Boyfriend Surprises ‘American Idol’ Contestant With On-Stage Proposal, Tears Flow

In the lead-up to her performance on Monday night’s edition of American Idol, contestant Johanna Jones said she wished her boyfriend, Matt Zavoral, could have been there. He was buried in final exams at Brigham Young University, and couldn’t get from Provo, Utah, to Hollywood in time for the taping — or so she thought.

“I don’t want to get ahead myself, but he’s probably the one,” she said in a wonderful foreshadowing of what happened next.

Jones, a 23-year-old fast food cook from Las Vegas, earned a standing ovation for her unique and soulful interpretation of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.”

While judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan applauded the young singer, Zavoral emerged from backstage and joined his girlfriend in the spotlight.

With his hands gripping a ring box hidden behind his back, Zavoral said, “I couldn’t be here this week because of exams, but I couldn’t wait another day.”

Then he went down on one knee and said, “Johanna, you are the love of my life. Will you marry me?”

Johanna said, “Yes,” and Zavoral placed a halo-style diamond ring on his girlfriend’s finger.

Jones’ dad, who was watching with his wife from the audience, shouted, “He did ask me first. He got the thumbs up!”

Meanwhile, Perry was crying buckets of happy tears, collapsing to the floor behind the judge’s table.

“Why won’t someone love me like that,” she weeped.

The comment seemed odd because Perry accepted an equally romantic proposal from actor Orlando Bloom on Valentine’s Day. What we didn’t realize is that the taping of the show predated her proposal. Perry cleared up the details in a Twitter post.

The cameras followed Jones and Zavoral backstage where the couple continued their celebration.

Zavoral explained that he had taken six exams the day before and then traveled 11 hours starting at the crack of dawn to make it to Hollywood just in time for his girlfriend’s performance.

“Matt is the most amazing man I’ve ever met,” said Jones. “No matter what happens, I’m going to go home smiling.”

Jones certainly has a few busy months ahead of her and she advances to the next round of Idol, while preparing for a June 2019 wedding.

Check out Jones’ performance and the romantic aftermath in the video below. The proposal starts at the 2:15 mark.

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/American Idol.

Exceptional Pink and White Diamonds Put Letšeng Mine Back in the News

The Letšeng Mine in the tiny African country of Lesotho is back in the news after luxury jeweler Laurence Graff paid $8.8 million, or $656,933 per carat, for a 13.33-carat pink diamond sourced there. The per-carat price was a record for any Letšeng diamond.

“This is the most vivid pink rough diamond I have ever seen, and it is an exceptionally rare treasure,” said Graff. “I am sure the polished diamond that comes from this rough will be an auspicious addition to our roll call of famous gems. It is an enormous privilege to own this natural miracle. We may never see anything like it again.”

Hot on the heels of that first announcement, Gem Diamonds — a 70% stakeholder in Letšeng — disclosed that the prolific mine had yielded a 161-carat, white color, Type IIa gem.

If you’re a fan of fabulous diamonds, you may already know that the Letšeng Mine is famous for producing large, exceptional diamonds and generating more dollars per carat than any other kimberlite diamond mine in the world.

In fact, a little over a year ago, Letšeng made headlines when it revealed an amazing 910-carat D-color, Type IIa diamond. As the fifth-largest gem-quality diamond ever recovered, the Lesotho Legend was eventually sold for a whopping $40 million.

(Type IIa represents the most chemically pure classification of diamonds. They display exceptional optical transparency and make up less than 2% of all gem-quality diamonds.)

Gem Diamonds reported that Letšeng in 2018 yielded 15 stones weighing more than 100 carats, a record for the company. By comparison, it produced seven diamonds larger than 100 carats in 2017. And while the mine is best known for its flawless white diamonds, Letšeng is starting to make its mark in the world of fancy-colored diamonds, as well.

Despite its diminutive size (it’s about the size of Maryland), the landlocked country of Lesotho at the southern tip of Africa is a powerhouse in the diamond world. Miners at Letšeng recovered 126,875 carats in 2018, up from 11,811 in 2017. The average per-carat value of the rough material rose over that same period from $1,930 to $2,131.

Letšeng has the distinction of being one of the world’s highest diamond mines. Its average elevation is 10,000 feet (nearly two miles) above sea level.

Images: Courtesy of Gem Diamonds..

‘Mudan’ Earns Guinness World Record for the ‘Most Diamonds Set on a Watch’

Gleaming with 15,858 diamonds set in 18-karat gold, Coronet’s “Mudan” timepiece just scored a Guinness World Record for the “Most Diamonds Set on a Watch.” The title was awarded during Baselworld, the six-day Swiss trade fair that concludes today.

