Zabler Design Blog

Zabler Design Blog

Articles in September 2018

September 4th, 2018
Today we shine our spotlight on the 330-carat "Star of Asia," one of the world's finest star sapphires and a stunning representation of September's official birthstone.

Originating from the historic Mogok mines of Burma (now Myanmar), the blue-violet sapphire is said to have belonged to India’s Maharajah of Jodhpur and eventually obtained by famed mineral dealer and collector Martin Leo Ehrmann. The impressive gem was acquired for the National Gem Collection in 1961 and continues to be a popular attraction at the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, in Washington D.C.

Renowned for its impressive size, intense color and sharp star, the Star of Asia is considered a phenomenal stone.

According to the Smithsonian, the star forms when titanium atoms are trapped within the growing corundum crystal. As the crystal cools, the titanium forms needlelike crystals of the mineral rutile, which orient themselves in three directions. When properly cut, light reflecting off the three sets of needles produces the six-rayed star. This phenomenon is called "asterism," which is derived from the Latin word “astrum,” for “star.” points out that the "Star of Asia" reflects the skills of a master cutter, who did an excellent job shaping the cabochon to bring out the maximum asterism and to ensure it would appear precisely in the center of the stone.

Historically, the finest and most vibrant gem-quality sapphires have come from Sri Lanka, Burma and the Kashmir region of India. The historic Mogok tract of Burma has been producing museum-quality rubies and sapphires since the 15th century.

All sapphires are made of the mineral corundum (crystalline aluminum oxide). In its pure state, the corundum is colorless, but when trace elements are naturally introduced to the chemical composition, all the magic happens. Blue sapphires occur, for instance, when aluminum atoms are displaced with those of titanium and iron in the gem’s crystal lattice structure. The blue-violet color is achieved when the element vanadium is added to the mix. Corundum has a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale, compared to a diamond, which has a hardness of 10.

Sapphires are seen in a wide spectrum of colors, including pink, purple, green, orange and yellow. Ruby is the red variety of corundum.

Credit: Images by Chip Clark/Smithsonian.
September 5th, 2018
An international team of researchers has uncovered archaeological evidence suggesting that precious amber — the golden-colored translucent gemstone formed from fossilized tree resin — was prized by our prehistoric ancestors and traded throughout the Mediterranean region.

Researchers used a sophisticated technique known as infrared spectroscopy to analyze amber jewelry and other amber ornaments found at archaeological sites on the Iberian Peninsula. While most of the samples, which dated from 4000 BC to 1000 BC, were determined to be of local origin, other samples were linked to amber that originated from Sicily and the Baltic regions.

Mercedes Murillo-Barroso from the University of Granada, Spain, believes this is evidence that amber was circulated through vast exchange networks across the Mediterranean, with the likely path of Baltic and Sicilian amber routed through North Africa. The findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

“This suggests that amber from the north may have moved south across Central Europe before being shipped to the west by Mediterranean sailors, challenging previous suggestions of direct trade between Scandinavia and Iberia,” co-author of the study Marcos Martinón-Torres said in the statement.

The team reported that the Sicilian amber arrived on the Iberian Peninsula at least 4,000 B.C. Baltic-sourced material was dated from 1,000 B.C.

Rare amber specimens exhibit neatly preserved plant matter and other creatures that became trapped in the resin and then frozen in time.

Today, 90% of the world’s amber comes from Kaliningrad, a Russian territory tucked between Poland and Lithuania on the coast of the Baltic Sea. Due to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Kaliningrad Oblast became an exclave, geographically separated from the rest of Russia.

Credit: Amber image by Brocken Inaglory [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons.
September 6th, 2018
FBI agents announced Tuesday that they had recovered the pair of Ruby Slippers snatched 13 years ago from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minn. Considered one of the most iconic pieces of Hollywood memorabilia, the Ruby Slippers were made famous by the child star in her role as Dorothy in the 1939 MGM film, The Wizard of Oz.

Before announcing the recovery, the FBI had sent the sequined shoes to the Smithsonian for verification. As many people know, a similar pair had been one of the most popular attractions at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., but was 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 Smithsonian's pair 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 for the first time that the pair that had been in the museum's possession since 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.

MGM’s chief costume designer Gilbert Adrian had created multiple pairs of Ruby Slippers for the film, but only five pairs are known to still exist. Each of the pairs is believed to be worth up to $5 million if offered at auction.

