150,000-Year-Old Jewelry Represents Earliest Form of Widespread Human Communication

An international team of archaeologists believe the 33 shell beads recovered from a cave in western Morocco represent the earliest known evidence of a widespread form of nonverbal communication among humans.

Measuring about a half-inch across and drilled to be hung on a necklace, the beads made from sea snail shells have been dated at 142,000 to 150,000 years old.

“We don’t know what they meant, but they’re clearly symbolic objects that were deployed in a way that other people could see them,” said Steven L. Kuhn, a professor of anthropology in the University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

The professor believes the beads were part of the way people expressed their identity with their clothing.

“They’re the tip of the iceberg for that kind of human trait,” he added. “They show that it was present even hundreds of thousands of years ago, and that humans were interested in communicating to bigger groups of people than their immediate friends and family.”

Kuhn and an international team of archaeologists recovered the 33 beads from the Bizmoune Cave between 2014 and 2018. Their findings were detailed this past Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

Kuhn co-directs archaeological research at the cave with Abdeljalil Bouzouggar, a professor at the National Institute of Archaeological Sciences and Heritage in Rabat, Morocco, and Phillipe Fernandez, from the University Aix-Marseille in France, who are also authors on the study.

El Mehdi Sehasseh, a graduate student at the National Institute of Archaeological Sciences and Heritage, who did the detailed study of the beads, is the study’s lead author.

The archaeologists noted that other, similar beads have been found at sites in northern and southern Africa, but previous samples date back to no older than 130,000 years.

The beads found in western Morocco are linked to the Aterian people of the Middle Stone Age. They were known for their distinctive stemmed spear points, with which they hunted gazelles, wildebeest, warthogs and rhinoceros, among other animals.

The scientists believe the beads may have served as a lasting form of communication, unlike the practice of painting their bodies or faces with charcoal or ochre. One theory involves how the Aterian people may have reacted to a growing population. As more people began occupying North Africa, they may have needed new ways to identify themselves with jewelry.

“It’s one thing to know that people were capable of making [the shell jewelry],” Kuhn said, “but then the question becomes, ‘OK, what stimulated them to do it?'”

Credits: Dig site image courtesy of Steven L. Kuhn. Shells image courtesy of Abdeljalil Bouzouggar. Steven L. Kuhn image / Supplied.

Music Friday: ‘It’s Like Finding Out Your Diamond Is From Her Old Promise Ring’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today we feature The Band Perry performing “Postcard From Paris,” a song that uses jewelry metaphors to compare a new boyfriend to the one that got away.

Frontwoman Kimberly Perry opens the song by describing a scene where she’s enjoying a summer evening out with her “sweet” new beau. But then she catches a glimpse of her old flame and a flood of emotions overwhelms her.

She sings, “Like a postcard from Paris / When I’ve seen the real thing / It’s like finding out your diamond / Is from her old promise ring.”

She concedes that she should have never let him leave. She’s lost her chance to be with her true love and she knows that no other boyfriends will ever ignite the fever in her heart.

“Postcard From Paris” was composed by Kimberly Perry and her younger brothers, Neil and Reid, during a 90-minute writing session with former American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi.

“The funny thing about writing relationships is you don’t really know how it’s going to turn out,” Kimberly Perry told Nu Country TV. “You could write a song or you could end up going to get a coffee together. Luckily, it worked and we wrote ‘Postcard From Paris.'”

Today’s featured song ascended to #6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and got as high as #60 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was the fifth single from the band’s blockbuster self-titled debut album, which has sold more than 1.6 million copies.

Founded in 2005, The Band Perry notched a string of hit singles, including the quadruple-platinum “If I Die Young,” the platinum “You Lie,” and the gold-certified country #1 “All Your Life.”

Trivia: In July 2016, Kimberly Perry scored a phenomenal 196 points in the Fast Money round of Celebrity Family Feud. All host Steve Harvey could say at the time was, “Wow, wow, wow.”

We hope you enjoy the video of The Band Perry’s live performance of “Postcard From Paris.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along. We’ve also included a bonus clip from Celebrity Family Feud.

Postcard From Paris”
Written by Kara Dioguardi, Jeffrey Cohen, Kimberly Perry, Neil Perry and Reid Perry. Performed by The Band Perry.

