December 9th, 2022
Welcome to a special holiday edition of Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Kelly Clarkson sings about the glittery items on her Christmas wish list in the 2013 favorite “4 Carats.”

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In this tune penned by Clarkson and three collaborators, the “Original American Idol” temporarily casts aside her squeaky clean image and implores Santa to make her Christmas Eve, "4 carats, please."

She proclaims that she’s been good all year and deserves a “shiny” gift. Specifically, she has her heart set on a canary yellow diamond or red ruby. And, yes, size matters. The baubles have to weigh in at 4 carats.

In the catchy refrain, she sings, “Like a diamond ring / Just a little something from Tiffany’s / Or a big ruby / You know red has always looked good on me.”

Later in the song, as the clock strikes 2 in the morning, Clarkson is concerned that Santa may have forgotten her.

This is when she coos about fancy yellow diamonds: “Mm, something sparkly / Yellow canaries / Ooh yea yea / Mm, I’m waiting patiently / Santa don’t forget me / Ooh don’t forget me!”

Clarkson told Billboard magazine that “4 Carats” was inspired by Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby” (1953) and Madonna’s “Material Girl” (1984). The end result was a mashup of the two. Music critics generally praised the song for its memorable pop hook and bouncy melody.

“4 Carats” appeared as the 12th track on Clarkson’s popular Wrapped in Red Christmas album, which was certified platinum after selling more than one million copies. The album peaked at #3 on the US Billboard 200 chart and the single reached #30 on Billboard's Holiday Digital Songs chart.

Born in Ft. Worth, TX, in 1982, Kelly Brianne Clarkson rose to fame in 2002 after winning the inaugural season of American Idol. In a career spanning 20 years, Clarkson has sold 25 million albums and 45 million singles worldwide, making her the second-best-selling American Idol contestant to date, just behind Carrie Underwood.

Clarkson served as a coach on The Voice from its 14th season ( February 2018) to its 21st season ( September 2021). She's expected to return for Season 23 (March 2023). She also has hosted her own daytime talk show, The Kelly Clarkson Show, since September of 2019.

Please check out the audio track of Clarkson’s “4 Carats.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“4 Carats”
Written by Kelly Clarkson, Cathy Dennis, Livvi Franc and Gregory Kurstin. Performed by Kelly Clarkson.

The door’s unlocked
And you don’t even have to knock
Or you can use the fireplace
I’ll be waiting either way

You come and go
And no one is supposed to know
But ever since you caught my stare
You know I know that you are real

Well Santa I’ve been thinking
And I’m just in needin’ one thing
You to bring me, something shiny

Like a diamond ring
Just a little something from Tiffany’s
Or a big ruby
You know red has always looked good on me

I won’t tell (I won’t tell) anyone
Anyone
I’ve been good all year long
Oh Santa make my Christmas Eve
4 carats please

Oh oh
Oh

It’s getting late
I know you have your rounds to make
But I’ve been waiting up for you
And now the clock has just struck 2

I’m looking out my windows
Looking for a red nose
My heart’s sinking
Don’t forget me

Oh my diamond ring
Just a little something from Tiffany’s
Or a big ruby
You know red has always looked good on me

I won’t tell (I won’t tell) anyone
Anyone
I’ve been good all year long
Oh Santa make my Christmas Eve
4 carats please

Oh oh
Oh oh

Mm, something sparkly
Yellow canaries
Ooh yea yea
Mm, I’m waiting patiently
Santa don’t forget me
Ooh don’t forget me!

Oh my diamond ring
Just a little something from Tiffany’s
Or a big ruby
You know red has always looked good on me

I won’t tell (I won’t tell) anyone
Anyone
I’ve been good all year long
Oh Santa make my Christmas Eve
4 carats please

Oh oh
Oh oh
Oh oh
Oh oh



Credit: Photo by Marc Piscotty, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
December 8th, 2022
An elaborate and stylish necklace discovered at an early-Christian burial site dating back to the 7th century AD was revealed to the press on Tuesday by scholars at the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA).

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Dubbed the "Harpole Treasure," the necklace is unique because it likely belonged to a powerful female religious leader during a time when Christianity was beginning to take root in England and women were playing a vital role in spreading new religious practices.

