Larsens Jewelry Store Blog
July 25th, 2017
On Sunday, after 21 days and 2,500 grueling miles, British road racing cyclist Chris Froome got to hold aloft the coveted Tour de France trophy — but Frenchman Cyril Gautier got the girl.



About 20km into the race's last leg into Paris, the 29-year-old Gautier called over to a motorcycle cameraman who was able to capture a very special moment when the rider revealed a handwritten note scrawled in thick black marker. Written on a page ripped from the spiral-bound official route profile was the French phrase, "Caroline, Veux tu m'épouser? Je t'aime," which translates to “Caroline, Will you marry me? I love you.” The note was punctuated by a large heart.



The jubilant Gautier, wearing his team's blue, brown and white colors, then blew a kiss into the camera, presumably directed at his girlfriend.



At that moment, fellow Frenchman Pierre Rolland rode alongside Gautier and shouted, "Dis oui! Dis oui," which means "Say yes! Say yes!” Dressed in bright green gear, Rolland, who obviously knew in advance of Gautier's proposal plan, smiled at the camera, released his handle bars and shaped a heart with his fingers.

While Gautier's proposal to his long-time girlfriend was seen in real time, curious viewers didn't know Caroline's response until a few hours later.



Tour de France commentator Robbie McEwen posted the news on Twitter. He wrote, "Update on the @LeTour marriage proposal by Cyril Gautier... she said YES."

Gautier, who is a member of the AG2R La Mondiale team, finished his eighth Tour de France Sunday evening in a respectable 48th place. For much of the race he had helped secure a top-three finish for his teammate Romaine Bardet. The three-week race covers challenging terrain in France, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Spain and Switzerland, and ends at the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris.

If you're wondering how a cyclist could manage to pull off a proposal in the middle of a race, the answer is that the last leg of the Tour de France is largely ceremonial. The eventual winner usually has amassed an unsurmountable lead during the previous legs, so the "racing" on the final day is less intense. The racers will not challenge the leader in deference to the previous weeks' accomplishments.

Gautier's memorable racing proposal went down in less than 20 seconds. Check out the video here...


Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com.
July 24th, 2017
Last month, Wisconsin resident Destinee Fitzgerald woke up a bit earlier than usual to check the time on her cell phone. She became terrified when she smelled smoke in her apartment and heard the the faint sound of a neighbor's smoke alarm. She looked out the window and saw flames leaping from her landlord's air conditioner.



In an instant, she scooped up her four-year-old daughter, Deana Marie, and dashed to safety. Left behind in her bedroom, on top of a framed photo of her unborn son's ultrasound, was a cherished family heirloom — her grandma's diamond ring.

Mauston firefighters arrived on the scene but couldn't keep the blaze from completely gutting her apartment.

It took several weeks before the local authorities deemed the conditions safe enough to allow residents back into the building to salvage their property. Destinee was sure her grandmother's ring had perished in the fire.

“Yeah, I just felt terrible about it,” Destinee told the Juneau County Star-Times. “It was so bad because the ring was something that stood out to me and something I wanted to pass on to my own daughter.”

Destiny's mom, Dana Fitzgerald, had other ideas. She bravely navigated up the badly damaged steps and into the blackened rooms.



“She kept saying, ‘Mom, don’t go up there, it’s not safe,’” Dana told the Juneau County Star-Times. “But I was determined to find this ring. I made it all the way to the back bedroom. I lifted up some soaking wet papers and there was this shiny, beautiful ring sitting on top of the frame of my grandson’s ultrasound. I put it right on my finger so I wouldn’t lose it.”

Dana had received the ring from her mother, Donna "Hookie" Chamberlain, who passed away in 1998 when Destinee was just two years old. Dana was determined to give Deana Marie an opportunity to be the fourth generation to wear the ring.



On Facebook, Destinee summarized her ordeal: "What a crazy couple days it has been. I can't stop thanking God that I happened to wake up to check my phone that night... It's the most terrifying thing waking up to smoke in your home and not knowing what's going on. My first thought was, 'Oh my gosh. Get my baby girl out of this!'"

Destinee told the Juneau County Star-Times that the only reason she had taken off the ring was because her fingers had become swollen during her pregnancy. She reported that the ring is back on her finger.

“Even though it is a material thing, it is more than just a ring,” Destinee said. “There is a lot of meaning behind it because I don’t have my grandma around anymore. I’m back to wearing it every day, unless my finger is swollen, of course.”

Credit: Ring image by Dana Fitzgerald. Other images via Facebook/Destinee Fitzgerald.
July 21st, 2017
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you exciting new songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Coldplay introduces us to the curious phrase "diamonds ate the radio" with the July 14 release of "Aliens."



