Gemfields Unveils ‘Inkalamu,’ a 5,655-Carat Zambian Emerald Crystal With Remarkable Color and Clarity

On Monday, Gemfields unveiled “Inkalamu,” a 5,655-carat Zambian emerald crystal with remarkable clarity and a perfectly balanced golden green hue. The carat weight is equivalent to 1.1 kg or 2.5 lbs.

Inkalamu, which means the “Lion Emerald” in the regional Bemba language, was discovered at the Kagem mine on October 2 by geologist Debapriya Rakshit and veteran emerald miner Richard Kapeta. It will be offered for sale at Gemfields’ next auction, which will take place in Singapore in November. Forty-five approved auction partners will be vying for the extraordinary find.

“We expect a number of large, fine-quality cut emeralds to be borne of the Inkalamu crystal,” said Adrian Banks, Gemfields’ Managing Director for Product and Sales. “There might be hundreds of offcuts that are fashioned into smaller gems, cabochons and beads, but the key lies in recovering the fine-quality pieces. Given this emerald is such a rare find, it is also perfectly conceivable that the buyer will choose to purchase it as an investment.”

Gemfields noted that it is extremely difficult to predict what the selling price might be.

Despite its massive size, Inkalamu is not the largest crystal to be unearthed at the Kagem mine. In 2010, it yielded a 6,225-carat emerald that would take the name “Insofu,” which is the Bemba word for “elephant.”

Gemfields believes that Inkalamu will take its place among the world’s most exceptional gemstones of all time, and if the crystal is divided into smaller stones, the “The Pride of Inkalamu,” so to speak, will continue the legacy for generations to come.

The name Inkalamu honors the work carried out by two of Gemfields’ conservation partners, the Zambian Carnivore Programme and the Niassa Carnivore Project in Mozambique. Gemfields will divide 10% of Inkalamu’s auction proceeds equally between the two carnivore initiatives.

Kagem, the world’s largest emerald mine, is 75% owned by Gemfields and 25% owned by the Government of the Republic of Zambia.

Credits: Images courtesy of Gemfields.

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600 Akoya Cultured Pearls Adorn the $400,000 Tournament of Roses Crown

Adorned with 600 cultured pearls and valued at $400,000, the bejeweled Tournament of Roses crown was placed on the head of 17-year-old Louise Deser Siskel during a coronation ceremony last Tuesday evening at the Pasadena Playhouse in Southern California.

The newly crowned Rose Queen will lead the 130th edition of the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day in Pasadena. The parade, which features floral floats, spirited marching bands and high-stepping equestrian units along the 5 1/2 mile route, will be followed by the 105th Rose Bowl game.

The crown designed by Mikimoto glistens with hundreds of Akoya cultured pearls, 10 white South Sea cultured pearls from Australia and six carats of diamonds. Mikimoto spokesperson John Cotter told pasadenanow.com that it took about a year to fabricate the crown.

Siskel, a senior at Sequoyah High School in Pasadena, will don the impressive three-pound crown, while her six princesses will be wearing simpler cultured pearl tiaras valued at $90,000 each. The new Rose Queen plans to study cellular and molecular biology and would like to attend Johns Hopkins University.

Once the Rose Parade celebrations have concluded, the crown and tiaras will head back to Mikimoto headquarters in Japan for refurbishing. Mikimoto Kōkichi is credited with creating the first cultured pearl in the late 1800s and subsequently starting the cultured pearl industry.

Historically, the Rose Queen’s head adornments have not always been so lavish, according to the Associated Press. In fact, in the early 1900s, the Rose Queens had no crowns. They simply wore hats or garland.

In 1939, a special crown was created for Rose Queen Barbara Dougall to mark the Tournament of Roses’ 50th anniversary. It was reportedly made of crystal rhinestones and featured the tournament’s rose logo. Eventually, tournament officials nixed that version in favor of a more traditional design.

