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Articles in February 2014

February 3rd, 2014
By turning a large silver wheel, visitors to the new Perot Museum in Dallas get to “crack open” the gigantic “Grape Jelly” amethyst geode to reveal the vivid purple crystalline structure inside. Spinning the wheel in the opposite direction magically closes the geode, returning the specimen to its original boulder-like appearance.

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The five-foot-tall, 1.5-ton geode is one of the most popular attractions at the museum, which opened a little over a year ago. Amethyst, incidentally, is February’s official birthstone.

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So, whether you’re a February baby, a fan of amethyst, love the color purple or just want to marvel at the sight of something otherworldly, a trip to the museum’s Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals Hall on Level 3 will not disappoint.

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As they interact with high-definition videos, digital puzzles and touch-me specimens, kids and kids-at-heart will have a blast learning about the colors, shapes and hardnesses of Earth’s original rock stars.

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Visitors will learn where crystals come from and how they form by viewing a time-lapse video of the birth and growth of various minerals.

They also get to explore the physical and optical properties of various colored stones. In one station, visitors get to see minerals under different light sources and be astonished by how some specimens take on vibrant hues under ultraviolet bulbs.

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The $185 million Perot Museum of Nature and Science, which opened in December of 2012, is named for Ross and Margot Perot. It was made possible through the generosity of the Perot family and many other Dallas-area benefactors. The 180,000-square-foot museum houses 11 permanent exhibitions and one traveling exhibition. All of them are highly interactive and designed to engage young people. In fact, the museum welcomes more than 2,000 schoolchildren each day.

Admission costs $15 for adults, $10 for children and $12 for students 12 to 17. Toddlers under 2 get in for free.

Grape Jelly photos by Jason Janik. Perot Museum photo by Joe Mabel.
February 4th, 2014
We’re guessing that four is the magic number for former Bachelorette star Emily Maynard as she confirmed her fourth engagement — this time to the handsome, but not so famous, Tyler Johnson — and showed off an unconventional stack of four blingy bands that will serve as her engagement rings.

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Maynard, who is a jewelry designer, made it clear to her husband-to-be that a conventional engagement ring was out of the question.

"I told him I didn't want a traditional engagement ring and that I just wanted some simple bands,” the 27-year-old Maynard wrote in a Friday post to her blog. “He went above and beyond to say the least and they couldn't be more 'me.' I got a good one."

The dominant band in the stack features large emerald-cut diamonds framed by smaller diamonds. The three other rings are more delicate, but no less fashionable. One of the smaller bands seems to be highlighted by blue sapphires.

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Maynard assured naysayers that this would be her final engagement and revealed that she and her new fiancé became friends through a jewelry-making program.

“Let me be the first to say, ‘This time it's the real deal. I promise!’ We've been dating for over a year and have known each other for much longer,” she wrote. “I used to teach a jewelry-making class at a middle school that my church adopted and Tyler was one of the coordinators of the program.”

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Fans of The Bachelotte may remember that in the summer of 2012 Maynard accepted a 2.5-carat emerald-cut diamond engagement ring from Utah entrepreneur Jef Holm during the season finale that was seen by nine million viewers. The ring was valued at $68,000, but the engagement would not last long.

During the March 2011 finale of The Bachelor, Brad Womack proposed to Maynard with a cushion-cut diamond ring in a halo setting that was valued between $50,000 and $90,000. That romance, also, quickly fizzled.

Maynard was briefly engaged in 2004 to NASCAR driver Ricky Hendrick. He died tragically in a plane crash near Martinsville, Va.
February 5th, 2014
Hand-engraved medals clad in precious metal and embedded with fragments of the infamous Chelyabinsk meteorite will be presented to the Olympic athletes who capture the gold in their respective events on the ninth day of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

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Only 10 meteorite medals will be awarded on February 15, the day that marks the one-year anniversary of the rare and terrifying event that saw a 55-foot, 7,000-ton space rock flash across the Russian sky and crash down with the force of 500,000 tons of TNT. An additional 40 medals will be sold to private collectors.

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A spokesperson for the Chelyabinsk Ministry of Culture claimed that each medal in the limited run of 50 went through a painstaking 12-step production process carried out by the artisans of Zlatoust, a town famous for artistic metal engravings.

The technique for mounting each irregularly shaped meteorite fragment in the center of the medal was described as “intricate” by the spokesperson, who added, unbelievably, that “it takes up to nine people to embed just one piece.”

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The Chelyabinsk meteorite is composed of meteoric iron, sulfites and olivine. Olivine of gem-quality is called peridot.

Seven events will be awarding gold medals on February 15: the men’s 1,500-meter speed skating, the women’s 1,000-meter and men’s 1,500-meter short track, the women’s cross-country skiing relay, the men’s K-125 ski jump, the women’s super giant slalom and the men’s skeleton event.

Winners that day will be taking home two medals — the regular Olympic gold medal and the special commemorative meteorite medal. The gold-clad space-rock medals will be presented in a separate ceremony conducted by the Chelyabinsk Ministry of Culture.

“We will hand out our [meteorite] medals to all the athletes who will win gold on that day, because both the meteorite strike and the Olympic Games are global events,” Chelyabinski Region Culture Minister Alexei Betekhtin said in a statement.

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In February of 2013, news agencies reported that the meteorite responsible for sending shock waves through the city of Chelyabinsk was a blessing in disguise for some of its impoverished residents. When the meteorite exploded, it showered the city with thousands of tiny black stones that were worth more than their weight in gold.