The diamonds, weighing a total of 50.01 carats, embellish a design inspired by the beautiful and fragrant peony. Known as the “king of flowers” in Chinese culture, the peony symbolizes nobility, honor and wealth. “Mudan” is the Chinese word for peony.

The impressive, hyper-realistic rendering of a faceted diamond on the watch dial is the work of artist and jewelry designer Reena Ahluwalia. The dial has actual diamonds set at the 3, 6, 9, and 12 hour positions.

Said the artist, “I feel honored that my artwork has made it into the Guinness World Records. While growing up, I used to read about the Guinness World Records with pure amazement, so this feels very special to me.”

This is the ninth time Coronet has claimed a Guinness World Record. In 2018, a Coca-Cola bottle-shaped handbag adorned with 9,888 diamonds became the official title holder in the category “Most Diamonds Set on a Handbag.” The handbag was conceived by Beverly Hills Designer Kathrine Baumann and fabricated by Coronet parent company Aaron Shum Jewelry.

In 2016, the company set a record for the “Most Jewels on a Guitar” when it customized a Fender American Deluxe Jazz Bass with 16,033 Swarovski gemstones, including topaz, citrine, rhodolite and cubic zirconium. In 2015, Coronet created the world’s “Most Valuable Guitar,” a Gibson glittering with 11,441 diamonds weighing 401 carats and valued at $2 million.

Credit: Images courtesy of Coronet.

93-Year-Old Gets Her Ring Back After 4 Months Missing: ‘It Was My Life’

At 93 years young, Marie Gladman has lived a wonderful life — a life symbolized by a custom floral-motif ring made with the diamonds harvested from four rings gifted to her by her beloved late husband, Wally.

When Marie lost her ring on a shopping trip in early December, her world was turned upside down.

At the time, a news crew from WCVB Channel 5 Boston caught up with Marie, who explained that the ring told the story of her 55-year marriage to the love of her life.

Staring at the bare ring finger on her left hand, the Waltham, Mass., native said, “That’s where all my special memories are. [The ring] was my life. It never came off.”

The first ring Marie got from Wally was a promise ring on her 19th birthday. He followed that up with an engagement ring, wedding band and, 50 years later, an anniversary ring.

“I wanted all the stones in one ring,” Marie told WCVB, “because I couldn’t wear all the rings on one hand.”

The resulting keepsake has a floral motif, with a large diamond blooming from each stem. To Marie, the ring was priceless.

But then on that fateful day in December, Marie looked down at her left hand and noticed the ring wasn’t there.

She knew she dropped it somewhere near the Shaw’s supermarket.

Her family retraced Marie’s steps that day. The family also alerted the local police department, but the ring could not be found.

With Marie set to celebrate her 93rd birthday in January of 2019, a reporter asked her what would be the best thing someone could get for her.

“It would be the ring or my husband,” she said.

More than four months later, on Tuesday, March 19, a little girl found Marie’s ring at Shaw’s supermarket. She turned it over to a clerk, and by 10:30 the same evening, Marie’s relatives decided to wake up the nonagenerian to give her the good news.

Marie was speechless as she received an envelope containing her ring.

The next day, a reporter asked Marie if she thought the return of her ring was a miracle.

“For me, it is a miracle,” she confirmed, adding that from now on she’s going to be more cautious with her ring.

“I’m always looking at it to make sure it is there,” she said.

Marie’s family would like to reward the little girl who found the ring. As of this writing, the girl’s identity remains a mystery.

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/WCVB Channel 5 Boston.

Music Friday: ‘Last Night I Put My Ring Back On,’ Sings Mary Chapin Carpenter

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you sweet songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, country star Mary Chapin Carpenter gives love a second chance in her 2010 tune, “I Put My Ring Back On.”

In the song, we learn that Carpenter is about to walk out on a long-term relationship. She has thrown her ring “down, down, down” because of the “hurting inside.” Her life is at a crossroads and she’s very tempted to say goodbye. But then she has a change of heart and realizes that their love is worth fighting for.

She sings, “Who knows where faith comes from / But last night I put my ring back on / ‘Cause here with you is where I belong / Last night I put my ring back on.”

By returning the ring to her finger, Carpenter delivers a literal and symbolic message of how committed she is to making the relationship work.

Composed by Carpenter, “I Put My Ring Back On” appeared as the third track on The Age of Miracles, an album that peaked at #6 on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums chart and #28 on the U.S. Billboard 200 albums chart.