In the song's animated video, we see a family of aliens — rendered as armless orb-like beings — fleeing their war-torn planet. They dodge artillery fire while being pursued by giant spike-headed worms. The family ascends skyward to meet up with their spacecraft — and enter a secured portal just in the nick of time. The family travels to a new planet, but yearn to return home again.

The saga of the orb people is a metaphor for the dire circumstances currently faced by millions of migrants who have been forced to flee their homeland. Proceeds from "Aliens" will benefit the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), an international non-governmental organization that rescues migrants at sea.

Now, let's get back to the phrase that qualifies "Aliens" as a Music Friday tune. In the first two lines of the song, frontman Chris Martin sings, "We were just about to lose our home / Diamonds ate the radio."

At first blush, the diamond lyrics had us truly stumped. What could they possibly mean?

But, then we found a Reddit thread that focused on that exact question.

One Reddit contributor believes that "diamonds ate the radio" is a reference to artists being pressured to churn out overproduced music that conforms to a certain proven standard. A second Reddit user is confident the diamond reference is a nod to the ultimate RIAA sales threshold, where artists earn a diamond certification for an album that's shipped more than 10 million units.

Perhaps the writers of "Aliens" had both explanations in mind when they introduced a doomed future society that's not only under fire, but where only diamond-certified songs will get any airplay.

"Aliens" was released as the third track from Coldplay's new EP Kaleidoscope. Coldplay's pledge to donate proceeds from the song to MOAS received warm coverage from both RollingStone.com and Billboard.com. The Youtube video has been viewed more than 4.7 million times.

With more than 80 million records sold worldwide, Coldplay ranks as one of the world’s best-selling music groups. In December 2009, Rolling Stone readers ranked Coldplay as the fourth-best band of the 2000s. The group has earned five MTV Video Music Awards, seven Grammy Awards and 31 Grammy nominations.

Please check out the "Aliens" animated video. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Aliens"
Written by Brian Eno, Rik Simpson and Markus Dravs. Performed by Coldplay.

We were just about to lose our home
Diamonds ate the radio
Moving in the dead of night
We took photographs just some just so
History has some to know
We were moving at the speed of flight

Kids cry
If you want to
That's alright
If you want to
Hold me
Hold me tight

Just an alien

We were hovering without a home
Millions are UFO
Hovering in hope some scope tonight
Sees the light and says

Fly if you want to
That's alright
But if you want to
Call me
Call this line

Just an alien
Just an alien
Oh, we just want to get home again

Tell your leader
Sir or ma'am
We come in peace
We mean no harm
Somewhere out there
In the unknown
All the E.T.'s are phoning home
Watching my life
On the skyline
Crossing your eyes
For a lifetime

Just an alien
Moving target
Target movement
A patch, a corner
Of the spacetime
Just an alien
Turning toward it
Turning pages
Over Asia
Crossing ages
Just an alien
Oh, we just want to get home again


Credit: Screen captures via YouTube.com.
July 20th, 2017
In a video that's become an instant sensation on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, choreographer and dancer Phil Wright proposed to his shocked girlfriend, Ashley Liai, in the middle of an elaborate dance routine.



The couple had started dating exactly eight years ago when she was attending his dance class, so the 26-year-old Wright decided to surprise his 29-year-old girlfriend in front of a large crowd of dance students at the Millennium Dance Complex in Los Angeles.



As the routine begins, we see a series of young couples demonstrating Wright's expressive choreography set to John Legend's "You & I (Nobody In The World)." About three minutes into the number, Wright and Liai step into the spotlight to show to the younger dancers how it's done. Throughout their part of the performance, Wright tapped his back-left pocket to ensure the ring box has stayed put.



During one critical point in the choreography, Liai turns away from her boyfriend for just a moment. When she turns back toward him, he has already pulled the ring box from his pocket and is down on one knee.



Totally surprised, Liai bursts into tears as the equally astonished students scream their approval. The look on Liai's face is priceless, as are the expressions of the tiniest dance students, who are probably witnessing a marriage proposal for the first time.



Wright says, "You know I love you with all my heart. Ashley Liai, will you marry me?"

Liai answers with a breathless, "Yes."

The couple embraces and then Wright slips a diamond ring on Liai's finger.



A ring selfie later posted to Instagram reveals that Wright chose for his new bride a four-prong diamond solitaire set in a plain gold band.

