Archive for Uncategorized

Here’s Why Brazil’s Paraiba Tourmaline Has a Nearly Identical African Cousin

Paraiba tourmaline is the most prized variety of October’s birthstone. The vivid teal, turquoise and neon blue stones caused a sensation when they were first discovered in Brazil’s tropical, coastal state of Paraiba in 1987.

Worldwide demand sparked a mining frenzy and, within five years, the supply beneath “Paraiba Hill” was largely tapped out.

With the original mine depleted, gem lovers wondered if there would ever be another discovery of Paraiba tourmaline. Well, they didn’t have to wait too long. In 2001, new Paraiba-like tourmalines were unearthed far across the Atlantic Ocean in Nigeria. Curiously, the African gems boasted the same color and chemistry as the South American-sourced originals.

Some gem experts believe that the uncanny connection can be attributed to continental drift, the theory that the Earth’s continents have moved over geologic time and that South American and Africa were once connected. Paraiba, on the far eastern tip of Brazil, would have been adjacent to the west coast of Nigeria.

“Thus we may suppose that the radiant copper tourmalines from Nigeria came into being under the same conditions as those from Paraiba, at a time before the ancient continent drifted apart,” writes the International Colored Gemstone Association on its Paraiba Tourmaline web page. “Is that the reason why it is so difficult to tell one from the other? This remains one of the great riddles in the fascinating world of gemstones.”

Paraiba tourmalines are distinctly different from other varieties of tourmaline because they owe their intense blue color to trace impurities of copper. Others get their color from the presence of iron, manganese, chromium and vanadium. Gem dealers generally refer to copper-infused tourmaline as “Paraiba,” regardless of the origin.

Top-quality Paraiba tourmalines larger than a few carats are extraordinarily rare. The 1.22-carat pear-shaped gem, above, was mined in Paraiba and is now part of the National Gem Collection at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.

Tourmaline comes in a wide variety of fiery, vibrant hues, such as red, green, yellow, orange, brown, pink and purple. October’s birthstone is even available in bi-color and tri-color versions. The name “tourmaline” is, in fact, derived from the Singhalese words “tura mali,” which mean “stone with mixed colors.”

Tourmalines range from 7 to 7.5 on the Moh’s scale of hardness, which makes them durable enough to be used in any type of jewelry.

Both tourmaline and opal are the official birthstones for the month of October.

Credit: Gem photo by Greg Polley / Smithsonian. Continental drift illustration by SebM123 / CC0.

Is It Possible to Set a Diamond Ablaze? These Scientists Deliver the Answer

Diamond sits alone atop the Mohs scale as the hardest naturally occurring material known to man. It is harder than a ruby, sapphire or emerald and has the ability to slice through steel like a hot knife through butter. The only substance that can scratch a diamond is another diamond.

Under normal circumstances, diamonds truly are forever. But in the labs of the British Royal Institution, the famous De Beers ad slogan was put to the test.

Because a diamond is made from pure carbon, scientists have theorized since the 1700s that it should burn like other carbon materials, such as graphite or coal.

And, indeed, during the early 1770s, French chemist Antoine Lavoisier used two powerful lenses to magnify the sun’s rays directly onto a diamond. The diamond slowly disappeared and carbon dioxide gas accumulated, proving that the diamond was made from carbon.

In the 2013 video, below, British scientist and author Peter Wothers enlisted the help of Nobel prize-winning chemist Sir Harry Kroto to demonstrate what it takes to get a diamond to burn. (Kroto passed away in 2016 at the age of 76.)

Wothers added a bit of drama and comic relief by using Kroto’s wife’s engagement diamond for the experiment. The viewer can see Kroto getting increasingly more uncomfortable as it becomes very clear that his wife’s diamond — under just the right conditions — has ignited.

In pure oxygen, diamonds can burn at 1320 degrees F. In normal conditions, the ignition occurs at about 1520 degrees F.

Wothers’ experiment was conducted in a chamber of pure oxygen. The resulting gases were collected in a tube leading to a beaker of limewater. The experiment anticipated that if the burning material contained carbon, the smoke would contain carbon dioxide. When the carbon dioxide was mixed into the limewater, it turned the mixture a milky white color — basically delivering calcium carbonate, an antacid used to calm a sour stomach.

