
If you wanna find heaven
Go reading in the Bible
If you wanna find love
Go looking at home.

She touched the gold ring on his finger
And held it to the jukebox light
And she said. Stranger, think what you're losing
If you leave here with me tonight.

So he pulled her body closer
She felt feelings she'd never known
And he said: thank you, for the lesson
And if you need me I'll be at home.

If you wanna find gold
Go looking in the mountains
If you wanna find silver
Go digging in stones
If you wanna find heaven
Go reading in the Bible
If you wanna find love
Go looking at home.

If you wanna find gold
Go looking in the mountains
If you wanna find silver
Go digging in stones
If you wanna find heaven
Go reading in the Bible
If you wanna find love
Go looking at home.

If you wanna find love
Go looking at home.


Credit: Kenny Rogers by Eva Rinaldi [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
August 15th, 2016
If you've been mesmerized by the swimming feats of Olympic legend Michael Phelps, you may be equally impressed by his taste in bridal jewelry. The engagement ring you see here was presented by Phelps to former Miss California Nicole Johnson when he proposed to her in February of 2015.

phelps1

Exactly a year later, Johnson posted a closeup of the ring and offered a peek into the symbolism of the large oval-cut diamond center stone and what seem to be shield-shaped side stones.

phelps4

She wrote: "[The] center is a pool representing our pool of love and each side stone is shaped like rain drops that continue to fill our pool. Thank you @intagemsanddiamonds for helping @m_phelps00 create the most beautiful ring I've ever seen. #imnotbiased #ringselfie #rings #engaged #soontobemrs"

Her February post was well received by her 303,000 followers as it generated 15,400 likes and 1,081 comments.

Interestingly, Johnson knows a lot about fine jewelry and is more than comfortable behind a loupe. She earned an Accredited Jewelry Professional designation through the Gemological Institute of America in 2011 and worked as an assistant marketing manager and sales associate for Los Angeles-based INTA Gems & Diamonds. Among her accomplishments at the firm was assisting in the design and development of the official crown for the Miss California Teen USA pageant. (Note: GIA's AJP designation has been renamed from Accredited Jewelry Professional to Applied Jewelry Professional.)

phelps3

While Phelps became the biggest story of the Rio Olympic Games, NBC's television cameras repeatedly cut away to emotional shots of the swimmer's supportive fiancée and their new baby, Boomer Robert Phelps, who was born on May 5th.

Phelps entered the Rio Games as the most decorated Olympian in history, with 22 medals, including 18 golds. As a 31-year-old, he added five golds and a silver during eight grueling days of competition — a competition that he says will be his last. He won his 23rd, and final, Olympic gold medal Saturday night by swimming his best stroke, the butterfly, in the 4x100 medley.

phelps2

Phelps and Johnson met at the ESPY Awards in 2007 and have dated since 2009. They announced their engagement in February of 2015 and their wedding is scheduled for the end of this year.

Credits: Images via Instagram/nicole.m.johnson.
August 16th, 2016
After completing her near-flawless floor routine for which she earned a 15.433, U.S. gymnastics team captain Aly Raisman burst into tears when she realized she had edged out Russia's Aliya Mustafina for the Olympic silver medal in the women's all-around competition.

raisman3

As NBC's cameras zoomed in on the thrilling and emotional moment in Rio, we noticed that Raisman was wearing a very familiar pair of red, white and blue stud earrings — the lucky earrings she wore four years earlier at the London Games.

raisman1

The Newton, Mass., native said at the time that the earrings were her good luck charms and that she had rarely taken them off. Raisman wore them when she qualified for her all-around final, during pre-Olympic interviews and even during her Sports Illustrated cover shoot.



Designed by her hometown jeweler, Adamas Fine Jewelry, the simple earring feature round rubies and sapphires surrounding a larger round diamond.

“I designed the white-gold earrings in a shape of a starburst with red, white and blue stones,” Adamas co-owner Anto Aboyan told JCK magazine in 2012. “Aly is representing the U.S., so it was a fitting design and color scheme.”

“I love the patriotism look,” Raisman told Boston’s Channel 7 News.

The jeweler had gifted the earrings to Raisman without knowing whether the world-class gymnast would be allowed to wear them during the Olympic competitions.

