Limited-Edition Super Bowl LIII Caps Are Embellished With Rubies and Sapphires

When the New England Patriots take on the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII this Sunday, at least a handful of fans will be wearing a limited-edition, gemstone-adorned cap that might be worth thousands more than their ticket to the game.

Carrying a price tag of $5,300, the New Era x Swarovski 9TWENTY hats feature an NFL shield logo embellished with genuine rubies and sapphires.

Rows of rubies spell out the “NFL,” while blue sapphires provide the ground against which a stylized football and eight stars rise up in white metal. The stars represent the eight NFL divisions.

The luxurious ladies’ caps — which are covered in crushed blue velvet and lined in satin — went on sale yesterday on a first-come, first-served basis at the NFL Shop in the Super Bowl Experience in Atlanta.

At $5,300, the price of one bejeweled cap is slightly less than a pair of nosebleed tickets, which are currently selling for about $2,700.

The caps were designed in coordination with Swarovski, which was credited with cutting the gemstones.

This was not the first time the NFL has worked with well known brands to create special items in honor of the Super Bowl.

To commemorate Super Bowl 50 in 2016, the NFL and members of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) teamed up to create 50 lavish footballs that shared a “gold” theme. The NFL required the designers to use a “gold” theme to align with the precious metal’s traditional connection with 50th anniversaries.

But, how they used the gold was totally up to them. While some positioned gold as the central motif, others used it as a glittering accent.

Our favorites were the designers who took it up a notch by mixing precious metals and gemstones to make their footballs into treasures suitable for a jeweler’s showcase.

Credit: Cap images courtesy of New Era. Ovadia & Sons, Marchesa footballs courtesy of CFDA.

Ice Ice Baby! Frosty Gem Is the 54th 200+ Carat Diamond Discovered at Karowe Mine

Ice ice baby! No, we’re not referring to the 1990 song or the mammoth Arctic blast that’s breaking wind-chill records from the Dakotas to Long Island. What’s got our attention is this 240-carat frosty white gem-quality diamond that was just unearthed at the red-hot Karowe mine in Botswana, where the mercury topped out at 91 degrees yesterday.

Yes, Lucara’s diamond mine in the tiny landlocked country in Southern Africa is arguably the world’s most prolific. The recent recovery was the mine’s 54th diamond in excess of 200 carats.

The mine that brought you the 1,109-carat Lesedi la Rona and the 813-carat Constellation, has yielded a dozen diamonds exceeding 300 carats.

Impressively, 180 diamonds from the mine have sold for $1 million or more and 10 diamonds yielded $10 million or more.

Lucara CEO Eira Thomas said 2018 was a banner year and that mining operations in 2019 will be largely focused on Karowe’s higher-value lobes, the ones from which Lesedi la Rona and the Constellation were extracted.

“As Karowe enters its seventh full year of production, the regular recovery of specials (diamonds larger than 10.8 carats) continued unabated and in line with expectations,” she said. Lucara expects to extract 300,000 to 330,000 carats in 2019.

The mine has been so successful that Lucara Diamond Corp. is looking at ways to extend its lifespan.

The mine currently boasts open pit reserves of 2.6 million carats extending out to 2026 and is in the process of completing a feasibility study that could expand mining underground to 2036 and beyond, according to Thomas.

Credits: Images courtesy of Lucara Diamond Corp.

Wow! GIA Gemologist Finds Fossilized Insect Trapped Within Indonesian Opal

On a trip to Indonesia last year, GIA Graduate Gemologist Brian Berger purchased an unusually striking opal originating from the island of Java. Boasting an exciting “play of color” throughout the stone ranging from pale yellow to dark blue, the gemstone was remarkable on its own. But now it has become a potentially significant scientific discovery. Fully encased within the gemstone is an insect. While insects trapped in amber are a more common find, it is almost unheard of in a slow-forming gemstone like opal.

“You can see what appears to be a complete insect encased beautifully inside,” Berger noted in a blog post for Entomology Today. “The insect appears to have an open mouth and to be very well preserved, with even fibrous structures extending from the appendages.”

Berger told Gizmodo: “Some researchers weren’t sure it was possible. Now we know it’s possible. Is it likely? Extremely unlikely.”

According to Ryan F. Mandelbaum at Gizmodo, most scientists believed that high-quality fossil specimens were unique to amber.

“It’s possible the bug was trapped in amber that then underwent a process known as opalization,” he wrote. “Much like fossilization turns bone into stone, opalization can render organic specimens into opal’s hapless prisoners.”