I remember when my heart caught the fever
You were standing all alone in the summer heat
I was with my boyfriend, my new boyfriend
He was as sweet as he could be

One look at you and I was through
My heart switched up on me

Like a postcard from Paris
When I’ve seen the real thing
It’s like finding out your diamond is
From her old promise ring

A call back from your fortune teller
She read your cards upside down
The meanest thing you ever did is
Come around

And now I’m ruined, yeah
I’m ruined

In the evening you can catch me daydreaming
Did that moment send you reeling just like me
I should have gone over, right over
I should have never let you leave

But it’s the never knowing that keeps
This going and drives me crazy

Like a postcard from Paris
When I’ve seen the real thing
It’s like finding out your diamond is
From her old promise ring

A call back from your fortune teller
She read your cards upside down
The meanest thing you ever did is
Come around

Just when I thought things were alright
My eyes played tricks on my mind
Will I ever be satisfied
‘Cause all I ever seem to find, is a

Postcard from Paris
When I need the real thing
It’s like finding out your diamond is
From her old promise ring

A call back from your fortune teller
She read your cards upside down
The meanest thing you ever did
The cruelest thing you ever did
The meanest thing you ever did
Is come around

I am ruined, yeah
I’m ruined
Now I am ruined, yeah
I’m ruined

The Band Perry on The Late Show With Letterman

The Band Perry on Celebrity Family Feud

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

TV Personality Christina Haack Is Rockin’ a 5-Carat, Radiant-Cut Diamond Engagement Ring

Flip or Flop star Christina Haack is rockin’ a 5-carat, radiant-cut diamond engagement ring given to her by Austin-based realtor Joshua Hall during their romantic Mexican getaway.

The 38-year-old TV personality announced the engagement to her 1.7 Instagram followers on Monday via a series of romantic photos and a minimalist caption comprising five emojis — a red heart, infinity sign, padlock, skeleton key and diamond ring. In two of the photos, an engagement ring can be seen on her hand. She also added “Josh Hall” and an engagement ring emoji to her Instagram bio.

If fans still weren’t 100% sure that those clues signaled she was engaged, Haack added a captioned closeup of her new ring to her Instagram Story. On the photo, which shows her caressing her new fiancé’s tattooed wrist, she thanked the Los Angeles jeweler who designed the ring.

Jeweler Benny Hayoun of Benny and the Gems told PageSix.com that Hall had a very clear idea of the type of engagement ring Haack would prefer. He insisted that the jeweler fabricate the platinum piece by hand. Hall didn’t want anything “too flashy.” The stone had to be proportional to Haack’s finger.

“He had in his brain all of what he wanted to do,” Hayoun said. “It took me four or five days to make it happen because he insisted on making it by hand, meaning there’s no wax, no computer programming involved.”

The result was a rectangular, radiant-cut diamond set upon a delicate, diamond-adorned band.

“She absolutely loved it,” the jeweler told PageSix.com.

The proposal took place in Los Cabos, Mexico, where the couple had been celebrating Haack’s birthday. According to an earlier Instagram post by Haack, the couple met this past spring.

“The synchronicities hit us so hard and fast they were impossible to ignore,” she wrote.

This will be Haack’s third marriage. Her first was to Flip or Flop costar Tarek El Moussa from 2009 to 2018. Her second marriage was to TV host Ant Anstead from 2018 to 2021.

In addition to continuing her gig on Flip or Flop, the popular HGTV series that launched in 2013, the bride-to-be now has her own HGTV series called Christina on the Coast.

Credits: Images via Instagram.com / christinahaack.

1,175-Carat Rough Diamond From Botswana’s Karowe Mine Makes Big Apple Debut

The 1,175-carat rough diamond unearthed in June at Botswana’s Karowe Mine made its Big Apple debut on Monday as the owners of the stone — mining company Lucara Diamond Corp and manufacturer HB Antwerp — revealed it to the press at the Whitby Hotel in upper midtown Manhattan.

Billed as the largest uncut diamond to ever visit the U.S., the massive stone will be the focus of a full week of viewings by New York diamantaires and other strategic partners.

“We’ve been in the business for many years, for quite some time, and these types of things do get us excited because of the sheer size,” HB Antwerp CEO Oded Mansori told Reuters.

The high-profile visit is also intended to raise the awareness and desirability of mined diamonds.

HB Antwerp has yet to determine whether the rough diamond will be left in its natural state or cut into a series of polished stones.

About the size of a baseball, the rough diamond measures 77mm (3.03in) long, 55mm (2.17in) wide and 33mm (1.3in) thick. The gem exhibits variable quality with significant domains of high-quality white gem material, according to Lucara.

Still unnamed, the 1,175-carat diamond ranks #3 on the list of the largest rough diamonds of all time, unseating the 1,109-carat Lesedi la Rona, which was discovered at the same Karowe Mine in 2015. Only two rough diamonds have ever tipped the scales at a higher weight, the 1,758-carat Sewelô (#2, Karowe Mine, 2019) and the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond (#1, Premier Mine, 1905).