Officially, the Olympic Committee has no formal rules about the subject. Instead, the governing body of each sport sets its own rules. Gymnasts may wear earrings as long as they are simple studs (one in each ear).

With more than 31 million viewers glued to their TVs on Thursday night as the 22-year-old Raisman and 19-year-old dynamo Simone Biles scored a silver/gold exacta for the U.S. in the women's all-around competition, we're wondering how many people watching at home were secretly coveting their own pair of patriotic starburst earrings.

Credits: Aly Raisman screen captures via YouTube.com. Earring studs photo by Adamas Fine Jewelry. Aly Raisman by Agência Brasil Fotografias [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
August 17th, 2016
When the U.S. women's Olympic gymnastics team overpowered its competition to defend the gold medal in the team all-around competition at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio the athletes were certainly dressed for the success. Their patriotic leotards radiated with 4,000 white and red Swarovski crystals.



Teammates Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian beamed with confidence, thanks to GK Elite, the official outfitter of the U.S. national team.



Kelly McKeown, executive vice president at GK Elite, told USA Today how her company designed the leotards to deliver the maximum impact for a world stage. GK worked with U.S. Olympics gymnastics coach Martha Koroly to make sure they were creating a "wow" moment for the athletes.



"Marta has said it many times: 'It has to be like a prom dress.' She wants them to walk out and look regal, and unique and exquisite and dynamic. She’s not interested in having something very plain. She wants it to be their day out there."

Each athlete was outfitted with 12 practice leotards at $60 to $200 each, and eight competition leotards priced from $700 to $1,200, depending on the number of crystals used in the design. A U.S. female gymnast's Olympic wardrobe can cost upward of $12,000.

"They prepared their whole lives to be out there, in the biggest arena in the entire world," McKeown said. "You have to feel beautiful. It feeds into how you feel when you walk out there. It's a combination of morale boost and confidence and everything they are trying to achieve."

The stunning leotards seemed to have a light source of their own. Joked McKeown, "People keep asking me, 'So where do you hide the battery packs? Because it looks like they are glowing.' I laugh because it’s all the fastening of the crystal."

In Olympics past, the task of affixing crystals to a leotard was an expensive, manual task. The leotard worn by American Nastia Liukin in Beijing eight years ago, for example, featured 184 crystals that were mostly hand-placed.

Crystal-application technology has come a long way since then, McKeown reported. GK Elite now has specialized bejeweling equipment that can robotically place a variety of crystal colors in a infinite range of designs.

Credit: Image by Agência Brasil Fotografias [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
August 18th, 2016
Fifteen hundred years ago in Datong City, China, there lived an aristocrat named Farong. The wife of Magistrate Cui Zhen, Farong owned an elaborate pair of gold earrings that demonstrated meticulous craftsmanship and amazing technical prowess.

farong2

The earrings were beautiful from every angle. From one view, one could see the likenesses of a human figure flanked by dragons.

The detailing was extraordinary. The human figure on the earrings had curly hair, deep-set eyes and a high nose. The character wore a pendant with a sequin-bead pattern on the neck and had inverted lotus flowers carved under its shoulders.

farong4

From the side, admirers would marvel at the round and teardrop-shaped adornments inlaid with multicolored gemstones. Delicate gold chains hanging from cabochon-cut amethysts dangled below, and one could imaging how they would have draped down the sides of Farong's face.

Also among her prized possessions was an elaborate necklace made from 5,000 pearls, gold pieces, crystals and colored glass beads.

farong3

A team of Chinese archaeologists with the Datong Municipal Institute of Archaeology unearthed Farong's tomb when they were surveying the area before a construction project. Although her skeleton was badly decomposed, her exquisite jewelry — which had been buried with her — remained in near-pristine condition. Farong's story was originally reported in the Chinese journal Wenwu and translated into English in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics.

farong1

The necklace consisted of 10 large and small gold beads, nine flat gold pieces, two crystals, 42 natural pearls and more than 4,800 colorful glass beads. The archaeologists explained that the small beads were "the size of millet grains, some black and some green, and all are [flattened], each with a perforation in the middle."

Although the thread on which the 5,000 beads were strung had disintegrated long ago, the beads remained in their original positions, making the reconstruction of the piece much easier for the archaeologists.

