Duke's Jewelers Blog

Articles in January 2019

January 2nd, 2019
Imagine Shiloah Avery's surprise when she unpacked the box to her new Instant Pot on Christmas morning only to find a gold and diamond wedding ring inside. While the multi-cooker is famous for doing so many things — it combines an electric pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, browning pan and warming pot in one handy unit — producing fine jewelry is not one of them.



"I pulled the bottom packaging material out and there was a wedding ring in the bottom of it. And it wasn’t just like an engagement ring, it was an actual wedding band and ring," the Port Orchard, Wash., resident told Q13 Fox. "...You could tell it'd been someone's ring for a long time."

Avery was determined to find the rightful owner. First, she contacted the company that makes the Instant Pot and put in a service ticket. But, feeling the need to be even more proactive, Avery posted a note about the ring to the Port Orchard Facebook group.



"I could only imagine if that was me, and it was sad," Avery said. "It's somebody's possession, especially being a wedding ring, so I wanted to make sure it got back to the owner."

A few months earlier, Joann Johnson had been shopping for an Instant Pot at the Walmart Supercenter in Port Orchard. Only the large version was on display, so Johnson opened a box containing a smaller one to get a look at the product. Sometime during that maneuver, the wedding ring slipped off her finger. It was only a few days short of her 20th wedding anniversary.

When she returned home and realized the ring was gone, Johnson also turned to the Port Orchard Facebook group for help, asking anybody who might encounter a diamond band at Walmart to please turn it in to customer service.



"Didn’t get any responses other than 'Gee, hope you find it,'" Johnson told Q13 Fox.

Avery's post did much better. Within 12 hours, the rightful owner had come forward.

Johnson said "it was like an electrical shock going through me" when she saw Avery's Facebook photo of an Instant Pot along with the caption, "I found a ring."

Johnson contacted Avery and proved the ring was hers by drawing a picture of it.



The two women met for the first time with the Q13 Fox cameras rolling. Johnson told the news team that Avery is her "Christmas angel" and that the return of her ring is truly a Christmas miracle.



“It’s been fun making a new friend,” Avery told Q13 Fox. “And it’s been really nice having a good ending to it.”

Credits: Screen captures via q13fox.com.
January 3rd, 2019
First discovered in Russia’s Ural Mountains in 1851, the vivid green demantoid garnet is the rarest and most valuable variety of January's birthstone.



Demantoid is derived from the Dutch word for diamond, "demant." The stone owes its impressive diamond-like brilliance to two main factors: A high refractive index and a high dispersion (its ability to separate light into the spectrum of colors). Demantoid, in fact, boasts the highest dispersion rating of all gemstones, including diamond.

The green gem was a favorite of designer Carl Fabergé, who incorporated demantoid into the famous jeweled eggs and other fanciful jewelry he created for the Russian Imperial family. Russian mining of demantoid garnet was suspended after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, but finally resumed in the 1970s.

Fine-quality demantoid garnets are rarely found in sizes larger than 2 carats, a fact that makes the examples on this page all the more impressive.

The cushion-cut demantoid, above, is a world-class gemstone and one of the largest and finest faceted demantoids known. The 11.24-carat gem was mined in Russia in the late 1990s and exhibits the highly prized vivid intense emerald-green color. The gem joined the Smithsonian Gem and Mineral Collection in 2011.

The 6.96-carat oval demantoid, below, is from the Green Dragon Mine in Namibia and exhibits a medium dark yellowish-green color. It was purchased on behalf of the Smithsonian in 2014 with funds from the Tiffany & Co. Foundation.



Interestingly, George F. Kunz, who was Tiffany and Co.'s vice president of gemology from 1879 until his death in 1932, was a big fan of demantoid garnets and reportedly purchased all the rough material he could get his hands on.

Demantoid gems are usually high in clarity but may contain distinctive "horsetail" inclusions that seem to spray out from the center of the stone. A beautiful, well-formed inclusion can increase the value of the gemstone considerably, according to the International Color Stone Association.

