JC Sipe Jewelers Blog

JC Sipe Jewelers Blog
May 24th, 2017
A Texas storm chaser successfully combined the two loves of his life when he popped the question to his girlfriend with a tornado spinning perilously nearby.



An amazing photo posted to his Facebook page on May 17 shows 25-year-old Alex Bartholomew on bended knee as he proposes to his girlfriend, Britney Fox Cayton. Sharing the romantic scene with the couple is a twister descending from a giant, grey storm cloud.



"I thought it would be kind of cool to combine the two best things in my life," Bartholomew told Today.com. "I really wanted it to go like this. I really wanted to propose in front of a tornado to combine the two loves of my life."

Bartholomew's friend, Jason Cooley, took the shots that caught the attention of high-profile media outlets, such as Inside Edition, USA Today, Brides.com, Huffington Post and NPR.

“I wanted to get the tornado right in between them,” Cooley told Inside Edition. “I was worried the tornado was going to disappear. The tornado waited for us. The scene was perfect.”

Bartholomew, who works with his new fiancée at Home Depot in Temple, Texas, fulfills his passion for tornados by taking a few weeks off every year for what he calls a "chase-cation." This is when he invites his friends to join him in his pursuit of spectacular weather systems — and twisters.



Cayton and Cooley agreed to participate in Bartholomew's latest chase, but the future bride had no clue a marriage proposal was in the offing. Bartholomew had purchased the ring in March, but was waiting for just the right time to pop the question.

That time came to pass last Tuesday near picturesque McLean, Texas.



“I had no idea, it was complete shock,” Cayton told Inside Edition. “I just nodded because I couldn’t get the words out I was tearing up so bad.”

"Wow, what a day," Bartholomew wrote on his Facebook post. "2 (maybe 3 tornadoes), great storms and most importantly she said YES!"

The storm chaser added, "I seriously couldn't ask for a better life and I can't wait to spend it with her by my side."

The couple's story was immortalized on NPR. Click the link to hear host David Greene reporting for the Morning Edition.

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/529634838/529634839

Credits: Images via Facebook/Alex Bartholomew; Facebook/Britney Fox Cayton.
May 23rd, 2017
Thirty years ago, a woman from west London scooped up a showy ring for £10 ($13) at a car boot sale. Convinced that it was costume jewelry due to its inexpensive price, oversized center stone and filthy mounting, the woman cleaned it up and made it part of her day-to-day fashion wardrobe. (For Brits, a car boot sale is akin to a flea market.)



Now, decades later, Sotheby's London will be putting the ring on the auction block on June 7 for a staggering pre-sale high estimate of $448,000. You see, the bauble turned out to be a 26.27-carat, antique cushion-shaped diamond that dates back to the 19th century.

"The owner would wear it out shopping, wear it day-to-day. It's a good looking ring," Jessica Wyndham, head of Sotheby's London jewelry department, told the BBC. "But it was bought as a costume jewel. No one had any idea it had any intrinsic value at all. [She] enjoyed it all this time."

Only recently, a local jeweler told the owner that the ring could be very valuable. The owner, who did not want to be identified, took the ring to Sotheby's, which confirmed the authenticity of the diamond with a report from the Gemological Institute of America. The diamond earned an impressive clarity grade of VVS2 and an "I" color rating.

Sotheby's believes the ring will sell in the range of $320,000 to $448,000.

The owner had been convinced that her stone was a fake because it didn't sparkle like a modern diamond.

"With an old style of cutting... the light doesn't reflect back as much as it would from a modern stone cutting," Wyndham said. "Cutters worked more with the natural shape of the crystal, to conserve as much weight rather than make it as brilliant as possible."

Wyndham said the sale of the ring would be life-changing for the owner. She called the ring a "one-off windfall, an amazing find."

Credit: Image courtesy of Sotheby's.
May 22nd, 2017
Two of world's finest opals — the Virgin Rainbow and the Fire of Australia — are jetting 7,000 miles from Adelaide to Doha to headline a three-week special exhibition at the Australian Embassy in Qatar. This will be the first time the gems have been seen outside of Australia.



