As one of the two official birthstones for the month of November, citrine is the sun-kissed member of the quartz family of gemstones, with colors ranging from the warm hues of golden champagne to the deep orange-browns of Madeira wine. The stone perfectly embodies the color palette of the fall season.
The gem you see below is a smoky citrine from the Smithsonian's National Gem Collection. Sourced in Bahia, Brazil, the modified marquise-shaped gem weighs 19,747 carats, which is equivalent to 139 ounces or 8.69 pounds. It was faceted in 1987 by Michael Gray and acquired for the Collection in 2013.
The enormous gem is the largest faceted citrine displayed in the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals at the National Museum of Natural History. Its the most-visited natural history museum in the world and the National Gem Collection consists of approximately 350,000 mineral specimens and 10,000 gems.
Quartz, which is composed of silicon and oxygen, is colorless in its pure state. The Greeks referred to the material as "krystallos," or "ice." But when trace amounts of impurities invade its chemical structure, nature yields a wide range of brilliant hues. Citrine is colored by impurities of iron and is a near-cousin to other popular quartz-family members, including amethyst, rose quartz and tiger's eye.
The name "citrine" is derived from the French word "citron," meaning “lemon.” Most citrine comes from Brazil, but other important sources include Spain, Bolivia, France, Russia, Madagascar and the U.S. (Colorado, North Carolina and California).
As the American Gem Society reports, citrine's durability makes it a lovely option for large, wearable jewelry. With a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale, citrine is very resistant to scratches and everyday wear-and-tear.
Citrine wasn’t always an official birthstone for November. The National Association of Jewelers (now Jewelers of America) added it in 1952 as an alternative to topaz.
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Death Cab for Cutie’s lead vocalist Ben Gibbard confesses to having commitment issues in the group’s 2009 release, “A Diamond and a Tether.”
In the song, Gibbard asks the listener to take pity on him because he’s not half the man he should be. He’s been misleading his girlfriend with empty promises and countless bluffs, but acknowledges, “I know you can’t hold out forever waiting on a diamond and a tether.”
The phrase “diamond and a tether” presents an interesting dichotomy. While the diamond stands for a commitment, love and marriage, the tether connotes the dreaded loss of freedom.
The singer-songwriter describes how he’s managed to compromise just enough to keep the relationship going. He won’t swim, but he will dip his toe in the water “just to keep you here with him.”
In the end, Gibbard paints a grim picture of a boy who won’t jump when he falls in love. He stands paralyzed with his toes on the edge and waits for his love “to disappear again.”
“A Diamond and a Tether” appeared as the second track from the group’s The Open Door EP, a compilation of six songs that was nominated for Best Alternative Music Album at the 52nd Grammy Awards in 2010 and peaked at #30 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Death Cab for Cutie, which was formed as an alternative rock band in Washington State in 1997, has released nine full-length studio albums, four EPs, two live EPs, one live album, and one demo album. The group’s unusual name was derived from The Beatles’ 1967 film, Magical Mystery Tour. In the film, The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band performs a song called “Death Cab for Cutie.”
Death Cab for Cutie will be touring from the end of December through the beginning of March, with shows scheduled for Seattle, Milwaukee, Chicago and Tempe.
Check out the audio track of “A Diamond and a Tether” at the end of this post. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…
“A Diamond and a Tether”
Written by Ben Gibbard. Performed by Death Cab for Cutie.
Pity, take pity on me.
‘Cause I’m not half the man that I should be.
Always turning to run,
from the people I should not be afraid of.
And darling, you should know
that I have fantasies about being alone.
It’s like love is a lesson,
that I can’t learn.
I make the same mistakes at each familiar turn.
I know you can’t hold out forever
waiting on a diamond and a tether
from a boy who won’t swim
but who will dip his toe in
just to keep you here with him.
I’ve got this habit I abhor.
When we go out I’m always watching the door.
’cause if there’s someone I’m gonna see
who could outdo the things you do to me.
And I know you can’t hold out forever
waiting on a diamond and a tether
from a boy who won’t fly
but who will take to the skies if he thinks you are about to say goodbye.
Pity, take pity on me.
’cause I’m not half the man that I should be.