When the Lucara’s mammoth stone was unveiled in June, the mining company hinted that the 1,175-carat specimen was actually the largest fragment from a rough diamond that weighed more than 2,000 carats. Several other similar-color, sharp-edged chunks — weighing 471 carats, 218 carats and 159 carats — were all pulled during the same sorting process.

The gems were recovered by Lucara’s MDR (Mega Diamond Recovery) XRT circuit, a system that uses advanced technology to identify 100-carat-plus diamonds. By monitoring the rocky material for X-ray luminescence, atomic density and transparency, the technology can identify and isolate large diamonds before they go through the destructive crushing process. However, in this case, the system was not calibrated to identify a 2,000-plus-carat diamond. It got mashed by the primary crusher, one step ahead of the MDR.

“We do expect that we will recover more exceptional diamonds in excess of a thousand carats in size,” Lucara’s chief executive, Eira Thomas, told Reuters, “but on a global basis, this is still an extremely rare and unusual event.”

Back in April, HB Antwerp and Lucara signed a 12-month agreement in which the manufacturer committed to purchasing all of the rough diamonds larger than 10.8 carats extracted from the Karowe mine.

Credit: Images courtesy of Lucara Diamond Corp.

NC Man Pops the Question After Pulling Engagement Ring From Fire-Ravaged Home

A devastating fire completely destroyed a North Carolina couple’s dream house early this month, reducing all their possessions to a pile of ashes. But, despite the heart-breaking tragedy, the couple would have reason to celebrate.

Just a short distance from the smoldering rubble, Sean Matthews went down on one knee and proposed to Kellie Stanley with a princess-cut diamond that survived the ordeal.

You see, Matthews had been planning to propose to Stanley and had already purchased the ring. He was just waiting for the right time to pop the question. Matthews had hidden the ring in a fireproof box, alongside the family Bible.

Matthews was able to find the box amidst the ashes and decided there was no better time to propose.

“We’re going to get through this as a fiancé or more,” Matthews told Stanley. “And it’s just a house. It’s our house, but we’ll have another one. So what do you think?”

Stanley answered with an enthusiastic “Yes.”

The couple had been enjoying a romantic dinner at a restaurant near of Raleigh when the fire broke out.

The flames and smoke were first noticed by a neighbor, who rushed to the scene and activated a “Ring” doorbell camera to alert the couple.

Stanley answered right away, and was most concerned for their dog, Memphis, who was still in the house. Stanley instructed the neighbor to enter through the garage so the dog could be rescued.

“It definitely puts your life in perspective,” Stanley told Inside Edition, “especially at the end of the night when we were driving away from our home with nothing but the clothes on our back and our dog.”

A GoFundMe page has been established to help the couple recover from their losses. See Inside Edition‘s full report here

Credits: Screen captures via InsideEdition.com.

Auction News: 17th Century Spectacles Feature Lenses Carved From Gemstones

Two entirely unique pairs of 17th century spectacles — one with lenses carved from an emerald and the other with lenses carved from a diamond — made their public debuts at Sotheby’s New York showroom this past Friday.

Believed to have belonged to royals of the Mughal Empire, the eyewear tells the story of royal patronage, luxury, science, faith and beauty all in one moment, according to a Sotheby’s Instagram post.

“The quality and purity of the gemstones is itself extraordinary, cleaved from a single natural Indian diamond weighing over 200 carats, and a brilliant Colombian emerald weighing at least 300 carats,” noted Sotheby’s.

Edward Gibbs, chairman of Sotheby’s Middle East and India, told CNN.com that gemstone-lens eyewear is truly unique.

“As far as we know, there are no others like them,” he said, adding that the gemstones required to make them would have surely belonged to a person of high social status, such as the emperor, a member of his inner circle, or high-ranking courtier.

The emerald pair is called the “Gate of Paradise,” while the diamond pair is called the “Halo of Light.” The auction house is estimating that each pair will sell in the range of $2.1 to $3.5 million.

While the phrase “viewing the world through rose-color glasses” means that one is overly optimistic, the concept of viewing the world through emerald lenses may have some spiritual connections.

Gibbs told CNN that in the Islamic religion practiced by the Mughal rulers, green was closely linked to paradise, salvation and eternal life. He said that the emerald glasses may have given the wearer the experience of being led “through the gateway into paradise.”

The optical properties of emeralds were also recorded by Pliny the Elder (23–79 AD), who described how Roman Emperor Nero watched gladiatorial fights through a pair of concave emeralds. There is some debate as to whether the emeralds helped to correct the Emperor’s severe near-sightedness or just eliminated glare from the sun. Others believe the emeralds may have soothed his eyes from the sight of blood.

Sotheby’s featured glasses will be touring New York, Hong Kong and London before hitting the auction block on October 27.

Credit: Image via Instagram.com/sothebysjewels.

Music Friday: Everything Petula Clark Touches Turns to Gold in 1966’s ‘Colour My World’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you throwback songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. In 1966’s “Colour My World,” Petula Clark sings about how much her life has changed since she’s finally found her true love.

She sings, “You’ll never see a dark cloud hanging round me / Now there is only blue sky to surround me / There’s never been a gray day since you found me / Everything I touch is turning to gold.”

The last phrase is actually a nod to King Midas, who is remembered from Greek mythology for his ability to turn everything he touched into gold.

In Clark’s world, the positivity generated by her new relationship is having a golden effect on every aspect of her life.

Written by Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent, “Colour My World” borrows from the formula established by Hatch for Clark’s 1964 #1 hit, “Downtown.” While not as successful as the 1964 chart topper, “Colour My World” reached Top 20 status in the US, Australia and New Zealand. Curiously, it failed to reach the Top 50 in Clark’s home country — England.

While the UK failed to embrace the song upon its release in December 1966, BBC Television gave the song a boost when it chose “Colour My World” as the theme song to announce BBC2’s upgraded TV service from black-and-white to color in July 1967.

Born in Surrey, England, in 1939, Clark got her start in the music business as a child performer on BBC Radio. Starting in late 1964, Clark released a series of hits that earned her worldwide fame. Among the songs were “Downtown,” “I Know a Place,” “My Love,” “A Sign of the Times,” “I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love,” “Who Am I,” “This Is My Song,” “Don’t Sleep in the Subway,” “The Other Man’s Grass Is Always Greener” and “Kiss Me Goodbye.”

Over the course of her career, Clark has sold more than 68 million records and has starred on both stage and screen. Clark is still performing at the age of 81.

Please check out the video of Clark performing “Colour My World” on The Ed Sullivan Show on January 15, 1967. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Color My World”
Written by Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent. Performed by Petula Clark.

You’ll never see a dark cloud hanging round me.
Now there is only blue sky to surround me.
There’s never been a gray day since you found me.
Everything I touch is turning to gold.

So you can colour my world with sunshine yellow each day!
Oh, you can colour my world with happiness all the way!
Just take the green from the grass and the blue from the sky up above!
And if you colour my world just paint it with your love!
Just colour my world.

Just as long as I know you’re thinking of me,
there’ll be a rainbow always up above me.
Since I found the one who really loves me,
everything I touch is turning to gold.

So you can colour my world with sunshine yellow each day!
Oh, you can colour my world with happiness all the way!
Just take the green from the grass and the blue from the sky up above!
And if you colour my world just paint it with your love!
Just colour my world.
Um.

Sunshine yellow.
Orange blossums.
Laughing faces
everywhere!
Yeah!
So you can colour my world with sunshine yellow each day!
Oh, you can colour my world with happiness all the way!
Just take the green from the grass and the blue from the sky up above!
And if you colour my world just paint it with your love.
Just colour my world.
Colour my world.
Oh, colour my world.
Colour my world.

Credit: Screen capture via Youtube.com.

Gemfields Announces the Publication of ‘Sapphire,’ the Third in the ‘Big Three’ Trilogy

The third, and final, installment in Gemfields’ series of coffee-table books dedicated to the “big three” gemstones, is scheduled to be released on October 5. Titled Sapphire: A Celebration of Color, the lavishly illustrated, 328-page book by Joanna Hardy takes the reader on a journey from early trade along the Silk Route to the jewelry collections of the great royal houses of Europe and the finest designers at work today.

As in her previous two books — Emerald: Twenty-One Centuries of Jeweled Opulence (2014) and Ruby: The King of Gems (2017) — the gemologist and jewelry historian leaves no stones unturned.

“Few things on our planet blend wonder, magic and mysticism quite like the ‘Holy Trinity’ of colored gemstones,” noted Gemfields CEO Sean Gilbertson. “They chart the history, heritage and legacy of humankind across millennia in a unique and captivating manner. Ten minutes spent browsing the marvelous photos on these pages will cheer any soul. Gemfields is truly honored to have played a small role in bringing these three works to life in a project that has now spanned almost a decade.”