Entomologist Ryan McKellar, curator of invertebrate paleontology at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Canada, told Gizmodo, “It is a pretty neat find, and a bit puzzling.”

Amber is cherished for its contributions to fossil records. Researchers have recovered extraordinary amber fossils featuring spiders, wasps, ants, and even a lizard. According to Vasika Udurawane at Earth Archives, petrified tree resin starts out as a viscous liquid, slowly hardening… and preserving the entrapped remains of creatures that find themselves caught up in the process.

Berger’s find supports the theory that opal can also preserve ancient remains. It has been reported, for instance, that paleontologists in Australia have found an opalized dinosaur fossil.

Michelle Starr of Science Alert noted that researchers still have a limited understanding of opal formation. The dominant theory states that silica-laden water fills cracks and cavities in its path. When it evaporates, it leaves behind silica deposits, starting the slow opal forming process. Starr notes that opalization needs a hollow cavity. Amber does not fit these parameters, leaving scientists wondering how this opal, if it did start out as amber, came to be.

Berger intends to work with an entomologist or paleontologist who can study the opal and its insect inclusion. He had submitted the stone to the Gemological Institute of America, which subsequently issued a report authenticating the specimen as an “unaltered, untampered precious opal, with a genuine insect inclusion.”

“If the process of formation is correct, from tree sap with an insect through a sedimentary process, to copal (resin), to amber, to opal, it could mean the insect has the possibility to be one of the oldest ever discovered,” Berger said.

He plans to donate the specimen to a museum after the analysis.

Credits: Images courtesy of Brian Berger, @velvetboxsociety.

Music Friday: ‘I’d Make You a Chain Out of Diamonds and Pearls,’ Sings Jim Croce

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you classic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, music legend Jim Croce tells his sad and lonely wife how things are going to change in the 1972 classic, “Tomorrow’s Gonna Be A Brighter Day.”

He’d love to give her diamonds and pearls to express how much he wants to make things right, but the hardscrabble musician can only offer a kiss and an apology.

He sings, “Well, I’m sorry for the things that I told you / But words only go so far / And if I had my way / I would reach into heaven / And I’d pull down a star for a present / And I’d make you a chain out of diamonds / And pearls from a summer sea / But all I can give you is a kiss in the morning / And a sweet apology.”

Released as the second track from his chart-topping studio album, You Don’t Mess Around with Jim, “Tomorrow’s Gonna Be a Brighter Day” seems to reflect Croce’s personal struggle with balancing a life on the road with the needs of his family.

Only 17 months after the release of this song — at the peak of his fame — the 30-year-old Croce lost his life in a plane crash near Natchitoches, La. He had just wrapped a performance at the campus of Northwestern State University.

In a letter to his 26-year-old wife, Ingrid — a letter that arrived after his death — Croce told her that he was homesick and couldn’t bear the pain of being away from her and their infant son. He was planning to stop touring and to concentrate, instead, on writing short stories. It was never to be.

Born in South Philadelphia in 1943, Croce struggled early in his music career, appearing at large coffee houses, on college campuses and at folk festivals. In 1972, he scored a three-record deal with ABC Records.

Later that year, he made his national debut on American Bandstand, which spawned appearances on The Tonight Show, The Dick Cavett Show, The Helen Reddy Show and The Midnight Special.

He was on his way and the possibilities were boundless. Sadly, his life ended much too soon.

Please check out the audio track of Croce performing “Tomorrow’s Gonna Be A Brighter Day.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Tomorrow’s Gonna Be A Brighter Day”
Written and performed by Jim Croce.

Well, I’m sorry for the things that I told you
But words only go so far
And if I had my way
I would reach into heaven
And I’d pull down a star for a present
And I’d make you a chain out of diamonds
And pearls from a summer sea
But all I can give you is a kiss in the morning
And a sweet apology

Well, I know that it hasn’t been easy
And I haven’t always been around
To say the right words
Or to hold you in the mornin’
Or to help you when you’re down
I know I never showed you much of a good time
But baby things are gonna change
I’m gonna make up for all of the hurt I brought
I’m gonna love away all your pain

And tomorrow’s gonna be a brighter day
There’s gonna be some changes
Tomorrow’s gonna be a brighter day
This time you can believe me
No more cryin’ in your lonely room
And no more empty nights
‘Cause tomorrow mornin’ everything will turn out right

Well, there’s something that I’ve got to tell you
Yes I’ve got something on my mind
But words come hard
When your lying in my arms
And when I’m looking deep into your eyes
But there’s truth and consolation
And what I’m trying to say
Is that nobody ever had a rainbow baby
Until he had the rain

