LA Rams’ Super Bowl Rings Contain 20 Carats of Diamonds, Turf and Game Ball Leather

The Super Bowl LVI rings presented to the Los Angeles Rams’ players, coaches and staff on Thursday set a record for the highest diamond carat weight in the history of NFL championship rings while pushing the envelope of conventional design.

Certainly, each ring pops with 20 carats of white diamonds, along with custom-cut blue and yellow sapphires set in white and yellow gold. But what really stands out is a top that spins off to reveal a miniature SoFi stadium complete with remnants of actual field turf and a snippet of game ball leather.

Jason Arasheben, CEO of Jason of Beverly Hills, described how he and Rams’ team members immersed themselves in the design process. It was important for Arasheben to really understand the dynamics of the team, the season and the city.

Arasheben explained, “We spent an entire day at SoFi Stadium. The first thing I said was, ‘What can you get me from the game? The field? Ball? What else?” I didn’t just want it to be historical in design, but have physical elements from the event as well. It all adds value and authenticity, creating a one-of-a-kind piece of memorabilia.”

The ring commemorates the Rams’ historic 23-20 Super Bowl win over the Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium, the stunning $5 billion state-of-the-art complex that officially opened in September of 2020. The ring’s 20-carat total weight is a nod to the 2020 grand opening. It was only the second time in NFL history that a team has won the Super Bowl in their home stadium. (NFL fans know that Super Bowl locations are planned many years in advance.)

The face of the ring features the Vince Lombardi Trophy, comprised of one marquise stone and a trophy base rendered in .12 carats of round diamonds to represent the team’s 12 regular season wins. The palm trees on either side of the Trophy celebrate Los Angeles and consist of .26 carats of diamonds representing the franchise’s 26 total postseason wins. The Rams’ LA logo features special-cut blue and yellow sapphires.

Given the significance of SoFi Stadium to the Rams and the story of the entire 2021 NFL season, the shape of the Super Bowl LVI ring mimics architectural and design elements of the stadium, including the tall columns that support the translucent canopy roof. The .23 carats of diamonds on the stadium columns represent the 23 points scored in the Super Bowl to secure a Rams victory.

With a simple twist, the removable top opens to reveal a miniature of SoFi Stadium’s bowl, complete with the Infinity Screen. The green turf is rendered with paint infused with pulverized remnants of the actual turf used during the 2020 and 2021 seasons. The underside of the removable top features an interpretation of SoFi Stadium’s translucent, new-generation plastic roof surrounded by a piece of a Super Bowl LVI game ball.

With their rings turned sideways, players can look right through to the other side, as well as peek in on the inner bowl of the stadium and check out the messaging on the Infinity Screen. The actual Infinity Screen by Samsung is suspended 122 feet above the field and boasts the largest LED content playback system ever deployed. The 70,000 square-foot, dual-sided video board comes to life with nearly 80 million pixels spaced 8 millimeters from center to center.

One side of the ring features the player’s name with their number adorned in diamonds. The name is featured on a plate that mimics the extreme horizontal shape of the Infinity Screen. Below the player’s number is the team’s “We Not Me” motto.

The other side of the ring shows the Super Bowl LVI final score of 23-20, as well as the NFL Shield and Super Bowl LVI logo. “WORLD CHAMPIONS” is featured on a plate that also mimics the shape of the Infinity Screen.

The 1.12 carats of round diamonds on the top of the ring represent January 12, honoring a key recurring date in Rams history: On January 12, 2016, the Rams were approved to move back to Los Angeles; on January 12, 2017, the Rams hired Head Coach Sean McVay, and on January 12, 2019, the Rams beat the Cowboys for their first playoff victory after returning to LA.

The underside of the ring features all the final scores of all the playoff games of the 2021 season, including Super Bowl LVI.

The team just released a four-minute video that presents an insider’s look at the design and fabrication of the Rams’ Super Bowl LVI Ring. You can see it here…

Credits: Images courtesy of Jason of Beverly Hills.

