‘Apollo’ and ‘Artemis’ Diamond Earrings Could Fetch $68 Million at Sotheby’s Geneva

Named after two of the most revered and powerful Olympian deities, Apollo and Artemis, this exquisite pair of diamond earrings — one blue, one pink — could fetch upwards of $68 million at Sotheby’s Geneva on May 16.

Although Sotheby’s is promoting the pear-shaped diamond earrings as a pair, they will be sold as individual lots. “The Apollo Blue” is a fancy vivid blue diamond weighing 14.54 carats, while “The Artemis Pink” is rated fancy intense pink and weighs 16.00 carats. The Apollo Blue carries a pre-sale estimate of $38 million to $50 million. His twin sister, Artemis, is expected to fetch between $12.5 million and $18 million.

“The Apollo and Artemis diamonds will be the stars of our May sale in Geneva — by far the most important pair of earrings ever offered at auction,” noted David Bennett, worldwide chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewelry Division. “These exquisite colored diamonds are enormously rare and each is a wonderful stone in its own right. Together, as a pair of earrings, they are breathtaking.”

According to Sotheby’s, The Apollo Blue is the largest internally flawless fancy vivid blue diamond ever to be offered at auction. The Gemological Institute of America graded it as a Type IIb diamond, a purity rating earned by less than one-half of 1% of all diamonds. The Apollo Blue could be compared favorably to the famous “Oppenheimer Blue,” which set a record last year when it yielded $57.5 million at Christie’s Geneva. That stone weighed 14.62 carats and had a clarity grade of VVS1.

The Artemis Pink, earned a Type IIa rating from GIA, another category describing the most chemically pure type of diamonds. The pink diamond has a clarity grade of VVS2. Both diamonds boast exceptional optical transparency.

In Greek mythology, the twins Apollo and Artemis were the offspring of Zeus and Leto. Apollo was known as the god of the sun, archery and prophecy. Artemis was revered as the goddess of the moon, chastity, the hunt and the natural environment.

Apollo and Artemis are headlining a five-week promotional tour in the lead-up to the May 16 auction. The tour started in London on Friday and will continue to Dubai, New York, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Geneva.

Blue diamonds owe their color to traces of boron in the diamond’s chemical structure. Pink diamonds, on the other hand, owe their color to the effects of intense pressure and heat while they were still deep within the earth. These factors caused distortions in the diamond’s crystal lattice that influence the way the diamond absorbs green light, thus reflecting a pink hue.

Credit: Image courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Returning Airman Proposes to Houston Rockets Dancer During Blindfolded Halftime Stunt

A blindfolded Houston Rockets dancer got the surprise of her life on Friday when a silly halftime stunt turned into a heartwarming on-court marriage proposal.

Casey Potter, a veteran Rockets Power Dancer, thought she was being a good sport by participating in a halftime attraction that would feature Clutch, The Rockets Bear, hitting a trampoline, propelling himself over the dancer and slam-dunking a basketball.

While the Humble, Texas, native stood blindfolded facing center court near the free-throw line, her boyfriend, Travis Ross of the U.S. Air Force, had sneaked onto the court to pop the question in front of a sold-out arena of excited basketball fans. Potter had no idea that her boyfriend had returned home from active duty.

When the Rockets’ halftime announcer untied Potter’s blindfold, the Airman First Class was already down on bended knee with a ring in hand. Potter initial reaction was priceless — and awkward — as she stumbled backward and plopped down on the thick mat that was intended for the high-flying stunt. Somewhat embarrassed and still in shock, she covered her face for a moment and tried to regain her composure.

Then, she stood up with her right hand over her mouth and her left hand held by her kneeling boyfriend. Ross continued with his proposal, which she happily accepted.

In case there was any doubt as to how she reacted when her new fiancé placed the lovely four-prong diamond ring on her finger and asked her to marry him, Potter wrote on her Twitter page, “I definitely said YES!!”

The couple also got a congratulatory message on the Rockets Power Dancers’ official Instagram page: “We may have lost the game [against the Detroit Pistons] but we’ll win your heart with this very special proposal! Casey thought she was getting dunked over by Clutch, The Rockets Bear. Instead she got a ring on it! Congratulations Travis and Casey!”

Needless to say, Clutch never got to perform the flying slam dunk.

