September 30th, 2022
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you sensational songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, Jason Derulo dreams about proposing with "the perfect diamond ring" in his 2010 tune, "What If."

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Derulo explained to the BBC that the song is about meeting someone for the first time and then imagining — at that moment — how both lives may have been profoundly altered.

“So I’m telling this girl y’know, what if in two years, three years from now we’ll be married with children and living in a log cabin?” he told the BBC.

In the key verse, he sings, “Yeah, picture me on one knee / With the perfect diamond ring / We just met, but if you said yes / We’d have our wedding on the beach.”

The official video, which was inspired by the 2004 movie The Butterfly Effect, opens with Derulo and his girlfriend setting up a new apartment. She's out of the room when he pulls a red ring box from the nightstand and opens it to admire what seems to be a platinum and diamond engagement ring. When she enters the room, he quickly hides it in his pocket.

She insists on retrieving the last item from the moving truck, and when she leaves the room he opens the box again, stares at the ring and whispers to himself, "What if? What if I'm the one for you?"

The scene switches to the girlfriend pulling a small box from the truck and closing the cargo door. As she crosses the street to return to the apartment, she is nearly hit by a distracted driver.

Derulo hears the screeching tires and shattered glass and sprints to save his girlfriend, but as he reaches her, the video freezes, and then time moves in reverse. We learn how Derulo and his girlfriend got to this moment through flashbacks, as if their lives are being rewound.

The video, which has been viewed nearly 39 million times, contains a surprise ending that we won’t spoil here. The “butterfly effect,” by the way, is a scientific theory that a single occurrence, no matter how small, can change the course of the universe forever.

“What If” is the fourth single from Derulo’s self-titled debut album. It was first released in the UK and peaked at #12. The single was subsequently released in the U.S., where it reached #26 on the Billboard US Mainstream Top 40 chart.

Born Jason Joel Desrouleaux in Miramar, Fla., the 33-year-old singer-songwriter-dancer-choreographer, has sold more than 50 million singles since launching his solo career in 2009. He changed his last name to Derulo because the French spelling was hard to pronounce.

Please check out the official video of “What If.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“What If”
Written by Jonathan Rotem and Jason Desrouleaux. Performed by Jason Derulo.

What if?
What if I’m the one for you?
And you’re the one for me?
What if?

If you are the one
Then us meeting here is fate
Future with a dog named Red
Buy a house with a fireplace

This is the first I’ve seen your face
But there’s a chance we are soul mates
I know this might sound crazy
‘Cause you don’t know my name

But we can’t, we can’t tell the future, no
But that’s just the beauty of the world we know
So I’ma say du, du, du-du, du-du, du-du, baby, what if?
We all can say du, du, du-du, du-du, du-du, baby, what if?

What if? What if? What if?
What if? What if? What if?

Yeah, picture me on one knee
With the perfect diamond ring
We just met, but if you said yes
We’d have our wedding on the beach

It could happen, raise three kids
And we grow old oh, so happily
I know this might sound crazy
‘Cause I don’t know your name

But we can’t, we can’t tell the future, no
But that’s just the beauty of the world we know
So I’ma say du, du, du-du, du-du, du-du, baby, what if?
We all can say du, du, du-du, du-du, du-du, baby, what if?

Don’t know what tomorrow brings
But I’m still hoping that you are the one for me
Oh, and what if I had you and what if you had me
And, baby, what’s the reason we can’t fall in love?

What if? What if? What if?
What if? What if?

But we can’t, we can’t tell the future, no
But that’s just the beauty of the world we know
So I’ma say du, du, du-du, du-du, du-du, baby, what if?
We all can say du, du, du-du, du-du, du-du, baby, what if?

But we can’t, we can’t tell the future, no
But that’s just the beauty of the world we know
So I’ma say du, du, du-du, du-du, du-du, baby, what if?
We all can say du, du, du-du, du-du, du-du, baby, what if?



Credit: Photo by MTV International, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
September 29th, 2022
A super lucky, 18.18-carat, pear-shaped, fancy vivid pink diamond is expected to fetch between $25 million and $35 million when it hits the auction block at Christie's Magnificent Jewels sale in Geneva on November 8.