The New York Times recounted how strangers were offering stacks of rubles worth hundreds, even thousands, of dollars to local residents for the meteorite fragments.

The meteorite injured about 1,500 people and smashed windows in Chelyabinsk and neighboring areas. Fortunately, no deaths were reported.

February 6th, 2014
Inside Edition’s 4.4 million viewers will get the inside scoop today on the super-elaborate, fake-photoshoot marriage proposal that Dr. James Pinckney staged for his supermodel girlfriend Quiana Grant.

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Working the camera in a beautiful coral dress, the one-time Sports Illustrated model believed she was shooting a high-style fashion editorial for Neiman Marcus, but it was all a ruse that would allow the romantic doctor to crash the set and pop the question to his unsuspecting girlfriend.

(The Inside Edition segment was originally scheduled to run on Wednesday, but was pushed to today, according to a tweet from Pinckney. He noted the segment would air in the Dallas market on Friday.)

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Pinckney, who is the founder of Diamond Physicians, a “luxury” healthcare provider in Dallas, masterminded a scheme that took weeks to plan and had all the markings of a real photoshoot: professional studio, photographer, lighting, makeup artist, hair stylist, computers, monitors, fashionable attire, jewelry accessories… and many technical assistants.

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In a nine-minute video that documents the event, Grant is seen working through a series of poses for the photographer. Then, without warning, Pinckney (wearing his blue scrubs) walks right onto the set.

The stunned model seems happy to see her boyfriend, but looks confused as to why he is there. Pinckney apologizes to the crew for interrupting the shoot, and then turns to Grant to deliver his heartfelt proposal…

"I just wanted to tell you something. I want to tell you that you're the most amazing person I've ever met,” he says. “I love you with all my heart. Your compassion, your kindness to others, God truly sent me an angel.”

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Grant jumps up and down and shrieks as Pinckney gets down on one knee and asks, “Quiana Nicole Grant, will you marry me?" Overwhelmed and unable to speak at first, Pinckney asks, “Is that a yes?” Finally, she nods in the affirmative.

Still unaware of the elaborate ruse, the supermodel screams out, “My makeup!” believing her tears will ruin the photoshoot.

As the doctor slips the engagement ring on Grant’s finger, she cries out, “Oh, my God! Oh, my God!”

Then the doctor lifts his fiancée off the ground in a romantic, spinning embrace.

Finally, Grant’s hubby-to-be lets the cat out of the bag. “All this is fake,” he reveals.

“What?” she responds, looking stunned.

“All this is fake. I set this up for you,” he says.

“No way,” she says. “I love you so much.”

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As she settles down and acknowledges the well wishes of the fake crew, Grant takes a closer look at her new engagement ring. “It’s so pretty,” she says, showing it off for all to see.

Although we don’t have a close-up view of the ring, it seems to be a sizable round diamond in a halo setting with a delicate diamond band.

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In an interesting twist, Grant reveals to Pinckney that the previous night she had a dream that he proposed.

The full video is below. Enjoy.

February 7th, 2014
Bruno Mars’ electrifying Halftime Show during Sunday’s Super Bowl drew 115 million viewers, the largest TV audience in the history of the game. The hottest number in his 12-minute set was the funky disco-inspired “Treasure,” a song about the love of his life — his “golden star.”

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The precious metal reference qualifies the 28-year-old Grammy winner and his song to be the subjects of our regular Music Friday feature.

In the key reprise, Mars sings, “Treasure, that is what you are / Honey, you're my golden star / You know you can make my wish come true / If you let me treasure you.”

In describing the origins of the tune, “Treasure” co-writer Philip Lawrence told American Songwriter magazine, "It’s the kind of song where the whole band can get up and jam and have this Earth, Wind and Fire kind of moment.”

That energy was front and center at the Halftime Show, where Mars and his band delivered a rousing performance, complete with synchronized foot slides.

Released in 2013 as the third single off his Unorthodox Jukebox album, “Treasure” was a huge commercial success as it charted in 27 countries, including the #5 spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

The super halftime performance also helped to rocket 12 of Mars’ songs onto the iTunes Top Songs list. Among them was “Treasure” at #13.

See Mars and his group having an Earth, Wind and Fire moment while performing “Treasure” live on NBC’s hit singing competition show, The Voice. The video is at the end of this post and the lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.

“Treasure”
Written by Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine and Phredley Brown. Performed by Bruno Mars.

Give me your, give me your, give me your attention, baby
I gotta tell you a little something about yourself
You're wonderful, flawless, ooh, you're a sexy lady
But you walk around here like you wanna be someone else

(Oh whoa-oh-oh)
I know that you don't know it, but you're fine, so fine (fine, so fine)
(Oh whoa-oh-oh)
Oh girl, I'm gonna show you when you're mine, oh mine (mine, oh mine)

Treasure, that is what you are
Honey, you're my golden star
You know you can make my wish come true
If you let me treasure you
If you let me treasure you

(Whoa-oh-oh-h-h-h)

Pretty girl, pretty girl, pretty girl, you should be smiling
A girl like you should never look so blue
You're everything I see in my dreams
I wouldn't say that to you if it wasn't true

(Oh whoa-oh-oh)
I know that you don't know it, but you're fine, so fine (fine, so fine)
(Oh whoa-oh-oh)
Oh girl, I'm gonna show you when you're mine, oh mine (mine, oh mine)