And I don’t blame you,
you’ve had enough,
of all these empty promises and countless bluffs.
’cause I know you can’t hold out forever
waiting on a diamond and a tether
from a boy who won’t jump when he falls in love.
He just stands with his toes on the edge
and he waits for it to disappear again.
Patty Shales lost her home and nearly all her possessions in a brutal wildfire that swept through her Brentwood, Calif., neighborhood last week. Yet, despite the tragedy, Shales told reporters Tuesday that she still feels blessed, and the reason focuses squarely on a cherished piece of diamond jewelry that somehow survived the devastation.
Shales and her family had barely escaped the fast-moving blaze, leaving their home of 43 years with only the clothes on their backs. When they returned to the scene days later to survey the damage, everything they owned was reduced to ash, except for a jewelry box that contained her late-mother's wedding ring.
Firefighters had found the jewelry box in the gutter in front of the Shales' property. The box was floating in runoff generated by the water from the fire hoses. The firefighters had secured the jewelry with the hopes of reuniting it with its rightful owner.
“I had the unfortunate task of telling her that her house had been destroyed," LAFD Assistant Chief Jaime Moore told a reporter from KTLA. "But I asked her to hold on a minute, that I might have something for her.”
Moore soon returned from his vehicle where the keepsake had been stashed. Shales took one look and shouted, "That’s my mom’s wedding ring box!"
“I consider this a miracle ring of all rings," Shales said. "This is so symbolic, I just can’t believe it happened.”
Shales told the reporter that she believes the ring's survival is a message from her late-mother, Dorothy McDonough, an accomplished opera singer, who passed away in November of 2018 following a battle with Alzheimer's.
“She sent me this to tell me she’s in heaven and she’s OK, and I’m going to be OK,” Shales said. “I just feel so blessed, and so grateful to the firemen.”
Shales said that she had kept her mom's ring in a cupboard within her bedroom's walk-in closet. The room was in the back of the house, so she wondered how the ring box and its precious contents found its way, mostly intact, to the street in the front of the house.
What makes this story even more incredible is the fact that the same ring was one of the only objects to survive a fire that completely destroyed Shales' parents' house in Las Vegas 25 years ago.
“Although I lost my home, I survived, my daughter survived and my dogs [survived],” said Shales, who grasped the ring box tightly in her hand. “I don’t have anything else, but I have this.”
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Shales said, “A ring so simple, so small, can mean so much to a family.”
Credits: Ring photo courtesy of Los Angeles Fire Department; Screen capture via ktla.com.
Couples are leaving very little to chance when it comes to choosing engagement rings, according to The Knot's 2019 Jewelry and Engagement Study, which synthesized the buying habits of more than 21,000 engaged or recently married couples.
In the study, 7 of 10 "proposees" admit they were "somewhat involved" in selecting or purchasing their engagement ring, and nearly a quarter of that group (23%) say they looked at rings with their partner.
What's more, 78% of proposers say their significant other dropped hints about their ring preferences and nearly one in 10 proposees even report being present when the ring is selected or purchased.
The Knot reported in 2018 that 37% of engagements take place between November and February, so the popular bridal website celebrated the advent of the 2019-2020 "proposal season" by releasing the results of its extensive survey.
Some of the biggest takeaways are that the average cost of an engagement ring in 2019 is $5,900 (up from $5,680 in 2018), the most popular precious metal type is white gold (54%), the preferred diamond shape is round (47%) and social media is the best source for proposees to find ring-design inspiration (80%).
Here's more of what we learned…
• Proposers prefer to purchase their engagement rings from a local independent retail jeweler (40%). The second-most-popular outlet is a national or regional jewelry chain (30%).
• More than 90% purchase the center stone and setting from the same retailer.
• For the proposer, style/setting was the most important feature when selecting a ring, followed by price, then quality. For the proposee, style/setting also came first, followed by cut/shape and then type of stone.
• 7 in 10 proposers report sticking to their budget, while 94% report paying for the ring on their own and 3% say their partner helped contribute.
• The most popular center stones are diamonds at 83%, other precious stones at 10% and colored diamonds at 3%. The most popular "other" precious stones are moissanite (which has nearly doubled in popularity since 2017) at 19%, sapphire at 18%, morganite at 12% and aquamarine at 6%.
