Zabler Design Blog

Zabler Design Blog

Articles in February 2016

February 3rd, 2016
Pizza Hut is celebrating the golden anniversary of the Super Bowl with a special pizza glistening in edible gold.

pizza1

Fifty lucky fans who order a Stuffed Garlic Knots Pizza on the day of the big game, Sunday, February 7, will be surprised when a Pizza Hut delivery person drives up with a special-edition gilded version topped with $100 worth of edible 24-karat gold. The pizza will be presented in a specially designed golden box along with a $100 Pizza Hut Gold Card. Carryout and dine-in customers are also eligible to win.

Super Bowl Sunday is the year's biggest single day of pizza consumption in the U.S., according to Ad Age. Pizza Hut expects to deliver well over two million pizzas this Sunday, a jump of 80% to 90% from a typical day.

pizza2

"It's not every day that the Golden Anniversary of the Big Game is played in the Golden State, so we felt it was only appropriate to celebrate with a limited-edition Golden Garlic Knots Pizza," said Jared Drinkwater, Pizza Hut's vice president of marketing, in a statement.

You don't have to order the $12.99 pizza to be eligible to win the gilded version. It's also possible to enter by emailing the Pizza Hut PR team between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. EST on February 7. Entries can be earned by sending an email with the subject line “Golden Garlic Knots Pizza Giveaway” to PR@PizzaHut.com with your complete name, mailing address, date of birth, and phone number (including area code). Each email will immediately trigger a winning or losing result.

Sadly, the promotion is limited to residents of only seven states: Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana and West Virginia.

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube; Pizza Hut.
February 4th, 2016
For centuries, historians and jewelry lovers alike have been enchanted by the mystique of amethyst, the official birthstone of February. A member of the mineral quartz family, amethyst radiates a wide array of regal purple hues ranging from sparkling lilac to sultry deep violet. Amethyst is associated with spirituality, sobriety, security and wisdom. It is also the zodiac stone for the constellation of Pisces.

amethyst1

The alluring gemstone has been the focus of many intriguing myths and legends throughout history. The name "amethyst" is derived from Greek, meaning "not drunken." According to Ancient Greek lore, the stone could ward off the intoxicating powers of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and intoxication, and keep the wearer clear-headed and quick-witted. The color purple was traditionally the color of royalty, and amethyst was used to adorn the richest and most powerful monarchs and rulers. The English revered the stone for its majestic properties — creating emblems and insignia featuring amethysts during the Middle Ages to symbolize royalty.

amethyst2

Historically, the highest-quality amethysts were found in Russia and were featured in royal European jewelry. While Brazil is now the primary source of this gemstone, fine-quality amethyst can also be found in parts of Zambia, Mexico, Uruguay, Italy, Germany, Canada, Maine, Colorado, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Cut gems of amethyst are often graded using the terms: Siberian, Uruguayan or Bahain, representing high, medium and low-grade stones regardless of the actual source. Due to patchiness of the color distribution in the crystals, amethyst is often cut as brilliant round finished gems to maximize the color.

10 Fun Facts About Amethyst
1. Amethyst is the birthstone for the month of February, and the official gem for Wednesday, Jupiter and those born under the sign of Pisces.
2. Amethyst is the official gemstone of the province of Ontario.
3. Amethyst has been used to symbolize deep love, happiness, humility, sincerity and wealth.
4. Amethyst was once revered as the "Jewel of the Gods.”
5. Amethyst rings are traditionally worn by Bishops; some believe that amethyst brings good luck to petitioners.
6. Farmers believed wearing amethyst would protect their crops from hailstones and locusts.
7. The Hebrew word for amethyst is "ahlamah,” meaning "dream;” the stone was said to cause dreams and visions… and if you dream of amethyst, you will be free from harm.
8. Amethyst was the emblem for Matthew, one of the Twelve Apostles.
9. Leonardo da Vinci believed amethyst had the power to control evil thoughts, to quicken intelligence, and to make men shrewd in business matters.
10. Prasiolite, a rare dark green variety of quartz, is sometimes (wrongly) called green amethyst.

Credits: Photo of a large cushion-cut amethyst from the National Gem Collection, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Photo by Chip Clark. Amethyst geode by Didier Descouens (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
February 5th, 2016
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you superb songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we have a reenergized and reflective Justin Bieber singing about seizing the moment and pursuing ones dreams in his uplifting treatise, "All In It."

bieber1

In this song co-written by Jason "Poo Bear" Boyd, Mark "The Mogul" Jackson, Mason "MdL" Levy and Josh Gudwin, Bieber reminds us that we all have potential to do great things — if we are willing to give 100%.

He sings, "If you had a diamond for all of your passion / Diamond for your dedication / You could be icy like cake / Icy for every occasion / Gotta go hard, yeah / That's all I'm condoning / Love is a component / You’re the only opponent / Gotta seize the moment."

"All In It" is featured as a bonus track on Bieber's 2015 album, Purpose. The album, which already has spawned three U.S Billboard Hot 100 chart toppers, has been a tremendous commercial and critical success. MTV called the album "lyrically revealing and sonically appealing." Fans agreed, as the album made its debut at #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200, selling 522,000 copies in its first week of release.

For the 21-year-old Bieber, it's been a time for soul-searching after a tumultuous period of broken relationships and eyebrow-raising behavior. In the 18 compelling tracks of Purpose, Bieber admits his mistakes and challenges himself to be a better man.

The Canadian born Justin Drew Bieber made his mark on the music industry in 2007 as an adorable, fresh-faced 13 year old. Scooter Brown, the singer’s current manager, had spotted him on YouTube and was impressed by his talent and potential. With the permission of Bieber’s mom, Brown introduced the young man to singer-songwriter Usher, who soon became his mentor. Bieber was then signed by record executive L.A. Reid and the rest is Bieber history.

