Romance University

Articles in February 2019

February 1st, 2019
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. In 1984, British band Wang Chung helped define a generation with its international hit “Dance Hall Days.” The song put a New Wave timestamp on a slew of popular movies and is memorable for lead singer/composer Jack Hues' "hallucinogenic" reference to amethyst in the final verse.



The purple gem is, of course, the official birthstone for February.

Hues sings: “So take your baby by the wrist, and in her mouth an amethyst. And in her eyes two sapphires blue, and you need her and she needs you.”

During an interview with “Just My Show” podcast host Eric Greenberg, Hues explained that the song about finding love in an old-fashioned dance hall begins innocently with the line, “Take your baby by the hand.” But, by the last verse, the tone has escalated to “Take your baby by the wrist, and in her mouth an amethyst.”

“It’s all a bit more hallucinogenic in a way, how things that start off simple get complex,” he said.

“Dance Hall Days,” which charted in 12 countries and peaked in the U.S. at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, was featured in a slew of popular movies, including Bachelor Party, Pretty in Pink, Gotti, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, To Live And Die In LA, Adventureland, The Informers and The Fighter.

Founded in 1980 by Nick Feldman, Jack Hues and Darren Costin, Wang Chung's unusual name translates to “yellow bell” in Mandarin Chinese. Wang Chung is also the first note in the Chinese classical music scale.

The band scored five Top-40 hits from 1983 through 1987, including "Let's Go!" and "Everybody Have Fun Tonight." The band actively toured from 1980 to 1990, and then again from 1997 to the present.

Don’t miss Wang Chung's performance of “Dance Hall Days” at the end of this post. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.

“Dance Hall Days”
Written by Jack Hues. Performed by Wang Chung.

Take your baby by the hand
And make her do a high hand stand
And take your baby by the heel
And do the next thing that you feel

We were so in phase
In our dance hall days
We were cool on craze
When I, you, and everyone we knew
Could believe, do, and share in what was true
I said

Dance hall days, love

Take your baby by the hair
And pull her close and there, there, there
And take your baby by the ears
And play upon her darkest fears

We were so in phase
In our dance hall days
We were cool on craze
When I, you, and everyone we knew
Could believe, do, and share in what was true
I said

Dance hall days, love
Dance hall days
Dance hall days, love

Take your baby by the wrist
And in her mouth, an amethyst
And in her eyes, two sapphires blue
And you need her and she needs you
And you need her and she needs you
And you need her and she needs you
And you need her and she needs you
And you need her
And she needs you

We were so in phase
In our dance hall days
We were cool on craze
When I, you, and everyone we knew
Could believe, do, and share in what was true
I said

Dance hall days, love

Dance hall days, love
Dance hall days

Dance hall days, love
Dance hall days

Dance hall days, love
Dance hall days

Dance hall days, love


Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.
February 4th, 2019
The largest rough diamond ever mined in North America — the fancy yellow "552" — made its final public appearance at Phillips auction house in New York City on Sunday. And we were there.



Exhibiting a frosty surface and distinctive bi-color transition from intense yellow to nearly white, the 552-carat diamond seemed surreal in its glass case at the street-level exhibit hall of the famous auction house on Park Avenue and 57th. Giant vertical banners in the Phillips windows delivered a bold and simple message, "Think Big — 552 Carats." It was the public's final opportunity to see one of nature's true wonders — before it gets transformed into faceted stones.



Inside, a solitary glass case illuminated by two spotlights and watched over carefully by two armed guards provided the temporary home to the "552." The spectacular diamond had been found at the Diavik mine in Canada's Northwest Territories back in October, and Phillips' executives pitched Dominion Diamond Mines with the idea of putting the diamond on display in New York City before it went through the cutting process.



Dominion Diamond Mines Director of Marketing Rachel Aaron told us that there are two likely outcomes for the egg-sized "552." In scenario one, the rough diamond would yield a primary faceted stone of 150 to 200 carats, as well as a number of residual faceted diamonds. In scenario two, cutters would opt for a pair of primary diamonds in the 70- to-100-carat range, plus the residual stones. The pair of smaller diamonds, she said, would be considered more wearable.



Aaron said that only four or five cutters in the world are capable of handling a fancy yellow diamond of this magnitude. Dominion has yet to select a cutting partner.

She also noted that once the diamond is cut, all the finished stones will return to Phillips for a special exhibition. She said the mapping and cutting process should take about nine months and the Phillips exhibition will likely be a year from now.



There are a number of characteristics that make the "552" unique. On close inspection, one can see a clear transition in color about two thirds of the way across the diamond. It goes from a clear, vibrant yellow to a cloudy white. Aaron said that gemologist believe that the transition point could reflect an internal fracture.

There are also obvious scars on the surface of the stone. These represent the beating the rough diamond took during the sorting and screening process. The Diavik processing plant is optimized to recover smaller diamonds, but Aaron believes the shape of the stone saved it. The stone turned vertically during the screening process and was just the right size to fit through. Had it stayed horizontal, it would have been crushed.



Aaron said the mine is not planning to change it's recovery methods to secure more super-large diamonds. The mine has been specializing in smaller, fine-quality diamonds since 2003 and there's no indication from their geological surveys that other super-large diamonds are likely to be found.

The gem's yellow color is also an anomaly at the Diavik mine. Diamonds from the mine typically rate in the D, E and F color range (colorless to near colorless) and usually boast a clarity rating of VS or better. Dominion reports, however, that a small portion of Diavik's production exhibits varying shades of brown, orangy-brown, light pink and light purple.