Credits: Louise Deser Siskel screen capture via YouTube.com/KTLA 5; Crown photo courtesy of Mikimoto. Queen and her court image via tournamentofroses.com.

Vancouver Man Spells Out Halloween-Themed Marriage Proposal Using 640 Pumpkins

Justine Aichelberger and Jesse Seads met at a Halloween party seven years ago, so when the young man was plotting a surprise marriage proposal recently, he was determined to include pumpkins — many pumpkins — in his plan.

Seads had arranged for his girlfriend to “win” an aerial tour for two over Vancouver Island. Once airborne, Aichelberger could have hardly predicted that the flight would take her and her boyfriend directly over Gobind Farms, where 640 pumpkins neatly spelled out the question “Justine – Will You Marry Me?”

The romantic groom-to-be pulled out a diamond engagement ring when the pumpkin message came into view. A stunned Aichelberger said, “Yes,” and the couple celebrated their engagement with some high-flying selfies and a glass of champagne.

“It kind of read ‘Justine will you marry me’ and it took me a minute for me to take it all in. I was really shocked,” Aichelberger told cheknews.ca. “I’m so happy, he will do anything for me. He would move the world if he could for me. It’s just an amazing feeling.”

Seads had enlisted the help of his parents, Douglas and Julie, friend Andreas Bokelman and 95-year-old neighbor Jim Squire for the tricky task of rolling hundreds of pumpkins precisely into place.

“We got really lucky I think it just turned out really well,” Seads told vancouverislandfreedaily.com.

The flight continued from Saanichton northwest to scenic Courtenay, where the couple gathered with friends and family at a cabin on the beach.

Seads said the pumpkin proposal was well worth the effort.

“Any time she thinks of pumpkins in the future or sees pumpkins, pumpkin pies or whatever, she will think of our engagement day,” Seads told cheknews.ca.

The couple has yet to announce a wedding date.

Credits: Flight images by Justine Aichelberger. Screen captures via cheknews.ca.

Music Friday: Learn From Mistakes and ‘Make Them Gold,’ Urges Chvrches’ Lauren Mayberry

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you new tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Lauren Mayberry of the Scottish synthpop band Chvrches (pronounced churches) implores her young fans to embrace their mistakes and “make them gold.”

Written by band members Iain Andrew Cook, Martin Clifford Doherty and Mayberry, “Make Them Gold” is an empowerment anthem that reinforces the notion that nobody is perfect and mistakes are actually a blessing in disguise. They’re an essential part of the process of building skills, confidence and attaining one’s goals.

She sings, “We are made up of our mistakes / We are falling but not alone / We will take the best parts of ourselves / And make them gold.”

Gold, in this case, symbolizes perfection, success and something of great value.

“Make Them Gold” appeared as the fourth track of the group’s second studio album, Every Open Eye. Released in 2015, the album went to #1 on both the U.S. Billboard Top Alternative Albums and U.S. Billboard Top Rock Albums charts. It was also an international success, charting in 16 countries, including Scotland, Sweden, Australia and the UK.

Gathering their inspiration from Madonna, Eurythmics, Prince, Depeche Mode, Kate Bush, Death Cab for Cutie and Cyndi Lauper, among others, the band members write, record, mix and master their songs in Glasgow, Scotland.

The odd spelling of Chvrches is attributed to a general concern about how the band may — or may not be — found on the internet. When the band was formed in 2011, the three members had chosen Churches as the name, but changed it to Chvrches with a Roman letter “v” instant of a “u” because they didn’t think they’d have a chance to come up at the top of a “churches” search result.

“After we decided on [the name], we realized it was more or less impossible to Google,” Doherty told Interview magazine. “There’s a girl called Amy who’s designed all of our artwork. She’d already stylized the logo with the “V” in it. It kind of felt natural just to go with that. Now, we don’t have to compete with anyone, which is cool.”