Treasure, that is what you are
Honey, you're my golden star
You know you can make my wish come true
If you let me treasure you
If you let me treasure you

(Whoa-oh-oh-h-h-h)

You are my treasure, you are my treasure
You are my treasure, yeah, you, you, you, you are
You are my treasure, you are my treasure
You are my treasure, yeah, you, you, you, you are

Treasure, that is what you are
Honey you're my golden star
You know you could make my wish come true
If you let me treasure you
If you let me treasure you

(Whoa-oh-oh-h-h-h)

February 10th, 2014
Valentine’s Day is this Friday, so we’ve decided to kick off the week with a close-up look at one of the most famous — and romantic — diamonds of all time. It’s the remarkable 30.62-carat “Blue Heart Diamond,” a gemstone so special that it has lived on four continents and now has a permanent residence at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

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A heart-shaped diamond has always been the ultimate symbol of love and romance. Whether mounted in an engagement ring or pendant, the heartfelt message to the lucky recipient on Valentine’s Day is powerful and crystal clear.

Discovered in 1908 at South Africa’s legendary Premier Mine (now known as the Cullinan Diamond Mine), the Blue Heart Diamond started as a 100.5-carat rough stone. It was cut into a heart shape by Parisian jeweler Atanik Eknayan in 1910 and purchased by Pierre Cartier that same year.

According to the Smithsonian, Cartier set the lively blue diamond in a lily-of-the-valley brooch and sold the piece to Mrs. Unzue of Argentina in 1911. Van Cleef & Arpels purchased the diamond in 1953, reset it as a pendant and sold it to a European family that same year.

In 1959, Harry Winston obtained the stone and mounted it into a platinum ring. The setting included 25 round brilliant-cut colorless diamonds. American socialite and founder of General Foods Marjorie Merriweather Post purchased the ring in 1960 and gifted it to the Smithsonian’s National Gem Collection in 1964.

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The Gemological Institute of America graded the Blue Heart as a natural fancy deep blue diamond with a clarity grade of VS2. The stone measures 20.01 mm wide, 19.99 mm tall and 11.89 mm deep. At 30.62 carats, the Blue Heart Diamond is the 11th largest blue diamond in the world and the largest blue diamond ever cut into a heart shape.

Historically, there has been some confusion about the origin of the Blue Heart Diamond. Some accounts say that it was once known as the “Eugenie Blue” and owned by Empress Eugenie of France. These claims don’t hold water because the empress died in 1870, 38 years before the diamond was discovered.

The GIA offered these tips when choosing a heart-shaped diamond: If the wearer has an active lifestyle, but sure to pick a diamond that is mounted with a V-shaped prong at the point to prevent chipping. Choose a stone that is nicely proportioned with both lobes of the heart the same size.

Photos by Chip Clark.
February 11th, 2014
Winter Olympics figure skating darling Gracie Gold always wears a very special piece of jewelry to all of her big competitions. The superstitious Sports Illustrated cover girl and gold medal hopeful believes an evil eye necklace given to her by a ballet teacher years ago has helped propel her to stardom.

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“I always wear my evil eye necklace to ward off bad karma. I always wear one to protect me,” she told People magazine. “When I first started working with a ballet teacher, she gave me one before my first national championships. It worked really well. I ended up on the podium!”

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The evil eye necklace has yet to fail her. The athletic and graceful skater won the U.S. Junior title in 2012, placed second at the U.S. Nationals in 2013, and won U.S. Nationals in 2014.

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On Sunday, the fashion-conscious 18-year-old wore bright blue gemstone earrings while performing a flawless routine, scoring a career-best 129.36 and leading the U.S. team to a bronze medal in the team figure skating event.

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Interestingly, athletes are prohibited from wearing earrings, necklaces and hair adornments in Olympic-level figure skating competitions. A strict interpretation of the rules could result in the deduction of critical points from the competitor’s score.

Brad Griffies, an ice-skating costume designer who created the dress worn by Gold for this year’s U.S. National Championships, told Cosmopolitan magazine that the rules about accessories are rarely enforced and most competitors ignore them altogether. This is fortunate for Gold, who wore her evil eye necklace, stud earrings and a blingy hair clip during the U.S. Nationals, which took place in Boston, only a few miles from her birthplace of Newton, Mass.

The costume designer also revealed that there is a precise limit to the number of crystals that may be applied to a skater's costume. That number is 100,000. Griffies told Cosmopolitan that while it may take two to four hours to construct a skating outfit, the crystals could take four to 40 hours to apply.

February 12th, 2014
Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander learned a hard lesson about leaving his supermodel girlfriend Kate Upton unattended at a professional basketball game. The Detroit Tigers star pitcher had left his seat for only a few minutes, but it was time enough for Orlando Magic mascot Stuff the Magic Dragon to swoop in and pop the question to the Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover girl with a fist-sized faux diamond ring.

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The 21-year-old Upton accepted the ring and kissed the furry winged mascot on the snout, but didn’t exactly say “Yes” to the proposal that took place during a break in the action at Friday night’s close contest between the Magic and the Oklahoma City Thunder at Orlando’s Amway Center.

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Verlander, 30, displayed mock outrage when he returned to his seat to find his beaming girlfriend cradling a bouquet of flowers and wearing a supersize engagement ring. “I was gone for 5 seconds!!” he tweeted, along with a photo of his animated confrontation with the green-and-pink dragon.