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Dubbed "The Fortune Pink," the bubblegum-colored stone is being billed as the largest pear-shaped, fancy vivid pink diamond offered for sale at auction.

The auspicious "1-8" combination in the carat weight promises to bring prosperity to the winning bidder because that number literally translates to "get rich for sure" in Chinese.

The extreme rarity of an 18-carat pink diamond of this quality is amplified by the fact that fewer than 10% of pink diamonds weigh more than 1/5 of a carat, according to the Gemological Institute of America. What’s more, only 4% of pink diamonds possess a color saturated enough to qualify as “fancy vivid.” Pink diamonds fall under the rare Type IIa category of diamonds, which make up less than 2% of all gem diamonds.

“The Pink Star” still holds the record for the highest price paid at auction for a pink diamond. That 59.6-carat, flawless, fancy vivid pink diamond fetched $71.2 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in 2017. It was purchased by Hong Kong luxury jeweler Chow Tai Fook and renamed “CTF Pink Star.” Not only did it set a record in the pink category, but also shattered the world record for the highest price ever paid for any gem at auction.

The largest fancy vivid pink diamond ever sold at Christie’s was the 18.96-carat "Winston Pink Legacy," which achieved $50.37 million and set a world record price-per-carat for a pink diamond at auction ($2.65 million). The $35 million high estimate for The Fortune Pink would put it at about $1.92 million per carat.

Pink diamonds have become increasingly rare since the 2020 closure of Australia's Argyle Mine, which had been the source of 90% of the world's pink diamonds.

The Fortune Pink will be revealed to the public at Christie’s New York during the week of October 3. After that, the stone will be making appearances at Christie's locations in Shanghai, Taiwan and Singapore.

On November 2, The Fortune Pink will arrive in Geneva for Christie’s Luxury Week at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues. It will go on public display before headlining the Christie's auction on November 8.

Credit: Image courtesy of Christie's.
September 28th, 2022
With the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, much has been written about the British Crown Jewels and the massive diamonds at the center of the Sovereign’s Sceptre and the Imperial State Crown.

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Both diamonds were expertly cut from the 3,106-carat Cullinan — the world’s largest rough diamond — by Joseph Asscher of the Amsterdam-based Asscher Company. What most people don't know is that the expert cutter was paid for his work in "chippings" and that some of those fragments still live more than 100 years later in the bridal sets of Asscher's descendants.

King Edward VII, Queen Elizabeth's great-grandfather, chose the Asschers for the high-profile job because they had successfully cut the previously largest known diamond, the 995.2-carat Excelsior, five years earlier.

After an extensive period of studying the stone, which had been discovered in 1905 at the Premier Mine No. 2 near Pretoria, South Africa, Asscher started the cutting process by creating an incision in the diamond of approximately 6.5mm deep.

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It has been reported that Asscher broke his tool when he initially struck the stone. A week later, after developing stronger tools, Asscher successfully cleaved the the Cullinan into two principal parts, weighing 1,977 carats and 1,040 carats.

Asscher performed the failed first attempt in front of an audience of notables, but his second successful attempt was accomplished with nobody in the room, except for a Notary Public. Legend has it that Asscher struck the diamond so hard on the second try that he fainted after it split.

Over the following months, these diamonds were further polished and cut to create nine principal stones, 96 smaller diamonds and a quantity of polished “ends.”

The largest of the Cullinan gems, the Great Star of Africa (Cullinan I), weighed 530.4 carats and was set atop the Sovereign’s Sceptre. The 317-carat Second Great Star of Africa (Cullinan II) was set in the Imperial State Crown.

It took Asscher and his team more than two years to complete their work. Asscher agreed to be paid in “chippings,” the diamond remnants that split off the main stones during the cleaving and cutting processes.

Now, more than a century later and in light of Queen Elizabeth II's passing, members of the Asscher family have come forward with stories about how these "chippings" from the Cullinan diamond are part of their own family heirlooms.

Israeli journalist Shakked Auerbach, who is a descendant of the Asscher family, recounted in a blog item published on the Israeli National Library website that diamonds belonging to her family were originally part of the 3,106-carat Cullinan.