Music Friday: Gypsies Claim, ‘If You Wear Golden Earrings Love Will Come to You’

Welcome to Music Friday when we frequently feature throwback songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, music legend Willie Nelson sings his rendition of the haunting love song, “Golden Earrings.”

Originally performed by Murvyn Vye in the romantic 1947 spy film of the same name, “Golden Earrings” tells the story of how golden earrings take on mystical qualities when they are worn by a man.

The song begins like this: “There’s a story the gypsies know is true / That when your love wears golden earrings / He belongs to you.”

The next verse states: “An old love story that’s known to very few / But if you wear these golden earrings / Love will come to you.”

Now, if you’re wondering why a guy is wearing golden earrings, the answer lies in the plot of the movie… On the eve of World War II, a British colonel, played by Ray Milland, escapes from the Gestapo to the Black Forest and poses as the beau of a beautiful gypsy (Marlene Dietrich) to elude his captors.

As Les Adams outlined for IMDB.com: “She pierces his ears for dazzling golden earrings, stains his skin, dresses him in [gypsy] clothes and teaches him to read palms. His disguise is perfect and he emerges unharmed from several encounters with Nazi patrols.”

Over the past 69 years, “Golden Earrings” has been covered by no fewer than 50 artists, including Peggy Lee (who scored a hit in 1947), Bobby Darin (1964) and Nelson (1983).

In Nelson’s rendition, the line “He belongs to you” is changed to “She belongs to you.”

“Golden Earrings” was the sixth track on Nelson’s album Without a Song, a release that ascended to #3 on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums chart. The album also ranked #54 on the U.S Billboard 200.

Willie Hugh Nelson was born in Abbott, TX, in 1933, and during his 66-year career has demonstrated a wide range of talents. The American icon is a musician, singer, songwriter, author, poet, actor and activist. He has recorded 97 studio albums and appeared in more than 30 films and television shows. At 89 years old, he still has an active touring schedule.

This summer, he will be appearing in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Virginia, New Hampshire, New York, Georgia, North Carolina, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey and California.

He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1993, won the lifetime award of the Library of Congress in 2015 and was honored by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the “100 Greatest Singers” and “100 Greatest Guitarists” of all time.

Please check out the video of Nelson performing “Golden Earrings.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Golden Earrings”
Written by Victor Young, Ray Evans and Jay Livingston. Performed by Willie Nelson.

There is a story the gypsies know is true
That when your love wears golden earrings,
She belongs to you.

An old love story that’s known to very few,
But if you wear these golden earrings,
Love will come to you.

By the burning fire, they will glow with ev’ry coal.
And you feel desire whisper low inside your soul.

So be my gypsy,
Make love your guiding light,
And let this pair of golden earrings
Cast their spell tonight.

By the burning fire, they will glow with ev’ry coal.
And you will hear desire whisper low inside your soul.

So be my gypsy,
Make love your guiding light,
And let this pair of golden earrings
Cast their spell tonight.

So be my gypsy,
Make love your guiding light,
And let this pair of golden earrings
Cast their spell tonight.

Credits: Willie Nelson photo by Flickr user @giovanni, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Lucky Charms’ Limited-Edition Cereal Features Diamond-Shaped ‘Magic Gems’

A 15-second commercial for Lucky Charms breakfast cereal reveals the magical story behind the new rainbow-speckled, diamond-shaped marshmallow charms that have been added to the limited-edition summertime rollout.

The “Magic Gems” commercial opens with two young explorers looking for Lucky the Leprechaun in a dense jungle.

“Where’s Lucky,” asks the boy.

“I know he’s around here somewhere,” answers the girl as he she peers down the void of a hollowed out tree stump.

The camera’s point of view dives deep underground, where we see Lucky collecting a gleaming white Magic Gem to help him navigate a goblin’s den.

Lucky says, “Rainbow Gems, you are the spark with your rainbow sparkles. I can see in the dark.”

The back of the cereal box explains the fantastical backstory, that “Magic Gems have been stowed away in the goblin’s den for centuries and hold the power of rainbow vision to see in the dark, helping whoever finds them navigate their way through the darkest of places.”

