Hey, November Babies! Your November Topaz Birthstone Has Been Misunderstood for 2,000 Years
If your birthday falls in November, you can delight in the fact that the much loved — but often misunderstood — topaz is one of your official birthstones. Revered for more than 2,000 years, topaz was referenced in the texts of Roman scholar Pliny the Elder and appeared five times in the King James Bible.
Interestingly, the yellow stones mentioned in these ancient writings may not have been topaz at all. You see, before 1950, most “gem experts” shared the misconception that all yellow gems were topaz and that all topaz was yellow.
Now we know that neither assumption was true.
Topaz can be seen in a wide array of warm colors, including brownish-yellow, orange-yellow and reddish brown. It’s also found in white, pale green, blue, gold and pink. Many yellow stones, we’ve since learned, are part of other mineral families, such as citrine (the other November birthstone), which happens to be a variety of quartz.
The highly prized “imperial topaz” displays an intense golden to reddish-orange color and is found primarily in Ouro Preto, Brazil. The imperial topaz specimens shown in the photo, above, are part of the Smithsonian’s National Gem and Mineral Collection. The crystal weighing 875.4 carats stands next to a faceted gem weighing 93.6 carats.
Topaz gets its name from Topazes, the ancient Greek name for a tiny island in the Red Sea. The island is now known as Zabargad Island, or St. John’s Island, and is controlled by Egypt. It is very likely that the “topaz” mined there in ancient times was actually a yellow-green variety of peridot.
According to the American Gem Society, Russia’s Ural Mountains became a leading source of topaz in the 19th century. The prized gemstone mined there was named imperial topaz to honor the Russian czar, and only royals were allowed to own it.
Brazil is the largest producer of quality topaz, but the stone is also mined in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Russia, Australia, Nigeria, Germany, Mexico and the U.S (specifically California, Utah and New Hampshire). Topaz rates an 8 on the Mohs scale, making it a durable and wearable gem.
Topaz is a talisman for the sign of Sagittarius and is the suggested gift for the 23rd or 50th wedding anniversary.
Credit: Photo by Chip Clark/Smithsonian.
Hoop Star David Lee Picks 8.88-Carat Diamond Ring for Tennis Champ Caroline Wozniacki; Here’s Why
Pro tennis player Caroline Wozniacki’s favorite number is “8,” so when boyfriend and former pro basketball player David Lee was seeking the ideal engagement ring for his “soulmate,” this D-flawless, 8.88-carat, oval-shaped diamond center stone fit the bill perfectly.
Lee popped the question last week during the couple’s romantic getaway to Bora Bora. The vacation celebrated Wozniacki’s surprising victory over Venus Williams at the WTA Finals in Singapore on October 29. The championship earned the 27-year-old Dane a $7 million prize.
Last Friday, Wozniacki turned to Instagram to post a selfie of the ring set against the bright blue waters of the South Pacific paradise, along with the caption, “Happiest day of my life yesterday saying yes to my soulmate.”
Lee posted a romantic Bora Bora sunset shot on his Instagram page and echoed his fiancée’s sentiments: “YES! So thrilled to be engaged to my soulmate.”
Luxury jeweler Joey Hamra worked with the 34-year-old former San Antonio Spurs center on a custom ring design, making sure the diamond pavé band would complement, but not overshadow, the oval diamond.
“We designed the ring with David’s input [expressing] Caroline’s ideas,” Hamra told The Knot. “She liked the diamond band look, [but didn’t want] it to take away any focus from the main center diamond.”
The designer said that he used pointy claw-like prongs to give the ring “that extra fine beauty.”
This will be the first marriage for both Wozniacki and Lee, although the tennis champ was previously engaged to pro golfer Rory McIlroy. The short-live engagement ended in early 2014, and that engagement ring did, in fact, feature an 8-carat center stone. Apparently, McIlroy also was aware of Wozniacki’s favorite number.
Credits: Images Instagram.com/carowozniacki; Instagram.com/dlee042; Instagram.com/HamraDiamonds.
