Crystals That Sparked South African ‘Diamond Rush’ Are Identified as Quartz

In the world of fine gemstones, looks can sometimes be deceiving. This was the hard lesson learned by 3,000 fortune seekers who descended on Ladysmith, South Africa, early last week after a cattle herder stumbled upon a large clear crystal that appeared to be a diamond.

The resulting “diamond rush” was supported by the fact that South Africa has been a world leader in diamond production for the past 150 years. The country currently hosts seven major diamond mines and generates more than 7 million carats per year. In fact, the largest diamond ever discovered — the 3,106-carat Cullinan — was unearthed in 1905 about 400km northwest of Ladysmith, near Pretoria.

Armed with picks and shovels, people from across the country rushed to the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province, where a 50-hectare (123-acre) search area became a field of dreams.

Sadly, those dreams were dashed when a local official announced on Sunday that the rare “diamonds” of Ladysmith were merely quartz crystals.

“The tests conducted conclusively revealed that the stones discovered in the area are not diamonds as some had hoped,” said Ravi Pillay, a provincial executive council member for economic development and tourism.

Quartz is the second-most-abundant mineral on planet Earth, just behind feldspar. The quartz crystals mined at the site in Ladysmith carried little or no value.

While most of the amateur miners packed up their belongings and headed home, about 500 stayed on the site, convinced that the stones had real value and that the government officials may not have been telling the truth.

Meanwhile, Pillay said that the search area posed a threat to grazing cattle because it was pocked with numerous holes, some as deep as one meter.

Credit: Image by Michael J. Stahl, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Pacific Beach Community Comes Together to Reunite Woman With Lost Engagement Ring

The close-knit community of Pacific Beach, just north of San Diego, came together recently to reunite a woman with her cherished diamond engagement ring.

Lee Miller had been on a mission to purchase a gift certificate from a popular Italian restaurant on Cass Street when she realized her engagement ring was missing. Earlier, she had taken it off and placed it in her pocket while doing some house cleaning.

“I was extremely upset! Miller told San Diego’s CBS8. “This is one of my favorite rings. I had actually picked it out myself. I just loved it.”

Miller was not sure exactly when the ring fell out of her pocket. She retraced her steps, but her efforts were fruitless. She spoke to local business owners, but nobody had turned in her precious jewelry. On the afternoon of June 9, she posted a plea to a local community group on Facebook.

She wrote, “Lost engagement ring anywhere between Cass in front of Enoteca Adriano to intersection of Cass & Tourmaline… Please comment if you see it!”

Later that day, a Facebook user commented that someone had just posted a flyer about a ring that was found. It was taped to a pole in front of Carousel Cleaners on Cass Street, only one block from the Italian restaurant.

A local couple, who wished to remain anonymous, told CBS8 that they were walking to a restaurant on Cass St. when they saw an object sparkling on the ground. They secured the ring and immediately posted a flyer that noted that the ring was found on June 9. They provided an email address and requested that anyone attempting to claim the ring must provide a complete description and their contact information.

Thanks to the efforts of the Good Samaritans and Facebook community, Miller now has her ring back.

“It was the most amazing and wonderful thing ever,” Miller told CBS8. “I gave them a thank you card. I just said, ‘Thank you so very much!’ It was wonderful.”

According to the CBS8 report, Miller’s thank you card included a cash reward.

So, what was the key takeaway from Miller’s experience?

“I am probably never going to put a ring in my pocket ever again,” she said, smiling, “even if it has a very secure zipper, because you never know!”

Credits: Video captures via

This 1,098-Carat Gem-Quality Rough Diamond Ranks Among the Largest of All Time

Debswana unveiled on Wednesday a three-inch-tall, 1,098-carat, gem-quality rough diamond discovered at its Jwaneng mine in Botswana. Estimated to be worth more than $55 million, the gem ranks fourth on Wikipedia’s list of the largest rough diamonds of all time.

Debswana’s acting managing director Lynette Armstrong presented the stone to Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Wednesday. About the size of a tennis ball, the frosty-white gem measures 73mm (2.87in) long, 52mm (2.04in) wide and 27mm (1.06in) thick. Discovered on June 1, it’s the largest diamond ever recovered by the mining company, which has been operating for more than 50 years..

Interestingly, four of the top five rough diamonds on the Wikipedia list were sourced in Botswana, a tiny African nation that is one of the world’s leading producers of top-quality diamonds. Botswana’s Karowe mine was the source of the 1,758-carat Sewelô (#2, 2019), the 1,109-carat Lesedi la Rona (#3, 2015) and a 998-carat unnamed stone (#5, 2020). At the top of the list is the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond, which was discovered in South Africa in 1905.