As generations of Lucky Charms fans already know, the cereal contains colorful marshmallow charms, each of which bestow upon Lucky their own special powers: hearts (power to bring things to life), shooting stars (power to fly), horseshoes (power to speed things up), clovers (luck, but you never know what kind of luck you’ll get), blue moons (power of invisibility), rainbows (instantaneous travel from place to place), balloons (power to make things float) and unicorns (power to bring color to the world).

Food reviewers have generally given the “Magic Gems” edition of Lucky Charms a collective thumbs up, although they agreed that the taste of the rainbow-speckled, diamond-shaped “gem” was indistinguishable from the other marshmallow charms.

It’s hard to imagine that Lucky Charms is celebrating its 58th year in the General Mills lineup.

The sweet treat was a conceived by product developer John Holahan, whose prototype was a mixture of Cheerios cereal pieces mixed with chopped up fragments of his favorite candy — Circus Peanuts.

According to General Mills, Lucky Charms debuted in 1964 with oat cereal in the shapes of bells, fish, arrowheads, clovers and X’s, complemented by marshmallows in the shapes of green clovers, pink hearts, orange stars and yellow moons.

Today, the marshmallow pieces in Lucky Charms are officially called “marbits.” Of the original marbits, only the pink hearts remain.

Trivia: Lucky the Leprechaun was replaced in 1975 by a character named Waldo the Wizard. Waldo’s gig didn’t last long. Lucky reclaimed his spot less than a year later.

Credits: Lucky Charms box photo via luckycharms.com. Lucky Charms commercial screen capture via Youtube / 325 Entertainment.

Newlywed Jennifer Lopez Gives Us a Peek at Her Platinum Wedding Band

Snuggled under the covers and wearing a simple platinum band on her left hand, a makeup-free Jennifer Lopez proclaimed herself a married lady Monday morning with a casual pic and one-word Instagram caption that read “Sadie!”

Following their high-profile April engagement, Lopez and long-time love Ben Affleck tied the knot at the Little White Wedding Chapel late Saturday night in Las Vegas.

“Sadie, Sadie” is a song from the 1960s musical Funny Girl. After marrying Nick Arnstein, Fanny Brice (wonderfully portrayed by Barbra Streisand) sings, “Mrs. Arnstein, Mrs. Arnstein what a beautiful, beautiful name / Sadie, Sadie, married lady / See what’s on my hand / There’s nothing quite as touching / as a simple wedding band.”

Dishing to the fans of her On the JLo newsletter, Lopez offered some details about her unpretentious wedding and what she called “the best night ever.”

“We read our own vows in the little chapel and gave one another the rings we’ll wear for the rest of our lives,” she wrote.

We’re assuming that the couple opted for matching platinum bands.

While her off-the-charts, 8.5-carat natural green diamond engagement ring is said to be worth somewhere between $5 million and $10 million, Lopez’s platinum band probably carried a price tag of $1,000, according to Jenny Luker, president of Platinum Guild International USA.

“Jennifer’s wedding ring is a classic and timeless style! It looks like a wide, domed platinum band,” she told hellomagazine.com. “Jennifer’s ring is a beautiful symbol of her love and commitment to Ben because platinum is precious, rare and lasts a lifetime.”

The A-listers rekindled their romance in early 2021 and got engaged in early April 2022, nearly 20 years after the 52-year-old singer/actress accepted the 49-year-old Affleck’s first proposal in November of 2002. At that time, the actor and filmmaker presented Lopez with a 6.1-carat pink diamond from Harry Winston. Lopez returned the ring when the couple broke up in 2004.

In a 13-second video shared with the fans of her On the JLo newsletter in April, a teary-eyed Jennifer Lopez gazed down at her cushion modified brilliant-cut green diamond flanked by two colorless trapezoid diamonds and whispered, “You’re perfect.”

Affleck had chosen a green diamond because the color holds a special place in Lopez’s heart.

