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Music Friday: Sir Elton John Sings, ‘It’s Like Trying to Find Gold in a Silver Mine’

Welcome to Music Friday, when we spotlight songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Sir Elton John trades his simple country lifestyle for the glamor of the big city in “Honky Cat,” one of his classic songs from 1972.

John portrays a young man who has been blinded by the city lights and has no intention of getting back to the woods. Meanwhile, his friends are calling him a fool.

They tell him, “Living in the city ain’t where it’s at / It’s like trying to find gold in a silver mine / It’s like trying to drink whiskey from a bottle of wine.”

Interestingly, the words that John sings do not reflect his own point of view. John didn’t grow up in the country. He was raised near London and loved the city life. Instead, the song likely reflects the experiences of lyricist and long-time creative partner, Bernie Taupin, who was born on a farm in Lincolnshire and preferred that environment.

“Honky Cat” is the first track on John’s fifth studio album, Honky Château, which reached #1 on Billboard 200 albums chart and was ranked one of the 500 Best Albums of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine. The single reached the Top 10 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 list. The album’s title refers to the location where it was recorded in early 1972, specifically Château d’Hérouville in Hérouville, France.

Born Reginald Kenneth Dwight in 1947, John got hooked on rock and roll when his mother brought home records by Elvis Presley and Bill Haley & His Comets in 1956. He learned to play piano and formed his first band, Bluesology, at the age of 15.

In 1967, John met Taupin by chance when both men responded to an advertisement seeking songwriters. At first, they wrote songs for other artists, but then decided go out on their own.

In a career that has spanned six decades, John has sold more than 300 million records. He and Taupin released 31 albums and are credited with more than 50 Top-40 hits. John was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998.

His single in honor of Princess Diana, “Candle in the Wind 1997,” sold 33 million copies worldwide and, at that time, ranked as the best-selling single in the history of the UK and US singles charts.

Please check out the video of John performing “Honky Cat” live at the Hammersmith Odeon in London on the day before Christmas in 1974. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Honky Cat”
Written by Bernie Taupin. Performed by Elton John.

When I look back boy I must have been green
Bopping in the country, fishing in a stream
Looking for an answer trying to find a sign
Until I saw your city lights honey I was blind

They said get back honky cat
Better get back to the woods
Well I quit those days and my redneck ways
And oh the change is gonna do me good

You better get back honky cat
Living in the city ain’t where it’s at
It’s like trying to find gold in a silver mine
It’s like trying to drink whiskey from a bottle of wine

Well I read some books and I read some magazines
About those high class ladies down in New Orleans
And all the folks back home well, said I was a fool
They said oh, believe in the Lord is the golden rule

They said get back honky cat
Better get back to the woods
Well I quit those days and my redneck ways
And oh the change is gonna do me good

They said get back honky cat
Better get back to the woods
Well I quit those days and my redneck ways
And oh the change is gonna do me good

They said stay at home boy, you gotta tend the farm
Living in the city son, is going to break your heart
But how can you stop, when your heart says no
How can you stay when your feet say go

You better get back honky cat
Better get back to the woods
Well I quit those days and my redneck ways
And oh the change is gonna do me good

You better get back honky cat
Living in the city ain’t where it’s at
It’s like trying to find gold in a silver mine
It’s like trying to drink whiskey from a bottle of wine

Get back honky cat, get back honky cat, get back, oh
Get back honky cat, get back honky cat, get back, oh
Get back honky cat, get back honky cat, get back, oh

Credit: Image by Ernst Vikne, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Maine Mineral & Gem Museum Celebrates 50th Anniversary of ‘The Big Find’

Exactly 50 years ago, four men exploring an abandoned mine near the top of Plumbago Mountain in Newry, ME, “just happened upon” one of the richest pockets of gem-quality tourmaline the world had ever seen.

The pocket started as a small void no larger than the width of a man’s shoulders. But as George Hartman, Dean McCrillis, Dale Sweatt and contract miner Frank Perham explored further, the rich vein of tourmaline crystals — some larger than a water glass — seemed to continue indefinitely into larger and larger pockets, eventually yielding more than a ton of gem-quality tourmaline from 1972 to 1974.

