Duke's Jewelers Blog

Articles in March 2020

March 2nd, 2020
A new study from Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory reveals how — with the right amount of pressure and a modest amount of heat — a substance found in crude oil and natural gas can be transformed into pure diamond. The findings were published February 21 in the journal Science Advances.



“Starting with these building blocks, you can make diamond more quickly and easily, and you can also learn about the process in a more complete, thoughtful way than if you just mimic the high pressure and high temperature found in the part of the Earth where diamond forms naturally,” said Wendy Mao, a Stanford mineral physicist who heads the lab where the study’s experiments were performed.

The research team began with three types of powder refined from petroleum. The odorless, slightly sticky powders resemble rock salt, but with atoms arranged in the same spatial pattern of those that make up diamond crystal. Unlike diamond, which is pure carbon, the powders (called diamondoids) also contain hydrogen.

The diamondoid samples were guided into a small pressure chamber called a diamond anvil cell, which pressed the powder between two polished diamonds. With a turn of a screw, the device mimicked the intense pressure found deep within the Earth. After squeezing the diamondoid samples and blasting them with a laser, a second, cooler laser beam was used to help shape the resulting diamond. Finally, results were examined through a battery of tests and computer models, which helped to explain how the transformation had unfolded.

“A fundamental question we tried to answer is whether the structure, or number of cages, affects how diamondoids transform into diamond,” said study senior author Yu Lin, a staff scientist in the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences (SIMES) at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The three-cage diamondoid, called triamantane, was found to reorganize itself into diamond with little energy.

At 1160 degrees Fahrenheit (the temperature of red-hot lava) plus 20 gigapascals, a pressure hundreds of thousands of times greater than Earth’s atmosphere, triamantane’s carbon atoms snap into alignment and its hydrogen scatters, falling away. The transformation was both immediate and direct.

If you can make even small amounts of this pure diamond, then you can dope it in controlled ways for specific applications,” said Lin.

Throughout history, diamond has served as a powerful symbol of love, power, and beauty. Natural diamonds form hundreds of miles beneath the Earth's surface, under extreme heat and pressure that causes carbon to crystalize. Those seen above ground were likely propelled upwards through ancient volcanic eruptions.

For more than 60 years, scientists have been turning various substances into synthetic diamonds through methods involving massive amounts of energy and time. The Stanford researchers sought to find a simpler method.

“We wanted to see just a clean system, in which a single substance transforms into pure diamond — without a catalyst,” said the study’s lead author, Sulgiye Park, a postdoctoral research fellow at Stanford Earth.

According to the study, the mechanisms for this transformation will be important for scientific and industrial applications. This is because diamond’s physical properties of extreme hardness, optical transparency, chemical stability, and high thermal conductivity make it particularly valuable for medicine, industry, technology and biological sensing.

“What’s exciting about this paper is it shows a way of cheating the thermodynamics of what’s typically required for diamond formation,” said Stanford geologist Rodney Ewing, a co-author on the paper.

The minute sample size inside a diamond anvil cell makes this approach impractical for synthesizing much more than the specks of diamond that the Stanford team produced in the lab, Mao added.

“But now we know a little bit more about the keys to making pure diamonds,” she said.

Credit: Image by Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0 / CC BY-SA.
March 3rd, 2020
As the official birthstone for the month of March, aquamarine is the sea-blue variety of the mineral beryl, whose family members include the intense green emerald and the pink to orange-pink morganite.



Aquamarine can range in color from rich blue to greenish-blue, with each variation dependent on trace amounts of iron in the gemstone’s chemical composition. Interestingly, pure beryl is absolutely colorless.

The antique cushion-cut aquamarine seen above possesses the classic, coveted color of a natural aquamarine, according to the Smithsonian. Sourced in Brazil, the 65.44-carat gem was faceted by Insu Kang and gifted to the museum by David Yurman Enterprises LLC in 2015. The exquisite aquamarine is now part of the National Gem Collection in Washington, D.C.

In addition to its role as the official March birthstone, aquamarine is also the designated gemstone gift for a couple celebrating their 19th wedding anniversary.

Aquamarine is a symbol of youth, hope, health and fidelity.

Legend states that Neptune, the Roman Sea God, gifted aquamarines to the mermaids, thus bringing love to all who have owned it. In ancient times, it was believed that aquamarines kept sailors safe at sea. Medieval brides wore aquamarine to ensure happy marriages.

Beryl scores a 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs hardness scale, making it suitable for fine jewelry and everyday wear.

According to the Gemological Institute of America, the care and cleaning of aquamarine is simple. Using warm water, mild dish soap and a toothbrush, aquamarine lovers should scrub behind the birthstone where dirt can collect. Ultrasonic cleaners and steam cleaning are usually safe options as long as there are no fractures or liquid inclusions in the gem.

The largest gem-quality aquamarine ever mined weighed in at 244 pounds and was sourced from the Minas Gerais region of Brazil in 1910.

Aquamarines can be found in many countries, including Nigeria, Madagascar, Zambia, Pakistan, Myanmar, Madagascar, Vietnam, Mozambique and the U.S., but the finest-quality specimens come from Brazil.

Credit: Photo by Greg Polley / Smithsonian.
March 4th, 2020
Despite the best of intentions, many young suitors let the winter season slip away without proposing to the loves of their lives. They couldn't gather enough courage on Christmas Day (the single most popular time of the year to pop the question) and missed a wonderful opportunity on New Year's Eve. Then, Valentine's Day came along and, once again, the day passed with no glittering diamond and no pledge of eternal love.



For those needing a little more motivation, the calendar is about to deliver another fabulous reason for lovers to take a deep breath, get down on one knee and change their lives forever. Friday, March 20 is National Proposal Day.

Conceived by John Michael O’Loughlin decades ago as a perfect time for procrastinators to finally ask for their partners’ hand in marriage, National Proposal Day has slowly become an accepted part of our holiday lexicon.

O’Loughlin was motivated to push for this special day after watching his cousin wait years for a proposal that never came. He felt that a day earmarked for proposals would put a fire under some partners who have waited a bit too long to pop the question.

O’Loughlin scheduled National Proposal Day to fall on the first day of spring, which also represents the vernal equinox (the special time of the year when day and night are equal lengths across the globe). O’Loughlin reasoned that the vernal equinox symbolizes “the equal efforts of the two required to comprise the successful marriage.”

(The first day of spring generally falls on March 20, but due to 2020 being leap year, spring will arrive on March 19).

Of course, the autumnal equinox — another perfectly balanced day — carries the same symbolism as the spring version, so there is a second National Proposal Day set for the first day of fall, September 22.

National Proposal Day is promoted as a worldwide event, and O’Loughlin encourages romantic couples to meet up with like-minded friends via social media using #proposalday or #NationalProposalDay.