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Upton seemed to enjoy the mascot fun as well as the exciting game that was won by the Magic 103-102 on a last-second dunk. On Twitter, she posted a snapshot of herself flashing her enormous ring, along with a tweet, “Thanks @STUFF_mascot for the proposal tonight! Great game!”

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The audacious dragon tweeted out to Upton and his fans, “She didn’t say yes… and she didn’t say no… so you’re saying there’s a chance!”

On her return to Los Angeles, a TMZ reporter intercepted Upton at LAX airport and asked how she felt about the mascot proposal. “It’s a huge honor,” she said. “He’s a magic dragon, so how could I say ‘No.’”

The six-time MLB All-Star pitcher and the high-profile model have been dating on and off since 2012. Some observers believe Stuff’s public proposal could be the wake-up call Verlander needs to start his own search for Upton’s perfect engagement ring.
February 13th, 2014
Love is in the air... Six million American couples expect to receive or deliver a marriage proposal on Valentine’s Day, according to a recent survey by American Express. Of the 13 million American couples who were likely to become engaged by the end of 2014, nearly half reported that February 14th was the day they expected to tie the knot.

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The survey also revealed that the average price couples expected to pay for an engagement ring was $2,311. Twenty-five percent put the amount between $2,000 and $4,999, while 16% expected the price to be $5,000 or higher.

Men said that they would prefer to pop the question on vacation (31%), while a large portion of woman said they craved the romantic ambiance of home (27%).

Overall, the 2014 American Express Spending & Saving Tracker reported that Americans will be doling out a whopping $37 billion on their celebration of Valentine’s Day.

Nearly three-quarters of the respondents (74%) said they would be doing something special on the most romantic day of the year, and 60% said they were planning to purchase a gift for their significant other.

Jewelry was the go-to purchase for nearly a quarter of the men in the survey (24%), while 54% said they’d opt for flowers.

Women were most likely to buy gadgets (16%) and gift cards (13%). Exactly 57% of the men and 59% of the women will purchase greetings cards.

Men expected to spend $254 on Valentine’s Day, while their female counterparts said they would spend $125.

The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research was completed online among a random sample of 1,504 adults, including the general U.S. population, as well as an Affluent demographic defined by a minimum annual household income of $100,000.
February 14th, 2014
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. As a tribute to Valentine’s Day, we shine the spotlight on Kelly Price, the R&B star who gushes about a February 14 marriage proposal in the appropriately titled song, “He Proposed.” Yesterday, we reported that six million American couples were planning to tie the knot today.

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Price describes in the 2004 Grammy-nominated song how her boyfriend surprised her on Valentine’s Day with a diamond engagement ring. She sings, “He proposed to me, my baby proposed with a diamond ring / 
I couldn't believe it, I looked in his eyes and I said yes.”

In one of the final lines of the song, Price adds an important detail about the ring: “He proposed and what a surprise / Ten carats nearly filled my eyes.”

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Set in what seems to be Price’s living room, the music video for “He Proposed” shows the singer dishing the details about her romantic Valentine’s Day proposal to a delighted group of girlfriends.

“He Proposed” is the 10th track on Price’s third studio album, Priceless. The song earned Price a Grammy nomination in 2004 for the Best Traditional R&B Performance.

The 40-year-old Price, who has been called a cross between a "streetwise Mariah Carey and a domesticated Mary J. Blige" is a seven-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter.

She has collaborated with the likes of Mariah Carey, George Michael, Elton John, The Isley Brothers, Brian McKnight, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Faith Evans, Whitney Houston, Donnie McClurkin, Eric Clapton and the late James Brown.

Please check out the official music video of “He Proposed.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.

“He Proposed”
Written by Bobby Arrington. Performed by Kelly Price.

It was Valentine’s Day, February the 14th
My baby took me to a special place
Said he had a surprise for me

He told me to close my eyes, so that I could not see
And when I opened them up
He was on one knee reachin' for my hand

That's when

He proposed to me, he proposed with a diamond ring
I started crying, he placed it on my finger and I said yes
He proposed to me, my baby proposed with a diamond ring
I couldn't believe it, I looked in his eyes and I said yes

I'll never forget that night. It was 8:43p.m. to be precise
He looked in my eyes and said
"You've made me the happiest man alive"

And soon as I got home I called my mother on the phone
I said, "Momma, you won't believe what just happened to me"

He proposed to me, he proposed with a diamond ring
I started crying, he placed it on my finger and I said yes
He proposed to me, my baby proposed with a diamond ring
Couldn't believe it, I looked in his eyes and I said yes

'Cuz we will be together baby and this I know
See, we will love forever baby, my heart told me so
See, if you promise to hold me tight and never let me go
We will be husband and wife for the rest of our lives

He proposed to me, he proposed with a diamond ring
I started crying, he placed it on my finger and I said yes
He proposed to me, my baby proposed with a diamond ring
Couldn't believe it, I looked in his eyes and I said yes

He proposed to me, he proposed with a diamond ring
I started crying, he placed it on my finger and I said yes
He proposed to me, my baby proposed with a diamond ring
Couldn't believe it, I looked in his eyes and I said yes

He proposed and what a surprise
Ten carats nearly filled my eyes
I started crying, I looked in his eyes and I said yes
My baby proposed to me

February 17th, 2014
Now you can capture HD video of the emotional, life-changing moment when she says, “Yes,” with an innovative engagement ring box called the Ring Cam.