Trivia: Just a few weeks ago, the band appeared in the heart of Texas at the Austin City Limits Music Festival.

Please check out the video of Chvrches’ live performance of “Make Them Gold.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Make Them Gold”
Written by Iain Andrew Cook, Lauren Eve Mayberry and Martin Clifford Doherty. Performed by Chvrches.

Can you tell me what to have
And what to hold
If you never take the way
On your own

No one tells us what is hard
And what is fair
We will deliver once we know
Where to fall

We are made up of our mistakes
We are falling but not alone
We will take the best parts of ourselves
And make them gold

We are made of the smallest stars
We are breathing and letting go
We will take the best parts of ourselves
And make them gold

Can you steady all the hands
That you hold
If you never look away
From the drum

If you push yourself then I
Will pull you up
And we will deliver once we know
Where to fall

We are made up of our mistakes
We are falling but not alone
We will take the best parts of ourselves
And make them gold

We are made of the smallest stars
We are breathing and letting go
We will take the best parts of ourselves
And make them gold

I will wait to see if you come at all
To stop us falling out of phase
Let’s see if we can keep
Track of losing days

You’d smile so wide i can see the stars
To stop us falling out of phase
I will be with you in the fray
With those second thoughts

You asked for all you asked for

We are made up of our mistakes
We are falling but not alone
We will take the best parts of ourselves
And make them gold

We are made of the smallest stars
We are breathing and letting go
We will take the best parts of ourselves
And make them gold

And make them gold

Credit: Image capture via YouTube.com.

Artist Trevor Paglen Is About to Launch a ‘Diamond’ the Size of Two School Buses Into Low-Earth Orbit

A diamond-shaped reflective balloon the size of two school buses will be delivered into low-Earth orbit by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in mid-November. Visible from the Earth without the aid of a telescope, the “The Orbital Reflector” by artist Trevor Paglen will appear as bright as a star in the Big Dipper.

The diamond will orbit the Earth for three months, after which it will fall through the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up harmlessly. The high-flying diamond could go down in history as the most widely viewed artwork of all time.

Paglen collaborated with the Nevada Museum of Art on the $1.3 million project that encourages all of us to look up at the night sky with a renewed sense of wonder, to consider our place in the universe and to re-imagine how we live together on this planet.

The rocket’s main mission is to place 70 communication satellites into orbit about 350 miles from the Earth. But one of those satellites will be “The Orbital Reflector.” The package will start its mission the size of a shoebox, but when it reaches the proper altitude, it will unfurl and then self-inflate into a 100-foot-long diamond in the sky.

It’s actually constructed of a lightweight polyethylene material that looks like thin plastic. Reflective titanium dioxide powder coats the sculpture, making it visible from Earth with the naked eye.

The artist and engineers behind the project debated whether the reflector should be a sphere or a diamond. They finally settled on the diamond shape because it could deliver “bigger, brighter and better in flight than a sphere.”

Skywatchers will be able to track the diamond’s path using a free app that can post alerts when the high-flying, slow-moving attraction is about to pass over a particular area.

Credits: Images courtesy of Trevor Paglen/Nevada Museum of Art.

Made Famous by Marilyn Monroe, ‘Moon of Baroda’ Diamond to Hit the Auction Block in Hong Kong

Hollywood starlet Marilyn Monroe sang "Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend" and wore the 24-carat Moon of Baroda diamond while promoting the Howard Hawks film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1953.

"It’s gorgeous!" Monroe gasped when she first set eyes on the pear-shaped, VS2, canary yellow stone. It was the largest diamond she ever wore in her lifetime.

Despite its historical ties to the Maharajas of India and the legendary Golconda mines near Hyderabad, it was an adoring Monroe who helped catapult the Moon of Baroda to international fame.

On November 27, after 18 years in a private collection, the Moon of Baroda will regain the spotlight at Christie's Magnificent Jewels Sale in Hong Kong. The pre-sale estimate is $510,300 to $765,450. When the same stone hit the auction block at Christie's New York in 1990, it fetched $297,000.