The discovery sent shockwaves through Maine, and around the mineral world. Never had such a large quantity of world-class tourmaline been found in a single locality in North America. The find is credited with reawakened gem mining in the state of Maine.

To celebrate “The Big Find,” the Maine Mineral & Gem Museum (MMGM) in Bethel, ME, curated a collection of 12 fabulous, faceted gems from the historic tourmaline find and paired each one with a jewelry designer. The designers were tasked with creating a masterwork incorporating their unique stone.

The gems range in size from 9.78 carats to 49.30 carats and include a variety of interesting shapes, textures and colors, including pink, red, green, bicolor and “watermelon” tourmaline.

The pieces will be showcased at “The Big Reveal,” a ’70s-themed runway extravaganza at the Grand Summit Hotel in Newry on October 8.

The collection will also make its way to the 2023 Tucson Gem & Mineral Show, where it will go on exhibit prior to being sold at auction. All the proceeds from the auction will benefit the MMGM.

The gemstones were donated to the Museum for fundraising and have an estimated value of $300,000. The goal is to raise over $1 million from the finished pieces.

A selection committee, composed of five members from the arts and jewelry community, chose the final 12 artists from a group of 33 submissions. The 12 artists are Paula Crevoshay (Albuquerque, NM), Patty Dunning (Portland, ME), Matt Fischer (Colorado Springs, CO), Gerardo Gonzalez (New York, NY), Derek Katzenbach (Farmington, ME), Andy Lucas (Klamath Falls, OR), Steve Manchini (Salem, MA), Nick Noyes (Charlottesville, VA), Naomi Sarna (New York, NY), Erik Stewart (Tucson, AZ), Matt and Lauren Tuggle (CO), and Stephen and Tamberlaine Zeh (Temple, ME).

Throughout 2022, the MMGM has hosted special programs and guest lectures as part of The Big Find celebration.

Nestled in the picture-postcard town of Bethel, MMGM is a world-class museum and education facility featuring 40,000 gems and minerals, 6,000 meteorites, a library of 10,000 volumes and nearly two dozen interactive exhibits to present Maine minerals and gems in the context of local mining history and Maine’s geology. MMGM opened its doors to the public for the first time in December of 2019.

The 15,000-square-foot museum is home to the single oldest igneous rock in the solar system and a moon rock five times larger than any returned to earth by an Apollo mission. It also features exotic specimens from Mars and fragments of asteroids embedded with extraterrestrial gemstones.

Check out MMGM’s website for more information about The Big Reveal.

Credits: Gem photo courtesy of MMGM/Scott Vlaun. Artists photos courtesy of courtesy MMGM/ the artists.

British Crown Jewels Play Prominent Roles in Queen Elizabeth II’s Funeral

Three bejeweled treasures — The Imperial State Crown, the Sovereign’s Sceptre and the Sovereign’s Orb — played prominent roles during the State Funeral for Queen Elizabeth II on Monday.

Rarely seen in public, these items from the British royal family’s crown jewels rode atop the Queen’s coffin during the long procession from Westminster Abbey to St. George’s chapel at Windsor Castle.

The royal family took extra precautions to make certain that the three priceless pieces were “expertly fastened” to the coffin to prevent them from falling and becoming damaged as they had been in the past, according to people.com.

Back in 1845, the prized crown, which reportedly weighs more than 5 pounds, slipped off a cushion held by Lord John Campbell, the Duke of Argyll, as he carried it to Queen Victoria amid the State Opening of Parliament, according to Express UK.

Queen Victoria recorded the incident in her dairy, writing that the crown was “all crushed and squashed like a pudding that had sat down.” She also took a swipe at the Duke of Argyll, stating that the crown “was too heavy” for him to carry.

Ninety-one years later in 1936, the same crown was at the center of another mishap when the diamond-encrusted orb and cross at the top of the headpiece snapped off and landed in the street as the coffin of King George V was being moved from King’s Cross station, according to an account in The Guardian.

