The Jewelry Judge  - Ben Gordon's Blog
July 2nd, 2020
A pair of scientists from The University of Hong Kong have developed an autonomous "hunter drone" that can survey wide landscapes and identify valuable gemstone targets using a scanning laser. The drone flies at night and emits a powerful beam that causes fluorescent items on the surface of the ground to glow.



The drone was originally intended to look for fossil bones, hence its name "Laser Raptor," but the scientists quickly realized that the drone's capability was far more reaching. Other florescent targets could include rare minerals, such as ruby, kunzite, opal and diamond, to name a few.

Of the diamonds submitted to the Gemological Institute of America for grading over the past decade, approximately 25% to 35% exhibit some degree of fluorescence, a factor that — for the overwhelming majority of diamonds— has no widely noticeable effect on appearance.

In a paper published in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution, HKU Research Assistant Professor Dr. Michael Pittman and his colleague Thomas G. Kaye of the Foundation for Scientific Advancement described a prototype drone that was programmed to look for fossils at night in the badlands of Arizona and Wyoming.

At first, the Laser Raptor flew rapidly to search locations using its on-board navigation, and then descended and maintained an altitude of 4 meters above ground so it could "mow the lawn" in search of glowing targets as small as a thumbnail.



After each “mission” was complete, a video of the laser scan was processed to find hot spots that were investigated in more detail the next day, leading to the recovery of new fossil specimens.

They explained that the application of laser-stimulated fluorescence (LSF) to an aerial system is possible because of the laser's ability to project over great distances with little loss in power.

Pittman and Kaye reported that they are now working to develop LSF applications for the study of geologic landscapes beyond Earth.

Credits: Images by Thomas G. Kaye & Michael Pittman / The University of Hong Kong.
July 1st, 2020
A little over five years ago, the 25.59-carat pigeon-blood-red “Sunrise Ruby” rocked the auction world when it obliterated two auction records at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale in Geneva. The hammer price of $30.4 million exceeded Sotheby’s high estimate by more than $12 million and set a new auction mark for the largest sum ever paid for a ruby.



The stone, which was set between two shield-shaped white diamonds in ring designed by Cartier, also established a new high-water mark for the highest price-per-carat ever paid for a ruby ($1.19 million).

Today, the cushion-cut Sunrise Ruby has its own Wiki page and is celebrated as one of the world's finest examples of July's birthstone.

This writer remembers watching the drama unfold in real-time via a video feed embedded in Sothebys.com website.

As the evening's final lot — #502 — was announced at the podium, the room was abuzz with excitement as a dark-haired model in an elegant black dress neared the podium wearing the Sunrise Ruby on the ring finger of her right hand.

Bidding for the Sunrise Ruby started at 11 million Swiss francs (about $11.8 million) and moved steadily upward during a seven-minute battle between two phone bidders, one of whom prevailed with an offer of 25 million francs. (The final price amounted to 28.5 million francs, which included the Buyer's Premium of 13%.)

"A new record price for a ruby," bellowed David Bennett, the chairman of Sotheby's international jewelry division, as he brought down the hammer and the live audience broke loose in applause.

In a subsequent interview, Bennett explained that "during his 40 years in the industry, he has never before seen a ruby of this caliber."

A Sunrise Ruby grading report by Gübelin explained how rubies of this quality are generally found in small crystals.

“Based on our records,” the report noted, “we can conclude that a natural ruby from Burma of this size and color is extremely rare. Thus, the described gemstone with its combination of outstanding characteristics can be considered a unique treasure of nature.”

Since the late 15th century, Burma, particularly the region around Mogok, has been a vital source for high-quality rubies. The area, known as the “Valley of Rubies,” is regarded as the original source of pigeon’s blood rubies.

Ruby is the red variety of the mineral corundum (aluminium oxide). Corundum in other colors is called sapphire. The word “ruby” comes from “ruber,” which is Latin for "red." Rubies gets their color from the element chromium and boast a hardness of 9.0 on the Mohs scale. Only diamonds are rated higher at 10.0.