• The most popular setting materials are white gold (54%), rose gold (14%), platinum (13%), yellow gold (13%) and sterling silver (7%).
• The round brilliant-cut diamond is favored by 47%, followed by princess/square (14%), oval (14%), cushion (9%) and pearl/teardrop (5%).
• Proposers, in general, are less likely to use social media for ring inspiration. Instead, they rely on friends and family (34%), jewelry designer websites (32%), local brick-and-mortar jewelry stores (29%) and online wedding planning resources (22%).
• The amount spent on an engagement ring varied widely by region: Mid-Atlantic: $7,500; New England: $6,900; Southwest: $5,600; West: $5,500; Southeast: $5,400; Midwest: $5,300.
• The average men's wedding band costs $510 and the majority are made of tungsten (23%), followed by white gold (21%). The average women's wedding band costs $1,100 and the majority are made of white gold (52%), followed by rose gold (15%).
In addition to their purchasing preferences, The Knot also asked couples about how their proposals went down…
• 22% of couples connected using online dating websites or apps, up 5% from 2017; 19% met through friends; 17% at school; 13% through work; and 11% via a social setting.
• 71% dated for more than two years before getting engaged.
• The majority (67%) of engaged couples are between the ages of 25 to 34.
• 87% of engagements are planned ahead of time, while 13% are spontaneous.
• 40% of proposals are planned one to three months in advance and 17% are planned four to six months in advance.
• Nearly 90% of proposers ask their partner to marry them with a ring in hand, 87% say the words “will you marry me,” 84% ask on bended knee and 71% ask their partner’s parents for permission before proposing.
• Almost 50% of those proposing believe the proposal was a complete surprise to their partner, while only 33% of proposees say it actually was.
• Directly following the proposal, 75% call friends and family and 72% send them photos of their ring. Additionally, 92% share the news on social media.
Credit: Image by BigStockPhoto.com.
The demand for diamond jewelry in the U.S. rose 5% in 2018 to $36 billion, representing slightly less than half of worldwide sales for that category. But, beyond the strong sales gains, new research conducted by De Beers reveals that the demand for diamond jewelry as a gift to mark special occasions — including female self-gifting — now outweighs demand directly related to weddings.
This is why De Beers will be devoting a sizable chunk of its $170 million-plus marketing budget in 2019 to capitalize on the growing purchasing power of women.
A quick peek at the Real Is a Diamond channel on YouTube shows a playlist under the title "Women on the Diamonds They Bought Themselves." Each of the vignettes tells the story of a woman who has achieved a milestone in her life — a milestone that deserved to be commemorated with an important piece of diamond jewelry, such as a diamond pendant, diamond fashion ring or tennis bracelet.
The De Beers study also revealed that the share of women who bought their own engagement ring doubled from 7% to 14% over the five-year period ending in 2017. What's more, women tended to outspend men on the engagement ring purchase — $4,400 vs. $3,300.
Above all, the study concluded that the public still believes that diamonds symbolize love. About 72% of U.S. brides receive diamond engagement rings, a percentage that has remained steady for the past 10 years, according to Esther Oberbeck, group head of strategy at De Beers.
Despite the general assumption that millennials are less interested in traditional diamond engagement rings, the statistics prove out that they purchase diamond engagement rings at the same rate that other generations do. In fact, they tend to spend more per ring because they prefer branded items. Branded products now account for 40% of the total value of U.S. engagement rings, up 10 percentage points from 2015.
The study also revealed that the total diamond caratage of an average ring increased from 1 carat in 2013 to 1.7 carats in 2018, although center stones were trending smaller. This seems to point to brides preferring engagement rings with more elaborate settings.
Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/Real Is a Diamond.
Researchers exploring an ancient cave in Spain have found what they believe is “the last necklace made by the Neanderthals.” The carved eagle talon was dated to 39,000 years ago, which is about the time when Neanderthals crossed paths with Homo sapiens and then became extinct.
In the journal Science Advances, researcher Juan Ignacio Morales contends that the custom of wearing eagle talon jewelry could have been a cultural transmission from the Neanderthals to modern humans, who adopted this practice after reaching Europe.