Reflecting 8,800 hours of meticulous craftsmanship by 10 artisans, “The Mouawad 1001 Nights Diamond Purse” incorporates 4,517 diamonds with a total weight of 381.92 carats. The one-of-a-kind masterpiece, which Guinness World Records certified in 2010 as the most valuable handbag in the world, will be offered by Christie’s via its “Private Sales” service.
In 2010, the bag was valued at $3.8 million. For this transaction, Christie’s will be brokering a deal between the seller and prospective high-net-worth buyers outside of the auction room.
Internationally acclaimed jeweler Robert Mouawad took his design inspiration from One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, a collection of the world’s most epic tales of romance, intrigue and fantasy. The resulting purse is a visual feast of white, yellow and pink diamonds set in 18-karat white and yellow gold.
The focal point of the heart-shaped bag is a 5.04-carat heart-shaped white diamond, framed by white tapered baguettes and accented by a burst of 15 pear-shaped fancy vivid pink diamonds.
Overall, The Mouawad 1001 Nights Diamond Purse boasts 333.84 carats of white round diamonds, 27.51 carats of white baguette diamonds, 7.66 carats of fancy vivid yellow diamonds and 7.89 carats of fancy vivid pink diamonds.
The bag just completed a four-day appearance at Christie’s Hong Kong. The tour will continue at Christie’s Geneva from November 9 -13 before returning to London.
Besides owning the record for the world’s most expensive handbag, Mouawad also created the world’s priciest bra. The “Very Sexy Fantasy Bra,” which was first revealed at a Victoria’s Secret fashion show in 2003, was blinged out with 2,800 gemstones, including diamonds, sapphires and amethysts. The total weight of the gems was 2,200 carats and the value of the bra was said to be $11 million.
Credits: Images courtesy of Christie’s.
Pittsburgh Penguins Celebrate Back-to-Back Stanley Cups With Eye-Popping Championship Rings
Emblazoned with 394 hand-set diamonds weighing a total of 9.25 carats, the eye-popping Pittsburgh Penguins 2017 Stanley Cup ring commemorates the team’s impressive back-to-back championships. It was the first time in 19 years that a National Hockey League team has accomplished that feat.
The face of the ring features the iconic Penguins logo rendered in diamonds atop a 14-karat yellow gold triangle set with 10 canary yellow diamonds. Mounted on the penguin’s torso is a .75-carat pear-shaped white diamond, and on the blade of its hockey stick is a baguette-shaped diamond. The number “5” creates the eye of the penguin, a subtle nod to the team’s five Stanley Cups. Above and below the skating penguin are the words STANLEY CUP and CHAMPIONS in raised 14-karat yellow gold letters on a yellow gold background.
The layering of the yellow and white elements give the ring a three-dimensional appearance.
Of the ring’s nearly 400 diamonds, 199 of them are used on the face of the ring to accomplish a full-domed waterfall effect, making for smooth, cascading edges.
The right side of the ring features the year “2017” set with 23 pavé diamonds. Just below are five white gold Stanley Cups, each marked with the year of the championship.
The left side of the ring has the recipient’s name and number. Framing the number are two Stanley Cups, each adorned in pavé-set diamonds. Tucked under the number is a banner that reads “BACK 2 BACK.”
The interior of the band is engraved with the team’s motto, “PLAY THE RIGHT WAY,” as well as the record of the four playoff series and the logos of the opponents the Penguins defeated on the way to the championship.
National Jeweler reported that Penguins players with three Stanley Cup wins got three extra diamonds on the back side of their rings. Hall of Famer Mario Lemeiux’s ring has five extra diamonds, representing the two Cups he won as a player and the three he’s won as an owner.
Jostens noted that the Penguins’ rings represent the first time a championship ring has been crafted using a special technique that allowed for the insertion of solid 14-karat yellow gold panels on each side.
The players, coaches and staff received their rings in a private ceremony on Monday at the the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.
“It always is a very special day, and a dream come true, for an NHL player, coach or staff member to receive a Stanley Cup ring,” said David Morehouse, president and CEO of the Penguins. “We want to thank everyone at Jostens for doing a great job in creating this phenomenal ring to honor our back-to-back Stanley Cup champions. We are proud of what they accomplished and proud of what they mean to our city. The ring is a lasting tribute to their season of excellence.”