"To my knowledge all I knew is that we were doing a couples class on our anniversary," she told Daily Mail Online. "I had no idea the man of my dreams would ask me to be his forever. We met in class so it's just so perfect that he asked me to be his future wife in the same setting. This moment was truly unforgettable for the both of us. I'm still on cloud nine."

On her Instagram page, Liai posted a sweet photo of her embracing her new fiancé. The caption appropriately read: "Never letting go... 7.12.17 #MyMrWright."

Wright and Liai's proposal video has been picked up by a number of top media outlets, including TIME, Daily Mail, Cosmopolitan, Mashable, Huffington Post and Popsugar.

The YouTube video below has been viewed more than one million times. It runs more than six minutes, but you can advance the video to the 3:10 mark, the point at which Wright and Liai start their dance.


Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com. Ring photo via Instagram/Phil Wright.
July 19th, 2017
When the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona failed to meet its reserve price at Sotheby's London in June of 2016, the disappointing result was the first signal that the massive diamond was just too big to sell. The final bid of $61 million fell short of the $70 million reserve price.



Now, 13 months later, diamond-industry insiders are buzzing about the likelihood that Canada-based Lucara Diamond Corp., which mined the stone in Botswana, will have to carve up the world's largest rough diamond in order to attain its maximum value.

Originally, Lucara and its chief executive William Lamb were hoping that Lesedi La Rona's buyer would forgo the opportunity to process the large rough into many smaller diamonds — and leave it in its natural state. Instead of working with members of the upper echelon of the diamond trade, Lamb decided to put the huge diamond on the international stage at Sotheby's. He was confident a deep-pocketed collector would appreciate the historical significance of the gem and essentially leave it alone.



"It's only the second stone recovered in the history of humanity over 1,000 carats," he told Reuters. "Why would you want to polish it? The stone in the rough form contains untold potential. As soon as you polish it into one solution, everything else is gone."

Cutting a rough diamond of this size is uncharted territory for the few elite diamond firms that have the finances and skill set to make a deal with Lucara. While an 1,109-carat rough diamond could yield the world's largest polished diamond — the current record is held by the 530.20-carat Great Star of Africa — the cutting process is fraught with risks and there are no guarantees.

"When is a diamond too big? I think we have found that when you go above 1,000 carats, it is too big — certainly from the aspect of analyzing the stones with the technology available," Panmure Gordon mining analyst Kieron Hodgson told Reuters.

Breaking the Lesedi La Rona into smaller, less risky parcels might generate more buyer interest. We already know that Lucara successfully sold the 813-carat "Constellation" to a Dubai trading company for a record $63 million, and Laurence Graff purchased the 374-carat broken shard from Lesedi La Rona for $17.5 million. All three diamonds were mined within three days of each other in 2015.

Holding onto the diamond for too long may have a negative effect on Lucara's potential payday. New technology employed by the world's largest diamond mining companies has resulted in the recovery of many more 100-carat-plus stones. Previously, the sorting machines would fracture the largest crystals instead of identifying and preserving them.

It may be only a matter of time before the next 1,000-carat diamond is revealed to the world. If and when that happens, the novelty connected to Lesedi La Rona's extraordinary size may be lost, along with some of its value.

Credit: Images courtesy of Sotheby’s.
July 18th, 2017
A Russian luxury brand famous for its blinged-out, over-the-top iPhones and accessories has just introduced a solid gold version of the world's most popular toy — the fidget spinner.



While many a fidgety kid has doled out less than $10 for his spinner, those with an eye on Caviar's newest release will have to come up with 999,000 rubles — that's $16,840 to you and me.

The top-of-the-line version is crafted from 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of solid gold and is adorned with "Fine Gold" markings on each of the three lobes and the Caviar Royal Gift logo on the center bearing.

The firm is also offering a gold-plated fidget spinner encrusted with diamonds for 99,000 rubles ($1,650) and a simpler gold-plated version without diamonds for 14,900 rubles ($251).

The year 2017 will be forever remembered as The Year of the Fidget Spinner. The toy exploded on the scene this past spring and became an international phenomenon. Kids couldn't put them down and retailers couldn't keep them in stock. On the down side, educators saw them as a distraction and went to great lengths to keep them out of school.

For those of you who have never seen a fidget spinner in action, it's basically a flat, multi-lobed structure made of plastic or metal that resembles the triple heads of an electric shaver. The center consists of a bearing that allows the lobes to spin freely along the device's axis. The user holds the center of the spinner in one hand and propels the lobes with the other.

The fidget spinner gets its name from the type of person who is said to benefit from handling the device. Apparently, the toy is calming to children and adults who have trouble controlling their fidgety nature. Advocates of the fidget spinner claim the device can benefit kids with anxiety, ADHD and autism.

