Welcome to our year-end review of the rough diamonds that rocked our world in 2019. Each is unique in its own way and has a fascinating story to tell…
Diamond in a Diamond.
Revealed to the world via a social media post, Alrosa's “diamond in a diamond” is a head-scratching, natural phenomenon that rates #1 in our survey.
Alrosa had surprised its Instagram followers in September with a video that seemed to show a tiny rough diamond moving freely in the cavity of a larger one. The caption read, “A diamond in a diamond? We couldn’t help but share this very special find with you.”
After its scientists confirmed that both the host and smaller crystal were diamonds, Alrosa named the double-diamond “Matryoshka” because its strange configuration was reminiscent of the popular Russian nesting dolls. In November, the Russian mining company added the 0.62-carat specimen to its collection of rare finds and declared that it was not for sale.
World's Second-Largest Rough Diamond.
In April, Lucara recovered a massive 1,758-carat grey-black diamond from its Karowe mine in Botswana and, in July, the world's second-largest rough diamond was named “Sewelô,” which means “rare find” in the native Setswana language.
Sewelô is the size of a tennis ball and weighs about 12.4 ounces. Measuring 83mm x 62mm x 46mm, the rough diamond was characterized by Lucara as “near” gem quality with “domains of high-quality white gem.” The unbroken 1,758-carat stone was recovered through Lucara’s XRT circuit in April 2019.
By employing XRT scanners, diamonds can be separated from other material based on their chemical composition. Since commissioning the XRT circuit in 2015, a total of 12 diamonds in excess of 300 carats have been recovered at Karowe, including two greater than 1,000 carats.
Pulled From the Scrapheap.
Imagine finding treasure in your trash. That’s exactly what happened when Lucara salvaged a 375-carat gem-quality diamond from a pile of old tailings at its Karowe mine. Tailings are the residue of the diamond-bearing ore that was processed during an original mining operation.
The company revisited the tailings because they were generated prior to the 2015 implementation of its advanced XRT diamond scanners (mentioned in the Sewelô review), which were designed to identify and preserve high-value diamonds of 100 carats or larger. The 375-carat rough diamond was just one of nine 100-plus-carat diamonds recovered from the re-processing of old material.
Lucara’s Karowe Mine has yielded many of the world’s largest diamonds, including the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona, the 813-carat Constellation and the 1,758-carat Sewelô.
A Legacy Continues.
Also famous for producing many of the world's largest rough diamonds — including the 3,106-carat Cullinan — the Cullinan mine in South Africa is still going strong after 117 years. In March, Petra Diamonds reported that it had unearthed a D-color, Type IIa rough diamond weighing 425 carats. Type IIa gems are the purest of all diamonds because they are composed solely of carbon with virtually no trace elements in the crystal lattice.
Two months later, the mining company sold the rough gem for just under $15 million to Dubai-based Stargems Group and Belgium-based Choron, and named the impressive stone “Legacy of the Cullinan Diamond Mine” to honor its connection to the legendary diamond source.
Originally known as the Premier Mine, the Cullinan mine has delivered seven of the world’s largest 50 rough diamonds, based on carat weight. These include the Cullinan Heritage (507 carats), Centenary (599 carats), The Golden Jubilee (755 carats) and the biggest gem-quality rough diamond of all time — the Cullinan.
The largest blue diamond ever discovered in Botswana was revealed to the world by the state-run Okavango Diamond Company in April. The 20.46-carat faceted gem was cut from a 41.11-carat rough diamond sourced at the Orapa mine. The gem was named “The Okavango Blue” to honor the World Heritage Site known as the Okavango Delta. The lush delta is the home to hippos, elephants, crocodiles, lions, leopards, giraffes and rhinos.
“It is incredibly unusual for a stone of this color and nature to have come from Botswana. [It’s] a once-in-a-lifetime find,” said Okavango’s managing director Marcus ter Haar.
While the company did not reveal what The Okavango Blue might be worth, a similar diamond sold at a Christie’s auction in 2016 may hold the answer. The Cullinan Dream, a 24.18-carat intense blue diamond with a VS2 clarity rating, sold for $25.4 million at Christie’s New York in June of 2016. Based on that performance, one might presume The Okavango Blue has the potential to yield about $1 million per carat.