Interestingly, Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers are not made of ruby at all. 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.

The Smithsonian’s mismatched pair will return to public view in a brand new exhibit on October 19.

In August 2005, the slippers displayed at the Judy Garland Museum disappeared after closing time in a classic smash-and-grab event. The only clue left behind was a single red sequin. 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 that combined the efforts of FBI field offices in Chicago, Atlanta and Miami, the slippers were secured during an undercover operation in Minneapolis.

Although the Ruby Slippers have been recovered, the investigation is ongoing because the FBI is 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. "But we're not done."

Credit: Ruby slippers image via Smithsonian.
September 7th, 2018
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fresh songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Gwen Stefani compares boyfriend and country star Blake Shelton to a sapphire in her 2016 release, "Rare."

In this song penned by Stefani and three collaborators, the former No Doubt singer uses the September birthstone to symbolize perfection.

She sings, "You're a sapphire, you're a rolling stone / You're a sparkle in a deep black hole / You're like moon shine, when the curtains close / You're my answer, one that no one knows."

USA Today described "Rare" an "outright declaration of love for Shelton" and Entertainment Weekly called the song a "sweetly smitten confessional."

Shelton took to Twitter to affirm that "Rare" was his favorite song on the album, This Is What the Truth Feels Like. Stefani tweeted back: "Wonder who that one is about?"

Music critics pointed out that a recurring line in the song — "You know I would be dumb to give perfection up" — is a not-so-subtle dig at Shelton's ex-wife Miranda Lambert. Shelton and Stefani began dating in 2015 while they were judges on NBC's The Voice.

"Rare," which has been described as an electropop and folk pop-influenced ballad, is the final track on Stefani's third studio album.

Stefani was famously the lead singer of No Doubt, but decided to pursue a solo career in 2004. She has won three Grammy Awards, an American Music Award, a Brit Award, a World Music Award and two Billboard Music Awards. As a member of No Doubt and as a solo artist, she is credited with having sold more than 30 million albums worldwide.

Born in Fullerton, Calif., in 1969, Gwen Renée Stefani enjoyed the music of Bob Dylan and Emmylou Harris as a child. As a teenager, she was obsessed with The Police and had the privilege of inducting the group into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. During the ceremony she displayed a signed photo of Sting, which he autographed in 1983, when Stefani was 14 years old.

Please check out the live performance of Stefani performing "Rare." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

Written by Gwen Stefani, Justin Tranter, Julia Michaels and Greg Kurstin. Performed by Gwen Stefani.

You're a sapphire, you're a rolling stone
You're a sparkle in a deep black hole
You're like moon shine, when the curtains close
You're my answer, one that no one knows

And I can't believe it, that you even exist
You know I would be dumb to give perfection up
How can I accept it, that this is so precious?
You know I would be dumb to give perfection up

You're rare
And I'm loving every second of it, don't you know?
You're rare
And only a stupid girl would let you go
You're so good and you don't even know it
You're so good and you don't even know
You're rare
And only a stupid girl would let you go, don't you know?

I am broken, I am insecure
Complicated, oh yeah that's for sure
I feel worthless, I've been hurt so bad
I get nervous you won't love me back

And I can't believe it, that you even exist
You know I would be dumb to give perfection up
How can I accept it, that this is so precious?
You know I would be dumb to give perfection up

You're rare
And I'm loving every second of it, don't you know?
You're rare
And only a stupid girl would let you go
You're so good and you don't even know it
You're so good and you don't even know
You're rare
And only a stupid girl would let you go, don't you know?

Do you really think you wanna make some new memories?
With me?
Do you really think you wanna make some new memories?
With me?
Do you really think you wanna make some new memories?
With me?
Do you really think you wanna make some new memories?
With me?

You're rare
And I'm loving every second of it, don't you know?
You're rare
And only a stupid girl would let you go
You're so good and you don't even know it
You're so good and you don't even know
You're rare
And only a stupid girl would let you go
You're rare
And only a stupid girl would let you go
You're rare
And only a stupid girl would let you go, don't you know?

Credit: Screen capture via
September 10th, 2018
Inspired by the "holey dollar," Australia's first official currency, The Perth Mint recently unveiled a $1.7 million collector coin that pays tribute to early prospectors of the nation’s most treasured natural riches — gold and pink diamonds.