This time around, the winning bidder will get a bonus — an autographed publicity shot of the glamorous Monroe wearing the Moon of Baroda. On the photo she wrote, "Thanks for the chance to wear the Moon of Baroda — Marilyn Monroe."

“It’s really hard to give an estimate to such a legendary and historical stone," Christie’s Connie Luk told The Hollywood Reporter. "We give the estimate based on the market price of a 24-carat yellow diamond. We believe that the historical value will add to the price.”

According to Christie's, the Moon of Baroda was likely discovered between the 15th and 17th centuries and owned by the Gaekwads of Baroda, one of India’s wealthiest and most powerful ruling families.

It was later sent by the Gaekwad family to Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, the only female monarch of the Habsburg dynasty. The diamond was returned to the Gaekwad family and set into a necklace in the mid-1800s. The Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad sold it to an unknown buyer in the early 1920s.

The stone was acquired by Cleveland diamond cutter Samuel H. Deutsch in 1944 and sold to Meyer Rosenbaum, president of Detroit-based Meyer Jewelry Company, in 1953. It was Rosenbaum who loaned the diamond to Monroe for her publicity tour.

Luk told The Hollywood Reporter that the anonymous current buyer had a hard time parting with the famous stone.

“We paid him a visit almost every year to ask him if he’s interested in selling, and we were quite persistent," she said. "And finally, this year he said yes to us.”

Credits: Images courtesy of Christie's.

Golden State Warriors Unveil the First-Ever Reversible Championship Rings

The Golden State Warriors kicked off a new season with a ring ceremony last Tuesday to commemorate their 2017-18 championship run, and as expected, they’re opulent.

The rings’ most interesting feature is the reversible top, the first-of-its-kind for a championship ring. The head of the ring, which can be completely detached from its band, has a centerpiece that can be flipped from blue to white, the Warriors’ primary colors. Twisting off the top of the ring reveals the slogan ‘Strength in Numbers’ etched in gold.

There are 56 diamonds set on the right side of the ring to commemorate the number of years the team has been in the San Francisco Bay area. The left side features the player’s name and number, Bay Bridge and “Just Us” slogan. There is an interesting bristly texture (as though it were swept with a broom), celebrating the four-game sweep of the Cavaliers in the 2018 final. The top is a perfect circle to match the footprint of Oracle Arena, the Warriors’ current home. And that’s just for starters.

There are two trophies on top of the ring, signifying the team’s back-to-back championships in 2017 and 2018. The 2017 trophy is 17-karat gold and has .17 carats of white diamonds; the 2018 trophy is 18-karat gold and has .18 carats of white diamonds. Each side has 74 sapphires and diamonds to represent the combined number of wins in the regular season and the playoffs.

When you’ve won three NBA championships in the past four years (only the 13th team ever to complete such a feat), your championship ring needs some extra bling. Designer Jason Arasheben, aka Jason of Beverly Hills, created the technically challenging rings composed of nearly 20 pieces.

“The highlight of the ring is clearly the reversible feature from the top of the ring. Jason of Beverly Hills really brought something new to the ring design game, and executed his vision beautifully,” stated a Warriors’ spokesperson.

On Tuesday night, as the Warriors headed to the floor in white jackets with “The Champions” inscribed in gold, the team’s accomplishments were announced over the public-address system — dominance practically unheard of in NBA history.

Credits: Images via Twitter/Golden State Warriors; Instagram/Jason of Beverly Hills.

Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers Return to the Smithsonian After 18-Month Hiatus and Rejuvenating Facelift

They’re back! The iconic ruby slippers made famous by actress Judy Garland in the landmark 1939 film The Wizard of Oz return to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., this Friday after an 18-month hiatus and rejuvenating facelift.