The Imperial State Crown is encrusted with more than 3,000 gemstones, including the Second Great Star of Africa (Cullinan II), a 317-carat diamond that was the second-largest cut from the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond.

Discovered in 1905, the rough stone weighed a staggering 621 grams (1.37 pounds) and measured 98mm (3.85 inches) long, 57mm wide and 67mm tall. Thomas Cullinan, then chairman of the Premier Mine in South Africa, sold the diamond to the Transvaal provincial government, which, in turn, presented the stone to Britain’s King Edward VII as a birthday gift in 1907.

In February 1908, Joseph Asscher & Co. was assigned the task of cutting the Cullinan Diamond into nine major finished stones, each of which was given the name Cullinan and a Roman numeral.

The largest of the Cullinan gems, the Great Star of Africa (Cullinan I), weighs 530.4 carats and is set atop the Sovereign’s Sceptre, which was originally created for Charles II and has been used at every coronation since 1661.

Also dating back to 1661 is the Sovereign’s Orb, a hollow gold sphere rimmed with more than 600 precious stones, including 30 rubies and 12 diamonds. The orb symbolizes the Earth and conveys the message that the British monarch’s power is derived from God.

Credits: Screen captures via Youtube.com/BBC. Imperial crown image by Cyril Davenport (1848 – 1941), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Cullinan diamonds by Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross by Cyril Davenport (1848 – 1941), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Egyptian Archaeologists Unearth Hundreds of Coins Just Behind the Temple of Esna

Perched on the west bank of the Nile river, just 55km south of Luxor, the 2,000-year-old Temple of Esna continues to dazzle visitors with a hall of 24 pillars beautifully adorned with lotus-leaf capitals, each one unique in design. The walls are covered with reliefs of Ptolemaic and Roman Emperors dressed in Pharaoh costumes and the roof is decorated with astronomical representations, including the Dog Star, Orion’s Belt and Alpha Draconis.

Just behind the majestic edifice, which is also known as the Temple of Khnum, a team of researchers from Egypt’s Supreme Council for Archaeology recently unearthed a cache of hundreds of silver, gold, bronze and copper coins minted throughout 600-plus years of the Islamic era, starting in 610 A.D. and ending in 1258 A.D.

During the year-long excavation, the researchers cataloged 286 gold and silver coins dating back to the eras of 19 kings and sultans. They also found “foreign” currency linked to the era of King Levon II of Armenia (1150 – 1219 A.D.), along with bronze and copper coins from the Ottoman era, which dates back to the end of the 13th century A.D.

The ancient Egyptians minted dirhams and half dirhams, and interestingly, the dirham is the monetary unit still used in Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

Molds and weights related to the minting process were also discovered hidden behind the temple, according to a translated statement published on the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities’ Facebook page.

The researchers are continuing to unravel the Temple of Esna’s mysteries, including why the valuable hoard of coins was abandoned. With digging still in progress, Dr. Mustafa Waziri, secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, expects there is more treasure still waiting to be found.

Credits: Detailed look at the Temple of Esna’s columns by Panegyrics of Granovetter, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Temple photo by Roland Unger, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Coin photos courtesy of Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

Frequent Visitor to Crater of Diamonds State Park Scores Milestone 35,000th Find

Living just 30 miles from Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, AR, has its perks — especially if you’re an amateur treasure hunter.

Over the past four years, Scott Kreykes of Dierks, AR, has registered more than 80 diamonds at the park, including his 50th of 2022. Even though it was only a 4-pointer, the pearl-shaped gem he found earlier this month was certified as the 35,000th diamond unearthed by visitors since the state park opened in 1972.

For this achievement, Kreykes was rewarded with a free two-night stay at an Arkansas State Park, recognition from Murfreesboro officials and a special display for his diamond and registration card.

Earlier this month, Kreykes had spent a day at the park sifting soil from the East Drain area of the 37½-acre search field, which is actually the exposed eroded surface of an ancient diamond-bearing kimberlite pipe. Amateur miners get to keep what they find at the only diamond site in the world that’s open to the general public.