She confirmed that Joseph Asscher, her great-great-great-grandfather, was paid in "chips." His fine work was also acknowledged in 1909 when he received a knighthood from the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

“The Asschers decided that the diamonds would be passed from generation to generation when men would give them on an engagement ring to women that would join the family,” Auerbach wrote.

Auerbach also shared the story of how the fist-sized Cullinan was secretly transported from England to the The Netherlands for cutting.

She wrote that the stone was loaded into the belly of a British battleship in a protective box. But it turned out that this London-to-Amsterdam transport was just a ruse.

It actually traveled in the pocket of Avraham Asher, who sailed from London to Amsterdam on an ordinary ship without carrying luggage. The only thing he brought on the voyage was the "large coat to protect him from the cold and disguise his precious cargo," she wrote.

Auerbach also noted how some of the Cullinan "chips" were hidden from the Nazis by Holocaust survivors, including her grandmother. Those chips have been since passed down through generations of the Asscher family.

"This is how my family was connected to the royal family," she wrote. "And who knows how the journey of the diamond will continue from here?"

Credits: Joseph Asscher photo by Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Cullinan rough stone by Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
September 27th, 2022
Arctic Canadian Diamond Company just announced the recovery of a yellow octahedron diamond weighing an impressive 71.26 carats. The rough gem is believed to be the largest fancy vivid yellow diamond ever discovered in Canada.

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The stone was unearthed last month at the Ekati Diamond Mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories, about 200 km south of the Arctic Circle. More specifically, it can be traced to Ekati's famous Misery Pipe, which has been the source of many of the world's finest precious yellow diamonds.

“This historic fancy vivid yellow gemstone continues to showcase Canada as a major player on the world stage for diamond mining,” said Rory Moore, President and CEO of Arctic Canadian. “Canadian diamonds are some of the most sought-after globally because of responsible mining practices and environmental stewardship.”

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Ultimately, a buyer will determine the shape of the finished stone, hoping to maximize its size while bringing out its optimum brilliance. It’s not unusual for half the diamond’s weight to be sacrificed during the arduous cutting and polishing process. Even if 60% of the stone's weight is lost during the transformation, the finished diamond could weigh close to 30 carats.

Ekati is Canada’s first diamond mine and has supplied premium rough diamond assortments to the global market for more than 24 years. The mine is located about 300 km northwest of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. Ekati, which derives its name from the Tlicho word meaning "fat lake," is Canada’s first surface and underground diamond mine.

The Ekati diamond mine officially began production in October 1998, following extensive exploration and development work dating back to 1981, according to the mining company.

Back in October of 2018, a 552-carat yellow diamond was unearthed at the Diavik mine, also near Yellowknife. While that rough stone far outweighed the one just unveiled by Arctic Canadian Diamond Company, the 204-carat primary diamond cut from the "552" carried the lower color grade of fancy intense yellow.

Credits: Images courtesy of Arctic Canadian Diamond Company.
September 23rd, 2022
Welcome to Music Friday, when we spotlight songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Sir Elton John trades his simple country lifestyle for the glamor of the big city in "Honky Cat," one of his classic songs from 1972.

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John portrays a young man who has been blinded by the city lights and has no intention of getting back to the woods. Meanwhile, his friends are calling him a fool.

They tell him, "Living in the city ain’t where it’s at / It’s like trying to find gold in a silver mine / It’s like trying to drink whiskey from a bottle of wine."

Interestingly, the words that John sings do not reflect his own point of view. John didn't grow up in the country. He was raised near London and loved the city life. Instead, the song likely reflects the experiences of lyricist and long-time creative partner, Bernie Taupin, who was born on a farm in Lincolnshire and preferred that environment.

“Honky Cat” is the first track on John’s fifth studio album, Honky Château, which reached #1 on Billboard 200 albums chart and was ranked one of the 500 Best Albums of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine. The single reached the Top 10 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 list. The album’s title refers to the location where it was recorded in early 1972, specifically Château d’Hérouville in Hérouville, France.

Born Reginald Kenneth Dwight in 1947, John got hooked on rock and roll when his mother brought home records by Elvis Presley and Bill Haley & His Comets in 1956. He learned to play piano and formed his first band, Bluesology, at the age of 15.