It’s gonna, it’s gonna, it’s gonna be a brighter day
It’s gonna, it’s gonna, it’s gonna be a brighter day
It’s gonna, it’s gonna, it’s gonna be a brighter day
It’s gonna be, it’s gonna be, it’s gonna be a brighter day
It’s gonna be, it’s gonna be, it’s gonna be a brighter day
Come on tomorrow
Come on tomorrow
It’s gonna be a brighter day

Credit: Image by ABC Television [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Blue Cabochon Gem Still Shines in 2,000-Year-Old Ring Unearthed at City of David Site

A blue gemstone ring that was lost in a ritual bath 2,000 years ago was recently unearthed by archaeologists at the City of David National Park in Jerusalem. The site is believed to be the original urban core of the ancient city. The wonderfully preserved, but still unidentified solitaire stone, appears to be an aquamarine, turquoise or beryl.

The Israel Antiquities Authority reported that archaeologists recovered the bronze ring from the remains of a ritual bath (mikveh) at the side of Pilgrimage Road, the 600-meter-long thoroughfare that leads to the Temple Mount.

On their way to the holy site, Jewish pilgrims would commonly immerse themselves in the bath to achieve ritual purity.

“Just like today, it would appear that in the past, rings and jewelry were removed before bathing, and sometimes forgotten,” noted archaeologists Nachshon Zenton, Moran Hajabi, Ari Levy and Dr. Joe Uziel in a statement. “This phenomenon, perhaps, is behind the discovery of the ring in what appears to be a ritual bath. This ring allows us to personally connect with an individual’s personal story from 2,000 years ago. The ring, along with other finds, can shed light and expose the lives of people during the Second Temple period.”

Added Doron Speilman, vice president of the City of David Foundation, “It’s incredible to think that this beautiful ring sat at the bottom of a mikveh on the ancient Pilgrimage Road for 2,000 years, until it was uncovered by archaeologists in the City of David. It is yet another piece in the puzzle that is ancient Jerusalem.”

While the gemstone maintains much of it original luster, the bronze ring is showing its age. This is due to the fact that bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, both of which can corrode over time. Had the 2,000-year-old ring been crafted in gold, it would probably look pristine today.

The City of David is Israel’s largest active archeological site and draws more than a half million visitors annually.

Credits: Ring photos provided by City of David. Archaeological site by Ariely [CC BY 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons.

Canadian High Schooler Discovers Kinder, Gentler Way of Liberating Diamonds From Rock

A 17-year-old Canadian high school student participating in a research program at the University of Alberta surprised her mentors by discovering a new high-yield, less destructive way of electronically separating diamonds from rock.

Using the new SELFRAG lab system, Hamdi Ali learned that pulsing diamond-rich ore with 200,000 volts of electricity effectively destroyed the rock while leaving the diamonds intact.

Under the supervision of graduate student Margo Regier, Ali experimented by taking a diamond-bearing rock and cutting it in half. One portion was processed using the diamond industry’s standard of crushing the material between vibrating plates. The diamonds in that sample were completely destroyed. For the other half, Ali used the Swiss-made SELFRAG device to break down the rock using high voltage. This technique yielded 10 undamaged diamonds.

Ali was given the opportunity to present her findings at the Yellowknife Geoscience Forum, an experience she characterized as both “intimidated and exhilarating.”

“This was my first foray into research,” Ali told thegatewayonline.ca, the online publication of the University of Alberta’s Student Journalism Society. “And while my results seemed promising, I didn’t know just how relatively extraordinary they were. It was only later on, as I was presenting my results to representatives from De Beers and saw their excitement firsthand, that I fully realized that my work had real-life applications.”

The SELFRAG machine at the university’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences had been donated to the program so researchers could test the range of its capabilities.

The Edmonton high school student’s participation in cutting-edge research was made possible by the Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science, and Technology (WISEST) Summer Research Program. Ali hopes to continue to pursue science as a field of study.

Credits: Image of Hamdi Ali and the SELFRAG lab system, supplied. Screen captures via CTV.

Tom Brady and the Pats Look to Test Boundaries of How Big a Super Bowl Ring Can Be

The New England Patriots have their eyes on a sixth Super Bowl ring after beating the Kansas City Chiefs in a thrilling AFC Championship game on Sunday. If quarterback Tom Brady and the favored Pats prevail against the powerful Los Angeles Rams at Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta on February 3, you can bet the 41-year-old captain and his teammates will be rewarded with the biggest and blingiest championship rings ever created.