O’Loughlin clarified that March 20 doesn’t have to end with a proposal. Couples can use it, instead, to spark a conversation about their future together.

WeddingWire’s recently published “Newlywed Report” revealed that 8% of the year's marriage proposals occur during the month of March. We're guessing that a great portion of those will be slated for March 20.

Credit: Image by Bigstockphoto.com.
March 5th, 2020
A Missouri couple who admitted to doing things a little "backward" recently got engaged on the Ellen DeGeneres Show in front of a live studio audience and 4.2 million viewers at home.



Rachel Anderson and Dane Wobbe had been surprised on December 16, 2019, when the popular host visited their living room in St. Charles, Mo., via a video feed during the show's "12 Days of Giveaways."

Among the prizes awarded to the couple and their two children, Carter and Jaxson, was a trip to Los Angeles to see a taping of the highly rated daytime show. One of Anderson's life goals was to meet DeGeneres, who she finds inspirational.

During the episode that aired February 27, DeGeneres showed video clips of her lively December 16 encounter with Anderson and her family. Then she invited the couple on stage, where she interviewed them about how their lives have changed since they made their debut on national television.

Anderson told DeGeneres that she and her show are changing the world.

"I could never express how much I appreciate everything you do every day because you give some much light and love to people," she said, "and there is a ripple effect and you effect so many more people than you think."

Unbeknownst to Anderson, Wobbe and DeGeneres had plotted a special surprise for Anderson, a nurse who recently had to give up her job to take care of her ailing grandmother.

Here's how DeGeneres set the stage...

"So you have two adorable children. How long have you been married?" DeGeneres asked.

"Not married," said Anderson. "We do things backward a little bit, but that's totally fine."

At that moment, Wobbe stood up and reached into the front right pocket of his jeans and pulled out a diamond engagement ring.



Then he went down on one knee, looked Anderson in the eyes and said, "You're the best partner, the best mother I could possibly ask for. Would you marry me?"

"Yeah, yeah," said his stunned girlfriend.



He slipped the ring onto her left hand and she pulled him in for a kiss. Then they both stood and embraced to the cheers of the studio audience.

"I love you so much," she whispered to her new fiancé, a sweet sentiment that was picked up by a stage microphone.

Anderson asked DeGeneres to attend their wedding and the TV host seemed excited by the invitation.

She also told DeGeneres that her patients often watch the Ellen DeGeneres Show to lift their spirits.

“You are the best medicine that they can get at that time,” Anderson said.

DeGeneres told the couple how much she admired their positive attitude and willingness to help others ahead of themselves.



Anderson and Wobbe could hardly contain their excitement when a stage hand delivered an oversized gift card for $25,000, an early wedding gift courtesy of Green Dot Bank.

Check out the full segment here...


Credits: Screen captures via Youtube.com/TheEllenShow.
March 6th, 2020
Welcome to Music Friday when we often bring you throwback songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Frankie Valli makes a last-ditch attempt to save a failing relationship in his 1965 hit, "Let's Hang On!".



As the song begins, we learn that Valli's significant other is looking to "call it quits," but the falsetto-crooning frontman of The Four Seasons makes his case by pointing to the diamond ring on her finger.

He sings, "That little chip of diamond on your hand / Ain't a fortune, baby, but you know it stands (for the love) / A love to tie and bind us (such a love) / We just can't leave behind us / Baby (don't you go) / Baby (oh no no) / Baby, stay-ay."

Composed by Bob Crewe, Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell, "Let's Hang On!" was one of The Four Seasons' most memorable tunes, ascending to #3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Sixteen years later, Barry Manilow released his rendition of the song, but it only got to #32 on the Hot 100 chart.

According to music historians, the popularity of "Let's Hang On!" stems from several unique devices in the arrangement.

The first is Valli's three-line introduction: "There ain't no good in our goodbye-in' / True love takes a lot of tryin' / Oh I'm cryin'."

The next is the use of two fuzz guitars (with one musician playing high notes and the other playing low notes).

Still another is Valli's extreme falsetto, and the last is the use of backing vocals that provide counterpoint to Valli's main phrasing.

Founded in 1960, The Four Seasons included four Newark, N.J., natives: Bob Gaudio, Frankie Valli, Tommy DeVito, and Nick Massi. The origins of the group are chronicled in the long-running Broadway musical, Jersey Boys.

The Four Seasons were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and are credited with selling more than 100 million records. The 85-year-old frontman is still touring, with upcoming stops in Thousand Oaks, CA; Windsor, Ontario; Orillia, Ontario; Las Vegas, NV; Philadelphia, PA; New York, NY; Kingston, NY; and Port Chester, NY.

Trivia: Frankie Valli's real name is Frank Castelluccio. The inspiration for his stage name came from the female country singer Texas Jean Valley.

Please check out the audio track of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons singing "Let's Hang On!". The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Let's Hang On!"
Written by Bob Crewe, Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell. Performed by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.

There ain't no good in our goodbye-in'
True love takes a lot of tryin'
Oh I'm cryin'

Let's hang on to what we've got
Don't let go, girl, we've got a lot
Got a lot of love between us
Hang on, hang on, hang on to what we got
Dooh doo, dooh doo, dooh doo

You say you're gonna go and call it quits
Gonna chuck it all and break our love to bits (breaking' up)
I wish you'd never said it (breakin' up)
Oh no, we'll both regret it

That little chip of diamond on your hand
Ain't a fortune, baby, but you know it stands (for the love)
A love to tie and bind us (such a love)
We just can't leave behind us
Baby (don't you go)
Baby (oh no no)
Baby, stay-ay

Let's hang on to what we've got
Don't let go, girl, we've got a lot
Got a lot of love between us
Hang on, hang on, hang on, to what we've got
Dooh doo, dooh doo, dooh doo

There isn't anything I wouldn't do
I'd pay any price to get in good with you (patch it up)
Give me a second turnin' (patch it up)
Don't cool off while I'm burnin'

You've got me cryin' dyin' at your door
Don't shut me out, ooh let me in once more (open up)
Your arms I need to hold you (open up)
Your heart, oh girl I told you
Baby (don't you go)
Baby (oh no no)
Baby, stay

Let's hang on to what we've got, girl
Don't let go, girl, we've got a lot
Got a lot of love between us
Hang on, hang on, hang on, to what we've got
Dooh doo, dooh doo, dooh doo


Credits: Screen capture via Youtube.com.
March 10th, 2020
The Royal Canadian Mint has created an extravagant, three-dimensional diamond-shaped collectible coin adorned with an actual diamond. Crafted from three ounces of 99.99% pure silver, each 2020 $50 coin is punctuated by a 0.20-carat square-cut Forevermark© Black Label diamond sourced from Northern Ontario's Victor Mine.



With a limited production of 700, the offering has already sold out.