The Discovery coin weighs 2,000 grams (4.41 pounds) and has an unusual design reminiscent of a donut and a donut hole. In this case, the outer ring of the 99.99% pure gold coin weighs 1,800 grams and has a face value of $9,000 AUD. The inner punch weighs 200 grams and has a face value of $1,000 AUD.

The "holey dollar," which was introduced as Australia's first official currency in 1814, was also a two-part coin. The outer ring was worth five shillings and the inner punch was worth one shilling.

The Discovery coin is set with four pink diamonds from the Argyle Diamond Mine of Australia's Kimberley region. The two larger stones are part of the Argyle Pink Diamond Signature Tender: One is a brilliant-cut 0.88-carat Fancy Intense Purplish Pink and the other is a 1.02-carat emerald cut Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink. The smaller stones weigh 0.08 carats each and are rated Fancy Intense Vivid Pink.

Every facet of the coin's design is symbolic of the destiny and fortune pursued by early prospectors in their relentless search of gold and diamonds.

Discovery's outer coin features a sailing ship and rowboat ferrying hopeful diggers ashore, while a 19th century prospector pans for gold in front of miners' tents. Adjacent is a vista of where pink diamonds were found. The Kimberley region is depicted by an iconic boab tree and kangaroos, with a brilliant-cut pink diamond representing the tropical sun. Legend states that the first glimpse of one of these rare pink prizes glinted from the soil of an anthill, so the scene on the coin portrays a worker ant on a mound of earth with an emerald-cut pink diamond clasped between its mandibles.

The heart of the coin shows a stylized image of Australia with the two smaller pink diamonds marking the location of Ophir in the southeast, where gold was first found, and the Argyle Diamond Mine in the northwest.

The width of the outer coin is 100.6 mm or 3.96 inches (about the width of a softball), while the inner punch measures 32.5 mm or 1.28 inches wide (similar in size to a Kennedy half dollar). The thickness of the coin is 15.5 mm (0.61 inches).

"The coin showcases rare pink stones handset in the most famed of precious metals, telling the inspirational rags-to-riches tales of mining for these prized resources," said Perth Mint Chief Executive Officer Richard Hayes.

The one-of-a-kind coin was issued as legal tender of Australia. The obverse of each coin displays the Ian Rank Broadley effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the monetary denomination and the year 2018.

The coin will be on display at The Perth Mint Shop until September 28, 2018, unless it is sold earlier.

Credit: Images courtesy of The Perth Mint.
September 11th, 2018
The largest fancy deep purplish-pink diamond ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America will headline Alrosa's first-ever "True Colour" auction of colored polished diamonds. The 11.06-carat, cushion-cut gem is one of 250 colorful diamonds that Alrosa will display at the Hong Kong Gem & Jewelry Fair, which opens on Wednesday.

The Russian mining company is looking to make a big play in the polished colored diamond market, which is currently dominated by rivals Rio Tinto and De Beers. The diamonds in this first True Colour offering demonstrate Alrosa's cutting and polishing prowess, as well as its breadth of selection.

Among the colors represented in the collection are purple, pink, orange and vivid yellow. In fact, Alrosa has begun sorting its colored rough diamonds into 19 color groups.

Other hero stones of the first "True Colour" auction will be a 15.11-carat oval fancy vivid orangy yellow diamond and an 11.19-carat cushion-cut fancy vivid yellow.

“It took more than a year to prepare the collection," noted Alrosa deputy CEO Yury Okoemov. "It is a masterpiece of diamond production created by skillful professionals who put heart into their work, keep the traditions and know what a real 'Russian cut' is."

Alrosa will be selling the True Colour collection via its online platform and is planning to hold colored diamond auctions once or twice each year.

Although Alrosa did not estimate what the top diamonds in the True Colour collection could be worth, recent auction results reflect a strong demand for fancy colored diamonds.

In fact, a 59.6-carat, flawless, fancy vivid pink diamond shattered the world record for the highest price ever paid for any gem at auction in April of 2017. The Pink Star fetched $71.2 million at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite sale in Hong Kong.

It is believed that pink and red diamonds get their rich color from a molecular structure distortion that occurs as the diamond crystal forms in the earth’s crust. By contrast, other colored diamonds get their color from trace elements, such as boron (yielding a blue diamond) or nitrogen (yielding yellow), in their chemical composition.

