Archive for Uncategorized

Australia’s Mothballed Ellendale Mine Could Be Producing Fancy Yellows This Month

Mothballed since 2015, the Ellendale mine in Western Australia’s Kimberley region could be producing its famous fancy yellow diamonds as early as this month. Ellendale diamonds possess a signature pure yellow color and are regarded as the highest quality in the world.

At one time, Ellendale produced about 50% of the world’s entire supply of fancy yellow diamonds, with Tiffany & Co. holding the exclusive rights to buy 100% of the Ellendale Fancy Yellow diamond production.

Now, two mining companies — India Bore Diamond Holdings (IBDH) and Burgundy Diamond Mines (BDM) — have been given the green light by the Aussie authorities to restart operations.

IBDH previously reported that it had discovered a large alluvial deposit of rare diamonds near the Ellendale mine. The miner said the L-Channel deposit was estimated to contain 1.3 million carats of gem-quality diamonds, including the world renowned Ellendale fancy yellows.

An IBDH spokesperson told Rapaport News that the mining company had discovered an ancient hidden river system flowing in a southward direction through the Ellendale diamond field.

“Until we discovered the channel, the idea of a south-flowing drainage system ran against many years of collective wisdom that the natural alluvial drainage systems at Ellendale flowed only to the north [or] northwest,” said an IBDH spokesperson. “In short, we looked where nobody had before.”

IBDH believes that 11% of all annual output will consist of fancy-yellow diamonds. The rest will include colorless diamonds, as well as a rainbow of colors, including green, red, pink, brown, blue, grey, purple and violet.

Peter McNally, managing director of IBDH, told Australia’s ABC network that he hoped to be mining diamonds at Ellendale some time this month.

Meanwhile, Burgundy Diamond Mines was also preparing to return to commercial mining of the old Ellendale diamond project. BDM managing director Peter Ravenscroft told the news agency that his company was in the process of building a bulk sampling plant and was confident production would start up by the fourth quarter of 2022.

The former Rio Tinto executive is hoping to replicate the successes of the Argyle Pink Diamonds brand.

“Those fancy yellow diamonds from Ellendale are really sought after and highly prized,” he told the ABC network.

Having exhausted its reserves, Rio Tinto shuttered its Argyle mining operations in November of 2020. During its 37 years of production, the Argyle mine generated more than 865 million carats of rough diamonds and become the world’s largest producer of colored diamonds.

The Ellendale mining area is located 120 km east of Derby in Western Australia.

Credit: Image courtesy of IBDH.

‘Star of Bombay’ Sapphire Was Gifted by Douglas Fairbanks to Mary Pickford in the 1920s

About a century ago, the swashbuckling silent film star Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., gifted a 182-carat star sapphire to his equally famous wife, Mary Pickford. The violet-blue sapphire was a prized possession of “America’s Sweetheart” until her death in 1979 at the age of 87.

Upon her passing, a representative of the Smithsonian was invited by the Mary Pickford Foundation to examine the stone. According the Los Angeles Times, the rep was immediately impressed, stating, “We want this sapphire. It is much brighter than our others.”

This impressive example of September’s official birthstone was soon bequeathed to the Smithsonian and became a permanent resident of the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals.

Pickford and Fairbanks were motion picture pioneers. They formed Pickford–Fairbanks Studios in 1919, which was renamed United Artists Studio in 1928. The power couple tied the knot in 1920, a marriage that would last 16 years. Pickford is also credited with being one of the 36 founding members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the first actress to sign a $1 million contract.

Displaying an impressive six-rayed asterism when viewed under direct light, Pickford’s cabochon-cut star sapphire owes its intense color to trace amounts of titanium, iron and vanadium in its chemical composition. The vanadium provides the violet undertones. All sapphires are made of the mineral corundum (crystalline aluminum oxide). In its pure state, the corundum is colorless, but when trace elements are naturally introduced to the chemical composition all the magic happens.

Interestingly, the “Star of Bombay” was not from Bombay at all. It originated in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon). Jewelry-industry scholars have a few thoughts on how the gem was misnamed. The most plausible is that the stone was mined in Sri Lanka, but then sold to a western buyer through the trading center of Bombay (now called Mumbai). The 563-carat “Star of India” is another famous star sapphire that was misnamed. It, too, originated in Sri Lanka.

Historically, the finest and most vibrant gem-quality sapphires have come from Sri Lanka, Burma and the Kashmir region of India. According to the Smithsonian, sapphires from Sri Lanka are typically light to medium blue and are commonly referred to as “Ceylon Sapphires.”