Bieber, who will turn 22 on March 1, is the first artist to have seven songs from a debut album to chart on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Forbes magazine named the young artist as one of the top 10 most powerful celebrities in the world in 2011, 2012 and 2013. He has more than 75 million “likes” on Facebook, 74.7 million followers on Twitter and 53.4 million followers on Instagram.

We hope you enjoy the audio track of "All In It." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along.

"All In It"
Written by Justin Bieber, Jason "Poo Bear" Boyd, Mark "The Mogul" Jackson, Mason "MdL" Levy and Josh Gudwin. Performed by Justin Bieber.

Don't do nothin' 'less your heart's in it
Heart's in it, heart's in it
Don't do nothin' 'less you're all in it
All in it, all in it

If you got a 20 for all of your tries
Twenty for all of the times
The times you got back up, whoa
Could be a billionaire in a year
That's how you gotta think 'til you're there
On the regular

If you had a diamond for all of your passion
Diamond for your dedication
You could be icy like cake
Icy for every occasion
Gotta go hard, yeah
That's all I'm condoning
Love is a component
You’re the only opponent
Gotta seize the moment

And don't do nothin' 'less your heart's in it
Heart's in it, heart's in it
Don't do nothin' 'less you're all in it
All in it, all in it
Come again each time
'Til the water runs dry
Oh don't do nothin' 'less you're all in it
All in it, all in it

Oh, oh
Oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh

If I had a guitar missing five strings
A guitar with only one string
I could only play one song, ooh
A simple melody
Simple enough to make the world sing
Strong enough to make your mood swing
You know what I mean

If you had a diamond for all of your passion
Diamond for your dedication
You could be icy like cake
Icy for every occasion
Gotta go hard, yeah
That's all I'm condoning
Love is a component
You're the only opponent
Gotta seize the moment

And don't do nothin' 'less your heart's in it
Heart's in it, heart's in it
Don't do nothin' 'less you're all in it
All in it, all in it
Come again each time
'Til the water runs dry
Don't do nothin' 'less you're all in it
All in it, all in it

Oh, oh
Oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh

All in it, all in it

See, growing up, I
I always felt like I had to be the best at everything
Cause I, I just didn't think I was good enough
And, and maybe if I was good at something that I'd get recognition from that but
I quickly found out that I wasn't gonna get the recognition that I wanted or that I needed because
Because people aren't perfect and by not being perfect you sometimes can disappoint people
And with God it's like he's perfect
And he never disappoints
So I just get my recognition from him
And give him recognition


Image credit: Instagram/JustinBieber
February 8th, 2016
When Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning raised the Vince Lombardi Trophy above his head after last night's defeat of the Carolina Panthers, he was celebrating with the centerpiece of a much larger — and heavier — three-piece set commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl.

superbowl1

The NFL commissioned Tiffany & Co. to design a massive "5" and "0" in a configuration that positions the sterling silver Lombardi Trophy between the gleaming golden numerals. Tiffany cast the 14.5-inch-tall numbers in bronze and then plated each 33-pound stunner in 18-karat yellow gold.

superbowl2a

The Vince Lombardi Trophy itself has been manufactured by Tiffany & Co. since 1967 and weighs in at 7 pounds. With a total weight of 73 pounds, the 50th anniversary version of the trophy was a bit unwieldy — even for a man the size of Manning. So, after the win, the quarterback celebrated by holding the sterling silver trophy aloft. The complete set will be presented to the Super Bowl champions at the MVP and head coach press conference this morning.

The Vince Lombardi Trophy stands 22 inches tall and depicts a football in a kicking position on a tapered three-sided stand. The words "Vince Lombardi Trophy" along with the numerals of the year's Super Bowl are engraved on the piece. Before this year, each trophy used Roman numerals. Because the Roman numeral for 50 is "L," the NFL thought it better to use the Arabic numeral "50" instead.

superbowl2

After the trophy is awarded, it is sent back to Tiffany to be engraved with the names of the participating teams, the date, location of the Super Bowl game and the game's final score. The winning team gets to keep the trophy.

“The bronze has a warmer color, but it was important to us to have that very clean, very yellow gold color," Victoria Wirth Reynolds, group director of business sales at Tiffany & Co., told Forbes magazine. "They are viewed more as sculptures than trophies.”

Last night's golden anniversary Super Bowl was the culmination of a special season that featured golden 50-yard markers and gold NFL shields painted on every field, gold-trimmed team logos, gold-edition uniforms and gold-accented sideline gear, such as hats and jackets.

The NFL also will be sending a gold-painted football to every high school that's produced a player or coach who's appeared in a Super Bowl. The NFL reported that more than 3,000 players and 52 coaches have participated in a Super Bowl game.

superbowl4

In the weeks leading up to the big game, 10 Bay Area promotional installations featured giant-sized versions of Tiffany's golden "50," with each number weighing 1,600 pounds.

Images: Facebook/NFL; Screen captures via CBS, YouTube/CBS Sports, WLTX.com.
February 9th, 2016
Romantic shoppers are set to spend $4.45 billion on necklaces, earrings and other jewelry items this Valentine's Day, according to a new survey published by the National Retail Federation (NRF). The jewelry category was narrowly edged out by "An evening out," which is expected to be the top category and generate $4.49 billion in sales. Flowers will lag well behind at $1.99 billion.

Fingers Holding Blue And Red Jewelry Hearts

This year's Valentine-related jewelry purchases are predicted to be up 50.8% compared to 2010, when they tallied $2.95 billion.

The NRF reports that nearly one in five Valentine celebrants (19.9%) plans to purchase jewelry this year, with the average retail expenditure of about $166. By comparison, an average "evening out" is expected to cost $87, and the average gift of flowers will retail at $41.

Jewelry budgets will vary greatly, depending of the person's gender, income level and age.

