May 26th, 2023
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Bruce Springsteen returns to our blog with his bling-embellished, 1950s-inspired ditty, “Ain’t Got You.”


In the song, The Boss details all the treasures he’s amassed, including “the fortunes of heaven in diamonds and gold,” but admits that his life is not complete because he “ain’t got you.”

“Ain’t Got You,” was the opening track to Springsteen’s introspective, autobiographical 1987 album Tunnel of Love. Unlike his previous album, Born in the USA, Tunnel of Love opened a window into Springsteen’s personal life, especially his troubled marriage to actress Julianne Phillips.

Interestingly, the simple "money can't buy me love" song set off a tiff between Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt, a founding member of Springsteen’s E Street Band, according to a 2012 article in The New Yorker. Van Zandt didn’t think it was appropriate for Springsteen to write a song about his personal wealth.

“I’m, like, ‘What… is this?’” Van Zandt told The New Yorker. “And he’s, like, ‘Well, what do you mean? It’s the truth. It’s just who I am. It’s my life.’”

Van Zandt responded, “People don’t need you talking about your life… They need you for their lives. That‘s your thing. Giving some logic and reason and sympathy and passion to this cold, fragmented, confusing world – that’s your gift. Explaining their lives to them. Their lives, not yours.”

Despite Van Zandt’s objections, the song — which runs just 2:08 and was recorded by Springsteen alone in his home studio — landed as the first track on Tunnel of Love. The album would go on to sell more than three million copies and top the U.S. Billboard 200 chart.

BTW, Springsteen did eventually find his true love. He's been married to fellow musician Patti Scialfa since 1991 and they share three kids. 

Born in 1949, Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen was inspired to pursue a music career after watching the Beatles’ perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. The 15-year-old Springsteen bought his first guitar for $18.95 at a Western Auto Appliance store.

He played small venues with a number of bands throughout the late ’60s and then caught the attention of a Columbia Records talent scout in 1972. Springsteen’s debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., was released in October of that same year.

Springsteen has sold more than 150 million records worldwide. He’s earned 20 Grammy Awards (out of 50 nominations), two Golden Globes, an Academy Award, and a Special Tony Award for Springsteen on Broadway. In 1999, he was inducted into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

We hope you enjoy the audio clip of Springsteen’s performance of “Ain’t Got You.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Ain’t Got You”
Written and performed by Bruce Springsteen.

I got the fortunes of heaven in diamonds and gold
I got all the bonds baby that the bank could hold
I got houses ‘cross the country honey end to end
And everybody buddy wants to be my friend
Well I got all the riches baby any man ever knew
But the only thing I ain’t got honey, I ain’t got you

I got a house full of Rembrandt and priceless art
And all the little girls they wanna tear me apart
When I walk down the street people stop and stare
Well you’d think I might be thrilled but baby I don’t care
‘Cause I got more good luck honey than old King Farouk
But the only thing I ain’t got baby, I ain’t got you

I got a big diamond watch sittin’ on my wrist
I try to tempt you baby but you just resist
I made a deal with de devil babe I won’t deny
Until I got you in my arms I can’t be satisfied

I got a pound of caviar sitting home on ice
I got a fancy foreign car that rides like paradise
I got a hundred pretty women knockin’ down my door
And folks wanna kiss me I ain’t even seen before
I been around the world and all across the seven seas
Been paid a king’s ransom for doin’ what comes naturally
But I’m still the biggest fool honey this world ever knew
‘Cause the only thing I ain’t got baby, I ain’t got you

Credit: Image by Gorup de Besanez, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
May 25th, 2023
Might the US federal government be able to stave off the impending debt-ceiling crisis by minting a $1 trillion platinum coin that could be deposited with the Federal Reserve to pay for government expenses? The answer seems to be yes, no and kinda, maybe…


While some pundits dismiss the concept as farcical, others embrace it as totally legit.

Back in 1997, Congress enacted a law that gave the Treasury Secretary the power to mint platinum coins of any denomination, for any reason. The original intent was to give the US Mint an opportunity to make money for the federal government by minting collectible coins.

But during the 2011 and 2013 debt ceiling debates, commentators wondered out loud if minting a trillion-dollar coin might circumvent the legal cap Congress places on the government's ability to borrow to pay its debts.

With Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen claiming last week that the US may run out of cash to pay its bills as soon as June 1 — and with political leaders making little headway to negotiate a deal — the trillion-dollar coin strategy is back in the news.