Credits: Diamond in a diamond image courtesy of Alrosa; Sewelô image courtesy of Lucara; 375-carat diamond image courtesy of Lucara; Legacy of the Cullinan Diamond Mine image courtesy of Petra Diamonds. Okavango Blue diamond images courtesy of Okavango Diamond Company.
Archaeologists with the University of Cincinnati have unearthed two Bronze Age tombs containing a trove of engraved jewelry that help tell the story of life along the Mediterranean 3,500 years ago.
The two beehive-shaped tombs are located in Pylos, Greece, just a stone's throw from the grave of the “Griffin Warrior,” a powerful Greek figure whose precious jewelry, weapons and grooming supplies were discovered by the same team in 2015.
The researchers were surprised to find that the princely tombs were littered with gold flakes, indicating that gold leaf once adorned the stone walls.
“Like with the Griffin Warrior grave, by the end of the first week we knew we had something that was really important,” said Sharon Stocker, an archaeologist in UC's classics department, who supervised the excavation.
Added Jack Davis, head of UC’s classics department, “It soon became clear to us that lightning had struck again.”
One of the most fascinating jewelry items pulled from the site was a gold ring depicting two bulls flanked by sheaves of grain, specifically barley.
“It’s an interesting scene of animal husbandry — cattle mixed with grain production. It’s the foundation of agriculture,” Davis said. “As far as we know, it’s the only representation of grain in the art of Crete or Minoan civilization.”
An agate sealstone featured two lion-like mythical creatures called "genii" standing upright on clawed feet. They carry a serving vase and an incense burner, a tribute for the altar before them featuring a sprouting sapling between horns of consecration, Stocker said. Above the genii is an unusual 16-pointed star.
“It’s rare. There aren’t many 16-pointed stars in Mycenaean iconography," she said.
The UC archaeologists also found a gold pendant in the family tombs at Pylos featuring the likeness of Hathor, an Egyptian goddess who was a protector of the dead.
According to Stocker, the evidence gathered from the tombs paints a picture of accumulated wealth and status. The tombs contained amber from the Baltic, amethyst from Egypt, imported carnelian and lots of gold. The tombs sit on a scenic vista overlooking the Mediterranean Sea on the spot where the Palace of Nestor would later rise and fall to ruins.
“I think these are probably people who were very sophisticated for their time,” Stocker said. “They have come out of a place in history where there were few luxury items and imported goods. And all of a sudden at the time of the first Tholos tombs, luxury items appear in Greece. You have this explosion of wealth.”
Although Pylos is considered a remote region of Greece because one has to cross mountains to get there, during the Bronze Age it was an important hub for commerce and trade due to its proximity to the sea.
Stocker said that the tombs were protected from the elements and potential looters by an estimated 40,000 stones the size of watermelons. To access the tombs, each stone had to be removed individually.
The UC’s team is planning to continue its work at Pylos for at least the next two years while they and other researchers from around the globe unravel mysteries contained in the artifacts.
“It has been 50 years since any substantial tombs of this sort have been found at any Bronze Age palatial site. That makes this extraordinary,” Davis said.
Credits: Images courtesy of the Department of Classics, University of Cincinnati.
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you classic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Marilyn Monroe lights up the silver screen with her iconic 1953 performance of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” from the hit movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
Playing the gold-digging Lorelei Lee, Monroe sings, “The French are glad to die for love / They delight in fighting duels / But I prefer a man who lives / And gives expensive jewels / A kiss on the hand may be quite continental / But diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”
Later in the the song, Monroe acknowledges that physical beauty won’t last forever, but diamonds will always stand the test of time: “But square-cut or pear-shaped / These rocks don’t lose their shape / Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”
Written by Jule Styne and Leo Robin, “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” was sung by Carol Channing in the original 1949 Broadway production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
It was Monroe’s version, however, that has stood the test of time. Her performance has inspired contemporary interpretations by Beyonce, Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Gerri Halliwell, Nicole Kidman, Christina Aguilera, Anna Nicole Smith and many more. The American Film Institute voted Monroe’s performance the 12th most important film song of all time.