For instance, men will outspend women $207 to $127, while those earning more than $50,000 per year will outspend their lower-earning counterparts by a tally of $191 to $126. Survey respondents ages 35 to 44 will be the most generous, spending $205, while the most cost-conscious age group (18- to 24-year-olds) will spend $126.

How much one intends to spend on a Valentine's gift also depends on who will be the recipient. Spouses will spend about $99 on each other, which is about double what they will spend on their children or parents ($50). Survey respondents also plan to buy gifts for co-workers ($54), friends ($36), children's classmates or teachers ($36) and pets ($26).

Overall, there are signs that people, in general, are less enthusiastic about Valentine's Day than they were in the past. Exactly 54.8% of respondents will celebrate on February 14, down from 63.4% in 2007. Despite the fall off in interest, total Valentine's Day retail spending is expected to climb to $19.7 billion, a survey high.

For the first time, the NRF asked consumers if they hoped to receive or plan to give a gift of "experience," such as tickets to a concert, a spa service or an art lesson. According to the survey, 24% said they plan to give a gift of experience, while nearly four in 10 (38.8%) said that they would love to receive a gift of experience.

“As the first major consumer holiday of 2016, Valentine’s Day could provide a positive boost in spending our economy needs,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Low gas prices and guaranteed promotions from retailers large and small should help consumers as they look for the perfect gift for their friends and family. Looking ahead, we’re optimistic consumers are in a good place when it comes to spending on discretionary items like gifts.”

The NRF’s 2016 Valentine’s Day spending survey was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to Valentine’s Day. The survey was conducted for NRF by Prosper Insights & Analytics. The poll of 7,293 consumers was conducted from January 5-12, 2016, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.

Image: BigStockPhoto.com
February 10th, 2016
A fascinating new diamond-ownership study reveals that New York ranks #1 in quality, while nearby Maryland rates #1 in size.

diamondsurvey1

The survey by WP Diamonds, which specializes in the buy-back of diamonds, jewelry and watches, reviewed market data based on 15,000 consumer inquiries covering all 50 states. With this data, WP Diamonds was able to assign rankings to the states based on diamond value, diamond size and diamond shape.

The states that rank highest for the average value per carat are New York, Florida, California, Connecticut and Maryland. Rounding out the top 10 are New Jersey, Massachusetts, Kansas, Tennessee and Colorado.

The states where size really matters are Maryland, Michigan, Illinois, Alaska, New York, Texas, Florida, Virginia, Arkansas and California.

It's interesting to note that four states — including New York, Maryland, Florida and California — made the top 10 on both lists. New York is #1 in quality but also #5 in size. Maryland is #1 in size and #5 in quality.

diamondsurvey2

The report also affirmed that the most popular diamond shape is round (55.38%), followed by princess (22.07%), marquise (4.8%), emerald (4.47%), cushion (4.12%), oval 2.67%, radiant (2.58%), pear (2.54%), heart (0.71%), Asscher (0.19%) and baguette (0.09%). WP Diamonds noted that the oval cut has gained in popularity since the company's first year in business. The oval now ranks sixth, up two places since 2010.

Even though the round and princess shapes account for more than three-quarters of the diamonds monitored in the survey, WP Diamonds was able to determine the states in which consumers are willing to step out of the box. For instance, marquise diamonds are most favored in Louisiana, Illinois, Indiana, Virginia and Missouri, while emerald-cut diamonds are most popular in Rhode Island, Kansas, Texas, West Virginia and South Dakota. The cushion cut finds a receptive audience in Mississippi, Montana, South Carolina, Texas and Delaware. The up-and-coming oval shape gets a boost from Texas, Connecticut, West Virginia, California and Oregon.

WP Diamonds also reported the states with the most expensive second-hand jewelry. These include California, Florida, North Dakota, North Carolina and New Mexico.

See the full report here...

Images: Courtesy of WP Diamonds.
February 11th, 2016
"Lesedi La Rona," which means "Our Light" in Setswana (the national language of Botswana), is the new name of the 1,111-carat gem-quality diamond discovered at Lucara's Karowe Mine in November of 2015. Thembani Moitlhobogi is 25,000 Pula richer after five judges picked "Lesedi La Rona" from more than 11,000 entries. The prize is equivalent to about $2,215.

diamondgetsname1

"'Lesedi La Rona' symbolizes the pride and history of the people of Botswana," Lucara CEO William Lamb said in a statement. "The outpouring of pride and patriotism shown by all the participants in the contest was incredible."

The gem will soon embark on a road show to find a buyer.

"The biggest challenge on the road show is that the weight-to-value ratio of the stone makes it potentially the highest-value item on the planet," Lamb told Reuters.

"So because of the security around the stone, there will be no telling people where we are going to be taking it. We are not going to be putting any of that information out because we want to protect our asset."

Lucara had honored the people of Botswana with the task of officially naming the mammoth diamond, offering a cash prize to the Botswana citizen who could come up with the best moniker for the epic stone. Entrants were invited to submit their suggested name and their rationale for their choice. The 11-day competition ended on January 28.

diamondgetsname2

Five executives from both the Lucara and the Karowe mines made up the judging panel. Entries were submitted on an anonymous basis, and to ensure transparency and independence during the name selection process, the audit firm of Ernst & Young was retained to oversee the competition.

The spectacular, chemically pure Type IIa diamond — the biggest diamond ever recovered in Botswana and the second largest ever found in the world — could be worth more than $66 million. Lucara has yet to set a price for the stone because the conventional scanners used to evaluate a rough diamond's potential worth are not large enough to accommodate its size.

Slightly smaller than a tennis ball and weighing nearly a half-pound, "Lesedi La Rona" has been called the "diamond of the century." Only the 3,106-carat Cullinan, found in South Africa in 1905, was larger.