What's neat about the $1 trillion coin concept is that the Treasury Secretary can take a simple platinum coin, about the size of a Liberty half dollar, and apply any denomination.

In this case, the one-ounce .9995 platinum coin with a precious metal value of about $1,050 could, in theory, be assigned a value of $1 trillion.

Outrageous? Maybe not.

An article by noted that former US Mint director Philip Diehl agreed it would work, and over the years, influential voices, such as financial journalist Joe Weisenthal and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman have also supported the idea.

Vox credited the novel concept of using a platinum coin to allay budget issues to Beowulf, a blog commenter who is also known as Atlanta-area attorney Carlos Mucha. Beowulf mentioned the strategy in a comment thread on financier Warren Mosler’s blog post of May 24, 2010.

The concept was debated by other bloggers and picked up steam from there, finding new life each time the federal government was on the brink of a catastrophic financial default.

For the record, Yellen doesn't take the $1 trillion coin idea too seriously. She told CNBC, “I’m opposed to it and I don’t think we should consider it seriously. It’s really a gimmick."

Mucha disagreed, telling, "She is, by and large, very good at her job and is by all accounts a nice person, but on this she’s wrong, not just on the law but on policy."

Americans with an opinion are mostly on the same page as Yellen. reported that Drew Linzer of Civiqs recently polled 1,212 registered voters about how they felt about the US Treasury minting a $1 trillion coin to pay off the country's debt obligations.

Only 14% of those surveyed supported the idea, while 37% opposed it. Nearly half (49%) had no opinion or admitted they didn't know enough about the subject to take a stand.

Will the $1 trillion coin become a thing? It's a long shot, but only time will tell.

Credit: $1 trillion coin concept by The Jeweler Blog.
May 24th, 2023
Today, we're going to share some fun stats and facts about Arkansas's Crater of Diamonds State Park, where amateur miners get to keep what they find at the only diamond site in the world that’s open to the general public.


Since it opened as a state park in 1972, Crater of Diamonds has welcomed more than 4.6 million visitors, including a record 201,000 in 2021.

Prospectors of all ages get to scour the 37½-acre search field, which is actually the exposed eroded surface of an ancient diamond-bearing kimberlite pipe. And while it may seem that the odds of finding a diamond are slim, over the 50-year history of the park, visitors have unearthed 35,250 diamonds weighing a combined 7,031 carats.

If you do the math, the probability of a park visitor actually walking away with a diamond is one in 132 — certainly better than your odds of winning the lottery or striking it rich at a casino.

Nearly 99% of the diamonds discovered at the park will fall into one of three color categories: white (clear), brown or yellow. According the Crater of Diamonds' official stats, exactly 62% of diamonds found to date were white, 20% were brown and about 17% were yellow. Slightly more than 1% were classified as "other."

Diamonds unearthed at the park average 1/5th of a carat, but about 21 per year will weigh in at 1 carat or more.


The largest diamond ever discovered in the United States was unearthed in 1924 during an early mining operation in Murfreesboro, which is now the site of Crater of Diamonds Park. Named the "Uncle Sam," the 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 the Uncle Sam and points to the spot where the gem was found.

Park interpreter Tayler Markham explained in a recent article on the park's website how a diamond’s color is influenced by its journey from deep within the earth to the surface.

Markham, who has a degree in geoscience, explained that while all diamonds are made from carbon, white (or clear) diamonds are closest to a pure carbon crystal. White diamonds found at the park often exhibit a unique silvery sheen that makes them appear opalescent. This is caused by tiny inclusions that scatter the light passing through the gem.

Brown diamonds at the park owe their color to what Markham calls "plastic deformation," a structural anomaly that occurs during the diamond's formation. This event creates gaps in the crystal lattice that affect the way light is absorbed by the diamond. Brown diamonds absorb all colors except red and green wavelengths, making them appear brown.

In 2020, Arkansas native Kevin Kinard found the largest brown diamond in the park’s history, a 9.07-carat brandy brown gem he named the "Kinard Friendship Diamond."

Yellow diamonds, noted Markham, are created when nitrogen is absorbed into the diamond's crystal structure during formation. Nitrogen impurities absorb blue light and reflect yellow wavelengths, giving the diamond a yellow hue. The intensity of the color depends on the amount of nitrogen in the diamond's chemical composition.