Demantoid garnet is currently mined in Iran, Namibia, Pakistan, Italy, Madagascar and Canada, but the Russian demantoid continues to set the standard by which all the others are judged.

African-origin demantoid tends to be yellowish-green, olive green or brownish, due to higher concentrations of iron. Russian material, on the other hand, owes its color to chromium and tends to be vivid green.

Other garnet varieties seen in jewelry include pyrope, almandine, andradite, grossularite, hessonite, rhodolite, tsavorite, spessartine and uvarovite.

Credits: Photo of 11.24-carat demantoid garnet by Harold and Erica Van Pelt/Smithsonian. Photo of 6.96-carat demantoid garnet by Greg Polley/Smithsonian.
January 4th, 2019
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome new songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, pop star Kelly Clarkson sings about rejuvenating a listless relationship in her 2017 gospel-inspired release, "Heat."



In the song, Clarkson assumes the role of a woman whose marriage is suffering because the passion seems to be gone. Although she still loves her husband, she hammers home the sobering message that the status quo isn't good enough...

She sings, "Baby I deserve it, don't let me down / You used to make me feel like a diamond / Now it don't even seem like you're tryin' / So give me one good reason that I should need you."

In real life, Clarkson and her husband/manager Brandson Blackstock have made a concerted effort to remain fully devoted to each other — no matter what obstacles get in the way.

"[My husband and I] put our kids down and it's like date night every night," she told Entertainment Weekly. "We don't want to be one of those relationships where the passion is gone because you're so tired."

Described by music critic Michael Cragg of The Observer as "pure unadulterated joy," "Heat" was released as the third single from Clarkson's eighth studio album, Meaning of Life. The song peaked at #17 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, while the album hit #2 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and #4 on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart.

Clarkson, who is currently a coach on The Voice, performed "Heat" on that show in early December and on NBC's New Year's Eve telecast a few days ago.

Born in Ft. Worth, Texas, in 1982, Kelly Brianne Clarkson rose to fame in 2002 after winning the inaugural season of American Idol. Since then, Clarkson has sold more than 25 million albums and 45 million singles worldwide. She has earned three Grammy Awards, three MTV Video Music Awards, four American Music Awards and two Academy of Country Music Awards.

Please check out the video of Clarkson’s live performance of “Heat” as part of her "Nashville Sessions" series at the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

"Heat"
Written by Andre Davidson, Sean Davidson, Mick Schultz, Jessica Ashley Karpov and Michael Pollack. Performed by Kelly Clarkson.

I'm stumblin' through the darkness
There ain't no sign of a spark here
I'm used to feelin' that fire
You watered down that desire
I put my work in, day in, day out
Baby I deserve it, don't let me down
You used to make me feel like a diamond
Now it don't even seem like you're tryin'
So give me one good reason that I should need you

Come turn this around
(Oh, whoa, oh)
No, no, don't let us down
I need more heat from ya, baby
Make me feel weak for ya, babe
(Oh, whoa, oh)
And I feel alive
(Oh, whoa, oh)
Like my heart's in the wild
I need more heat from ya, baby
Make me feel weak for ya, babe

I'm slippin' out of your fingers
Keep coolin' down like November
I'm used to feelin' that fever
I wanna dive in you deeper
I put that work in, day in, day out
Baby I deserve it, don't let me down, no
Give me one good reason that I should need you

Come turn this around
(Oh, whoa, oh)
No, no, don't let us down
I need more heat from ya, baby
Make me feel weak for ya, babe
(Oh, whoa, oh)
And I feel alive
(Oh, whoa, oh)
Like my heart's in the wild
I need more heat from ya, baby
Make me feel weak for ya, babe

Better than that
Better than that
You know I love you
Better than that
Better than that
So come on love me
Better than that
Better than that
Oh we can do so much
Better than that
Better than that