Credits: Images courtesy of Alrosa.
September 12th, 2018
Empowering colors and joyful hues dominate Pantone’s Fashion Color Trend Report for the Spring/Summer of 2019. According to the Pantone Color Institute’s experts, this new palette of 12 standout colors is illuminating the runways of NY Fashion Week, which runs through Saturday in Manhattan.

Fiesta / Jester Red / Turmeric / Living Coral

The 12 colors share a number of characteristics. For one, they all communicate our desire to face the future with confidence and spirit, says Pantone. They're also joyful hues that lend themselves to playful expressionism and take us down a path of creative and unexpected combinations.

Among 2019’s standout colors are Fiesta, a festive orange-red that radiates energy, passion and excitement; and Jester Red, a rich burgundy-like color that mixes elegance with urbanity. Other favorites include Turmeric, an enlivening orange that infuses a hint of pungency into the palette; and Living Coral, an affable and animating shade whose golden undertone gives it a softer edge.

“The mindset for Spring/Summer 2019 underscores our desire for color that transcends seasonality and brings together high fashion and street style,” said Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute. “Vibrant without being overpowering, highlighted shades for both men’s and women’s fashion illustrate our desire for authenticity and our continued need for creativity and relatable, accessible design.”

Pink Peacock / Pepper Stem / Aspen Gold / Princess Blue

Other colors expected to dominate in the coming year include Pink Peacock, a tantalizingly theatrical hue that's a feast for the eyes; Pepper Stem, a zesty yellow-green tone that encourages our desire for nature’s healthy bounty; Aspen Gold, a sunny color that stimulates feelings of joy and good cheer; and Princess Blue, a majestic royal blue hue that glistens and gleams.

Toffee / Mango Mojito / Terrarium Moss / Sweet Lilac

The final four standout colors include the deliciously irresistible Toffee, the golden yellow Mango Mojito, the earthy green of Terrarium Moss and the endearing pink-infused lavender of Sweet Lilac.

Soybean / Eclipse / Sweet Corn / Brown Granite

In additional to the 12 standout shades, Pantone also revealed four classic neutrals. Pantone noted that there will always be a need for structure in everyday fashion, and the neutrals for 2019 work well on their own or serve as a foundation for distinctive color contrasts. These include the dark beige Soybean, dark blue Eclipse, pale yellow Sweet Corn and earthy Brown Granite.

Pantone, the global color authority, publishes its report to give consumers and retailers a sneak peek at the color stories that will emerge in all areas of design and fashion in the coming year.

In early December, we will announce Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2019. Previous winners have included Ultra Violet (2018), Greenery (2017), Rose Quartz/Serenity Blue (co-winners for 2016), Marsala (2015), Radiant Orchid (2014), Emerald (2013) and Tangerine Tango (2012).

Credits: Images courtesy of Pantone.
September 13th, 2018
Until last week, RNC Minerals had been running a ho-hum nickel operation at the Beta Hunt Mine in southwestern Australia. But, when a gold vein was discovered about 1,600 feet underground, the miner decided to do some deeper blasting — and the results were spectacular.

From a single cut, the miner extracted 9,250 ounces of high grade gold, including two huge specimens of gold-bearing quartz. The first weighed 210 pounds and contained 150 pounds of pure gold. The second weighed nearly 140 pounds and contained 100 pounds of gold. It took three men to maneuver the rocks into the back of a utility vehicle.

Miner Henry Dole, who witnessed the aftermath of the blast, told Australia's ABC News that huge chunks of gold littered the area.

"There was just gold everywhere, as far as you could see," he said. "I nearly fell over looking at it... we were picking it up for hours."

The Canada-based RNC Minerals reported that the total yield was about $11 million worth of material.

"This is a spectacular discovery — possibly the find of the century in the Australian Gold Fields," Ross Large, professor of geology at University of Tasmania, told the Financial Times. "This is the sort of find that you would associate with the 1860s Gold Rush and will probably cause a boom in exploration."

The two huge gold-laden specimens, worth $5 million combined, will go to auction as collector's items, according to RNC Minerals chief executive Mark Selby.

"There's a pretty select group of collectors who this would appeal to," he told the BBC.

"People do still record finding nuggets in the goldfields, but typically they are less than several ounces," Sam Spearing, director of the Western Australia School of Mines at Curtin University, told the BBC. "Very, very seldom do we see results on that level. This is an exceedingly rare find and very exciting."

Miners in Australia often extract as little as 2 grams of gold per ton of rock, Spearing noted. By comparison, RNC Minerals said it had extracted 2,200 grams per ton.