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The necklace recovered from the gravesite near Northampton in central England contains a prominent centerpiece designed with red garnets arranged in a cross motif. Surrounding the cross are 30 dangling pendants, eight of which are Roman gold coins and the rest unspecified cabochon-cut stones set in gold bezels.

MOLA specialists released a comparison image, which shows the necklace in its current state alongside a computer-generated rendering of what it looked like when it was brand new.

The Harpole Treasure, which dates to a period between 630 and 670 AD, was discovered on the next to the last day of an eight-week dig that was a routine part of the planning process required by property developers in the UK. The project was funded by the Vistry Group, which had been planning a housing development in the area. The treasure takes its name from the village where it was found.

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“This find is truly a once-in-a-lifetime discovery — the sort of thing you read about in textbooks and not something you expect to see coming out of the ground in front of you,” archaeologist Simon Mortimer, said in a statement.

A MOLA site supervisor, who believed he was sorting through an ancient rubbish pit, happened upon the necklace by accident.

At first, Levente-Bence Balázs came across the crowns of two teeth and then he saw a glint from the rectangular pendant that formed the centerpiece of the necklace.

"In 17 years of excavating sites, this was the first time I've found gold," he told CNN. "It's not just the artifacts, it's the sheer magnitude of the find."

The teeth and jewelry signaled to Balázs that he had discovered a burial site. Upon further excavation, the scientists were able to confirm that the jewelry was part of a "bed burial" ritual, where women of high status were buried in their beds along with valuable possessions.

In this case, the woman was surrounded by two decorated clay pots crafted in France or Belgium and a shallow copper dish. Also found near the body was an ornate silver cross cast with the likenesses of four human faces. This likely would have been placed on the devout woman's chest during the burial.

MOLA's senior finds specialist Lyn Blackmore told CNN that later Christian graves did not include jewelry because the practice of burying the dead with their valuables was frowned upon by the Christian Church.

All of the items unearthed at the Harpole site are being meticulously analyzed by MOLA conservators, who are hoping to find clues regarding how the objects were used in life or during burial rites.

British TV network BBC Two will be highlighting the Harpole Treasure on its series called Digging for Britain. The episode is set to air in January of 2023.

Credits: Images courtesy of the Museum of London Archaeology.
December 7th, 2022
Early season donations of valuable diamond jewelry and gold coins are signaling a bright holiday season for Salvation Army chapters across the country.

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The Salvation Army’s bell-ringing season starts each November and runs through Christmas Eve. Most of the donations come in the form of pocket change and paper money, but each year the well known charitable institution is excited to promote instances of anonymous benefactors generously dropping precious items into the iconic Red Kettles.

In Hopkinton, MA, for example, a generous resident sneaked a diamond ring worth more than $1,000 into The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle outside the Price Chopper supermarket on West Main Street.

A stunned Salvation Army volunteer discovered the 12-stone, 14-karat white gold ring while sifting through the day's donations, according to Boston TV station WHDH.

The volunteer brought the ring to a local jeweler, who verified that it was, indeed, fine jewelry and confirmed a four-figure valuation.

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“When we get generous donations like this, it certainly helps our overall effort, so we really appreciate whoever the person was who deposited this ring in the kettle,” Kevin Polito, a Milford Corps. Salvation Army Captain, told the news outlet.

In the Detroit area, an anonymous patron recently dropped a rare, 1980 South African gold Krugerrand into a kettle at a Kroger supermarket near St. Clair Shores. The 1-ounce, pure gold coin carries a value of nearly $1,800.

According to Detroit TV station WXYZ, the latest gold coin donation marked the 10th consecutive year that a gold Krugerrand has been deposited in a Red Kettle in that community.

About 475 miles southwest, in Evansville, IN, Salvation Army volunteers were delighted to retrieve a gold coin from a Red Kettle in front of the West Side Walmart. Salvation Army officials told 14news.com that the donation occurred on a "matching day," when all kettle donations for the weekend were matched by an unnamed philanthropist, up to $10,500.