Images courtesy of Lucara Diamond.
February 12th, 2016
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, the legendary Neil Diamond sings about how "gold don't rust" and "love don't lie" in a country classic from his 1996 Tennessee Moon album.

neildiamond1

Diamond, who was a pre-med student at New York University and can certainly find his way around a periodic table, took an interesting fact about a chemical property of gold and spun it into a love song.

Besides its rarity, value and radiance, gold in its purest form is an element that will never oxidize or rust. That's why it's been used for jewelry and coinage for millennia.

In "Gold Don't Rust," Diamond assures his lover that she doesn't have to worry when he goes away. His feelings will continue to shine.

He offers her a 24-karat commitment, singing, "Gold don't rust / Love don't lie / I'll be true 'til the day that I die. / Trust in me, you will find / Baby, you're the gold in this heart of mine / And that gold will shine / For a long, long time."

"Gold Don't Rust," which Diamond co-wrote with Gary Burr and Bob DiPiero, was the seventh track of Diamond's 23rd studio album, Tennessee Moon. The album, appropriately, was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, which confirmed sales of more than 500,000 copies.

Over the course of his stellar 54-year career as a singer-songwriter-musician, Diamond has sold more than 100 million records worldwide. Billboard magazine ranks him third behind Elton John and Barbra Streisand on the list of the most successful adult contemporary artists of all time.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Diamond was a member of Erasmus Hall High School's Chorus and Choral Club along with close friend Streisand. Diamond got his first inspiration to write his own songs when folk singer Pete Seeger visited a summer camp he was attending as a teenager.

"And the next thing, I got a guitar when we got back to Brooklyn, started to take lessons and almost immediately began to write songs," he told Rolling Stone.

Just 10 credits short of an undergraduate degree from New York University, Diamond dropped out of college to take a 16-week assignment writing songs for Sunbeam Music Publishing. The job paid $50 per week. Later in his career, he would joke, "If this darn songwriting thing hadn't come up, I would have been a doctor now." The 75-year-old Diamond continues to tour regularly and his shows are said to be better than ever.

Scroll down for the audio track of Diamond's "Gold Don't Rust." The lyrics are here if you'd like to sing along...

"Gold Don't Rust"
Written by Gary Burr, Bob DiPiero and Neil Diamond. Performed by Neil Diamond.

I know you worry ev'ry time I go away
You wonder will these
Sweet, sweet feelings shine or fade
Well, that's a question
You don't have to ask
What heaven makes,
It always makes to last

Gold don't rust
Love don't lie
I'll be true 'til the day that I die
Trust in me, you will find
Baby,
You're the gold in this heart of mine
And that gold will shine
For a long, long time.

I wish that I could give you
What you need from me.
But what good
Is a promise or a guarantee?
Love is still a simple act of faith
And a faithful heart
Is always worth the wait

Gold don't rust
Love don't lie
I'll be true 'til the day that I die
Trust in me, you will find
Baby,
You're the gold in this heart of mine,
And that gold will shine
For a long, long time

Love is still a simple act of faith
And a faithful heart
Is always worth the wait
Gold don't rust
Love don't lie
I'll be true 'til the day that I die
Trust in me, you will find
Baby,
You're the gold in this heart of mine
And that gold will shine
For a long, long time
Baby you're the gold
In this heart of mine
And that gold will shine
For a long, long, long time
Yeah


Credit: By Gresbek (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
February 15th, 2016
Get ready for some romantic Leap Day role reversals, as single ladies from coast to coast get down on one knee and propose to the men of their dreams. For more than 1,500 years, February 29 has been reserved for women who have waited far too long for their men to pop the question.



The concept of women proposing to men on Leap Day has its roots in 5th century Ireland when St. Brigid of Kildare forged a deal with St. Patrick to permit women to propose to men every four years. In Ireland, Leap Day is also called Bachelor's Day.

Apparently, this Irish traditional was then brought to Scotland by Irish monks. Legend states that in 1288, the Scotts passed a law that allowed women to propose on Leap Day. If the man refused the proposal, he would have to pay a fine, ranging from a kiss, to a silk dress or a pair of gloves. In upper-class circles, the fine for a proposal denial was 12 pairs of gloves. Presumably, the gloves would hide the shame of not wearing an engagement ring.

In English law, the day February 29 had no legal status, so people believed that traditional customs held no status on that day either. Hence, women were free to reverse the unfair custom that permitted only men to propose marriage.

In contemporary times, the idea of a woman proposing to a man at any time during the year is generally acceptable to the masses. Three-quarters of the respondents to a 2014 AP-WE tv poll said it would be fine for the woman to do the proposing, in theory. In the survey, nearly half of single women who hope to get married someday said they would consider proposing.

In practice, however, only about 5% of those currently married say the woman proposed, and the figure is no higher among couples wed within the past 10 years.

A stigma still seems to linger around the idea of a woman doing the proposing. During the 20th century, postcards, ads and articles would mock women for their aggressive behavior, casting them as desperate and unworthy. But, certainly, times have changed.

In 2010's romance/comedy Leap Year, Amy Adams is frustrated when another anniversary passes without a marriage proposal from her boyfriend. Aware of the Irish tradition that allows women to pop the question on Leap Day, she travels to Dublin to track down her fiancé in time to deliver a marriage proposal on February 29.

Image: BigStockPhoto.com
February 16th, 2016
And the world-class diamonds just keep coming... Hot on the heels of Lucara's discovery of a 1,111-carat gem-quality rough diamond at its Karowe Mine in Botswana, rival Lucapa announced it unearthed a spectacular 404-carat diamond about 2,500 miles north at its Lulo Diamond Project in Angola.

lucapa1

Like the Lucara diamond, the Lucapa stone is of the extremely rare and chemically pure Type IIa gem variety. The newly discovered rough diamond, which weighs 2.8 ounces, measures 2.7 inches across and boasts a D color, is estimated to be worth about $14 million.

lucapa2

"We're not used to valuing 400-carat diamonds, but if we look at other diamonds slightly less weight than this, you're looking in the order of [$14 million]," Lucapa chairman Miles Kennedy told ABC Australia.