It’s been reported that the elaborate showstopper took four days to shoot on the Fox lot, with Monroe providing nearly all of the vocals. The operatic “No, no, no’s” at the beginning of the song were dubbed by soprano Marni Nixon.
Please check out the video of Monroe’s amazing rendition of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…
“Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”
Written by Leo Robin and Jule Styne. Performed by Marilyn Monroe.
The French are glad to die for love
They delight in fighting duels
But I prefer a man who lives
And gives expensive jewels
A kiss on the hand may be quite continental
But diamonds are a girl’s best friend
A kiss may be grand but it won’t pay the rental
On your humble flat, or help you at the automat
Men grow cold as girls grow old
And we all lose our charms in the end
But square-cut or pear-shaped
These rocks don’t lose their shape
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend
…Tiffany’s… Cartier… Black Star, Frost, Gorham
Talk to me, Harry, Winston, tell me all about it!
There may come a time when a lass needs a lawyer
But diamonds are a girl’s best friend
There may come a time when a hard-boiled employer
Thinks you’re awful nice
But get that ice or else no dice
He’s your guy when stocks are high
But beware when they start to descend
It’s then that those louses go back to their spouses
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend
I’ve heard of affairs that are strictly platonic
But diamonds are a girl’s best friend
And I think affairs that you must keep liaisonic
Are better bets if little pets get big baguettes
Time rolls on and youth is gone
And you can’t straighten up when you bend
But stiff back or stiff knees
You stand straight at Tiffany’s
– I don’t mean rhinestones –
But diamonds, are a girl’s best friend
Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.
Sports fans and jewelry lovers will certainly remember 2019 as the year of wonderful, over-the-top championship rings.
It was a year the New England Patriots celebrated their sixth Super Bowl victory, the Boston Red Sox commemorated a franchise-record 108 wins, the Toronto Raptors brought the Larry O’Brien trophy to Canada for the first time, the St. Louis Blues finally carried the Stanley Cup aloft, breaking a 52-year drought, and Atlanta United players came out on top in just their second MLS season.
Each amazing accomplishment was accompanied by an equally impressive ring.
• In June, the New England Patriots’ sixth Super Bowl ring was described by the team as the largest and most ornate ring ever created for any team in any sport. The football-shaped, 10-karat ring glistened with 422 diamonds weighing 8.25 carats and 20 blue sapphires totaling 1.60 carats.
The ring’s design was loaded with symbolism. For instance, the design called for the iconic blue and red Patriots logo to be surrounded by 38 diamonds, with a 39th diamond set in the star. Combined, these 39 diamonds represented two NFL records achieved by the Pats with their Super Bowl LIII win. It was the franchise’s 37th playoff victory — more than any other NFL team. In addition, the Pats became the second team in NFL history to win six Super Bowls.
• Two months earlier, the Boston Red Sox received their World Series rings set with 185 gemstones weighing a total of 15 carats. The ring was a fitting tribute to what has been called a “team for the ages.” The dominant Red Sox of 2018 notched a franchise-record 108 wins during the regular season and then pummeled three postseason opponents — the Yankees, Astros and Dodgers — at an 11-3 clip to secure their fourth title since 2004.
The 185 gems represent the 162 regular season games, 14 post-season games and nine World Series titles now held by the Red Sox. The iconic Boston “B” logo on the face of the 14-karat white gold ring is formed by 21 custom-cut genuine rubies, which represent the four World Series titles won by the Red Sox during the 17 seasons of Fenway Sports Group ownership.
• In October, the Toronto Raptors celebrated their first-ever NBA championship with gigantic 14-karat yellow gold rings emblazoned with 650 diamonds weighing 14 carats. The number of diamonds and the total diamond carat weight were touted at the time as records for a championship ring in any sport.
The ring also set a new record for the largest single diamond in any professional championship ring. A 1.25-carat round diamond stands in for the basketball in the ring’s representation of the Larry O’Brien trophy. The face of the ring is made up of 74 diamonds, representing the number of wins during the 2018-19 season.
• At the end of September, the St. Louis Blues’ received their first-ever Stanley Cup rings, which sparkled with 282 diamonds and 51 sapphires. The impressive 14-karat white and yellow gold rings boasted a total gem weight of 10.6 carats.
