The finest known 1822 Half Eagle gold coin set a new world record when an anonymous bidder snatched it up at a Las Vegas auction last Thursday for $8.4 million.
“The 1822 Half Eagle is now the most valuable gold coin minted by the United States ever sold at auction. It’s also now the third-most valuable coin ever sold at auction,” said Brian Kendrella, the president of Stack's Bowers Galleries.
Exactly 17,796 of these $5 coins were minted, but only three specimens are known to have survived. The record holder is the only one owned by a private individual. The other two are permanent residents of the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian Institution.
The privately owned specimen was first acquired by Virgil Brand in 1899 and remained in his vast collection until it was sold by his heirs in 1945.
At that time, it entered the unparalleled collection of Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr., who had the distinction of successfully assembling a complete set of every U.S. coin ever minted.
When the gold coins from the Eliasberg Collection were auctioned in 1982, the successful buyer was the young D. Brent Pogue in the early stages of building what would become the most valuable numismatic collection in history, according to Stack's Bowers Galleries.
Pogue's collection would eventually fetch more than $140 million in a series of sales by Stack's Bowers Galleries from 2015 through 2021.
The newest owner of the 1822 Half Eagle has chosen to remain anonymous.
While the 1822 Half Eagle earned the distinction of being the most expensive GOLD coin ever minted by the U.S, two other coins have sold for more. The 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar — the first dollar coin issued by the United States federal government — realized more than $10 million at an auction at Stack’s Bowers Galleries in January 2013.
The 1787 Brasher Doubloon — a gold coin minted privately by goldsmith and silversmith Ephraim Brasher — earned $9.36 million at Heritage Auctions this past January.
Interestingly, barrons.com reader Stephen Donnelly did the math to determine the compound return for a $5 coin that would eventually sell for $8.4 million. He concluded that the $5 coin returned 7.5% annually over 199 years.
Credits: Images courtesy of Stack's Bowers Galleries.
On April 13, Christie’s Magnificent Jewels sale in New York will showcase “The Perfect Palette,” a vibrant trio of colored diamonds that will be sold separately at the auction house's Rockefeller Plaza headquarters.
The most anticipated lot among the three is a 2.13-carat fancy vivid blue diamond that's expected to sell for $2 million to $3 million. The cut-cornered rectangular modified brilliant-cut diamond boasts a clarity rating of VS1.
The second headliner is a cut-cornered rectangular modified brilliant-cut fancy vivid orange diamond that weighs in at 2.34 carats and has a clarity grade of VS1. This gem is expected to fetch between $1.5 million and $2.5 million.
The third featured colored diamond boasts a fancy vivid purplish-pink hue. The cut-cornered square modified brilliant-cut diamond weighs 2.17 carats, carries a SI1 clarity grade and a pre-sale estimate of $1.5 million to $2.5 million.
While fancy colored diamonds will be taking center stage on April 13, white diamonds will surely draw a lot of attention, as well.
First up is a 38.04-carat pear-shaped, brilliant-cut, D-color, flawless, Type IIa colorless diamond with an estimate of $2.5 million to $3.5 million.
The “Buhl-Mann” diamond ring, featuring a 19.47-carat square emerald-cut center stone, is expected to fetch between $200,000 and $300,000.
Other important colored gemstones in the sale include an oval mixed-cut Burmese ruby ring by F.J. Cooper. The piece is expected to sell for $1.2 million to $2.2 million.
Credits: Images courtesy of Christie's.
Since the late 1800s, platinum has maintained its stature as the ultimate precious metal due to its rarity, beauty, strength and durability. But it's amazing to imagine that a precious metal that is prominently featured in the world's finest jewelry was once belittled and cast aside by the Spanish conquistadors who encountered the material while mining for silver in Rio Pinto, Colombia. In the 1500s, they named the curious metal "platina" or "little silver." In one version of the story, the conquistadors threw the platinum nuggets back into the river hoping they would ripen into silver.
Today, silver is priced at about $25 per ounce, or 2% of the value of platinum.