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By simply pushing a button on the ring box, the romantic suitor can record up to 20 minutes of video in 720p high-definition format. The auto-focus, wide-angle lens is mounted near the ring, so the priceless reaction shots are seen from the ring’s point of view.

Thanks to the Ring Cam, couples will be able to relive one of the happiest occasions of their lives, share the moment with family and friends… and preserve the memories for generations to come.

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The Ring Cam, which is a customized cherry wood, velvet-wrapped engagement ring box outfitted with a lot of cutting-edge video technology, is the brainchild of six Hope College graduates.

“We’ve had a lot of friends get engaged in the last five or six months,” marketing manager Sam Tzou told the Holland Sentinel, a Michigan-based publication located in the same town as Hope College. “In listening to their stories, how excited they are and all the things they do getting ready to propose, we thought, ‘How awesome would it be to capture that moment on video?’”

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The Ring Cam also has an important audio component. “You can push the button while the ring is in your pocket and [capture] the [proposal] speech so the whole experience is recorded,” Tzou added.

The ring boxes may be rented for $85. The fee includes a video editing service that combines the live Ring Cam proposal footage with background music and still photos provided by the newly engaged couple. The resulting montage is a one-of-kind video keepsake.

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The Ring Cam concept was the result of a Hope College senior engineering project. From there, it migrated to the school’s 10-week summer incubator program, where the project was refined.

For the past 16 months, the six Hope College graduate have been preparing to bring the Ring Cam to market. The project was partly financed with an infusion from Start Garden, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based program that “seeds” would-be entrepreneurs’ innovative ideas with $5,000 investments.

Tzou told the Holland Sentinel that the next generation of Ring Cam boxes will include a lighting device for capturing marriage proposals at dusk or in low-light situations.

Learn more about the Ring Cam at www.getringcam.com.
February 18th, 2014
The 2014 Sochi Olympic gold medals are 10mm thick, 100mm wide and weigh in at a hefty 531 grams, or 1.17 pounds apiece. If the medals were made of pure gold — the way they were back in 1912 — each one would be worth a not-too-shabby $24,704.

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But, alas, starting in 1916, the International Olympic Committee mandated that gold medals be made mostly of silver, with a gilding of exactly 6 grams (.211 ounces) of 24-karat gold. Since the Sochi medals are composed of 525 grams of 96% pure silver and 6 grams of 99.9% pure gold, the total precious metal value is about $610. That’s only 2.4% of the value of a pure-gold version.

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The Sochi silver medals are even more disappointing value-wise. As with the gold medal, they are made of 525 grams of 96% pure silver, but they have no gilding. The precious metal value is only $332.

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Bronze medals at Sochi weigh in at 460 grams and contain mostly copper with a bit of zinc and tin. The composition is similar to that of a penny. There is no precious metal in the medal and the value is less than $5.

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Of course, the real value of an Olympic gold medal extends far beyond that of the precious metal. For example, a 1936 gold medal earned by Jesse Owens at the Games in Berlin, Germany, recently fetched $1.47 million at auction.

The Sochi Olympic medals are unique in that they seem to be missing a few puzzle-like pieces. The largest missing shape is actually filled in partly with a transparent polycarbonate material, making this is the first medal to ever to feature this element.

The medal's design represents the landscape of Sochi, with its snowy peaks and sandy beaches. The “patchwork quilt” elements are a tribute to the various cultures and ethnicities of the Russian Federation.

The front of the medals feature the Olympic rings, while the reverse side contains the name of the competition in English and the logo of the Sochi Games. The official name of the Games is engraved on the rim in Russian, English and French.

The Olympic organizing committee reported that the production of a single medal takes an average of 18 hours. The complex process includes casting, cutting, turning, electromachining, precision cutting and metal etching.

U.S. Olympic medal winners are automatically insured against the loss, theft or damage of their hard-earned treasures. Each medal is covered up to $5,000 through Liberty Mutual in partnership with the U.S. Olympic Committee. This service is being provided at no cost to U.S. athletes participating in the 2014 and 2016 Games.
February 19th, 2014
Looking like a slightly twisted modern-day Cleopatra, pop star Katy Perry flashes an outrageous bejeweled smile and seductive wink in the teaser for “Dark Horse,” her highly anticipated music video that releases tomorrow.

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The video’s 30-second preview introduces “Katy Patra,” the magical queen of Memphis, Egypt, who seems to have an affection for wearing colorful gemstones of uneven shapes and sizes — on her teeth. The three most prominent stones on her grill appear to be an oval white diamond, round pink diamond and pear-shaped blue sapphire.

(Sure, these could be rhinestones, but we're guessing that diamonds and sapphires would be more appropriate for a queen.)

The teaser states that, according to legend, on the occasion of every eclipse, kings would travel from Brooklyn to Babylon to win Katy’s heart: “If she fell in love, you’d be top dawg. If she didn’t, her wrath would leave you whimpering.”

Who will win the Queen’s heart? Well, I guess we will all find out on Thursday. Nearly three million fans have already checked out the teaser on Perry’s YouTube channel.

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The full music video promises to be filled with gemstone imagery. The teaser includes an image of a beautiful heart-shaped pink diamond on a wall of hieroglyphics that splits to reveal a long shot of Katy Patra on her throne.

Besides her blingy smile, the Queen is bedecked in a golden headdress embedded with red, blue and purple cabochon-cut beads. She also sports black braids gathered with gold adornments.