Credits: Photos courtesy of Jostens.
Artist Trevor Paglen Is Set to Launch a 100-Foot ‘Diamond’ Into Low Earth Orbit for Your Viewing Pleasure
For the first time ever, a satellite will be launched into space solely as an artistic gesture. The brainchild of artist Trevor Paglen, the 100-foot-long inflatable sculpture looks like an elongated diamond and can reflect sunlight while orbiting the nightside of the Earth.
The reflections off the Mylar-like surface will be so bright that skywatchers will be able track the “diamond” moving across the night sky without the aid of a telescope.
The tightly packed, deflated sculpture is scheduled to make its space voyage aboard Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in the spring of 2018. A satellite holding the “Orbital Reflector” will jettison from the rocket at a distance of 350 miles from the Earth. Once deployed, the satellite will shoot out a 4-inch “brick” holding the sculpture, which will then inflate to its full size.
The artist and engineers behind the project debated whether the reflector should be a sphere or a diamond. They finally settled on the diamond shape because it could deliver “bigger, brighter and better in flight than a sphere.”
“I think that one of the most important things that art can do is give you a reason to look at something, almost give you permission to look at something,” Paglen stated. “The Orbital Reflector project is saying ‘Here, I’m going to give you a reason to look up at the sky and to think about what it is that you’re looking at.'”
Skywatches will be able to locate the reflector using a free app called Star Walk 2. The app can deliver alerts when the high-flying attraction passes over a particular area. The sculpture will circle the Earth once every 90 minutes. The best visibility will be when the sun reflects off the “diamond” in the few hours after dusk and before dawn.
The project, which has a total budget of $1.3 million, is a collaboration of Paglen and the Nevada Museum of Art. A Kickstarter campaign supporting the project is within a few thousand dollars of its $70,000 goal, with five days still left in the campaign. Other sponsors already have contributed 60% of the total budget. The Kickstarter campaign is helping to close the budget gap.
Amanda Horn, director of communications at the Nevada Museum of Art, told Space.com that more important than providing a major source of funding, the Kickstarter campaign is intended to be the official global announcement of the project and provides an “opportunity for people to participate.”
Contributors to the project can earn official stickers, patches, stick pins and more.
“An artwork that pushes the boundaries of what we traditionally think of as ‘art’ challenges the way we engage with the world,” explained the project’s Kickstarter page. “Orbital Reflector encourages all of us to look up at the night sky with a renewed sense of wonder, to consider our place in the universe and to re-imagine how we live together on this planet.”
The diamond-shaped balloon will stay in orbit approximately two months, after which it will fall through the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up.
Credits: Images courtesy of Trevor Paglen/Nevada Museum of Art; Screen captures via Kickstarter.com/projects/nevadaart/trevor-paglen-orbital-reflector.
163-Carat D-Flawless Diamond Is the Largest Ever to Appear at Auction
On November 14, Christie’s Geneva will offer for sale the largest D-flawless diamond to ever hit the auction block. The 163.41-carat emerald-cut diamond was cut from a 404.20-carat rough named “4 de Fevereiro,” which was discovered at Angola’s Lulo mine in February 2016.
It was bought by de Grisogono founder Fawaz Gruosi and unveiled to clients at the company’s annual party during the 2016 Cannes film festival in May, according to Town & Country.
The rough diamond was studied in Antwerp and cut in New York. There, a team of 10 diamond-cutting specialists pooled their talents to map, plot, cleave, laser-cut and polish the gem into a stunning 163.41 carat emerald-cut stone.
The transformation began on June, 29, 2016, when an 80-year-old master diamond cleaver, Ben Green, performed a cut along a grain line. After 11 months of work, the polished stone was ready to be sent to the Gemological Institute of America, where it earned its D-flawless, Type IIa grade. Type IIa diamonds are the purest of all diamonds because they are composed solely of carbon with virtually no trace elements in the crystal lattice.