Come turn this around
(Oh, whoa, oh)
No, no, don't let us down
I need more heat from ya, baby
Make me feel weak for ya, babe
(Oh, whoa, oh)
And I feel alive
(Oh, whoa, oh)
Like my heart's in the wild
I need more heat from ya, baby
Make me feel weak for ya, babe

Better than that
Better than that
You know I love you
Better than that
Better than that
So come on love me
Better than that
Better than that
Oh we can do so much
Better than that
Better than that

Better than that
Better than that
You know I love you
Better than that
Better than that
So come on love me
Better than that
Better than that
Oh we can do so much
Better than that
Better than that


Screen capture via YouTube.com/Kelly Clarkson.
January 7th, 2019
InStyle magazine's editor-in-chief Laura Brown raised the bar for engagement ring selfies last week when she posted to her Instagram page an impeccable close-up shot of her new Art Deco-inspired bling. The ring features a round center diamond surrounded by an unusual asymmetrical array of square and rectangular baguettes.



Comedian and writer Brandon Borror-Chappell surprised the Australian-born fashion guru with a marriage proposal while the two vacationed over the holidays with some adorable furry friends in the Land Down Under.



Brown teased the big news in an Instagram post that showed the couple embracing at the Kangaroo Sanctuary in Alice Springs, Australia. The caption read: "What can I say: someone really digs kangaroos. I love you forever, @brandogeoffrey." Prominently seen on the ring finger of her left hand is a diamond engagement ring.

In a post the next day, Brown told her 251,000 Instagram followers how the sanctuary's team played a big role in the surprise proposal. A baby kangaroo and the engagement ring starred in the post.



"And we’re already parents!" she wrote. "This is Vegemite, just rescued by Brolga and Tahnee of @thekangaroosanctuary that morning. We can’t tell you how special these guys are. Kind and gracious and full of love. And also the greatest and sneakiest wingmen for @brandogeoffrey’s proposal. Thank you!"

Bowing to numerous requests for her to post a closeup of the ring, Brown obliged with a beautifully shot selfie.

"And for those of y’all who wanted a closer look at the ring, here it is," Brown wrote on her Instagram page. "Designed by my dear and brilliant mate Stefano Canturi. He is a genius. Am beside myself. Stefano and Patricia, we love you and thank you! @canturi" She punctuated the caption with a red heart emoji.

According to the Aussie designer's Instagram page, Brown's ring is called "Stella" and reflects a style meant to appeal to "modern romantics."

Images via Instagram/laurabrown99.
January 8th, 2019
For the second time in five weeks, the New York City Police Department has rescued a diamond engagement ring from a utility grate near Times Square.



The metal grates, which were once famous for consuming spiked heels and small change, are now menacing bridal jewelry at an alarming rate.

The NYPD went as far as to send out this tongue-in-cheek public service announcement via its Twitter page: "PSA: Attention all newly engaged! Please avoid sewer grates at all cost! Thank you."

Back in early December, a British couple became international celebrities after a video of them losing their engagement ring down a utility grate in Times Square went viral.

The couple reportedly flagged down police officers on the night of the incident, but they were not able to access the ring in the darkness. The couple returned to the UK the next day without filing a police report or providing their contact information.

The NYPD was not about to give up the search, however, and detectives were back at the scene the next day, descending into the muck eight feet below the sidewalk to rescue the ring. The NYPD used its Twitter account to locate the couple, and within 24 hours they were found.

Two weeks later the couple was invited back to the U.S. to appear on the Ellen show, where they were not only reunited with their engagement ring, but also got to meet the hero detectives who found it. The show also gifted the couple $10,000 as a wedding gift.

On January 5, the Twitter account for NYPD Midtown North was buzzing with more news about an engagement ring that was rescued from a utility grate at 48th Street and 8th Avenue, just a block from Times Square. The post — which includes a photo of an oval diamond in a halo setting — gives credit for the recovery to the NYPD's Neighborhood Coordinating Officers (NCOs), Emergency Service Unit (ESU) and the Fire Department of New York City (FDNY).