“I always say the color green is my lucky color,” Lopez affirmed in an earlier newsletter item. “Maybe you can remember a certain green dress (Versace, 2000 Grammys). I’ve realized there are many moments in my life where amazing things happened when I was wearing green. It may be a coincidence, maybe not. But as I took a better look, I realized there are no coincidences.”

Credits: Wedding band image via Instagram / jlo. Engagement ring images via onthejlo.com.

Nick Cannon’s Engagement Ring Post on Instagram Sends Internet Into a Frenzy

Nick Cannon’s Instagram post from this past Thursday sent the Internet into a frenzy as his 5.9 million followers and countless fans wondered if he was really engaged to model Bre Tiesi, or if the post was just a clever publicity stunt.

The Wild ‘n Out host shared a photo of the couple embracing along with a closeup image of him opening a ring box containing a massive pear-shaped diamond. The caption read, “I said I would never do it again but… Finally doing what the world wants me to do…” He punctuated his sentiments with an engagement ring emoji.

By Friday evening, Cannon had come clean on Entertainment Tonight, admitting that he and Tiesi were not engaged. The teaser was intended to promote the official music video for his new release, “Eyes Closed.” He told the viewers of ET that the song about “just going in with your eyes closed and being a hopeless romantic.”

In the video, Cannon and Tiesi are enjoying a romantic getaway in a luxury suite. He has the ring box hidden behind a potted plant on the dresser. The scene starts in the morning, but he doesn’t get the courage to pop the question until that evening. The large pear-shaped stone is prominently shown as the couple embraces on the balcony with the city lights in the background. (In real life, Cannon and Tiesi are in a relationship and she is pregnant with his eighth child.)

Cannon confessed to BET that filming a video about getting engaged was “very scary” and that tying the knot again wasn’t part of his near-term plans.

“That’s a big step, especially [with] all that I got going on in my life. Just the hint of it shocked the world,” he told BET. “If imma do that, I got to be really ready and prepared.”

The “Eyes Closed” video ends with Cannon dressed in a white suit, playing a white grand piano. Eagle-eyed fans will notice that he seems to wearing his famous $2 million diamond-encrusted shoes — the same patent leather Tom Fords that he donned for the season finale of NBC’s America’s Got Talent in September of 2014.

Valued at $2 million and dripping with 14,000 full-cut diamonds set in white gold, the slip-ons were ordered by Cannon to deliver a “wow factor” to the Season 9 finale.

At the time, Beverly Hills jeweler Jason Arasheben told Matt Lauer of the Today Show that the shoes took 2,000 man-hours to create and feature 340 carats in diamonds. Lauer, who modeled the diamond loafers during the broadcast, joked that his calves were getting a workout.

“They are heavy,” Lauer said.

Cannon has publicly stated the shoes will eventually be sold, with he proceeds going to charity. For now, they seem to remain part of his extensive shoe collection.

In June 2017, Cannon showed off his diamond footwear for an online episode of Complex Closets. He revealed that he owns stunt-double shoes decorated with Swarovski crystals. They look similar to the diamond shoes, except for a thin strip of black leather that wraps the heel. The stunt-double shoes allow him to walk around freely without having to worry about extra security.

Credits: Nick Cannon “Eyes Closed” images via Instagram / Nick Cannon. Cannon at the piano screen capture via Youtube.com / Nick Cannon. Diamond shoes image via Instagram / jasonofbeverlyhills.

24,679-Gem Stunner Obliterates Record for ‘Most Diamonds Set in One Ring’

India-based jewelry manufacturer SWA Diamonds just obliterated the Guinness World Record for the “Most Diamonds Set in One Ring” with its head-turning creation — “The Touch of Ami” — which sparkles with an astonishing 24,679 gems.

Inspired by the graceful, undulating layers of the pink oyster mushroom, SWA’s design nearly doubled the number of natural diamonds employed by the previous record holder.

Indian jeweler Harshit Bansal had held the Guinness Record in this category since December 2020. His piece, dubbed “The Marigold – The Ring of Prosperity,” turned heads with an eight-layer floral ring set with 12,638 diamonds.