The exciting thing about massive rough diamonds is that they are often transformed into incredibly large finished diamonds. For example, gems cut from the Cullinan Diamond include the Cullinan I (530.20 carats) and the Cullinan II (317.4 carats).

Back in April 2019, luxury jeweler Laurence Graff revealed the principle diamond cut from the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona. The 302.37-carat square emerald-cut stunner was believed to be the largest D-flawless gem ever certified by the Gemological Institute of America. Also cut from that large rough were 67 “satellite” diamonds ranging in size from just under 1 carat to more than 100 carats.

Debswana, which is a joint venture between De Beers and the Botswana government, has yet to determine how its 1,098-carat gem will be sold. It might go through the De Beers channel or via the state-owned Okavango Diamond Company. It will be exciting to see if the principle diamond from this stone will weigh 300 carats or more.

Just last month, we reported that Debswana is committed to spending $6 billion on a massive project that will extend by 20 years the lifespan of Jwaneng, which is widely acknowledged as the world’s richest diamond mine. When it reaches full capacity in 2034, Jwaneng will be generating 9 million carats per year. Since 1982, Jwaneng has been an open-pit mine, but the next phase of its operations will see the company channeling underground.

Diamonds are Botswana’s main source of income and account for about 80% of its exports.

Credit: Image via Diamond Company.

Music Friday: ‘California Gold’ Makes a Cameo in Lady Gaga’s ‘Always Remember Us This Way’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you amazing songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Lady Gaga performs her breathtakingly beautiful masterpiece, “Always Remember Us This Way,” from the blockbuster 2018 motion picture A Star is Born.

Gaga plays Ally, an aspiring singer/songwriter, whose career is set into motion by Jackson “Jack” Maine, a famous country rock star, played by Bradley Cooper. The two fall for each other and Ally professes her love in our featured song, which contains a first-verse reference to a famous 1849 gold rush.

She sings, “That Arizona sky burning in your eyes / You look at me and babe, I wanna catch on fire / It’s buried in my soul like California gold / You found the light in me that I couldn’t find.”

Jack spontaneously proposes to Ally with a make-shift engagement ring made from an intricately twisted guitar string, and the couple weds the same day at a church ministered by a relative of their friend, Noodles.

Written by Gaga (under her birth name Stefani Germanotta) and three collaborators, “Always Remember Us This Way” became an international hit. It charted in 30 countries and was nominated for Song of the Year at the 62nd Grammy Awards. It eventually lost out to “Shallow,” another Gaga song from the same film.

As of May 2021, “Always Remember Us This Way” has received over 600 million streams on Spotify, and the official video has been viewed on YouTube more than 317 million times.

The video starts with Jack encouraging an apprehensive Ally to sing her original song at the end of his concert. Ally sits at the piano and delivers a performance that has been called “mesmerizing,” “emotional” and “powerful.” Many YouTube commenters admitted that the song brought them to tears.

Please check out Gaga performing “Always Remember Us This Way.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Always Remember Us This Way”
Written by Natalie Hemby, Hillary Lindsey, Stefani Germanotta and Lori McKenna. Performed by Lady Gaga.

That Arizona sky burning in your eyes
You look at me and babe, I wanna catch on fire
It’s buried in my soul like California gold
You found the light in me that I couldn’t find

So when I’m all choked up
But I can’t find the words
Every time we say goodbye
Baby, it hurts
When the sun goes down
And the band won’t play
I’ll always remember us this way

Lovers in the night
Poets tryin’ to write
We don’t know how to rhyme
But, damn, we try
But all I really know
You’re where I wanna go
The part of me that’s you will never die

So when I’m all choked up
But I can’t find the words
Every time we say goodbye
Baby, it hurts
When the sun goes down
And the band won’t play
I’ll always remember us this way

Oh, yeah
I don’t wanna be just a memory, baby, yeah
Whooo, whooo, who who
Whooo, whooo, who who
Whooo, whooo, who who

When I’m all choked up
And I can’t find the words
Every time we say goodbye
Baby, it hurts
When the sun goes down
And the band won’t play
I’ll always remember us this way, way, yeah

When you look at me
And the whole world fades
I’ll always remember us this way

Credit: Screen captures via / Lady Gaga.

Lucara Unveils 470-Carat Diamond From Botswana’s Prolific Karowe Mine

And the gigantic diamonds just keep coming… Lucara just released details about a 470-carat top light brown diamond — the latest high-profile discovery from its prolific Karowe Mine in Botswana. The diamond ranks #36 on the list of the largest rough diamonds of all time.