One of the most famous yellow diamonds discovered at the park is the 4.25-carat "Kahn Canary Diamond." The gem was left uncut and placed in a ring, worn by First Lady Hillary Clinton at her husband’s Presidential Inaugural Galas in 1993 and 1997.

Tickets to the park cost $13 for adults and $6 for children 6 to 12 years old. Children younger than 6 get to enjoy the park for free.

Credit: Image courtesy of Arkansas State Parks.
May 23rd, 2023
Even though it was 13 years ago, Mary Strand remembers vividly how she dove for her diamond anniversary ring as it swirled down the drain of her toilet. The St. Paul resident had accidentally knocked the ring into the bowl while washing her hands in her downstairs bathroom.


Strand immediately called her husband, David, the owner of a sewer and drain cleaning company who has rescued his fair share of flushed items throughout his career.

He rushed home, removed the toilet and rolled it around the back porch — a way to dislodge the ring if it was stuck inside.

When that strategy failed, he ran a camera 200 feet down the sewer line to see if the ring was there. Still no success. His last-ditch effort was to alert municipal workers of the loss, hoping that the ring might turn up in the sewer system still further down the line.

With no other options at their disposal, the Strands gave up.


"And that was it," David said. "We just wrote it off.

Flash forward to March of this year as a diamond ring emerges from the muck a quarter-mile away from the Strand home at the Rogers Wastewater Treatment Plant.

John Tierney, manager of mechanical maintenance at the Rogers Plant, and two machinists, Bruce Benson and Todd Bennett, had been investigating a malfunction in a piece of equipment that handles the intake of wastewater at the plant. While removing grit and solids near the equipment, they spotted a sparkling object that turned out to be a gold anniversary ring with a large marquise-shaped center diamond flanked by more than two dozen accent stones.

After 13 years in the St. Paul sewer system, the ring endured a bit a band damage and a few of the accents stones were missing. But, overall, the ring was in remarkably good shape.

According to a press release, Tierney realized that the ring was probably special to someone and initiated a public appeal to find the ring’s owner via the Metropolitan Council, a government agency serving towns and counties in the Twin Cities area. The story of the missing ring was covered by local TV stations and posted on social media.

Nearly 300 people responded with photos and descriptions of rings lost down the drain.

“Some of the stories are heartbreaking,” said Kai Peterson, the Metropolitan Council's information specialist. “An elderly woman hoping for a miracle for this memory of a deceased husband. One individual even called in lamenting that they had lost their ring the night of their wedding.”

Mary Strand's daughter had seen the coverage of the missing ring and alerted her mom. Mary called the Council and eventually sent in a photo of her lost ring, a gift from David marking their 33rd anniversary. A panel of two jewelers enlisted by the Council confirmed that it was a likely match.

Ann Bloodhart, general council for the organization, presented Mary with her lost ring during an informal ceremony posted to the Metropolitan Council's YouTube page.


"This is my ring," Mary said, laughing. "It's nice to see it again."

In the video, the animated 71-year-old describes how she tried in vain to rescue the ring as it got sucked down the drain.

Tierney likened the odds of finding the ring to the odds of his winning the lottery.

“You’re not going to look for that and find it,” he said. “The odds are astronomical.”

The Strands are planning on repairing and refurbishing the long-lost ring.

“I remember looking at it and flashing back to when [David] gave it to me,” Mary told The Washington Post. “That’s how memorable a thing it was.”

Credits: Screen captures via Council.
May 22nd, 2023
In August 2005, two of the most iconic pieces of Hollywood memorabilia — the Ruby Slippers worn by Dorothy in the 1939 MGM film, The Wizard of Oz — were snatched from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, MN, after closing time in a classic smash-and-grab event.


There was no surveillance video of the crime, and the only clue left behind was a single red sequin amidst a sea of busted plexiglass.

MGM’s chief costume designer Gilbert Adrian had created multiple pairs of Ruby Slippers to be worn by child star Garland during the filming, but only four pairs are known to still exist. Each of the pairs is believed to be worth $3 million or more if ever offered at auction.

The case finally broke in the summer of 2017, when an individual approached the company that had originally insured the slippers for $1 million and said he had information on how they could be returned.

After a yearlong investigation coordinated by FBI field offices in Chicago, Atlanta and Miami, the slippers were secured during an undercover operation in Minneapolis. Although the Ruby Slippers had been recovered, the investigation was classified as "ongoing" because the FBI was still seeking those responsible for the 2005 heist.