SWA noted that the pink oyster mushroom symbolizes immortality, longevity and eternity. “Ami” is the Sanskrit word for immortality.

Rijisha TV, a post graduate in lifestyle accessory design from the National Institute of Design, is credited with conceiving “The Touch of Ami,” a grueling process that took 90 days to achieve, according to SWA.

A five-minute video provided by SWA shows how “The Touch of Ami” came to be, from conception to completion. The manufacturer shares behind-the-scenes footage of how the origin sketches evolved into computer-aided designs. And then SWA takes the viewer through model making, casting, assembly, polishing and plating processes.

“Most Diamonds Set in One Ring” is a popular category for Guinness World Records. There have been five title holders since July of 2018. Just when you think you can’t possibly fit any more diamonds onto a single ring, these designers have continued to push the boundaries.

Ranked 3rd – “The Divine – 7801 Brahma Vajra Kamalam” (October 2020). India-based jeweler Kotti Srikanth designs a 7,801-diamond ring inspired by the rare Brahma Kamalam flower, which is native to the Himalayas.

Ranked 4th – “Lotus Temple Ring” (August 2019). Lakshikaa Jewels of Mumbai fabricates the 7,777-diamond “Lotus Temple Ring,” which takes its inspiration from the famous Lotus Temple in Delhi.

Ranked 5th – “Lotus Ring” (July 2018). Indian jewelers Vishal and Khushbu Agarwal set 6,690 diamonds into an 18-karat rose gold ring that resembles a lotus flower.

SWA Diamonds is a brand owned by Capestone, one of South India’s largest manufacturers of gold, diamond, and platinum ornaments based out of Karathode, Kerala, India.

Check out SWA’s video below…

Credits: “The Touch of Ami Ring” pics courtesy of SWA Diamonds. Pink oyster mushroom photo by transcendancing, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Music Friday: How ‘Diamond Ring’ Lyrics Nearly Derailed Lynn Anderson’s ‘Rose Garden’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great throwback songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, we recount the story of how country music legend Lynn Anderson nearly lost an opportunity to record what would become her signature song — “Rose Garden” — due to the “diamond ring” lyrics in the second verse.

Anderson was a big fan of “Rose Garden,” a tune penned in 1967 by Joe South and recorded by South and two other male artists from 1967 through 1969. She wanted to cover it for an upcoming album, but her producer (and husband) Glenn Sutton was adamant that “Rose Garden” was not a “girl’s song” because of a key line that went like this: “I could promise you things like big diamond rings / But you don’t find roses growin’ on stalks of clover / So you better think it over.”

“I had objected to it because it was a man’s song and I didn’t wanna do it, but she kept bringin’ it in with her – she loved it,” Sutton told author Michael Kosser in the book, How Nashville Became Music City U.S.A (2006).

As luck would have it, Anderson had some extra time left in one of her studio sessions, and Sutton finally relented — with a few conditions. He insisted on adding an up-tempo arrangement accompanied by a mandolin player and a full string section.

Columbia Records executive Clive Davis was so impressed with the recording that he insisted the song be released as a single in October of 1970 for the country and pop markets.

The song not only topped the U.S. Billboard Country chart, but it also reached #3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and became a major hit internationally. It went to #1 in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland and Norway. “Rose Garden” is considered one of the most successful country crossover songs of all time.

Anderson told the Associated Press in 1987 that “Rose Garden” was perfectly timed to appeal to the youth of 1970.

“It was popular because it touched on emotions,” Anderson said. “It was [released] just as we came out of the Vietnam years and a lot of people were trying to recover. This song stated that you can make something out of nothing. You take it and go ahead.”

The song’s reprise, “I never promised you a rose garden,” essentially means “I never told you it was going to be easy.”

In 2019, Rolling Stone magazine included “Rose Garden” on its list of the “20 Songs That Defined the Early Seventies.”