Experts have set the value of the Lucara diamond — recently dubbed “Lesedi La Rona (Our Light)" — at $66 million.

lucapa3

The 404-carat diamond set two records. It's the largest diamond ever found in Angola (the previous record holder weighed 217.4 carats), and it's also the largest diamond ever unearthed by an Australian-based mining company. Rival Lucara is based in Canada.

Kennedy told ABC Australia that many skeptics questioned his company's foray into a "very, very remote part of Angola." It was a parcel of 3,000 square kilometers of untouched ground more than 430 miles from the coast. Kennedy called the discovery a "wonderful vindication of eight years of pretty hard work."

lucapa4

Kennedy reported that diamonds weighing more than 10.8 carats are considered "special" by his mining company. Over the past six months, the Lulo diamond fields in Angola have yielded more than 100 of these special diamonds. Four were greater than 100 carats in weight.

He also noted that the cash injection made possible by the sale of the 404-carat diamond would allow the mining company to expand operations in Angola.

Images: Lucapa Diamond Company; Google Maps.
February 17th, 2016
Archaeologists have discovered a 5,000-year-old silver mine that radically rewrites the history of how the precious metal was unearthed in ancient Greece. Although they were believed to be slaves who had no option but to toil in stifling and dangerous conditions, ancient miners were far more sophisticated than historians ever imagined.

silvermine1

Archaeologists conducting a subterranean investigation of the Thorikos silver mine found a surprisingly complex system of galleries, shafts and chambers — about 5km of conduits in all.

The skill and physical abilities employed by the ancient miners to dig these channels, access the ore deposits from the bedrock and then to properly process them outside of the mine reflected a triumph of human ingenuity, reported New Historian.

Silver played an important role in the history of the Greek people. In fact, the precious metal contributed to Greece's great wealth and domination over the Aegean world. And one of country's greatest sources of silver was the coastal city of Thorikos, about 35 miles southeast of Athens.

Some parts of the mine included open spaces that hadn't been touched in more than 5,000 years. Based on the pottery and stone hammers found on the site, the archeologists concluded that the mine was likely operational as far back as 3200 BC. Tool marks on the walls, graffiti, oil lamps and crushing areas were evidence of the omnipresent activity of the underground workers.

“Extracting the silver would have required an exceptional amount of resources and an advanced technical system of a scale unique in the ancient world,” noted University of Lorraine professor Dr. Denis Morin, who supervised a team of mining archaeologists. “Mapping these cramped, complex and braided underground networks, the ramifications of which are sometimes located at several levels, represent a real challenge in scientific terms.”

The archaeologists are planning to continue their work at the Thorikos mine, hoping to learn more about ancient extraction techniques and how the precious metal was eventually made into coins for circulation.

The earliest coins from the 6th century BC were made from electrum, an alloy of gold and silver. Later in the same century, technology advanced far enough to allow for the simpler production of pure gold and pure silver coins.

silvermine2

silvermine3

Here are some examples of the earliest silver coins. One is a silver slater of Aegina (404-340 BC) and the other is a silver drachma (404-340 BC).

Mining image courtesy of Ghent University; Silver slater via Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. http://www.cngcoins.com [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons; Silver drachma via Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.
February 18th, 2016
A Seattle-area mom learned the hard way why it's not a great idea to leave a sparkly platinum-and-diamond wedding band within a toddler's reach.

Toddler ripping up toilet paper in bathroom

The mischievous 14-month-old boy named Brady apparently swiped the ring from the bathroom counter while his mother was washing her hands.

The proud dad — a Reddit user who calls himself “IAMCLARKGRISWOLD” (in homage to Chevy Chase's character in the beloved National Lampoon movies) — posted the news of the missing ring and his next course of action...

“My wife couldn’t find her wedding ring yesterday,” he wrote. “We decided to have our baby X-rayed just in case.”

toddler2

Mom and dad's hunch was right on the mark, as the X-ray revealed the ring squarely in toddler's gut.

Doctors at the local children's hospital didn't see an immediate danger and, after holding their little patient for observation for eight hours, advised the parents to return home and wait for the jewelry to re-emerge naturally.

toddler3

They also warned that the natural process could take up to two weeks, which meant the parents and two siblings, ages 5 and 7, had to prepare themselves for a long run of around-the-clock diaper vigils. If the ring did not pass naturally, doctors were prepared to remove the ring surgically.

The dad posted to Reddit, “Now we dissect each diaper like 5th grade science class.”

Fortunately for Brady and his family, the platinum-and-diamond ring emerged nine hours later with no ill effects.

The dad wrote, "We can't believe how quickly it passed, and it didn't seem to cause him any pain on the way out. What a trooper. What a pooper."

Reddit users were quick to chime in.

"Just remember; one day you will be asked to give a speech at your child's wedding," wrote starstarstar42. "I would lead off with this."

RoboKraken69 contributed this comical dialog...

"Hey honey, have you seen the remote?"

"No, just go X-ray the baby."

Another user added, “Isn’t your baby more precious now?”

Pediatrician Jennifer Shu told CNN that babies put things in their mouths to explore objects around them, and they will continue to do so until they are 2 or 3 years old.

That's all the more reason to keep your precious baubles safely out of the reach of the little ones — and your pets. But that's another story...

Photos via Bigstockphoto.com; Reddit/iamclarkgriswold.
February 19th, 2016
Welcome to Music Friday when we frequently feature throwback songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we have music legend Willie Nelson singing his rendition of the haunting love song, "Golden Earrings."

nelson1

Originally performed by Murvyn Vye in the 1947 romantic spy film of the same name, "Golden Earrings" tells the story of the jewelry's mystical qualities.