Valued at more than $1 million combined, the famous pair will join 60 others selected from the South Australian Museum’s wildly popular "Opals" exhibition, which ended its run in 2016. The Doha exhibition will be open to the public from May 24 through June 15, 2017.

South Australian Museum Director Brian Oldman noted that he was thrilled to share the finest examples of Australia’s national gemstone with the people of Qatar.



“The Virgin Rainbow is the finest crystal opal specimen ever unearthed,” he said. "It has only been on public display once before, and will provide visitors to the exhibition with an unmatched spectacle of color and beauty.”

Measuring 2.4 inches long and displaying a full spectrum of brilliant color, the finger-shaped specimen seems to have a light source all its own.

“It’s almost as if there’s a fire in there,” Oldman had told AFP in 2015. “You see all different colors. As the light changes, the opal itself changes. It’s quite an amazing trick of nature.”



The 4,990-carat Fire of Australia is acknowledged as the world’s most valuable piece of rough opal. The opal was purchased for AU$500,000 ($372,000) through the generosity of a private donor and funding from the Australian government’s National Cultural Heritage Account. Two faces of the Fire of Australia have been polished to reveal the magical colorations inside, transitioning from green to yellow to red, depending on the angle from which it is viewed.

Scientists claim that between 97 million and 100 million years ago, Australia’s vast inland sea, which was populated by marine dinosaurs, began retreating. As the sea regressed, a rare episode of acidic weather was taking place, exposing pyrite minerals and releasing sulphuric acid. As the surface of the basin dried further and cracked, silica-rich gel became trapped in the veins of the rock. Over time, the silica solidified to form opals.

Today, Australia produces more than 90% of the world’s precious opals.

The exhibition reflects a growing relationship between Australia and Qatar, which saw the commencement of Qatar Airways' direct flights to Adelaide in 2016.

Photo of Virgin Rainbow opal by Richard Lyons, courtesy of South Australian Museum. Photo of Fire of Australia opal via Facebook.com/SouthAustralianMuseum.
May 19th, 2017
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you classic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today’s featured track is “For Your Love” by the British-invasion band The Yardbirds. The 1965 hit, which features key “diamond” references, was the group’s biggest commercial success, but also triggered the departure of future superstar Eric Clapton.



The song is essentially a love treatise, with lead singer Keith Relf ticking off all the things he would give “for your love.” In addition to offering the moon, the sun and the stars, Relf starts off with a jewelry-related proposition…

Relf sings, “I’d give you everything and more and that’s for sure / I’d bring you diamond rings and things right to your door / To thrill you with delight / I’d give you diamonds bright/ Double takes I will excite / Make you dream of me at night.”

Even though the song rose to #6 on the U.S. Billboard Top 100 chart and scored #1 spots in both the UK and Canada, “For Your Love” was the straw that broke the camel’s back for a 20-year-old Clapton. The lead guitarist left the band eight days after the song's release because he believed it signaled that The Yardbirds were abandoning their blues roots and becoming too commercial. Music historians claim he was also disgruntled having to duplicate the song’s unusual harpsichord intro on his 12-string electric guitar when playing live.

On The Yardbirds official site, guitarist Chris Dreja said "For Your Love" was responsible for bringing the group international fame. He also said that the "weirdness" of the song's time-signature change in the middle became a template for future hits.

"'For Your Love' was an interesting song," Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty told songfacts.com. "It had an interesting chord sequence, very moody, very powerful. And the fact that it stopped in the middle and went into a different time signature, we liked that, that was interesting. Quite different, really, from all the bluesy stuff that we'd been playing up till then. But somehow we liked it. It was original and different."

Ironically, The Yardbirds' signature song and biggest hit wasn't originally intended for the group. Music legend states that songwriter Graham Gouldman wrote it for his own group, the Mockingbirds, but their demo was rejected by Columbia Records. Apparently, the song was also turned down by the producers of Herman's Hermits and the Animals before landing with The Yardbirds.

Musician Dave Liebman, who was hired to write the introduction to “For Your Love,” revealed years later that the use of the harpsichord was a total accident. Upon arriving at the recording studio, he realized that the organ he intended to use was nowhere in site. He had to settle for a harpsichord and history was made — the first rock song featuring a harpsichord.

The Yardbirds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 and are included in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.”