The Salvation Army Red Kettle Program can track its origins to 1891, when Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee struggled with the reality that so many poor individuals in San Francisco were going hungry. During the holiday season, he resolved to provide a free Christmas dinner for the destitute and poverty-stricken. His only hurdle was a tall one — funding the project.

According to The Salvation Army’s official website, McFee’s red kettle idea was inspired by his days as a sailor in Liverpool, England. There, he remembered an iron kettle called “Simpson’s Pot” into which passers-by tossed a coin or two to help the poor.

The next day, McFee placed a similar pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing at the foot of Market Street. Beside the pot, he placed a sign that read, “Keep the Pot Boiling.” He soon had the money to see that the needy people of the area were properly fed at Christmas.

According to a Salvation Army press release, Red Kettle volunteers didn’t become bell ringers until 1900, when a young cadet named Amelia from New York City bought a 10-cent bell to ring. The bell was a huge success and drew attention and donations from those who passed. Not long after, all the cadets had bells to ring.

Now in its 131st year, the Red Kettle Campaign is one of the longest-running and most recognizable fundraising efforts in the world. Red Kettles are now used worldwide and can be found in Korea, Japan, Chile and throughout Europe.

During its Christmas season campaign, approximately 25,000 bell ringers, young and old, brave the elements to help The Salvation Army raise money for local community programs. The Salvation Army serves more than 30 million Americans each year.

Credits: Images courtesy of The Salvation Army.
December 6th, 2022
The humble, but widely loved, text message celebrated its 30th anniversary on December 3. Three decades ago, British software programmer and test engineer Neil Papworth sent the world’s very first text, which simply read, "Merry Christmas.”

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Today, texting is one of the most popular forms of communication, with Americans sending more than 6 billion text messages each day, which translates to 2.2 trillion per year.

So it may not come as a surprise to learn that more than a quarter (26%) of Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) claim to have received a marriage proposal via text. This compares to 17% for Gen Zers (born 1997 to 2012), 6% for Gen Xers (born 1965 to 1980) and 1% for Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964). It's also fun to wonder how dramatically the Gen Z percentage will increase as more of them progress toward marrying age.

The new data is from Infobip's 2022 “30th Anniversary of the SMS” survey, which sheds light on how, where and when Americans are communicating with each other. Infobip is a global leader in omnichannel communications.

Texting has become an integral part of the courting process, as a solid majority of Millennials (63%) and Gen Zers (61%) reported sending romantic messages via this medium. The numbers decline slightly among Gen Xers (46%) and dramatically among Baby Boomers (14%).

The survey found that Americans would rather communicate via SMS, Whatsapp or another form of instant messaging (41%) than a phone call (24%). This trend was even more apparent among younger respondents, with approximately half of Gen Zers (48%) and Millennials (53%) preferring messaging over calling.

They survey revealed that texting has penetrated US society so thoroughly that there seem to be no boundaries on how or when it is used, no matter how inappropriate.

  • For example, more than half (52%) of Millennials admitted to the dangerous habit of texting while driving, compared to 40.7% of Gen Xers, and about 30% of Baby boomers and Gen Zers.
  • More than a third of the respondents (36.9%) confessed to texting during a work meeting, with Millennials being the biggest offenders (47.3%).
  • A significant portion of Millennials (36%) and Gen Zers (30.8%) have texted at a wedding.
  • A surprising amount of Millennials (26.8%) reported texting at a funeral.
  • Nearly half of Gen Zers (45%) have been dumped over text, compared to 38% of Millennials, 12% of Gen Xers and 4% of Baby Boomers.

The survey affirmed that with 27.5% of respondents checking their text messages within one minute, and 40% checking them within one to five minutes, it’s clear the US is a nation of texters.

The Infobip survey, conducted by Propeller Insights, reflects the responses from 1,000 adults, gender-balanced and distributed across age groups from 18 to 65+ in the United States. The survey took place during October of 2022.

Credit: Image by BigstockPhoto.com.
December 5th, 2022
Described as a "new animated red that revels in pure joy," Viva Magenta was just named Pantone's Color of the Year for 2023.