Despite its impressive dimensions, the "552" rates only 25th on the all-time list of the world’s largest rough diamonds, just ahead of the Lesotho’s Letseng Star (550 carats) and just behind the Central African Republic’s Spirit of de Grisogono (587 carats). The top seven diamonds on the list are all from the continent of Africa, including the granddaddy of them all, the 3,106-carat Cullinan, which was discovered near Pretoria, South Africa, in 1905.

Credits: Phillips exhibition images by The Jeweler Blog; Mine image courtesy of Dominion Diamond Mines.
February 5th, 2019
Billed as the first amethyst from Rwanda to join the National Gem Collection, this stunning 78.3-carat Super Trillion™ Cut was faceted by award-winning cutter John Dyer and is a first-rate example of February's birthstone.



Dyer told us yesterday that the original rough amethyst, which weighed 465.5 carats, yielded four finished stones, the largest of which was purchased by the Smithsonian in 2017. The second-largest weighed about 10 carats. The painstaking faceting process took more than three days to complete.

Smithsonian representatives were impressed by the stone's size, unusual origin, unique cut and deep rich purple color with flashes of red.

Based in Edina, Minn., Dyer has notched 54 cutting awards and is famous for his artistic ability and passion for precision. His Super Trillion™ Cut reflects an optimized pattern that adds more facets and other variations to the traditional trillion cut.

Dyer noted that he purchased the rough amethyst through a dealer who had access to a brand new find in Rwanda. Amethysts traditionally have been sourced in Brazil, Uruguay, Zambia, Mexico, Italy, Germany, Canada and the U.S.

Amethyst is the most coveted variety of quartz, which is clear in its pure state. Amethyst gets its purple color from a few atoms of iron displacing some of the silicon in the gem’s molecular structure. These traces of iron can give amethyst a wide range of colors, from almost white to deep purple.

The ancient Greeks believed amethyst could prevent drunkenness. Medieval soldiers wore amethyst to protect themselves in battle. Other cultures believed February’s birthstone would bring good fortune, inspire their intellect, heal their illnesses, or bolster their immune systems.

Amethyst gets its name from the Greek word “amethystos,” which literally means “not to intoxicate.” Apparently, the Greeks believed amethyst could reverse the effects of drunkenness. Other characteristics attributed to amethyst include peace, balance, courage, stability and inner strength.

The color rating of an amethyst is determined by its hue, tone and saturation. Hue is the color; tone is relative lightness or darkness of the color; and saturation relates to the color’s intensity, from dull to vivid.

Credit: Photo by John Dyer & Co, courtesy of the Smithsonian.
February 6th, 2019
For the third consecutive year, U.S. consumers are expected to spend more on jewelry than any other Valentine’s Day gift category, according to an annual report released by the National Retail Federation.



Spending for jewelry-related Valentine's Day gifts is likely to reach $3.9 billion, outpacing "an evening out" ($3.5 billion, given by 34%), clothing ($2.1 billion, 18%), flowers ($1.9 billion, 35%), candy ($1.8 billion, 52%), gift cards ($1.3 billion, 15%) and greeting cards ($933 million, 44%).

Of those surveyed, 26% of men and 9% of women said they would be gifting a special piece of jewelry on February 14.

The NRF reports that overall spending on Valentine’s Day gifts will reach an all-time record of $20.7 billion in 2019, up from $19.6 billion in 2018. Those surveyed said they would spend an average of $161.96. That’s an increase of 13% from last year’s $143.56 and easily tops the previous record of $146.84 set in 2016.

“Those who are participating are spending more than ever and that could be the result of the strong economy," commented NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

Valentine gift givers will spend an average of $93.24 on their significant other/spouse; $29.87 on other family members, such as children or parents, $9.78 on friends, $8.63 on children’s classmates or teachers, $7.78 on co-workers, $6.94 on pets, and $5.72 on others.

On the average, men are budgeting $229.54 for Valentine's Day gifts, an increase of 20% over last year. Women will be spending $97.77, about 1% lower than last year. Among age groups, those 35-44 are the biggest Valentine's Day spenders at $279.14, followed by those 25-34 at $239.07. Both groups typically have more people on their gift lists, including children and children’s classmates or teachers.

Despite the record spending numbers, the portion of Americans celebrating Valentine's Day is expected to decline to 51% in 2019, a drop of 4 percentage points compared to 2018 and more than 12 points down from 2007.

The NRF’s 2019 Valentine’s Day spending survey was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to Valentine’s Day. The survey was conducted for NRF by Prosper Insights & Analytics. The poll of 7,384 consumers took place from January 2-9, 2019, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.

Credit: Image by BigStockPhoto.com.
February 7th, 2019
Even though the calendar shows we're just a week from the end of "engagement season" — the magical time of the year when nearly 40% of all marriage proposals take place — a pair of Top-10 pop-the-question days remains on the board.



For those of you keeping score, the 10th-most-popular day to deliver a marriage proposal takes place this weekend, and the second-most-popular day hits next Thursday.

Believe it or not, the Saturday before Valentine’s Day is rated #10 on WeddingWire's list of most popular days to pop the question. The editor's at WeddingWire believe that a Saturday proposal may reflect the couple’s desire to celebrate their engagement over a weekend and not necessarily on Valentine’s Day, which often comes up during the week (February 14 is on a Thursday) and is certainly not a day when most people have off. Popping the question on the weekend prior to Valentine’s Day also preserves the element of surprise.

Rated #2 on WeddingWire's list is none other than Valentine's Day itself. Cupid’s special day is all about love and expressing to that special someone just how much you care. We reported yesterday that more than half of the U.S. population will be exchanging gifts on Valentine's Day, with jewelry purchases expected to reach $3.9 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. A special subset of that number will reflect the purchases of millions of romantic suitors who are planning to propose with a diamond ring.