What’s more, visitors are allowed to take home one five-gallon bucket of sifted gravel to inspect later and, on this day, that’s exactly what Kreykes decided to do.

“Some visitors like to resift their gravel at home or wait for it to dry to look for the metallic shine of a diamond,” explained Park Interpreter Tayler Markham.

While searching through his gravel at home, Kreykes spotted a sparkly, pearl-shaped stone and excitedly called his wife over to show her. He knew the park was preparing to celebrate the 35,000th diamond milestone and was hopeful that he would register the winning gem.

As he left his home to return to the park on the morning of September 6, he slipped his sparkler into a glass vial and told his wife, “This could be the 35,000th diamond!”

Kreykes carried his gem to the park’s Diamond Discovery Center, where staff registered it as a 4-point white diamond.

Kreykes told park officials that he had goosebumps upon learning that his find was the milestone diamond.

Many people who find diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park choose to name their gems. Kreykes chose “Leo” in honor of his grandson.

So far in 2022, 510 diamonds have been registered at Crater of Diamonds State Park. That’s an average of about two per day.

“It’s amazing to work at a place with so much history,” Park Superintendent Caleb Howell said. “Every diamond found here has a story to go along with it, but milestones like this remind us of just how many discoveries park visitors have made over the past 50 years.”

Interestingly, the park reached its 10,000th diamond milestone in 1986 and its 30,000th in 2012.

Over the past 50 years, Crater of Diamonds State Park has hosted more than 4.5 million visitors and registered more than 1,000 diamonds topping 1 carat in weight.

The largest diamond ever discovered in the United States was unearthed in 1924 during an early mining operation at the Murfreesboro site. Named the Uncle Sam, this white diamond with a pink cast weighed 40.23 carats. It was later cut into a 12.42-carat emerald shape. The Uncle Sam is now part of the Smithsonian’s mineral and gem collection and can be seen at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. A marker at the park tells the story of Uncle Sam and points to the exact spot the gem was found.

Credits: Images courtesy of Arkansas State Parks.

Music Friday: Jilted Lover’s ‘Coral Castle’ Inspires Billy Idol’s ‘Sweet Sixteen’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you outstanding songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, British rocker Billy Idol performs “Sweet Sixteen,” a song inspired by the tragic love story of Edward Leedskalnin and the girl who left him at the altar.

Idol takes on the role of Leedskalnin as he sings, “I’ll do anything / For my sweet sixteen / And I’ll do anything / For little run away child / Gave my heart an engagement ring / She took ev’rything / Ev’rything I gave her / Oh sweet sixteen.”

Leedskalnin, a 26-year-old Latvian, was engaged to Agnes Scuffs in 1923. One day before their scheduled wedding, Scuffs, who was 10 years his junior, broke off the engagement.

Devastated by their parting, Leedskalnin emigrated to the US, where he bought a piece of land in south Florida and for the next 25 years single-handedly sculpted 1,100 short tons of coral rock into a fanciful castle complex. He dedicated “Rock Gate Park” to Scuffs, who he called his “Sweet Sixteen,” but could never win her back.

Idol visited Rock Gate Park, which had been renamed Coral Castle, in the early 1980s and was so intrigued by Leedskalnin’s story that he decided to write a song about it. Framed photos of Idol’s visit are featured in the Coral Castle gift shop in Homestead, FL.

Idol references the incredible coral sculptures Leedskalnin built in her honor. Even to this day, a mystery surrounds how the amateur sculptor — who was 5 feet tall, weighed 100 pounds and managed only a 4th grade education — was able to carve the huge boulders and move them without any outside help. The attraction is on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Sweet Sixteen” was the fourth track on Idol’s Whiplash Smile album, which sold more than one million copies and peaked at #6 on the US Billboard 200 in 1986. The single reached #20 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and the official video has been viewed on YouTube more than 23 million times.