Farong's epitaph was discovered at the tomb's entrance. Carved into a stone tablet was the phrase: "Han Farong, the wife of Magistrate Cui Zhen." Han is her surname. (In China, the surname was traditionally written first and the given name second, according to Live Science.)

Farong lived in the capital of Datong City, about 215 miles west of Beijing, during the latter part of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534). Her age at death was unknown, but the story of her fine jewelry may live on forever.

Credits: Photos courtesy of Chinese Cultural Relics.
August 19th, 2016
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great throwback songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. In today's installment, we time travel to Hollywood's Soul Train sound stage, where Freda Payne is singing her biggest hit, "Band of Gold."

payne1

The song is about a young couple that rushes into marriage only to find out on their honeymoon that they are incompatible. He takes off, and she remains in a darkened room, dreaming of what could have been.

Although the woman yearns for her estranged husband to return to her, deep in her heart she knows that all that remains of the relationship is the ring on her finger and the memories of their time together.

She sings, "Now that you're gone / All that's left is a band of gold / All that's left of the dreams I hold / Is a band of gold / And the memories of what love could be / If you were still here with me."

Released in April 1970, the song became a instant hit with worldwide sales of more than two million records. "Band of Gold" ascended to #3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and was #1 in the U.K. for six consecutive weeks. It was Payne's first gold record and remains her signature song 46 years later.

Interestingly, Payne originally refused to record the song when it was offered to her by co-writer Ron Dunbar. She didn't like the lyrics and didn't like the idea of a relationship falling apart during a honeymoon.

Dunbar encouraged Payne to perform the song, despite her reluctance. He said, "Don't worry. You don't have to like [the lyrics]. Just learn [them]."

Payne agreed, and the rest is history. In 2004, "Band of Gold" was voted #391 in Rolling Stone magazine's listing of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Payne told authors Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh that she had no idea that "Band of Gold" would be such a big hit.

Born in Detroit in 1942, Freda Charcilia Payne grew up listening to jazz singers, such as Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. As a teenager, she attended the Detroit Institute of Musical Arts and her first professional jobs were singing radio commercial jingles. In 1963, she moved to New York City and worked with many different entertainers, including Quincy Jones and Pearl Bailey. She release her first album in 1964, but didn't hit it big until she returned to Detroit in 1969 and signed with the record label Invictus.

By 1970, Payne was a household name, thanks to the success of "Band of Gold."

Please check out the video of Payne's Soul Train performance of today's featured song. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Band of Gold"
Written by Ronald Dunbar and Edythe Wayne. Performed by Freda Payne.

Now that you're gone,
All that's left is a band of gold
All that's left of the dreams I hold
Is a band of gold
And the memories of what love could be
If you were still here with me

You took me from the shelter of my mother
I had never known or loved any other
We kissed after taking vows
But that night on our honeymoon,
We stayed in separate rooms

I wait in the darkness of my lonely room
Filled with sadness, filled with gloom
Hoping soon
That you'll walk back through that door
And love me like you tried before

Since you've been gone,
All that's left is a band of gold
All that's left of the dreams I hold
Is a band of gold
And the dream of what love could be
If you were still here with me

Ohhh

Don't you know that I wait
In the darkness of my lonely room
Filled with sadness, filled with gloom
Hoping soon
That you'll walk back through that door
And love me like you tried before

Since you've been gone,
All that's left is a band of gold
All that's left of the dreams I hold
Is a band of gold
And the dream of what love could be
If you were still here with me

Since you've been gone,
All that's left is a band of gold
All that's left of the dreams I hold
Is a band of gold
And the dream of what love could be
If you were still here with me


Credit: By CBS Television [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
August 22nd, 2016
It's barely 4mm in width and weighs a scant .005 ounces, but this gold bead from a prehistoric settlement in southern Bulgaria may be the world's oldest gold artifact.

oldestgold6

Archaeologists made the discovery at a site just outside the modern town of Pazardzhik. They dated the gold bead to some time between 4,500 to 4,600 BC, making it about 200 years older than the gold artifacts found in Bulgaria's Black Sea city of Varna back in 1972.

oldestgold3

The gold found at the Varna Necropolis was previously believed to be the oldest evidence of gold metallurgy. The burial site at Varna is considered one of the key archaeological sites in world prehistory and included a total of 294 graves containing 3,000 gold artifacts.

oldestgold1

Despite that massive discovery, the archaeologists at Pazardzhik believe their tiny bead is historic.