Back in 2014, American Express' Spending & Saving Tracker estimated that six million American couples expected to receive or deliver a marriage proposal on Valentine’s Day.

Engagement season formally runs from Thanksgiving Day to Valentine's Day. The only day to beat out Valentine's Day in popularity is Christmas Day.

Here's the complete Top 10 list, as revealed in WeddingWire’s 2018 Newlywed Report...

#1. Christmas Day
#2. Valentine’s Day
#3. Christmas Eve
#4. New Year's Day
#5. New Year’s Eve
#6. December 23rd (Day Before Christmas Eve)
#7. Two Saturdays Before Christmas Eve
#8. Fourth of July (Independence Day)
#9. Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend
#10. Saturday Before Valentine’s Day

Credit: Image by Bigstockphoto.com.
February 8th, 2019
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you popular tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Swedish pop group Ace of Base sings about turning tears into pearls in the 1995 love song, "Experience Pearls."



In this song about mending a broken heart, vocalists Linn and Jenny Berggren tell the story of a woman who is willing to do anything in her power to eliminate her lover's pain.

They sing, "Give me all your tears / Let me turn them into pearls / Let me turn all the tears / That you've cried into pearls / Hand them to me, I'm gonna keep / Keep them for you / I want to hold you / I want to kiss you / I want to mend what is broken."

Later in the song, songwriter Jenny Berggren uses the term "experience pearls" to describe the transference of pain from him to her. She vows to wear his tears — in the form of pearls — close to her skin.

The last verse goes like this... "I'll wear your pearls more precious than silver / I'll wear your pearls so close to my skin / I'd tear myself apart just to get you / And so I've made up my mind / And so I've made up my mind."

"Experience Pearls" appeared as the 16th track of Ace of Base's wildly successful second album, The Bridge, which charted in 19 countries. More than eight million copies of the album were sold worldwide.

According to the band's official site, the Ace of Base story started in the early 1990s when the three Berggren siblings (Jonas, Malin and Jenny) formed the techno band Tech Noir. Next to their rehearsal room, Ulf Ekberg played in another band. Soon, Jonas and Ulf hit it off, started to write and produce together, and Ace of Base was formed.

After recording a demo tape of original songs, including the future blockbuster hit ”All That She Wants,” the band went to Stockholm where the members pitched all the major record companies. None showed any interest. The common critique was that their songs were "too obvious" and "too simple."

Undaunted, the band's next stop was Copenhagen, where executives at Mega Records immediately saw the band’s potential and loved their positive, uncomplicated and slightly reggae-tinged pop music.

Ace of Base’s very first single was ”Wheel Of Fortune,” followed by the major worldwide hits ”All That She Wants,” ”The Sign” and ”Don’t Turn Around.”

Trivia: The group's debut album, Happy Nation (released as The Sign in the U.S.), sold 25 million copies and remains in the Guinness record book as the best-selling debut album ever.

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

"Experience Pearls"
Written by Jenny Berggren. Performed by Ace of Base.

Give me all your tears
Let me turn them into pearls
Let me turn all the tears
That you've cried into pearls
Hand them to me, I'm gonna keep

Keep them for you
I want to hold you,
I want to kiss you
I want to mend what is broken.

Love me the way that you loved her, please
Cause now I'm giving it all,
And so I've made up my mind, I'm gonna be
Yours this time, I'm gonna give what I've got,
And get your love in return.
And so I've made up my mind, I'm gonna be
Yours this time, I'm gonna teach you to trust
And learn how to burn,
Experience pearls
Pearls of experience
When sand strikes up in your eyes
I will cover your face.

I'll plant your desert with roses,
And I'm gonna keep, keep them for you.
And so I've made up my mind

I'll wear your pearls more precious than silver
I'll wear your pearls so close to my skin.
I'd tear myself apart just to get you,
And so I've made up my mind
And so I've made up my mind


Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.
February 11th, 2019
It was a starburst seen from coast to coast on Wednesday night's edition of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. The burst emanating from Miley Cyrus' new wedding ring was so big and so bright that new spouse Liam Hemsworth joked that the visual effect might have been a product of CGI (computer-generated imagery).



But first, a little background...

Acclaimed Australian actor Hemsworth, 29, and pop star Cyrus, 26, tied the knot in a low-key ceremony at their home in Franklin, Tenn., in December. And when Hemsworth was awarded the G'Day USA Excellence in Film award in Los Angeles on January 26, the actor was sure to thank his new bride.

"Thank you to my beautiful wife," he said during his acceptance speech. "You're a sweet, sweet angel."



At that point, viewers were treated to a reaction shot of Cyrus in the audience. Beaming with a wide smile and her head tilted in an adorable pose, the singer raised her diamond-adorned fingers up to her chin. She was wearing multiple bracelets, necklaces and rings on every finger. One of those rings was her brand new diamond wedding band.

As she moved her hands ever so slightly, the diamonds on her left hand caught the light and generated a bright starburst, the kind photographers covet when shooting fine jewelry.

On Wednesday night, Cyrus' ring and the giant burst were the subjects of a fun exchange between Hemsworth and Fallon on The Tonight Show.



"People love you and Miley together," Fallon said, "but I saw a clip of you from the G'Day USA Awards."

"When I was on the stage and I referred to her as my wife?" Hemsworth acknowledged. "Yeah, people liked that. Big, big cheer."

"She was kind of heckling you from the crowd," said Fallon.

Hemsworth explained, "Yeah, I started saying nice things about her and then she wanted more, obviously. I said, 'I'll tell you when I get home.'"



"There was this one picture as they were cutting to her where [there was] this bling from her ring. And I was like, 'What kind of rock did you get her, man? Holy moly.'"