The ring face features the Blues’ distinctive Blue Note logo rendered with 16 genuine, custom-cut blue sapphires. The number 16 represents the number of playoff victories earned by the Blues on their path to the championship. The Blue Note logo sits atop the Stanley Cup, rendered with 45 pavé-set diamonds. To the left and right of the Cup are 30 more diamonds for a total of 75 — a number representing the goals scored by the Blues during the 2019 postseason.
• And, finally, we revisit the rings presented to the Atlanta United players this past March. The ring’s design uses white diamonds, yellow diamonds, custom cuts of garnet and onyx, and a single ruby to tell the story of a remarkable franchise that shot to the top of the soccer world in just its second season. The diamonds weigh a total of 2.03 carats.
Crafted in 10-karat white and yellow gold, the rings were adorned with 101 white diamonds that create a cascading waterfall effect on the ring top. An additional 14 color-enhanced yellow diamonds form the “A,” which sits atop the iconic five stripes, which mimics the distinctive red and black uniform of the team. Ring manufacturer Jostens rendered the five stripes in alternating custom-cut slices of garnet and black onyx. The stripes represent the five pillars of the team: unity, determination, community, excellence and innovation.
Credits: Red Sox, Patriots, Blues and Atlanta United images courtesy of Jostens. Raptors ring courtesy of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and Baron Championship Rings.
A Frisco, Texas, woman was miraculously reunited with her missing engagement ring after a car detailing specialist spotted it in the dusty bucket of his Shop-Vac®.
Gregory Weatherford, the owner of Mr. G's Mobile Car Wash and Detailing, makes a living by restoring showroom freshness to dirty and grimy autos. This often entails vacuuming the icky stuff that gets between the seats and collects on the car mats.
Recently, his high-powered vacuum was giving him trouble, so he popped off the top.
"You know sometimes things get stuck in there," Weatherford told Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA.
He poked around in the bucket and was shocked by what he found under layers of dirt, pet hair and food crumbs.
"I happened to be fumbling around and I looked down, and I see this ring," he said.
Meanwhile, Michelle Seale was trying to noodle out the best way to tell her husband that she lost her engagement ring.
"It was scary knowing that I had to tell him I officially may have lost it this time," Seale told WFAA.
Weatherford and his team knock out about 10 vehicles each day, so he knew the ring had to belong to one of the clients they served most recently.
He made a list of 70 customers and launched a text message to each of them. One of the recipients was Seale.
"I got so excited. I was like, 'It has to be mine, it has to be!'" Seale exclaimed.
After Weatherford sent her a pic of the ring, Seale new that her detailer had saved the day.
"I was super excited," Seale said. "And I got to tell my husband I lost it, but it was found!"
Check out WFAA's report at this link…
Credits: Screen captures via WFAA.com.
Welcome to a special holiday edition of Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, 98 Degrees frontman Nick Lachey is ready to pop the question in the 1999 Christmas hit, “This Gift.”
In the chorus of the song, we learn that the “gift” is actually an engagement ring. He sings, “’Cause I’ve been waiting to give this gift tonight / I’m down on my knees / There’s no better time / It’s something to last for as long as you live / Tonight I’m gonna give you all my heart can give.”
The song also includes a gemstone reference in the first verse. Here’s how Lachey sets the romantic scene: “The snow is falling / The city is white / Your eyes are shining / like diamonds tonight.”
“This Gift” was the first single released from the group’s third studio album and first holiday album, This Christmas, which sold more than one million copies in the U.S. alone. “This Gift” also was well received, as it peaked at #40 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, #25 on the Canadian Singles chart and #14 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart.
98 Degrees — comprising band members Lachey, brother Drew Lachey, Jeff Timmons and Justin Jeffre — enjoyed a phenomenal run from 1996 to 2003. The group notched eight Top 40 singles in the U.S. and sold 10 million records worldwide.
The group disbanded in 2003, although Nick Lachey stated on the group’s official web site that there was no breakup, just an extended hiatus. Group members pursued other creative endeavors during the “hiatus” but came back together in 2012 for what was supposed to be a one-time performance at the Mixtape Festival in Hershey, Pa.