The unique coin is aimed at the collectors’ market and is the world’s first coin to be shaped like a multi-dimensional diamond. Designed in collaboration with Crossworks Manufacturing and Forevermark diamonds, the coin displays a matte proof finish.



The four main crown facets of the coin include the square-cut diamond, the year "2020," the word "Canada" and the face value "50 Dollars." The table facet features the likeness of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.

The coin’s patented square diamond cut is exclusive to Crossworks, a Canadian company and the top diamond manufacturer in North America.

According to the Mint's R&D team, it took more than a year to design and develop the diamond-within-a-diamond showpiece, as many challenges were overcome. Getting the right shape, size and angles was an enormous undertaking, and each step of the process underwent rigorous testing to ensure the finest quality.

“This coin is an incredible example of the capabilities of our Research and Development lab,” said Royal Canadian Mint Product manager Erica Maga. “Getting this coin right took months and months of testing!”



The premium luxury collectible is packaged in a specially designed Royal Canadian Mint-branded clamshell with a black beauty box. The mirrored bottom reflects light on the angled diamond cuts. Although the engraved face value is $50 CAD (about $37), the coin was priced at 30 times that, or $1,500 CAD ($1,117).

The Royal Canadian Mint is recognized as one of the largest and most versatile mints in the world.

Credits: Images courtesy of CNW Group/Royal Canadian Mint.
March 11th, 2020
In early February, we announced that the Aussie division of Domino's was giving away a one-of-a-kind, pizza-slice engagement ring topped with bubbly diamond “cheese” and ruby “pepperoni.” This past Friday, the lucky winner got down on one knee and proposed to her boyfriend just after he scored a goal in the waning minutes of an Adelaide soccer match.



“I went to take the kick and I turned around and saw all the boys lining up,” said Jamie Bowes. “I thought, ‘Oh, the game must be over’ but then I saw Jasmine on the field, and I thought, ‘Why is she here? What is she doing?’"

His now-fiancée Jasmine Ireland pulled off the surprise proposal with the help of Domino's, the referee, Bowes' coach and the players on both teams. With their friends and family in the stands, Ireland marched onto the field and the teams parted "like the Red Sea," according to the official Domino's account.

“When she got down on one knee, I just couldn’t believe it," Bowes said. "I was in shock! I’m still in shock. I had no idea she had been planning this with the rest of the team and my coach!”

Ireland and Bowes have been together for two years and are the parents of seven-month-old Jarvis. Inspired by Leap Day (a time when traditional roles are reversed) and International Woman’s Day (March 8), Ireland decided to take matters into her own hands.

“I was so nervous and excited," she said. "It was amazing to have all my family and friends around me, including my sister who made a special trip from Brisbane to Adelaide just to be here to watch me propose.”



Fabricated in 18-karat white and yellow gold, the ring has a value of AU$9,000, which is equivalent to about US$6,000. The design features a triangular “slice” of yellow gold pizza garnished with three pieces of ruby “pepperoni” of varying sizes and six smaller accent diamonds that look like bubbling cheese.



“The ring is everything I thought it would be and more," she added. "I can’t stop staring at it… I can’t believe it’s mine!”

In order to win, contestants had to submit a 30-second video detailing how they will involve pizza in their proposal.

In her submission, Ireland described how pizza is the cornerstone of the couple's relationship.

“We met playing club soccer and we had a bet that whoever got a goal, the other one had to shout 'pizza,'” she said. After each game, the couple would head to Domino's for dinner.



After the on-field proposal, Domino's treated the newly engaged couple and their guests to a Garlic Bread Guard of Honor and a special Domino’s feast.

Nearly 300 video entries were received in Domino’s pizza proposal competition from across Australia and New Zealand.

“We were overwhelmed by the power of pizza to bring people closer,” said Domino’s chief marketing officer Allan Collins. “It just goes to show that sometimes all it takes is great conversation over some great food for sparks to fly."

Credits: Images courtesy of Domino's.
March 12th, 2020
Diamond mining giant Alrosa recently pulled an unexpected treasure from its new deposit at Verkhne-Munskoye in the frigid, sparsely populated Russian outpost of Yakutia. The 17.44-carat bright yellow, gem-quality stone could signal a vast new source of super-rare, super-valuable fancy colored diamonds.



“This is the first rough diamond with bright color found at the Verkhne-Munskoye since it was launched in 2018,” said Evgeny Agureev, Deputy CEO of Alrosa. “The United Selling Organization of Alrosa will assess and evaluate this stone in detail. We hope this deposit will give us more large and interesting discoveries in the future.”



Prior to the recent discovery, Alrosa's supply of natural-color rough diamonds originated in two locations: just north of Yakutia and in the Arkhangelsk region more than 2,000 miles to the west. Fancy colored diamonds are in short supply and can sell for 10 times as much as equivalent colorless stones.

Alrosa is the world's largest diamond supplier by volume, but gem-quality colored diamonds make up less than 0.1% of the company's overall output. The stones are processed at the company's cutting and polishing division, which recently produced such unique pieces as the 20.69-carat fancy vivid yellow "Firebird" and the 14.80-carat fancy vivid purple-pink "Spirit of the Rose."

Alrosa is looking to become a major player in gem-quality colored diamonds, a segment of the industry now dominated by Rio Tinto and Anglo American’s De Beers. Alrosa's new discovery of fancy yellow diamonds comes at a time when Rio Tinto’s exhausted Argyle Mine in Western Australia is scheduled to cease operations. The mine had been the world’s primary source for pink, red and blue diamonds.



The Verkhne-Munskoye diamond deposit is located west of Yakutia, 170 km from the town of Udachny. Today it is the largest investment project of Alrosa, with expenditures already surpassing $218 million. The Verkhne-Munskoye deposit will supply 1.8 million carats of rough diamonds per year, and its reserves should insure production through the year 2042.

As reported by Business Insider, Alrosa extracted 36.7 million carats of diamonds in 2018. The production was derived from 12 mines in sparsely inhabited Siberia. Most of those are in the Sakha Republic, or Yakutia, a region five times the size of France with only a million inhabitants. Most of Alrosa's 35,000 employees are based in that region.

Credits: Diamond images courtesy of Alrosa. Map by Google Maps.
March 13th, 2020
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great throwback songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Donald Fagen likens himself to a precious stone in Steely Dan's 1972 classic, "Reelin' in the Years."



In the song, we learn that the lead singer is having a hard time coming to grips with the fact that his long-time girlfriend has found another man.

He sings, "Well, you wouldn't even know a diamond / If you held it in your hand / The things you think are precious / I can't understand."

Written by Fagen and Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker, "Reelin' in the Years" has stood the test of time and continues to be one of the band's mosts popular songs.

Beyond the diamond reference, the track is also famous for a memorable guitar solo credited to a guest musician. Elliot Randall, who had been part of a backing band for Jay and the Americans, recounted the story to a journalist from Guitar World Magazine.