Since they were first exhibited in 1979, Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers had been a top attraction, but environmental factors, such as light and moisture, had taken their toll. The leather was deteriorating, the ruby-red sequins that once gave the slipper their vibrant color were flaking and the threads holding the sequins in place were frayed. Overall, the slippers appeared dull and washed out. They were crying out for some TLC.

So, exactly two years ago, conservationists at the National Museum of American History launched a Kickstarter campaign to generate the funds to provide Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers with conservation treatment and a new display case. Within 30 days, the campaign exceeded its $300,000 goal with support from more than 6,000 donors.

On Friday, visitors to the museum will see the new-look ruby slippers in their own gallery at the museum’s newly renovated third floor West Wing. They are highlighted in an exhibit called the “Ray Dolby Gateway to American Culture,” which is dedicated to exploring American history through culture, entertainment and the arts.

The Ruby Slippers will be on view in a state-of-the-art display, along with a prop wand used by Billie Burke, who played Glinda the Good Witch. The wand is on special loan to the museum through November 2019. And the museum’s Scarecrow hat will be shown through February 2019.

Interestingly, Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers are not adorned with rubies. In fact, the bugle beads that prop designers used to simulate rubies 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.

More recently, we learned that the Smithsonian’s Ruby Slippers — one of four pairs known to exist — are mismatched. Each shoe has Garland’s name hand-written on the inside, along with the “#1” on one shoe and “#6” on the other. Last month, the Ruby Slippers stolen from the Judy Garland museum in 2005 were finally recovered. When Smithsonian conservators inspected the shoes, they realized that the museum’s shoes completed two matched pairs.

On Friday and Saturday, museum visitors are encouraged to celebrate the return of the Ruby Slippers by wearing Oz-inspired costumes and red shoes. The museum is located on Constitution Avenue N.W., between 12th and 14th streets, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (except Dec. 25). Admission is free.

Credits: Ruby Slippers photo by Richard Strauss, Smithsonian; The Wizard of Oz publicity shot by MGM (ebay posting) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. “Ray Dolby Gateway to American Culture” photo courtesy of Smithsonian.

Marie Antoinette’s Prized Pearls to Be Auctioned at Sotheby’s Geneva on Nov. 14

With a revolution raging in France in March 1791, Queen Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI prepared for their escape. The queen spent an evening carefully wrapping her most precious jewels in cotton and then packed them neatly into a wooden chest. The diamond, ruby and pearl treasures were secretly shipped to Vienna in the care of Count Mercy Argentau, a loyal retainer to the queen.

“The jewels made it, but unfortunately, she did not,” Daniela Mascetti, deputy chairman of Sotheby’s Jewelry Europe, told The New York Post.

Three months later, the royal family was captured in Varennes as they were trying to leave France. Both Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were imprisoned and executed by guillotine in 1793. Their son died in captivity shortly afterwards at the age of 10.

Their last surviving child, Marie-Thérèse, was finally allowed to flee to Vienna after serving three years in solitary confinement. There, the teenage princess reclaimed her mother’s jewels that had been kept safe by her cousin, the Austrian Emperor Francis II.

The jewelry remained in the queen’s family for the next 200 years and has never been seen by the public — until now.

Earlier this week, Sotheby’s New York put on display several jewels from the collection of Marie Antoinette. Visitors to the landmark store were even permitted to try on the regal pieces, which will be offered for sale at Sotheby’s Geneva on November 14. The jewels are currently on an international tour, with stops in Dubai, New York, London, Singapore, Taipei and Geneva.

The highest-value item in the group is a natural pearl and diamond pendant set with an oval diamond in a diamond bow motif. The slightly baroque drop-shaped natural saltwater pearl measures approximately 15.90mm x 18.35mm x 25.85mm. The piece carries a pre-sale estimate of $1 million to $2 million.