Throughout history, platinum has been a curiosity. Julius Caesar Scaliger wrote in 1557 that it was a metal which “no fire nor any Spanish artifice has yet been able to liquefy.” In 1748, Spanish scientist Antonio de Ulloa published a scholarly paper that concluded that platinum was unworkable and unmeltable.
It wasn't until the invention of the oxyhydrogen torch in the mid 1800s that jewelers could finally achieve a temperature of 3190 F or 1755 C to melt and work with the noble metal.
By the late 19th century, French jeweler Louis Cartier had catapulted platinum into worldwide prominence by incorporating the precious metal into the designs of his finely crafted, regal creations.
Platinum was loved by a cavalcade of kings and queens. Before long, the most valuable and famous gemstones in the world — including the 45.52-carat Hope Diamond (seen above)— would be set in platinum.
Here are bunch of other fun facts about platinum…
• Platinum is 30 times more rare than gold. If all the platinum ever mined were melted and poured into an Olympic-sized pool, the platinum would barely reach your ankles. Gold, however, would fill three Olympic-sized pools.
• About 80% of the world's platinum is mined in South Africa. The rest is sourced in Russia, as well as North and South America. Platinum is typically the byproduct of mining for other metals, such as copper or nickel.
• Platinum typically occurs as small grains and crystals in certain layered igneous rocks. The extraordinarily rare platinum nugget, above, weighs 444.4 grams (just under 1 pound) and is so special that it's on permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.
• 30% of the world's platinum is used for fine jewelry. Half is used for industrial applications, such as catalytic converters, which are the devices on automobiles that filter harmful engine emissions.
• About half of all cancer patients receive treatments that include platinum, according to an article published in the technical journal, Chemical Reviews.
• Platinum is stronger and denser than gold. When platinum is scratched, the material moves aside and no platinum is lost. When gold is scratched, tiny bits flake away. This is why gold rings that are worn for a long period of time often need to be re-shanked.
• Platinum jewelry is typically 90% to 95% pure and includes markings in the band that say "PLATINUM, PLAT, PT, PT950, 950PT or 900PT." Canadian quality marks can say ""platinum," "plat." or "platine." In the UK, the platinum marks will say "850," "900," "950" or "999." Gold purity, on the other hand, is measured in karats. Most commonly, 14-karat gold is 14/24th (58.3%) gold and alloyed with other metals. Eighteen-karat gold contains 75% precious metal.
• Platinum is a true white metal. White gold, by comparison, is actually yellow gold that has been mixed with other white metals and then plated with rhodium to give a bright white appearance. That plating does wear off over time and requires re-plating.
• Platinum is hypoallergenic and an excellent choice for people with sensitive skin or allergies to other metals.
• Platinum is 60% heavier than 14-karat gold. It's a difference you can actually feel.
• Platinum is strong and durable, a great choice for jewelry that will be worn every day. Platinum does an excellent job holding gemstones firmly and securely.
Credits: Photos by Chip Clark / Smithsonian.
Archeologists in Sweden recently unearthed a cache of wisp-thin gold foil figures at the Aska archeological site in Hagebyhöga. The delicate specimens, which depict embracing couples and date back about 1,300 years, were found at the bottom of post holes in the remains of a great hall at this historic site.
The foil shown, above, was completely unharmed after being buried for more than a millennium. Some foils were badly fragmented. Others were folded with their edges pointed toward the center. Archeologist from the University of Lodz in Poland sought the assistance of a goldsmith to unfold the delicate parcels.
"Our best estimate is that we have 22 foil figures. The exact number is not quite clear because most are fragmented, and there is some uncertainty as to which fragments go together," Martin Rundkvist, an archaeology professor at the University of Lodz, wrote in a report recently uploaded to academia.edu.
Amazingly the combined weight of all the recovered foils was 0.76 grams (about 0.026 ounces).