The song begins like this: "There's a story the gypsies know is true / That when your love wears golden earrings / He belongs to you."

The next verse states: "An old love story that's known to very few / But if you wear those golden earrings / Love will come to you."

nelson2

Now, if you're wondering why a guy is wearing golden earrings, the answer lies in the plot of the movie... On the eve of World War II, a British colonel, played by Ray Milland, escapes from the Gestapo to the Black Forest and poses as the mate of a beautiful gypsy (Marlene Dietrich) to elude his captors. In the poster, above, Milland is clearly wearing the golden earrings.

As Les Adams outlined for IMDB.com: "She pierces his ears for dazzling golden earrings, stains his skin, dresses him in [gypsy] clothes and teaches him to read palms. His disguise is perfect and he emerges unharmed from several encounters with Nazi patrols."

Over the past 69 years, "Golden Earrings" has been covered by no fewer than 50 artists, including Peggy Lee (who scored a hit in 1947), Bobby Darin (1964) and Nelson (1983).

In Nelson's rendition, the line "He belongs to you" is changed to "She belongs to you."

"Golden Earrings" was the sixth track on Nelson's album Without a Song, a release that ascended to #3 on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums chart. The album also ranked #54 on the U.S Billboard 200.

Willie Hugh Nelson was born in Abbott, Texas, in 1933, and during his 60-year career has demonstrated a wide range of talents. The American icon is a musician, singer, songwriter, author, poet, actor and activist. He has recorded more than 60 studio albums and appeared in more than 30 films and television shows. At 82 years old, he still has an active touring schedule.

He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1993, won the lifetime award of the Library of Congress in 2015 and was honored by Rolling Stone as one of the "100 Greatest Singers" and "100 Greatest Guitarists" of all time.

We're happy to present the audio track of Nelson's version of "Golden Earrings." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along.

"Golden Earrings"
Written by Victor Young, Ray Evans, Jay Livingston. Performed by Willie Nelson.

There's a story the gypsies know is true
That when your love wears golden earrings,
She belongs to you.

An old love story that's known to very few,
But if you wear those golden earrings,
Love will come to you.

By the burning fire, they will glow with ev'ry coal.
You will hear desire whisper low inside your soul.
So be my gypsy;

Make love your guiding light,
And let this pair of golden earrings
Cast their spell tonight.


Willie Nelson image via YouTube screen capture. "Golden Earrings" movie poster via Wikipedia (Fair Use).
February 22nd, 2016
This morning at a Rhode Island refinery, the donated class rings of 54 West Point graduates dating back to 1914 will be dropped in a crucible and melted into a solid gold bar. That ingot will be merged with new gold to create the class rings for the current cadets, symbolically and physically reaffirming the bond between the West Point Class of 2017 and its distinguished predecessors.

cadet1

Relatives of 23 donors will present the rings for melting in a heartwarming and solemn event that will take place at Pease & Curren's Warwick, R.I., headquarters. The Class of 2017 will receive their class rings in August of 2016 during a ceremony at West Point.

cadet2

Now in its 16th year, the "Ring Melt" was conceived by retired Lt. Col. Ron Turner, Class of 1958. He proposed that donations of class rings would be collected from West Point alumni and their descendants.

Wrote Turner, "We all were proud to receive our ring, the symbol of membership in the Long Gray Line. Perhaps we would have been even prouder had our new class rings included traces of the gold from rings of past graduates — some of whom served many years before we, our parents, or even our grandparents were born."

Each year, a sample would be extracted from the ingot of melted rings and added to the melt of the following year. The "legacy sample" would ensure that gold from all ring melts going back to the inaugural ceremony in 2001 is included in the production of rings for the upcoming senior cadets.

West Point is credited with originating the concept of the class ring in 1835, as West Point became the first American university to honor its senior class with a treasured keepsake of gold. Prior to this year's melt, 356 rings have been donated and melted, spanning the classes of 1896 to 1997. The oldest ring melted this year belonged to Major General Jens A. Doe, Class of 1914. He was the commanding officer of the 14th Machine Gun Battalion in World War I.

cadet3

The names of all 54 West Point ring donors will be read aloud at the "Ring Melt" ceremony, which will be attended by a select group from the Class of 2017. The cadets will get to view the refining process and actually handle the solid gold bar in a symbolic demonstration of continuity with their brave predecessors, as seen in this photo from Pease & Curren's website.

Images via peaseandcurren.com; Screen captures via YouTube.com.
February 23rd, 2016
Red-orange carnelian beads dating back 7,000 years were unearthed recently at the site of Jerusalem's oldest-known settlement. The discovery of the beads points to an artistic culture that valued self-adornment, as well as one that possessed the technical skills to drill and shape the gems for use in jewelry.

ancientbead1

The gemstone beads, pottery shards, flint tools and a bowl carved from basalt rock were dated by the Israel Antiquities Authority to the early Chalcolithic era, around 5,000 BC. This was a transitional time when humans began to use copper ("chalcos" in Greek) to augment their stone tools ("lithos" in Greek).

ancientbead2

The artifacts were excavated from two well preserved stone dwellings in the north Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat. The archaeologists also unearthed an impressive collection of tools, including sickle blades for harvesting cereal crops, chisels, axes, borers and awls.

ancientbead3

“It is quite evident that there was a thriving settlement in the Jerusalem area in ancient times. Thousands of years later, the buildings uncovered are of a standard that would not fall short of Jerusalem’s architecture,” said Ronit Lupo, director of excavations for the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Carnelian has been cherished throughout history, earning a prominent place in ancient Hebrew, Greek, Roman and Babylonian cultures. Carnelian gems were often mounted into amulets, insignia rings and seals. In Biblical times, carnelian was also known as "sard," which was the first stone set into the breastplate of Aaron, brother of Moses. The breastplate was adorned with gemstones representing the 12 tribes of Israel.