Currently in a pre-order phrase, the solid gold Caviar fidget spinner is scheduled to officially hit the market in August 2017.

Credit: Image via caviar-phone.ru.
July 17th, 2017
When astronaut Edward H. White II became the first American to step outside his spacecraft and let go, the visor of his helmet was plated with an ultra-thin layer of gold to protect him from the unfiltered rays of the sun. If you look closely at the image below, you'll also notice that his 25-foot lifeline back to the Gemini IV spacecraft was wrapped in gold tape.



It was 1965 and scientists at NASA depended on gold's amazing characteristics to ensure a safe and successful mission. Gold is highly reflective of heat and light, so NASA scientists coated the visors with a gold layer so thin — 0.000002 inches — that astronauts could see through it.

While gold was a largely unsung hero of America's early space program, man's infatuation with this precious metal can be traced back 6,000 years to the ancient Thracian civilization. Worked-gold objects made around 4000 BC were discovered at a burial site near Varna, Bulgaria.

Despite being enchantingly beautiful, gold demonstrates a wide range of extraordinary properties — qualities well known to the jewelry, electronics, medical and dental industries.

For instance, gold is nature's most malleable metal. That means that it can be pounded so thin that one ounce of gold could cover about 100 square feet of a surface. The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) calculated that it would take 576 ounces (or just 36 pounds) of gold to completely cover a football field.

Gold leaf typically measures 0.18 microns in thickness (about 7 millionths of an inch), and according to AMNH, a stack of 7,055 sheets would be no thicker than the width of a dime.

Gold is also ductile, which means that it can be made into the thinnest wire. The AMNH notes that one ounce of gold can be drawn into 50 miles of wire, five microns thick.

Of all the gold mined this year, expect 78% of it to be made into fine jewelry. Other industries consume about 12%, and the remaining 10% is supplied to financial institutions. Jewelry designers and manufacturers love to use gold because of its high luster, its ability to be cast into shapes, drawn into wires and hammered into sheets. It possesses a beautiful golden color, but also can be alloyed into many hues, including pink, white and green. And, what's more, it will never tarnish.

Fun fact: The largest accumulation of gold lies 80 feet below street level at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The vault houses $147 billion in gold bullion — a bounty that weighs a staggering 5,000 metric tons.

Credit: Image by NASA/James McDivitt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
July 14th, 2017
Welcome to Music Friday when we often shine the spotlight on inspirational songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, five-time Grammy nominee Brandon Heath seeks divine intervention in "Diamond," his 2012 song about a young coal miner who is hardly living up to his potential. He wants to be a better man, but needs God's help to find the "diamond" buried deep inside.



He sings, "I got something down inside of me / That only You can see / Help me dig a little deeper now / And set that diamond free."

For Heath, the diamond symbolizes the ability to bring his life to the next level — a life of clarity, not confusion, of compassion, not cruelty, of ambition, not excuses.

In the last lines of the song, Heath invites the Almighty to seek him out in the coal mine: "Come down with your old flashlight / Underground, black as night / No telling what you’re gonna find in me."

"Diamond" is the fourth track on Heath's fourth studio album, Blue Mountain. The album is unique because each song takes place in the Blue Mountains and is told from the point of view of a particular character. The real and fictional players featured in the songs include his grandfather, his mentor, a farmer, a coal miner and a death-row inmate. Each song weaves a message of hope, love and redemption.

When it was released in 2012, the album earned strong reviews and a #5 spot on Billboard's U.S. Christian Albums chart. It also reached #97 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

“[The songs] are all kind of telling my story a little bit,” Heath revealed to The Clarion-Ledger. “[They talk] about my own fears, and my own desires. As a songwriter, it was more fun to give someone else my own voice. I think the best way to describe a place is to describe its people. And so, all these characters tell a story about what Blue Mountain is and who lives there.”

Born in Nashville, Tenn., Brandon Heath Knell turns 39 next Friday. The son of a police officer dad and hairdresser mom, Heath received his first guitar as a Christmas gift when he was 13. In high school, he converted to Christianity and explored his spirituality by participating in faith missions to India and Ecuador. Those trips helped inspire a career in contemporary Christian music.

Please check out the audio track of Heath performing "Diamond." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Diamond"
Written by Brandon Heath, Ross Copperman and Lee Thomas Miller. Performed by Brandon Heath.