According to Rundkvist, 15 of the foils have been returned to the full original dimensions. Every one of them depicts an embracing couple. The team believes that the foils were once affixed to the upright posts that supported the great hall. Many of the foils were found at the bottom of seven post holes.
There are a number of theories regarding the identities of the couples stamped into the foil. Some believe the couples are gods or goddesses.
"We do know that kings at the time claimed divine descent," Rundkvist noted. He also speculated that they may depict princes and princesses who were about to get married.
Other scholars believe that the embracing couples may represent the mythological union of the god Freyr and the giantess Gerdr from Norse mythology.
In addition to the gold foils, the archaeologists recovered from the Aska site three spiral “omega” pendants made of iron and two game pieces made of whale bone.
Credits: Complete foil image by Björn Falkevik via Academia.edu. Folded foil images by Björn Falkevik – Cheyenne Olander via Academia.edu.
Reflecting nearly 2,000 hours of hand fabrication, this diamond and rock crystal bangle bracelet will headline Sotheby's Magnificent Jewels sale in Hong Kong on April 20. The bracelet by Cartier features a D-flawless, 63.66-carat, pear-shaped white diamond set among smaller white diamonds and rock crystal. The architectural masterpiece carries a pre-auction high estimate of $8.4 million.
Rock crystal is a type of quartz that has an icy appearance. The origin of its use in fine jewelry dates back to the 1920s, when Louis Cartier began working with the material. According to Sotheby's, the bracelet pays homage to the maker's iconic Art Deco roots.
According to Sotheby's, the innovative marriage of diamond and rock crystal creates a dialog between two colorless stones complementing one another in a subtle, yet palpable, manner. They give the design a stylistic feature full of imaginative flair and immeasurable character.
Sotheby's reported that Louis Cartier utilized a polishing technique from the Renaissance period to give a soft shine to rock crystal which, when paired with a diamond, created an intriguing light effect, working in harmony, yet providing texturized depth and modern contrast.
The auction house estimated that the piece will sell in the range of $5.1 million to $8.4 million.
"The appetite for high-quality jewels has never been stronger in Asia with discerning collectors looking for rare diamonds and gemstones, as well as unique and iconic designs," commented Wenhao You, Deputy Chairman, Jewelry, for Sotheby's Asia. "The star lot of the sale — the unique diamond and rock crystal bangle-bracelet by Cartier — combines a phenomenal diamond, mesmerizing design and impeccable craftsmanship, and represents a high jewelry collectible that will shine through time."
Other items that are expected to turn heads during Sotheby's auction include the following:
• A jadeite bracelet called the “Circle of Happiness.” Considered “a true treasure of nature” by the Swiss Gemmological Institute, the bangle weighs an impressive 277.673 carats and carries a subtle range of green to vivid green colors that is characteristic of the finest green jadeite-jade from Burma (Myanmar). The bracelet boasts outstanding translucency that, when illuminated by a light source, results in a glowing effect. Sotheby's will provide an estimate upon request.
• The 7-carat fancy intense purplish-pink, internally flawless diamond at the center of a ring by Sotheby's Diamonds. The piece carries a pre-sale estimate of $5.8 million to $7.1 million.
Credits: Images courtesy of Sotheby's.
Aussie authorities urged the residents of Sapphire to move to higher ground last Wednesday when violent thunderstorms dropped 215mm (8.5 inches) of rain on one of the largest precious gem-bearing areas in the world.
While most residents scrambled their way to safety, others characterized the raging flood waters as liquid gold.
“There are already people out in the sapphire fields looking for sapphires,” Victoria Bentham, the co-owner of Sapphire Caravan and Cabin Park, told the Guardian. “Sapphires are in the ground there, and when it floods, the flood waters wash them down the creek beds and they get stuck behind billy boulders.”
Bentham reported that fossickers were heading downstream to seek their future fortunes. The last time Sapphire flooded was about a decade ago.
“It just goes to show that even in tough times there is always a glimmer of light,” she added.