Please check out the video at the end of this post. It’s a rare 1965 clip of The Yardbirds performing “For Your Love” on Shindig!, a U.S. musical variety show. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.

“For Your Love”
Written by Graham Gouldman. Performed by The Yardbirds.

For your love.
For your love.
For your love.
I’d give you everything and more, and that’s for sure.
For your love.
I’d bring you diamond rings and things right to your door.
For your love.

To thrill you with delight,
I’ll give you diamonds bright.
There’ll be things that will excite,
To make you dream of me at night.

For your love.
For your love.
For your love.

For your love, for your love,
I would give the stars above.
For your love, for your love,
I would give you all I could.

For your love.
For your love.
For your love.
I’d give the moon if it were mine to give.
For your love.
I’d give the stars and the sun ‘fore I live.
For your love.

To thrill you with delight,
I’ll give you diamonds bright.
There’ll be things that will excite,
To make you dream of me at night.

For your love.
For your love.
For your love.
For your love.


Credit: For Your Love album cover by The Yardbirds/Epic Records.
May 18th, 2017
A non-matching pair of fancy-color diamond earrings named after the twin deities Apollo and Artemis set an auction record at Sotheby's Geneva yesterday when they sold for a combined $57.4 million. The pink and blue pear-shaped duo now hold the title of the most valuable pair of earrings ever sold at auction.



Sotheby's had promoted the earrings as a pair, but offered them as separate lots. Any fears that the Apollo Blue and Artemis Pink would be separated forever were put to rest when a single anonymous buyer claimed both siblings.

"I am delighted that the stones will remain together as earrings,” noted David Bennett, Worldwide Chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewelry Division.



In the lead-up to the sale, Bennett had accurately portrayed the Apollo and Artemis diamonds as "by far the most important pair of earrings ever offered at auction."

The auction house also announced that the new buyer had renamed both stones. The "Apollo Blue," a fancy vivid blue diamond weighing 14.54 carats, is now called "The Memory of Autumn Leaves," while the "Artemis Pink," a fancy intense pink diamond weighing 16.00 carats, is now called "The Dream of Autumn Leaves."

The Apollo Blue had the distinction of being the largest internally flawless fancy vivid blue diamond ever to be offered at auction. Sotheby's had set a pre-sale estimated price range of $38.3 million to $50.4 million. The hammer price, including the buyer's premium, was $42.1 million. Just last year, the 14.62-carat "Oppenheimer Blue" set a record when it yielded $57.5 million at Christie’s Geneva.

Boasting a clarity rating of VVS2, the pink diamond carried a pre-sale estimate of $12.6 million to $18.1 million and eventually sold for $15.3 million.

Overall, Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Geneva presented nearly 400 pieces and reaped more than $150 million in sales. More than 90% of the lots found buyers and three auction records were broken.

In addition to the record-setting earrings, Sotheby's collected a record price for a fancy intense purplish pink diamond at $13.2 million. That same stone also established a record per-carat price at $1.9 million.

Credit: Image courtesy of Sotheby's. Screen capture via sothebys.com.
May 17th, 2017
Described as a "miracle that came out of tragedy," Texas newlyweds Ariel and Justin Duke were reunited with Ariel's engagement ring and wedding band eight days after a deadly tornado flattened their home and scattered debris for miles.



Having learned of the couple's plight on Facebook, amateur metal-detector enthusiast and Good Samaritan Nathan Wright meticulously scanned the Dukes' devastated property for five hours before finally scoring both rings.

Ariel told Spectrum News that she removed her rings to do some yard work just before the twister obliterated their small, yellow farmhouse in Canton on April 29.



“Literally our house was just leveled. It wasn’t destroyed, it just wasn’t there,” Justin told ABC News.

In the aftermath of the storm, the couple — who had been married only three months — attempted to recover Ariel's precious keepsakes with the help of some friends, but they came up empty.

Their next strategy was to post photos of the rings to Facebook, hoping that someone would find and return them.

“By the time I had come across [the Facebook post] they had kind of given up,” Wright told ABC News. “It was about eight days since [the tornado] happened and they had a bunch of people out there using rakes and doing everything they could to find [the rings].”