In a tweet that begins with a blue diamond engagement ring emoji, the department wrote: "Ring in the new year & you won’t believe it — it fell down a sewer grate. It’s the first engagement ring we recovered in 2019. NCO’s along with ESU & FDNY were able to retrieve the ring. Sound familiar? Well this time we gave it back at the scene in lieu of the @TheEllenShow."

Unlike the British couple who reveled in their new-found fame, the woman who lost her ring at 48th Street requested to remain anonymous.

Credit: Image via Twitter.com/NYPDMTN.
January 9th, 2019
The stunning emerald ring that Michelle Yeoh wore in her starring role as Eleanor in the hit movie Crazy Rich Asians made an appearance on the Golden Globes red carpet Sunday, and E!'s Giuliana Rancic was quick to take notice. The ring had generated a buzz this past August when Yeoh revealed it was from her personal jewelry collection.



Fans of the movie know that the ring plays a pivotal role in the storyline. It's worn by Yeoh, who portrays the very stylish, but domineering, family matriarch Eleanor Young. Viewers are introduced to the ring when her son's girlfriend, Rachel (Constance Wu), admires it while the Youngs are preparing dumplings.



Eleanor, at first, disapproves of Rachel's relationship with her son, Nick (Henry Goulding), but later in the film, Nick proposes with the emerald ring, indicating that the matriarch had given her blessing.

The movie's director, Jon M. Chu, had envisioned Eleanor wearing an emerald engagement ring because the green color is strong and regal like the character.

The costume designers fashioned the jewelry to look like the engagement ring John F. Kennedy had given to Jacqueline Lee Bouvier in 1952. But when Yeoh saw that ring for the first time, she told the director that it wouldn't do.

Instead, the 56-year-old actress replaced the underwhelming prop with a ring from her own jewelry box.

Yeoh told Rancic: "This is my own ring. It was such a character in the film, so it had to be instantly recognizable. The color green is about life, prosperity... and with Eleanor, since she's so particular, I knew [this is the] ring that she would wear."

As soon as the actress received confirmation that Crazy Rich Asians had been nominated for a Golden Globe, she knew the emerald ring would be a perfect accessory to pair with her emerald-colored gown at the high-profile event, according to the LA Times.

See Rancic's full interview with Yeoh, below. The ring enters the conversation at the 1:32 mark.


Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/E! Red Carpet & Award Shows.
January 10th, 2019
The amount bridal couples spent on their engagement rings surged nearly 56% in 2018, according to Brides' American Wedding Study. The surprising climb — from $5,023 in 2017 to $7,829 in 2018 — may reflect a demand for more ornate setting styles and larger center stones.



The engagement ring stats were part of a broad-based survey that also revealed the cost of an average wedding zoomed to an all-time high of $44,105, as more and more couples sought new ways to personalize and extend their celebrations.

Brides' 2018 survey was designed to reveal key insights into the latest trends, behaviors and spending habits for weddings in America, based on responses from 850 brides-to-be or newly married women.

The Knot, which usually publishes its bridal survey at the end of February, reported in 2018 that the average spent on an engagement ring in 2017 was $5,764, down slightly from $6,163 in 2016. It will be interesting to see if The Knot's new stats will reflect startling upward movement, as well.

"Spending is way up across categories, proving that while couples are doing things their own way, they are still prioritizing celebrating their marriage," said Lisa Gooder, executive director, Brides. "More than ever, couples are savoring the whole process, from engagement to honeymoon and beyond, by celebrating with more events, trips, and professional photos or videos to capture the moments."

The Brides report emphasized these emerging trends: In 2018, 9% of couples took a wedding-moon (pre-wedding trip) together; 31% hosted multi-day wedding weekends (up from 20% in 2017); 39% had a post-reception after-party (up from 20% in 2017); and 14% of brides wore a second look for their after-party (up from 7% in 2017).