“They were having trouble finding the right ‘flavor’ solo for ‘Reelin,’ and asked me to give it a go,” Randall said. "Jeff Baxter played the harmony parts, but my entire lead—intro/answers/solo/end solo— was one continuous take... The whole solo just came to me, and I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to play it.”

How good was the solo? The legendary Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page told Classic Rock magazine that it was his favorite guitar solo of all time and Q magazine placed the recording at #95 on its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks.

Steely Dan fans may consider listening to the song's quadraphonic mix, which reveals extra lead guitar fills you don’t hear in the stereo version.

As the second single from Steely Dan’s Can’t Buy a Thrill album, “Reelin’ in the Years” peaked at #11 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and #15 on the Canadian RPM chart.

Founded in 1972, Steely Dan is credited with having sold more than 40 million albums worldwide. The group — led by Becker (guitars, bass, backing vocals) and Fagen (keyboards, lead vocals) — was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

Becker passed away in 2017, leaving Fagan as the sole founding member of the group. At age 72, he continues to tour, with upcoming engagements scheduled for Austin, TX; Thackerville, OK; Portland, OR; Auburn, WA; Concord, CA; Hollywood, CA; Chula Vista, CA; Phoenix, AZ and Fort Worth, TX.

We hope you enjoy the video of Fagan and the rest of Steely Dan performing "Reelin' in the Years." The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

"Reelin' in the Years"
Written by Walter Carl Becker and Donald Jay Fagen. Performed by Steely Dan.

Your everlasting summer
You can see it fading fast
So you grab a piece of something
That you think is gonna last
Well, you wouldn't even know a diamond
If you held it in your hand
The things you think are precious
I can't understand

Are you reelin' in the years
Stowin' away the time
Are you gatherin' up the tears
Have you had enough of mine
Are you reelin' in the years
Stowin' away the time
Are you gatherin' up the tears
Have you had enough of mine

You been tellin' me you're a genius
Since you were seventeen
In all the time I've known you
I still don't know what you mean
The weekend at the college
Didn't turn out like you planned
The things that pass for knowledge
I can't understand

Are you reelin' in the years
Stowin' away the time
Are you gatherin' up the tears
Have you had enough of mine
Are you reelin' in the years
Stowin' away the time
Are you gatherin' up the tears
Have you had enough of mine

I spent a lot of money
And I spent a lot of time
The trip we made to Hollywood
Is etched upon my mind
After all the things we've done and seen
You find another man
The things you think are useless
I can't understand

Are you reelin' in the years
Stowin' away the time
Are you gatherin' up the tears
Have you had enough of mine
Are you reelin' in the years
Stowin' away the time
Are you gatherin' up the tears
Have you had enough of mine


Credit: Image by Raph_PH / CC BY via Wikimedia Commons.
March 16th, 2020
Captured live from Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet, George Balanchine's "Jewels" — with three parts dedicated to emerald, ruby and diamond — is coming to theaters across the U.S. on April 19.



Balanchine, who is often called the father of American ballet, was inspired to create the "abstract" ballet after meeting with jeweler Claude Arpels and viewing a window-display of the famous jewelry boutique Van Cleef & Arpels on Fifth Avenue in New York City in 1966.

According to the official Bolshoi Ballet website, Balanchine was captivated by the shine of the precious stones and set out to create a ballet where the dancers would glow and glitter like the light on the edges of a gem.

"Jewels" is said to represent the three periods in the ballet master’s personal and professional life.



"Emeralds," which features the music of Gabriel Fauré, reflects the sophistication and elegance of a French ballet school; "Rubies," which is set to the music of Igor Stravinsky, is a nod to the sharp off-beat rhythm of Broadway; and "Diamonds," which highlights the music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, is a nostalgic recollection of the crystal purity of St. Petersburg's imperial ballet school.



"Jewels" made its debut at the New York City Ballet in 1967 and became a worldwide sensation. Balanchine commented at the time that he thought about adding a fourth part titled "Sapphire" and highlighting the music of Arnold Schoenberg. He eventually panned the idea because the deep blue color of the gem was difficult to present visually.

"The color [of] sapphire is so hard to get across on stage," he said.

Known as one of the most influential 20th-century choreographers, the Russian-born Balanchine co-founded the New York City Ballet and remained its artistic director for more than 35 years. He passed away in New York City in 1983 at the age of 79.

The Sunday, April 19, performance of "Jewels" will be broadcast to theaters all across the U.S. Check out this link to find a venue closest to you...

Credits: Screen captures via fathomevents.com.
March 17th, 2020
Superman fans may remember how the Man of Steel crushed a chunk of coal into a diamond in 1983's Superman III. While the superhero's legendary feats of strength are fanciful, his foray into the world of fine gemstones is not as far-fetched as it seems. You see, coal is made from carbon, and pure carbon — under the right amount of pressure and heat — can be transformed into a diamond.



Scientists have long theorized how simple carbon might be turned into the most precious of gems by somehow duplicating in a lab the phenomenon that occurs naturally deep below the earth's surface.

In her new book, Genuine Fakes: How Phony Things Teach Us About Real Stuff, historian Lydia Pyne recounts the experiments that led to the first lab-grown diamond at General Electric's Research Laboratory in Schenectady, NY, in 1954.

Pyne explained how a revolutionary vertical hydraulic piston invented by American Nobel-winning physicist Percy Bridgman in the 1940s allowed for future scientists to generate the pressure necessary to conduct their carbon-to-diamond experiments.



Bridgman's piston — affectionately called "The Bomb" — could produce 4,200 atmospheres of pressure. Legend has it that the scientist's lab at Harvard had holes in the walls, evidence of the power of the machine and dangerous experiments gone awry.

At General Electric, the super secret effort to create diamonds in a lab was code-named “Project Superpressure.” In early December 1954, scientist Herbert Strong conducted Experiment 151, where he deposited into a pressure cone a carbon and iron mixture, along with two small natural diamonds to seed the crystal growth. Building on Pyne's work, GE developed a cone that delivered 50,000 atmospheres of pressure and generated a temperature of 1250°C (2282°F).

Strong ran the experiment overnight, and the next morning removed the two seed crystals and a blob of the iron-carbon material. Strong instructed GE's metallurgy division to polish the material, but that was an impossible task because it was destroying the polishing wheel. The only element that could defeat the wheel was a diamond.

According to Pyne, X-ray analysis confirmed that Strong's experiment had produced a lab-grown diamond.

About a week later, fellow researcher Howard Tracy Hall performed a similar experiment using a high-pressure press called a belt. Two diamond seed crystals plus carbon and iron sulfide were placed in a graphite heater. This brew was heated to 1600°C (2912°F) under 100,000 atmospheres of pressure. Thirty-eight minutes later, octahedron diamond crystals emerged from the belt.