Selby said in a statement that there is still more high-grade gold potential at the Beta Hunt mine, which is near Kambalda in Western Australia. Beta Hunt had been operating as a nickel mine since 1973.

Australia has a long history of yielding massive gold nuggets. One of the largest ever was called the "Welcome Stranger" and weighed 145 pounds. Legend states that it had to be broken on an anvil before it could fit on a bank scale.

Credits: Images courtesy of RNC Minerals.
September 14th, 2018
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you uplifting songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, singer-songwriter Jason Mraz delivers a message of love, hope and infinite possibilities in his 2018 release, "Have It All."

Inspired by a spiritual encounter with a Buddhist monk while visiting Myanmar in 2012, Mraz uses the lyrics of "Have It All" to bestow dozens of heartfelt wishes to his fans, especially the children.

The monk had told Mraz, "Tashi delek," a Tibetan phrase that means, "May you have auspiciousness and causes of success." Mraz adopted that exact phrase for the first line of his song, and then expounded on the theme...

He sings, "May you get a gold star on your next test / May your educated guesses always be correct / And may you win prizes shining like diamonds / May you really own it each moment to the next."

The 41-year-old told that "Have It All" carries the same hopeful theme that helped him heal and move forward. He called it "a song with a message of generosity – the antithesis of despondency. It's a blessing disguised as a rap song and it's meant to be paid forward and shared."

"Have It All" appeared as the second track of Mraz's sixth studio album, Know. The album charted in nine countries and peaked at #9 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and #10 on the Canadian Albums chart.

The song's official video features more than 100 performing arts students from Mraz's hometown of Richmond, Va.

"[The] music video was made through a collaborative experience with two nonprofits in Richmond," he told Entertainment Tonight. "It's honestly less about me and more about shining a light on tomorrow's artists."

Although he grew up in Virginia, Mraz got his big break after moving to San Diego as a 22 year old and becoming an audience favorite at the coffee house Java Joe's. In 2002, he signed with Elektra Records.

Mraz has earned two Grammy Awards and sold more than seven million albums worldwide.

Please check out Mraz performing with a crew of talented school kids in his official video for "Have It All." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Have It All"
Written by Becky Gebhardt, Mai Bloomfield, Mona Tavakoli, Chaska Potter, Jacob Kasher, David Hodges and Jason Mraz. Performed by Jason Mraz.

May you have auspiciousness and causes of success
May you have the confidence to always do your best
May you take no effort in your being generous
Sharing what you can, nothing more nothing less
May you know the meaning of the word happiness
May you always lead from the beating in your chest
May you be treated like an esteemed guest
May you get to rest, may you catch your breath

And may the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows
And may the road less paved be the road that you follow

Well here's to the hearts that you're gonna break
Here's to the lives that you're gonna change
Here's to the infinite possible ways to love you

I want you to have it
Here's to the good times we're gonna have
You don’t need money, you got a free pass
Here's to the fact that I'll be sad without you
I want you to have it all
Oh! I want you to have it all
I want you to have it
I want you to have it all

May you be as fascinating as a slap bracelet
May you keep the chaos and the clutter off your desk
May you have unquestionable health and less stress
Having no possessions though immeasurable wealth
May you get a gold star on your next test
May your educated guesses always be correct
And may you win prizes shining like diamonds
May you really own it each moment to the next

And may the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows
And may the road less paved be the road that you follow

Well here's to the hearts that you're gonna break
Here's to the lives that you're gonna change
Here's to the infinite possible ways to love you

I want you to have it
Here's to the good times we're gonna have
You don’t need money, you got a free pass
Here's to the fact that I'll be sad without you
I want you to have it all

Oh, I want you to have it all
I want you to have it
I want you to have it all

Oh, I want you to have it all
All you can imagine
All, no matter what your path is
If you believe it then anything can happen
Go, go, go raise your glasses
Go, go, go you can have it all
I toast you

Here's to the hearts that you're gonna break
Here's to the lives that you're gonna change
Here's to the infinite possible ways to love you
I want you to have it
Here's to the good times we're gonna have
You don’t need money, you got a free pass
Here's to the fact that I'll be sad without you
I want you to have it all

Oh, I want you to have it all
I want you to have it
I want you to have it all

Here's to the good times we're gonna have
Here's to you always making me laugh
Here's to the fact that I'll be sad without you
I want you to have it all

Credits: Screen capture via
September 17th, 2018
Archaeologists working in the basement of a demolished theater in Northern Italy recently unearthed a soapstone jar literally bursting with Roman gold coins dating back to the 4th and 5th centuries AD. The pristine coins were pulled from the site of the former Cressoni theater, which is located in Como, near the Swiss border.