Sapphires are seen in many colors, including pink, purple, green, orange and yellow. Ruby is the red variety of corundum.

Credits: “Star of Bombay” photo by Chip Clark / Smithsonian, and digitally enhanced by SquareMoose. Mary Pickford photo by Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

‘Modern Family’ Star Eric Stonestreet Pops the Question with Oval-Cut Diamond Ring

Modern Family star Eric Stonestreet recently popped the question to long-time girlfriend and pediatric nurse Lindsay Schweitzer with an oval-cut diamond ring. The two-time Emmy-award-winning comedic actor, who plays Cameron Tucker on the ABC hit series, chronicled the happy news with a series of amusing photos on his Instagram page. His caption read, “She said, ‘She’d have her people call my people.'”

A closeup look at Schweitzer’s new ring, reveals a sizable oval-cut center stone, surrounded by a halo of much smaller accent diamonds. The band seems to be a simple split-shank design.

In the days that ensued, the 49-year-old actor (he’ll turn 50 on September 9) took some ribbing on Instagram because he looked so much older than his fiancée, who is nearly 42. Nevertheless, Stonestreet rolled with the punches and reposted a few of the couple’s engagement pictures that he cleverly edited with an aging filter.

Along with the edited photos, he wrote, “Apparently a lot of people think I look too old, as a 49 year old man, to be engaged to my almost 42 year old fiancé. Look, she can’t help that she looks so great at 42 and I can’t help that I apparently look like her grandad so, I fixed it for everyone. #engaged #love #engagedlife #herlifeforever #imfunny #shesaidyestothis.” He punctuated the post with an engagement ring emoji.

Stonestreet’s light-hearted response to the Instagram trolls was picked up by a slew of high-profile celebrity outlets, including Insider, Eonline, People, The Blast, Hello Magazine and Yahoo News. Stonestreet and Schweitzer met at the Big Slick charity weekend in Kansas City in 2016 and have been dating ever since.

The engagement announcement on Instagram also sparked an outpouring of well wishes from his fans (he has 2.3 million followers on Instagram) and celebrity brethren.

Howie Mandel wrote, “Wow congratulations.”

Kate Hudson added, “Yeah!!!! Congrats!”

Gwyneth Paltrow chimed in, “YAY!!! We are so happy for you.”

His Modern Family co-star, Sofia Vergara, told the TV show Extra: “I was so happy for him because, you know, she is amazing. He deserves to be with someone like her. I was telling him, ‘Finally!’ Because they’ve been together for a long time.”

Back in 2017, Stonestreet opened up about his relationship with Schweitzer during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The host joked that having a nurse for a girlfriend was perfect for him because his is such a hypochondriac.

Stonestreet replied, “I’m a big baby, too! She calms me. She calms my nerves! I’m a very high-strung person.”

Credits: Photos via Instagram / ericstonestreet.

New Ad Campaign Spotlights a Natural Diamond’s Positive Impact on Vulnerable Communities

The Natural Diamond Council’s new ad campaign titled, “Thank You, By the Way,” communicates the massive socioeconomic benefits generated by the diamond mining industry. The campaign targets jewelry consumers, who now more than ever before want to know where their products come from, and the impact their purchases have on the producing countries and local communities.

Via the campaign, consumers learn that by choosing a natural diamond, they’ll make a positive impact on the lives of millions of people in the most remote corners of the earth. In the example, above, consumers learn that their marriage proposal with a natural diamond protects endangered rhinos and safeguards 200,000 hectares across Southern Africa.

Created with the support of the Responsible Jewellery Council, the series of nine creative executions can been seen across the NDC’s social media channels, with a dedicated page on Only Natural Diamonds.

“This isn’t a new topic for the diamond industry,” said David Kellie, CEO of the Natural Diamond Council. “For the last two decades the industry has been doing this work, putting sustainability at the forefront of everything they do. But now more than ever, consumers have an appetite for it, they want to know the impact of what they are buying, and how their purchases are contributing to the regions and communities producing them. Through this campaign, we would like to thank our consumers for their trust and support in doing good around us.”

On the NDC website, consumers learn that their natural diamond purchase has far-reaching positive effects, building healthier, more prosperous futures for people in vulnerable communities.

A natural diamond purchase will do the following:

  • Contribute $16 billion of annual benefits for our world. That includes healthcare, jobs, education, biodiversity and infrastructure.
  • Support the livelihood of 10 million people around the world.
  • Help provide access to healthcare for more than 4 million people.
  • Help provide access to education for children around the world, including more than a half million children in rural communities.
  • Benefit the indigenous communities of Canada’s Northwest Territories with investments aimed at all age groups, from preschoolers to elders.
  • Invest in livelihoods at the source – from nurturing local business start-ups, to building new schools, roads and hospitals.
  • Help fund more than 400 women-owned businesses across Africa.
  • Help protect biodiversity over an area of land the size of Paris, London and New York City.
  • Help protect the lives of millions of wild animals globally, saving threatened species from extinction.