At that point, Fallon displayed to the studio audience a still shot of Cyrus at the awards show and the very obvious six-pointed starburst.

"There are a few different rocks on there, not to brag," said Hemsworth, "but there [are] a couple of different ones."

"Well done, buddy," Fallon said. "Oh my."

"I thought it was CGI when I first saw that," Hemsworth joked. "I was convinced it was CGI because if did a full-on b-i-i-i-i-n-g."

"It was a real b-o-o-i-n-g," Fallon said, trying to imitate Hemsworth's take on what a starburst sounds like.

"B-i-i-i-i-n-g," Hemsworth repeated.

"Just perfect," Fallon said. "I was like, 'Well, maybe she has magical powers, too. And she was zapping something from her ring to you.'"

"Yes, she's brainwashed me," Hemsworth concluded.

See the entire exchange below...


Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon; YouTube.com/G'Day USA
February 12th, 2019
Tipping the scales at 54.21 carats, the recently unveiled "Mouawad Dragon" is being billed as the largest round brilliant-cut fancy vivid yellow diamond ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America.



The luxury diamond house chose the name "Mouawad Dragon" because the vibrant color beaming from every facet of the diamond showcases the power, wisdom and good fortune of the mystical serpent, the company stated in a press release. The yellow color, Mouawad added, is also reminiscent of a dragon's magical powers and fiery eye.

The rough stone was discovered in an alluvial deposit in South Africa, and it took Mouawad's master cutters more than six months to transform it into the "Mouawad Dragon" — a precious gem that certainly rates as one of the most revered yellow diamonds of all time.

The company's next task is to design a necklace that will showcase the 54.21-carat stone.

"We're thrilled to have had the opportunity to craft this extraordinary diamond from the rough," said Fred Mouawad, Co-Guardian of Mouawad's Diamond Division, "and we will soon continue the creative process by designing a masterpiece that befits its dazzling beauty."

The necklace will be part of an ensemble that Mouawad will unveil next month, according to Rapaport News.

The "Mouawad Dragon" joins the ever-growing Mouawad collection, which includes the 51.12-carat D-flawless Dynasty diamond, the 245.35-carat Jubilee Diamond, the 135.92-carat Queen of Holland diamond, the famous 69.42-carat Taylor-Burton Diamond and a yet-to-be named 218.08-carat D-color marvel, which is said to be the largest internally flawless cushion-shaped diamond in the world.

Credit: Image courtesy of PRNewsfoto/Mouawad.
February 13th, 2019
Looking to make a big splash for its 10th anniversary, Dutch Diamond Technologies (DD) took on the challenge of crafting an all-diamond ring from a 155-carat plate of lab-grown material.



Dubbed "Project D," the ring was polished using both laser cutting and traditional techniques. The end product boasts 133-facets and a total weight of 3.86 carats.

HRD Antwerp, Europe's leading authority in diamond grading, determined that the ring has a clarity grade of VVS2 and a color grade of E, with excellent symmetry and very good polish.

The Netherlands-based Dutch Diamond Technologies is best known for its high-tech, industrial applications of both lab-grown and natural diamonds, so its foray into the jewelry sector came as a bit of a surprise, especially to the executives at HRD Antwerp.

“DD might be relatively new to cut diamonds for the jewelry market,” noted Michel Janssens, CEO of HRD Antwerp, “but they have created an impressive ring for their 10th anniversary. The outstanding cutting and polish work has resulted in a brilliant light reflection which emphasizes the beauty of the ring.”

“For our 10th anniversary we wanted to create something stunning that would highlight our innovative and high-tech techniques,” said Ton Janssen, CEO of Dutch Diamond Technologies. “I think we’ve more than succeeded with the one-off "Project D" ring. It’s a true 'European' ring: Grown in Germany, cut in the Netherlands and graded by HRD Antwerp in Belgium."

DD noted that until a few years ago, the technology didn't exist to create a lab-grown diamond plate suitable for "Project D." The quality and carat weight of CVD synthetic diamonds has increased drastically over the past 10 years. DD reported that the 155-carat plate from which "Project D" was carved took five weeks to grow in its laboratory.

Dutch Diamond Technologies is not the first company to fabricate an all-diamond ring.

Shawish Geneva was the first company to form a ring from a single natural diamond. Shawish unveiled the innovative ring to the public during the 2012 Baselworld Watch and Jewelry Show. That ring was laser-cut from a 150-carat rough diamond.



In November 2018, Sir Jony Ive, Apple’s Chief Design Officer, and renowned industrial designer Marc Newson, introduced the concept of an all-diamond ring custom crafted from a single rough lab-grown gem. The ring fetched $265,250 when Sotheby’s presented it December 5 at the third (RED) Auction in Miami. Proceeds from the sale supported HIV/AIDS programs in Africa.

The ring is in production and is expected to be delivered to the anonymous buyer this June, according to JCKonline.com.

Credits: Image of "Project D" ring courtesy of Dutch Diamond Technologies. Image of (RED) Auction ring courtesy of Sotheby's.
February 14th, 2019
"Supergirl" actress Melissa Benoist announced her engagement to co-star Chris Wood and unveiled her brand new oval-shaped diamond engagement ring on her Instagram page Sunday.



The intimate photo shows the romantic couple canoodling in front of a crackling fire, with Benoist beaming and her beau kissing her cheek. Of course, her engagement ring is front and center. The 30-year-old actress, who has 3.3 million Instagram followers, captioned the photo, “Yes yes yes it will always be yes.” The post generated 923,000 Likes.

On his Instagram page, Wood posted the same photo and captioned it, “The happiest.”