Eagle talons are the oldest ornamental elements known in Europe, say the researchers, even older than the seashells Homo sapiens perforated in northern Africa. The finding suggests that the Neanderthals — who not only devised ways to trap eagles, but also fashioned their talons into jewelry — were much more intelligent and style-conscious than previously believed.
The "last necklace" eagle talon was discovered at the Foradada cave in Calafell, Spain, by a team representing the Prehistoric Studies and Research Seminar (SERP) of the University of Barcelona.
The eagle talon at Cova Foradada was found among bone remains of the Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aquila Adalberti). On the talon were tool markings that indicated the talon was fashioned to be a pendant. The ancient cave has been a valuable source of early human research since 1997.
The finding was also remarkable because it represents the first evidence that Neanderthals used eagle talons as necklace pendants on the Iberian Peninsula. It was previously believed that this practice was limited to the Neanderthals that inhabited Southern Europe.
The researchers believe the eagle talon jewelry was created by the last group of Neanderthals known as the châtelperronian culture. Scientists say that Neanderthals appeared in Eurasia between 200,000 and 250,000 years ago and died out about 40,000 years ago.
Credit: Images courtesy © Antonio Rodriguez-Hidalgo.
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring your awesome tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we honor one of November’s two official birthstones by sharing the little-known backstory of the B-52s’ 1989 release, “Topaz.”
Appearing as the ninth track on its blockbuster album, Cosmic Thing, “Topaz” is a breezy song about a fanciful city by the sea, where blue dolphins are singing, skyscrapers are winking and minds swim in ecstasy.
What most people don’t know is that the group had been struggling with the song. They couldn’t come up with a title or a hook.
B-52s vocalist and keyboardist Kate Pierson told the Onion AV Club that the song came together after she consulted with a Maine-based psychic.
“You have two more songs that you should write before you record… and one of them is ‘Topaz,’” Pierson remembered the psychic saying. “I just see the word ‘topaz.’”
In that one word, the band had their title and their chorus.
“We were, like, ‘Oh, my God: Topaz is the perfect name for this new city by the sea!’” Pierson said.
Drummer Keith Strickland was sure the group was on the right track when — in a moment of serendipity — he drove by a billboard promoting a Mercury automobile that read: “Topaz: The Right Choice.”
“In retrospect, it seemed so auspicious that that should happen,” Pierson told the Onion AV Club. “So we started jamming with those lyrics, and it just came together beautifully. The lyrics just make me tingle. It’s very meaningful. No matter how many times we sing it, it just feels very heartfelt. And it’s one of those songs that everyone knows, so when we play it, everybody gets up and starts shaking it a little bit.”
Although “Topaz” was never released as a single, it was an important track on an album that charted in eight countries and reached #9 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart.
The B-52s were formed in Athens, Ga., in 1976, and scored their first big hit, “Rock Lobster,” in 1978. The band’s name relates to the beehive hairdo Pierson and Cindy Wilson sported during the band’s early years. The shape of their beehives resembled the nosecone of a B-52 bomber.
Rooted in new wave, the group continues to perform with original band members Pierson, Fred Schneider, Wilson and Keith Strickland. Among the group’s most popular songs are “Planet Claire,” “Private Idaho,” “Whammy Kiss,” “Party Out of Bounds,” “Wig,” “Love Shack” and “Roam.”
Please check out the audio track of the B-52s performing “Topaz.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…
Written and performed by The B-52s.
New cities by the sea
Skyscrapers are winking
Some hills are never seen
The universe expanding
We’re gazing out to sea
Blue dolphins are singing
Minds swim in ecstasy
Clear planet, ever free
Our hearts are traveling faster,
Faster than the speed of love
Straight through a tear in the clouds
Up to the heavens above
Bright ships will sail the seas
Starfishes are spinning
Some hills are never seen
Our universe is expanding
Moonrise upon the sea
Starships are blinking
We’ll walk in ecstasy
Clear planet blue and green
Our thoughts are traveling faster
Moving beyond the heavens above
Planets pulsating, constellations creating
Voices are guiding me to the cities by the sea
Yes, I see cities by the sea
Deep forests by the sea
Skyscrapers are winking
Some hills are never seen
The universe is expanding