Hundreds of coins bearing the engravings of emperors Honorius, Valentinian III, Leon I, Antonio and Libio Severo were found stacked neatly in the two-handled jar called an amphora. The newest of the coins was minted in 474 AD.

"We are talking about an exceptional discovery," local archaeology superintendent Luca Rinaldi told the Times of London. The superintendent couldn't guess what the coins might be worth, stating, instead, that their value was "inestimable."

The coins were sent to a restoration laboratory in Milan, where archaeologists, restorers and numismatists will try to piece together the story behind the exciting discovery.

For now, archaeologists believe the jar of gold coins had been hidden for safekeeping.

The jar was "buried it in such a way that in case of danger they could go and retrieve it," Maria Grazia Facchinetti, an expert in rare coins, told CNN. "They were stacked in rolls similar to those seen in the bank today."

Due to the orderly way in which the coins were placed in the jar, Facchinetti believes the owner of the hoard was not a private person.

"Rather it could be a public bank or deposit," she said.

The Cressoni theater had been shuttered in 1997, and the recent coin discovery took place while the property was being developed into residential apartments, according to Newsweek.

"We do not yet know in detail the historical and cultural significance of the find," Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli said in a press release. "But that area is proving to be a real treasure for our archaeology. This discovery fills me with pride."

Credits: Photos courtesy of MiBAC (Italy's Ministry of Heritage and Cultural Activities).
September 18th, 2018
On Wednesday of next week, a very rare and cleverly crafted platinum tiara with ties to Spanish royalty will be offered for sale at Bonhams, London.

Reflecting the refined aesthetics of the Belle Époque period — the "beautiful era" of relative peace and prosperity prior to World War I — this 33.5-carat diamond tiara was designed by Spanish royal jeweler Ansorena and owned by Spanish countess Esperanza Chávarri Aldecoa, a former lady-in-waiting to Spanish Queen Victoria Eugenia, the wife of Alfonso XIII.

Dated to the turn of the last century, the platinum "Meander" tiara is designed as a double diadem that can be detached to form two separate tiaras, one of which may be flipped and worn as a choker.

The upper band of meandering Greek key motifs, forget-me-not flowers and trailing laurel leaves represent true love and the triumph of love, according to Bonhams, while the lower band is designed as a delicate lacework lattice with central handkerchief motif, set throughout with old brilliant, single and rose-cut diamonds. The lower tiara features delicate milgrain detail and architectural knifewire tracery throughout.

Bonhams is estimating that the tiara will sell in the range of $103,000 to $160,000.

"This tiara is of impeccable workmanship, and the elegant Louis XVI design of diamond wreaths and flowers has a lightness and lace-like quality made possible by the technical freedom and innovation of working in platinum," noted Emily Barber, director of jewelry at Bonhams. "Jewelers only began to understand how truly to exploit platinum from around 1900, so it is particularly interesting that this tiara is noted in Ansorena's archives as being conceived as early as 1890."

Bonhams reports that the tiara remained in the countess's family for more than 110 years.

During the Belle Époque period, which is conventionally dated from the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 to the outbreak of World War I in 1914, women of high society enjoyed an opulent lifestyle, which included the practice of wearing tiara's to formal festivities.

According to Bonhams, the tiara was a fashion staple and a symbol of rank. It would be worn to private dinners, balls and the opera. What's more, the tiara was a symbol of betrothal. A new bride often received a tiara as a wedding gift to be worn later when she took her place in society.

The "Meander" tiara is currently completing a promotional tour, which saw stops in Hong Kong, Geneva and New York. The final leg will be London, where it will be offered for sale on September 26.

Credit: Images courtesy of Bonhams.
September 19th, 2018
To director Glenn Weiss, the simple gold wedding band his dad placed on his mom's finger 67 years ago is "more valuable than The Hope Diamond" — a fact that grew ever more significant when the Emmy winner proposed to his girlfriend Jan Svendsen on stage while accepting his award for "Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special."

Weiss earned his Primetime Emmy for directing the Oscars ceremony on ABC, but what should have been a joyful speech started off as a melancholy acknowledgement of his mom's passing only two weeks ago.