"I have no doubt that it is older than the Varna gold," Yavor Boyadzhiev, associate professor at the Bulgarian Academy of Science, told Reuters. "It's a really important discovery. It is a tiny piece of gold but big enough to find its place in history."

The tiny gold bead looks a lot like the tube-shaped, short-cut pasta preschoolers might use to string a Mother's Day necklace.

oldestgold2

The bead was found in the remains of a small house. Among the other artifacts found at the site were 150 ceramic birds, an indication that they may have been worshipped by the locals.

oldestgold5

Boyadzhiev told Reuters that he believes the bead was fabricated at the site, which was the first "urban" settlement in Europe. He said the townspeople were highly cultured and had migrated there from Anatolia (in today's Turkey) around 6,000 BC. The settlement covered 25 to 30 acres and was protected by a nine-foot-tall fortress wall.

The professor noted that there is evidence that the settlement was destroyed in 4,100 BC by a rival tribe that invaded from the north.

Once the bead is thoroughly studied, it will be handed over to the historical museum in Pazardzhik for public exhibition.

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/PBS News Hour. Varna tomb image by Yelkrokoyade [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Map by Google Maps.
August 23rd, 2016
Country singer Miranda Lambert stunned the crowd at New Jersey's MetLife Stadium on Saturday when she interrupted her set to flash a pink ring and announce her engagement — to a six-year-old superfan.

mirandaengaged1

"I have to tell you something really important," she said. "I got engaged today."

Instantly, the crowd erupted in applause.

But then she added a few critical facts: "There's a little 6-year-old boy somewhere here named Sebastian. He asked me to marry him and I said, 'Yes, in 25 years.'"

Then, she held the ring up near her face and said, "Isn't this beautiful?"

"When he came to my meet and greet, he got down on one knee and he was such a gentleman," she continued. "It may be my favorite proposal ever… 'Cause, girls, we deserve that. We deserve that. So, that being said, thank you, Sebastian."

mirandaengaged3

The pint-sized Romeo reportedly bought the ring with his own money back in December and waited for Saturday's concert date to deliver his proposal.

A stroke of good luck allowed Sebastian to attend a meet-and-greet before the show even though he didn't have the proper credentials to get in.

Sarah Goddard, who did possess the required meet-and-greet sticker, was approached by the adorable suitor before the concert. Sebastian asked Goddard if she would propose to Lambert on his behalf.

Goddard had a better plan.

mirandaengaged2

"I told his mom he could come in with me 'as my son' so he could propose to Miranda himself," Goddard told People.

The 32-year-old Grammy winner, who split with Blake Shelton in 2015 and has been dating Anderson East since December, was absolutely floored by the character of the young man.

The next day, Lambert reported the big news to her 2.8 million followers on Instagram and included a collage of two photos accompanied by this caption: "I said YES! But he has to wait 25 years. This sweet boy Sebastian is a little gentleman. #pinkring #proposal #mademyday #jersey #spreadthelovetour"

The post already has generated 176,000 likes and 1,915 comments, such as this one from @mamassoul: "This is the sweetest EVER... You are an amazing woman @mirandalambert and I am sure little Sebastian had his heart FULL of every emotion possible!!! Way to go girl!!!

Credit: Instagram/Miranda Lambert.
August 24th, 2016
Eighty-three pieces of fine jewelry worn by fashionable First Lady Nancy Reagan are set to hit the auction block at Christie's New York in September. A live auction will take place on September 21 and 22, and an online auction will run from September 19-28.

reagan1

Among the items from The Private Collection of President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan are necklaces, earrings, bracelets, pendants and brooches with an estimated value of $280,000. Experts believe the jewelry could easily surpass the auction house's high estimates because the pre-sale prices reflect their current market value, while the provenance of the items was largely left off the table.