Born in Princeton, N.J., Carpenter developed her love for music in high school. She played the guitar and piano, and her classmates famously threatened to cut her guitar strings if she played “Leaving on a Jet Plane” one more time.

Despite graduating from Brown University in 1981 with a degree in American Civilization, the Ivy League scholar decided to immerse herself in the Washington, D.C., music scene. A few years later, Carpenter scored a deal with Columbia Records.

Over the course of her career, Carpenter has sold more than 12 million records and landed five Grammy awards, including an unprecedented run of four consecutive wins for Best Female Country Vocal Performance (1992-1995).

Trivia: Did you know that Mary Chapin Carpenter is the fifth cousin of the late singer and humanitarian Harry Chapin (“Cat’s in the Cradle,” 1974).

More Trivia: Country star Vince Gill makes a guest appearance as a background vocalist on today’s featured song.

Please check out the audio track of Carpenter performing “I Put My Ring Back On.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“I Put My Ring Back On”
Written and performed by Mary Chapin Carpenter.

Who knows where faith comes from
But last night I put my ring back on
‘Cause here with you is where I belong
Last night I put my ring back on

No life’s without uncertainty
We both know how hard this love can be
It’s just this hurting inside of me that threw it down,
Down down down

Who knows where hope comes from
But last night I put my ring back on
‘Cause here with you is where I belong
Last night I put my ring back on

We can’t speak like lovers we used to be
We can’t change ancient history
And love wounds with such simplicity
And I threw it down, down down down, down

Your heart is all I want to see
Your hand reaching out to me
And your kiss remembers the mystery

Time was, I’d be as good as gone
But last night I didn’t want to run
‘Cause here with you is where I belong
Last night I put my ring back on
Last night I put my ring back on
Last night I put my ring back on

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Newlywed Lea Michele Shows Off Two Wedding Bands — One Sparkly, One Simple

Glee alum Lea Michele tied the knot with boyfriend Zandy Reich earlier this month in an intimate ceremony in Napa, Calif. The couple zoomed off on a tropical honeymoon and promptly treated Michele’s 5.4 million Instagram followers to a peek at her new wedding bands — one sparkly, one simple.

The 32-year-old actress posted a photo of her unconventional triple-stack bridal bling — a 4-carat, elongated radiant-cut diamond in a halo-style setting, followed by an eternity band with square diamonds going all the way around, followed by a thin, unadorned yellow gold band.

The sparkly square-shaped diamonds in the white-metal eternity band mimic the design elements of the white-metal engagement ring, while the unadorned yellow band is a nod to Michele’s Jewish heritage.

In Jewish tradition, the ring exchange between the bride and groom features simple smooth gold bands, free of engraving or gems. As a simple, unbroken circle, the ring symbolizes a marriage unmarred by conflict or distraction.

“I went with classic gold,” Reich told People magazine, while Michele opted for an understated diamond band and a thin gold band underneath.

“I didn’t want to take attention away from the beautiful [engagement] ring Zandy created for me,” she said.

On her Instagram Stories, Michele posted a photo of her rings in a tropical setting. Her caption simply stated, “That wife life.”

She also included a pic of her and her new hubby toasting their new life together with glasses of champagne.

Michele got her start as a child actress on Broadway, but rose to national prominence playing Rachel Berry on the Fox series Glee, which followed the disparate members of the fictitious William McKinley High School glee club. Glee aired for six seasons, from 2009 to 2015. Reich, a graduate of the prestigious Wharton School of Business, is the president of AYR clothing company.

Credits: Images via Instagram.com/LeaMichele.

Connecticut State Trooper Solves ‘The Case of the Rest Stop Wedding Rings’

 
A kind-hearted Connecticut state trooper went above and beyond the call of duty — pouring through hours of surveillance video — to solve “The Case of the Rest Stop Wedding Rings.”

The story began in mid-February, when Massachusetts couple Peter and Kimberly Reggiannini pulled into a rest stop along superhighway I-95 in Connecticut. Kimberly had taken off her diamond wedding rings to put lotion on her hands during their ride from New York City to Boston. The rings were safely on her lap when the couple stopped at a service station, but fell to the ground when she opened the door.

Kimberly didn’t realize the rings were gone until they arrived in Boston nearly three hours later.

Panicked, the couple called the Connecticut police and drove 143 miles back to the Branford rest stop. Sadly, the rings could not be found.

The thought of losing her precious rings haunted Kimberly during the weeks that followed.

“Every time I would look down and see that the rings weren’t there it was just a reminder of what had happened,” Kimberly told News 8.

Peter added that Kimberly would wake him up in the middle of the night to tell him she was thinking about the rings.