In his preliminary experiment, Wothers easily ignited a bit of graphite using a torch. Then he upped the ante by doing the exact same experiment using the Kroto engagement diamond.

Surprisingly, that lit up, too. The diamond burned as a golden ember without producing any flames. At that point, Kroto half-jokingly commented that he hoped Wothers could afford to pay for a replacement diamond.

As you might have figured out by now, Wothers had cleverly swapped the Krotos’ engagement diamond with a much lower quality specimen before the experiment began.

If you’re worried about how a diamond is protected when a ring needs to be retipped, for example, be assured that jewelers go to great lengths to make sure that the extreme heat of the torch does not affect the gemstone. Some jewelers use boric acid to protect the stone while others depend on the pinpoint accuracy of a laser welder to keep the diamond out of harm’s way.

Kroto won his Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996 for his work in discovering fullerenes, a pure carbon molecule that takes a shape similar to a soccer ball. Research has suggested many uses for fullerenes, including medical applications, superconductors, fiber-optics systems and nanotechnology.

Check out Wothers’ diamond-burning experiment here…

Credits: Screen captures via

Model Jasmine Tookes Dishes About Her Romantic Adventure and 7-Carat Diamond Ring

Snapchat executive Juan David Borrero pulled out all the stops for his marriage proposal to Victoria’s Secret Angel Jasmine Tookes on September 21. The Ecuador-born Borrero’s romantic adventure covered three states and culminated with a drone-delivered 7-carat oval-shaped diamond engagement ring.

This past Thursday, the supermodel’s 4.1 million Instagram followers got to see intimate shots of her special day, along with a close-up look at her new ring. The 18-karat yellow gold ring features a hidden halo, diamond-embellished prongs and is estimated to be worth more than $250,000. Borrero reportedly spent eight months designing the custom ring with specialists at Ritani.

Tookes captioned the photo, “Si, mi amor! We’re engaged!!!” and punctuated the post with heart, love and crying emojis.

In an interview with, the 29-year-old Tookes dished all the details of her memorable day.

Early on Monday, September 21, Borrero, the 30-year-old director of international markets at Snapchat, interrupted Tookes’ workday to tell her to pack her bags. They were going on a surprise trip and they were leaving in two hours.

Tookes was blindfolded on the way to their first stop, The Rose in Venice, CA. It was the restaurant where they first met four years ago.

Then they drove off to the airport, where they boarded a plane to Page, AZ. Along the way, the model munched Popeyes chicken tenders and drank Champagne.

“I was in heaven,” she wrote, but things were about to get even more exciting.

After touching down in Arizona, they boarded a helicopter.

“[They] flew us to the most beautiful, otherworldly-like secluded place in the middle of the desert rocks in Utah. It was just us,” she told

More specifically, they were at the breathtaking Lake Powell, a man-made reservoir on the border of Utah and Arizona.

The couple enjoyed a Champagne toast and sat for about an hour, taking in the gorgeous vistas and enjoying each other’s company.

“Shortly after that, he escorted me to a lookout above where we were sitting, and on the ground was a bunch of rocks which spelled out WYMM?” she said. “At first glance, I didn’t know what this meant, but it immediately dawned on me that it meant ‘Will you marry me?’”

While she tried to process what was happening, she heard a drone flying above them. Hanging from the drone at the end of a long string was a small black pouch, and in the pouch was a ring box.

Borrero grabbed the ring box, took out the ring and went down on one knee.

“I was in complete disbelief and immediately burst into tears because this was something I did not expect,” Tookes told “After lots of happy tears, I obviously said ‘Yes,’ and this was honestly the best day I could’ve ever imagined. We are very excited and looking forward to a future filled with lots of love and happiness.”

The couple will be tying the knot in Borrero’s hometown in Ecuador. Due to the issues related to COVID-19, plans have yet to be cemented.

“Hopefully, all of my Spanish classes will have paid off by then,” she joked.

Credits: Images via Instagram/jastookes.

25 Years of Searching Yields 2nd-Largest Diamond in Arkansas Park’s History

In a shining example of how persistence pays off, Kevin Kinard scored a 9.07-carat diamond during a Labor Day visit to Arkansas’s Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro. The 33-year-old bank branch manager from Maumelle, Ark., had caught the diamond bug during a second-grade field trip to the park and had returned regularly ever since. For 25 years, his amateur prospecting turned up no diamonds.