“We reached the first goal, the recovery, and it’s a great day,” North Dakota United States Attorney Christopher Myers said at the time. “But we’re not done.”

Now, federal authorities believe they've got their man.

Last week, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against 76-year-old Minnesota resident Terry Martin for the "theft of an object of cultural heritage from the care, custody, or control of a museum." Martin is charged with one count of theft of major artwork.

The indictment alleges that it was Martin who stole the authentic pair of ruby slippers from the Judy Garland Museum. The investigation has been conducted by the FBI’s Minneapolis Division.

Before announcing the recovery in 2018, the FBI had sent the sequined shoes to the Smithsonian for verification. As many people know, a similar pair of Ruby Slippers has been one of the most popular attractions at the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.

The pair had been pulled from its exhibit in 2016 to undergo conservation care funded by a Kickstarter campaign. Smithsonian objects conservator Dawn Wallace had spent more than 200 hours examining the slippers and was intimately familiar with every detail.


Wallace confirmed that the FBI’s pair was the real deal, but in a surprising turn of events revealed that the pair that had been donated anonymously to the Smithsonian in 1979 was mismatched. The left and right shoes were of different sizes. The heel caps and bows on each shoe were not identical.

What’s more striking is that the FBI’s recovered pair had the same issues. When the four shoes were laid side by side, two identical pairs were temporarily united.

The Smithsonian believes that the mix-up may have occurred in the run-up to a 1970 auction of MGM costumes and memorabilia. That’s when the Smithsonian’s pair was originally obtained and could have been confused with the other pair because all four shoes had felt bottoms and were intended for dance sequences.


Interestingly, there are no rubies on Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers. In fact, the bugle beads that prop designers used to simulate ruby proved to be too heavy. The solution was to replace most of the bugle beads with sequins, 2,300 on each slipper. The butterfly-shaped bow on the front of each shoe features red bugle beads outlined in red glass rhinestones in silver settings.

While the FBI maintains custody of the recovered pair of Ruby Slippers, the Smithsonian's pair is currently the centerpiece of an exhibit at the National Museum of American History called "Entertainment Nation." Other items in the exhibit include Prince’s guitar and Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves.

Credits: Images courtesy of Smithsonian.
May 19th, 2023
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring awesome new tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Taylor Swift reminds her inattentive boyfriend that he'd better mend his ways because when she walks into a room she "can still make the whole place shimmer" in her 2022 hit, "Bejeweled."


The nine-time Grammy winner embodies the characteristics of a diamond as she takes us on a journey of self empowerment.

She sings, "Don't put me in the basement / When I want the penthouse of your heart / Diamonds in my eyes / I polish up real / I polish up real nice / Nice."

Later in the song, she admits to her boyfriend that she went to the club and danced with a guy who said her aura's moonstone (a nod to her femininity).

"And we're dancing all night / And you can try / To change my mind / But you might have to wait in line / What's a girl gonna do? / A diamond's gotta shine"

Written by Swift and Jack Antonoff, "Bejeweled" appeared on the singer's 10th studio album, Midnights. The song charted in 21 countries, including a #6 position on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. Swift performed "Bejeweled" for the first time on her current Eras Tour, which started in March and runs through August.

Swift recently explained the inspiration behind the tune to the listeners of iHeart radio: "'Bejeweled' is a song that I think it’s really about finding confidence when you feel that it’s been taken away, for whatever reason. You know, you’re feeling insecure, you’re feeling taken for granted… One of the things we love to do at night, ‘cause we love to go dancing, we love to put on an outfit that makes us feel good, and we love to feel like we’re still bejeweled.”

Born in Wyomissing, PA, Swift wasn't your average schoolgirl. By the time she was 11, Swift was already performing regularly at karaoke contests, festivals and fairs near her home in Berks County. When she was 14, her parents moved the family to Nashville, where Swift would be better positioned to pursue a career in country music. At the age of 17, Swift was topping the country charts.

Now 33 years old, Swift is one of the best-selling musicians of all time. She has sold more than 200 million records, nabbed 12 Grammy Awards (including three Albums of the Year) and topped the Billboard Hot 100 nine times.

Please check out the lyric video of Swift performing "Bejeweled." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along…

Written by Taylor Swift and Jack Antonoff. Performed by Taylor Swift.