In the weeks that followed, GE researchers were not able to duplicate the results of Strong's experiment, but were able to replicate Hall's success.

GE published the results of its ground-breaking work in February of 1955, just over 65 years ago.

You may read an excerpt of Pyne's book at Science Friday's website.

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com. Diamond image by Bigstockphoto.com.
March 18th, 2020
Carly Boyd and her beloved grandpa, Shelton, are media sensations today because of a tender moment captured by the staff of a nursing home in Lake Waccamaw, NC.



Carly had gotten engaged over the weekend and was determined to share her excitement with Shelton even though the facility was prohibiting guests due to precautions related to the coronavirus.

"I really wanted to be able to tell my grandfather because he has dementia and there's no phone in there that he has access to," Carly told CNN affiliate KOLD. "I just really wanted to make an effort to tell him."

Although Carly was not allowed to enter the facility, she was encouraged to do the next best thing.



Gennie Parnell, the administrator of Premier Living and Rehab Center, took two memorable snaps of Boyd standing outside her grandpa's first floor window. The first shot shows Boyd excitedly pointing to her diamond-adorned ring finger as she tries to get her grandpa's attention. The second shot depicts the tender moment when they press their palms together, separated by the pane of glass.

“It was magical, I can’t even explain it," April Bass, the community activity coordinator at the facility, told local NBC affiliate WECT. "I was in tears, my administrator was in tears, even the roommate of the resident, he was even crying. It was very magical and it was very heartfelt, and Carly started crying and her grandfather even started crying. It was beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.”

"It was very special," Carly told KOLD. "I just put my hand on the window, and he put his there too. I just told him I love him, and he said, 'I love you, too, and I hope to see you soon, like really see you.'"

With the permission of the Boyds, the nursing facility posted the photos to its Facebook page, with the caption, "Even though visitation is restricted at this time, staff suggested an alternative. Here, a resident’s granddaughter tells her grandfather that she’s engaged! Emotional and memorable, for sure!! Thank you for allowing us to capture this special moment!!"

The post was punctuated with two emojis, a heart and a diamond ring.

The local story got national attention when it appeared on the sites of both NBC's Today show and CNN.

Carly Boyd attends Southeastern Community College, where she is studying to become a Registered Nurse. Her new fiancé, Trevor Sellers, is a contractor with the Department of Transportation. Their marriage is planned for 2021.

Credits: Images via Facebook / Premier Living & Rehab Center Info Page.
March 19th, 2020
A little over a week ago, we introduced you to the Royal Canadian Mint's three-dimensional, diamond-shaped collectible coin — a .999 fine silver coin adorned with an actual 0.20-carat square-cut diamond. At the time, we reported that the unique offering was the world's first diamond-shaped coin.



But now we have to correct the record. The kudos for innovation really should be directed at Switzerland's Helvetic Mint, which unveiled its own limited-edition, diamond-studded, diamond-shaped coin nearly four years earlier.



Coin World's Jeff Starck pointed out in a Monday article that many media outlets had misinterpreted the Royal Canadian Mint's product description, which wasn't 100% clear on whether the innovative shape was a first-ever accomplishment for the Royal Canadian Mint or any mint.



On its official website, the Royal Canadian Mint stated, "...This first-ever diamond-shaped coin is an exciting addition to our premium lineup in 2020." The mint clarified later in the writeup, "This is the first time we've (emphasis added) struck such a uniquely shaped and dimensional... coin. An engineering feat that was over a year in the making!"

Even if it wasn't the first of its kind, RCM's 2020 diamond-shaped coin was an instant hit and quickly sold out of its mintage of 700 coins. Each coin carried a price tag of $1,500 CAD (about $1,117 US).

The RCM's coin is embedded with a square-cut Forevermark© Black Label diamond sourced from Northern Ontario’s Victor Mine. The four main crown facets of the coin include the square-cut diamond, the year “2020,” the word “Canada” and the face value “50 Dollars.” The table facet features the likeness of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.

Here's how the diamond-shaped coins from the two mints compare...

Face Value. Helvetic Mint (HM): 2 Dollars; Royal Canadian Mint (RCM): 50 Dollars
Issuing Year. HM: 2016; RCM: 2020
Country. HM: Niue (island country in South Pacific); RCM: Canada
Metal. HM: .999 Pure Silver; RCM: .999 Pure Silver
Weight. HM: 1.55 ounces; RCM: 3 ounces
Diameter. HM: 26mm; RCM: 30.8mm
Height. HM: 17mm; RCM: 21.2mm
Mintage. HM: 222 coins (sold out); RCM: 700 coins (sold out)
Diamond Weight. HM: 0.1 carat; RCM: 0.2 carats
Table Effigy. HM: HRH Queen Elizabeth II; RCM: HRH Queen Elizabeth II
Price. HM: $660 US (current value); RCM: $1,500 CAD (about $1,117 US)

Images courtesy of the Helvetic Mint and the CNW Group/Royal Canadian Mint.
March 20th, 2020
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you blockbuster hits with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, Boyce Avenue lead singer Alejandro Manzano teams up with former X Factor contestant Bea Miller for a mesmerizing cover of Ed Sheeran's "Photograph" — a song that examines long-distance relationships and how love can live in a photo locket necklace.



The video of their performance has earned more than 206 million views on YouTube.

Co-penned by Sheeran and Snow Patrol guitarist Johnny McDaid, the song examines how a simple photograph can ease the pain of being separated from the ones we love.

In the rousing final chorus, the duet sings, “You can fit me / Inside the necklace you got when you were sixteen / Next to your heartbeat where I should be / Keep it deep within your soul.”

Sheeran told Spotify.com that he and McDaid wrote “Photograph” in 2012 while hanging out in a Kansas City's Intercontinental Hotel after a performance. Sheeran recalled how he was sitting on the floor making a Lego X-Wing Fighter to give to his sister for a charity auction while a piano loop kept playing on McDaid’s laptop in the background.

“I start singing a line and the song kind of unraveled from there,” Sheeran said. “We sat for about four hours, me making [the] Lego [plane], and him on the laptop, just building stuff and then I picked up a guitar and we properly structured it.”

Sheeran also revealed that song is based on his own experience of trying to maintain a relationship with Scottish singer-songwriter Nina Nesbitt while on tour for five straight months.

"Photograph" was the third top-10 song from Sheeran's album, Multiply (stylized as “x”). The album hit #1 in 12 countries and reached the Top 5 in 11 others. "Photograph" charted in 30 countries, including a #10 spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and #4 on the Canadian Hot 100 chart.

The Boyce Avenue cover of "Photograph" appeared as the final track on the group's 2015 album called Boyce Avenue's Cover Collaborations, Vol. 3. Interestingly, Miller was only 16 years old during her performance. Three years earlier, she got her big break when she placed ninth during Season Two of The X Factor.

