$8 Garage Sale Brooch Delivers $26,250 Windfall at Bonhams Auction

A sparkly red, white and green brooch that was scooped up for just $8 at an Ohio garage sale five years ago delivered a $26,250 windfall at Bonhams New York on Tuesday.

Although the brooch was hardly the highest priced lot of the Bonhams auction, the feel-good It Could Happen to You narrative behind the piece made it the most intriguing.

During the pre-sale hype, Susan Abeles, Director of U.S. Jewelry for Bonhams, told the New York Post, “This is a really wonderful story and it just goes to show, treasures are really everywhere.”

According to the auction house, the owner had presumed the brooch she bought at a garage sale was costume jewelry and gave it to her daughter to wear for church. The daughter reluctantly accepted the gift and placed it at the bottom of her purse, where it remained forgotten for months.

During a chance visit with her local jeweler, the young woman pulled out the brooch and shared the story of how she acquired it. The jeweler inspected the piece and revealed the unexpected news that the piece was very real.

When approached with the $8 brooch, Abeles and her team of jewelry experts immediately sent the stones to the Gemological Institute of America to be tested. Results confirmed that the three primary gems in the piece were not only genuine, but were of gem quality.

Near the top of the brooch is a 1.39-carat old mine-cut diamond that boasts a D color, VS1 clarity and Type IIa purity. The oval-shaped 1.50-carat rectangular-shaped emerald was of Colombian origin and the 0.60-carat oval-shaped ruby was determined to be of Burmese origin.

Old mine-cut diamonds were common in the 19th century and featured a smaller table and larger culet (the small flat surface at the bottom of a diamond) than modern brilliant-cut diamonds.

The gems are set in an openwork stylized shield design (circa 1900), which is crafted from platinum and 14-karat gold. The piece is accented with smaller old European-cut diamonds.

Bonhams set the pre-auction estimate at $20,000 to $30,000.

“Discoveries like these don’t happen very often, so we were delighted to offer this at auction where the actual value of the piece was finally realized,” Abeles told Forbes.com.

Credits: Images courtesy of Bonhams.com.


Government of Botswana Calls ‘First Dibs’ on Exceptional Diamond Discoveries

In mid-November 2015 — during a span of just 72 hours — Lucara’s Karowe Mine in Botswana yielded three exceptional rough diamonds that tipped the scales at a combined 2,296 carats. Now, the government of Botswana wants first dibs on future historic finds.

A new clause in Botswana’s Precious and Semi-Precious Stones Act compels mining companies to notify the minister within 30 days of coming into possession of an “unusual” rough or uncut diamond. The country’s chief mineral officer said that a diamond “outlier” may be considered “unusual” if it demonstrates extraordinary size, quality or color.

The chief mineral officer told BusinessWeek that the government wanted an opportunity to celebrate as national treasures the museum-quality diamonds sourced at Botswana’s mines.

Even though the Karowe Mine is 100% owned by Vancouver-based Lucara Diamond Corp. through its Boteti Mining subsidiary, the government of Botswana will have the right of first refusal on “unusual” diamonds. Purchases of rough diamonds would be made in accordance with the current market price.

Interpreting the market price of enormous gem-quality rough diamonds is not an easy task.

For instance, the largest of the three diamonds discovered in November 2015 still doesn’t have a clear value. Named Lesedi la Rona, the Type IIa diamond weighed a spectacular 1,109 carats, making it the second-largest gem-quality rough diamond ever discovered. Lucara decided to circumvent normal diamond-trading channels and put the gem up for bid at Sotheby’s in 2016. After the diamond failed to meet the $70 million reserve price (bidding stalled at $61 million), Lucara wondered out loud if the stone was just too big to sell.

Today, it remains unsold, and Lucara has seriously considered slicing the mammoth stone into smaller segments. Buyers have been apprehensive to make a play for Lesedi la Rona because of the enormous investment and lack of guarantees. Cutting a 1,109-carat diamond is uncharted territory, fraught with risks.

Lesedi la Rona’s stablemates — the 813-carat “Constellation” and the 374-carat shard that broke off from Lesedi la Rona — were sold for $63 million and $17.5 million, respectively.

With Lucara employing new large diamond recovery (LDR) equipment and X-ray transmissive technology (XRT), the unveiling of the next massive rough diamond could be right around the corner. Under the new rules, Botswana will get first dibs.

Credits: Images courtesy of Lucara Diamond.

Lifelong Cubs Fan and Former Wrigley Field Usher Wins $70,000 Player-Grade 2016 World Series Ring

Geneine Dietz, a lifelong Cubs fan who spent 10 seasons ushering games at Wrigley Field, plunked down $10 on a raffle ticket and scored an authentic, player-grade 2016 World Series ring valued at $70,000.