In 1967, John met Taupin by chance when both men responded to an advertisement seeking songwriters. At first, they wrote songs for other artists, but then decided go out on their own.

In a career that has spanned six decades, John has sold more than 300 million records. He and Taupin released 31 albums and are credited with more than 50 Top-40 hits. John was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998.

His single in honor of Princess Diana, “Candle in the Wind 1997,” sold 33 million copies worldwide and, at that time, ranked as the best-selling single in the history of the UK and US singles charts.

Please check out the video of John performing "Honky Cat" live at the Hammersmith Odeon in London on the day before Christmas in 1974. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along…

“Honky Cat”
Written by Bernie Taupin. Performed by Elton John.

When I look back boy I must have been green
Bopping in the country, fishing in a stream
Looking for an answer trying to find a sign
Until I saw your city lights honey I was blind

They said get back honky cat
Better get back to the woods
Well I quit those days and my redneck ways
And oh the change is gonna do me good

You better get back honky cat
Living in the city ain’t where it’s at
It’s like trying to find gold in a silver mine
It’s like trying to drink whiskey from a bottle of wine

Well I read some books and I read some magazines
About those high class ladies down in New Orleans
And all the folks back home well, said I was a fool
They said oh, believe in the Lord is the golden rule

They said get back honky cat
Better get back to the woods
Well I quit those days and my redneck ways
And oh the change is gonna do me good

They said get back honky cat
Better get back to the woods
Well I quit those days and my redneck ways
And oh the change is gonna do me good

They said stay at home boy, you gotta tend the farm
Living in the city son, is going to break your heart
But how can you stop, when your heart says no
How can you stay when your feet say go

You better get back honky cat
Better get back to the woods
Well I quit those days and my redneck ways
And oh the change is gonna do me good

You better get back honky cat
Living in the city ain’t where it’s at
It’s like trying to find gold in a silver mine
It’s like trying to drink whiskey from a bottle of wine

Get back honky cat, get back honky cat, get back, oh
Get back honky cat, get back honky cat, get back, oh
Get back honky cat, get back honky cat, get back, oh



Credit: Image by Ernst Vikne, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
September 22nd, 2022
Exactly 50 years ago, four men exploring an abandoned mine near the top of Plumbago Mountain in Newry, ME, "just happened upon" one of the richest pockets of gem-quality tourmaline the world had ever seen.

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The pocket started as a small void no larger than the width of a man's shoulders. But as George Hartman, Dean McCrillis, Dale Sweatt and contract miner Frank Perham explored further, the rich vein of tourmaline crystals — some larger than a water glass — seemed to continue indefinitely into larger and larger pockets, eventually yielding more than a ton of gem-quality tourmaline from 1972 to 1974.

The discovery sent shockwaves through Maine, and around the mineral world. Never had such a large quantity of world-class tourmaline been found in a single locality in North America. The find is credited with reawakened gem mining in the state of Maine.

To celebrate "The Big Find," the Maine Mineral & Gem Museum (MMGM) in Bethel, ME, curated a collection of 12 fabulous, faceted gems from the historic tourmaline find and paired each one with a jewelry designer. The designers were tasked with creating a masterwork incorporating their unique stone.

The gems range in size from 9.78 carats to 49.30 carats and include a variety of interesting shapes, textures and colors, including pink, red, green, bicolor and "watermelon" tourmaline.

The pieces will be showcased at "The Big Reveal," a '70s-themed runway extravaganza at the Grand Summit Hotel in Newry on October 8.

The collection will also make its way to the 2023 Tucson Gem & Mineral Show, where it will go on exhibit prior to being sold at auction. All the proceeds from the auction will benefit the MMGM.

The gemstones were donated to the Museum for fundraising and have an estimated value of $300,000. The goal is to raise over $1 million from the finished pieces.

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A selection committee, composed of five members from the arts and jewelry community, chose the final 12 artists from a group of 33 submissions. The 12 artists are Paula Crevoshay (Albuquerque, NM), Patty Dunning (Portland, ME), Matt Fischer (Colorado Springs, CO), Gerardo Gonzalez (New York, NY), Derek Katzenbach (Farmington, ME), Andy Lucas (Klamath Falls, OR), Steve Manchini (Salem, MA), Nick Noyes (Charlottesville, VA), Naomi Sarna (New York, NY), Erik Stewart (Tucson, AZ), Matt and Lauren Tuggle (CO), and Stephen and Tamberlaine Zeh (Temple, ME).