All that changed on September 7 when he picked up a curiously shiny, marble-sized brown crystal in the southeast portion of the park’s 37.5-acre search area. The crystal turned out to be the second-largest diamond discovered in the 48-year history of the park. The largest was the 16.37-carat white Amarillo Starlight, which was unearthed in August of 1975.

Kinard told park officials that he and his friends were wet sifting for about 10 minutes before he decided to break off from his group to walk up and down the plowed rows of the search field. While scanning the ground, a stone with a rounded, dimpled shape caught his eye.

“It kind of looked interesting and shiny,“ he said, “so I put it in my bag and kept searching. I just thought it might’ve been glass.”

After a few hours, Kinard and his friends headed to the Diamond Discovery Center, where park staffers help identify visitors’ finds.

“I almost didn’t have them check my finds, because I didn’t think I had found anything,“ Kinard said. “My friend had hers checked, though, so I went ahead and had them check mine, too.”

A few minutes later, a park manager invited Kinard into the Discover Center’s office to tell him the big news.

“I honestly teared up when they told me,” he said. “I was in complete shock!”

Park officials described the dewdrop-shaped stone as “brandy brown” with a metallic shine, which is typical of all the park’s diamonds.

Park Assistant Superintendent Dru Edmonds noted that conditions in the diamond search area were perfect for Kinard to find his diamond.

“Park staff plowed the search area on August 20, just a few days before Tropical Storm Laura dropped more than two inches of rain in the park,” Edmonds said. “The sun was out when Mr. Kinard visited, and he walked just the right path to notice the sunlight reflecting off his diamond.”

Kinard pointed out the uncanny connection between the diamond’s weight and the day he found it.

”It weighs 9.07, and I found it on 9/7. I thought that was so unique!” he said.

As is customary with large diamond finds at the park, Kinard was encouraged to give his diamond a name.

He decided to honor his friends by calling it the ”Kinard Friendship Diamond.”

“We love to travel together and had such a great time out here,” he said. ”It was a very humbling experience.”

The search area is actually a plowed field atop the eroded surface of an extinct, diamond-bearing volcanic pipe. Visitors have found more than 33,000 diamonds since the Crater of Diamonds opened as an Arkansas State Park in 1972.

Amateur miners get to keep what they find at the only diamond site in the world that’s open to the general public. The park had been closed for two months due to COVID-19 health concerns, but reopened on May 22.

Admission to the park’s diamond search area is currently limited to 1,000 tickets per day due to COVID-19 restrictions. Visitors are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance at, to ensure access.

Credits: Images courtesy of Arkansas State Parks.

Music Friday: Brokenhearted Sam Smith Cries Out, ‘My Diamonds Leave With You’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you brand new songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, English singer-songwriter Sam Smith tries to wrap his mind around a bitter breakup in his sensational, new single, “Diamonds.”

Throughout the song, Smith acknowledges that his ex-lover was using him for his money and fame. But, Smith hardly cares that his ex has walked away with “glitter and gold.” What’s most painful is the loss of the thing that is most precious in his world — his love, which is represented in the song as his “diamonds.”

Smith sings, “Material love won’t fool me (Mmm) / When you’re not here, I can’t breathe (Mmm) / Think I always knew / My diamonds leave with you.”

Penned by Smith and Shellback, “Diamonds” was released as the second single from Love Goes, an album that’s scheduled to drop on October 30. Today’s featured song premiered on September 17 and the official music video has become a global sensation, averaging more than a million views per day (8.7 million and counting). The official lyric video has been played more than a half million times.

On his Instagram page, Smith wrote, “I’m extremely happy and overjoyed to announce my third album (I can’t believe I’m saying that) ‘Love Goes’. This album marks a time of experimentation and self discovery in my life. I wrote this from the age of 26-28 and it’s been one hell of a ride. I hope the people who listen to it enjoy it and love it like I have and do.”

Born Samuel Frederick Smith in London in 1992, the velvety-voiced singer developed his love for music in musical theater and youth choirs. As a 20-year-old, he was featured on the Disclosure song, “Latch,” which charted in 15 countries. A year later, he would release his debut album, Lay Me Down.