The white-metal ring, which is likely platinum, is highlighted by an oval diamond in a halo setting, complemented by a pavé diamond band. An industry insider told pagesix.com that the center stone appeared to be 3 carats and estimated the ring's value in the range of $100,000 and $200,000.

California-based jeweler Jennifer Meyer revealed on Instagram that the 30-year-old Wood played a big role in helping to design the ring. She wrote, "Chris, when you designed this ring with me, you made some girls on the JM team wish you had a brother. Wishing you both a lifetime of love, happiness and lots of babies!”



Benoist and Wood met in 2016 on the set of the CW series "Supergirl," with Benoist in the title role and Wood playing her on-screen love interest and fellow superhero Mon-El.

While both characters enjoyed super strength and a slew of other extraordinary powers, each had one major weakness. Green kryptonite would make Supergirl painfully ill and Mon-El would collapse in agony when exposed to lead. We're wondering... If a dastardly villain posed as a fine jeweler, might he recommend an engagement ring with a green kryptonite center stone set in lead?



Fortunately, the real-life couple clearly shows no vulnerability to the diamonds and noble metal glistening in their new ring.

Credits: Images via Instagram.com/melissabenoist.
February 15th, 2019
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you classic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, crooner Dean Martin makes a very special purchase at a Naples, Italy, jewelry shop in the 1958 classic, "Buona Sera."



In the song, Martin tells the story of two lovers enjoying a moonlit evening in the picturesque Italian city on the Mediterranean Sea. Although it's late and he must say "goodnight," he promises to buy a ring for her early the next day.

He sings, "In the morning signorina we'll go walking / Where the mountains help the moon come in to sight / And by the little jewelry shop we'll stop and linger / While I buy a wedding ring for your finger / In the meantime let me tell you that I love you / Buona sera signorina kiss me goodnight / Buona sera signorina kiss me goodnight."

Written by the team of Peter De Rose and Carl Sigman, "Buona Sera" — which means "good evening" in Italian — was originally made famous by Louis Prima and His Orchestra in 1956. Two years later, it would be covered by "The King of Cool" and legendary member of the "Rat Pack," Dean Martin.

Although he was born in Steubenville, Ohio, Martin always embraced his family's heritage. His dad was born in Italy and his mother was Italian-American. With its Italian lyrics and descriptions of Napoli (Italian for Naples), "Buona Sera" was a natural fit for his 1958 album, This Is Dean Martin.

Martin became one of the most popular entertainers of his time, churning out dozens of hit songs and appearing on the big screen with his comedy partner, Jerry Lewis. He seemed to exude effortless charisma and self assurance, but his journey to stardom was not a smooth one.

Born Dino Paul Crocetti in 1917, Martin's first language was Italian and he didn't start learning English until he entered school at the age of five. His lack of English skills made him a target of neighborhood bullies. He dropped out of school in 10th grade because he believed he was smarter than his teachers. The teenager made ends meet by bootlegging liquor, working in a steel mill and dealing blackjack at a speakeasy. He also became a welterweight boxer.

Martin moved to New York City, where he worked as a croupier in an illegal casino behind a tobacco shop. He called himself "Dino Martini" and started singing for local bands. He got his first big break working for the Ernie McKay Orchestra.

He would go on to record some of his generation's most memorable tunes, including "Memories Are Made of This," "That's Amore," "Everybody Loves Somebody," "You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You," "Ain't That a Kick in the Head?" and "Volare."

Martin passed away on Christmas Day 1995 at the age of 78. In 1996, Ohio's Route 7 through Steubenville was rededicated as Dean Martin Boulevard.

Please check out the audio track of Martin's cover of "Buona Sera." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Buona Sera"
Music by Peter De Rose and lyrics by Carl Sigman. Performed by Dean Martin.

Buona sera signorina buona sera
It is time to say goodnight to Napoli
Though it's hard for us to whisper buona sera
With that old moon above the Mediterranean sea
In the morning signorina we'll go walking
Where the mountains help the moon come in to sight
And by the little jewelry shop we'll stop and linger
While I buy a wedding ring for your finger
In the meantime let me tell you that I love you
Buona sera signorina kiss me goodnight
Buona sera signorina kiss me goodnight

(Buona sera signorina buona sera)
(It is time to say goodnight to Napoli)
Though it's hard for us to whisper buona sera
With that old moon above the Mediterranean sea

In the morning signorina we'll go walking
Where the mountains help the moon come in to sight
And by the little jewelry shop we'll stop and linger
While I buy a wedding ring for your finger
In the meantime let me tell you that I love you
Buona sera signorina kiss me goodnight
Buona sera signorina kiss me goodnight


Credit: Photo by MGM [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
February 19th, 2019
Pop star Katy Perry announced her Valentine's Day engagement to Lord of the Rings alum Orlando Bloom with an Instagram selfie showing off a ring with a deep pink center stone in a flower-shaped diamond cluster setting.



Both Perry, 34, and Bloom, 44, featured the photo on their Instagram pages. Perry's was cleverly captioned "full bloom" and Bloom's was titled "Lifetimes."

Bloom picked an unusual, fanciful, Edwardian-inspired ring for Perry, who is famous for her colorful style and sometimes-outrageous fashion choices.

Perry and Bloom have yet to confirm the identity of the oval-shaped center stone. Some pundits believe it's a ruby, while others are calling it a pink sapphire, or a pink diamond.

That's why the same experts have offered a wide range of retail values — from $25,000 to $5 million.

The oval gemstone is estimated to weigh 2 carats, while the eight complementary diamond "petals" are estimated to weigh a total of 2.5 carats.