Sapphire is located in the sparsely populated Central Highlands region of Queensland, just 50km (31mi) west of Emerald. During an average year, the region receives 628mm of rain. On Wednesday alone, the area collected more than one-third the yearly total. The local Retreat Creek rose nearly 10 meters in a few hours and roadways became impassable.
Comprising the townships of Rubyvale, Sapphire Central, Anakie Siding and Willows Gemfields, the Sapphire Gemfields have a large commercial mining presence, but also attract fossickers from around the world.
Fossicking is the term Aussies use to describe amateur prospecting, especially when carried out as a recreational activity. The Queensland Government is promoting fossicking as a popular outdoor activity the whole family can enjoy.
Sapphires and rubies are mined in all eastern Australian states, including Tasmania. According to The Natural Sapphire Company, the mines of Australia have produced more commercial-grade blue sapphire than any other source in history.
To learn more about sapphire mining in Australia, check out the video, below, titled "GIA's Australia 2015 Field Expedition."
Credits: Screen capture of GIA video via YouTube.com/didier gruel. Map by Google Maps.
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you sensational songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we present the soulful Anita Baker singing her biggest hit, “Giving You the Best That I Got.”
In this entrancing love song, the eight-time Grammy Award winner tells her husband how much she loves him, how she feels at home in his arms, and how, together, they can calm a stormy sea. Others believe the relationship will fail, but she's convinced that it will stand the test of time. In the last verse, she makes a solemn vow: “I bet everything on my wedding ring / I’m giving you the best that I got.”
Released in September 1988, the song was both a commercial and critical success. The song peaked at #1 on the Billboard R&B chart, #1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and an impressive #3 on the broad-based Billboard Hot 100 chart.
“Giving You the Best That I Got” appeared as the third track on Baker’s 3x platinum album of the same name. The song, which was co-written by Baker, Randy Holland and Skip Scarborough, yielded a whopping five Grammy nominations and three Grammy Awards — two in the exact same category in back-to-back years (We’ll explain).
In 1989, Baker won Grammys for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, Best R&B Song, and earned nominations that year for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.
In 1990, she won another Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. Because the single was released in September 1988 (just before the cutoff for 1989 Grammy eligibility) and the album was released in October 1988 (just after the 1989 award cutoff), Baker was able to take home the Vocal Performance Grammy twice for the same song.
According to songfacts.com, Holland originally wrote the song as a personal commentary about his struggles breaking into the music business. It wasn't a love song at all. He was simply giving the best that he got to get his career off the ground. When Baker heard the song, she immediately felt a connection because she had just become engaged to be married. She asked to record it as long as she could speed up the tempo and add some personal touches to the lyrics.
Born in Toledo, Ohio, and abandoned at the age of two, Baker was raised by a foster family in Detroit until she was 12. Sadly, both her foster parents died and Baker went through her adolescence in the custody of her foster sister.
By the age of 16, Baker was singing R&B at Detroit nightclubs, where bandleader David Washington recognized her talent. He encouraged her to audition for the band, Chapter 8, and she soon landed a job as the group’s lead singer.
When Chapter 8 was dropped by Arista in 1979, Baker headed back to Detroit, where she worked as a receptionist and a waitress. Three years later, based on the encouragement of record executive Otis Smith, Baker embarked on a solo career. In June 2018, Baker accepted BET’s coveted Lifetime Achievement Award.
Baker, who turned 63 on January 26, continues to have an active career.
Please check out the official video of Anita Baker’s “Giving You the Best That I Got.” It's been viewed on Youtube 21 million times and the lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…
“Giving You the Best That I Got”
Written by Anita Baker, Randy Holland and Skip Scarborough. Performed by Anita Baker.