Idol was a key member of the MTV-fueled “Second British Invasion” of the United States back in the early 1980s. Among his most popular songs from that era are “Dancing with Myself,” “White Wedding,” “Rebel Yell” and “Eyes Without a Face.” The 66-year-old rocker is still actively touring.

Check out the official video for “Sweet Sixteen.” During the first 10 seconds of the video one can see a photo of Leedskalnin standing inside his complex under the title, “Love Turned to Stone.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Sweet Sixteen”
Written and performed by Billy Idol.

I’ll do anything
For my sweet sixteen,
And I’ll do anything
For little runaway child

Gave my heart an engagement ring.
She took ev’rything.
Ev’rything I gave her,
Oh sweet sixteen.

Built a moon
For a rocking chair.
I never guessed it would
Rock her far from here
Oh, oh, oh, oh.

Someone’s built a candy castle
For my sweet sixteen.
Someone’s built a candy brain
And filled it in.

Well I’ll do anything
For my sweet sixteen
Oh I’ll do anything
For little runaway child

Well, memories will burn you.
Memories grow older as people can
They just get colder
Like sweet sixteen

Oh, I see it’s clear
Baby, that you are
All through here
Oh, oh, oh, oh.

Someone’s built a candy castle
For my sweet sixteen,
Someone’s built a candy house
To house her in.
Someone’s built a candy castle
For my sweet sixteen.
Someone’s built a candy brain
And filled it in.

And I do anything
For my sweet sixteen
Oh, I do anything
For little runaway girl.

Yeah, sad and lonely and blue.
Yeah, gettin’ over you.
How, how do you think it feels
Yeah to get up in the morning, get over you.
Up in the morning, get over you.
Wipe away the tears, get over you,
get over, get over…

My sweet sixteen
Oh runaway child
Oh sweet sixteen
Little runaway girl.

Gave my heart an engagement ring
She left everything
Everything I gave her
Sweet sixteen
Built a moon
For a rocking chair,
Never guessed it would
Rock her far from here
Oh, oh, oh

Someone’s built a candy castle
For my sweet sixteen.
Someone’s built a candy house
To house her in.
Someone’s built a candy castle
For my sweet sixteen
Someone’s built a candy house
To house her in.

And I’ll do anything
For my sweet sixteen
Oh, I’ll do anything
For little runaway child.

Do anything
For my sweet sixteen
I’ll do anything
For little runaway girl
Little runaway girl
Oh sweet sixteen
Oh sweet sixteen
Oh.

Credits: Billy Idol photo by DoD News, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Coral Castle photo by Barry haynes, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Fura Gems Unveils 101-Carat Gem-Quality Ruby, a ‘Once in a Century’ Discovery

Fura Gems just unveiled “Estrela de Fura,” a rough 101-carat, gem-quality ruby that’s being described as a “once in a century” discovery. The company’s chief executive believes the rough gem, which was unearthed in Mozambique, could eventually yield a faceted stone weighing 50 carats or more.

If that’s true and the quality of the stone is on par with the 25.59-carat, cushion-cut “Sunrise Ruby” that sold at auction in 2015 for $30.4 million, Estrela de Fura (Portuguese for “Star of Fura”) may be worth $50 million or more in its final polished form.

Estrela de Fura will be looking to unseat the Sunrise Ruby, which currently holds two auction records: The largest sum ever paid for a ruby and the highest price-per-carat ever paid for a ruby ($1.19 million).

The international press got its first look at the pigeon-blood-red Estrela de Fura during yesterday’s press conference at the lavish 68-story Almas Tower in Dubai.

Dev Shetty, Fura Gems’ chief executive, told thenationalnews.com how he received a call from the company’s master sorter, Balbir, on July 24. He had unlocked a storage box and spotted something large, red and shiny. The sorter told Shetty, who was in Bangkok at the time, “I think we found something amazing.”

Dr. A. Peretti, CEO of GRS GemResearch Swisslab, confirmed the sorter’s hunch.