Here's how the 2018 American Wedding Study breaks down the expenditures for an average wedding:

• Catering: $12,242
• Reception: $9,764
• Engagement ring(s): $7,829
• Photography: $3,133
• Rentals: $2,920
• Rehearsal dinner: $2,775
• Flowers: $2,629
• Wedding planner fees: $2,481
• Reception music: $2,380
• Dress: $2,260
• Videography: $2,180
• Wedding ring(s): $1,890
• Post-wedding brunch: $1,503
• After-party: $1,325
• Wedding day transportation: $1,275
• Other decor: $1,183
• Day-of-wedding beauty for bride and bridal party: $944
• Invitations, announcements, thank-you cards, etc.: $917
• Ceremony: $651
• Groom's attire: $602
• Cake: $547
• Favors: $422
• Gifts to bridesmaids: $419
• Gifts to parents: $386
• Veil: $316

KEY FINDINGS
• Average age of bride: 28
• Average age of partner: 29
• Average number of bridal attendants: 5.4
• Average number of groomsmen: 5.3
• September and October are the most popular months to get married (32%).
• The majority of couples get married on Saturday (68%), followed by Friday (16%), and Sunday (9%).
• Average number of guests: 167
• 83% of brides opted for a white/off-white wedding dress (down from 92% in 2017)
• 17% of couples have a destination wedding.
• 97% of brides say their fiancé is involved in planning the wedding, and of those, 36% are very involved.
• Although 92% set a budget (vs. 90% in 2017), 45% of those who do spend more than they planned (vs. 34% in 2017).
• 87% of couples went on a honeymoon/mini-moon, up from 77% in 2017.
• More couples are taking engagement photos than ever, up to 80% from 66% in 2017.
• More couples are having a post-wedding brunch; 41% vs. 31% in 2017.
• Engagement parties are on the rise, with 38% of couples saying they had one, up from 32% in 2017.
• 28% of couples got engaged on a holiday or special occasion, up from 12% in 2017.
• December has the most engagements at 14%.

SOCIAL MEDIA
• 23% met their partner on social media, through a dating app, or an online dating site.
• 82% report using social media to find inspiration/their wedding style.
• 87% of brides report using Pinterest as an inspiration source for their wedding.
• 76% of brides report using Instagram as an inspiration source for their wedding.
• 20% of brides report using Facebook as an inspiration source for their wedding.
• 70% use social media to find and follow vendors.
• 60% follow wedding brands/products they've already purchased/booked.
• 57% search social media by hashtag to view photos of other weddings (up from 37% in 2017).
• 48% use social media to purchase items for the wedding (bridesmaids dresses, invitations, beauty products, etc.).
• 46% post photos/updates/stories throughout the planning process (up from 40% in 2017).
• 54% of brides say most of their friends learned of their engagement through social media.
• 70% create a custom hashtag for guests to use at the wedding (vs. 51% in 2017).
• 48% create a custom hashtag for their wedding-related events (i.e., bachelorette party) vs. 36% in 2017.
• 35% create a custom Snapchat geofilter for their wedding (vs. 17% in 2017).
• 9% ask guests not to post photos of their wedding on social media.

WEDDING TECH
• 94% of couples incorporate technology into their wedding planning in some way.
• 80% create a wedding website for guests.
• 67% use a wedding planning app (i.e., checklists, budget trackers).
• 53% allow guests to RSVP to wedding and/or wedding-related events via email or wedding site.
• 27% send digital invites to wedding-related events (i.e., shower, bachelorette, engagement party, etc.).
• 26% use high-tech devices for photographing their wedding (i.e., drones, GIF photo booths, GoPros, etc.).
• 10% send digital invites as save-the-dates.
• 7% have a live feed of wedding hashtag displayed at the reception (i.e., Instagram photos, tweets, etc.).
• 6% send digital invites to wedding ceremony or reception.
• 5% live-stream their ceremony for out-of-town guests.
• 4% offer charging stations for guests at their wedding.

Credit: Image by Bigstockphoto.com.
January 11th, 2019
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.
January 14th, 2019
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.
January 15th, 2019
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].
January 16th, 2019
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.
January 17th, 2019
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.
January 18th, 2019
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.