To date, Smith has captured four Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards, three Billboard Music Awards, an American Music Award, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award.

Please check out the audio track of Smith performing “Diamonds.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

Written by Sam Smith and Shellback. Performed by Sam Smith.

Have it all, rip our memories off the wall
All the special things I bought
They mean nothing to me anymore
But to you, they were everything we were
They meant more than every word
Now I know just what you love me for (Mmm)

Take all the money you want from me
Hope you become what you want to be
Show me how little you care
How little you care, how little you care
You dream of glitter and gold
My hеart’s already been sold
Show you how little I care
How little I care, how little I care

My diamonds leave with you (Mmm)
You’re never gonna hear my heart break (Mmm)
Never gonna move in dark ways (Mmm)
Baby, you’re so cruel
My diamonds leave with you (Mmm)
Material love won’t fool me (Mmm)
When you’re not here, I can’t breathe (Mmm)
Think I always knew
My diamonds leave with you (Diamonds, diamonds, diamonds, diamonds)

Shake it off, shake the fear of feeling lost
Always me that pays the cost
I should never trust so easily
You lied to me, lie-lied to me
Then left with my heart ’round your chest (Mmm)

Take all the money you want from me
Hope you become what you want to be
Show me how little you care
How little you care, how little you care
You dream of glitter and gold
My heart’s already been sold
Show you how little I care
How little I care, how little I care

My diamonds leave with you (Mmm)
You’re never gonna hear my heart break (Mmm)
Never gonna move in dark ways (Mmm)
Baby, you’re so cruel
My diamonds leave with you (Mmm)
Material love won’t fool me (Mmm)
When you’re not here, I can’t breathe (Mmm)
Think I always knew
My diamonds leave with you (Diamonds, diamonds, diamonds, diamonds)

Woah-oh (Diamonds, diamonds, diamonds, diamonds)
Woah-oh (Diamonds, diamonds, diamonds, diamonds)
Always knew
My diamonds leave with you (Diamonds, diamonds, diamonds, diamonds)
Woah-oh (Diamonds, diamonds, diamonds, diamonds)
Woah-oh (Diamonds, diamonds, diamonds, diamonds)
Always knew (Diamonds, diamonds, diamonds, diamonds)

You’re never gonna hear my heart break
Never gonna move in dark ways
Baby, you’re so cruel
My diamonds leave with you
Material love won’t fool me
When you’re not here, I can’t breathe
Think I always knew
My diamonds leave with you, oh

You’re never gonna hear my heart break (Mmm)
Never gonna move in dark ways (Mmm, oh)
Baby, you’re so cruel (So cruel)
My diamonds leave with you (Mmm)
Material love won’t fool me (Mmm)
When you’re not here, I can’t breathe (Mmm)
Think I always knew
My diamonds leave with you (Diamonds, diamonds, diamonds, diamonds)

Woah-oh (Diamonds, diamonds, diamonds, diamonds)
Woah-oh (Diamonds, diamonds, diamonds, diamonds)
Always knew
My diamonds leave with you (Diamonds, diamonds, diamonds, diamonds)
Woah-oh (Diamonds, diamonds, diamonds, diamonds)
Woah-oh (Diamonds, diamonds, diamonds, diamonds)
Always knew
My diamonds leave with you

Credit: Photo by marcen27 from Glasgow, UK / CC BY.

Now You Can Make the 27-Foot-Long Wienermobile Part of Your Epic Marriage Proposal

As of this month, Oscar Mayer’s 27-foot-long Wienermobiles have been making appearances at marriage proposals from coast to coast. There are currently six hot-dog-shaped promotional vehicles criss-crossing the continent, and to book one, all you have to do is visit the company’s website, fill out a request form, and hope for some good luck.

Oscar Mayer charges no fee for a Wienermobile appearance, but spots are based on availability. The company recommends that requests be made from three to 12 months ahead of the big day. The company will notify winners one week prior to the requested date.

Wienermobile proposals became a thing at Oscar Mayer after Zach Chatham, an official Wienermobile driver, revealed his plans to pop the question in front of the vehicle at Yellowstone National Park. Wienermobile drivers are called “hotdoggers,” and this hotdogger’s proposal idea caught the attention of Nick Guerten, marketing director for Oscar Mayer.