“This ruby shows characteristics normally encountered only in the classical Mogok mines of Burma,” he told khaleejtimes.com. “It possesses a fluorescence and vivid red color, and even excels in its excellent clarity. Estrela de Fura provides the potential to achieve the new world record of being the finest gem-quality ruby ever found with a size of over 50 carats once it goes through the final cutting process.”

For the next 45 days, Fura Gems, which is billing Estrela de Fura as “the world’s largest gem-quality ruby ever mined,” will be setting up appointments for potential buyers to view and assess the stone at the Dubai Diamond Exchange. Shetty told thenationalnews.com that the potential buyer could represent a cutting house, jewelry brand, collector or even a museum. A private auction is set to take place in October.

The UAE-based Fura Gems currently mines rubies in Mozambique, emeralds in Colombia and sapphires in both Australia and Madagascar.

Credits: Estrela de Fura image courtesy of Fura Gems. Screen shot closeup via Twitter.com / Furagems.

Born of a Cosmic Collision, Lonsdaleite Is Harder Than Any Material Found on Earth

Lonsdaleite, a mysterious hexagonal form of diamond that’s even harder than the common cubic variety, is likely the result of a catastrophic collision between a dwarf planet and a large asteroid 4.5 billion years ago, according to a new study.

An international team of researchers confirmed the existence of the cosmic gem in slices of ureilite meteorites, a rare type of space rock that is believed to be material from the mantle of dwarf planets. The team studied 18 ureilite samples that had been sourced in northwest Africa and southern Australia.

“We have discovered the largest lonsdaleite crystals known to date that are up to a micron in size – much, much thinner than a human hair,” noted RMIT Professor Dougal McCulloch, who was one of the senior researchers involved in the study.

So far, the exact hardness of lonsdaleite has been difficult to confirm because the minute sample sizes do not allow for a scratch test. Lonsdaleite is believed to be 58% harder than an Earth-sourced diamond, which is saying a lot because conventional diamonds register a perfect 10 on the Mohs hardness scale. Might the scale need to be amended in the future to include a 10+ or an 11?

McCulloch and his team from RMIT University, Monash University, Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the Australian Synchrotron and Plymouth University used advanced electron microscopy techniques to study the slices of ureilite and create snapshots of how lonsdaleite and regular diamonds formed in those samples virtually side by side. The study was led by geologist Professor Andy Tomkins, an ARC Future Fellow at Monash University’s School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment.

“There’s strong evidence that there’s a newly discovered formation process for the lonsdaleite and regular diamond, which is like a supercritical chemical vapor deposition process that has taken place in these space rocks, probably in the dwarf planet shortly after a catastrophic collision,” McCulloch said.

“Chemical vapor deposition is one of the ways that people make diamonds in the lab, essentially by growing them in a specialized chamber,” he said.

The scientists believe that the lonsdaleite was somewhat replaced by diamonds as its environment cooled and pressure decreased.

In a related study from April of 2021, scientists at Washington State University’s Institute for Shock Physics blasted a dime-sized graphite disk at a wall at 15,000 mph (24,100 km/h) to emulate the high-energy impact that can turn carbon-based material into super-strong hexagonal diamonds.

The researchers learned that as soon as the disk crashed into a barrier, it was rapidly transformed into a hexagonal diamond. Immediately after impact — but before the material was obliterated — the researchers produced a small sound wave and used lasers to measure its movement through the hexagonal diamond. As a rule, sound moves fastest through stiffer materials, such as cubic diamonds. In this latest experiment, sound moved even faster through the lab-created hexagonal diamonds.

Based on that result, the scientist surmised that the hexagonal diamonds were stiffer than cubic diamonds. Stiffness is defined as a material’s ability to resist deformation under a force or pressure.

If these findings are backed up and lonsdaleite diamonds can be turned out commercially, these super-hard materials will likely find their way quickly into mining and industrial applications, such as drill bits and other cutting devices.

“Nature has thus provided us with a process to try and replicate in industry,” said Tomkins.