After the show, group members agreed to get back into the studio to work on a new album, 2.0, which released in May of 2013. They also thrilled their fans during “The Package” tour of 2013 — a series of nearly 50 concerts featuring three prominent boy bands (Boys II Men, New Kids on the Block and 98 Degrees.)
Trivia: The group agreed on the name 98 Degrees after rejecting two other possibilities: Just Us and Next Issue.
The group continues to tour, with upcoming performances in Windsor and Niagara Falls, Canada, Honolulu, Singapore and Manila.
Please check out the video of Nick Lachey and 98 Degrees performing “This Gift.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…
Written by Anders Bagge, Arnthor Birgisson, Dane Deviller and Sean Hosein. Performed by 98 Degrees.
The snow is falling
The city is white
Your eyes are shining
like diamonds tonight
And we’re all alone
There’s no one home
You’re finally in my arms again
The night is silent
And Christmas is here
I couldn’t ask for more than having you near
‘Cause I love you girl (love you girl)
And I always will (always will)
And now I know the moment is right
The moment is right
‘Cause I’ve been waiting to give this gift tonight
I’m down on my knees
There’s no better time
It’s something to last for as long as you live
Tonight I’m gonna give you all my heart can give
I thought I’d give you something shiny and new
I’d try to find something worthy of you
But I realized when I looked inside
There’s some things that money can’t buy (oh no)
I feel the magic whenever you’re near
I feel it even more this time of the year
‘Cause I love you girl (love you girl)
I always will (always will)
And now I know the moment is right
The moment is right
You know I’ll always be true to you
And you know I’m the one you can turn to
Any time, any place, or anywhere
You know that I’ll always be there
Credit: Screen capture via Youtube.com.
In announcing her re-engagement to former basketball pro Juan Dixon, Real Housewives of Potomac star Robyn Dixon explained why the couple opted for a pink morganite engagement ring.
"An untraditional relationship calls for a non-traditional ring!" Robyn exclaimed in an Instagram post seen Monday by her 316,000 followers.
She went on to describe how she told "a little birdie" that if Juan was to ever propose to her again, she would prefer the pink stone instead of a traditional diamond.
The second proposal took place this past Friday at the holiday wrap party for Season 5 of their Bravo reality show.
"Juan gave the sweetest speech and set the whole room into an uproar when he got down on one knee!" Robyn told Bravo.com. "It was truly a special night and is definitely much sweeter the second time around. Oh, and he knows me well and got my ring just right!"
On Instagram, Robyn explained how morganite symbolizes her relationship with Juan.
"I fell in love with the Pink Morganite stone because I wanted something with significance and meaning," she wrote. "Morganite represents unconditional love — something that our relationship exhibits and has relied upon. My beautiful ring, commissioned by Juan and custom made by @nicolerosejewelry, is an emerald cut, double diamond halo with pink morganite center."
The 18-karat white gold ring features a 5-carat morganite with a double halo of diamonds weighing a total of 1.2 carats.
The couple's relationship had been somewhat complicated for the past seven years.
The high school sweethearts were engaged for the first time in October 2005. Then a star on the Washington Wizards, Juan popped the question on Miami Beach by spelling out in the sand, "RB – Will you marry me?”
Robyn, 40, and Juan, 41, had two children together, but divorced in 2012. In an odd arrangement, the couple continued to live in the same house for the sake of maintaining the family unit. Over time, they grew even closer together and decided to give marriage another go.
Robyn thanked her fans and friends for their support.
"Sweeter the second time around!" she wrote. "Thank you to everyone who loved, supported, rooted and prayed for Juan and I. We truly appreciate all of the love and congratulatory wishes as we embark on #DixonsPartDeux." She punctuated the post with a red heart emoji.
Morganite as an engagement stone has gotten more attention recently. In The Knot’s 2019 Jewelry and Engagement Study, morganite was mentioned as a favorite alternative stone.
While 83% of those surveyed said they preferred a traditional diamond center stone, 10% chose "other precious stones." Of that group, morganite accounted for 12%, just behind sapphire at 19%.
Morganite is a member of the beryl family of gemstones, which includes emerald and aquamarine. Once known simply as pink beryl, the gemstone got its current name in 1911 when the famous New York gemologist G. F. Kunz recommended that the pretty pink stone be named for banker and mineral collector John Pierpont Morgan. The New York Academy of Sciences agreed and the pink variety of beryl was officially designated as "morganite."