The most expensive piece in the First Lady's collection is a diamond-and-gold lion pendant/brooch necklace designed by Van Cleef & Arpels. It was one of Reagan's favorite pieces and she was photographed wearing it several times, most famously during her 1988 state visit to the U.K. The necklace, which can be broken down into four bracelets, was described as "iconic" and "so wearable" by Tom Burstein, senior vice president, jewelry department at Christie's, during an interview with CNN. The piece is estimated to sell for $30,000 to $50,000.

reagan7

The companion diamond-and-gold ear clips should fetch $15,000 to $20,000.

reagan2

A close look at this beautiful portrait of Nancy Reagan with the U.S. Capitol in the background reveals her cultured pearl-and-diamond ear clips, the same items that will be offered for sale at Christie's.

reagan3

Reagan, who passed away in March at the age of 94, was photographed wearing these during a 1982 reception at the Capitol Mall marking the first-ever edition of USA Today. Christie's estimated the sale price to range from $1,000 to $1,500.

reagan4

The most patriotic piece in the group is a red, white and blue ring by Bulgari. Featuring diamonds, sapphires and rubies, the octagonal-shaped ring has an American flag motif. The estimate selling price is $5,000 to $8,000. The First Lady appropriately wore this ring on July 4, 1986, at an event supporting the restoration of the Statue of Liberty.

"It's a beautiful ring that is drawing the most attention so far," Burstein told CNN. "It will be the highlight."

reagan6

Among the most classically stylish items in Reagan's collection is a gold-and-diamond bangle bracelet, also by Bulgari. The textured 18-karat gold bracelet is intersected by diagonal platinum and circular-cut diamond rows. The First Lady wore this often at state dinners. The estimate selling price is being set at $5,000 to $7,000.

In addition to fine jewelry, Christie's will be auctioning more than 600 items, including furniture, decorative works of art, books, memorabilia, paintings, drawings and prints from President and Mrs. Reagan’s home in Los Angeles. In total, the auction is expected to generate more than $2 million.

Proceeds from the auction will benefit The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute.

Credits: Jewelry images by Christie's. President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan images via The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.
August 25th, 2016
Unaware of its multi-million-dollar value, a Filipino fisherman kept a 75-pound natural pearl under his bed as a good luck charm — for 10 years. Every time he would head out to sea, he would touch the pearl to ensure his safety and good fortune.

giantpearl2.1

The fisherman had found the pearl by chance when his boat's anchor got caught up on a giant clam. When the fisherman dove down to the ocean floor to release the snag, he discovered in the clam what many experts believe is the world's largest natural pearl.

Measuring 12 inches wide and 26 inches long, the scallop-shaped pearl looks like it grew to fill the void inside of the shell. If found to be authentic, the pearl — discovered near Puerto Princesa City, about 500 miles southwest of the capital city of Manila — could be worth in excess of $100 million. The fisherman had been completely unaware of his potential windfall.

giantpearl4.1

The fisherman recently entrusted the amazing pearl to Aileen Cynthia Maggay-Amurao, a relative who works for the Puerto Princesa tourism office. He asked her to take custody of the unwieldy good luck charm because he was about to move outside the province and couldn't take it with him.

giantpearl1.1

Recognizing the pearl's potential star power, she asked the fisherman if he would approve of the pearl going on display as the city's newest tourist attraction. He agreed, and now the "Pearl of Puerto" is housed in the Atrium of the New Green City Hall.

Maggay-Amurao is encouraging gemologists to visit the city to study the pearl and make a determination of its authenticity.

giantpearl3.1

On Facebook, Maggay-Amurao posted a few photos of the giant pearl balanced on a large scale. Her caption read, “The Puerto Princesa City would likely earn another prestigious title and a record breaker for having the world’s biggest natural giant pearl from a giant clam (34 kilograms) after being certified for its authenticity. Need help from gemologists!"

A natural pearl forms when an irritant, such as a grain of sand, slips in between the mollusk’s shell and its mantle tissue. To protect itself from the irritant, the mollusk secretes layer upon layer of nacre, which is an iridescent calcium carbonate material that eventually coats the invader and produces a pearl.

Giant clams can live for over 100 years and grow to be about four feet wide and weigh more than 500 pounds.

The $100 million valuation is based on another giant pearl that was found in the same area back in 1939. Called the Pearl of Lao Tzu, the previous record-holder weighed 14.1 pounds and was valued at $93 million by a Colorado gemologist in 2003. The Pearl of Puerto weighs more than five times as much as the Pearl of Lao Tzu and, for the record, a 75-pound pearl is equivalent to 170,000 carats.

Although the fisherman has allowed the city to display his extraordinary find, he retains his ownership status. Only time will tell what kind of payday the sale of the pearl may yield.