Dietz’s winning ticket — #001907 — was drawn randomly from more than 25,000 entries. Fans paid $10 per entry to have a chance to win a Cubs championship ring that boasts 5.5 carats of diamonds, 3 carats of genuine Burmese rubies and 2.5 carats of genuine sapphires in a handsome red, white and blue design.

Ironically (and somewhat eerily), the winning ticket number matches the year the Cubs won their first World Series. The club also won in 1908, and then suffered through a championship draught that lasted an agonizing 108 years. The number “108” was so significant that Jostens designed the 14-karat white gold ring with a slew of symbolic elements, including 108 diamonds surrounding the bezel on all sides.

“My friends and family are giddy with excitement and I can’t wait for them to see the ring for themselves,” the Wilmette, Ill., resident said in a statement. “For generations to come, I know my family will take special care of the beautiful World Series ring.”

A photo of Dietz provided by the Cubs, shows the dedicated fan trying on her enormous ring. It’s probably fair to say she won’t be wearing it around the house.

During the 2016 World Series, the Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians in seven games after coming back from a 3-1 deficit. The final game went into extra innings, but the Cubs prevailed 8-7.

“Last year’s World Series journey was remarkable and so is the dedication of our fans,” Cubs executive vice president of community and government affairs Mike Lufrano said in the statement. “We launched the ring raffle to give them the unique opportunity to win arguably one of the most prestigious championship rings in all of sports with proceeds benefiting Cubs Charities. We are thrilled to share this special player-grade ring with a lifelong Cubs fan who will get to treasure this piece of history with her family and friends.”

When the 2016 World Series rings were originally revealed at the start of this year’s baseball season, a Jostens vice president noted that the company had the responsibility to create a once-in-a-lifetime ring for the Cubs organization.

“This iconic piece of jewelry uses intricate craftsmanship to tell the unforgettable story of the Cubs’ World Series victory, which now takes its prominent place in the history of all professional sports,” said Chris Poitras, Jostens Division Vice President, College & Sports.

The World Series ring raffle, which ran from July 7 through September 4, generated more than a quarter-million-dollars for Cubs Charities. The charities are dedicated to improving the lives of children and families across Chicago and beyond. They provide increased access to sports opportunities and target improvements in health, fitness and education for those at risk.

Credits: Geneine Dietz images via Twitter.com/Chicago Cubs; Ring image courtesy of Jostens.

Argyle Mine — World’s Primary Source of Pink, Red and Blue Diamonds — Is Nearly Tapped Out

Rio Tinto’s Argyle Mine in Western Australia — the world’s most prolific diamond mine and primary source for pink, red and blue diamonds — is nearly tapped out. The mine is expected to cease operations in 2021 after a 38-year run that has produced more than 800 million carats of rough diamonds.

While the bulk of Argyle’s yearly output is brown in color, a minute segment of the production represents fancy-color diamonds so rare and so valuable that only 16 people in the world are permitted to touch them.

According to a recent article in The Western Australian, Rio Tinto has 50,000 employees worldwide and not even its London-based CEO, Jean-Sebastien Jacques, is allowed handle the 58 diamonds that make up the 2017 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender.

The 2017 Tender is currently on a multi-city tour that started in Perth, traveled to Hong Kong and will end in New York. At each stop, top buyers are being invited to view the collection and put their secret bids into sealed envelopes. Bidding ends on October 11 and winners will be announced shortly thereafter.

The headliner of the 2017 Tender is a fancy red diamond called the Argyle Everglow. The 2.11-carat, VS2-clarity, radiant-cut diamond was given this name because it seemed to possess an inner glow. The magnificent diamond, which could sell for upwards of $10 million, was cut from a 4.38-carat rough diamond discovered in the fall of 2016. It is the first 2-carat-plus fancy red diamond ever offered by Rio Tinto.

Red diamonds are so rare that in the 33-year history of the Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender there have been fewer than 20 carats of fancy red certified diamonds sold.

The collection includes five “hero” diamonds selected for their unique beauty and named by Rio Tinto to ensure there is a permanent record of their contribution to the history of the world’s most important diamonds:

• Argyle Everglow™ — 2.11-carat radiant-cut fancy red diamond
• Argyle Isla™ — 1.14 carat radiant-cut fancy red diamond
• Argyle Avaline™ — 2.42-carat cushion-cut fancy purple-pink diamond
• Argyle Kalina™ — 1.50-carat oval-cut fancy deep pink diamond
• Argyle Liberté™ — 0.91-carat radiant-cut fancy deep gray-violet diamond

Rio Tinto’s Argyle mine is currently the largest diamond producer in the world by volume and accounts for 90% of the world’s pink diamonds. Once shuttered, the world’s annual supply of fancy-colored pinks, reds and blues are expected to diminish, forcing prices sky high.