In addition to Burma, the coveted red gems have been sourced in Thailand, Afghanistan, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, India, Namibia, Japan and Scotland. After World War II, ruby deposits were discovered in Madagascar, Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Tanzania and Vietnam. In the U.S., rubies have been found in Montana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Wyoming.

Credit: Sunrise Ruby image by Sothebys.com.
June 30th, 2020
Queen Elizabeth II is rarely seen in public without her favorite three-strand pearl necklace — a gift from her beloved father, King George VI, who passed away in 1952. What most Royal Family followers don't know is that the Queen actually owns three nearly identical pearl necklaces that she rotates freely.



The future monarch was only 25 years old when she lost her beloved dad, and the pearl necklace that she received from him as a young girl remains a powerful reminder of the special bond they shared.

Elizabeth loved the three-strand pearl necklace so much that she had an identical one made. In 1953, a third three-stand pearl necklace joined her collection. It was a gift from Emir of Qatar and the only difference among the three was that this version sported a diamond clasp.

Her Royal Highness's jewelry collection contains more than 300 items, including 98 brooches, 46 necklaces, 37 bracelets, 34 pairs of earrings, 15 rings, 14 watches and five pendants. But, in the end, the simple, deeply sentimental pearl necklace continues to be her go-to accessory.

For the past 68 years, Great Britain's longest-reigning monarch has incorporated the three necklaces into her "official uniform." Some Royal Family followers believe the Queen rotates the pearl strands so she won't wear out the prized original.

Her official uniform also includes a brightly colored two-piece suit, decorative hat and the classic Launer black leather Traviata handbag.

Besides being a place to stash her mints, lipstick, small mirror, pen and reading glasses, the Launer handbag also serves as a way for the 94-year-old Queen to silently communicate with her staff.

According to published reports, if the Queen switches the purse from one hand to the other, it means that she is finished with the current conversation. If she places it on a table, the staff knows she needs to leave the venue within the next five minutes. If she places it on the ground, her handlers know she needs to be "rescued" from a social situation immediately.

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com/The Royal Family Channel.
June 29th, 2020
An artisanal miner in Tanzania struck it rich last week when he sold two enormous tanzanite crystals for $3.4 million.



Saniniu Laizer had discovered the crystals — one weighing 9.2kg (46,000 carats) and the other 5.8kg (29,000 carats) — in Tanzania's Manyara region, not far from the country's Merelani mining site.

The two rough gems are believed to be the largest tanzanites ever found in Tanzania. The previous record holder weighed 3.3kg.

In a highly promoted ceremony on Wednesday, the 52-year-old Laizer revealed his finds to the international press.

"There will be a big party tomorrow," he told the BBC.

Laizer also promised to invest his windfall in the local community of Simanjiro.

"I want to build a shopping mall and a school," he said. "I want to build this school near my home. There are many poor people around here who can't afford to take their children to school."

Calling into the celebration by phone, Tanzanian President John Magufuli commented, "This is the benefit of small-scale miners and this proves that Tanzania is rich."

When Magufuli came into power five years ago, he promised to safeguard the nation's mining sector and ordered the military to build a wall surrounding a Manyara mining site.

Tanzanite is said to be rarer than diamond by a factor of 1,000 times due the fact that this unique and beautiful variety of the mineral zoisite is mined in only one location on earth. The area measures 2km wide by 4km long and the remaining lifespan of the mine is less than 30 years. Tanzanite’s color is an intoxicating mix of blue and purple, unlike any other gemstone.

Artisanal miners like Laizer are permitted to work outside the confines of the Manyara mining site as long as they carry a government-issued license. In 2019, Tanzania established trading centers to allow these miners — most of whom work by hand — to sell their gems to the government.

In 2002, the American Gem Trade Association added tanzanite to the jewelry industry’s official birthstone list. Tanzanite joined turquoise and zircon as the official birthstones for December.

Credit: Image © Tanzania Ministry of Minerals.
June 26th, 2020
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, Swiss singer-songwriter Luca Hänni pursues the 110-carat girl of his dreams in his brand new release, "Diamant," which means "diamond" in German.



The official music video, which is performed in German and spotlights the talents of dancer Christina Luft, premiered on YouTube 15 days ago and already has been viewed more than one million times.