Baby love, I think I've been a little too kind
Didn't notice you walking all over my peace of mind
In the shoes I gave you as a present
Putting someone first only works when you're in their top five
And by the way
I'm going out tonight

Best believe I'm still bejeweled
When I walk in the room
I can still make the whole place shimmer
And when I meet the band
They ask, "Do you have a man?"
I could still say, "I don't remember"
Familiarity breeds contempt
Don't put me in the basement
When I want the penthouse of your heart
Diamonds in my eyes
I polish up real
I polish up real nice

Baby boy, I think I've been too good of a girl
Too good of a girl
Did all the extra credit then got graded on a curve
I think it's time to teach some lessons
I made you my world
Have you heard?
I can reclaim the land
And I miss you
But I miss sparkling

(Nice) Best believe I'm still bejeweled
When I walk in the room
I can still make the whole place shimmer
And when I meet the band
They ask, "Do you have a man?"
I could still say, "I don't remember"
Familiarity breeds contempt
Don't put me in the basement
When I want the penthouse of your heart
Diamonds in my eyes
I polish up real
I polish up real nice

Sapphire tears on my face
Sadness became my whole sky
But some guy said my aura's moonstone
Just 'cause he was high
And we're dancing all night
And you can try
To change my mind
But you might have to wait in line
What's a girl gonna do?
A diamond's gotta shine

Best believe I'm still bejeweled
When I walk in the room
I can still make the whole place shimmer
And when I meet the band
They ask, "Do you have a man?"
I could still say, "I don't remember"
Familiarity breeds contempt
Don't put me in the basement
When I want the penthouse of your heart
Diamonds in my eyes
I polish up real (Nice)
I polish up real nice

And we're dancing all night
And you can try
To change my mind
But you might have to wait in line
What's a girl gonna do?
What's a girl gonna do?
I polish up nice
Best believe I'm still bejeweled
When I walk in the room
I can still make the whole place shimmer

Credit: Photo by makaiyla willis, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
May 18th, 2023
Back in 1970, the Zale Corporation purchased a 435-carat rough diamond, which was subsequently cut into the 127-carat, internally flawless, D-color sparkler known today as the "Light of Peace." At the time, Zale's founders Morris and William Zale saw the diamond not only as a source of corporate pride, but also an opportunity to promote the company’s ideals and goals.


The Zales arranged showings of the diamond to the public, with the ticket sales providing funding for peace-supporting initiatives, including assistance to refugees. A progressive notion at the time, the Zales believed that private enterprise could make a more meaningful contribution to society by promoting the ideals of peace. Previously, only governments played that role.

The benevolent brothers enlisted former Supreme Court Justice Arthur J. Goldberg to administer the foundation's funds, which included an initial grant of $250,000.

On June 7 at Christie's New York, the "Light of Peace" enters the limelight one more time as the top lot of the auction house's Magnificent Jewels sale. The pear brilliant-cut diamond is expected to fetch between $10 million and $15 million, with a portion of the proceeds going to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The gem is being sold without a reserve.

The New York Times reported in a 1970 story that the 2-inch by 2-inch rough was about to be fashioned into a pear-shaped diamond that was expected to weigh 150 carats. At the time, that carat weight would have ranked it as the second largest pear‐shaped diamond in the world. The Times added that the finished diamond would be exhibited throughout the country, with the proceeds from ticket sales going to a foundation dedicated to peace.

Zale Corp. entrusted the cutting of the diamond to one of its experts, Alex Franckel, who took a year to study the rough. He reportedly made multiple castings of the diamond in lead and lucite so he could visualize in advance the best way cleave the diamond. In addition to the mammoth hero stone, the original rough diamond yielded 12 significant satellite stones, ranging in size from 0.37 carats to 9.11 carats.

Zale Corporation sold the diamond formerly known as the "Zale Light of Peace" in 1982 to an unnamed buyer, the same buyer who will be offering it for sale at Christie's auction in June.

Other notable lots from the upcoming sale include the following:


A fancy vivid blue cushion modified brilliant-cut diamond weighing 3.10 carats, set in a platinum ring. Presale estimate is $4.2 million - $5.2 million.


A pendant featuring a cushion mixed-cut sapphire weighing 71.27 carats and accented with 10 round brilliant-cut diamonds in a platinum and 18-karat yellow gold setting. Presale estimate is $3 million - $5 million.


A fancy vivid blue cut-cornered rectangular modified brilliant diamond weighing 2.97 carats and set in a platinum ring. Presale estimate is $2.5 million - $3.5 million.