Credits: Images via Facebook.com/City.Government.of.Puerto.Princesa; Facebook/Aileen Cynthia Maggay-Amurao; GoogleMaps.com.
August 26th, 2016
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you new tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Parade of Lights' lead vocalist Ryan Daly urges us to get "golden" in the 2014 release of the same name.

paradeoflights1

The Los Angeles-based electronic rock band uses the word "golden" as a metaphor for youthful spirit in a dance anthem that manages to harness the group's frenetic energy and deliver a message of hope.

In the powerful hook, Daly sings, "Everybody get golden / Everybody get golden / And put your hands up to the sky / Everybody get golden / Just for tonight / Everybody get golden / So we can go until we shine."

paradeoflights2

"Golden" was originally released as the title track of the band's 2014 EP. It then reappeared as the fourth track on the band's 2015 LP titled Feeling Electric. The EP charted at #44 on the Billboard US Top Heatseekers Albums list, and the LP ascended to #24 on the Billboard US Dance Electronic Albums list.

Writers love to use the term "golden" to describe the exuberance of youth. We've discussed this phenomenon while reviewing a number of popular songs for this column, including Sabrina Carpenter’s “We’ll Be the Stars,” Stevie Wonder's "Stay Gold," and First Aid Kit's “Stay Gold.” Each of those songs was likely inspired by Robert Frost’s eight-line poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay.”

In that poem, which was originally published in 1923, Frost writes about striving to hold onto the wondrous, pure, innocent and exciting “goldenness” of youth.

His poem begins with these two lines, “Nature’s first green is gold / Her hardest hue to hold,” and ends with these, “So dawn goes down to day / Nothing gold can stay.”

Formed in 2010, Parade of Lights features the talents of Ryan Daly (lead vocals/guitarist), Anthony Improgo (drummer), Randy Schulte (bassist) and Michelle Ashley (keyboardist). The group was signed by Astralwerks in 2014 and released its first LP a year later.

The Parade of Lights official website defines the group's mission: "Making music is a matter of turning their shared obsessions with distortion-drenched shoegaze, heady synth-pop and epic stadium rock into a hook-heavy, yet deeply inventive, alt-electro hybrid."

Please check out the video of the group's exciting live performance of "Golden." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Golden"
Written and performed by Parade of Lights.

We’re gonna shake the ground tonight
I lose myself under the lights, oh
I put my hands up to the sky
I feel it come alive

Everybody get golden
Everybody get golden
And put your hands up to the sky
Everybody get golden
Just for tonight
Everybody get golden
So we can go until we shine

Now it’s as good as it can get
Silver hills and silhouettes, oh
You press your hands against my chest

This isn’t over yet

Everybody get golden
Everybody get golden
And put your hands up to the sky
Everybody get golden
Just for tonight
Everybody get golden
So we can go until we shine

Just for tonight
And put your hands up to the sky
Just for tonight
So we can go until we shine

So we can go until we shine
I feel it come alive
So we can go until we shine
I feel it come alive
So we can go until we shine


Credit: Screen captures via YouTube.com.
August 29th, 2016
An Aussie metal-detector enthusiast was sure he had discovered a piece of rubbish — possibly an old horseshoe — when his device signaled a sizable find in Central Victoria’s storied Golden Triangle last week.

nugget1

What he pulled from the ground was a 145-ounce (4.12kg) gold nugget worth nearly $200,000.

nugget2

“I really couldn’t believe my eyes," said the amateur prospector, who wishes to remain anonymous. "This wasn’t an old piece of steel in front of me. I had just unearthed a colossal gold nugget – a once-in-a-lifetime find! I was in total disbelief as I didn’t think nuggets of this size were still around.”

The lucky Aussie named the nugget "Friday's Joy" to honor the day on which it was discovered.

Only a day earlier, the same man had found a nine-ounce, near-round gold nugget using his Minelab flagship GPZ 7000 metal detector. Based on that success, he decided to return for more.

nugget3

Back in March 2015, we reported on a massive 87-ounce gold nugget that was also discovered in Central Victoria’s Golden Triangle. Metal-detector enthusiast Mick Brown named the nugget "Fair Dinkum," an Aussie term that means “for real.” It had a precious metal value of $102,000, but eventually sold at auction for $175,000.