During the past six years, the Karowe Mine has made an indelible mark on the precious stone sector by producing seven of the world’s top 36 diamonds, including the #2-ranked 1,758-carat Sewelô (2019), the #3-ranked 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona (2015), the #4-ranked 998-carat unnamed diamond (2020) and the #9-ranked 812-carat Constellation (2015).

Year to date, Karowe has produced 10 diamonds greater than 100 carats, including the 341-carat and 378-carat top white diamonds recovered back-to-back in January of this year.

Lucara’s latest find, which measures 49mm x 42mm x 26mm (about the size of a golf ball) and displays a light-brown tint, was recovered in the the company’s Coarse 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 new technology can identify and isolate large diamonds before they go through the destructive crushing process.

Despite its massive size, Lucara’s newest find tips the scales at barely 15% of the weight of the granddaddy of them all — the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond, which was discovered in South Africa in 1905. Polished gems cut from the Cullinan Diamond include the Cullinan I (530.20 carats) and the Cullinan II (317.4 carats).

Lucara reported that its May 2021 production run produced an unexpectedly high percentage of diamonds greater than 10.8 carats. These larger rough gems accounted for 12.7% of the mine’s output, by weight.

The Karowe Mine is expected to be turning out high-value rough gems until 2046 under a renewed licensing agreement between Lucara Diamond Corp. and the Government of Botswana. Signed in January, the 25-year deal between Lucara Diamond Corp. and the Government of Botswana will pave the way for the underground expansion of Karowe, which has been operating since 2012.

Credit: Image courtesy of Lucara Diamond Corp.

Gold Coin That Shouldn’t Have Seen the Light of Day Fetches $18.9MM at Sotheby’s

A Depression-Era $20 gold coin that wasn’t meant to see the light of day became the world’s most valuable coin last week when it was scooped up by an anonymous bidder at Sotheby’s New York for a cool $18.9 million.

Although 445,500 Double Eagle gold coins were struck by the Philadelphia Mint in 1933, none of them were intended for circulation. In the midst of The Great Depression and faced with a banking crisis that spooked consumers into hoarding gold, the federal government outlawed the possession of gold coins.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt insisted that all Double Eagle coins — except for two museum specimens — were to be melted into gold bars.

Two of the beautiful coins had been set aside to be part of the National Numismatic Collection and one additional coin eventually turned up in the collection of King Farouk of Egypt, who had obtained it in 1944. More recently, the U.S. government confiscated 10 Double Eagles discovered by a Philadelphia family at the bottom of an old safe deposit box in 2003. Those Double Eagles are now in the hands of the National Mint.

When King Farouk was deposed in 1952, many of his possessions were liquidated at auction, including his prized 1933 Double Eagle.

The Farouk coin remained under the radar until 1996, when it resurfaced in the possession of British coin dealer Stephen Fenton. He was arrested by U.S. Secret Service agents at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York as part of a sting operation. Fenton testified that the 1933 Double Eagle was from the Farouk collection and the charges against Fenton were subsequently dropped. The case was settled in 2001 when the defendant agreed to relinquish ownership to the U.S. government and the coin could be sold at auction.

In 2002, the coin was sold to a then-anonymous bidder at a Sotheby’s auction for $7.59 million. We’ve since learned that the winning bid was cast by luxury shoe designer Stuart Weitzman.

Last week, the only privately owned, legally obtained 1933 Double Eagle set a new auction record at a hammer price that was more than double what the 79-year-old designer paid 19 years ago. Sotheby’s had estimated that the coin would sell in the range of $10 million to $15 million.

The design for the $20 Double Eagle was the work of famous sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who chose an advancing figure of Liberty for the obverse and a flying eagle on the reverse. The coin was nicknamed “Double Eagle” because $10 coins at that time were called “eagles.”

Along with the Double Eagle, Weitzman also offered two other high-profile items for sale at Sotheby’s. One was a grouping of four famously misprinted stamps called the “Inverted Jenny,” which fetched $4.9 million, and a rare stamp called the 1856 British Guiana One-Cent Magenta, which sold for $8.3 million.

Weitzman told news agencies that he will use the proceeds from the three items to help fund his charitable ventures.

Credits: Images courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Smithsonian’s Hope Diamond Display to Reopen June 18 After Being Shuttered for 461 Days

The gallery housing the Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, will finally reopen to the public Friday, June 18, after being shuttered for 461 days.