If the Argyle Everglow earns a $10 million bid, it will set a record for the highest price ever paid per carat for a gemstone. The current record is held by the 12.03-carat Blue Moon of Josephine, which sold for $48.4 million, or a bit over $4 million per carat.

It is believed that red diamonds get their rich color from a molecular structure distortion that occurs as the jewel forms in the earth’s crust. By contrast, other colored diamonds get their color from trace elements, such as boron (yielding a blue diamond) or nitrogen (yielding yellow), in their chemical composition.

Credits: Images courtesy of Rio Tinto.

Music Friday: Cut Like Precious Diamonds, TobyMac Reflects the Sun in ‘Lights Shine Bright’

Welcome to Music Friday when we often bring you inspirational songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Christian hip-hop recording artist TobyMac collaborates with American Idol contestant Hollyn on “Lights Shine Bright,” an uplifting tune about making the world a better place.

In “Lights Shine Bright,” TobyMac wants to “make this third rock glow” by magnifying God’s light with the brilliance and intensity that only a perfectly cut diamond could achieve.

He sings, “I wanna magnify Your light / I wanna reflect the sun / Cut like precious diamonds / With the colors by the millions.”

Written by David Garcia, Truett McKeehan and Solomon Olds, “Lights Shine Bright” was the fourth track from TobyMac’s 2015 release, ***THIS IS NOT A TEST***. The album zoomed to #4 on the Billboard 200 and scored a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album in 2016.

TobyMac’s official website explains that the songs on the album provide an essential reminder that “we only have one shot at life.”

“What hits me now more than ever is that you really don’t get a practice run at life,” he explained. “This is it. In my friendships, raising my children, loving my wife, loving people, performing with my band and stepping on stage at arenas, I want to make every moment count.”

“Lights Shine Bright” features the vocal stylings of music-industry newcomer Hollyn, who is best known for her successful run on American Idol during Season 12. A native of Waverly, Ohio, the 20-year-old, whose birth name is Holly Marie Miller, released an album this year called One-Way Conversations.

Born Kevin Michael McKeehan in Fairfax, Va., in 1964, TobyMac has sold more than 11 million records and has earned seven Grammy Awards. He first came on the Christian music scene in 1987 as a member of the vocal trio DC Talk. In 2000, the group announced a hiatus and TobyMac embarked on what has been a successful solo career.

Please check out the official video of “Lights Shine Bright.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Lights Shine Bright”
Written by David Garcia, McKeehan, Truett McKeehan and Solomon Olds. Performed by TobyMac, featuring Hollyn.

Lights shine bright everywhere we go
Music for the people to illuminate the soul
Lights shine bright everywhere we go
Music for the people, makin’ music for the people

I wanna magnify Your light
I wanna reflect the sun
Cut like precious diamonds
With the colors by the millions
This is the only world we know
And for now this rental’s our home
If we gonna be a reflection
Gotta make this third rock glow
(Just so you know …)

Lights shine bright everywhere we go
Music for the people to illuminate the soul
Lights shine bright everywhere we go
Music for the people, makin’ music for the people

Lights shine bright everywhere we go
Music for the people to illuminate the soul
Lights shine bright everywhere we go
Music for the people
Jesus music for the people

Everywhere we go
Lights shine bright, lights shine bright
Everywhere we go
Lights shine bright, lights shine bright

Lights in the city might be more than pretty, pretty
That freaky shine might be more than meets the eye
Anytime you see that sparkle in the dark you might look deeper, deeper
It might be more than simply theatre

Yo, that smile might be joy that’s connected to the spirit
The spirit might be contagious if you dare, you dare come near it
I remember, can’t forget, peace that you can’t second guess
Sparkle as the light reflects we writin’ pay it forward checks

Lights shine bright everywhere we go
Music for the people to illuminate the soul
Lights shine bright everywhere we go
Music for the people, makin’ music for the people

Lights shine bright everywhere we go
Music for the people to illuminate the soul
Lights shine bright everywhere we go
Music for the people
Jesus music for the people

Everywhere we go
Lights shine bright, lights shine bright
Everywhere we go
Lights shine bright, lights shine bright

The lights in the city shine bright
The lights in the city shine bright
So let your heart light shine tonight

Lights shine bright everywhere we go
Music for the people to illuminate the soul
Lights shine bright everywhere we go
Music for the people, makin’ music for the people

Lights shine bright everywhere we go
Music for the people to illuminate the soul
Lights shine bright everywhere we go
Music for the people
Jesus music for the people

Everywhere we go
Lights shine bright, lights shine bright
Everywhere we go
Lights shine bright, lights shine bright…

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Royal Treatment: 3,500-Year-Old Tomb of Egyptian Goldsmith and His Wife Discovered in Luxor

Ancient Egyptians were captivated by gold. They considered gold “the skin of the gods” and associated it with eternity. They wore elaborate jewelry to enhance their beauty, indicate their social status and to express their spirituality. Egypt’s connection with gold dates back more than 5,000 years, and the goldsmiths who worked with the precious metal were held in the highest regard.