Credit: Image courtesy of The Natural Diamond Council.

Delta Pulls Out All the Stops to Assist Frequent Flyer With Memorable Proposal

It’s not easy for sweethearts to maintain a long-distance relationship, especially when they live 800 miles apart. But over the past two years, Brennan and Skyler have maintained their Dallas-to-Atlanta romance via countless hours on Delta flights.

While flying solo recently, Brennan came to the realization that he and Skyler were “destined” to be together so he started plotting options for making the proposal truly memorable.

Since Delta was such a big part of their lives — not only did they commute back and forth between Dallas and Atlanta, but they also took vacations to fun destinations, such as Cancun and New Orleans — Brennan knocked out an email to Delta CEO Ed Bastian.

“Airplanes have a special place in our hearts,” Brennan wrote. “Specifically, Delta jets brought us and kept us together. I have given a lot of thought to all the potential options for my proposal, and I keep coming back to somehow involving an airplane and Delta.”

Brennan didn’t really believe that the note would amount to much, but he was very wrong.

Within 24 hours, Erica Almena of the CEO’s correspondence team wrote back saying that Delta would love to help.

At the direction of Delta’s CEO, dozens of Delta employees in Texas and Georgia sprung into action.

“I’m a sap for a good love story,” said Almena. “So planning this engagement with Brennan and our teams was like living a in a real life romance movie!”

During her latest trip from Dallas to Atlanta, Skyler had a hunch that something special was about to happen.

“When I walked into DFW, all the Delta agents looked at me like I was a celebrity,” Skyler said.

The pilots and flight attendants on her flight to Atlanta were in on the plan, too, delivering cards from Brennan and posing for pictures.

Once she arrived in Atlanta, she was met at the boarding door by a Delta operations manager and whisked away in a Porsche.

Her destination would be the “rain forest” tunnel between the A and B terminals. This was a special place for the couple.

During their two-year relationship, texted pictures of the tunnel came to symbolize the wordless message, “I’m on my way!”

Of course, Brennan was waiting for Skyler in the rain forest, where he went down on one knee and proposed.

Through tears of joy, she said, “Yes.”

But then there was more. Riding in Delta’s Porsche, the couple was treated to an insider’s tour of the airport, including a photo op in front of the 306-seat Airbus A350. They were also escorted to the Delta Sky Club, where CEO Bastian sent them a congratulatory video message.

As the couple was about to board their flight to Dallas, posters of the couple decorated the entry to the gateway. One of the posters was titled, “Diamonds in the Sky.”

On the flight, the celebration continued as passengers and the crew celebrated with Brennan-and-Skyler signs and clappers.

“It was the most fun I have ever had in one day,” Skyler said.

“This experience has been above and beyond,” Brennan added. “Delta will always be our airline and thus will be part of countless memories and celebrations in our future together.”

Credits: Photos by Alec Thomas, Delta Air Lines.

24.45-Carat Heart-Shaped Diamond Narrowly Misses Record at Summer Sparkle Auction

A 24.45-carat, internally flawless, heart-shaped diamond fetched $2.01 million at Christie’s Summer Sparkle sale, narrowly missing the record for the highest-valued jewel ever sold online. Christie’s had established that record in June 2020 when a 28.86-carat, D-color, emerald-cut diamond achieved $2.11 million.

The heart-shaped stunner, which came into the auction with a pre-sale estimate of $1.55 million to $2.55 million, was designated as Lot #1 in Christie’s second iteration of Jewels Online: Summer Sparkle. In the lead-up to the sale, Christie’s had promoted the sale’s top lot as the “highest valued jewel ever offered in an online sale at Christie’s.” The record holder from 2020 had entered its auction with a pre-sale estimate of $1 million to $2 million.

The top lot of the 2021 Summer Sparkle sale is set as a platinum pendant and surrounded by internally flawless pear-shaped brilliant-cut diamonds weighing 1.37 carats. The heart-shaped center stone belongs to the rare Type IIa category. These diamonds are the most chemically pure and characterized by their exceptional transparency.

Featuring 51 lots, the sale celebrated a wide variety of diamonds, from colorless to colorful.