“Part of my heart is broken," he said. "I don’t think it will ever be repaired. But she’s in me and she always will be.”

But, then Weiss told the audience and millions of viewers at home that his mom always believed in finding the sunshine, and that Svendsen was the sunshine of his life.

“And Mom was right. Don’t ever let go of your sunshine," he said, spying Svendsen in the crowd. "You wonder why I don’t like to call you my girlfriend? Because I want to call you my wife.”

Cameras zoomed in on Svendsen's priceless reaction as the word "wife" left his lips.

Attendees of the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles could sense something momentous was about to happen. And they were right.

Svendsen was ushered up to the stage, where Weiss started his marriage proposal by describing the significance of the ring.

“Jan, I want to put this ring that my mom wore on your finger in front of all these people and in front of my mom and your parents watching from above," he said. "Will you marry me?”

Of course, she said, "Yes."

In a backstage interview, Weiss described the ring in more detail and the sensation of having it in his pocket in the lead-up to the awards ceremony.

"It's not a diamond ring," Weiss clarified. "It's my mom's wedding ring, which, to me, is more valuable than The Hope Diamond."

"Walking around on the red carpet like nothing's happening with this thing sitting in my pocket was a nerve-racking experience," he continued. "It was such a valuable thing sitting right here, but now it's where it belongs."

Svendsen said that she had no idea that a marriage proposal was about to go down.

She stated: “I really hoped he was going to dedicate the award to his mother, and he did, and then some.”

Weiss and Svendsen met in 2001 and have worked on awards shows together for about 10 years.

Check out the clip of Weiss's proposal. The action starts at the 1:30 mark.

Credits: Screen captures via Academy,
September 20th, 2018
A 5-carat fancy vivid blue diamond named "Ai" — the Chinese word for love — will be flirting with a world record when it hits the auction block at Sotheby's Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite event in Hong Kong on October 3.

The auction house is estimating that the richly colored step-cut gem will sell in the range of $12.4 million to $15.2 million, potentially putting the per-carat price at $3 million or more. If The Ai Diamond outperforms Sotheby's estimate, it will be ascending into the rarefied air occupied by two of the most famous blue diamonds of all time.

Back in May of 2017, the “Oppenheimer Blue” — a 14.62-carat fancy vivid blue diamond — fetched an astounding $57.5 million at Christie’s Geneva. The Oppenheimer Blue’s per-carat price of $3.93 million came up just shy of the record of $4.03 million held by the 12.03-carat Blue Moon of Josephine, another magnificent blue diamond that sold for $48.5 million at Sotheby’s Geneva in November of 2015. It was the highest price per carat ever paid for a diamond or gemstone.

“Fancy Vivid” is the ultimate color classification for blue diamonds. Those displaying lower levels of color saturation may be rated “Fancy Intense,” “Fancy,” “Fancy Light” or “Light,” according to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Blue diamonds owe their color to the presence of boron in the chemical makeup of the gem.

The Ai Diamond, which earned a VS2 clarity rating from the GIA, is framed by white baguette diamonds and set in 18-karat white gold.

Other top lots at the Sotheby's auction include the following stunners...

• A Spectacular Pair of Fancy Vivid Yellow Diamond and Diamond Pendant Earrings
Estimated to fetch between $4.8 million and $6.1 million, these earrings are designed as double gourds and vines, each suspending four old European brilliant-cut fancy vivid yellow diamonds weighing 51.17 carats in total. The earrings are embellished with pink and yellow diamonds mounted in 18-karat pink and yellow gold.

• An Impressive Ruby and Diamond Ring, Bulgari
Set with an oval Burmese ruby weighing approximately 31.40 carats, this impressive ring by Bulgari is embellished with custom calibré-cut rubies and brilliant-cut diamonds on the shoulders. The setting is fabricated in 20-karat yellow gold. Sotheby's is estimating that the piece will sell in the range of $2 million to $2.5 million.

• A Unique Pair of Sapphire, Pearl and Diamond Pendant Earrings
Drop-shaped Kashmir sapphires weighing 17.70 and 17.47 carats, respectively, dangle from these platinum and 18-karat white gold earrings. The earrings also feature button-shaped pearls and diamond beads, decorated with brilliant-cut diamonds. Estimated selling price: $1.6 million to $2.1 million.

Credits: Images courtesy of Sotheby's.