“When Zach told us about his plans to propose with the Wienermobile at Yellowstone, we knew it would be a one-of-a-kind experience they would never forget,” Guerten told “We wanted to extend this to our fans so everyone can have the opportunity of a 27-foot hot dog on wheels present during such an important life moment.”

In a clever pun-filled statement, the company wrote, “You can now relish your upcoming special day with the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. Summer weddings may have been a no-go, but proposal season is coming up FAST. So, Oscar Mayer is making the iconic Wienermobile available to anyone who’s ready to mustard up the courage to pop the question to their significant other.”

Oscar Mayer devotes a large section of its website to the Wienermobile. There, hot dog aficionados will learn that the first Wienermobile was created in 1936 by Carl Mayer, that the 1952 version of the Wienbermobile has a permanent home at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI, and that the 1969 Wienmobile featured Ford Thunderbird taillights, a Chevy motorhome frame and averaged 187 smiles per gallon. Fans can also track the whereabouts of the six Wienermobiles and fill out an appearance request.

When filling out the form, be sure to state how the Wienermobile will be incorporated into your proposal plan.

Credit: Image courtesy of Oscar Mayer.

4,000 Sapphires Sparkle in 2020 Edition of Miami Hurricanes’ ‘Turnover Chain’

The Miami Hurricanes finally unveiled the 2020 edition of their famous “turnover chain” during the highly ranked team’s 47-34 road victory against the Louisville Cardinals on Saturday. Cornerback Al Blades Jr. got to wear the massive, gem-encrusted Florida-shaped pendant after picking off a pass from Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham late in the second quarter.

The pendant is affixed to a massive Cuban-link chain that weighs 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) and measures 32 inches long. The Florida-shaped pendant weighs 300 grams and is dotted with 4,000 sapphires set in 10-karat yellow gold. The design incorporates the Hurricanes’ “U” logo positioned over the northern part of the state. The “U” is emblazoned with 700 orange sapphires and 700 green sapphires to match the team’s colors.

Most of the state of Florida is set with white sapphires, except for southeastern region, including Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, which are key recruiting areas near the school’s home base in Miami. On the pendant, those counties are filled in with orange and green sapphires.

The Hurricanes’ defensive unit didn’t cause any turnovers in their home opener against the University of Alabama so the long-awaited reveal was held over to Week 2.

During that game, fans did get to see the team’s 2020 “touchdown rings” for the first time after running back Cam’Ron Harris took a handoff, busted through the line and scampered untouched for a 66-yard touchdown. The Hurricanes would go on to win 31-14.

The rings span eight knuckles and spell out “The Crib” when the two fists are held together. The script words are adorned with orange and green sapphires. The rings are set with 829 and 1,096 gems, respectively.

The celebratory turnover chain is the team’s fourth in four years. The first incarnation of that chain, in 2017, featured a diamond-encrusted “U” hanging from a Cuban link chain. The 2018 edition highlighted a jeweled Sebastian the Ibis, the team’s mascot, but no “U” logo. The 2019 version was a diamond-adorned “305,” a number that refers to the South Florida area code.

Saturday’s win lifted the Hurricanes to  #12 in the new AP college football rankings.

Credit: Image courtesy of Miami Athletics.

Ana de Armas Stars in Natural Diamond Council’s ‘For Moments Like No Other’ Campaign

The Natural Diamond Council’s “For Moments Like No Other” campaign made its worldwide debut during the first-ever virtual Emmy Awards on Sunday night. Starring Cuban-Spanish actress Ana de Armas, the 30-second spot emphasized how diamonds are not solely the purview of romantic interests or formal occasions. They are meant to celebrate every type of meaningful connection.

This new campaign marks the first time the Natural Diamond Council (NDC) has employed a Hollywood headliner as a brand ambassador. The rising Hollywood star will be appearing opposite Daniel Craig in the James Bond thriller, No Time to Die, which is scheduled to be released on November 20, 2020.

According to the NDC, Armas was approached for the project because she epitomizes an ascendant, free-thinking generation. Her elegant, effervescent and easygoing demeanor reflects the next chapter in the history of natural diamonds — where traditional tenets of diamond-wearing are dismantled and reimagined.