Throughout 2022, the MMGM has hosted special programs and guest lectures as part of The Big Find celebration.

Nestled in the picture-postcard town of Bethel, MMGM is a world-class museum and education facility featuring 40,000 gems and minerals, 6,000 meteorites, a library of 10,000 volumes and nearly two dozen interactive exhibits to present Maine minerals and gems in the context of local mining history and Maine’s geology. MMGM opened its doors to the public for the first time in December of 2019.

The 15,000-square-foot museum is home to the single oldest igneous rock in the solar system and a moon rock five times larger than any returned to earth by an Apollo mission. It also features exotic specimens from Mars and fragments of asteroids embedded with extraterrestrial gemstones.

Check out MMGM's website for more information about The Big Reveal.

Credits: Gem photo courtesy of MMGM/Scott Vlaun. Artists photos courtesy of courtesy MMGM/ the artists.
September 21st, 2022
Three bejeweled treasures — The Imperial State Crown, the Sovereign's Sceptre and the Sovereign's Orb — played prominent roles during the State Funeral for Queen Elizabeth II on Monday.

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Rarely seen in public, these items from the British royal family's crown jewels rode atop the Queen's coffin during the long procession from Westminster Abbey to St. George's chapel at Windsor Castle.

The royal family took extra precautions to make certain that the three priceless pieces were "expertly fastened" to the coffin to prevent them from falling and becoming damaged as they had been in the past, according to people.com.

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Back in 1845, the prized crown, which reportedly weighs more than 5 pounds, slipped off a cushion held by Lord John Campbell, the Duke of Argyll, as he carried it to Queen Victoria amid the State Opening of Parliament, according to Express UK.

Queen Victoria recorded the incident in her dairy, writing that the crown was "all crushed and squashed like a pudding that had sat down." She also took a swipe at the Duke of Argyll, stating that the crown "was too heavy" for him to carry.

Ninety-one years later in 1936, the same crown was at the center of another mishap when the diamond-encrusted orb and cross at the top of the headpiece snapped off and landed in the street as the coffin of King George V was being moved from King's Cross station, according to an account in The Guardian.

The Imperial State Crown is encrusted with more than 3,000 gemstones, including the Second Great Star of Africa (Cullinan II), a 317-carat diamond that was the second-largest cut from the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond.

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Discovered in 1905, the rough stone weighed a staggering 621 grams (1.37 pounds) and measured 98mm (3.85 inches) long, 57mm wide and 67mm tall. Thomas Cullinan, then chairman of the Premier Mine in South Africa, sold the diamond to the Transvaal provincial government, which, in turn, presented the stone to Britain’s King Edward VII as a birthday gift in 1907.

In February 1908, Joseph Asscher & Co. was assigned the task of cutting the Cullinan Diamond into nine major finished stones, each of which was given the name Cullinan and a Roman numeral.

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The largest of the Cullinan gems, the Great Star of Africa (Cullinan I), weighs 530.4 carats and is set atop the Sovereign's Sceptre, which was originally created for Charles II and has been used at every coronation since 1661.

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Also dating back to 1661 is the Sovereign's Orb, a hollow gold sphere rimmed with more than 600 precious stones, including 30 rubies and 12 diamonds. The orb symbolizes the Earth and conveys the message that the British monarch's power is derived from God.

Credits: Screen captures via Youtube.com/BBC. Imperial crown image by Cyril Davenport (1848 – 1941), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Cullinan diamonds by Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross by Cyril Davenport (1848 – 1941), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
September 20th, 2022
Perched on the west bank of the Nile river, just 55km south of Luxor, the 2,000-year-old Temple of Esna continues to dazzle visitors with a hall of 24 pillars beautifully adorned with lotus-leaf capitals, each one unique in design. The walls are covered with reliefs of Ptolemaic and Roman Emperors dressed in Pharaoh costumes and the roof is decorated with astronomical representations, including the Dog Star, Orion's Belt and Alpha Draconis.