Meanwhile, back in Branford, Sergeant Robert Derry of the Connecticut State Police, decided to take the case. Having been married for nearly 22 years, Derry understood the real significance of the rings.

Derry inspected the site where the rings were lost and noticed the station owners had installed a number of security cameras.

He was able to access the footage and patiently reviewed hours and hours of material. Then, finally, he found the smoking gun.

The sergeant witnessed a customer dropping a glove and discovering the rings on the pavement. The woman pocketed the rings and drove off with them. A reporter for News 8 showed her viewers exactly where the rings were scooped up.

Derry was able to capture the car’s license plate number, which enabled him to identify the driver.

After a visit with the woman, the officer had successfully retrieved the rings. The woman told the officer that she kept them because she believed the rings were costume jewelry.

On Wednesday of last week, Peter and Kimberly were reunited with their precious keepsakes and got to meet their hero at the same time.

In an emotional display, Peter slipped the ring back onto Kimberly’s finger.

“I can’t put it into words. It’s just really wonderful,” Kimberly told News 8.

“Obviously the rings mean so much to us. We’re so glad to have them back,” Peter added. “It was never about the money. It was what these rings mean to us.”

Kimberly showed her gratitude by giving the sergeant a big hug.

“When something like this happens and it has a positive ending, it makes you feel good about the job that we do and the career I have undertaken for the past 29 years,” Derry said.

Credits: Screen captures via wtnh.com.

Sergio Garcia Helps Fan With Marriage Proposal at The Players Championship

Love was in the air at the 46th Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., last Wednesday as pro golfer Sergio Garcia was enlisted to help with an epic marriage proposal at the scenic 17th hole.

When Ricardo Fonseca started planning a special golf-themed marriage proposal for his girlfriend Emma Baxley, he knew that his future father-in-law, Bob, might be able to pull a few strings. You see, the Baxley family has volunteered at The Players Championship for 44 years.

Bob Baxley conspired with Garcia, Fonseca and PGA Tour communications officials to stage a wondrous surprise during the tournament’s practice round.

It’s been 11 years since the Spanish golfer won The Players Championship, and he would eventually place 22nd in the 2019 tournament, but what he did for the young couple was definitely a hole in one.

PGA Tour cameras caught up with poppa Baxley and Garcia in the moments leading up to the proposal.

“Thanks for doing that,” Baxley said, as he handed off the ring box to Garcia. “I really appreciate it.”

“Can I look at it?” Garcia asked.

“Sure,” said Baxley.

Garcia opened the box to reveal what appeared to be a cushion-cut diamond in a halo setting.

“Oh, beautiful,” Garcia commented.

Garcia stashed the ring box in his pocket and the conspirators proceeded to the par-3 17th hole.

As they approached the green, Garcia and Baxley took a slight detour to meet Baxley’s family, who were all standing behind a rope barrier. At that point, Garcia picked young Emma out of the crowd and invited her onto the course. Emma’s boyfriend can be seen smiling in the background as his girlfriend scoots under the barrier.

The Spaniard asked Emma if she spoke Spanish and she responded, “Un poquito,” which translates to “a little.”

The starstruck young lady asked the pro if it was OK for her to be on the course, and he affirmed that all was good.

As they walked over a footbridge, the golfer said, “Emma, I have a little surprise for you.”

At this time, her boyfriend approached them and took a ring box handoff from Garcia.

“Thank you, sir. I really appreciate the help,” Fonseca said.

Then he turned his attention to his future bride.

With cameras rolling and the giant video board documenting the moment in real time, Fonseca dropped to one knee and said, “Emma, I love you and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you. Emma, will you marry me.”

Onlookers burst out in a rousing cheer and the video board proclaimed, “She said yes.”

Garcia fist-bumped Emma’s dad. A job well done.

To make the occasion even more special, Garcia later presented the couple with a check from The Players Championship for $20,000. They will use the money toward their wedding expenses.

Thankfully, Emma said yes. It’s rumored that Fonseca would have plunged head first into the pond had she said no.

Check out the PGA Tour’s video below…

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/PGA Tour.

Gem-Encrusted Ring Tells the Story of Atlanta United’s Championship Soccer Season

Atlanta United players received their colorful, gem-encrusted 2018 MLS Cup Championship rings in a private ceremony last week. The rings use white diamonds, yellow diamonds, custom cuts of garnet and onyx, and a single ruby to tell the story of a remarkable franchise that shot to the top of the soccer world in just its second season. The diamonds weigh a total of 2.03 carats.

Crafted in 10-karat white and yellow gold, the rings are adorned with 101 white diamonds that create a cascading waterfall effect on the ring top. An additional 14 color-enhanced yellow diamonds form the “A,” which sits atop the iconic five stripes, which mimics the distinctive red and black uniform of the team.