News of these incredible finds has sparked a mini Gold Rush in Central Victoria as weekend warriors are heading out to Victoria's historic goldfields to test their luck. The Sydney Morning Herald reported a business surge for area hotels, restaurants and hardware stores, where amateur prospectors can source their own metal detectors. The area's first Gold Rush period was in the 1850s.

"Friday’s Joy" is not the biggest gold nugget ever found in the Land Down Under. That distinction goes to "The Welcome Stranger," which was discovered near Moliagul, Victoria, in 1869. That nugget weighed a staggering 2,300 ounces (143.75 pounds) and would have a precious metal value today of more than $3 million.

After finding the nugget during a prospecting outing with some friends, the anonymous owner of "Friday's Joy" really didn't know what to do with his miraculous find.

“It’s like catching a big fish and not knowing what to do with it! Where do we put it? I washed it in water, covered it in aluminum foil and kept it in my oven on the first night,” he reportedly said.

"Friday’s Joy" is now sitting safely in a bank vault while the owner is having a replica made.

Despite the huge windfall, the anonymous prospector has no plans of quitting his job or retiring, according to reports. Instead, he'll invest some of the proceeds in a new van so he can spend more time traveling across Australia, mixing sightseeing excursions and gold prospecting along the way.

Credits: Friday's Joy images courtesy of Minelab. Screen capture of Fair Dinkum via 9NEWS, Australia.
August 30th, 2016
Polish Olympian Piotr Malachowski, who won a silver medal in the discus throw at the 2016 Rio Games, put his cherished medal up for auction last week to help pay for the treatment of a three-year-old boy with a rare form of eye cancer.

silvermedal1

The boy, Olek Szymanski, has a condition called retinoblastoma, a malignant cancer that mostly affects children. Treatment of the cancer is very complex and demands the expertise of surgeons in New York City.

Malachowski hoped to raise $84,000, which is two-thirds of the $126,000 cost of the surgery. A Polish foundation called Siepomaga had pledged to pay one-third of the fee.

silvermedal2

On his Facebook page Malachowski wrote, "In Rio, I fought for gold. Today I appeal to everyone. Let’s fight together for something that is even more precious — the health of this fantastic boy.”

On Tuesday of last week, with the bidding at $19,000, Malachowski announced that he was closing the eBay auction.

Malachowski's selfless efforts to assist the little boy had caught the attention of Polish billionaire siblings Dominika and Sebastian Kulczyk, who agreed to buy the silver medal and cover the costs of young Olek's treatment.

"We were able to show that together we can do wonders," the 33-year-old Malachowski wrote. "My silver medal today is worth a lot more than a week ago. It is worth the life and health of a small Olek. It is our great shared success."

According to The Washington Post, Malachowski learned of the child’s illness from the boy’s mother, who wrote to him asking for his help.

silvermedal3

The giant man with a heart of gold is a two-time Olympic medalist. In 2008, he won a silver medal in the discus event at the Beijing Games.

Credits: Images via Facebook/Piotr Małachowski.
August 31st, 2016
Diamantaires from the four corners of the earth have converged on the picturesque Pacific port city of Vladivostok, Russia, to get a chance to bid on ALROSA's "special size" rough diamonds, the largest of which tips the scales at 401.97 carats.

alrosa1

Bidders are vying for 19 diamond lots boasting a total weight of 1,098 carats. What all the rough diamonds have in common is a weight of 10 carats or more and an origin at one of ALROSA's diamond mines. The Russian diamond company currently operates 11 kimberlite pipes and 16 alluvial deposits, producing 38.3 million carats of rough diamonds annually.

alrosa4

Running concurrently with the International Auction of Special Size Rough Diamonds will be ALROSA's Polished Diamond Tender. The most coveted of the 28 diamonds up for sale is a 40.25-carat round. Eighteen of the 28 gems are fancy colored and five polished diamonds weigh more than 5 carats.

alrosa3

A total of 30 companies from the U.S., Hong Kong, Israel, India, Belgium and Russia were handpicked to attend ALROSA's diamond events in Vladivostok. It is the first time ALROSA has held its auctions in this city, which overlooks Golden Horn Bay, near the borders of China and North Korea.

Diamonds will be on display through September 2, with the Rough and Polished auctions taking place on September 3.

Credits: Diamond images courtesy of ALROSA. Map via GoogleMaps.com.