Boyce Avenue was formed in 2004 by brothers Alejandro, Daniel and Fabian Manzano in Sarasota, FL. The band developed a following by posting videos of original music and covers of popular songs on YouTube. Boyce Avenue frequently tours in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and Southeast Asia.

Please check out the video of Boyce Avenue’s 2015 acoustic version of “Photograph,” featuring Miller. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.

“Photograph”
Written by Ed Sheeran and Johnny McDaid. Performed by Boyce Avenue, featuring Bea Miller.

Loving can hurt, loving can hurt sometimes
But it’s the only thing that I know
When it gets hard, you know it can get hard sometimes
It is the only thing that makes us feel alive

We keep this love in a photograph
We made these memories for ourselves
Where our eyes are never closing
Hearts are never broken
And time’s forever frozen still

So you can keep me
Inside the pocket of your ripped jeans
Holding me closer ’til our eyes meet
You won’t ever be alone, wait for me to come home

Loving can heal, loving can mend your soul
And it’s the only thing that I know, know
I swear it will get easier,
Remember that with every piece of you
Hm, and it’s the only thing we take with us when we die

Hm, we keep this love in this photograph
We made these memories for ourselves
Where our eyes are never closing
Hearts were never broken
And time’s forever frozen still

So you can keep me
Inside the pocket of your ripped jeans
Holding me closer ’til our eyes meet
You won’t ever be alone

And if you hurt me
That’s okay baby, only words bleed
Inside these pages you just hold me
And I won’t ever let you go
Wait for me to come home
Wait for me to come home
Wait for me to come home
Wait for me to come home

You can fit me
Inside the necklace you got when you were sixteen
Next to your heartbeat where I should be
Keep it deep within your soul

And if you hurt me
Well, that’s okay baby, only words bleed
Inside these pages you just hold me
And I won’t ever let you go

When I’m away, I will remember how you kissed me
Under the lamppost back on Sixth street
Hearing you whisper through the phone,
“Wait for me to come home.”


Credit: Screen captures via YouTube.com.
March 23rd, 2020
As the clinical leader of Edward Hospital's Pulmonary Medicine Unit in Naperville, IL, Juliette Blondis has been working long, stressful hours treating patients with the COVID-19 virus. On Thursday — the first day of spring — her boyfriend, Bryan Goshorn, surprised the nurse with a marriage proposal on the front lawn outside of her workplace.



The couple had scheduled a romantic getaway, and Blondis had a hunch that Goshorn would pop the question, but those plans had to be scrapped because of the global pandemic.

Undaunted, Goshorn devised a way to surprise his now-fianceé while brightening the spirits of the hospital crew and its patients. He selected the first day of spring because it symbolizes rebirth, new beginnings and new adventures. He chose the front lawn because the hospital is allowing no visitors.

Goshorn drove Blondis to work on Thursday morning, but rang her cell phone a few minutes after she got into the building, claiming she had left something in the car. When she emerged from the building, Goshorn greeted her with a bouquet of flowers.

“He walked me out to the lawn and got down on one knee and proposed,” Blondis told the Naperville Sun.



She said, "Yes," shared a hug with her new fiancé and then went back to tending her patients.

“l love my job at Edward and am a very positive person,” she added. “These past two weeks have been incredibly stressful and my whole team has had a lot going on. This was definitely a bright light in everyone’s day.”

Blondis, 49, and Goshorn, 42, weren't the only ones uplifted by the beautiful moment. One of Blondis' patients watched from her window and later told Blondis that it was the highlight of her day. Doctors, nurses and other patients were excited to hear the big news and asked to see her new ring.

Goshorn noted that it's important to acknowledge the dedication of health providers on the front lines.

“They are doing heroic work and we need to all remember that,” he told the Naperville Sun.

Credits: Images courtesy of Edward-Elmhurst Health / Twitter @edwardhospital.
March 24th, 2020
Diamond exploration samples extracted from the glacier-covered Baffin Island in Canada's North have yielded secrets of a lost continent.



Researchers at the University of British Columbia identified a new remnant of the North Atlantic craton — an ancient part of Earth's continental crust that stretches from northern Scotland, through the southern part of Greenland and southwest to Labrador. The unexpected discovery suggests that the craton extended to Baffin Island and was 10% larger than was previously thought.



By working with the diamond exploration company, De Beers, the researchers gained access to material sampled from a kimberlite pipe in the southern part of Baffin Island, Canada's largest island and the fifth-largest island in the world. Kimberlite pipes are considered the earth's vertical superhighways because they bring molten material — and diamonds — to the surface from the depths of 150 to 400 kilometers (93 to 248 miles).

“For researchers, kimberlites are subterranean rockets that pick up passengers on their way to the surface,” explained University of British Columbia geologist Maya Kopylova. “The passengers are solid chunks of wall rocks that carry a wealth of details on conditions far beneath the surface of our planet over time.”

Kopylova said the samples from Baffin Island's Chidliak Kimberlite Province bore a mineral signature that matched other portions of the North Atlantic craton.

“Finding these 'lost' pieces is like finding a missing piece of a puzzle,” said Kopylova, who outlined the findings in the Journal of Petrology. “The scientific puzzle of the ancient Earth can’t be complete without all of the pieces.”

The geologist explained how the university/private sector relationship provides a valuable win-win for both parties. The university benefits because its researchers and grad students get access to core samples that are very valuable and very expensive to retrieve.

The university, in turn, provides the diamond exploration company with information about the deep diamondiferous (diamond-bearing) mantle — details that will contribute to a successful mining operation.

Credits: Baffin Island by BrettA343 / CC BY-SA. Map by Connormah / CC BY-SA.
March 25th, 2020
My Big Fat Fabulous Life star Whitney Thore got the ring of her dreams last night during the season six finale on TLC. Boyfriend Chase Severino surprised Thore with a yellow sapphire surrounded by a halo of white diamonds on a split white gold band.



TLC cameras were on hand to document the proposal, which took place at one of the most romantic venues in the world — the Eiffel Tower in Paris.



“I was half-sweaty and half-wet after climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower in the rain,” Thore told The Knot. “I was posing for a photo. Chase was behind me, and I thought he was taking a picture of me looking out over Paris, but when I turned around, he was on his knee holding out a ring.”

She continued, “I gasped and I think he just said, ‘Will you marry me?’ I don’t remember what I said, but I was totally in shock and it was obvious that my answer was yes.”

Thore commended her fiancé for choosing an engagement ring style that was exactly what she wanted.



"DAMN HE DID SO WELL!," she wrote on Instagram. "It’s yellow sapphire, diamonds, and white gold and I’m in LOVE!"

Followers of Thore's Instagram page know that the proposal was actually taped in October. The current season of My Big Fat Fabulous Life kicked off on January 7 and teasers have shown snippets of Severino getting down on one knee in a Parisian proposal.