One of the most colorful was “The Summer Sunrise,” a fancy vivid, orange-yellow, round-cornered rectangular modified brilliant-cut diamond weighing 9.83 carats. The Summer Sunrise was scooped up for $810,000, just above the pre-sale high estimate of $800,000. Set in a platinum ring and framed by triangular-shaped diamonds, the center stone boasts a clarity rating of VS1.

Other diamonds in the sale spanned a wide variety of colors, including pinks, greens, browns and yellows.

Overall, the August 4 – 18 online sale raked in $5.13 million.

Credits: Images courtesy of Christie’s.

A Faceted Poudretteite Is So Rare Few Gemologists Will Ever Encounter One, Says GIA

Today starts an occasional series covering the rarest gems you’ve probably never heard of. The remarkable 9.41-carat light-pink oval gem seen here is one of the largest — if not the largest — faceted poudretteite in existence, according to the Smithsonian.

A faceted poudretteite is so rare, says the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), that few professional gemologists will ever encounter one.

Poudretteite gets its name from the Poudrette family, owners and operators of a quarry near Mont Saint-Hilaire, Quebec, Canada, where a few tiny crystals of the curious material was first unearthed in the mid-1960s. It would take until 1986 for poudretteite to finally be recognized and registered as a new mineral.

In 2000, the first documented gem-quality specimen of poudretteite was discovered nearly half-a-world away in Mogok, Burma — an area famous for its pigeon’s blood rubies, as well as lapis lazuli, garnet, moonstone, amethyst, peridot and chrysoberyl. The 3-carat poudretteite was submitted to the Gubelin Gem Lab for examination, and the findings were published in the scholarly journal Gems & Gemology in 2003.

Also sourced in Burma, the much larger, nearly flawless 9.41-carat poudretteite is the only gem of its kind in the Smithsonian’s National Gem Collection. The gem was generously gifted to the Smithsonian in 2007 by Frances Miller Seay.

Poudretteite can range from colorless to purple-pink and owes its color to the presence of manganese in its chemical composition. Specimens with few inclusions and saturated color are said to be worth $6,000 per carat or more.

On the Mohs hardness scale, poudretteite rates a 5, compared to amethyst (7), topaz (8), sapphire (9) and diamond (10). The relative softness of the gem makes it unsuitable to be used in a ring, but it could be used, with care, in earrings, a pendant or pin.

Credit: Photo by Ken Larsen / Smithsonian.

Music Friday: 1955 Hit ‘Band of Gold’ Makes Resurgence 52 Years Later on ‘Mad Men’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great throwback songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, we shine the spotlight on Don Cherry’s 1955 hit, “Band of Gold,” which made a resurgence more than 50 years later on the Emmy-award-winning AMC series Mad Men.

In the song, Cherry explains how he would gladly trade fame and fortune for a simple life with his true love. And he symbolizes that eternal bond with a gold wedding band.

Backed by Ray Conniff & His Orchestra, Cherry sings, “Don’t want the world to have and hold / For fame is not my line / Just want a little band of gold / To prove that you are mine.”

With music by Jack Taylor and lyrics by Bob Musel, “Band of Gold” became Cherry’s biggest hit, reaching #4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. It was also covered by Kit Carson, Petula Clark, Mel Carter, and Cherry, again, in 1968 for his album There Goes My Everything.

The song may have faded from our collective memories had it not been for critically acclaimed Mad Men, which chronicled the fast-paced world of New York’s Madison Avenue advertising executives during the turbulent 1960s.

Mad Men fans may remember that “Band of Gold” was the first song played after the opening credits of the first episode of Season 1 in 2007. It also returned for Mad Men‘s sixth season finale. The series included 92 episodes and concluded in 2015.

In November 2015, “Band of Gold” was featured as the second song on a 24-track compilation album called Retrospective: The Music Of Mad Men.

Born in Wichita Falls, TX, in 1924, Cherry was a successful big band singer and a top-ranked amateur golfer. In 1960’s U.S. Open, Cherry finished only four strokes behind the winner, Arnold Palmer. Cherry passed away in 2018 at the age of 94.

Please check out the audio track of Cherry singing “Band of Gold.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Band of Gold”
Written by Bob Musel and Jack Taylor. Performed by Don Cherry.

I’ve never wanted wealth untold
My life has one design
A simple little band of gold
To prove that you are mine

Don’t want the world to have and hold
For fame is not my line
Just want a little band of gold
To prove that you are mine

Some sail away to Araby and other lands of mystery
But all the wonders that they see will never tempt me

Their memories will soon grow cold
But till the end of time
There’ll be a little band of gold
To prove that you are mine

Don’t want the world to have and hold
For fame is not my line
Just want a little band of gold
To prove that you are mine

Credit: Screen capture via Youtube.com.