Photos: Katy Perry's YouTube Page
February 20th, 2014
Cora International, the luxury jeweler famous for cutting the largest pear-shaped vivid yellow diamond in the world, recently plunked down $25.6 million for the privilege of transforming an “exceptional” 29.6-carat vivid blue rough diamond into a faceted museum-quality masterpiece.

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Only last month, Petra Diamonds Ltd. announced that it had unearthed an acorn-sized blue diamond at its legendary Cullinan mine in South Africa. Petra chief executive Johan Dippenaar called it “one of the most important blue diamonds ever recovered” and experts had underestimated that the stone would sell for upwards of $20 million.

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Now Cora has the task of analyzing the structure of the angular rough diamond to determine its optimal final shape. The cutters will look to maximize the beauty, brilliance, clarity, color and weight. Very often, master cutters will sacrifice more than half of the stone’s carat weight in order to yield a perfect faceted diamond.

Cora is well equipped to take on the task at hand. The company has cut and sold some of the biggest diamonds in the world.

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Its most famous to date is the 110-carat “Cora Sundrop Diamond,” a pear-shaped stone so impressive that it had been on display at the “Vault” in London’s Natural History Museum. The Vault is a special gallery reserved for the museum’s most rare and valuable treasures.

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In 2011, the Sundrop was sold at Sotheby’s Geneva to an anonymous bidder for $10.9 million, a world-record price for a yellow diamond.

Blue diamonds get their color from trace amounts of boron impurities in their chemical makeup. Yellow diamonds occur with the presence of nitrogen.

Vivid blue diamonds are highly coveted and yield top prices at auction. Just last year, a fancy blue diamond weighing 5.30 carats broke the world record for price per carat when it fetched $9.5 million at Bonhams Fine Jewellery sale in London. The $1.8 million-per-carat bid eclipsed the previous record holder of $1.68 million per carat.

February 21st, 2014
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, we feature the newly released “Dear Diamond,” a blinged-out collaboration between Baltimore-based DJ Blaqstarr and Chicago-based hip-hop icon Common.

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In the official video, a bejeweled princess — with glistening diamonds affixed to her lips, eyelashes and fingernails — is the focus of the haunting love ballad that made its world debut one week ago on Valentine’s Day.

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In the video, the beautiful Diamond is a mysterious love “from another lifetime.” Besides Diamond’s over-the-top bling, the director doesn’t miss the opportunity to zoom in on Blaqstarr’s three impressive left-hand rings as he plays the piano.

Common and Blaqstarr exchange verses throughout the beautifully shot video, in which Common’s soulful rhyme play complements Blaqstarr’s sweet crooning.

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The 28-year-old Blaqstarr, whose birth name is Charles Jamal Smith, is a rapper, singer, producer and DJ. With the release of “Dear Diamond,” romantic balladeer can be added to his resume.

“Dear Diamond” will be one of the tracks on Blaqstarr’s new three-song Trinity EP, which is set to release in March. He also has a brand new Baltimore Club Music EP coming later in the spring.

Common, who was born Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., is a Grammy-award-winning recording artist, actor and author. The 41-year-old has appeared on the big screen more than 20 times.

We invite you to check out the official video for "Dear Diamond" at the end of this post. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along.

“Dear Diamond”
Performed by Blaqstarr, featuring Common.

Ah-oh-yeah, ah-oh-yeah, Ah-oh-yeah, ah-oh-yeah
Ah-oh-yeah, ah-oh-yeah, Ah-oh-yeah, ah-oh-yeah

You are so fine you
I can’t define you
The loss’ll find you
It wasn’t easy to find you

Been on my mind for so long
Don’t want to let go so hold on
You got the lines to both phones
It’s like I’m writing your song

Sing it, sing it, it linger, linger
We dream and believe it and all of us need it
We’re never too young to receive it

Things that we go do, thinkin’ that I owe you
Something like my soul knew
I was supposed to hold you, come on

I’m am here to let you know
Well, maybe I just lost my mind
You are clearly here for me

The same rhythm in a perfect rhyme
And I don’t want t close my eyes
I know this is meant to be

Dear Diamond
(I know you remember me, from another lifetime)
Dear Diamond
(I know you remember me)
Dear Diamond (I know you remember me, from another lifetime)
Dear Diamond
(I know you remember me)
Dear Diamond

I know you and you know me
Even before we came to be
This is synchronicity
Things in you I see in me

We can go where lovers go
Something kind of wonderful
You was open from the door
How much I love you, God would know

Life will make you lose your mind
But there’s no carry us through time
I know you were meant for me

Dear Diamond
(I know you remember me, from another lifetime)
Dear Diamond
(I know you remember me)
Dear Diamond
(I know you remember me, from another lifetime)
Dear Diamond
(I know you remember me)
Dear Diamond

Blessed
You remind me of a dream that I had
You remind me of a dream that I had
You remind me of a dream
That’s when you came to me and that’s when I said
I know

Dear Diamond, I know

February 24th, 2014
It’s not what you see on Christina Aguilera’s new engagement ring that makes it so special. It’s what you don’t see.

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Nine colorful gemstones — each with a symbolic meaning — are cleverly hidden on the inside of the band and designed to be in constant contact with the diva’s skin.

A source close to the newly engaged couple told People magazine, “Christina is very spiritual, and having the stones touch her actual skin will emit positive [energy that will surround] her at all times. The [gems] represent things like love, protection and healing.”