In Sapphire, Hardy charts the enduring popularity of this mesmerizing blue gem, from the 4th century BCE to the present day. She also explores sapphire’s spiritual connection with the planet Saturn in Hindu astrology and its imputed ability to protect against disease and impart friendship, peace and wisdom.

Hardy also dives into sapphire’s famous associations, from Elizabeth Taylor, who wore sapphires copiously, to Queen Victoria, who was given one by Prince Albert on the eve of their wedding.

“Sapphire is an unassuming gem,” stated the author. “It has been overshadowed by diamonds, rubies and emeralds for decades, but ignore it at your peril, for sapphire is a titan of the gemstone world.”

Featuring a rich, royal-blue silk cover with gold-foil blocking, Sapphire: A Celebration of Color will be published by Thames & Hudson in association with Violette Editions. The cover price is £85 ($125).

Credits: Images courtesy of Gemfields.

Restoration of Old Mansion on Coast of France Nets 239 Gold Coins Dating Back to 1638

Three stonemasons working on the restoration of an old mansion in northwestern France discovered a cache of 239 gold coins dating back to the reigns of Louis XIII and Louis XIV.

Minted from 1638 to 1692, the coins will hit the auction block at Ivoire Angers/Deloyes in Angers, France, on September 29. The proceeds, which are expected to eclipse €300,000 ($354,000), will be split between the craftsmen and the homeowners, with each group getting half of the tally.

The masons had been contracted in 2019 to join two buildings on the property — a barn and a nursery. During the construction project, they found a metal box filled with gold coins hidden inside a wall. A few days later, they found a purse above a beam, also filled with gold coins.

According to the auction house’s press release, the coastal region of northwest France was very prosperous during the 17th century due to the transport of Bordeaux wines to England and cereals to northern Europe. It is likely that the mansion in Plozévet, Brittany, had belonged to a family of wealthy traders or farmers. The oldest part of the mansion actually dates back to the 13th century.

The area went into a decline between 1750 and 1850, but then rebounded strongly due to a boom in the sardine canning industry.

The Regional Preventive Archaeology Service in France authenticated, analyzed and researched each of the 239 coins. Twenty-three were issued under Louis XIII and 216 under Louis XIV. It is assumed that the treasure represented the savings the family accumulated over a long period of time. The coins were minted in 19 different cities and span 54 years.

The collection’s standouts include the Golden Louis with Templar Cross, Golden Louis with a long curl and Louis XIV by the Atelier de Dijon. The third coin is so rare, noted the auction house, that it doesn’t appear in the Gadoury reference book.

Credit: Image by Ivoire Angers/Deloyes.

Le Vian Donates Prime Examples of ‘Aquaprase’ to American Museum of Natural History

Back in February of 2016, the Gemological Institute of America identified a brand new variety of chalcedony — a fascinating gem that incorporated the colors of the sky, the sea and the earth. Dubbed “Aquaprase” by Greek gem explorer Yianni Melas, the translucent bluish-green specimens have been compared to the Aegean Sea when viewed from an airplane.

Billed as the 21st century’s first gem discovery, the unique chalcedony caught the attention of luxury brand Le Vian, which has since trademarked the superior selections of the gem as Le Vian Peacock Aquaprase™.

Recently, Le Vian donated to New York City’s American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) a selection of rough and polished Aquaprase gemstones, as well as Le Vian Couture jewels featuring the stone.

The donation was timed to coincide with the reopening of the completely redesigned and reinstalled Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals. The 11,000-square-foot facility within the AMNH features more than 5,000 specimens sourced from 95 countries.

The Aquaprase selections will share the spotlight with other notable specimens, such as the legendary 563-carat Star of India sapphire, the 632-carat Patricia Emerald and the 9-pound almandine Subway Garnet that had been discovered under Manhattan’s 35th Street in 1885.

Melas first encountered Aquaprase in an undisclosed African country in 2013. He told JCK magazine in 2016 that he saw a sample of this unusual gem while visiting a friend’s hut. The specimen was displayed on a shelf and was in poor condition.

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

He did some exploring to find more examples of this type of gem, but he wasn’t sure what it was, exactly.

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

To get a conclusive answer, he sent a sample to GIA.

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

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

Melas came up with the name “Aquaprase” by combining the word “aqua” (for the blue sea) with “prase” (meaning leek-green in Greek).

Although the rough material is available in “clean” varieties that are either vibrant blue-green or baby blue “with clouds,” Melas said he prefers the material with matrix, which is part of the surrounding rock.

Melas told JCK that the matrix looks more natural and gives the finished piece more character.

Credits: Aquaprase image courtesy of Le Vian. Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals image by D. Finnin/© American Museum of Natural History.