The results of the most recent study were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Credit: Professor Andy Tomkins (left) from Monash University with RMIT University PhD scholar Alan Salek and a ureilite meteor sample. Image courtesy of RMIT University. Urelite photo by Wilde-Kutsch, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Bended-Knee Proposals Can Trace Their Origins to the Knights of the Middle Ages

There are few things more “Awww” inspiring than witnessing the exact moment when couples young and old commit their lives to each other. And nearly every proposal we see in person or posted to social media includes that awkward scene where one partner gets down on bended knee and fumbles with a ring box while the other catches a first glimpse of a new bauble and hopefully answers “Yes” to the question “Will you marry me?”

The vast majority of proposals today are of the bended-knee variety, but did you ever wonder where and when that tradition originated?

Our expression of chivalry can trace its roots to the Middle Ages, when knights humbly bowed before noblewoman because kneeling was an act of respect, admiration and loyalty.

And for hundreds of years, the act of genuflection — bending a knee to the ground— has been tied to the church, where it is seen as a gesture of honor or worship.

In modern times, getting down on one knee symbolizes a humble willingness to commit one’s life to another. It’s a physical demonstration of propping up one’s significant other into a superior position and offering oneself, both heart and soul, without reservations. It is the partner’s choice whether or not to accept the proposal.

In The Knot’s 2019 Jewelry and Engagement Study, 84% of proposers reported that they went down on bended knee before proposing to their significant other.

The survey also revealed the prevalence of other enduring traditions. Nearly 90% asked their partner to marry them with a ring in hand, 87% said the words “will you marry me,” and 71% sought their partner’s parents’ permission before proposing.

The website lovetoknow.com also cleverly pointed out that “a practical reason behind a bent-knee proposal is that it puts the engagement ring in an elevated position between the couple, letting the light hit it clearly without being blocked by both individuals.”

Credit: Image by Bigstockphoto.com.

Queen Elizabeth II Amassed a Huge Jewelry Collection, But Pearls Were Always #1

Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away on Thursday at the age of 96, was famous for her dazzling collection of regal jewels. Britain’s longest-reigning monarch possessed 98 brooches, 46 necklaces, 37 bracelets, 34 pairs of earrings, 15 rings, 14 watches and five pendants. But her favorite piece, without a doubt, was a deeply sentimental, three-strand pearl necklace — a gift from her beloved grandfather, King George V, who died in 1936.

For the past 70 years, the pearl necklace along with a complementary pair of diamond-accented pearl stud earrings had been the most recognizable part of Elizabeth’s “official uniform,” which often included a brightly colored two-piece suit, decorative hat and the classic Launer black leather Traviata handbag.

The future monarch was only nine years old when she received the three-strand, perfectly matched pearl necklace from her grandfather during his Silver Jubilee in 1935, one year before his death. The pearls represented one of Elizabeth’s first pieces of “real” jewelry and remained a powerful reminder of the special bond they shared.

Elizabeth loved the three-strand pearl necklace so much that she arranged for an identical one to be made, and then in 1953, a third three-stand pearl necklace joined her collection. It was a gift from the Emir of Qatar and the only difference among the three was that this version sported a diamond clasp.

It was rumored that, over the years, she rotated the pearl necklaces freely so she wouldn’t risk wearing out the prized original.

Her favorite pearl earrings were a wedding present from her beloved grandmother, Queen Mary, in 1947.

Since Elizabeth’s death, the internet has been abuzz with theories on what will happen to her priceless jewels. Would they be distributed among her four children, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren? Or would Elizabeth’s eldest son, King Charles III, inherit all the treasure?

Since royal wills are sealed, there is no way to know right now how this will pan out, but a close follower of the Royal Family and its baubles believes she has the answer.

Lauren Kiehna of The Court Jeweller blog told Page Six Style that Elizabeth likely followed in the footsteps of her grandmother, Queen Mary (1867-1953), and her mother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (1900-2002), and bequeathed all of her jewelry directly to the new monarch, King Charles III.

“There are both historical and taxation-related benefits to this method of inheritance,” she explained.

If the jewelry was gifted to other individuals, she said, the items would be subject to a hefty inheritance tax.

Credit: Image by UK Government, OGL 3, via Wikimedia Commons.