Carnelian belongs to the cryptocrystalline branch of the quartz family, which also includes agate, onyx and jasper. Carnelian is defined by its red-orange to brownish-red color, which it obtains through iron impurities that form within a colorless quartz crystal.

Laborers building a road in the town of Shuafat stumbled upon the historical site during their excavation work and immediately alerted Israeli authorities. The site, which had been out of site for thousands of years, was barely one meter below the surface. Archaeologists had presumed that the earliest Jerusalem settlements were 5,000 years old. This newest findings predate that estimate by 2,000 years.

Even though the carnelian beads found near Jerusalem are approximately 7,000 years old, they are not the oldest jewelry specimens to be featured in this blog.

Back in October of 2013, we wrote about French researchers, who unearthed a remarkably well preserved 7,500-year-old natural pearl at an ancient gravesite in the United Arab Emirates. Measuring about 2mm in diameter, the discovery has been dubbed the Umm al Quwain pearl in honor of the town in which it was found.

ancientbead4

In September of 2014, we covered the story of Alaskan archaeologists, who discovered two matching sets of tail-shaped bone earrings that were estimated to be 12,000 years old. The items, which were unearthed at the Mead site between Fairbanks and Delta Junction, demonstrated an impressive level of technical skill and artistic detail.

Credits: Jerusalem excavation photos by Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority; Bone earrings photo by Barbara Crass, Shaw Creek Archaeological Research.
February 24th, 2016
Break out the tissues, because when it comes to romantic, heart-warming commercials, no company has precipitated more happy tears than Extra Gum.

gum5

It all started in 2013 when Extra released "Origami," a one-minute tear-jerker about the sweet bond between a dad and his little daughter, as she matures into a young woman. That video earned 3.3 million views on YouTube, but Extra's next installment would be prove to be even more viral.

gum6

Released in 2015, "The Story of Sarah & Juan" follows the characters' romance from high school to adulthood. That two-minute video was seen by more than 18 million YouTubers.

gum1

Last week, Extra took it up another notch with a four-minute video called "A Second Chance" — a touching true story about a young widowed mom and a single dad who find true love.

gum4

What's common in all three videos is the use of Extra gum wrappers to help tell the story. In "Origami," the dad cleverly folds the wrappers into tiny swans that his daughter collects over time. In the other videos, the story line is told via illustrations drawn on the back of the wrappers. In "The Story of Sarah & Juan" and "A Second Chance" the illustration triggering the teary waterworks is that of a man on bended knee proposing to the love of his life.

"A Second Chance," which has been viewed more than 800,000 times in the past seven days, is the real story of California natives and childhood friends Jessica Langevin and Marcus Decredico. The couple had met back in kindergarten and stayed in touch over the years. When Langevin was 25 years old and eight months pregnant with her daughter, Zoe, her husband was killed while serving in Afghanistan.

"I didn't think love could be possible for me again," she says in the video.

Langevin eventually opened an in-home daycare and got a call from her old friend Decredico, who was divorced and looking to secure childcare placements for his two young daughters, Alyvia and Malory.

"I was so excited to hear from him and our connection sparked again," she told Huffington Post. "We just keep finding our way back to each other."

gum3

Langevin and Decredico reconnected and fell in love. They've now been together for five years.

The Huffington Post reported that a friend of Decredico had heard that Extra was looking for "real life love stories" to feature in its next video. Extra loved the couple's story and conspired with Decredico to map out the perfect surprise proposal.

gum2

Langevin was tricked into believing that she and the three girls were on a scavenger hunt at the picturesque Grizzly Peak in Berkeley, Calif. Their mission was to find dozens of pictures drawn on gum wrappers by Decredico and the couple's young daughters. The hand-drawn illustrations lead Langevin to Decredico, who is waiting with a marriage proposal and a diamond engagement ring.

"You're my best friend," Decredico says in the video. "I want nothing more than for you to marry me."

Langevin responds, "Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes!"

“I had no clue he was going to propose," Langevin told Huffington Post. "I honestly thought we were doing a travel documentary and that the scavenger hunt was for the kids. It felt like a fairy tale. For me, it’s all about the small moments in our daily lives, like the little love notes he leaves me around the house. It was amazing to see all of these moments together!”

If you love to cry happy tears, today's your lucky day. Below, we are featuring all three Extra commercials, starting with "Origami" and ending with "A Second Chance." The last two videos are masterful mixed with the music of Haley Reinhart.

"Origami"



"The Story of Sarah & Juan"



"A Second Chance"


Screen captures via YouTube.
February 25th, 2016
On this day in 1986, in the face of mass demonstrations and charges of embezzlement, Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos and First Lady Imelda were forced to flee the presidential palace in Manila and seek refuge in Hawaii. Although Imelda dreaded leaving behind more than 1,200 pairs of designer shoes, she did bring along a cache of fine gemstones and jewelry that are valued today at $21 million.

marcos1

The jewelry was confiscated in Hawaii, and now, 30 years later, will be sold to the highest bidder.

marcos2

Among the dazzling pieces in Imelda's collection were a barrel-shaped 25-carat pink diamond estimated to be worth $5 million and a Cartier tiara also valued in that same range. Imelda is currently 86 years old; Ferdinand died in 1989 at the age of 72.

Seized in three batches and totaling 300 pieces, the jewelry will be displayed in a public exhibition before it hits the auction block.

marcos3

"The exhibition of these ill-gotten jewels will be a great vehicle to raise awareness — especially for the younger generation and those who have forgotten — and to remind the Filipino people of the perils of the two-decade regime of corruption that was under the Marcoses," noted Richard T. Amurao, chairman of the Philippine's Presidential Commission on Good Government.

marcos4

The Hawaii batch will be the first to be sold. The other two are still being contested in the Filipino court system.