Ring manufacturer Jostens rendered the five stripes in alternating custom-cut slices of garnet and black onyx. The stripes represent the five pillars of the team: unity, determination, community, excellence and innovation. The red color symbolizes victory and the black color symbolizes strength and power.

Yellow gold “train tracks” wrap around the top of the ring edges as an ode to Atlanta’s railroad history. The tracks are punctuated with a single white diamond and a single ruby. The two gemstones represent the number of years the franchise has been in the MLS.

Completing the ring top are the words “MLS CUP CHAMPIONS” in raised white gold lettering, accented with a gold star.

The right side of the ring features the club name set in raised yellow gold lettering above the Atlanta skyline, which is rendered in white gold. The coveted MLS Cup, in contrasting yellow gold, sits in the center of the city skyline, with the word “CONQUERED” boldly set upon the trophy. The championship year date of 2018 completes the right side of the ring.

The left side of the ring displays the club’s rallying cry “UNITE & CONQUER” in yellow gold, set above the recipient’s name in white gold. In contrasting yellow gold, the “UNITED” mark pays tribute to Atlanta’s unwavering perseverance. The “I” in “UNITED” is replaced with a golden spike, a nod to the city’s railroad history.

Prior to each match, players and supporters get to sign a giant-sized golden railroad spike, which is then ceremoniously marched into the stadium and hammered into a platform by a local VIP. After each game, the Man of the Match gets to hammer the spike, as well.

Completing the left side of the ring is the player’s number set with diamonds.

The interior of the ring features the date the championship was won, the final score of the match and motto “5-STRIPES DON’T STOP.”

Credits: Images courtesy of Jostens.

Music Friday: Lee Greenwood Laments His 24-Karat Mistake in ‘Fool’s Gold’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Lee Greenwood sings about making a 24-karat mistake in his 1984 tune, “Fool’s Gold.” His character is agonizing over a broken marriage and losing the love of his life. In hindsight, he admits he was a fool and it was all his fault.

He sings, “I took a perfect love and gave you a perfect heartache / I took a band of gold and made a 24-karat mistake / and turned it into… / Fool’s gold, and I was a fool ’cause I let you go.”

Written by Timmy Tappan and Don Roth, “Fool’s Gold” was released as the second single from Greenwood’s third studio album, You’ve Got a Good Love Comin’. The song shot to #3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and #5 on the Canadian RPM Country Tracks chart. The album was certified Gold, which means it sold more than 500,000 units.

Over his 57-year career, Greenwood released more than 20 albums. He’s also credited with more than 35 singles on the Billboard country music charts, including seven #1 hits.

Greenwood is best known for his patriotic 1984 song, “God Bless the U.S.A.” The song regained its popularity during the Gulf War in 1991, and then again after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Melvin Lee Greenwood was born in South Gate, Calif., in 1942. He grew up on his grandparents’ poultry farm and started singing for his church at the age of seven. He started his first band at the age of 20 and performed mostly in Las Vegas casinos. When the band broke up in the 1970s, Greenwood made ends meet by dealing blackjack during the day and singing at night.

In 1979, he was “discovered” in Reno by Larry McFaden, the bassist for Mel Tillis. Two years later, his demo tapes landed at the Nashville division of MCA. Greenwood earned a contract and McFaden was hired on as his manager.

If you were wondering, fool’s gold is a shiny yellow mineral called pyrite that bears a great resemblance to gold, but contains little or no precious metal.

Please check out the audio track of Greenwood performing “Fool’s Gold.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

Fool’s Gold
Written by Timmy Tappan and Don Roth. Performed by Lee Greenwood.

If I only knew then what I know now
You wouldn’t be sayin’ goodbye
But I let you down, I was never around
When you needed me there by your side
I took a perfect love and gave you a perfect heartache
I took a band of gold and made a 24-karat mistake
and turned it into…

[Chorus:]
Fool’s gold, and I was a fool ’cause I let you go
Fool’s gold, yes I was a fool ’cause I didn’t know
Too many times I just didn’t try
Now all I hear is you sayin’ goodbye
Starin’ at an empty hand full of fool’s gold

If I took the time just holdin’ you tight
and sharin’ my feelings with you
Then you’d understand what’s inside of this man
and you’d know what I’m goin’ through
I know that I was wrong now that it’s too late
I took a band of gold and made a 24-karat mistake
and turned it into…

Credit: Photo by Yoland Hunter (U.S. Air Force), Public Doman via Wikimedia Commons.