The commercial features the actress romping at a barefoot party in a fragrant vineyard and enjoying an intoxicating tangerine sunset along the Portuguese coast. All the while she is wearing diamond jewelry that catches and diffuses the glowing rays as the sun. This new diamond-wearing attitude is casual, fun, energetic, present and, most importantly, driven by connection and experience, according to the NDC.

“I love thinking of diamonds this way, as special emblems of even the small personal moments in our lives,” noted de Armas. “They represent joy and warmth and beauty.”

Following its Emmys debut, the campaign will be featured in print media, including Vogue and Vanity Fair‘s respective November 2020 issues, The New York Times, and at online publications ranging from Bustle to Who What Wear. It will, additionally, be featured on non-linear TV, from Hulu to Amazon Fire. The campaign will continue through the spring of 2021.

The ads are aimed at 21- to 45-year-olds with household incomes of $75,000 or more. The average consumer in that demographic range will encounter elements of the campaign at least seven times between September and the end of December, according to the NDC.

The Natural Diamond Council will also distribute campaign materials through its own channels, including its website, which will feature behind-the-scenes footage and an interview with de Armas. The site will also offer comprehensive information about the brands and designers represented in the commercials. The global campaign will run in the US, UK, China and India.

“Ana is a true talent, and the dynamism she exemplifies is exactly what we seek to do daily in our support of the natural diamond industry,” said Kristina Buckley Kayel, Managing Director of Natural Diamond Council North America. “This campaign redefines traditional diamond moments, celebrating a variety of personal connections with these natural stones. It’s a more contemporary approach to the diamond dream, for meaningful moments big or small.”

The Natural Diamond Council represents seven of the world’s leading diamond producers. Back in June, the Diamond Producers Association became the Natural Diamond Council and replaced its “Real is Rare” and “For Me, From Me” slogans with the phrase “Only Natural Diamonds.”

Credits: Images courtesy of The Natural Diamond Council.

Marie Antoinette’s Diamond Earrings Are the Focus of Today’s Virtual Gem Gallery Tour

The lavish diamond earrings worn by French Queen Marie Antoinette during the 18th century are the focus of today’s virtual tour of the Smithsonian’s National Gem Collection in Washington, DC.

Gifted to the ill-fated Queen by Louis XVI, the large pear-shaped diamonds dangle from a ribbon-like platinum setting topped with shield-shaped stones. The pear-shaped diamonds weigh 14.25 carats and 20.34 carats, respectively, and were likely sourced in India or Brazil. Marie Antoinette was arrested fleeing the French Revolution and was guillotined in 1793. Historians still wonder how the earrings managed to escape the Revolution and remain in the French Royal Family.

There is strong evidence that, in 1853, Napoleon III presented these earrings to Empress Eugenie as a wedding gift. According to the Smithsonian, original engravings from the Illustrated London News wedding issue seem to confirm that Eugenie, indeed, wore the Queen’s jewelry.

The “Marie Antoinette Earrings” occupy their own showcase at the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals. The descriptive panel next to the showcase is titled “Worn by a Queen” and describes the historical significance of the jewelry displayed.

Normally, Smithsonian visitors would be able to see these magnificent earrings in person, but while most of the national museums remain temporarily closed in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, we continue to present these virtual tours of the National Gem Collection’s most famous items. Previous stops have included the “Hall Sapphire Necklace,” “Victoria-Transvaal Diamond,” “Carmen Lúcia Ruby,“ “Chalk Emerald,“ “Gifts from Napoleon,“ “Stars and Cat’s Eyes,“ “Logan Sapphire,“ “Dom Pedro“ aquamarine, “Steamboat“ tourmaline and a grouping of enormous topaz.

Here’s how to navigate to the exhibit called “Worn by a Queen.”

— First, click on this link…

The resulting page will be a gallery called “Geology, Gems & Minerals: Precious Gems 1.”

— Next, click the double-right-arrow once to navigate to the gallery called “Geology, Gems & Minerals: Precious Gems 2.”

When you arrive, the foreground in the left part of the screen will show a four-sided glass case housing a topaz exhibit. In this view, there are showcases on the front wall, the right wall and the back wall.