Credits: Images courtesy of Christie's.
May 17th, 2023
For the first time, scientists have devised a way to successfully extract human DNA from an ancient artifact — in this case, a 20,000-year-old deer-tooth pendant discovered in the famous Denisova Cave in southern Siberia.


The DNA extraction technique, which has been described as a non-destructive, high-temperature "washing machine," will make it possible to identify the biological sex and genetic heritage of the person who previously used or wore the item.

The breakthrough is credited to an international research team led by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI) in Leipzig, Germany.

The team was able to determine that the deer tooth pendant was likely worn by a woman to lived between 19,000 and 25,000 years ago and was closely related to contemporaneous ancient individuals from further east in Siberia, the so called "Ancient North Eurasians."


The scientists explained that the woman's DNA had been transferred to the porous tooth pendant via skin cells or sweat. From the DNA retrieved they were able to reconstruct a precise genetic profile of the woman who used or wore the pendant, as well as of the deer from which the tooth was taken.

“For the first time, we can link an object to individuals,” Marie Soressi, an archaeologist from the University of Leiden, told “So, for example, were bone needles made and used by only women, or also men? Were those bone-tipped spears made and used only by men, or also by women? With this new technique, we can finally start talking about that and investigating the roles of individuals according to their biological sex or their genetic identity and family relationships.”

What's amazing about the new DNA extraction technique is that it leaves the specimen fully intact.

The team tested the influence of various chemicals on the surface structure of archaeological bone and tooth pieces and developed a non-destructive phosphate-based method for DNA extraction.

“One could say we have created a washing machine for ancient artifacts within our clean laboratory," explained Elena Essel, who developed the method and is the lead author of the study. "By washing the artifacts at temperatures of up to 90°C (194°F), we are able to extract DNA from the wash waters, while keeping the artifacts intact.”

In testing their methods, the MPI team had to overcome some frustration hurdles. For one, the artifacts had to be untouched by modern researchers, otherwise their own DNA would be on the items.

To overcome the problem of modern human contamination, the researchers focused on material that had been freshly excavated using gloves and face masks and put into clean plastic bags with sediment still attached, according to an MPI press release.

The breakthrough occurred when Maxim Kozlikin and Michael Shunkov — archaeologists excavating the famous Denisova Cave in Russia — cleanly excavated and set aside an Upper Paleolithic deer tooth pendant.

Utilizing that pristine artifact, the geneticists in Leipzig isolated not only the DNA from the animal itself, a wapiti deer, but also large quantities of ancient human DNA.

“Forensic scientists will not be surprised that human DNA can be isolated from an object that has been handled a lot,” said Max Planck geneticist Matthias Meyer, “but it is amazing that this is still possible after 20,000 years.”

Credits: Images courtesy of © MPI for Evolutionary Anthropology.
May 16th, 2023
So, you've booked a relaxing summer vacation, but you're not sure if it's a good idea to wear your precious jewelry into the hot tub or pool. While the short answer is NO, the science behind that answer is pretty fascinating. Read on.


The most comprehensive study about this subject was conducted more than a decade ago by Hoover & Strong, a leading refiner and manufacturer of precious metals.

The 111-year-old Virginia-based company concluded that chlorine and bromine (commonly used to treat the water in pools and hot tubs) caused a gradual failure of karat-gold settings, with the fastest deterioration seen when jewelry was immersed in chlorine bleach and brought to a high temperature.

While pure, 24-karat gold is non-reactive and impervious to other elements, just about all karat-gold fine jewelry is created from a mixture of pure gold and other alloys to give the jewelry its color (such as white or rose gold) or added durability. Common alloys include nickel, copper and zinc.

Chlorine has the ability to dissolve the alloy metals, ultimately causing stress cracks and breakage. Rings with prong-set stones carry the highest risk, because a single compromised prong could cause the loss of a very valuable gemstone.

Hoover & Strong reported that 14-karat nickel white gold faired worse than other white metals. Platinum was virtually unaffected and rhodium plating added a layer of protection to the karat gold.

Although chlorine and bromine were shown to damage jewelry, we should stress that the effects are exaggerated in the first two experiments where jewelry was exposed to a solution of 5% chlorine bleach, about 2,500 ppm (parts per million). According to the Water Quality & Health Council, the ideal level of free chlorine in the swimming pool is 2 to 4 ppm.

In Hoover & Strong's study, 14-karat nickel white gold exposed to 5% chlorine bleach and heated to 110 degrees F experienced prong failure after 21 hours.