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Film producer Matt Rutler, who popped the question in Hawaii on Valentine’s Day, spent more than a year designing the unique, Art Deco-inspired engagement ring for his spiritual fiancée.

Other, more visible, characteristics of the diamond engagement ring symbolize the twists and turns of the couple’s three-year courtship.

“Every single placement of each stone has a reason and meaning,” 
the source added. “The actual band weaves and intertwines [the] diamonds. Every connecting crisscross symbolizes how their paths crossed. The ring narrows at the base [to] reflect how their bond continues to grow closer and stronger over time.”

Rutler was confident Aguilera would love the ring’s vintage look because it merged key elements from two rings that she already owned and loved. “[It's] similar to both their lives coming together as one,” the source said.

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Aguilera, who is a judge on “The Voice,” announced her February 14 engagement to Rutler via social media by breathlessly tweeting, “He asked and I said…”

Instead of giving her answer, the 33-year-old singer simply let a photo of the new engagement ring do the talking. The image, captured from a hotel balcony, showed the couple’s entwined hands in the foreground and a Hawaiian beach scene in the background.

Aguilera and Rutler, who revealed to People that they are expecting their first child, reportedly met on the set of “Burlesque,” the 2010 movie that starred Aguilera opposite Cher. Rutler was a film assistant for the production.

This will be Christina's second trip down the aisle and second child. She was previously married to music executive Jordan Bratman, with whom she has a six-year-old son, Max.

Photos: Christina Aguilera Instagram, Christina Aguilera Twitter
February 25th, 2014
Imagine a piece of high-tech jewelry that could instantly alert your “protective circle” of a potential emergency while transmitting a map of your exact location. Cuff, a line of wearable technology whose tagline is "smart, elegant security," got a big boost last week with a feature spot on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

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GMA viewers learned that the magic behind the new line of jewelry is the CuffLinc, a coin-sized wireless device that can be hidden in bracelets, necklaces and keychains. GPS-enabled and connected to the user’s smartphone via Bluetooth, the CuffLinc alert is activated by the wearer with a tap of the finger.

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Using a simple app, Cuff wearers invite friends and family members to join their “Cuff Circle.” When a user presses on her jewelry, the CuffLinc sends out an alert and an exact location to the smartphones of each circle member. Any member also wearing a Cuff product will feel the jewelry vibrating.

Users can program their Cuffs with different alerts for different people (i.e., three taps to alert the babysitter, a single tap to alert one’s husband).

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“It’s a little bit like an insurance policy to make sure you’re always connected and you’re also always available when other people need you,” Cuff founder Deepa Sood told GMA.

The CuffLinc is removable and can be placed in any of the Cuff products, which include bracelets, necklaces and key chains. The company claims that the CuffLinc chip can last a year without needing to be charged.

Trendspotters believe that wearable technology has the potential be a huge growth category. “Wearables are absolutely the future,” said Jane Buckingham, CEO of Trendera. “We’re going to see more and more of them. They are only going to be more integrated into who we are and what we do. This is absolutely only the beginning.”

In fact, a recent survey conducted by the Jewelry Consumer Opinion Council revealed that 44% of respondents would be interested in jewelry with smart features, such as unlocking doors, storing passwords or keeping them safe.
February 26th, 2014
A tiny zircon crystal that scientists say is 4.4 billion years old may help unlock the mysteries of how the Earth first formed.

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Discovered in Western Australia’s remote Jack Hills region and barely the size of a grain of sand, the zircon crystal is being touted as the oldest known material on Earth by scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

John Valley, a professor of geoscience, and his team revealed in the journal Nature Geoscience that the translucent red zircon was nearly as old as the Earth itself. (The microscopic image on this page shows the red zircon glowing blue when bombarded by electrons.)

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Scientists believe the Earth and the rest of the solar system were formed 4.567 billion years ago. The discovery of the ancient zircon crystal gives scientists good reason to believe that a once-molten Earth cooled quickly and solidified at least 4.4 billion years ago. The Earth's crust — including the tiny Aussie zircon — took shape only 160 million years after the creation of the solar system, the scientists reported.

Zircon is particularly precious to scientists because zircon crystals can withstand billions of years of abuse, explained Carl Zimmer in an article for National Geographic.

“Zircons have the added attraction of holding onto radioactive isotopes such as uranium. Over billions of years, the uranium decays at a steady rate into lead. By measuring the atoms of uranium and lead in a zircon, scientists can get a tight estimate of the zircon’s age,” he wrote.

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Valley and his team used two techniques to confirm the zircon’s age. The first measured how many radioactive uranium atoms in the crystal had decayed into lead. The half-life of uranium-238 is about 4.47 billion years.

A second method, called atom-probe tomography, was used to count individual atoms of lead in the crystal and to determine their mass.

The scientists say the crystal's chemistry, which includes oxygen isotopes, suggests that the temperatures on Earth 4.4 billion years ago would have supported liquid water, and possibly life.

"One of the things that we're really interested in is: When did the Earth first become habitable for life? When did it cool off enough that life might have emerged?" Valley told CBS News. "We have no evidence that life existed then. We have no evidence that it didn't. But there is no reason why life could not have existed on Earth 4.3 billion years ago."

The oldest known fossils are said to be 3.5 billion years old.

Photos by John Valley; Graphic by Andree Valley
February 27th, 2014
While walking a trail on their property in Northern California, a couple happened upon a rusty can that was partly sticking out of the ground. What they discovered is now being called the “greatest buried treasure ever unearthed in the United States” — a trove of 1,427 gold coins from the Gold Rush era estimated to be worth more than $10 million.