Please check out this video of how the surprise proposal played out on Friday night in Houston…

Credits: Screen captures via Instagram/OfficialRPD; Ring shot via Twitter/CaseyPotter68.

Last Day to See Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers Is April 23; Conservation Care to Take One Year

In less than two weeks, the iconic Ruby Slippers made famous by Judy Garland in the 1939 MGM film, The Wizard of Oz, will be pulled from the wildly popular “American Stories” exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

The 78-year-old slippers — which have been slowly deteriorating — will undergo immediate conservation care, thanks to the generosity of 6,451 backers who contributed nearly $350,000 in an October 2016 Kickstarter campaign. The funds are also earmarked for a state-of-the-art display case designed to protect the slippers from environmental harm.

The current damage has been attributed to the slippers’ exposure to light, humidity, oxygen and temperature fluctuations. The Smithsonian noted that their work will include determining the physical state of the slippers through scientific research and testing. This will help curators define the best methods for preservation and treatment, as well as the optimal case and exhibition design.

Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers are often called “the most famous pair of shoes in the world,” but the last day to see the slippers in their current state will be April 23. In about a year, the slippers will return as part of a new exhibition focusing on American popular culture.

The slippers were donated anonymously to the Smithsonian in 1979 and have been on display for nearly three decades.

In the 1900 children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, Dorothy’s slippers were made of silver. According to film lore, screenwriter Noel Langley recommended that they be changed to ruby red so they would stand out better on the yellow brick road when shot in brilliant Technicolor.

MGM’s chief costume designer Gilbert Adrian created multiple pairs of Ruby Slippers for the film, but only four pairs are known to still exist. The Smithsonian’s pair is the one Dorothy wore when she followed the Yellow Brick Road. The felt soles are heavily worn, suggesting they were the 16-year-old Garland’s primary pair for the dance sequences.

A second pair was stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in 2005; a third pair was purchased in 2012 by Leonardo DiCaprio and other benefactors on behalf of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; and a fourth pair is owned by a private collector in Los Angeles.

Interestingly, Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers are not made of ruby at all. In fact, the bugle beads that prop designers used to simulate ruby proved to be too heavy. The solution was to replace most of the bugle beads with sequins, 2,300 on each slipper. The butterfly-shaped bow on the front of each shoe features red bugle beads outlined in red glass rhinestones in silver settings.

Admission to the National Museum of American History is free. It is located in Washington, D.C., on Constitution Avenue, between 12th and 14th streets N.W.

Credits: Images via Smithsonian, Kickstarter.com.

Music Friday: ‘Golden Ring’ Reflects the Turbulent Real-Life Romance of George Jones and Tammy Wynette

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, a modest second-hand wedding band is the focus of “Golden Ring,” a chart-topping duet by country legends George Jones and Tammy Wynette.

In the song, we follow a golden band through a cycle of young love, marriage and eventual heartbreak. Jones and Wynette were a married couple for six years, but divorced in 1975. They continued to perform after the breakup and scored a #1 hit in 1976 with a song that seemed to mirror the story of their tumultuous relationship.

The beginning of the song introduces the listener to a glittering ring that symbolizes all the promise of a young love. The second verse sees the couple exchanging vows and making a home for themselves. In the last verse, however, the relationship has gone sour and the ring reverts to the display case in a second-hand store where it was originally purchased.

The chorus punctuates the prevailing theme: “By itself it’s just a cold metallic thing / Only love can make a golden wedding ring.”

Written by Bobby Braddock and Rafe Vanhoy, “Golden Ring” was the title track to the Jones/Wynette duet album released in 1976 and the second of three #1 hits sung by the duo. The first was “We’re Gonna Hold On” (1973) and the last was “Near You” (1977).

Even though their marriage didn’t end well, in her autobiography, Wynette wrote, “The most fun, the most wonderful part of my career was working with George.”

Born in a log cabin in the small town of Saratoga, Texas, Jones got his first guitar at the age of nine. By 1955, at the age of 24, Jones had already served in the Marines, was married twice and recorded his first hit song, “Why Baby Why.” In 1969, he married Wynette.

Over a career that spanned seven decades, Jones is credited with charting 168 country songs. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992. Jones passed away in 2013 at the age of 81.