The same experiment done with 5% chlorine bleach at room temperature still yielded prong failure, but it took 120 hours of exposure.

In the second set of experiments, the precious metal specialist measured its results based on two hours of daily hot tub use, which is unusual for most people.

The company calculated that prong failure would occur after 156 days for a chlorine-treated (5 ppm) tub, or 192 days for a bromine-treated (5 ppm) tub.

Hoover & Strong also warned that consumers should take off their fine jewelry when using laundry or cleaning products, as many of them contain corrosive bleach.

According to trade association Jewelers of America (JA), fine jewelry is also negatively effected by saltwater, a subject not addressed in Hoover & Strong's study. Saltwater, the group noted, can damage and discolor metals, such as gold and platinum, and can slowly erode the finish and polish of gemstones.

JA also advised consumers to avoid wearing jewelry when applying sunscreen and lotions. These products cause a film to form on jewelry, making items appear dull and dingy.

Here's the bottom line: Take off your precious baubles before heading to the hot tub, the pool or the ocean, and secure them, instead, in an in-room or hotel safe.

Credit: Image by
May 15th, 2023
A South Sea cultured pearl and diamond necklace famously worn by Princess Diana to a performance of Swan Lake at London’s Royal Albert Hall — one of her last public appearances before her tragic death two months later in August of 1997 — is expected to fetch up to $15 million when it is presented for auction by Guernsey's as part of the "Swan Lake Suite." The event will take place at the Pierre Hotel in New York on June 27.


A design collaboration between Diana and British crown jeweler Garrard, the necklace features 178 diamonds, five 12mm South Sea pearls and a diamond total weight of 51 carats.

The Princess of Wales, who was also England’s Patron of Dance, proudly wore the lavish piece to the high-profile Swan Lake event, where her dazzling image was captured by numerous news outlets and celebrity publications. Diana and the Swan Lake necklace even made the cover of People magazine's "Yearbook 1998."

After the event, Diana returned the necklace to Garrard, where their designers were finishing up matching earring for the ensemble. The jeweler wanted to have the necklace on hand so the diamonds and South Sea pearls of the earrings would perfectly complement the necklace.

The drop earrings are highlighted by 12mm South Sea cultured pearls adorned by a cluster of brilliant-cut and marquise-shaped diamonds totaling 9.38 carats.

Sadly, Diana would never wear the complete ensemble.

Harrods heir and Diana's then-boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, had ordered the suite from Garrard and intended to give the pearl jewels to Diana as a gift. Both he and Diana would perish together in a car accident in Paris.

According to Guernsey's, the crown jeweler was faced with a dilemma. What would become of the Swan Lake Suite.

Two years after Diana's death, her family authorized Garrard to sell the Suite, with a portion of the proceeds going to UNICEF and its initiatives to ban landmines — a cause the Princess passionately supported.

The crown jeweler consigned the jewelry to the New York-based Guernsey's, which set out to find a buyer via an aggressive public relations campaign, which included live interviews on NBC’s Today Show and the Oprah Winfrey Show.

On the day Oprah Winfrey was featuring the Swan Lake Suite, she was also hosting guest James McIngvale, a Houston businessman known as “Mattress Mack.” McIngvale was so taken by the pearl jewelry that he purchased the Suite at auction for a reported $580,000.

A decade later, McIngvale informed the auction house that he wanted to resell the jewels. The Swan Lake Suite was then sold to its current owner, Mark Ginzburg, a Ukrainian real estate developer.

Ginzburg has pledged that a portion of the proceeds from this new sale will be dedicated to the re-building of Ukraine.


It's no secret that Diana was a big fan of pearls. In this photo from a private White House dinner hosted by Ronald and Nancy Reagan in 1985, guest of honor Diana is wearing a seven-stand pearl necklace centered by a large blue sapphire at she greets actor Tom Selleck. It was one of her favorite pieces and she wore it at many formal events throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

“While many accomplished figures fade from view with the passing years, Princess Diana is as vibrant today as when she was indeed the most admired woman on the planet,” Guernsey's commented. “And with her son Prince William destined to one day become king, Diana’s star will be shining brightly for decades to come.”

Credits: Swan Lake Suite photo courtesy of Guernsey's. Princess Diana greets actor Tom Selleck at the White House in 1985. Series: Reagan White House Photographs, 1/20/1981 - 1/20/1989Collection: White House Photographic Collection, 1/20/1981 - 1/20/1989, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.