Antique jewelry expert Stephen Feuerman told harpersbazaar.com that Perry's new engagement ring reflects a cluster style that first became popular at the turn of the last century. Since then, the style has been revived in a number of famous engagement rings, including the blue sapphire and diamond ring that Prince Charles presented to Princess Diana. More recently, Princess Eugenie's engagement ring featured a cluster setting with a padparadscha sapphire at its center.

This will be the second marriage for both Perry and Bloom. The pop star tied the knot with actor Russell Brand in 2010, the same year Bloom married supermodel Miranda Kerr.

People.com pointed out that Bloom seems to have a fondness for cluster-style engagement rings. The ring he gave to Kerr was similar to Perry's, except that Kerr's had a diamond center stone and was set in white metal. Perry's has a colorful center stone and is set in yellow gold.

Perry and Bloom began dating in 2016, but broke up briefly in March of 2017. The romance was rekindled in 2018.

Credit: Photo via Instagram.com/katyperry.
February 20th, 2019
Already the world's biggest diamond producer in terms of sheer output, Russian mining company Alrosa is looking to become a major player in a segment of the industry now dominated by Rio Tinto and Anglo American's De Beers — gem-quality colored diamonds.



Alrosa recently conducted a media preview in Moscow to showcase a portfolio of its most dazzling finds, in hues ranging from lush pink to bright yellow. The star of the show was a 14.83-carat pink oval diamond sourced at the Ebelyakh deposit in Yakutia, Russia, in 2017.



At the time of its discovery, the pink diamond was billed as the largest pink diamond ever mined in Russia. The smooth-surfaced alluvial diamond measured 22.47 mm x 15.69 mm x 10.9 mm and weighed 27.85 carats. The previous record holder was much smaller at 3.86 carats.

Alrosa Deputy CEO Yury Okoyemov said that due to its size and clarity, the rough gem was “one of the best to be discovered anywhere in the world in recent years.”



The largest stone in the exhibition was a deep yellow Asscher-cut diamond, weighing 20.69 carats. It was cut from a raw crystal with a rare honey hue, which weighed 34.17 carats and had the distinction of being the largest yellow diamond mined in Russia in 2017.

A third standout in the collection was a pink-purple cushion-shaped diamond weighing 11.06 carats. Alrosa noted in a press release that the Gemological Institute of America has recognized the gem to be the largest of its color in the world.

Describing the rarity of gem-quality colored diamonds, Okoyemov offered this telling statistic: "Out of every 10,000 natural jewelry-class diamonds mined, only one will be colored. And large colored diamonds are even rarer."

One of the reasons Alrosa is making such a big play in the colored diamond market is the strength of this niche sector. Okoyemov cited market analysts, who reported that the average price for colored diamonds has risen consistently by 12% a year during the last few decades.

“The diamonds we are now exhibiting are completely unique, and each of them perfectly embodies the Russian art of gem cutting," Okoyemov added. "We calculate that the huge potential of [our colored diamonds] will soon enable Alrosa to become the leader in the international market.”

Credits: Images courtesy of Alrosa.
February 21st, 2019
Described by Sotheby's as "perfect according to every critical criterion," this 88.22-carat oval diamond will headline the auction house's Hong Kong Sale of Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite on April 2.



The D-Flawless diamond is expected to fetch between $11.2 million and $12.7 million, a value reflecting its extreme rarity. Sotheby's reports that only three oval diamonds larger than 50 carats have appeared at auction over the past few decades.

The 88.22-carat faceted diamond was cut from a 242-carat rough stone discovered at the Jwaneng mine in Botswana. The mine, which is well know for producing high-quality diamonds, is jointly owned by De Beers and the government of Botswana.



According to Sotheby's, the rough diamond was cut and polished over a period of "intense months" to produce a symmetrical and striking oval brilliant diamond. Given the elongated shape of the rough stone, the oval shape was chosen to preserve the greatest amount of weight.

The double-eights in the carat weight will hold extra significance to buyers of Asian heritage. Eight is considered a lucky number, and "88" is believed to bring good fortune in abundance.

The star of Sotheby's upcoming event was rated Type IIa, the most chemically pure classification. Diamonds of this quality display exceptional optical transparency and make up less than 2% of all gem-quality diamonds.

“When you think that one ton of mined earth yields less than a carat of diamond, and that high-quality diamonds over 10 carats are a rarity, the discovery of a 242-carat rough, of gem quality and exceptional size, is nothing short of a miracle," noted Patti Wong, Chairman of Sotheby’s Asia.

Wong added that the perfect 88.22-carat diamond is a "summary of everything: A wonder of nature, a masterpiece resulting from man’s ability to shape the hardest material on earth into an object of ultimate beauty and the most concentrated form of wealth, as stated by Pliny the Elder almost 2,000 years ago."

David Bennett, Worldwide Chairman of Sotheby's International Jewelry Division, said that one adjective came to mind when he viewed the stone for the first time.

"Breathtaking," he said. "Barely any diamonds of this weight are known to possess the same exceptional qualities of purity and perfection as this remarkable stone which is so full of fire and blinding brilliance.”

Credits: Images courtesy of Sotheby's.
February 22nd, 2019
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. In 1999's "Happy Together," Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle of the Swedish pop band Roxette tell the story of a young man whose fear of commitment derails his chance for a lifetime of happiness with the love of his life, the "prettiest jewel."



They sing, "She carried his ring / Since she left school / He knew she was precious / The prettiest jewel / She wanted a baby / But he wasn't sure / He couldn't make up his mind anymore."

In the song, we learn that the couple has been together since high school and she's looking to tie the knot. Although he loves her, the young man is frozen in fear. His noncommittal attitude leads her to break off the relationship and move on with her life, while he's left to wonder what could have been.