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According to The Pantone Color Institute, Viva Magenta is inspired by cochineal, a red dye derived from the dried bodies of female cochineal insects. Cochineal dye was used as early as the second century BC by the Aztecs and Mayans. Incidentally, it takes 70,000 cochineal insects to make one pound of dye.

"In this age of technology, we look to draw inspiration from nature and what is real," said Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director, Pantone Color Institute. "PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta descends from the red family, and is inspired by the red of cochineal, one of the most precious dyes belonging to the natural dye family as well as one of the strongest and brightest the world has known."

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Pantone said its 2023 Color of the Year is powerful and empowering — a new animated red that revels in pure joy, encouraging experimentation and self-expression without restraint. It's an electrifying and boundary-less shade that is manifesting as a stand-out statement.

Consumers who embrace Viva Magenta-inspired fashion items will be accessorizing with fine jewelry featuring ruby, garnet, tourmaline, spinel and red beryl.

Viva Magenta takes the reins from 2022's Very Peri, a dynamic periwinkle blue hue with an intense violet-red undertone. Veri Peri was a brand new Pantone color, and its selection marked the first time the international color authority cooked up a color and then instantly designated it as the Color of the Year.

To arrive at the selection each year, this global team of color experts at the Pantone Color Institute comb the world looking for new color influences. This can include the entertainment industry and films in production, traveling art collections and new artists, fashion, all areas of design, aspirational travel destinations, new lifestyles, play styles or enjoyable escapes as well as socio-economic conditions. Influences may also stem from new technologies, materials, textures and effects that impact color, relevant social media platforms and even upcoming sporting events that capture worldwide attention.

The Pantone Color Institute originally created the Pantone Color of the Year educational program in 1999 to engage the design community and color enthusiasts around the world in a conversation around color.

"We wanted to draw attention to the relationship between culture and color," said Laurie Pressman, Vice President of the Pantone Color Institute. "We wanted to highlight to our audience how what is taking place in our global culture is expressed and reflected through the language of color. This thought process rings just as true today just as it did back in 1999."

Typically, Pantone’s yearly selection influences product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home furnishings and industrial design, as well as product packaging and graphic design.

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Here are the Pantone Colors of the Year dating back to 2010…

PANTONE 17-3938 Veri Peri (2022)
PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray (2021)
PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating (2021)
PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue (2020)
PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral (2019)
PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet (2018)
PANTONE 15-0343 Greenery (2017)
PANTONE 13-1520 Rose Quartz (2016)
PANTONE 15-3919 Serenity (2016)
PANTONE 18-1438 Marsala (2015)
PANTONE 18-3224 Radiant Orchid (2014)
PANTONE 17-5641 Emerald (2013)
PANTONE 17-1463 Tangerine Tango (2012)
PANTONE 18-2120 Honeysuckle (2011)
PANTONE 15-5519 Turquoise (2010)

Credits: Images courtesy of Pantone.
December 2nd, 2022
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fabulous songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we feature Fleetwood Mac's iconic 1977 hit, "The Chain," a song that represents the band's strength, love and resilience despite five decades of personal and professional obstacles.

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For Christine McVie, who passed away this week at the age of 79, “The Chain” was more than a song. It was a very special silver chain bracelet given to her by fellow band member Stevie Nicks.

“Stevie gave me this chain,” she told The New Yorker in 2015. “It used to have a diamond feather on it. It’s a metaphor, you know. That the chain of the band will never be broken. Not by me, anyways. Not again by me.”

Even though Fleetwood Mac enjoyed enormous success, McVie had left the band in 1998 after being overwhelmed by a fear of flying. The other band members, including Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie and Lindsey Buckingham, continued to tour, but the band did not seem complete without Christine McVie.

Finally, at the age of 71, McVie came to the realization that she missed the audience. She wanted to tour again and asked each of her former mates, individually, if she could rejoin the band. Each was thrilled to have her back, although Buckingham maintained one caveat: She couldn’t waltz in and waltz back out again. She had to be in it “for the whole nine yards.”

McVie agreed, worked with a psychiatrist to get her past her phobia, and rejoined the band just in time for their 33-city North American tour, which opened in September of 2014.