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The lucky couple, who want to be identified by their first names of John and Mary for fear of uninvited speculators descending on their property, couldn’t have imagined how their lives were going to change when they used a stick to scratch the rusted can out of the ground.

The can was sealed on both ends and they had no idea what was inside. All they knew was that the can was very old and very heavy, according to an interview published at kaginsinc.com. (Kagin’s is a currency firm representing the couple).

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As he struggled to get the rusty can back to their home, John’s best guess at the time was that it was filled with lead paint. But, then the lid cracked off, revealing the cache of gold coins. Later, the couple went back with a hand shovel and dug out five more cans. A sixth was found with a metal detector. Nearly all the coins were in pristine condition.

The 1,427 gold coins, which are being called the “Saddle Ridge Hoard,” were all dated between 1847 and 1894 and coincide chronologically with California’s Gold Rush of 1849. There were nearly 1,400 $20 gold pieces, 50 $10 gold pieces and four $5 gold pieces. The rarest of all is an 1866-S No Motto Double Eagle, which is valued at $1 million. The couple has no clue as to who might have buried the coins. The cans were discovered at varying depths, so the couple believes they may have been buried at different times.

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David McCarthy, a coin expert with Kagin’s, said he’s never seen coins in the condition of the Saddle Ridge Hoard. “We've seen shipwrecks in the past where thousands of gold coins were found in very high grade, but a buried treasure of this sort is unheard of," he said. “Many pieces were finer than anything known in major collections or museums.”

McCarthy reported that Kagin’s will sell most of the coins on Amazon.com in a special part of the web site dedicated to collectibles. John commented that the couple is likely to keep a representative sample of the hoard — “something to leave to relatives when we pass on,” he said.

In retrospect, Mary and John said there were at least two clues that the coins were buried near the trail they've used almost every day for years.

First, they always wondered about an oddly placed angular rock that pointed right to the spot where the cans were buried. “If you walked 10 paces toward the North Star, you end up smack in the middle of the coins,” Mary said.

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Second, the couple had noticed years ago that one of their trees had a rusty can hanging from it. Apparently the tree had grown around the can. At the time, the couple assumed that the can might have been a place where people put flowers at a gravesite.

The couple is grateful that their good fortune will allow them to stay in their home and assist their loved ones. “Like a lot of people lately, we’ve had some financial trials. I feel extreme gratitude that we can keep our beloved property,” John said. “I hope we can help our family members and community and give back some.”

A lesson Mary’s learned from this experience: “Don’t be above bending over to check on a rusty can.”

Photos: Kagin's Inc.
February 28th, 2014
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we feature New Zealand-born teen sensation Lorde performing “Team,” a tune that’s been on U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart for 22 weeks and is still climbing at #7.

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Photo: Lorde Instagram

In a track that’s a tribute to her friends and country, Lorde sings, “Call all the ladies out / They're in their finery / A hundred jewels on throats / A hundred jewels between teeth.”

The 17-year-old singer-songwriter, who was born Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor, is clearly enamored with gemstones. In her Grammy Award winning debut single, “Royals,” she opened with the line, “I’ve never seen a diamond in the flesh.” In January, that song earned Lorde four Grammy nominations and netted statues for Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance. This month, Lorde also won the prestigious BRIT Award for Best International Female Solo Artist.

“Team” is the third single from Lorde’s critically acclaimed debut album, Pure Heroine. The song has been described as a clever brew of pop, rock, electronic dance music and electrohop.

So far, the song has charted in 20 countries and sold more than 1.5 million copies in the U.S. alone. The official video for “Team” has been viewed more than 23 million times.

Please check out Lorde’s live performance of “Team” during a November 2013 appearance on the Late Show With David Letterman. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.

“Team”
Written by Ella Yelich-O’Connor and Joel Little. Performed by Lorde.

Wait 'til you're announced
We've not yet lost all our graces
The hounds will stay in chains
Look upon Your Greatness and she'll send the call out
Send the call out, send the call out
Send the call out, send the call out
Send the call out, send the call out
Send the call out, send the call out
Send the call out, send the call out
Send the call out, send the call out
Send the call out, send the call out
Send the call out

Call all the ladies out
They're in their finery
A hundred jewels on throats
A hundred jewels between teeth
Now bring my boys in
Their skin in craters like the moon
The moon we love like a brother
While he glows through the room

Dancing around the lies we tell
Dancing around big eyes as well, ah
Even the comatose
They don't dance and tell

[Chorus]
We live in cities you'll never see on screen
Not very pretty, but we sure know how to run things
Living in ruins of the palace within my dreams
And you know we're on each other's team

I'm kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air
So there

So all the cups got broke
Shards beneath our feet
But it wasn't my fault
And everyone's competing
For a love they won't receive
'Cause what this palace wants is release

[Chorus]
We live in cities you'll never see on screen
Not very pretty, but we sure know how to run things
Living in ruins of the palace within my dreams
And you know we're on each other's team

I'm kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air
So there
I'm kind of older than I was when I reveled without a care
So there

[Chorus]
We live in cities you'll never see on screen
Not very pretty, but we sure know how to run things
Living in ruins of the palace within my dreams
And you know we're on each other's team

We're on each other's team
And you know we're on each other's team
We're on each other's team
And you know and you know and you know