The National Football League maintains an unwritten rule that allows the teams with multiple Super Bowl victories to design the most extravagant rings. Two years ago, when the Patriots captured their fifth Vince Lombardi trophy with a wild come-from-behind victory over the Atlanta Falcons, the team was rewarded with massive rings gleaming with 283 diamonds weighing a total of 5.1 carats.

At the time, team owner Robert Kraft said, “It was a historic comeback win and the players deserve to have a ring that represents that accomplishment. So, we created the biggest Super Bowl ring ever made.”

The Pats had a chance to win their sixth Lombardi Trophy in 2018, but were thwarted by the Philadelphia Eagles 41-33 in Super Bowl LII. Even so, the Patriots’ 2017 Super Bowl LI rings continue to set the high-water mark for championship rings.

Jostens documented the relative size of the Patriots’ Super Bowl rings in the amazing photo, above. If the Pats win another Super Bowl, we’ll be excited to see how Jostens and the Patriots will manage to design a ring bigger than the 2017 installment.

On the other hand, if the LA Rams take the Vince Lombardi Trophy, it will be only their second championship in four Super Bowl appearances. The rings will likely have a modest design, with less gold and fewer precious stones.

If the Patriots win Super Bowl LIII, they will tie the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl victories at six. The Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers each have won five.

One would think that, since the Steelers have the most Super Bowl victories, the rings commemorating the sixth championship should rank as the largest ever. Well, they’re not. When the Steelers won their sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy in 2009, the championship rings featured 63 diamonds weighing 3.61 carats. Although this was the biggest of the six Steelers rings, it was still far smaller than the one awarded by the Patriots in 2017.

The NFL typically awards 150 rings to the Super Bowl victor and allocates approximately $7,000 per ring — although teams with multiple Super Bowl victories are allotted a higher budget for diamonds. Teams often create “B” and “C” level rings — designs with faux diamonds or fewer diamonds — for distribution to the front office staff. The rings are usually presented to the players some time in June.

Traditionally, the value of the Patriots’ rings have far exceeded the norm. In 2015, Business Insider reported that the Patriots’ 2015 Super Bowl XLIX rings were budgeted at $36,500 apiece.

Credits: Images by Jostens.

Israel’s ‘Carmel Sapphire’ Contains Inclusions of Newly Recognized Mineral ‘Carmeltazite’

Israeli mining company Shefa Yamim has identified a remarkable new mineral trapped within the inclusions of the sapphires it recovers near Mount Carmel in northern Israel.

The new material was named “carmeltazite” to honor the place of its discovery and its unique mix of chemical components — titanium, aluminum and zirconium (TAZ).

Carmeltazite was officially recognized and approved as a new mineral by the International Mineralogical Association (IMA) Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification. For a new mineral to be declared as such, its composition and crystal structure and properties must be substantially different from those of any existing mineral species.

The sapphires extracted from volcanic rock by Shefa Yamim near Mount Carmel are so unique that the Israeli government granted a trademark for the corundum to be marketed under the name “Carmel Sapphire.”

Using state-of-the art technology, scientists at Macquarie University in Australia were able to identify the precise makeup of the Carmel Sapphire inclusions, which included the first non-outer-space occurrence of natural tistarite. Previous discoveries of the mineral tistarite reached the Earth via meteorites. They also found the TAZ chemical components of the newly designated carmeltazite, as well as volcanic glass.

Shefa Yamim described Carmel Sapphire as typically “black, blue to green and orange-brown in color.” The largest rough gem found, so far, weighed 33.3 carats.

“We are delighted that our Carmel Sapphire has been recognized as a host to many rare minerals,” Shefa Yamim CEO Avi Taub said in a statement. “In today’s world where the prices of gems are determined predominantly by their rarity, the Carmel Sapphire is a unique discovery because it has not been found anywhere else in the world and was discovered by Shefa Yamim in the soil of the Holy Land.”

Credit: Image courtesy of Shefa Yamim.

Music Friday: Anita Baker’s Darlin’ Is ‘Like a Precious Jewel’ in 1988’s ‘Priceless’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fabulous songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, seven-time Grammy winner Anita Baker compares her darlin’ to a precious jewel in the dreamy 1988 ballad, “Priceless.”

Released as the first track from her blockbuster album, Giving You the Best That I Got, “Priceless” is Baker’s tribute to a lover who not only lights up her life, but inspires her to soar to incredible heights.

She sings, “You are to me like a precious jewel, so valuable baby / Think it shines so bright lighting up my life, with pure delight / You are so priceless to me and loving you has made me see / With your love I can do most anything.”