During the Marcos' 20-year regime, the couple reportedly amassed a fortune that included paintings by Pablo Picasso, Francisco de Goya and Michelangelo — all while the country was in economic decline.

marcos5

The jewelry in Marcos' collection was appraised recently by both Sotheby's and Christie's auction houses. The Philippine government will soon determine the dates of the public exhibition and auction.

Credits: NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images; ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images.
February 26th, 2016
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, we're proud to present Heart's amazing rendition of what is arguably one of the greatest rock songs of all time, Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven."

stairway1

Co-writer and lead vocalist Robert Plant revealed that the lyrics came to him in a flash of inspiration.

"I was holding a pencil and paper, and for some reason I was in a very bad mood. Then all of a sudden my hand was writing out the words, 'There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold / And she's buying a stairway to heaven.' I just sat there and looked at the words and then I almost leapt out of my seat," he said.

Plant explained that the gold-related lyrics tell the story to a woman who gets everything she wants without giving anything back. She accumulates great wealth, only to find out her life has no meaning and that her money won't get her into heaven. The rest of the song he described as "an abstraction."

"Depending on what day it is, I still interpret the song a different way — and I wrote the lyrics," he said.

Released in 1971 as the fourth track of Led Zeppelin IV, "Stairway to Heaven" became the group's signature song. Amazingly, it was the most requested song on FM radio stations in the U.S. in the 1970s even through the original version ran 8:02 and was never released as a single. DJs played promotional singles, which quickly became collector's items. In 2000, VH1 selected "Stairway to Heaven" #3 on its list of the 100 Greatest Rock Songs of all time.

Led Zeppelin, which is widely considered one of the most successful and influential rock groups in history, disbanded shortly after the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980.

stairway2

In December 2012, Led Zeppelin's music was the focus of a star-studded tribute at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Surviving members Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones watched with great pride from the balcony as Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart — supported by an orchestra and huge choir — brought down the house with an inspired performance of "Stairway to Heaven."

Performing on drums was Jason Bonham, who looks strikingly like his dad, John, and is a fabulous talent in his own right. Plant is clearly misty eyed as the song builds to a rousing crescendo.

It's an amazing moment in rock history, and we have a great video to share. We know you will love Heart's brilliant rendition of "Stairway to Heaven," which was broadcast on CBS. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Stairway to Heaven"
Written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. Originally performed by Led Zeppelin. Tribute performed by Heart.

There's a lady who's sure
All that glitters is gold
And she's buying a stairway to heaven
When she gets there she knows
If the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for
Ooh ooh ooh ooh and she's buying a stairway to heaven
There's a sign on the wall
But she wants to be sure
'Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings
In a tree by the brook
There's a songbird who sings
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiving
Ooh, it makes me wonder
Ooh, it makes me wonder
There's a feeling I get
When I look to the west
And my spirit is crying for leaving
In my thoughts I have seen
Rings of smoke through the trees
And the voices of those who standing looking
Ooh, it makes me wonder
Ooh, it really makes me wonder
And it's whispered that soon, If we all call the tune
Then the piper will lead us to reason
And a new day will dawn
For those who stand long
And the forests will echo with laughter
If there's a bustle in your hedgerow
Don't be alarmed now
It's just a spring clean for the May queen
Yes, there are two paths you can go by
But in the long run
There's still time to change the road you're on
And it makes me wonder
Your head is humming and it won't go
In case you don't know
The piper's calling you to join him
Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow
And did you know
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind
And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our soul
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last
When all are one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll
And she's buying the stairway to heaven


Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.
February 29th, 2016
The Gemological Institute of America has just identified a new variety of chalcedony, a fascinating discovery that incorporates the colors of the sky, the sea and the earth. Dubbed "Aquaprase" by gem explorer Yianni Melas, the translucent bluish-green specimens have been compared to the Aegean Sea when viewed from an airplane.

aquaprase1

Although the rough material is available in "clean" varieties that are either vibrant blue-green or baby blue "with clouds," Melas prefers the material with matrix, which is part of the surrounding rock. Melas told jewelry trade magazine JCK that the matrix looks more natural and gives the finished piece more character.

aquaprase4

“We took one gem crystal and instead of trying to match it after we cut it, we sliced in half so both sides are a mirror image," he told JCK. "The matrix on one side matches the matrix on the other. It’s very, very good for earring sets. The matching matrix actually adds to the beauty... People know immediately this material is natural because each piece is unique. Every piece is unusual.”

aquaprase2

The Greece native came up with the name "Aquaprase" by combining the word "aqua" (for the blue sea) with "phrase" (meaning green in Greek).

The GIA reported that the bluish-green chalcedony gets its unique color from traces of chromium and nickel within the chemical makeup of the quartz stone. Previously identified varieties of chalcedony occurred in yellowish-green and greenish-blue colors.

aquaprase3

Melas first encountered "Aquaprase" in Africa about two years ago, in a location known for opal production (he did not disclose the country). He told JCK that he spied this new gem while visiting a friend's hut. The specimen was displayed on a shelf and was in poor condition.

“I couldn’t explain why I thought it was different,” he told JCK. “It is like a third eye. I have seen thousands of stones and you get that feeling. When I picked up the stone, I had the chills, a funny feeling. That feeling is something you have to follow.”

He dug and trench and was able to find more examples of this type of gem, but he wasn't sure what it was, exactly.

Some associates guessed it was chrysocolla; others said is was blue-green opal. Most thought it was chrysoprase.

Seeking to get a final, conclusive word on what he held, Melas sent a sample to the GIA.

“I heard nothing for three months,” he told JCK. “Then I got a phone call that said we found something incredible. It’s not a chrysoprase. It is not a chrysocolla. It’s a chalcedony that has never been discovered.”

Melas' reaction? “That is when I started jumping up and down,” he said.

Credit: Photos by Yianni Melas via Instagram/gemexplorer