Police Dog Trained to Sniff Out Drugs and Weapons Finds Lost Engagement Ring on Beach

Dogo, a police dog with the Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Office, recently showed off his amazing olfactory skills by sniffing out an engagement ring that was lost at a Michigan beach on the shore of Lake Superior.

The five-year-old Dutch shepherd is trained to locate hidden drugs and weapons, but is also skilled at detecting human scent on small objects.

So, when Sgt. Brad Pelli learned that Elsa Green had lost her bridal jewelry at the beach in Eagle River, he had a hunch that Dogo could use his nose to save the day.

Dogs possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to about six million in humans. This gives dogs an ability to detect a teaspoon of sugar in a million gallons of water, or a single rotten apple in two million barrels. Their keen sense of smell can even detect human disease, such as cancer, diabetes and tuberculosis.

Of course, Green wouldn’t have needed Dogo’s assistance if an ugly black beetle hadn’t crawled across a baseball cap that she had set upon the sand. Green flung the cap, hoping to scare off the beetle. What she didn’t remember at the time was that she had placed her cherished engagement ring and wedding band in the cap while she was applying sunscreen. The rings went flying and disappeared into the sand.

Green and her friends searched the area and came up empty. They even solicited the help of a beachgoer with a metal detector. He also failed to find the rings.

“I’d been wearing those rings every day for 17 years,” Green told the Washington Post. “But at that moment, I figured they were gone.”

With no cell phone coverage at the beach, Green asked her friend to seek help from the sheriff’s office about a half mile away.

Sgt. Pelli initially told the friend that there was not much he could do. The department didn’t have a metal detector.

“But then after she left, I thought, ‘Why not take the dog down to the beach?’” Pelli said.

A few minutes later, the officer and his K-9 partner arrived at the beach ready to do to some searching.

Pelli told Green and her group to wait in the parking area so Dogo wouldn’t be distracted by their scents.

Pelli gave Dogo a “search” command, and within a few minutes the talented K-9 laid his body on the sand, signaling that he had found something.

“I got down on my knees to brush away the sand and saw something glimmering,” Pelli told the Washington Post.

It was Green’s platinum engagement ring.

Pelli reunited Green with her engagement ring, but soon learned that the wedding band was still missing. Pelli didn’t need Dogo’s help for the second search. The wedding band was in the same area, just an inch beneath the surface.

“My son and I both gave the dog a huge hug,” Green said.

She also posted a glowing “thank you” on her Facebook page.

“K9 Dogo, you will forever be my hero!” she wrote. “I started my beach day at Eagle River by losing my wedding rings in the sand… Dogo put his training and skills to use and sure enough he found my rings! Dogo, I’ll be bringing you ice cream to say thank you!”

The Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page featured a photo of Green, her son, the sergeant and his K-9 buddy, along with this caption: “This is what we call going above and beyond. Great job Sgt. Pelli and K9 Dogo!”

Credits: Group pic via Facebook.com/Elsa Green; Dogo pic via Facebook.com/keweenawsheriff.

Mastercard Report: Jewelry Sales in July Jump 54.2% Above Pre-Pandemic Levels

In a startling report, Mastercard singled out “jewelry” as the fastest growing retail sector, with July 2021 sales jumping a whopping 54.2% compared to pre-pandemic July 2019 levels. When comparing July 2021 jewelry sales to those in July 2020, the growth is even more dramatic, with the jewelry sector accelerating 82.6%.

In the 2021 vs 2019 comparison, jewelry far outpaced apparel (+10.2%), department stores (+7.2%), furniture & furnishings (26.8%), grocery (+10.9%), hardware (+18.6%) and restaurants (+30.2%).

Overall, Mastercard SpendingPulse™ — which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment — revealed that retail sales in the U.S. grew for the 11th consecutive month in July. Overall sales were up 10.9% in July and in-store sales were up 15.5% over that same period.

July’s retail sales growth of 10.9% is nearly quadruple the recent four-year average, which registered just 2.9%.

The analysts at Mastercard SpendingPulse™ believe that the spending growth was spurred, in part, by the infusion of cash provided by the Child Tax Credit, as well as pent-up savings.

They also pointed to a rush of shoppers returning to physical stores.

“While e-commerce continues to play an increasingly significant role for retail, nothing replaces the in-store experience,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and Chairman of Saks Incorporated. “July numbers reflect a return to the store. Consumers are shopping, spending and splurging across channels.”

Credits: Image by Bigstockphoto.com. Chart by Mastercard SpendingPulse™.