On Saturday, Dr. Khaled El-Enany of the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry announced the discovery of a 3,500-year-old tomb built for a prominent goldsmith named Amenemhat and his wife, Amenhotep. The tomb is located near the Nile River at the cemetery of Dra’ Abu el-Naga in Luxor, an ancient city often characterized as the “world’s greatest open-air museum.”

Hieroglyphic inscriptions found inside the tomb affirmed the name of its owner and his profession. Buried with their parents were two adult children.

Archaeologists, led by Dr. Mostafa Waziri, Director General of Luxor, used a ladder to descend 20 feet into the tomb. The entrance led to a square chamber, where a partly damaged sandstone statue depicted Amenemhat sitting in a high-back chair next to his wife, who is wearing a long dress and a wig. Between them, in a smaller scale, is a figure of one of their sons.

Objects, such as gilded coffins, vessels, death masks, obelisks, statues — and jewelry — were often placed in Egyptian tombs to accompany the deceased to the afterlife. Amenemhat’s tomb included jewelry, but the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry has yet to release photos of these items.

Dr. El-Enany explained that the distinguished couple and their two sons lived in the 15th century B.C. Archaeologists believe that the tomb was also reused during the 11th and 10th centuries B.C.

Ancient Egyptians’ affinity for gold was bolstered by the vast natural resources that were being mined in Egypt’s Eastern Desert and Nubia (“nub” is the Egyptian word for gold).

Credit: Tomb photos courtesy of the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry; Luxor temple photo by Hajor, via Wikimedia Commons, released under cc.by.sa.

Bounce, Bounce, Plop: Anxious Suitor Fumbles Engagement Ring on Picturesque Footbridge in KC

With his hands sweating and his heart thumping, Seth Dixon became an accidental media star early this week when he fumbled a diamond engagement ring through the planks of a wooden footbridge in Kansas City. The 26-second video of a marriage proposal gone horribly wrong has caught the attention of major media outlets from coast to coast and around the globe.

The Kansas City resident had planned to surprise his girlfriend, Ruth Marie Salas, by popping the question on Saturday at picturesque Loose Park.

“I knew I wanted to propose [at Loose Park] just because it’s kind of our spot,” Dixon told local television station KSHB. “We just kind of fell in love with the park and the beauty of it.”

With a friend documenting the momentous event on her cell phone, Dixon went down on one knee at the crest of the bridge. The anxious suitor popped open the black ring box, but couldn’t keep a grip on the engagement ring. Dixon and Salas looked on in disbelief as the $4,000 diamond ring bounced twice on the bridge, disappeared through a gap between the boards and splashed into the pond below. Circled in the photo, above, is the ring just before it falls through the bridge.

“It ping-ponged through the crack and I hear it plop in the water,” Salas told KSHB. “I didn’t know what else to think but, ‘Oh my goodness.'”

Dixon, Salas and the friend made an attempt to rescue the ring, but the poor visibility and deep silt made the search very difficult.

They returned Sunday morning with a metal detector enthusiast, who came up empty because the water was too deep.

At 11 a.m. the couple attended a church service and told the congregants from Lifegate Church in Independence about their plight. By 3 p.m., more than 25 friends from the church had donned goggles and swimming gear to join in the search. Fellow parishioner and professional wedding photographer Staci Dabney captured the water-bound excitement on Sunday.

Despite the outpouring of love and support from the community, the ring could not be found.

On Monday, a GoFundMe page was established on behalf of the couple. The funds were earmarked for a replacement ring, but by Tuesday afternoon, the campaign was marked completed after only $261 had been raised. It looks as if the viral video will be generating enough cash for the couple to purchase a new ring. Major media outlets will be paying a fee to use the video. As of today, the video was still available to view on the Facebook page of Staci Dabney’s Photography. Click this link.

The internet stars, who had been dating for four years, plan to wed October 21.

Credits: Screen captures via Facebook.com/Staci Dabney’s Photography. Photos courtesy of Staci Dabney Photography.