Wynette, who was born in Tremont, Miss., in 1942, is considered to be one of the most influential singers in country music history. She scored 20 #1 hits on the U.S. country singles charts (16 solo, three with Jones, and one with David Houston). She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and was ranked #2 in Country Music Television’s “40 Greatest Women of Country Music.”

Plagued by medical problems, which required 15 major operations, Wynette passed away in 1998 at the age of 55.

Please check out the performance of “Golden Ring” by Jones and Wynette. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Golden Ring”
Written by Bobby Braddock and Rafe Van Hoy. Performed by George Jones and Tammy Wynette.

In a pawn shop in Chicago
On a sunny summer day
A couple gazes at the wedding rings
There on display

She smiles n’ nods her head
As he says, “Honey that’s for you,
It’s not much, but it’s the best
That I can do.”

Golden rings (golden ring) with one tiny little stone
Waiting there (waiting there) for someone to take you home
By itself (by itself) it’s just a cold metallic thing
Only love can make a golden wedding ring

In a little wedding chapel later on that afternoon
An old upright piano plays that old familiar tune
Tears roll down her cheeks
And happy thoughts run through her head
As he whispers low, “With this ring, I thee wed.”

Golden ring (golden ring) with one tiny little stone
Shining ring (shining ring) now at last it’s found a home
By itself (by itself) it’s just a cold metallic thing
Only love can make a golden wedding ring

Ooo-ooo
In a small two room apartment
As they fought their final round
He says, “You won’t admit it,
But I know you’re leavin’ town.”

She says, “One thing’s for certain,
I don’t love you any more.”
And throws down the ring
As she walks out the door

Golden ring (golden ring) with one tiny little stone
Cast aside (cast aside) like the love that’s dead and gone
By itself (by itself) it’s just a cold metallic thing
Only love can make a golden wedding ring

In a pawn shop in Chicago
On a sunny summer day
A couple gazes at the wedding rings
There on display,
Golden ring.

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Jewelry Dating Back to the Indonesian Ice Age Suggest a Flourishing Artistic Culture

Newly discovered pendants and beads fashioned from the bones of “pig-deer” and monkey-like marsupials suggest that the Ice Age inhabitants of Indonesia had a flourishing artistic culture.

A team of archaeologists from Australia and Indonesia discovered the artifacts at Leang Bulu Bettue, a cave and rock shelter on Sulawesi, the largest island in Wallacea.

One of the more fascinating items in the cache is a pendant made from the finger bone of a marsupial known as a bear cuscus. Believed to be 26,000 years old, the drilled and perforated bone was designed to hang from a string. Wear marks seem to indicate that the ornament repeatedly rubbed against skin or clothing.

Other jewelry items found in the cave included a batch of disc-shaped beads made from the teeth of a babirusas, a boar-like animal also known as a “pig-deer.” Interestingly, the land mammals of Sulawesi occur nowhere else on earth, a phenomenon called “endemism.”

Archaeologists previously believed that the Ice Age hunter-gatherers living amidst this stretch of islands between Southeast Asia and Australia were less sophisticated than their European counterparts. However, mounting evidence is forcing them to modify their thinking.

Found on the Leang Bulu Bettue site, for example, were mineral pigments, such as red- and mulberry-colored ochre, as well as a hollow bone that could have been used as a primitive airbrush. These items help paint a picture of a culture that was sensitive to art, beauty and personal adornments.

The scientists from Griffith University’s Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution (ARCHE), along with an Indonesian team, detailed their findings Tuesday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We uncovered abundant evidence for a variety of symbolic behavior, suggesting a flourishing artistic culture existed on Sulawesi during the tail end of the last Ice Age,” study lead author Adam Brumm told Live Science.

Credits: Photos and illustrations by Griffith University; Map by Altaileopard (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

A Star Is Born: Pink Diamond Sells for $71.2M, Shattering the Auction Record for Any Gemstone

A star was born Tuesday when a 59.6-carat, flawless, fancy vivid pink diamond shattered the world record for the highest price ever paid for any gem at auction. The Pink Star’s hammer price of $71.2 million at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite sale in Hong Kong easily surpassed the $57.5 million achieved in May of 2016 by the previous record-holder, the 14.62-carat Oppenheimer Blue diamond.