Every Fleetwood Mac concert starts off with the steady, thumping, rhythmic instrumental lead-in to “The Chain,” the only song on the 1977 Rumours album to be credited to all five band members. The song was literally spliced together from combinations of several previously rejected elements.

The song originally represented the internal fractures — both romantically and professionally — of the band members, but eventually came to symbolize their triumph in staying together.

The Rumours album sold more than 45 million copies and is one of the best selling albums of all time. In total, the band has sold more than 120 million albums worldwide.

Born in Lancashire, England, in 1943, McVie developed her love for music at the age of 11 and continued her classical training until she was 15. She originally studied sculpture at the Moseley School of Art in Birmingham and had aspirations of becoming a teacher.

But her professional interests started to change when she was asked by two friends to join a band called Sounds of Blue. After college, she played keyboards and sang background vocals for the blues band Chicken Shack under the name Christine Perfect.

Christine married Fleetwood Mac bassist John McVie in 1968 and joined his band in 1970 as a singer and keyboardist. Despite divorcing in 1976, the couple continued to maintain a close friendship and professional partnership.

Her Fleetwood Mac bandmates were collectively heartbroken after learning that McVie died on November 30 after a brief illness.

Mick Fleetwood wrote on Instagram, "Part of my heart has flown away today. I will miss everything about you Christine McVie. Memories abound… they fly to me."

Please check out the video of Christine McVie and Fleetwood Mac performing “The Chain.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.

“The Chain”
Written by Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie, John McVie and Lindsey Buckingham. Performed by Fleetwood Mac.

Listen to the wind blow
Watch the sun rise

Run in the shadows
Damn your love, damn your lies

And if you don’t love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you sayin’
You would never break the chain
(Never break the chain)

And if you don’t love me now
(You don’t love me now)
You will never love me again
I can still hear you sayin’
(Still hear you sayin’)
You would never break the chain
(Never break the chain)

Listen to the wind blow
Down comes the night

Run in the shadows
Damn your love, damn your lies

Break the silence
Damn the dark, damn the light

And if you don’t love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you sayin’
You would never break the chain
(Never break the chain)

And if you don’t love me now
(You don’t love me now)
You will never love me again
I can still hear you sayin’
(Still hear you sayin’)
You would never break the chain
(Never break the chain)

And if you don’t love me now
(You don’t love me now)
You will never love me again
I can still hear you sayin’
(Still hear you sayin’)
You would never break the chain
(Never break the chain)

(Yea, keep us together)
Run in the shadows
(Yea, keep us together)
Run into the shadows
(Yea, keep us together)
Run into the shadows
(Yea, keep us together)
Run in the shadows
(Yea, keep us together)


Credit: Photo by Raph_PH, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
December 1st, 2022
Fifty-five years ago, a Maasai tribesman named Jumanne Ngoma happened upon a cluster of intense blue-violet crystals in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. At first glance, they appeared to be sapphires, but it was later revealed that the stones were a never-before-seen variation of zoisite.

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The mesmerizing mineral quickly caught the attention of Tiffany & Co., which launched a campaign to promote the new gem. The marketing team at Tiffany was concerned the name “zoisite” sounded very much like “suicide,” so it came up with “tanzanite,” a name that would honor Tanzania, the only place on earth where tanzanite can be found.

Tiffany’s 1960s-era marketing campaign earned tanzanite the noble title of “gem of the 20th century” and, in 2002, the American Gem Trade Association added tanzanite to the jewelry industry’s official birthstone list. Tanzanite joined turquoise and zircon as the official birthstones for December.

Tanzanite is said to be 1,000 times more rare than diamonds due the fact that tanzanite is mined in an area that measures 2km wide by 4km long and that the remaining lifespan of the mine is said to be less than 25 years.

Despite tanzanite’s immediate commercial success, Ngoma didn't reap any financial gain from his discovery until April of 2018, when Tanzanian President John Magufuli presented the then-78-year-old with a reward of 100 million shillings (about $44,000) from the Tanzanian government. That amount was nearly twice the annual salary of an average Tanzanian. Ngoma, in ill health and partially paralyzed, passed away in January of 2019. Obituaries celebrated him as a national hero.