In December, Thore wrote on Instagram, "Chase and I got engaged on October 9th in Paris and I’m quite possibly the happiest woman alive. It has been REAL hard to keep this a secret! Can’t wait to share this with y’all!"

According to The Knot, Thore and Severino met on New Year's Eve 2018 and have been dating since April of 2019. The couple met through a mutual friend, Ryan Andreas, who is Thore's business partner at NoBS Active, a subscription-based online workout program.

Credits: Images via Instagram.com/whitneywaythore.
March 26th, 2020
You've got the routine down pat by now. You scrub your hands multiple times throughout the day — for at least 20 seconds (The time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday") — making sure to clean between each finger and not just the palms. You thoroughly rinse your hands and dry off with a clean towel. And when you don't have access to a sink and running water, you use the next best thing, a squirt from your travel-size bottle of hand sanitizer.



Despite your best intentions to keep yourself and your loved ones safe by taking hand washing seriously, all that soap and hand sanitizer is probably wreaking havoc on your precious jewelry. Soapy residue may be adhering to nooks and crannies behind your rings, and the precious stones may be looking dull and lifeless. Perhaps it's time to show your cherished keepsakes the love they deserve.

Jewelry-industry experts offer these DIY tips on how to keep your jewelry hygienic and sparkling for generations to come. The biggest takeaway, you'll learn, is to "be gentle" to the gemstones and precious metals.

• Whenever possible, take off your jewelry before washing your hands. It's obvious that if your jewelry does not come in contact with soap or cleansers, it will stay pristine longer. (Be careful, though, to put your jewelry in a safe container and shut the drain so there is no chance of the jewelry being lost.)

• The Gemological Association of America says the safest jewelry cleaning methods are also the easiest. Most colored gems can be cleaned with warm water, mild dish soap (no detergents) and a soft-bristled tooth brush. (Be sure to get behind the stones where dirt can accumulate.)

A pulsed-water dental cleaning appliance and a soft, lint-free cloth can also be used. Notes the GIA, "Be sure to rinse your jewelry in a glass of water to remove cleaning solutions since you risk losing loose stones — or even an entire piece of jewelry — if you rinse directly in the sink."

Taking on the jewelry-cleaning topic, a Vogue columnist recently wrote that she puts her "beloved children" in a cup of warm water infused with a blast of Windex, explaining that she takes special pleasure in "watching little dirty specks float to the surface."

• It's especially important to keep organic gems, such as pearls, opals, turquoise and coral, away from harsh cleaners and alcohol-based sanitizers. These chemicals can dry out the gems and lead to cracking.

• Mikimoto notes that pearls, in particular, must be treated with the utmost care. "Pearls are organic gemstones that are vulnerable to acid, alkaline and extremes of humidity," says Mikimoto's official website. "To preserve your pearls' radiance, avoid letting them come into contact with cosmetics, hair spray, or perfume."

For this reason, the famous producer of cultured pearls advises women to put their pearl jewelry on as a final touch, after applying make-up and styling hair. Also, ultrasonic cleaners should never be used with pearl jewelry as it can damage the pearls.

Writing for the American Gem Society, Kristie Nicolosi of The Kingswood Company, a maker of jewelry cleaning products, offered tips on what NOT to do when cleaning precious jewelry.

• Don't use a toothpaste and a toothbrush to clean softer gemstones and other types of jewelry. The abrasives in toothpaste will scratch the surfaces and the toothbrush's long handle will place too much pressure on the piece.

• Don't use ammonia, Windex® or Mr. Clean® on softer gemstones. While these cleaning products may be useful in milder concentrations on harder gemstones, the risk is not worth it.

• Don't use hydrogen peroxide to clean jewelry. It's an effective disinfectant, but can react with sterling silver and harm the finish.

• Don't use bleach. It damages the metal alloys in gold and will cause irreparable damage.

• Vinegar and lemon juice should not be used to clean jewelry. Nicolosi says they are too acidic and too abrasive on metals and gemstones.

• Acids in Coca-Cola® can damage metals and softer stones. Another no-no.

• Baking soda is too alkaline for cleaning jewelry safely.

• Do not place your jewelry in boiling water on the stove. The jewelry could come into contact with the hot, metal surface of the pot, which can weaken or misshape the metal.

Credit: Photo via BigStockPhoto.com.
March 27th, 2020
Welcome to Music Friday when we would normally bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today we bend the rules a bit to include an artist with a gemstone in his name. Performing from his home this past weekend while in self-quarantine, Neil Diamond spun up a few new lines to his universally loved 1969 hit, "Sweet Caroline," to support the international effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.



Diamond replaced the popular pre-chorus, "Hands, touching hands / Reaching out, touching me, touching you," with these health-conscious alternative lyrics, "Hands, washing hands / Reaching out, don't touch me, I won't touch you."

The 79-year-old Diamond, who was forced to cancel his worldwide golden anniversary tour in 2018 due to a Parkinson’s diagnosis, explained in the intro of his song why he decided to create this parody.

Sitting in his den with a raging fire in the background and his photogenic pup nearby, Diamond said, “Hi everybody. This is Neil Diamond. And I know we're going through a rough time right now. But I love ya, and I think maybe if we sing together, well, we'll just feel a little bit better. Give it a try! OK?”

Diamond's effort was wonderfully received on social media, with more than 2.5 million views on YouTube and 140,000 Likes on Twitter. His humanitarian musical outreach was praised by the Los Angeles Times and USA Today, among other high profile outlets.

“Sweet Caroline” is a song that has been woven into the fabric of American culture. Played at sporting events from coast to coast, when Diamond sings the line, “Good times never seemed so good,” the crowd chants back, “So good, so good, so good.”

Originally believed to be an ode to Caroline Kennedy, the then-11-year-old daughter of President John F. Kennedy, “Sweet Caroline” was actually written for Diamond’s second wife, Marcia.

Diamond revealed the truth during a 2014 appearance on the Today show.

“I was writing a song in Memphis, Tenn., for a session. I needed a three-syllable name,” Diamond said. “The song was about my wife at the time — her name was Marcia — and I couldn’t get a ‘Marcia’ rhyme.”

The song was released in the summer of 1969 and zoomed to #4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Over the course of his 58-year career as a singer-songwriter-musician, Diamond has sold more than 130 million albums worldwide and placed 38 singles in the Top 10 on the U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. None has been more enduring than “Sweet Caroline.” The song has been covered by Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Roy Orbison, Julio Iglesias and many more.

Even though Diamond has officially retired from touring because of his illness, the musical legend performed at the 24th annual Keep Memory Alive Power of Love Gala benefit, which took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in early March.

"I’m feeling great," Diamond told People at the time. "This is an important thing they’re doing and I feel honored to be part of it and take part in it."