With the help of a Google translation, we learn that Hänni is trying desperately to win the heart of a young woman who may be a little out of his league. He likens her to a 110-carat "diamant."

He sings, "Du bist hundertzehn Karat / Deine wunderschöne Art / An dich kommt niemand ran / Du bist ein Diamant / Hundertzehn Karat / Und mein Herz schlägt Alarm / Ich will dich an der Hand / Wie ein Diamant."

The rough translation goes something like this: "You are 110 carats / Your wonderful style / Nobody can match you / You're a diamond / 110 carats / And my heart sounds the alarm / I want you by the hand / Like a diamond."

The multi-talented 25-year-old from Bern, Switzerland, tells his love interest that she is brighter than light. "Du bist ein Juwel für mich (You are a jewel to me)," he sings.

Hänni got his big break in 2012 when he won the ninth season of Deutschland sucht den Superstar (Germany Seeks the Superstar), the German version of the Idol franchise. He was the first non-German and youngest competitor to win the title.

Hänni has since released four studio albums and 13 singles. In February 2020, he was named Best Male Act at the 13th Swiss Music Awards and then finished third in the 13th season of Let's Dance, a German talent series. His dance partner was Luft, who you can see in the official video of "Diamant," below. The lyrics here are translated from German to English.

"Diamant (Diamond)"
Written by Mathias Ramson, Choukri Gustmann, Lukas Loules and Nebil Latifa. Performed by Luca Hänni.

(Translated by Google from the original German.)

Shine in the eyes
You don't see me
How long do I have to dig
Until you speak a word to me?
You are accomplished (accomplished)
Brighter than light (brighter than light)
You are not like the others
You are a jewel to me

I don't need a ring
No luxury, no bling-bling
But I only have you in mind
And I follow my instinct

You are 110 carats
Your wonderful style
Nobody can match you
You're a diamond
110 carats
And my heart sounds the alarm
I want you by the hand
Like a diamond

Like a diamond
Like a diamond
Like a diamond
Beam at me

Are we at home
I unpack you like mon cherie
Love is so heavy in the stomach
And every gangster wants such a bride
I'll make sure no bandit ever steals you

I don't need a ring
No luxury, no bling-bling
But I only have you in mind
And I follow my instinct

You are 110 carats
Your wonderful style
Nobody can match you
You're a diamond
110 carats
And my heart sounds the alarm
I want you by the hand
Like a diamond

Like a diamond
Like a diamond
Like a diamond
Beam at me

Next to you I can get on with my life
Nothing is as it used to be
Next to me is a diamond

You are 110 carats
Your wonderful style
Nobody can match you
You're a diamond
110 carats
And my heart sounds the alarm
I want you by the hand
Like a diamond

Like a diamond
Like a diamond
Like a diamond
Beam at me
Like a diamond
Like a diamond
Like a diamond
Beam at me


Credit: Screen capture via Youtube.com / Luca Hänni.
.
June 25th, 2020
More than 3.5 million Swarovski crystals are integrated into the architecture and decor of the Sparkling Hill Resort near Vernon, British Columbia, making this venue a jewelry-lover's fantasy.



Owned by Swarovski family patriarch Gernot Langes-Swarovski, the $122 million, state-of-the-art spa facility reflects crystal-infused opulence from every angle.

Visitors approaching the resort will immediately notice a lobby façade with angular window panes "faceted" to look like a brilliant-cut gemstone. Gemstone themes are also prevalent in the signage, lighting, sculptures, floor coverings, furniture, stairs, ceilings and mirrors.



Swarovski crystals hang like icicles from gigantic chandeliers in the hotel's atrium-style lobby. Each room features a crystal-shaped soaker tub and the indoor pool has glass walls and a Swarovski-crystal, starry sky ceiling.



Langes-Swarovski opened the facility in 2010 to fulfill the mission of educating and facilitating his guests’ personal journey to whole body wellness and enhancing their overall quality of life.



Guests receive exclusive access to KurSpa’s amenities, which span 40,000 square feet. These include seven uniquely themed aromatherapy steams and saunas, indoor pool and hot pool, outdoor infinity pool, Kneipp hydrotherapy, tea room and serenity room.