A second notable lot from the collection is a fabulous necklace featuring 119 natural pearls. It is composed of three rows of slightly graduated pearls measuring from approximately 7.3mm to 9.3mm.  Interestingly, 116 were confirmed by a European gem lab to be natural saltwater pearls, while three were found to be natural freshwater pearls. The necklace is adorned with a star-motif clasp set with cushion-shaped, circular-cut and rose-cut diamonds. Estimated price: $200,000 to $300,000.

Marie Antoinette’s jewelry is part of a larger auction collection comprised of pieces from the Bourbon Parma family — a family linked to the royal dynasties of France, England, Spain, Austria, Holland and Italy.

“Every jewel is absolutely imbued with history,” said Mascetti. “This extraordinary group of jewels offers a captivating insight into the lives of its owners going back hundreds of years. What is also striking is the inherent beauty of the pieces themselves: the precious gems they are adorned with and the exceptional craftsmanship they display are stunning in their own right.”

Credits: Jewelry images courtesy of Sotheby’s. Marie Antoinette portrait by Joseph Kreutzinger [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

NYC’s Central Park Feted as the Most Popular Place in the World to Pop the Question

New York City’s Central Park — the verdant oasis of majestic trees, rolling lawns and bass-stocked ponds just steps away from the bustling metropolis — has been named by Celebrity Cruises as the most popular place in the world to pop the question.

The company analyzed more than one million Instagram posts from the past 12 months with the hashtags #shesaidyes, #hesaidyes, #isaidyes and #proposal to pinpoint the specific places where the most marriage proposals took place.

Interestingly, back in March of this year, the wedding-planning website Hitched.co.uk used a similar methodology — analyzing hashtags such as #bridetobe and #engaged — to define the most popular landmarks associated with engagement messaging.

Of the 16 most popular locations picked by Celebrity Cruises and the 10 most popular spots pinpointed by Hitched, only three appear on both lists. Those include Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Eiffel Tower. The Celebrity list is more global in scope, with 13 of 16 sites outside the U.S. The Hitched version lists only four of 10 outside the U.S.

In March, Hitched had named the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Paris as the most romantic place on earth. The site estimated that 1 in 500 marriage proposals are posed in front of that picturesque landmark. In fact, while Hitched touted three Disney sites in its Top 10 list, Mickey Mouse’s favorite venues didn’t even crack the Celebrity Top 16.

Here are the most popular places to pop the question, according to Celebrity Cruises…

The Celebrity Cruises List
1. Central Park, New York


2. Eiffel Tower, Paris


3. Brooklyn Bridge, New York


4. Grand Canyon, Arizona
5. Oia, Santorini, Greece
6. Colosseum, Rome
7. Tower Bridge, London
8. Sydney Opera House, Sydney
9. Louvre, Paris
10. Lake Louise, Banff, Canada
11. The Shard, London
12. Spanish Steps, Rome
13. Taj Mahal, Agra, India
14. (tied) Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles/ Trevi Fountain, Rome
16. Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa

Here are the top places to stage a bended-knee photo op, according to Hitched. Please note that Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge, which ranked #1 and #3 on the Celebrity list, are grouped together as #6 on the Hitched list.

The Hitched.co.uk List
1. Disneyland, Paris
2. Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Florida
3. Centennial Lakes Park, Minnesota
4. Eiffel Tower, Paris
5. The Hollywood Sign, California
6. Central Park and Brooklyn Bridge, New York
7. Niagara Falls, Ontario
8. Walt Disney’s Epcot, Florida
9. Big Bear Lake, California
10. Bondi Beach, Sydney

These two lists offer hopeful lovers a wide range of romantic backdrops for their big moment. We hope to see your #proposal posts on Instagram.

Credits: Central Park image by Ed Yourdon from New York City, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons. Eiffel Tower image by HjalmarGerbig [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons. Brooklyn Bridge image by Tiago Fioreze [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons. Grand Canyon image by Sean McMenemy (Flickr: IMAG0834) [CC BY 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons.