‘The Jewelled Tiger’ Is Immortalized in Pink Diamonds on The Perth Mint’s 3D Coin

Crafted in 18-karat rose gold and pavé set with 3 carats of extraordinarily rare Argyle pink diamonds, “The Jewelled Tiger” strikes a menacing pose on the face of The Perth Mint’s 2020 limited-edition 3D coin.

Priced at $177,275 (AUD $259,000), The Jeweled Tiger represents the third in a series of highly collectible coins showcasing Asia’s revered mythical and mortal creatures. The 2018 Jewelled Phoenix and 2019 Jewelled Dragon coins sold out within weeks of their respective release dates.

Recognizing the significance of the number eight in Asian cultures and its association with luck and prosperity, only eight Jewelled Tiger coins will be issued by The Perth Mint, each presented in a luxurious display case with 18-karat gold accents and inset with two additional Argyle pink diamonds.

The proof coin is unusual because it features a three-dimensional representation of the beast known as the “king of the mountain.” The super-rare gems that make up the body of the tiger include a mix of fancy vivid, intense pink and purplish-pink Argyle diamonds. The diamonds are highly coveted because Australia’s Argyle mine — the main source of the world’s gem-quality pink diamonds — will be retired in 2020. Two emeralds from Colombia’s legendary Muzo mines are used to represent the tiger’s brilliant green eyes.

The coin’s reverse design is rendered In the style of literati painting, with the tiger depicted ascending a rocky outcrop with stylized mountains and foliage in the background. Also included is the Chinese character for “tiger,” the inscription “JEWELLED TIGER” and The Perth Mint’s traditional “P” mintmark. The obverse features the Jody Clark effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the weight and fineness, the “2000 DOLLARS” monetary denomination, “AUSTRALIA,” the Queen’s name and the year 2020.

The Jewelled Tiger coin measures 61 mm (2.4 inches) across and includes 10 ounces of 99.99 fineness yellow gold and .41 ounces of 18-karat rose gold. The unique coin will be on display at The Perth Mint shop in East Perth until supplies run out.

Please check out The Perth Mint’s promotional video…

Credits: Images courtesy of The Perth Mint.

Israeli Archaeologists Unearth Potter’s ‘Piggy Bank’ Filled With 1,200-Year-Old Gold Coins

Archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority have unearthed a clay juglet filled with seven gold coins dating back 1,200 years. The find was made near an ancient pottery studio in the city of Yavne, which was well known for its commercial production of ceramic storage jars, pots and bowls. The archaeologists believe the juglet — commonly used as a container for liquids — may have been a potter’s personal “piggy bank.” 

“The hoard includes coins that are rarely found in Israel,” said Dr. Robert Kool, an expert on ancient coins at the Israel Antiquities Authority. “These are gold dinars issued by the Aghlabid dynasty that ruled in North Africa, in the region of modern Tunisia, on behalf of the Abbasid Caliphate centered in Bagdad.”

The coins are from the early Abbasid Period (9th century CE). One of the coins has a special significance because it is a gold dinar from the reign of the Caliph Haroun A-Rashid (786-809 CE), who was a central figure in the famous Arabian Nights folk tales.

“I was in the middle of cataloging a large number of artifacts we found during the excavations when all of a sudden I heard shouts of joy,” said Liat Nadav-Ziv, co-director of the excavation. “I ran towards the shouting and saw Marc Molkondov, a veteran archaeologist of the Israel Antiquities Authority, approaching me excitedly. We quickly followed him to the field where we were surprised at the sight of the treasure.”

Archaeologists found the small, broken jug and its shimmering contents near the entrance to one of many ancient kilns in Yavne, a hub of commercial pottery production from the seventh to the ninth centuries.

The large-scale excavation had been conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority prior to the construction of a new Yavne neighborhood. The city is located about 20 km south of Tel Aviv and just 7 km from the Mediterranean Sea.

In another section of the site, the archaeologists found ancient wine-making facilities, including an unusually large number of vats that were used for commercial production. This area was dated to the Persian period (4th – 5th centuries BCE).

Credits: Images by Liat Nadav-Ziv, Israel Antiquities Authority.

Louis Vuitton Buys Historic 1,758-Carat ‘Sewelô’ Diamond From Lucara Diamond Corp.

French luxury brand Louis Vuitton has purchased the historic 1,758-carat Sewelô diamond from Lucara in a deal that allows the mining company to retain a 50% interest in the individual polished diamonds that result from the cutting of the massive stone. The amount of Louis Vuitton’s upfront payment was not disclosed.

Sewelô, which means “rare find” in Setswana, was recovered from Lucara’s Karowe Diamond Mine in Botswana in April 2019. It ranks as the world’s second-largest rough diamond. Only the 3,106-carat Cullinan, which was discovered in South Africa in 1905, was larger. The Cullinan was eventually cut into nine principle stones (some of which now form part of the British royal family’s crown jewels) and 96 smaller stones.

Louis Vuitton will be working with Antwerp-based diamond manufacturer HB Company to determine the optimal way to divide the tennis ball-sized diamond in order to deliver its full potential. According to published reports, the size, shape and quantity of polished diamonds that Sewelô will yield may take a year to finalize due to the complexity and high stakes of the task at hand.

The New York Times reported that Louis Vitton’s manufacturing partners are already talking about potential principle diamonds — a 904-carat cushion, an 891-carat oval or several smaller diamonds ranging between 100 and 300 carats.

Lucara had previously characterized the stone as near-gem quality. A more recent analysis confirmed that the stone includes domains of higher-quality white gem.

Amazingly, the Karowe Diamond Mine in Botswana has yielded two 1,000-plus-carat diamonds. The 1,111-carat Lesedi La Rona, which was unearthed in 2015, had been purchased for $53 million by British luxury jeweler Graff Diamonds and divided into one principle emerald-cut stone weighing 302 carats and 66 smaller diamonds of varying shapes.

Lucara also announced that 5% of all the proceeds generated from the Sewelô collection will be earmarked for community-based initiatives in Botswana.

Lucara CEO Eira Thomas commented: “We are delighted to be partnering with Louis Vuitton, the famous luxury house, to transform the historic, 1,758-carat Sewelô, Botswana’s largest diamond, into a collection of fine jewelry that will commemorate this extraordinary discovery and contribute direct benefits to our local communities of interest in Botswana.”

Credits: Image (top) courtesy of Louis Vuitton. Image (middle) courtesy of Lucara Diamond Corp.

Music Friday: Billie Marten Loves When You Give Her Things, Especially Wedding Rings

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you wonderful songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, British songstress Billie Marten delivers her enchanting acoustic cover of “The Book of Love.”

In the song, Marten explains how love is unnecessarily complicated and frequently irrational. In fact, if someone could write The Book of Love, it would be a mammoth volume — long, boring and overwrought with “flowers and heart-shaped boxes and instructions for dancing.” Love, she contends, is spending special moments together, and expressing one’s love with a time-honored symbol of jewelry.

At the end of the song, she concludes, “And I / I love it when you give me things / And you / You can give me wedding rings / You can give me… You can give me wedding rings.”

Written by Stephin Merritt and originally released by American indie pop group The Magnetic Fields in 1999, “The Book of Love” was covered by British rocker Peter Gabriel, whose version appeared in the soundtrack of the 2004 flick, Shall We Dance. The song earned a cult following in 2010 when Gabriel’s “Book of Love” was used during the series finale of the hit show Scrubs.

Born Isabella Sophie Tweddle in Ripon, England, in 1999, Marten began playing the guitar and singing when she was just seven years old. In 2008, she established a channel on YouTube, where she posted covers of pop songs, mostly for the benefit of her grandparents who lived in France.

When she was 12, Marten was invited to do a few sessions for a local YouTube channel called “Ont’ Sofa.” Immersed in a studio filled with Fender guitars, the young lady performed a number of popular songs, including her beautiful, effortless rendition of “The Book of Love.” The videos went viral and her singing career was set in motion. She was signed to Chess Club Records, a division of Sony Music, in 2015, and was nominated for Britain’s Sound of 2016 Award.

Please check out the video of Marten’s “Ont’ Sofa” performance of “The Book of Love.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“The Book of Love”
Written by Stephin Merritt. Performed by Billie Marten.

The book of love is long and boring
No one can lift the damn thing
It’s full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes
And instructions for dancing

And I
I love it when you read to me
And you
You can read me anything

The book of love has music in it
In fact that’s where music comes from
Some of it is just transcendental
Some of it is just really dumb

And I
I love it when you sing to me
And you
You can sing me anything

The book of love is long and boring
And written very long ago
It’s full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes
Things we’re all too young to know

But I
I love it when you read to me
And you
You can read me anything

And I
I love it when you sing to me
And you
You can sing me anything

And I
I love it when you give me things
And you
You can give me wedding rings
You can give me… You can give me wedding rings

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com/Ont’ Sofa.

St. Louis Blues Mascot Earns First-Ever Stanley ‘Pup’ Championship Collar

Barclay, the adorable four-legged mascot of the St. Louis Blues, recently received a Stanley “Pup” Championship collar — complete with the team’s famous Blue Note logo rendered in sapphires and karat gold. A spokesperson for Purina claimed Barclay is the first dog to ever receive championship jewelry.

Blues executive and Hall of Famer Brett Hull was on hand last week to honor the pup, who was adopted by the team in December of 2018. Many Blues fans and sports writers believe the future service dog played an important role in settling down a team in conflict and leading them to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Prior to Barclay’s arrival, the Blues were a team in turmoil. They were dropping down to the bottom of the standings and their players were literally fighting among themselves.

Liz Miller of the Riverfront Times recounted, “On December 13th, the team adopts Barclay and brings him to practice. No one fights each other, instead opting to play with the dog. On December 14, eventual Conn Smythe winner Ryan O’Reilly wins the team’s next game in overtime — with a shorthanded goal, no less. Is it coincidence that the Blues started to play more like a winning team after Barclay was recruited? We think not, St. Louis.”

The yellow Labrador Retriever puppy soon became an internet sensation, as videos of the five-month-old Barclay slipping across the ice with a stick and puck during a team practice went viral.

Purina worked with Jostens in preparing the special collar for Barclay. The team’s signature Blue Note — the same one that adorns the players’ championship rings — is affixed to the blue leather collar.

For Jostens’ ring design, the Blue Note logo was rendered with 16 genuine, custom-cut blue sapphires. The number 16 represented the number of victories earned by the Blues on their path to the championship. Jostens reported that each sapphire had to be delicately shaved so each would fit exactly within the logo’s yellow gold outline.

In addition to the Blue Note, the collar also features a “2019 Champions” plaque and a “Purina” insignia.

The celebrity pup, who was voted “Best Team Dog” in the NHL Fan Choice Awards, has his own Instagram page with more than 78,000 followers.

“Woof! My name’s Barclay!” notes the Official Stanley Pup of the @stlouisblues on Instagram. “I’m a good boy who’s training to be a future service dog through @duodogsinc.”

Credits: Barclay mages via instagram.com/stlbluespup. Collar closeup screen capture via YouTube.com/KSDK News. Ring photo courtesy of Jostens.

Role Reversal: Will Single Ladies Propose to Their Guys on Leap Day, Feb. 29?

For more than 1,500 years, February 29 has been reserved for single ladies who have waited far too long for their guys to pop the question. Leap Day, which hits the calendar every four years, is a time when traditional roles are reversed and women are encouraged to pop the question.

Leap Day marriage proposals have their roots in 5th century Ireland, where St. Brigid of Kildare forged a deal with St. Patrick to permit women to propose to men every four years. In Ireland, Leap Day is also called Bachelor’s Day.

This Irish tradition was then brought to Scotland by Irish monks. Legend states that in 1288, the Scotts passed a law that allowed women to propose on Leap Day. If the man refused the proposal, he would have to pay a fine, ranging from a kiss to a silk dress or a pair of gloves. In upper-class circles, the fine would be 12 pairs of gloves. Presumably, the gloves would hide the shame of not wearing an engagement ring.