“Rose Garden” netted Anderson a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance in 1971, while South picked up two Grammy nominations, one for “Best Country Song” and the other for “Song of the Year.”

Born in Grand Forks, N.D., Lynn Rene Anderson generated crossover hits throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and continued to tour until her death in July 2015 at the age of 67.

Singer Dolly Parton said at the time, “Lynn is blooming in God’s Rose Garden now. We will miss her and remember her fondly.”

Check out the video of Anderson’s terrific live performance of “Rose Garden” in 2011. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along. Enjoy!

“Rose Garden”
Written by Joe South. Performed by Lynn Anderson.

I beg your pardon
I never promised you a rose garden
Along with the sunshine
There’s gotta be a little rain some time
When you take you gotta give so live and let live
Or let go oh-whoa-whoa-whoa
I beg your pardon
I never promised you a rose garden

I could promise you things like big diamond rings
But you don’t find roses growin’ on stalks of clover
So you better think it over
Well if sweet-talkin’ you could make it come true
I would give you the world right now on a silver platter
But what would it matter
So smile for a while and let’s be jolly
Love shouldn’t be so melancholy
Come along and share the good times while we can

I beg your pardon
I never promised you a rose garden
Along with the sunshine
There’s gotta be a little rain some time

I beg your pardon
I never promised you a rose garden

I could sing you a tune and promise you the moon
But if that’s what it takes to hold you
I’d just as soon let you go
But there’s one thing I want you to know
You better look before you leap, still waters run deep
And there won’t always be someone there to pull you out
And you know what I’m talkin’ about
So smile for a while and let’s be jolly
Love shouldn’t be so melancholy
Come along and share the good times while we can

I beg your pardon
I never promised you a rose garden
Along with the sunshine
There’s gotta be a little rain some time,
I beg your pardon
I never promised you a rose garden

Credit: Photo by Mikiesmonkey, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

‘The Bachelor’ Alum Bekah Martinez Loves Her Heart-Shaped Diamond Engagement Ring

Bekah Martinez, a fan favorite on Season 22 of The Bachelor back in 2018, couldn’t be more thrilled with the heart-shaped diamond engagement ring she accepted from longtime boyfriend Grayston Leonard this past weekend.

“I CAN FINALLY STOP CALLING THIS MAN MY BOYFRIEND!!!!! she wrote on her Instagram page. “Also SO in love with my ring, it’s more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.”

Martinez revealed that she and her fiancé picked out the ring last year from an online store that specializes in ethically sourced diamonds, but she didn’t get to see the finished piece until the actual proposal.

“Can’t get over this ring!!!!!!” she exclaimed in a post punctuated with three heart-eyed smiley faces and seen by her 716,000 Instagram followers.

Martinez, who is the founder of eco-conscious clothing company Good Alma, told People magazine that she had wanted a heart-shaped diamond since 2015. That’s when Lady Gaga received an 8-carat, heart-shaped diamond engagement ring from actor Taylor Kinney on Valentine’s Day.

While Martinez and Gaga’s rings both featured heart-shaped stones, the settings couldn’t have been more different. Martinez has her diamond mounted on a thick gold band, while Gaga’s diamond was set on a thin, white-metal band adorned with diamond pavé.

Gaga’s band also had a surprise detail that the singer called her “favorite part” of the ring. “T [heart] S” was spelled out in pavé diamonds at the base of the band. “S” is for Stefani, Gaga’s birth name.

Sadly, Gaga’s engagement to Kinney lasted 17 months. They broke up in July of 2016.

Martinez, 27, and Leonard, 33, have been a couple since 2018 — just after she returned home from filming Season 22 of The Bachelor. She had made it through Week 8 and finished 5th among 29 contestants.

The newly engaged couple share two children, daughter Ruth Ray De La Luz, 3½, and son Franklin James, 2. Grayston, the founder of the Long Beach Rising rock climbing gym, had popped the question very early in their relationship, but Martinez said she wasn’t ready to make a commitment at that time.

Credits: Images via Instagram / Bekah.