The Hope Diamond is the museum’s most popular exhibit, as more than 100 million visitors have marveled at the 45.52-carat blue gem since it was donated to the Smithsonian by famed jeweler Harry Winston in 1958. Today, the Hope Diamond is estimated to be worth $250 million, making it the single most valuable item at the Smithsonian.

“After 15 months, we’re excited to welcome visitors back to the museum safely,” said Kirk Johnson, Sant Director of the National Museum of Natural History. “We’ve missed the millions of people who come here every year to deepen their appreciation for science and the natural world and look forward to inspiring them once again.”

While the Hope Diamond in the Harry Winston Gallery will be thrilling guests, the rest of the gem and mineral galleries on the second floor of the museum will remain closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Additional exhibitions are expected to open through the fall.

Visitors excited to see the Hope Diamond and other exhibitions, including the Nation’s T. rex, will need to reserve a free timed-entry pass. Visitors will be entering the museum from the National Mall side of the building and exiting via the Constitution Avenue side. The museum will be open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the initial reopening phase.

The museum’s official website says that passes will be released on a rolling 30-day basis. They will become available each day, beginning at 8:00 a.m., for time slots 30 days out. Use this link to reserve a maximum of six tickets per party.

Opened in 1910, the National Museum of Natural History is dedicated to maintaining and preserving the world’s most extensive collection of natural history specimens and human artifacts, including 350,000 mineral specimens and 10,000 gems.

Credits: The Hope Diamond photo by Chip Clark / Smithsonian. Virtual tour screenshots via

Celestial Bling: Here’s Why Solar Eclipses Sometimes Look Like Bridal Jewelry

In August of 2017, the “Great American Eclipse” introduced astronomy enthusiasts to a phenomenon called the “Diamond Ring Effect.” On Thursday of last week, a breathtaking “ring of fire” solar eclipse — also known as a wedding band in the sky — dazzled viewers in Canada, Greenland and the Arctic.

Here’s why a solar eclipse can sometimes look like an engagement ring and at other times look like a wedding band…

During a total solar eclipse, the Moon’s orbit places it precisely between the Sun and Earth. With the Moon at just the right distance in its elliptical orbit around the Earth to completely blot out the sun, the Diamond Ring Effect can occur in the instant just before the total solar eclipse and in the moment just after.

Francis Baily in 1836 surmised that the Diamond Ring Effect owed its magic to the rugged surface of the moon. As the moon slowly grazes past the sun, tiny beads of sunlight, now known as Baily’s Beads, can shine through in some places and not in others. When only one single point of sunlight remains, the burst resembles a solitaire diamond and the halo of the sun still visible behind the moon looks like a ring.

Scientists described Thursday’s eclipse as “annular,” a word derived from “annulus,” which means ring-like object. The annular eclipse differs from a total solar eclipse because the apparent diameter of the Moon and the Sun are not exactly the same. The Moon, in its elliptical orbit, is near its farthest point from Earth and seems smaller than average.

With the “ring of fire” solar eclipse, the Moon passes direct in front of the Sun, but does not block it out completely. In this scenario, the golden halo of the Sun peeks out from the blacked-out center, giving the appearance of a wedding band. The rare display lasted for 3 minutes and 51 seconds.

Viewers in a swath of territory across Eastern Canada, Greenland and the Arctic got to see the wedding band in the sky. Viewers in other parts of the Northern Hemisphere experienced a partial eclipse, but no celestial bling.

Solar eclipses happen due to a fascinating mathematical coincidence. The Moon is 400 times smaller than the Sun, but is 400 times closer to the Earth. This results in two celestial discs that are virtually the same size visually.

The next total solar eclipse over North America will take place on April 8, 2024. The next annular eclipse over North America is set for October 14, 2023.

Credits: Ring of Fire image by Brocken Inaglory, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Diamond Ring Effect image by Lutfar Rahman Nirjhar, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Tampa Treasure Hunters Recover Engagement Ring Lost in the Surf for Six Days

After six days of scouring the surf at Egmont Key on Florida’s Gulf Coast, a brokenhearted Isliany Rawshdeh was nearly ready to give up her quest to find her cherished engagement ring — an irreplaceable custom keepsake that was lost on Memorial Day.

But, instead of throwing in the towel, the St. Petersburg, FL, resident acted on a tip and reached out to the West State Archeological Society, a Tampa-based club comprising amateur treasure hunters dedicated to preserving Florida history. Utilizing their keen skills and advanced equipment, the team was able to rescue the young woman’s ring.

Rawshdeh couldn’t have imagined that a joyful Memorial Day romp at the beach would be quickly turning into a nightmare. She had been playing volleyball in about five feet of water when her engagement ring went flying off her hand.