In English law, the day February 29 had no legal status, so some Brits believed that traditional customs held no status on that day either. Hence, women were free to reverse the unfair custom that permitted only men to propose marriage.

This theme was celebrated in the 2010 romance/comedy Leap Year. Amy Adams plays the part of Anna, who is frustrated when another anniversary passes without a marriage proposal from her boyfriend. When she learns about the Irish tradition that allows women to pop the question on Leap Day, she rushes to Dublin to track down the boyfriend at a convention just in time to deliver a marriage proposal on February 29.

There is some evidence that more women are considering the idea of popping the question — any day of the year. Pinterest reported in December 2018 that searches on its site for the phrase “women proposing to men” had skyrocketed 336% compared to 2017.

On Christmas Day, Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn shook up the Internet when she proposed to her NHL pro boyfriend P.K. Subban, stating, “Men deserve engagement rings, too.” Vonn’s proposal needs an asterisk, however. You see, Subban had already proposed to her in August with an emerald ring (because green is her favorite color).

In the fall of 2018, The Knot’s sister site — which covers unique proposals — changed its name from “How He Asked” to “How They Asked.”

“We are strong believers that inclusivity is not optional,” noted Meghan Brown, site director of How They Asked, “and it was about time our name reflected that. How They Asked is a site for everyone.”

A recent survey of 500 men by Glamour found that 70% of men would be “psyched” if their female partner popped the question.

Will Leap Day 2020 mark a turning point for traditional gender roles? Only time will tell.

Credit: Image by BigStockPhoto.com

Swiss Researchers Invent Lightweight 18-Karat Gold That’s Mixed With Plastic

Swiss researchers just unveiled a new type of 18-karat gold that’s made from 75% gold and 25% plastic, yielding super-lightweight, malleable material that weighs just 1/10th to 1/5th as much as the traditional alloy.

The team at ETH Zurich claims that the new lightweight alloy has the exact same lustrous qualities of traditional 18-karat gold, making it an attractive alternative for jewelry manufacturers and designers.

“Lovers of gold watches and heavy jewelry will be thrilled,” wrote Peter Rüegg on ETH Zurich’s official website. “The objects of their desire may someday become much lighter, but without losing any of their glitter. Especially with watches, a small amount of weight can make all the difference.”

The researchers believe that the new material will also be attractive to manufacturers because it is easier to work than traditional precious metals. The melting point of the new material is just 105° C (221° F), versus 1,064° C (1,943° F) for traditional 18-karat gold.

Gold purity is measured by its karatage, with 24-karat gold being 100% pure. Conventional 18-karat yellow gold is made from 75% gold and 25% other materials, such as copper and silver. Popular 14-karat gold is 14/24ths (58.3%) pure gold, and 10-karat gold is 10/24ths (41.6%) gold. Both 14-karat and 10-karat gold are commonly mixed with silver and copper.

With the new material, ETH Zurich scientists used a matrix of plastic in place of metallic alloy elements. Instead of weighing 15 grams per cubic centimeter, the new 18-karat material weighs 1.7 grams per cubic centimeter.

Raffaele Mezzenga, Professor of Food and Soft Materials at ETH Zurich, explained how she and her colleagues used protein fibers and a polymer latex to form a matrix in which they embedded thin discs of gold nanocrystals. In addition, the lightweight gold contains countless tiny air pockets invisible to the eye.

Highlights of the process were recently published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.

“This gold has the material properties of a plastic,” Mezzenga said. “If a piece of it falls onto a hard surface, it sounds like plastic. But it glimmers like metallic gold, and can be polished and worked into the desired form.”

The researchers also claimed that the hardness of the material may be adjusted by slightly altering the composition. The latex, for example, could be replaced by other plastics, such as polypropylene. Also, altering the shape of the gold nanoparticles will change the color from gold to violet.

While Mezzenga and her team see obvious applications for jewelry and watch manufacturers, the material also may be suitable for chemical catalysis, electronics applications or radiation shielding.

Credit: Image by ETH Zurich / Peter Rüegg.