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Just behind the majestic edifice, which is also known as the Temple of Khnum, a team of researchers from Egypt's Supreme Council for Archaeology recently unearthed a cache of hundreds of silver, gold, bronze and copper coins minted throughout 600-plus years of the Islamic era, starting in 610 A.D. and ending in 1258 A.D.

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During the year-long excavation, the researchers cataloged 286 gold and silver coins dating back to the eras of 19 kings and sultans. They also found "foreign" currency linked to the era of King Levon II of Armenia (1150 - 1219 A.D.), along with bronze and copper coins from the Ottoman era, which dates back to the end of the 13th century A.D.

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The ancient Egyptians minted dirhams and half dirhams, and interestingly, the dirham is the monetary unit still used in Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

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Molds and weights related to the minting process were also discovered hidden behind the temple, according to a translated statement published on the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities' Facebook page.

The researchers are continuing to unravel the Temple of Esna's mysteries, including why the valuable hoard of coins was abandoned. With digging still in progress, Dr. Mustafa Waziri, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, expects there is more treasure still waiting to be found.

Credits: Detailed look at the Temple of Esna's columns by Panegyrics of Granovetter, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Temple photo by Roland Unger, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Coin photos courtesy of Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
September 19th, 2022
Living just 30 miles from Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, AR, has its perks — especially if you're an amateur treasure hunter.

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Over the past four years, Scott Kreykes of Dierks, AR, has registered more than 80 diamonds at the park, including his 50th of 2022. Even though it was only a 4-pointer, the pearl-shaped gem he found earlier this month was certified as the 35,000th diamond unearthed by visitors since the state park opened in 1972.

For this achievement, Kreykes was rewarded with a free two-night stay at an Arkansas State Park, recognition from Murfreesboro officials and a special display for his diamond and registration card.

Earlier this month, Kreykes had spent a day at the park sifting soil from the East Drain area of the 37½-acre search field, which is actually the exposed eroded surface of an ancient diamond-bearing kimberlite pipe. Amateur miners get to keep what they find at the only diamond site in the world that’s open to the general public.

What's more, visitors are allowed to take home one five-gallon bucket of sifted gravel to inspect later and, on this day, that's exactly what Kreykes decided to do.

"Some visitors like to resift their gravel at home or wait for it to dry to look for the metallic shine of a diamond,” explained Park Interpreter Tayler Markham.

While searching through his gravel at home, Kreykes spotted a sparkly, pearl-shaped stone and excitedly called his wife over to show her. He knew the park was preparing to celebrate the 35,000th diamond milestone and was hopeful that he would register the winning gem.

As he left his home to return to the park on the morning of September 6, he slipped his sparkler into a glass vial and told his wife, “This could be the 35,000th diamond!”

Kreykes carried his gem to the park’s Diamond Discovery Center, where staff registered it as a 4-point white diamond.

Kreykes told park officials that he had goosebumps upon learning that his find was the milestone diamond.

Many people who find diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park choose to name their gems. Kreykes chose "Leo" in honor of his grandson.

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So far in 2022, 510 diamonds have been registered at Crater of Diamonds State Park. That's an average of about two per day.

“It’s amazing to work at a place with so much history,” Park Superintendent Caleb Howell said. “Every diamond found here has a story to go along with it, but milestones like this remind us of just how many discoveries park visitors have made over the past 50 years.”

Interestingly, the park reached its 10,000th diamond milestone in 1986 and its 30,000th in 2012.

Over the past 50 years, Crater of Diamonds State Park has hosted more than 4.5 million visitors and registered more than 1,000 diamonds topping 1 carat in weight.

The largest diamond ever discovered in the United States was unearthed in 1924 during an early mining operation at the Murfreesboro site. Named the Uncle Sam, this white diamond with a pink cast weighed 40.23 carats. It was later cut into a 12.42-carat emerald shape. The Uncle Sam is now part of the Smithsonian’s mineral and gem collection and can be seen at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. A marker at the park tells the story of Uncle Sam and points to the exact spot the gem was found.

Credits: Images courtesy of Arkansas State Parks.
September 16th, 2022
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you outstanding songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, British rocker Billy Idol performs “Sweet Sixteen,” a song inspired by the tragic love story of Edward Leedskalnin and the girl who left him at the altar.