Credits: Images via Instagram/robyndixon10.
Nestled in the picture-postcard town of Bethel, Maine (pop. 2,689) 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. The Maine Mineral & Gem Museum (MMGM) opened its doors to the public for the first time last Thursday.
Comprising a 15,000-square-foot space on three floors, the museum is home to the single oldest igneous rock in the solar system and a moon rock five time 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.
The MMGM also celebrates Maine's rich mining tradition. Exhibited are several historic mineral collections, including the Perham Collection, which has been on view in Maine for 90 years. In addition, many of Maine’s most celebrated specimens of tourmaline, beryl and other native gems are presented along with captivating narratives from the earliest days of gem exploration through today. Among the highlights are a 1,450-carat smoky quartz (the largest cut gemstone from Maine) and a Tiffany necklace highlighting a Maine tourmaline.
The museum was co-founded by the husband-and-wife team of Dr. Lawrence Stifler and Mary McFadden. It was the couple's passion for conservation that led to the establishment of the MMGM. Over the course of decades, they created a land trust of more than 15,000 acres that encompassed the historic Bumpus Mine, home to the famous giant beryl crystal discoveries of the 1920s. The legacy of this mine spawned the idea of building a museum to honor Maine’s gems, minerals and mining history.
The founders are supported by an all-star team of geologists, pegmatologists and cosmochemists. Museum curator Dr. Carl Francis was for decades the Curator of Harvard’s Mineralogical and Geological Museum, and Dr. William “Skip” Simmons is one of the world’s foremost pegmatologists. The research team includes two cosmochemists: UCLA’S Dr. Alan Rubin and Dr. Henning Haack, the former Curator of Meteorites at the Natural History Museum of Denmark. They were both brought on board by Darryl Pitt of the Macovich Collection in New York City, who was responsible for acquiring 99 percent of the meteorites on display, according to The Boston Globe.
Stifler and McFadden were also determined to ensure that the MMGM would be a research and educational facility sought out by scholars from around the world. Unrivaled for a museum of its size, the on-site laboratory houses an electron microprobe, a scanning electron microscope, an X-ray diffractometer and other instruments that provide the foundation for advanced mineralogical research.
“We have more of the moon than the world’s 10 leading science museums combined,” Stifler told The Boston Globe. “Anyone who wants to study the moon would have to come here.”
The MMGM was designed by the Paulus Design Group, which counts The Smithsonian among its clients. The interactive exhibits were fabricated by 1220 Exhibits, which is credited with creating the displays for the National Football League’s and International Tennis Federation’s Halls of Fame. Armatures were produced by 10-31, which has worked for the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
“The Maine Mineral and Gem Museum celebrates the miners who made the discoveries, scientists and their research, lapidaries who transform rough stones into stunning gems, and educators who make science fun for us all. This is their story,” said Stifler. “Creating the MMGM has been both inspiring and humbling. We are deeply honored to share it with the people of Maine and citizens of the world.”
“People of all ages will leave here inspired," added McFadden "and not just as a result of this being a place to be able to hold a piece of the moon or Mars.”
The MMGM is located in western Maine near the New Hampshire border. It's about a 90-minute drive from Portland, Maine. The museum is open six days a week (closed on Tuesdays). The cost of admission is $15 for adults (12+), $12 for seniors, $10 for students. Children 12 and under are free. For more information, visit www.MaineMineralMuseum.org.
Credits: Images courtesy of Maine Mineral & Gem Museum; Pear-cut amethyst (161.8 carats); Beryl group of three gems includes trilliant-cut heliodore (16.0 carats), radiant-cut aquamarine (59.2 carats), trilliant-cut goshenite (12.4 carats); cinnamon-colored elbaite tourmaline (52.1 carats); Tourmaline crystal.
Back in 1993, billionaire Warren Buffett tried to convince fellow billionaire Bill Gates to spend $370 million on an engagement ring, according to author Glen Arnold in his newly released book, The Deals of Warren Buffett Volume 2: The Making of a Billionaire.