Ain’t there something I can give you
In exchange for everything you give to me
Read my mind and make me feel just fine
When I think my peace of mind is out of reach
The scales are sometimes unbalanced
And you bear the weight of all that has to be
I hope you see that you can lean on me
And together we can calm a stormy sea
We love so strong and so unselfishly
And I tell you now that I made a vow
I’m giving you the best that I got, baby
Yes, I tell you now, that I made a vow
I’m giving you the best that I got, honey
Everybody’s got opinions
‘Bout the way they think our story’s gonna end
Some folks feel it’s just a superficial thrill
Everybody’s gonna have to think again
We love so strong and so unselfishly
They don’t bother me so I’m gonna keep on
Giving you the best that I got, baby
They don’t bother me, said I’m gonna keep on
Giving you the best that I got, listen baby
Somebody understands me
Somebody gave his heart to me
I stumbled my whole life long
Always on my own, now I’m home
My weary mind is rested
And I feel as if my home is in your arms
Fears are all gone, I like the sound of your songv And I think I wanna sing it forever
We love so strong and so unselfishly
And I made a vow so I tell you now
I’m giving you the best that I got, listen baby
I bet everything on my wedding ring
I’m giving you the best that I got
Givin’ it to you baby
Giving you the best that I got
Giving you the best that I got
Giving you the best that I got
Credit: Photo by MC2 Erica R. Gardner, USN, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
The Pantone Color Institute recently revealed its top 10 colors for Autumn/Winter 2021/2022. Described as "heartening hues reflective of our natural environment," the Pantone standouts were widely seen in February's multi-media, digital-only installment of London Fashion Week.
Green Bee / Tomato Cream / Ibiza Blue / Illuminating / Winery
According to Pantone, the autumn/winter picks effectively mix playful with practical, while reflecting the reinvigorated desire to create — whether injecting a contemporary view into heritage or imposing an urban style on nature and the great outdoors.
Pantone’s 2021/2022 Autumn/Winter selections lead off with Green Bee, a grassy green that perpetuates nature; Tomato Cream, a buttery brown that warms the heart; Ibiza Blue, a stirring island blue hue that rouses our interest; Illuminating, a friendly, joyful and optimistic yellow that offers the promise of a sunny day; and Winery, a robust color that implies poise and finesse.
First Blush / Downtown Brown / Daylily / Clear Sky / Red Alert
The next grouping includes First Blush, a delicate and tender pink; Downtown Brown, a metropolitan brown with a bit of swagger; Daylily, an uplifting, orange-infused yellow with perennial appeal; Clear Sky, a color redolent of the cool blue of a cloudless day; and Red Alert, an impactful red with a suggestive presence.
Gem lovers looking to accessorize a Pantone-color-inspired ensemble should be pleased to learn that there are colored stones to coordinate with each of the top picks. A Green Bee outfit, for example, would look great with emerald or green tourmaline accessories. Winery apparel would match up perfectly with garnet or spinel jewelry.
Perfectly Pale / Ultimate Gray / Olive Branch / After Midnight
In additional to the 10 dominant colors, Pantone revealed four classic core hues whose versatility transcends the seasons. They are Perfectly Pale, a color reminiscent of a sandy beach; Ultimate Gray, a quietly assuring and reliable gray encouraging composure; Olive Branch, a tasteful green that is symbolic of growth; and After Midnight, an invulnerable black-infused blue.
Back in December, we revealed Pantone’s Colors of the Year for 2021. At the time, Pantone described Ultimate Gray and Illuminating as two independent colors that highlight how different elements come together to support one another. Pantone added that twin winners told a story of color that encapsulates deeper feelings of thoughtfulness with the promise that everything is going to get brighter. Interestingly, Illuminating and Ultimate Gray are included on the Autumn/Winter 2021/2022 palette.
Previous Pantone Colors of the Year have included Classic Blue (2020), Living Coral (2019), Ultra Violet (2018), Greenery (2017), Rose Quartz/Serenity Blue (co-winners for 2016), Marsala (2015), Radiant Orchid (2014), Emerald (2013) and Tangerine Tango (2012).
Pantone, the global color authority, publishes its Fashion Color Trend Report to give consumers and retailers a sneak peek at the color stories that will emerge in all areas of design and fashion.
Credits: Images courtesy of Pantone.