The diamond is now the centerpiece of an asymmetrical necklace, featuring cascading pear-shaped emeralds on the left side and cool, white emerald-cut diamonds down the right. The company chose to use emeralds in the design because the green color symbolizes good luck. The final concept, named “The Art of de Grisogono,” was one of 50 proposed by the firm’s design team and took more than 1,700 hours to complete.
“I never thought I would work with a 163.41-carat diamond of this quality,” Gruosi noted in a Christie’s press release. “I have never had a problem finding creative ideas, but this time there was the immense pressure of ‘dressing’ such an amazing diamond. I couldn’t do something very simple or that has already been seen. I needed a design that is outside-the-box.”
Added Rahul Kadakia, International Head of Christie’s Jewels, “Over our 251-year history, Christie’s has had the privilege of handling the world’s rarest and most historic diamonds. The sensational 163.41-carat perfect diamond suspended from an elegant emerald and diamond necklace propels de Grisogono into a class of their own.”
“4 de Fevereiro” means February 4th in Portuguese, and the name is associated with an Angolan national holiday marking the start of an armed struggle for independence in 1961. The 404.20-carat rough is the largest gem-quality rough diamond ever discovered in Angola.
The fabulous necklace will embark on an exhibition tour, with stops in Hong Kong, London, Dubai, New York and Geneva. The auction is set for November 14 at 7pm GMT at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues in Geneva.
Credits: Images via PRNewsfoto/de GRISOGONO; Christie’s.
At Stanford University, an international team of scientists finally simulated the “shower of diamonds” that they believe is taking place deep within Uranus and Neptune.
Uranus and Neptune are both classified as “ice giants.” Unlike the Earth, their solid cores are likely swathed in thick layers of “ice” made from the combination of water and ammonia.
At a depth of 6,200 miles, researchers speculate that the hydrocarbons encounter so much pressure and heat that the bonds between the hydrogen and carbon molecules are broken. Once free from the bonds, the carbon atoms are compressed into microscopic diamonds, resulting in what can be described as “diamond showers.”
Previously, no one had been able to directly observe these sparkling showers in an experimental setting, according to Dr. Dominik Kraus, who is the head of a Helmholtz Junior Research Group at the German research laboratory Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf.
But, that was precisely the breakthrough Kraus and his international team have now achieved. In their experiment, polystyrene (a plastic made from carbon and hydrogen) was exposed to a simulation of the immense pressure found deep within Neptune and Uranus. They blasted the plastic with shock waves generated by an optical laser and x-rays.
At a pressure of about 150 gigapascals and temperatures of about 9,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the shock waves compressed the plastic and successfully broke the carbon-hydrogen bonds. The carbon atoms instantly transformed into microscopic diamonds.
“The first smaller, slower wave is overtaken by another stronger second wave,” Kraus explained. “Most diamonds form the moment both waves overlap. Our experiments show that nearly all the carbon atoms compact into nanometer-sized diamonds.”
Kraus theorized that the cores of Uranus and Neptune could contain “oceans of liquid carbon” with gigantic “diamond icebergs swimming on top of it.”
While it’s unlikely man will ever have the ability to mine diamonds on these distant planets, the experiments at Stanford are already yielding innovative and efficient ways of producing nano-diamonds — diamonds that may find their way into electronic instruments, medical equipment and cutting devices.
The results of the research were published in the scientific journal Nature Astronomy.
Credit: Greg Stewart / SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
The organizers of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo are imploring environmentally conscious citizens to unload their old cell phones in an effort to amass enough precious metal to create 5,000 gold, silver and bronze medals.
“Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic medals will be made out of people’s thoughts and appreciation for avoiding waste,” Japanese three-time Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Kohei Uchimura told The Japan Times. “I think there is an important message in this for future generations.”
The average cell phone user may not realize it, but the internal components of the device are rich in precious metals. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates one million recycled cell phones can generated 35,274 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver and 75 pounds of gold.
To reach its goal, the Tokyo organizers are looking to collect 8 tons of metal from outdated mobile phones, digital cameras, laptops and games units, from which gold, silver and bronze will be extracted.
NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s leading mobile carrier, will place collection boxes in each of its 2,400 stores. The company is confident it can accumulate millions of cell phones in the years leading up to the Olympic and Paralympic games.
Despite being a country with virtually no precious metal mining, Japan’s “urban mine” of discarded small consumer electronics is believed to contain the equivalent of 16% of the world’s gold reserves and 22% of the world’s silver reserves.
Japan’s Olympic organizing committee has set its sights on creating medals from 100% recycled material. At the Rio Games in 2016, by contrast, 30% of the silver and bronze medals were derived from recycled metals.
Interestingly, Olympic gold medals are made mostly of silver. Starting in 1916, the International Olympic Committee mandated that gold medals be made with a 24-karat gilding of exactly 6 grams (.211 ounces). The Rio gold medals, for example, were composed of 494 grams of 96% pure silver and 6 grams of 99.9% pure gold.
Rio’s silver medals were made of 500 grams of 96% pure silver and the bronze medals contained mostly copper with a bit of zinc and tin.
Credits: Recycling image via Bigstockphoto.com; Olympic logos via Tokyo2020.jp.
The love story of former Marine Daniel Frye and girlfriend Lauren Williams has all the trappings of a Hollywood blockbuster.
Frye, who had served two tours in Afghanistan, credited Williams with saving his life as he struggled to recover from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“When I got out of the Marine Corps, I went through some dark years,” Frye told NBC affiliate WCNC. “I went through so many jobs. I’ve slept in cars.”
After meeting Williams, his life turned around. With a new job as a welder and new inspiration from the love of his life, he saved up for months to buy the perfect engagement ring. Then he planned a trip on January 7 to a place Williams always dreamed of visiting, the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C., where he would pop the question. He even invited Williams’ parents to Asheville to surprise their daughter, and he hired a photographer to document all the romantic festivities.
What Frye didn’t anticipate, however, was that the ring box that he had hidden in his pocket would somehow fall out on the Biltmore Estate shuttle bus and end up in the baggage of a widow heading back to Athens, Ga.
Imagine Frye’s horror when he went down on one knee, reached into his pocket and realized the $5,000 ring was gone.
“I looked over and saw complete panic on his face,” Williams, 25, told People. “I saw him reaching in every pocket and it just clicked. I knew right then he’d been planning on asking me and that the ring was gone. I just knew.”
Said Frye, “I felt terrible. I just felt terrible.”
The couple filed a police report and retraced every step, but the ring could not be found.
After a week and a half, the couple from Rock Hill, S.C., told their heart-wrenching story to WCNC. In recounting their plight, the couple was brought to tears. On January 18, the story ran on the Charlotte affiliate’s nightly news show and appeared as a feature on its website and Facebook page.
One day later, a widow from Athens, Ga., saw the story on Facebook and came forward with the ring.
“I had been getting on the bus and my arms were full of bags, and a man thought I’d dropped something and threw it in my bag,” the anonymous woman told People. “At the time I didn’t look to see what it was. Then I was going through my bags and saw the ring box.”
The woman tracked down Williams on Facebook and Fry immediately got in his car and trekked six hours to retrieve the ring.
“He must have hugged me 10 times,” the widow said. “I was just happy to make sure the rightful owner got it.”
When the 29-year-old Frye returned home, he was ready to complete the marriage proposal he had started 12 days earlier.
“This isn’t how we dreamed, obviously,” Frye says in a video posted to Williams’ Facebook page, “but this whole thing showed me so much more about you and that I want to marry you even more. And I want to ask you if you would be my wife for the rest of my life.”
Williams exclaims, “Yes,” and the couple embraces.
“Now let me put it on you,” Frye says, as he slips the ring onto her finger.
Williams can barely contain her excitement as she stares at the ring. “Thank you, God,” she says.
“So much blood, sweat and tears went into that ring,” Williams told People. “It’s a full-blown miracle that we got it back. What are the chances? What are the odds?”
Credits: Images via Facebook/Lauren Williams; Screen capture via WCNC.com; Ring photo provided by Daniel Frye and Lauren Williams.