Please check out the video of Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" parody. His intro, along with the altered lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

“Sweet Caroline” (parody lyrics)
Written and performed by Neil Diamond.

(Intro: Hi Everybody, This is Neil Diamond.
And I know we're going through a rough time right now.
But I love ya, and I think maybe if we sing together
Well, we'll just feel a little bit better. Give it a try! OK?)

Where it began, I can’t begin to knowing
But then I know it’s growing strong
Was in the spring
Then spring became the summer
Who’d have believed you’d come along

Hands, washing hands
Reaching out, don't touch me, I won't touch you

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I’d be inclined
To believe they never would
But now I

Look at the night and it don’t seem so lonely
We filled it up with only two
And when I hurt
Hurting runs off my shoulders
How can I hurt when I’m holding you

Hands, washing hands
Reaching out, don't touch me, I won't touch you

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I’d been inclined
To believe they never would

Sweet Caroline

(Outro: Good night everybody. Good night. We love you.)


Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com/Neil Diamond.
March 30th, 2020
Waste management workers in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, pulled the plug on their normal operations this past Wednesday to help a distraught women whose diamond engagement ring ended up in a 40-ton mountain of paper at the city's recycling center.



Using forensic techniques to noodle out where the tiny ring might be in its massive paper recycling system, John Martella, the district manager of GFL Environmental Inc. (also known as Green For Life), and his team were able to locate the ring in less than 30 minutes.

Martella told SooToday.com that he believes that the unlikely recovery of such a precious and sentimental item delivers a message of hope during these uncertain times.

He said, “We’re going through a crisis with COVID-19, so to do something like that makes you think, ‘We can beat this thing, we can beat this, we can win this.' Good things happen in bad times.”

The story of the lost engagement ring began this past Tuesday, when an unnamed woman in Sault Ste. Marie accidentally dropped her precious keepsake in her family's paper recycling container. That container was emptied into a recycling truck very early on Wednesday morning and taken to the GFL plant on Sackville Road.

When the woman realized her ring was missing, she sent a desperate message to a friend who works for the City of Sault Ste. Marie. That employee forwarded the note to Martella.

Martella recounted how the frantic woman called on the phone and later visited the GFL plant.

“She was shaken up," he said. "[The ring] was precious to her.”

After she left, Martella got his crew together and stated, "We have to fix this. We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do."

Martella ordered a halt in the normal operations and implemented a plan to find the ring.

The woman was able to provide a few clues that would help in the search. She remembered that her six-year-old son had been coloring with crayons on Tuesday and that some of those drawings had ended up in the recycling container. In addition, she remembered recycling a distinctive bag that was printed with the branding of her veterinarian.



Martella was able to identify the truck that had serviced the woman's neighborhood and sectioned off the pile of paper that had been delivered to the plant by that truck.

“I went in there and saw a piece of paper colored by crayons," he told SooToday. "So I said, ‘It’s got to be in here.’”

Using a front loader, one of Martella's team members scooped up a bucketful of paper.



"No sooner did he drop the bucket, the ring fell out,” Martella said. "It was just amazing."

Martella said that his crew erupted with the chant, "We found it, we found it!"

In a photo shared on SooToday by GFL Environmental, Martella is flanked by his team as he proudly holds up a tiny plastic bag containing the diamond ring. (See the photo at the top of this page.)

The district manager said that the woman was ecstatic when she heard the big news. She had no idea that Martella had shut down his normal operations to help her.

“You have to put yourself in that position," Martella said. "The ring was very valuable. Insurance would have covered it, but insurance has nothing to do with it."

In an email to SooToday.com, the woman wrote, “I can’t thank them enough, that in the middle of a pandemic, in a time of social distancing, they were kind enough to stop and help me and not brush me off... These men are hardworking, enormously considerate, and will go above and beyond. I would also like to thank all those who work in waste collection too, who are unable to stay home because they are an essential service.”

Credits: Images provided by GFL Environmental.
March 31st, 2020
In Sunday night's inaugural YouTube broadcast of John Krasinski's "Some Good News" — a show dedicated to heartwarming and uplifting stories during these uncertain times — the star of The Office highlighted a couple from Fredericksburg, VA, who got engaged March 21 in front of the Eiffel Tower, sort of.



You see, Luke McClung had intended to pop the question to his girlfriend Erika Diffendall in Paris during spring break, but had to abruptly cancel the trip due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. So the graphic designer did the next best thing. With the assistance of his brother, AJ, the creative siblings drew the Eiffel Tower on a brick wall in their neighborhood and laid out red and white roses on the ground at the base of the "tower."



A series of tweets told the story of how McClung surprised his girlfriend, an English teacher from North Stafford High School, with a proposal and an oval-cut diamond ring. Of course, the tweets from the lovebirds were accompanied by a series of memorable photos.



Tweeted Diffendall, "Went this morning, and the rain didn’t stand a chance against Luke’s beautiful creation. #smitten #cloudnine"

McClung explained in his tweet, "It was supposed to happen in Paris, so had to improvise a bit, but it worked out."



The Fredericksburg couple found their way onto Krasinski's "Some Good News" (SGN) after McClung answered the actor's Twitter-generated request for some good news. "Alright everybody," Krasinski tweeted on Wednesday, March 25, "how about #SomeGoodNews ! Send me the stories that have made you feel good this week or the things that just made you smile!"

By Sunday night, the response was so overwhelming that Krasinski was compelled to kick off a new show. During his intro, the actor explained that for years he's been wondering why there isn't a news show dedicated entirely to good news.

“Well, desperately seeking my fix somewhere else, I reached out to all of you this week, asking — nay, begging — for some good news," he said. "And boy, did you deliver. After reading those replies and the incredibly heartwarming stories that came with them, I thought, ‘All right. Enough is enough, world. Why not us? Why not now?’ So, ladies and gentlemen, this is your fault, and this is ‘SGN.’ I’m John Krasinski, and if it isn’t clear yet, I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.”

The Fredericksburg couple appears at the 4:05 mark of the near-16-minute show, which also included an interview with Krasinski's former co-star, Steve Carell.

In his final remarks, the new YouTube star said, “I’m John Krasinski, and this is ‘SGN,’ asking you to remember, no matter how tough life can get, there’s always good in the world and we will see you next time. Good night.”

On Krasinski's Twitter feed, Diffendall thanked the actor for sharing her engagement story.

Krasinski responded, "Wow!! Totally blown away by the response to #SGN ! Thank you thank you... But hey, you guys did this!! So you keep sending me #SomeGoodNews and making me smile... and I'll keep trying to return the favor! Pass it on!

By late afternoon on Monday, "Some Good News" had already been viewed more than 4 million times and was trending as the #1 most-watched video on YouTube. You can see it here...


Credits: John Krasinski screen capture via Youtube.com. Engagement pics via Twitter/Erika Diffendall.