Jewelry Sales Juggernaut Continues; June 2022 Spending Up 86.6% Vs. 2019

The jewelry sales juggernaut soared to new heights in June 2022, as consumer spending increased by 16.2% compared to June of 2021 (YOY) and an incredible 86.6% versus the pre-pandemic figures of June of 2019 (YO3Y).

The jewelry segment’s three-year gain outpaced every other retail category.

Jewelry’s sales performance in June 2022 mirrored May 2022’s stellar numbers when YOY sales were up 22.3% and YO3Y sales soared 65.4%.

These statistics were reported by Mastercard SpendingPulse™, which measures in-store and online sales across all forms of payment.

The credit card company emphasized that discretionary spending in June 2022 continued to drive growth across the fashion-forward sectors.

In addition to the impressive gains in jewelry sales, luxury items (excluding jewelry) saw a June 2022 increase of 4% YOY, and a 54% YO3Y.

And with summer in full swing, consumers continued to break out from pandemic restrictions and spend more on travel experiences: Lodging registered strong gains of 33.7% YOY and 30.4% YO3Y, while Airlines followed a similar, albeit less impressive, trend line of 18.2% YOY and 7.3% YO3Y.

Overall consumer spending in June (excluding auto and gas) was up 6.1% YOY and 17.1% YO3Y.

According to Mastercard SpendingPulse™, e-commerce grew at a slower pace in June (1.1% YOY) but were roughly double June 2019 levels. By comparison, in-store sales in June 2022 were up 11.7% YOY and 10.7% YO3Y.

Mastercard SpendingPulse™ findings are based on aggregate sales activity in the Mastercard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for certain other payment forms, such as cash and check.

Credits: Shopper image by Bigstockphoto.com. Table courtesy of Mastercard SpendingPulse™.

Norwegian Auction Site Delivers Viking Gold Ring in a Package of Costume Jewelry

It’s not every day that a rare solid gold artifact from the Late Iron Age turns up in a package of costume jewelry, but that’s the exact scenario a young Norwegian woman faced when she got a lot more than she paid for at an online auction site.

After previewing pics of the site’s offerings, Mari Ingelin Heskestad honed in on a bold, twist-motif gold-colored ring.

“It was really heavy, and shiny. It looked very special,” Heskestad told Bergensavisen, BA, a Norwegian newspaper.

Heskestad wasn’t allowed to purchase the single ring, which was part of a grouping of 50-plus items. Instead, she had to bid on the complete lot — a mixed bag of low-value, non-precious earrings, bracelets, pendants, brooches and rings. Also thrown into the lot was a pocket-knife, pill box, pipe and other trinkets.

When the package arrived, the gold ring turned out to be even more special than Heskestad expected.

Her father-in-law, who has some experience with historical artifacts, suspected that the ring might be from the Scandinavian Viking Age and advised Heskestad to contact the Vestland County archaeological team.

Karoline Hareide Breivik, acting section leader for cultural heritage in Vestland County, was able to quickly confirm that Heskestad’s gold ring was, indeed, from the Late Iron Age/Viking Age, which dates between 400 AD and 800 AD.

Breivik said that rings with this twist motif have been found in Norway in the past, but they were mostly made from silver.

“Gold was rare during the Viking Age,” Unn Pedersen, an associate professor of archaeology at the University of Oslo, told Science Norway. “So this would have been reserved for the richest and most powerful people in society.”

Based on its size and weight (11 grams or 0.4 ounces), the gold ring was likely worn by a male of high social and economic status, perhaps a Viking chief, reported Science Norway.

Archeologists are often frustrated when there is no way to track the precise origin of an artifact. The Viking ring couldn’t be tracked to a particular place or person because it was one of many jewelry items from an unnamed estate that had been randomly packed into banana crates and shipped to the auction site for liquidation.

Heskestad wasn’t permitted to keep the ring because of its historical nature. Instead, it will have a new home at Norway’s University Museum in Bergen, where it will make its public debut in the fall of 2022.

Credits: Images courtesy of Vestland County Municipality.