Later in the song, she compares their love to a diamond ring and all the gold in the world.

Giving You the Best That I Got was Baker’s most successful album as it reached #1 on both the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and U.S. Billboard Top R&B Albums chart. The album netted more than five million sales worldwide and earned Baker three Grammy Awards and three Soul Train Music Awards.

Born Anita Denise Baker in Toledo, Ohio, the singer-songwriter was abandoned by her mother when she was two years old and raised by a foster family in Detroit, Mich. Her foster parents passed away when she was 12 at which time the responsibility for her care transferred to her foster sister.

By the age of 16, Baker was singing R&B at Detroit nightclubs, where bandleader David Washington recognized her talent. He encouraged her to audition for the band, Chapter 8, and she soon landed a job as the group’s lead singer.

When Chapter 8 was dropped by Arista in 1979, Baker headed back to Detroit, where she worked as a receptionist and a waitress. Three years later, based on the encouragement of record executive Otis Smith, Baker embarked on a solo career. The rest is history.

In June 2018, Baker accepted BET’s coveted Lifetime Achievement Award.

Baker, who turns 61 on January 26, continues to tour. She will be performing at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall in mid-February.

Please check out the audio track of Baker singing “Priceless.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Priceless”
Written by Garry Glenn. Performed by Anita Baker.

When you ask me how I feel about you
I try to find the words that best describe you
You are to me like a precious jewel, so valuable baby
Think it shines so bright lighting up my life, with pure delight

You are so priceless to me and loving you has made me see
With your love I can do most anything
You are so priceless to me, you’re like the first rainbow in spring
Your love comforts my heart with joy you bring

I envision you and me in love together
Getting closer, as we share each day together
Gimme all the gold in the world, it will not replace this love baby, yeah
Take a diamond ring, a worth a lot what we got cannot be bought or sold

You are so priceless to me and loving you has made me see
With your love I can do most anything
You are so priceless to me, you’re like the first rainbow in spring
Your love comforts my heart with joy you bring

Never had a lover, babe
My baby, my baby, my darlin’

You are so priceless to me and loving you has made me see
With your love I can do most anything
You are so priceless to me, you’re like the first rainbow in spring
Your love comforts my heart with joy you bring

You are so priceless to me and loving you has made me see
With your love I can do most anything
You are so priceless to me, you’re like the first rainbow in spring
Your love comforts my heart with joy you bring

You are so priceless to me and loving you has made me see
With your love I can do most anything

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Emerald Ring That Survived the Sinking of the Titanic Is Featured on BBC’s ‘Antiques Roadshow’

An emerald engagement ring that survived the fateful final voyage of the Titanic in 1912 made a surprise appearance on BBC’s Antiques Roadshow this past Sunday.

The ring, which features an emerald center stone flanked by smaller emeralds and diamonds in a platinum setting, was owned by the guest’s grandmother, who was newly married and only 18 years old at the time.

Her grandmother managed to board a lifeboat and escape the sinking ship, but her grandfather was not as lucky.

Antiques Roadshow expert Joanna Hardy said the emerald ring by La Cloche was first class in every sense of the word. She explained that the famous jeweler had a shop in Paris, but also opened a location on Bond Street in London in 1904.

“All of the rich and the famous and the dignitaries would buy La Cloche jewelry,” Hardy said. “And this is definitely an engagement ring because you have the emerald there, which means hope and renewal, rebirth and life, and the diamonds are all set in platinum.”

Hardy noted that she was surprised that the emerald ring has remained in such stunning condition.

“The fact it has survived [the sinking of the Titanic] is quite incredible,” she said.

The guest noted that her grandmother was traveling in second class and was accompanied by her husband, mother and aunt when the ship hit an iceberg and started to take on water 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland. The disaster took the lives of 1,503 people.

“I believe they were told to put on any jewelry they had at the time,” the guest explained. “[My grandmother] had other jewelry, which was in the safe which went down with the ship, but yes she was wearing this.”

“That makes me have goosebumps just to think about it,” Hardy responded.

The expert then offered two valuations for this special family heirloom.

Without considering the provenance of having traveled on the last voyage of the Titanic, the ring would be worth £6,000 to £8,000 ($7,726 to $10,296), she said.

If the ring’s presence on the Titanic could be verified, its value could easily jump to £30,000 ($38,612) or more, Hardy added.

Despite the promise of a big windfall, the guest indicated that she had no intention of selling it.

“OK, wow,” she said. “It will stay in the family.”

Images: Screen captures via BBC One.