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Idol takes on the role of Leedskalnin as he sings, “I’ll do anything / For my sweet sixteen / And I’ll do anything / For little run away child / Gave my heart an engagement ring / She took ev’rything / Ev’rything I gave her / Oh sweet sixteen.”

Leedskalnin, a 26-year-old Latvian, was engaged to Agnes Scuffs in 1923. One day before their scheduled wedding, Scuffs, who was 10 years his junior, broke off the engagement.

Devastated by their parting, Leedskalnin emigrated to the US, where he bought a piece of land in south Florida and for the next 25 years single-handedly sculpted 1,100 short tons of coral rock into a fanciful castle complex. He dedicated “Rock Gate Park” to Scuffs, who he called his “Sweet Sixteen,” but could never win her back.

Idol visited Rock Gate Park, which had been renamed Coral Castle, in the early 1980s and was so intrigued by Leedskalnin’s story that he decided to write a song about it. Framed photos of Idol’s visit are featured in the Coral Castle gift shop in Homestead, FL.

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Idol references the incredible coral sculptures Leedskalnin built in her honor. Even to this day, a mystery surrounds how the amateur sculptor — who was 5 feet tall, weighed 100 pounds and managed only a 4th grade education — was able to carve the huge boulders and move them without any outside help. The attraction is on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Sweet Sixteen” was the fourth track on Idol’s Whiplash Smile album, which sold more than one million copies and peaked at #6 on the US Billboard 200 in 1986. The single reached #20 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and the official video has been viewed on YouTube more than 23 million times.

Idol was a key member of the MTV-fueled “Second British Invasion” of the United States back in the early 1980s. Among his most popular songs from that era are “Dancing with Myself,” “White Wedding,” “Rebel Yell” and “Eyes Without a Face.” The 66-year-old rocker is still actively touring.

Check out the official video for “Sweet Sixteen.” During the first 10 seconds of the video one can see a photo of Leedskalnin standing inside his complex under the title, “Love Turned to Stone.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Sweet Sixteen”
Written and performed by Billy Idol.

I’ll do anything
For my sweet sixteen,
And I’ll do anything
For little runaway child

Gave my heart an engagement ring.
She took ev’rything.
Ev’rything I gave her,
Oh sweet sixteen.

Built a moon
For a rocking chair.
I never guessed it would
Rock her far from here
Oh, oh, oh, oh.

Someone’s built a candy castle
For my sweet sixteen.
Someone’s built a candy brain
And filled it in.

Well I’ll do anything
For my sweet sixteen
Oh I’ll do anything
For little runaway child

Well, memories will burn you.
Memories grow older as people can
They just get colder
Like sweet sixteen

Oh, I see it’s clear
Baby, that you are
All through here
Oh, oh, oh, oh.

Someone’s built a candy castle
For my sweet sixteen,
Someone’s built a candy house
To house her in.
Someone’s built a candy castle
For my sweet sixteen.
Someone’s built a candy brain
And filled it in.

And I do anything
For my sweet sixteen
Oh, I do anything
For little runaway girl.

Yeah, sad and lonely and blue.
Yeah, gettin’ over you.
How, how do you think it feels
Yeah to get up in the morning, get over you.
Up in the morning, get over you.
Wipe away the tears, get over you,
get over, get over…

My sweet sixteen
Oh runaway child
Oh sweet sixteen
Little runaway girl.

Gave my heart an engagement ring
She left everything
Everything I gave her
Sweet sixteen
Built a moon
For a rocking chair,
Never guessed it would
Rock her far from here
Oh, oh, oh

Someone’s built a candy castle
For my sweet sixteen.
Someone’s built a candy house
To house her in.
Someone’s built a candy castle
For my sweet sixteen
Someone’s built a candy house
To house her in.

And I’ll do anything
For my sweet sixteen
Oh, I’ll do anything
For little runaway child.

Do anything
For my sweet sixteen
I’ll do anything
For little runaway girl
Little runaway girl
Oh sweet sixteen
Oh sweet sixteen
Oh.



Credits: Billy Idol photo by DoD News, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Coral Castle photo by Barry haynes, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.