Located atop a granite bluff overlooking Okanagan Lake and featuring 36 holes of championship golf in wine country, the picture-postcard, 149-room resort is a 30-minute drive from Kelowna International Airport (YLW) in British Columbia, about 400km east of Vancouver.

Credits: Images via sparklinghill.com.
June 24th, 2020
Celebrity chefs Alex Guarnaschelli and Michael Castellon have taken their relationship to the next level — and the Food Network star has a dazzling ring to prove it.



Guarnaschelli took to Instagram on Saturday to show off her new emerald-and-diamond engagement ring and post the simple caption, "Ok @chefmike808, you’re on!" She punctuated the post with an engagement ring emoji.

Castellon, who is best known for winning Season 35 of Chopped, popped the question on Guarnaschelli’s birthday.



He also posted a photo of his fiancée's ring on his Instagram page. Instead of a standard caption, he strung together a series of hashtags, when combined, spelled out his sentiments. He wrote, "#she #said #yes engaged #boom #luckiest #guy #ever #happy #happy And #happy #bday @guarnaschelli"

Guarnaschelli revealed in a People magazine story that her boyfriend of four years delivered his surprise proposal after convincing her that he had spotted a baby deer near the side of the road. They had just finished a grocery run when he pulled the car over so they could take a closer look.

She told People, “So he's like, 'Shh. Come see it. It's so cute.' And I'm like, 'We're going to have to do something. We're going to have to call the animal welfare.' I'm already rolodexing the situation… And he goes, 'There's no deer.' I turn, and I look and he's on one knee. And he said, 'There's no deer.' He's like, 'This is why I have to marry you because you just believe me every time.' He said, 'Will you marry me?' and he gave me the ring."

The white-metal ring is set with a large emerald-cut emerald flanked by round, white accent diamonds. Guarnaschelli, who is the executive chef of Butter in New York City and has appeared on the Food Network's Chopped, Iron Chef America, All Star Family Cook-off, Guy's Grocery Games, and The Best Thing I Ever Ate, revealed on her IG stories that the ring is a Castellon family heirloom.

Affectionately called Chef Mike, Castellon appeared on Guy's Grocery Games and Iron Chef America. He is also an executive chef in New York City.



The couple met four years ago when Guarnaschelli dined at the restaurant where Castellon was working. Apparently, it was love at first sight.

"I went in to meet him and tell him the steak was delicious and that was it," she told People.

Guarnaschelli also dished that she and her fiancé are in no hurry to tie the knot, but when they do, it will be "a blowout" in the New York City area.

"I want a tri-state rager," she said.

Credits: Images via Instagram/guarnaschelli; Instagram/chefmike808.
June 23rd, 2020
An exhibit titled "Gifts from Napoleon" is the subject of today’s virtual tour of the Smithsonian’s National Gem Collection. Two very special pieces gifted by the French emperor to his second wife, Marie-Louise, are prominently featured in a wall case on the second floor of the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals. One is a majestic silver and gold necklace set with diamonds weighing 263 carats and the other is a diadem glistening with 540 carats of turquoise and 700 carats of diamonds.



Normally, the hall hosts more than six million visitors annually. But with all the Smithsonian museums in Washington, DC, temporarily closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, we’ve been offering these virtual tours. Previous stops on the tour have included the colorful “Stars and Cat’s Eyes” exhibit, the Logan Sapphire, the Dom Pedro aquamarine, the Steamboat tourmaline and a collection of enormous topaz.

Here’s how to navigate to the “Gifts from Napoleon” exhibit.

– First, click on this link… The resulting page will be a gallery called “Geology, Gems & Minerals: Precious Gems 1.”

– Click the double-right arrows once to navigate to the gallery called “Geology, Gems & Minerals: Precious Gems 2.”

– Click and drag the screen 180 degrees so you can see the back wall of cases.

– Touch the Plus Sign to zoom into the exhibit titled “Gifts from Napoleon.”

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

A wall panel next to the exhibit explains how Napoleon gifted the jewelry to Empress Marie-Louise: "The diadem was a wedding present in 1810. Napoleon gave his wife the necklace a year later to celebrate the birth of their first son. Both were made by Etienne Nitôt and Sons of Paris. Louise, who was Austrian born, bequeathed the two pieces to the royal family of Austria."