Deep inside, he knows they would have been so happy together. They could have run the earth, the stars, the sun.

Penned by Gessle, "Happy Together" was released as the "B" side to "Wish I Could Fly," a song that charted in 23 countries.

According to Roxette's official website, Fredriksson and Gessle, both 60, came out of Halmstad, Sweden, in the late 1980s with the dream of conquering the pop-music world. With 33 chart-busting singles and total record sales exceeding 75 million, they were well on their way to accomplishing their mission.

In 2002, Roxette was forced to go on a long hiatus while Fredriksson recovered from a life-threatening brain tumor operation. The band staged a successful comeback in 2009 and celebrated three decades on the airwaves with a world tour in 2016.

The 30th Anniversary Tour was cut short, however, when the rigors of being on the road became too demanding for Fredriksson. Band members took their final bow after their 557th live performance.

Please check out the audio track of Roxette performing "Happy Together." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Happy Together"
Written by Per Hakan Gessle. Performed by Roxette.

When she walked up
He walked down
Just like the seasons went round and round
She was in love
He wasn't sure
She wrote some letters he tried to ignore
They could have been
so happy together
They could have been
so lucky in love
Sing la dee da
So happy together
They could have run the earth, the sky, the sun

She carried his ring
Since she left school
He knew she was precious
The prettiest jewel
She wanted a baby
But he wasn't sure
He couldn't make up his mind anymore

They could have been
So happy together
They could have been
So lucky in love
Sing la dee da
So happy together
They could have run the earth, the stars, the sun

I couldn't ever hurt no one
If you feel shattered
I'm sorry for what I've done
We could have been
so happy together
We could have been
so lucky in love
sing la dee da
so happy together
We could have run the earth, the sky, the sun

yeah we could have been
so happy together
we could have been
so lucky in love
so happy together
we could have run the universe
could have run the universe
could have run the universe
for fun

so happy together
so happy together
so happy together


Credit: Image by Lala Lugo [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
February 25th, 2019
The Diamond Producers Association's “For Me, From Me” ad campaign made its debut yesterday during E! News' highly rated coverage of the 91st Academy Awards.



“For Me, From Me” is a campaign inspired by the ever-growing segment of the market represented by women who buy diamonds for themselves. The group now accounts for one-third of the $43 billion diamond jewelry market.

E! viewers were introduced to the new lifestyle videos via an innovative picture-in-picture presentation. This is a technique where — just before scheduled commercial breaks — the show coverage and DPA video were shown on the screen simultaneously.

In addition, elements of the campaign were seen in photo gallery takeovers on E!'s Instagram page and at EOnline.com.

Kristina Buckley Kayel, DPA’s managing director for North America, noted that "For Me, From Me" represents the third wave of the Real is Rare, Real is a Diamond campaign. The previous campaigns helped establish diamonds as the ultimate symbol of realness and authenticity in love and in life.

“Our latest campaign celebrates the distinct pride and joy women feel in purchasing a diamond for themselves, a celebration of self that is beautifully embodied by the enduring qualities of a natural diamond,” she said. “It’s timely for the diamond industry to acknowledge the different needs and mindset of the female self-purchaser, and position itself optimally to service her.”

Kayel explained that the qualitative research conducted by DPA in 2018 uncovered the key reasons why women consider natural diamonds the ultimate self-luxury: They can be worn every day with any outfit, they last a lifetime and can be passed down, and they are a good investment because they retain their value.

The $10 million to $15 million campaign is set to run through September and will include TV, digital and print components.

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com/Real is a Diamond.
February 26th, 2019
Lady Gaga may have scored an Oscar for Best Original Song on Sunday night, but what had everybody buzzing was her red carpet reveal of "The Tiffany Diamond," one of the largest and finest fancy yellow diamonds in the world.



The extraordinary 128.54-carat cushion-cut sparkler, which normally resides on the main floor of Tiffany’s Fifth Avenue flagship store, has been worn by only three women during its 142-year history.

The gem made its first public appearance on the neck of Mrs. E. Sheldon Whitehouse at the 1957 Tiffany Ball. Actress Audrey Hepburn famously wore it in 1961 publicity posters for the motion picture Breakfast at Tiffany's. And, on Sunday, Gaga and The Tiffany Diamond turned heads at the 91st Academy Awards.



The 128.54-carat yellow diamond was cut from a 287.42-carat rough stone discovered in the Kimberley diamond mines of South Africa in 1877 and acquired the following year by Tiffany's founder, Charles Lewis Tiffany.

The rough stone was brought to Paris, where Tiffany’s chief gemologist, Dr. George Frederick Kunz, supervised the cutting of the diamond into a cushion-shape brilliant with an unprecedented 82 facets — 24 more facets than the traditional 58-facet brilliant cut. The stone measures slightly more than an inch across.



In 1961, the diamond was set in a ribbon rosette necklace to promote Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In 1995, it was part of a brooch called Bird on a Rock, which was exhibited at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

The Tiffany Diamond necklace worn by Gaga was designed in 2012 to mark Tiffany's 175 anniversary celebration. The platinum necklace features an openwork motif of sunrays glistening with 481 diamonds totaling more than 100 carats.

Credits: Academy Awards screen capture via YouTube.com/ABC; The Tiffany Diamond and rendering image © Tiffany & Co.; Bird on a Rock image by Shipguy [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
February 27th, 2019
The Knot's 12th annual "Real Weddings Study" paints a picture of a new generation of couples who are willing to break with tired traditions and invest, instead, in super-personalized events infused with meaningful details. Their goal is for guests to leave the celebration saying, “That was so them.”