The Pink Star was hardly a stranger to Sotheby’s auction block. Back in November 2013, the extraordinary diamond made headlines around the world as it fetched an astounding $83 million in Geneva. All the fanfare turned sour a few months later when the buyer defaulted on the payment. Sotheby’s paid the guaranteed minimum of $60 million and took ownership of the gem. In 2016, the auction house revealed that two firms — Diacore and Mellen Inc. — had purchased an interest in the Pink Star, with the third partner being Sotheby’s.

The newest owner of the Pink Star is Hong Kong-based luxury jewelry retailer Chow Tai Fook, which outbid two other contenders in an intense, five-minute contest. Chow Tai Fook operates more than 2,000 jewelry and watch stores throughout China. In 2016, the company purchased the Aurora Green diamond for $16.8 million at Christie’s Hong Kong.

Diacore (formerly Steinmetz Diamond Group) was responsible for taking the original 132.5-carat rough diamond and fashioning it into an oval mixed-cut masterpiece — a process that would take two years. The gem had been unearthed by De Beers in Botswana in 1999. The gem was unveiled to the public as the Steinmetz Pink in 2003. It was sold four years later to an undisclosed buyer.

Sotheby’s pre-sale estimate had been set at $60 million, a sum that still would have earned the world record. The final sale price exceeded the estimate by nearly 19%.

It is believed that pink diamonds owe their color to the effects of intense pressure and heat while they were still deep within the earth. These factors caused distortions in the diamond’s crystal lattice that influence the way the gem absorbs green light, thus reflecting a pink hue.

Credits: Images courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Wrestling Superstar John Cena Puts a Diamond Ring on Nikki Bella at WrestleMania 33

Wrestling superstar John Cena proposed to longtime girlfriend and tag team partner, Nikki Bella, in front of a thrilled house at WrestleMania 33 on Sunday. After defeating The Miz and Maryse in a featured bout, Cena called Bella to the center of the ring, where the 6’1″, 250 pound powerhouse went down on one knee and presented Bella with a 4-carat diamond ring.

“I have been waiting so long to ask you this,” Cena said, as he juggled the ring mic in one hand and the ring box in the other. “Stephanie Nicole Garcia-Colace, will you marry me?”

Cena, 39, used Bella’s non-stage name during his proposal. His birth name is John Felix Anthony Cena Jr. The couple had been dating since 2012.

Bella nodded her approval and then teared up as Cena placed the sparkler on her left ring finger. The couple embraced, basking in the cheers from adoring fans at the sold-out Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.

Celebrity stylist and diamond expert Michael O’Connor told UsMagazine.com that the ring reflected a classic style with a sporty twist — making it perfect for the 33-year-old wrestler, one of the popular Bella Twins. Fabricated in either platinum or white gold, the ring features a 4-carat round diamond accented by a diamond-embellished band.

“The style is a classic solitaire resting upon a band of diamonds,” O’Connor continued. “What gives the ring the sporty twist is that the center diamond is held with six prongs — as opposed to four prongs — to keep it safer. The same is true of the channel-set band. The channel setting modernizes the look, but also keeps the diamonds safer, because they are set deeper into a channel, without prongs, which is perfect for a more active woman.”

O’Connor placed the value of the ring at approximately $85,000.

Bella, who shares a Twitter page with her real-life twin sister, Brie, told their 2.93 million followers how excited she was to be engaged to the love of her life.

“My Prince Charming made me his Queen in a place we call home,” she wrote, punctuating the sentence with heart and diamond ring emojis. “Last night was truly unforgettable. A dream come true!”

Cena, Bella and guest ring announcer Al Roker shared a red eye back to New York on Sunday night so they could all appear on NBC’s Today Show on Monday morning.

Cuddling next to her beau on a Today Show set that was made to look like a wrestling ring, Bella said, “I never actually would have thought that he would have proposed in front of all those people, but that’s home for us. WWE is our home, it’s where we met, it’s our passion, it’s our life. Honestly, I could not ask for it to be any other way.”

Added Cena, “I found the absolute right person. I found a strong person [who] I consider an inspiration, an equal, somebody who when I’m feeling down picks me up… It took a person that strong to change my view on life.”

When a Today Show host pressed Bella for a wedding date, the Total Divas star admitted she was ready to “get this party started.”

Check out the clip of Cena proposing to Bella Sunday night at WrestleMania 33 in Orlando…

Credits: Images courtesy of WWE; Twitter.com/BellaTwins; Screen capture via Today.com.