We've got all the details below...



Empress Marie-Louise Diadem features 70 cabochons of Persian turquoise and 1,006 old mine-cut diamonds. Interestingly, the emperor’s wedding gifts — which had included matching earrings and a jewel-encrusted comb — were originally set with emeralds.

According to the Smithsonian, Marie-Louise (1791-1847) bequeathed the diadem and matching pieces to her Hapsburg aunt, Archduchess Elise. In 1953, Van Cleef & Arpels acquired the jewelry from one of Elise’s descendants, the Archduke Karl Stefan Hapsburg of Sweden.

During the next two years, the jeweler removed the emeralds from the diadem and sold them individually in other pieces of jewelry. Its advertising campaign at the time promised “An emerald for you from the historic Napoleonic Tiara…”

Some time between 1956 and 1962, Van Cleef & Arpels reset the diadem with sky blue turquoise. The new-look diadem was exhibited at the Louvre Museum in Paris along with the necklace, earrings and comb, as part of a special exhibition in 1962 focusing on the life of Empress Marie-Louise.

American socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887-1973) purchased the diadem and donated it to the Smithsonian in 1971.

(The Smithsonian clarified that a diadem is the type of crown that is not a complete circle. It usually goes three-quarters around and is open in the back.)



The Napoleon Diamond Necklace celebrated the birth of Napoleon II, the future Emperor of Rome, in 1811. The necklace consists of 234 diamonds, with the inner circle made up of 28 old mine-cut diamonds, suspending a fringe of nine "pendeloques" (five pear shapes alternating with four ovals) and 10 briolettes. Mounted above each pear shape is a small round brilliant diamond, while the four ovals are attached to motifs decorated with 23 smaller diamonds. Each of the 10 briolette mountings is accented with 12 rose-cut diamonds.

When Marie-Louise died in 1847, the necklace was given to her sister-in-law, Archduchess Sophie of Austria.

According to the Smithsonian, the necklace was bequeathed in 1972 to the Archduchess’ son, Archduke Karl Ludwig of Austria. The necklace remained in the Hapsburg family until 1948, when Archduke Ludwig’s grandson, Prince Franz Joseph of Liechtenstein, sold it to a French collector who, in turn, sold it to Harry Winston, Inc., in 1960.

Merriweather Post — who clearly had an affection for Napoleonic jewelry — acquired the necklace, in its original case, from Winston and donated it to the Smithsonian in 1962.

Credits: Photos by Chip Clark/Smithsonian, digitally enhanced by SquareMoose.
June 22nd, 2020
In an effort to quickly identify health risks when the NBA season resumes in Orlando on July 30, league officials are encouraging its players to wear a lightweight, titanium “smart ring.”



The rings made by Finnish company, Oura, are equipped with censors that can detect changes in the players' body temperature, heart rate, sleeping patterns and respiratory rate — and most importantly, provide early warning signs if a player is in danger of contracting the coronavirus.

Scientists at the West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI) claim the Oura rings can detect COVID-19 related symptoms (fevers, coughing, breathing difficulties, fatigue and others) up to three days before they show up.

The claim is based on an initial study by RNI that included more than 600 physicians, nurses, urgent care providers and others directly working to care for patients with COVID-19 in West Virginia. The study's second phase will include an additional 10,000 participants across the United States, including New York and California, according to RNI.

The wearable technology is synched to RNI's smartphone app, which runs the data through a complex algorithm that promises to identify at-risk individuals before they become contagious, with 90% accuracy.

Pro basketball players will be given the option of wearing the ring when they finish up the 2019-2020 NBA season at the ESPN Wide World of Sports facilities in Orlando, Fla.

RNI believes the Oura ring could provide health benefits far beyond the NBA.

"This technology can potentially serve as a critical decision making tool to help contain the spread of the virus, safely re-open communities, strengthen the economy, and facilitate public health containment strategies," RNI noted in a press release.