The Knot reports that bridal couples are pulling out all the stops to make sure their loved ones have an absolute blast: The average couple hosts 136 guests, and the average spent per guest is $258. Besides the expected food, drink and music, 38% of couples hire above-and-beyond reception entertainment. The Knot's survey respondents listed live tattoo artists, cigar-rolling stations and craft margarita bars among the outside-the-box attractions.

The cost of an average wedding (not including the honeymoon) reached another all-time high in 2018. The total expenditure of $33,931 was up slightly from 2017's mark of $33,391.

The engagement ring — at $5,680 — remained the second-highest-priced item on the list of all wedding expenses (the venue was #1). The average price for an engagement ring in 2018 was slightly down from the previous year's total of $5,764. The Knot noted, however, that a sub-group of “high spenders” (those whose weddings cost more than $60,000) spent an average of $13,619 on their engagement rings.

Couples spent an average of $1,078 on a wedding band for the bride, and $584 for the groom. For high spenders, the numbers were $1,983 and $1,017, respectively.

"Weddings in 2018 showcased more personality and attention to detail than ever before," noted Kristen Maxwell Cooper, editor in chief of The Knot. "Couples are rethinking conventional traditions and putting their own creative spins on long-standing wedding moments, like unity ceremonies and first dances. Some couples are opting to embrace their cultural heritage, while others choose to pay homage to pop culture that plays a part in their shared story. Each wedding is a love story worth celebrating, and every detail is an opportunity to infuse personal style and sentiment."

According to The Knot, how couples signify their unity is evolving. In addition to using traditional sand or candles, couples are embracing their personal history and cultural heritage in new ways—through unity ceremonies that mix up guacamole recipes from their grandparents, blending whiskeys from locales close to their heart, or honoring a long-standing cultural unity tradition like Celtic Handfasting, where the couples commit to each other by having their hands tied together with a braid.

While couples embrace, reclaim and redefine some traditions, they're breaking with others, such as the garter toss (33%, down from 41% in 2016), and the bouquet toss (45%, down from 53% in 2016).

Four in five (80%) couples report having set a wedding budget. Nearly half (45%) admitted to going over their planned budget and only 6% said they stayed under budget. In 2018, 91% of couples contributed to their overall wedding costs, with 9% of those couples paying for their wedding entirely on their own.

Other key findings from the survey include the following:
• Most Expensive Place to Get Married: Manhattan, $96,910
• Least Expensive Place to Get Married: Idaho, $16,366
• Average Spent on a Wedding Dress: $1,631
• Average Marrying Age: Bride, 29.1; Groom, 30.5
• Average Number of Guests: 136
• Most Popular Month to Get Engaged: December (16%)
• Average Length of Engagement: 13.6 months
• Most Popular Month to Get Married: September (18%)
• Popular Wedding Colors: Ivory/Champagne (33%), Dark Blue & Burgundy/Wine (tie at 29%), Gold (27%) and Light Pink (23%)
• Percentage of Destination Weddings: 23%

These were the average costs of key bridal services in 2018: reception venue ($15,439); reception band ($4,247), photographer ($2,679), florist/décor ($2,411), ceremony venue ($2,382), videographer ($2,021), wedding/event planner ($2,002), wedding dress ($1,631), rehearsal dinner ($1,297), reception DJ ($1,292), transportation ($856), ceremony musicians ($797), wedding cake ($528), invitations ($386), groom’s attire and accessories ($283), officiant ($286), favors ($245), wedding day hair stylist ($123) and makeup artist ($102). Catering averaged $70 per person.

The 2018 "Real Weddings Study" is based on the responses from nearly 14,000 U.S. brides and grooms married between January 1 and December 31, 2018.

Credit: Image by BigStockPhoto.com.
February 28th, 2019
Talk about opulence! Canadian rap star Drake recently commissioned a Beverly Hills jeweler to design an 18-karat white gold iPhone X case adorned from edge to edge with blue and white diamonds weighing a total of 80 carats. The $400,000 case is punctuated by a white gold, diamond-eyed symbol of Drake's record label, the OVO owl.



Instagram users got their first peek at Drake's vision on the page of jewelry designer Jason Arasheben, who posted two videos of the extravagant cell phone case. Arasheben added this caption: “Because we can’t do basic! Diamond iPhone cover for our friend @champagnepapi.”

Drake, whose song “God’s Plan” earned the 32-year-old a Grammy Award earlier this month, is famous for his over-the-top purchases that often feature gold and diamonds.

In July of 2016, we wrote about Drake's solid gold Air Jordans, a pair of shoes that reportedly weighed 100 pounds and were worth more than $2 million. Designed and fabricated by mixed-media artist Matthew Senna, the shoes represented a gilded replica of the Air Jordan 10s that record label OVO created in collaboration with Nike.

More recently, Drake commissioned a 100-carat, life-sized owl pendant, which included its own cage.

Drake's new iPhone X case features row upon row of meticulously hand-set blue diamonds. Rising from the sparkling blue ground is the beautifully detailed white gold owl that stares at the user with its large white diamond eyes.



While Instagram comments about Arasheben's post were generally positive, some users wondered what will happen to the $400,000 case if, and when, Drake upgrades to the iPhone XI later this year. If the newest iPhones are a different size, Drake's blue bling accessory could become obsolete in a hurry.

Wmagazine.com reports that despite its six-figure price tag, Drake's iPhone isn't the most expensive one ever designed. That honor goes to Canadian jewelry designer Anita Mai Tan, who created a dragon-themed 18-karat gold case adorned with 32 diamonds covering 75% of the surface. The case, which is designed to hang from the neck on a chain, is priced at $880,000.

Credits: Images via instagram.com/jasonofbeverlyhills.