– Click and drag the screen 180 degrees so you can see the back wall. The exhibit on the far right of the back wall is titled “Worn by a Queen.” It contains the “Marie Antoinette Diamond Earrings.” Touch the Plus Sign to zoom in.

(You may touch the “X” to remove the map. This will give you a better view of the jewelry. You may restore the map by clicking the “Second” floor navigation on the top-right of the screen.)

Empress Eugenie sold her personal jewels between 1870 and 1872 after she was exiled to England. The Marie Antionette Earrings ended up in the possession of Grand Duchess Tatiana Yousupoff of Russia. Famed jeweler Pierre Cartier purchased the diamond earrings from the Duchess’s family in 1928.

American socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post acquired the earrings from Cartier later that same year. In 1959, another famous jeweler, Harry Winston, Inc., mounted the diamonds into platinum and diamond replicas of the “original” silver settings worn by Marie Antoinette.

During her lifetime, the owner of General Foods was an avid collector of high-profile, Royal Family fine jewelry.

Post’s daughter, Eleanor Barzin, generously gifted the “Marie Antoinette Earrings” to the Smithsonian in 1964. It was one of many notable pieces that were donated to the Smithsonian by the Post family. The items included the “Maximilian Emerald Ring,” “Blue Heart Diamond,” “Napoleon Diamond Necklace,” “Marie-Louise Diadem” and the “Post Emerald Necklace.” Marjorie Merriweather Post passed away in 1973 at the age of 86.

Credits: Jewelry photo by Chip Clark / Smithsonian, digitally enhanced by SquareMoose. Screen capture via

Music Friday: He Wears a ‘Plain Gold Ring’ and in Her Heart It Will Never Be Spring

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fabulous songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, New Zealand songstress Kimbra channels jazz legend Nina Simone in her contemporary rendition of “Plain Gold Ring,” a song about a young woman who is in love with a married man.

The tune’s emotionally torn protagonist pledges she will love him until the end of time while acknowledging that for as long as he wears that symbol of eternal love, he belongs to another.

She sings, “Plain gold ring has but one thing to say / I’ll remember ’til my dying day / In my heart it will never be spring / Long as he wears a plain gold ring.”

In her live performance video, below, Kimbra utilizes an electronic device called a “phrase sampler” or “looper,” which captures and plays back audio snippets in realtime. The result is a complex, layered sound, where Kimbra seems to be harmonizing with herself.

“Plain Gold Ring” originally appeared on Simone’s Little Girl Blue album in 1958 and made subsequent appearances on the jazz singer’s 1964 live album and 2001 compilation album. During her career, she released more than 40 albums. The artist passed away in 2003 at the age of 70.

Kimbra gave the song a fresh, new interpretation on her debut album, Vows, which was released in 2011. The album charted in seven countries, including a #14 position on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and a #24 placement on the Canadian Albums chart. It was also nominated for Australian Album of the Year.

The multi-talented singer-songwriter-actress-model grew up in Hamilton, New Zealand, and began writing songs at the age of 10. As a 12-year-old, she sang the New Zealand national anthem in front of a crowd of 27,000 rugby fans. As a 17-year-old in 2007, she won the Juice TV award for Best Breakthrough music video. She was signed to a record deal in 2008 and moved to Australia to pursue a music career.

Please check out the 2012 video of Kimbra performing “Plain Gold Ring” live in the Seattle studio of radio station KEXP. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Plain Gold Ring”
Written by Earl Burroughs and George Stone. Performed by Kimbra.

Plain gold ring on his finger he wore
It was where everyone could see
He belonged to someone, but not me
On his hand was a plain gold band

Plain gold ring has a story to tell
It was one that I knew too well
In my heart it will never be spring
Long as he wears a plain gold ring
Oh, oh

When nighttime comes a’ callin’ on me
I know why I will never be free
I can’t stop these teardrops of mine
I’m gonna love him ’til the end of time

Plain gold ring has but one thing to say
I’ll remember ’til my dying day
In my heart it will never be spring
Long as he wears a plain gold ring
Plain gold ring on his finger he wore
Plain gold ring on his finger he wore
Plain gold ring on his finger he wore

Credit: Screen capture via