“We are hopeful that Oura’s technology will advance how people identify and understand our body’s most nuanced physiological signals and warning signs, as they relate to infectious diseases like COVID-19,” added Harpreet Rai, CEO of Oura Health.



The Oura rings retail from $299 and $399 and are available in a number of metal colors.

Credit: Photos by Oura.
June 19th, 2020
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great new songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Canadian-Moroccan singer-songwriter Faouzia uses precious metals to tell the story of unrequited love in her viral 2019 release, "Tears of Gold." The official YouTube video has been viewed more than 6.8 million times.



Faouzia explained to the music website Genius that since she was six years old she has found herself in a series of one-sided relationships. She would give and give and give and get nothing back. Her mom warned her that she'd be hurt in the end, but Faouzia could never escape the cycle.

As she penned the song, Faouzia needed a visual representation of her emotional pain. The answer: Tears of Gold.

"I wanted it to be a powerful statement," she said. "I didn't just cry for you. It wasn't just water, salts and urea. It was GOLD. I gave my literal ALL to you."

She sings, "Don't you know that I cried tears of gold for you / I sit here poor for you / Collect my pennies and my dimes / That's why you love it when I cry."

In the next line, Faouzia employs a second precious metal: platinum.

She sings, "Platinum love for you / I'd give no less for you / Generosity's my enemy / So I'm broke and your heart's rich / Because of me."

The 19-year-old explained in her Genius interview that she literally Googled the question, "What is the most valuable element," and she came up with platinum as the answer.

"On the whole 'Tears of Gold' thing, I cried for you and also gave you platinum love," she said. "It wasn't just any kind of love. It was platinum."

Born Faouzia Ouihya in 2000 in Casablanca, Morocco, the artist moved to Manitoba, Canada, with her family at the age of five.

Between the ages of 15 and 17, Faouzia won a series of singing and songwriting competitions, eventually leading to a contract with Paradigm Talent Agency. In 2018, French DJ and producer David Guetta invited Faouzia to perform on his studio album, titled 7.

Just recently, 13-year-old Daneliya Tuleshova delivered an impressive cover of Faouzia's "Tears of Gold" on America's Got Talent.

Commenting on the youngster's performance, Faouzia told ET Canada that she had goosebumps the entire time Tuleshova was on stage.

"Her voice and stage presence were AMAZING," Faouzia said. "I can’t wait to see her journey through music.”

Please check out the video of Faouzia performing "Tears of Gold." And, as a bonus, we have a video of Tuleshova's cover, as well. As always, the lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Tears of Gold"
Written and performed by Faouzia.

Mama always told me that I was too naive
Gave away my trust for pennies

I said, "Don't you worry"
Didn't think that I'd be broken down and crying
Help me

Wrecked? Check
Heart? In debt
All you do is come around
Just came here to collect

Wrecked? Check
Heart? In debt
Don't you know that I cried tears of gold for you
I sit here poor for you
Collect my pennies and my dimes
That's why you love it when I cry
Platinum love for you
I'd give no less for you
Generosity's my enemy
So I'm broke and your heart's rich
Because of me

Know that this is my fault
Gave a little too much
Knew that this was gonna happen

But I'm not gonna lie
You can make me cry
A thousand times
I come running back like
What is going on with my head?

Wrecked? Check
Heart? In debt
All you do is come around
Just came here to collect

Wrecked? Check
Heart? In debt
Don't you know that I cried tears of gold for you
I sit here poor for you
Collect my pennies and my dimes
That's why you love it when I cry

Platinum love for you
I'd give no less for you
Generosity's my enemy
So I'm broke and your heart's rich
Because of me

And the worst part is I'd do it all over again
No, the worst part is I know it's never gonna end
I keep coming right back like a maniac
I keep coming right back like –

Oh, oh

And the worst part is I'd do it all over again
No, the worst part is I know it's never gonna end
I keep coming right back like a maniac

I cried tears of gold for you
I sit here poor for you
Collect my pennies and my dimes
That's why you love it when I cry

Platinum love for you
I'd give no less for you
Generosity's my enemy
So I'm broke and your heart's rich
Because of me


Bonus: Daneliya Tuleshova covers Faouzia's "Tears of Gold"...


Credit: Screen capture via Youtube.com.