According to Arnold's account, Gates and his future wife, Melinda, were visiting Omaha to attend a Berkshire Hathaway shareholder's conference. Buffett met the couple at the airport and whisked them to one of his businesses, Borsheims, to do some engagement ring shopping.
In making his pitch to the Microsoft founder, Buffett explained that he spent 6% of his net worth on an engagement ring in 1951 and that Gates should follow suit. At the time, Gates' net worth was $6.2 billion, so the 6% budget would put the ring price at $370 million.
When Buffett bought his ring as a 21-year-old in 1951, his net worth was $10,000, so the ring price was about $600. Accounting for inflation, the value of the ring today would be about $6,000.
While Gates didn't buy into Buffett's pitch, a $370 million purchase in 1993 would be equivalent to $660 million in today's dollars.
If Gates did, in fact, have an engagement ring budget of $660 million today, what could he buy?
Imagine a Gates fantasy ring set with the 59.6-carat "Pink Star" ($71.2 million), the 18.96-carat "Pink Legacy" ($50.3 million), the 14.62-carat "Oppenheimer Blue" ($57.5 million), the 12.03-carat Blue Moon of Josephine ($48.5 million), the 15.38-carat "Unique Pink" ($31.5 million), the 24.18-carat "Cullinan Dream" ($25.4 million). The total weight of the ring would be 144.77 carats and the billionaire would have used barely half his budget.
It's been reported that Gates proposed to Melinda with a 1-carat diamond ring. The couple took their vows in Hawaii in 1994 and have been married for 25 years.
Having failed to convince his friend to make the $370 million purchase in 1993, Buffett reportedly joked, "We didn't have quite as big a day that Sunday as I had hoped."
Buffett, 89, and Gates, 64, remain close friends and are considered two of the richest men in the world. Buffett's net worth is estimated at $87 billion, and Gates' net worth is approximately $106 billion.
A famously frugal man despite his riches, Buffett was remarried to Astrid Menks in 2006 after his first wife passed away. He bought the engagement ring at Borsheims and his daughter reportedly said that she was "sure" her dad took advantage of the employee discount.
Dripping with gem-adorned ornaments, the Christmas tree in the lobby of the ultra-chic Kempinski Hotel Bahia in Marbella, Spain, is the most expensive in the world. The tree was created by British haute couture designer Debbie Wingham and is valued at a staggering $15 million.
According to published reports, the show-stopping tree boasts a number of over-the-top decorations, including a miniature BVLGARI handbag, a Louis Vuitton carriage, a blue diamond nutcracker and a red diamond-encrusted emu egg.
Wingham — who is credited with designing the world's most expensive wedding cake (a $55 million treat commissioned by a client in Dubai) and the world's most expensive shoes (sandals made with gold, pink and blue diamonds worth $17 million) — peppered the tree with diamond dust and 24-karat gold leaf.
Inspired by the verdant feathers of a peacock and the modernist Art Deco era, the tree also features unique martini glasses, feathers, perfume bottles and even 3D printed chocolate peacocks. She also included more tradition decorations, such as snowflakes, fairies and pearl-filled snow globes.
Wingham's client list includes Katy Perry, the Kardashian family, Dita Von Teese and Amanda Holden.
The current Guinness World Record holder for the world's most expensive Christmas tree belongs to the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi. Its tree was valued at about $11 million, stood 43 feet tall and was decorated with 181 pieces of jewelry and watches. Although the Kempinski Hotel Bahia has yet to submit its holiday tree for official Guinness recognition, the reported value seems to easily surpass that of the Emirates Palace tree.
On December 28, the Spanish hotel will be hosting its Diamond and Champagne Night, when guests will indulge in a "decadently curated cocktail dining experience" and have a chance to take home a diamond valued at about $2,700. Each guest will select a key and attempt to unlock a box containing the valuable treasure. Whoever’s key fits the lock will take home the dazzling diamond.
Kempinski Hotel Bahia, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, is situated near the palm tree-lined promenade of Estepona, about 20 miles west of Marbella on the Spanish Costa del Sol. The luxury beachfront property was recently named "Spain’s Best Hotel Spa" during the fifth annual World Spa Awards.
Credits: Images courtesy of Kempinski Hotel Bahia.