“I was like ‘Oh my God, no! I can’t believe this is happening.’ I told everyone not to move. ‘Please don’t move. We are going to find it,’” Rawshdeh told Tampa-based CW44.

Nearby beachgoers assisted in the search, but their efforts were in vain.

“People were snorkeling. We even got someone with a metal detector right quick and we couldn’t’ find anything,” she said.

Rawshdeh’s determination to find the ring was motivated by what the one-of-a-kind ring symbolized to her and her family. It was custom made by her husband and his design included many special elements.

“Like everything has a meaning in the ring, so we were really devastated,” said Rawshdeh.

Jim Thobe, the president of the West State Archeological Society, acknowledged to CW44 that finding an engagement ring was a unique challenge for his group. They most often search for historical artifacts and coins.

Thobe assembled his members and they worked as a team to find Rawshdeh’s ring. After a few hours on the scene, metal detectorist Mike picked up a signal and dug the ring out of the sandy bottom.

Mike gave the ring to Rawshdeh’s husband, who saw this as a great opportunity for a surprise second proposal.

Rawshdeh explained how it went down… “He sat next to me and he kissed me and he says, ‘Sometimes life just smiles at you,’ and put the ring on my finger again.”

Credits: Screen captures via CW44 Tampa Bay.

54-Carat ‘Chrysler Diamond’ Edges Out ‘Dancing Sun’ As Top Lot at Christie’s NY

Framed by an oversized graphic of New York City’s iconic Chrysler Building, auctioneer Rahul Kadakia slammed his hammer down to close out the bidding on the top lot at Christie’s Magnificent Jewels event on Tuesday. It was 1:25 in the afternoon, and the 54.03-carat “Chrysler Diamond” — Lot 136 — had just fetched $5.07 million, narrowly edging out the 204.36-carat “Dancing Sun” diamond, which earned $4.95 million 90 minutes earlier in the session.

Based on Christie’s choice of background graphics, the New York auction house clearly anticipated that the Chrysler Diamond would be the star of the high-profile event. The internally flawless diamond had been owned by Thelma Chrysler, the daughter of industrialist Walter Chrysler, who self-financed the 1,046-foot-tall Chrysler Building, an Art Deco marvel that was, for a short time in 1930, the tallest building in the world.

As the heir to the Chrysler fortune, Thelma became a prominent figure in New York high society. Her wardrobe was so spectacular that much of it was bequeathed to the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art before her death in 1957.

Among Thelma’s prized possessions was the pear-shaped Chrysler Diamond, which was then known as the Louis XIV diamond and weighed 62 carats. Later, under the direction of luxury jeweler Harry Winston, the Chrysler Diamond was recut to achieve the highest potential color and clarity of D-flawless. At 58.6 carats, the newly trimmed stone was mounted as the centerpiece of a tiara, which included six pear-shaped diamonds totaling 22 carats and 233 smaller diamonds weighing 120 carats.

Christie’s reported that the opulent headpiece was exhibited in 1962 at the Louvre in Paris as part of the museum’s “Ten Centuries of French Jewels” exhibition.

Just a year later, the Chrysler Diamond was removed from the headpiece and paired with a second diamond weighing 61.08 carats. The pair of diamonds — now called “The Geminis” — were made into matching earrings and sold to Canadian socialite Eleanor Loder. During this time, the original Chrysler Diamond was recut to its current size of 54.03 carats.

In 1983, the earrings were acquired by a private collector, who chose to separate the Geminis and, instead, highlight the Chrysler Diamond as the centerpiece of a regal necklace adorned with 43 brilliant-cut, pear-shaped diamonds.

Bidding on the Chrysler Diamond started at $2.6 million and edged up in increments of $200,000, finally topping out at $4.2 million. With the Buyer’s Premium, the final price was $5.07 million.

Two hours earlier, bidding on Lot 68, The Dancing Sun, also started at $2.6 million. Bidding accelerated in increments of $200,000, then $100,000 and then $50,000 until the price settled at $4.1 million. With the Buyer’s Premium, the final price was $4.95 million.

The Fancy Intense Yellow, cushion modified brilliant-cut, VVS2-clarity gem had been cut from a rough stone called “552,” a name that was a nod to its enormous 552.74-carat size. The gem had been unearthed at the Diavik Diamond Mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories and has the distinction of being the largest rough diamond ever discovered in North America.

The winner bidders for the Chrysler Diamond and The Dancing Sun were not immediately revealed.

Credits: Screen capture via; Images courtesy of Christie’s.