Tanzanite’s exquisite color is an intoxicating mix of blue and purple, unlike any other gemstone. Tanzanite comes in a wide range of hues, from light blues or lilacs, to deep indigos and violets. The most valuable tanzanite gemstones display a deep sapphire blue color with highlights of intense violet. The Smithsonian’s website explains that tanzanite exhibits the optical phenomenon of pleochroism, appearing intense blue, violet or red, depending on the direction through which the crystal is viewed.

The platinum ring shown, above, is an award-winning piece by designer Mark Schneider. It features a 9.43-carat trillion tanzanite, accented by 1 carat of white diamonds. The ring captured an AGTA Spectrum Award 2003 in the Evening Wear category.

Credit: Image by Mark Schneider, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
November 30th, 2022
The video of Scott Clyne's comical headlong dive into Sarasota Bay to retrieve a fumbled engagement ring box earned the Florida resident an appearance on the Today show, 1.6 million Likes on TikTok and viral online coverage by numerous outlets, including the Daily Mail, People and Brides.

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On his Facebook page, Clyne used this caption to summarize the video of his marriage-proposal-gone-awry: "This is 100% real. 100% my luck. 100% will never forget…"

On Saturday, November 12, everything was in place for Clyne to deliver an epic proposal to his girlfriend of eight years, Suzie Tucker. The sunset was stunning, the bay was picturesque and rose petals littered the bow of the boat, where Clyne and his girlfriend posed with their arms spread wide as if they were reenacting the iconic scene from Titanic.

But, seconds later, the perfect moment turned into an implausible disaster when Clyne reached into his back pocket and fumbled the box containing Tucker's engagement ring. The box bounced off the deck and into the bay.

Instantly, Clyne followed the box into the water with a dive that was so comical that he later captured a frame of the exact moment his head and torso disappeared into the water, leaving his legs sticking straight up. That pic is his new Facebook profile picture.

Fortunately, the ring box had some buoyancy, so Clyne was able to grab it before it sunk. You can see the full video here…

Clyne's friend helped him get back into the boat, where the soaking wet suitor continued with his bended knee proposal and, despite the mishap, Tucker said, "Yes."

Clyne told the Daily Mail that the corner of the ring box got caught up on top of his pocket, causing it to slip out of his hands.

"Everything was a blur after that," he told the outlet. "I panicked and reacted by lunging for the ring box before it could sink, not caring if I fell into the water. Luckily, I was able to recover the ring!"

Even though it's always risky to pop the question on a body of water, Clyne was determined to go ahead with the boating proposal.

"We absolutely love boating and I couldn't imagine proposing any other way," he said.

Clyne told the Today show that he originally intended to propose to Tucker in September while the couple was on vacation in the Florida Keys. Hurricane Ian put the kibosh on that plan, so Clyne moved the proposal to November.

After the successful Sarasota proposal, Clyne decided to stick with his plans to take Tucker out for a celebratory dinner.

"I didn’t bring an extra pair of clothes," he told the Today show audience, "so I attended dinner soaking wet.”

Credit: Illustrative image by Bigstockphoto.com.
November 29th, 2022
British actress Lily James, the Natural Diamond Council's newly appointed Global Ambassador, recently visited Botswana to experience the positive impacts the natural diamond industry is having on the country, and to see these precious gems at their point of origin.

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Famous for her starring roles in Cinderella (2015) and Downton Abbey (2012-2015), the 33-year-old James recently received her first Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series for her performance as Pamela Anderson in Pam & Tommy (2022). She is also the star of the NDC's global advertising campaign titled "To Treasure, Now and Forever."

James's trip to Botswana began with four days on Safari at The Selinda Reserve, a picturesque wildlife sanctuary that is home to thousands of elephants and the famous Selinda lion pride. From there, she visited the Orapa Game Park — part of the De Beers Diamond Route — which illustrated firsthand the positive results of the natural diamond industry's conservation efforts.

James also met with students and teachers at the Livingstone House Primary School, one of four schools in the community that are run by Debswana — a diamond mining company owned by De Beers and the government of Botswana.