My father’s father broke this ground
Daddy mined till we laid him down
Only God knows what they found beneath
Now here I stand in my own boots
Ax to grind and a point to prove
Tangled up in my own roots, it seems

I got treasure up in Heaven
I got dirt all over me
I have only scratched the surface
Of the man I’m meant to be
I got something down inside of me
That only You can see
Help me dig a little deeper now
And set that diamond free

Why do I do the things I do
All the things that I don’t want to
Act like I don’t fear You at all
Hard head and a heart of stone
Older now but I haven’t grown
Any riches that I have to show are small

Set it free
Set it free
Set it free
Set it free

Come down with your old flashlight
Underground, black as night
No telling what you’re gonna find in me


Credits: Screen capture via YouTube.com.
July 13th, 2017
Gone with the Wind fans will get a fascinating glimpse at "the real, and unexpected, Vivien Leigh" when Sotheby's London brings to auction 250 of the illustrious leading lady's personal items on September 26.



Leigh, who is most famous for her role as Scarlett O’Hara, loved clothes and jewelry, and was not afraid to mix historic jewels with contemporary couture. Highlighted lots include a large mid-19th-century diamond bow brooch/pendant that Sotheby's described as the ultimate accessory. The bow motif appeared frequently in Leigh’s wardrobe, and this piece is expected to yield $32,000 to $45,000 at auction.



A second highlighted jewelry item is a gold ring gifted to Leigh by her second husband, British actor and director Laurence Olivier. The ring has an inscription that reads "Laurence Olivier Vivien Eternally" and is expected to sell in the very affordable range of $515 to $770.

“Behind the guise of the most glamorous and talked-about woman of her age we find a fine art collector, patron, even a bookworm, who was the intellectual equal of the literati, artists and aesthetes she counted among her coterie," commented Harry Dalmeny, chairman of Sotheby’s UK. "This is our chance to discover the real, and unexpected, Vivien Leigh."



Also up for grabs is a silver cigarette box (high estimate of $770) from Myron Selznick, the talent agent who helped Leigh land one of the most coveted roles in cinematic history; Leigh’s copy of Margaret Mitchell’s novel, Gone With the Wind, complete with a handwritten poem from the author ($9,000); and a bound copy of the original film script ($4,500) from the epic 1939 motion picture.

The two-time Academy Award winner, who was only 25 when she starred with Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind, died in 1967 at the age of 53. Her collection had been passed down to her daughter, Suzanne Farrington, who died two years ago. Farrington's sons chose to put their grandmother's possessions up for auction.

Their joint statement read, “We hope people take as much pleasure from this collection as our grandparents, parents and families have done.”

Overall, the 250 lots are expected to yield about $650,000. More information about the September sale will be released later in the summer, according to Sotheby's.

Credits: Photos of auction items courtesy of Sotheby's. Leigh and Clark Gable photo by Deems Taylor, Published by Simon & Schuster, New York (page 319 A Pictorial History of the Movies) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
July 12th, 2017
It's been a symbol of "tech luxury" since the Apple Watch arrived in 2014 and the metal of choice for Pinterest's most-pinned engagement ring style of 2017. It's a material that conveys opulence, elegance, and its warm glow complements any skin tone. The summer sensation that's grabbing all the headlines is rose gold.



If you're wondering how a precious metal like gold can become pink, we have the answer. Rose gold earns its blush when copper is mixed with pure gold. Yes, the magic is the copper content. Depending on the ratio of copper used, the hue can range from a soft pink to a deep red.

Pure 24-karat gold is a relatively soft metal, so jewelry makers learned early on that mixing gold with other metals would make the end product stronger and more resistant to wear. They also learned that adding specific metallic elements could alter the metal's color.

Typically, 18-karat yellow gold is composed of 75% fine gold, 15% copper and 10% fine silver. To make 18-karat rose gold, however, the recipe changes to 75% fine gold, 22.25% copper and 2.75% fine silver. Voilà.

In a feature story on Sothebys.com, the author explained that the use of rose gold in fine jewelry can be traced to 19th century Imperial Russia when Carl Fabergé incorporated the material into the designs of his elaborate Fabergé Eggs. The innovative gold hue earned widespread appeal and was originally dubbed "Russian Gold." As other jewelers from around the world caught on to the trend, the material was given the more generic moniker of "pink gold."

Sotheby's explained that throughout recent history, rose gold has fallen in and out of favor based on social, economic and political upheavals. For instance, rose gold had a strong run during the Roaring Twenties, but lost its sheen after the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

Then, when platinum was declared a "strategic material" during World War II, jewelry designers refocused their attention on yellow and rose gold.

Over the past 50 years, rose gold's popularity has ridden a rollercoaster of changing tastes. Today, it's plain to see that "rose gold" is once again at the top of its game.

Credit: Image by BigStockPhoto.com.