Apple, the tech giant that changed your world with the introduction of the iPhone, iPad, iPod, iMac, AirPods and Apple Watch, just filed a patent for a unique ring that has the ability to interpret hand gestures and interact with other devices.
Technically, Apple describes the ring as "a self-mixing interferometry (SMI) sensor-based gesture input system."
According to pymnts.com, SMI technology sends laser beam pulses out into the world and then, by measuring how long it takes for those beams to return, measures its own orientation in space.
In its patent application, Apple noted that the ring might be used alone or in pairs for AR (augmented reality), VR (virtual reality) and MR (mixed reality) applications.
By wearing two Apple rings — one on the index finger and another on the thumb, the user might move her fingers in the air to imitate the pinching, zooming or swiping action used on actual devices. The ring might also detect an Apple Pencil in the user's hand and be able alter the writing tool's functionality with a flick of the wrist.
Another unique feature of the Apple ring is its ability to sense its position in relation to other devices.
The website ubergizmo.com speculated that the ring could also be used to help tell another device — like a pair of smart glasses — exactly "where" the Apple Pencil is in relation to the glasses so that users could draw virtually in the air.
This is not Apple's first patent for a smart ring, according to pymnts.com. The company filed a patent for a ring with an embedded touchscreen in 2019 and, four years earlier, filed a patent for a ring with a touch display that would be worn on the index finger and controlled with the thumb.
Clearly, Apple has ring-based technology on its radar and its only a matter of time before something very cool is released to the public. We're guessing that a future line of Apple rings will be offered in white, yellow and rose gold. Stay tuned.
Credit: Illustration via United States Patent and Trademark Office.
An asteroid about twice the size of New York's Empire State Building will be zooming past the Earth at 77,000 mph (124,000 kph) on Sunday, giving scientists a rare opportunity to learn whether it contains precious metals, such as silver, gold and platinum.
The asteroid named "2001 FO32" will come within 1.25 million miles of Earth, which is equivalent to 5.25 times the distance from the Earth to the moon.
Back in April of 2017, a slightly smaller, platinum-rich asteroid came within 1.09 million miles of the Earth, prompting speculation about the feasibility of space mining.
At the time, analyst Noah Poponak and his Goldman Sachs team argued in a 98-page report that platinum mining in space is getting cheaper and easier, and the rewards are becoming greater as time goes by. The global investment company talked up the feasibility of an “asteroid-grabbing spacecraft” that could extract upwards of $50 billion in platinum.
In 2022, Arizona State University and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory will launch a spaceship in the direction of 16 Psyche, a unique metal asteroid orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter. After a 1.5-billion-mile, 3 1/2-year journey, the NASA spacecraft will have a close encounter with the 120-mile-wide (200km) asteroid that is estimated to contain $10,000 quadrillion worth of valuable metals.
According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the March 21 encounter will give astronomers a chance to study the asteroid’s size and albedo (how bright, or reflective, its surface is), and offer a clearer picture of its composition.
This will be achieved, in part, with the use of NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF), a 3.2-meter (10.5-foot) telescope atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea that will observe the asteroid in the days leading up to close approach using its workhorse infrared spectrograph, SpeX.
“We’re trying to do geology with a telescope,” said Vishnu Reddy, associate professor at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson.
When sunlight hits an asteroid’s surface, minerals in the rock absorb some wavelengths while they reflect others. By studying the spectrum of light reflecting off the surface, astronomers can measure the chemical “fingerprints” of the minerals on the asteroid.
“We’re going to use the IRTF to get the infrared spectrum to see its chemical makeup,” Reddy explained. “Once we know that, we can make comparisons with meteorites on Earth to find out what minerals 2001 FO32 contains.”
The year 2052 is the next time the 2001 FO32 asteroid will be this close to the Earth. Amateur astronomers in the southern hemisphere and low northern latitudes should be able to witness the 2021 encounter with a moderate-size telescope equipped with apertures of at least 8 inches.
Credit: Asteroid-grabbing spacecraft illustration by NASA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Photo from inside the dome of NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, courtesy of UH/IfA.