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This was followed by a visit to Lucara Diamond Corp's Karowe Diamond Mine, as well as the De Beers Global Sightholder Sales facility in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana. Her last stop was the KGK Diamonds cutting and polishing facility in Gaborone, where she met with some of their employees. A majority of them are native citizens whose livelihoods are supported by the natural diamond industry.

"I've been awestruck by the natural beauty and the vibrant communities I've seen in Botswana," said James. "To know so much of this land — over 1,000 square miles globally — is protected by the natural diamond industry makes me incredibly proud to be the NDC's Global Ambassador."

Natural diamonds support the livelihood of more than 10 million people worldwide and nowhere is the positive impact felt more than in Botswana, where they accounted for 33% of Botswana's GDP in 2021. Botswana also has the highest percentage of women-owned businesses in the world.

"The natural diamond industry is an example to others as to how collaborations between governments and business can transform the lives of so many people and the communities in which they live," said David Kellie, CEO of NDC.

The diamond industry's partnership with the government of Botswana sustains a school system educating approximately 522,000 children a year. In 1966, there were just three secondary schools. Today there are 300 and every Botswanan child receives free primary and secondary education.

Additional benefits of the natural diamond industry include providing healthcare for more than four million people globally and funding critical infrastructure development, including schools, hospitals, and roads.

NDC's advertising campaign starring James showcases a range of diamond jewelry styles, from staples, such as tennis bracelets and necklaces, studs and hoops, to original creations including statement earrings or spiral bracelets.

Credits: Images courtesy of Natural Diamond Council.
November 28th, 2022
An obscure third-century Roman emperor, once written out of the history books as a fictional character, was likely the real deal, according to researchers at University College London.

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By using microscopes, ultraviolet imaging and infrared spectroscopy, researchers led by Professor Paul Pearson determined that the fine scratch marks on the surface of coins bearing Emperor Sponsian's likeness proved that they were in circulation 2,000 years ago and couldn't be modern forgeries. The findings were recently published in the journal PLOS 1.

The only historical reference to Emperor Sponsian is a portrait of him that appeared on a small cache of gold coins discovered in Transylvania 309 years ago. At first, the coins were believed to be genuine, but by the mid-1800s that opinion had flipped 180 degrees.

Henry Cohen, a scholar at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, declared in 1863 that the Sponsian coins were "very poor quality modern forgeries." Cohen described the obverse of the coin as "barbaric and strange" and pointed out that the coins were cast instead of struck. (Casting was a method used by forgers.) The Sponsian coins were also unusually heavy compared to similar Roman coins of that period.

At the time, historians surmised that if the coins were fake, Sponsian was likely a fake character, as well.

The Sponsian coins discovered in 1713 eventually found their way to the Hunterian Museum at Glasgow University, where they remained locked away in a cupboard.

That's until Professor Pearson decided to revisit the mystery of Emperor Sponsian and the crudely designed coins.

Pearson and his team discovered that the Sponsian coins all bore similar patterns of microscopic wear apparent on authentic coins of the third century. A chemical analysis of the dirt caked on the coins confirmed they had been buried for a prolonged period of time.

The wear marks confirmed that the coins were handled in countless transactions over an extended time period and that they were used as a part of a monetary economy, Pearson reported.

"What we have found is an emperor," Pearson told the BBC. "He was a figure thought to have been a fake and written off by the experts. But we think he was real and that he had a role in history."

So, if Sponsian really existed, why don't we know more about him?

Researchers believe that Sponsian was a Roman army officer who was in charge of a remote province called Dacia, in what is now Romania. It was the year 260 AD, and Dacia was physically cut off from Rome during a period of chaos, civil war and a pandemic.

It is believed that Sponsian was "on an island" and had no way of communicating with the supreme command, so he did what he had to do in order to protect the civilian and military populations. One of those things was to declare himself emperor and another was to mint coins so the province could have a functioning economy.

This would theoretically explain why the Sponsian coins were so unlike other coins minted by the Romans at that time.

Credit: Image © 2022 Pearson et al. Sponsianus, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.