Wright explained that it's very difficult to use a metal detector in an area where debris is strewn everywhere, but the small chance of finding the rings was "worth a shot."

After three hours, Wright's search had yielded just a bunch of bullets and pull tabs.

But then, in a grassy field about 100 yards from where the house used to be, he finally started finding coins and kitchen utensils.



"Then I found an earring!" Wright wrote on Facebook. "I was excited, thinking maybe I was getting in the right area. I was praying this whole time that I'd be to find this ring and give some happiness back to this girl after such a rough week. Finally, I bent down to pick up what I thought would be another pull tab and, BAM, I see the gold ring laying under the grass! I hollered out and thanked the Lord!"



Wright had discovered Ariel's engagement ring. Shortly after, about 30 feet away, he detected Ariel's wedding band, as well.

"I bent down and knew the gold looked exactly like the engagement ring," Wright said. "To be able to find both of those in the debris-strewn field like that was unreal. I’ll remember that forever.”

Wright explained on Facebook how he teased Ariel, by revealing the wedding band, at first, but not the engagement ring.

"I showed her the small wedding band first and said, 'I found your ring!' She was very excited but you could tell she was hoping for the other one," he wrote. "Then I pulled the other one out of my pocket. She screamed and bulldozed me with a big hug! She couldn't believe I found both of them. I'm so happy to be able to get these back to her!

“There is a miracle that can come out of tragedy,” Justin told ABC News. “It seemed like we were on downward spiral, but with him finding the rings, we’re on an upswing and getting on with life. We’re going to see what the good Lord has in store for us.”

On Facebook, Ariel posted photos related to ring recovery, as well as a message directed to Wright: "Thanks again for all of your hard work and determination! It's nice to have some miracles from a tragedy. God sent Nathan out for a reason and we couldn't be more blessed! God is good!"

Credits: Images via Facebook.com/alexis.wright.509.
May 16th, 2017
A 373.72-carat chip off the old block recently sold for $17.5 million at Lucara Diamond Corp.'s "Exceptional Stone Tender" in Botswana's capital city of Gabarone.



Immense by most standards, the rough gem is actually a broken shard from the second-largest diamond ever discovered — the 1,109-carat Lesedi la Rona. Discovered in 2015, that diamond is about the size of a tennis ball and weighs nearly a half pound. Only the 3,106-carat Cullinan, unearthed in South Africa in 1905, was larger.



The shard was the largest of the rough diamonds included in Lucara's Exceptional Stone Tender. In total, the extraordinary collection of high-value diamonds showcased 15 stones totaling 1,765.73 carats. The entire grouping yielded $54.8 million.



Interestingly, the 373.7-carat shard was the smaller of two shards broken off the Lesedi la Rona. The other was "The Constellation," an 813-carat marvel that sold for $63 million in 2016, setting a world record for a rough gem. All three stone are rated Type IIa, the purest of all diamonds because they are composed solely of carbon with virtually no trace elements in the crystal lattice. Each of the three was found within two days of each other in mid-November 2015.

Had the Lesedi la Rona remained intact during the mining and sorting process, the rough gem would have tipped the scales at more than 2,295 carats. While the shards have found buyers, Lesedi la Rona remains unsold. A $61 million bid at Sotheby's in 2016 failed to meet the reserve price.

The gems in Lucara's "Exceptional Stone Tender" ranged in size from 29.90 carats to 373.72 carats, with three individual stones weighing more than 200 carats and seven selling for more than $2 million each.

All of the gems were unearthed at Lucara's Karowe mine in central Botswana. The mine has been in operation since mid-2012 and has consistently yielded a steady stream of truly exceptional diamonds. The rough diamond tender ran from May 3 to May 11.

Credits: Images courtesy of Lucara.
May 15th, 2017
An Australian woman named Anna wore her engagement ring around her neck for 18 months without realizing it.



Anna's boyfriend, Terry, had given her a hand-carved necklace made out of Huon pine — a variety native to Tasmania — for their one-year anniversary in 2015. Little did she know that hidden in the center of the unique keepsake was a secret compartment containing a diamond engagement ring.

"I had always loved the idea of giving someone a gift where they didn’t know its true value," Terry told metro.co.uk.

Anna cherished the thoughtful gift and wore it continuously for the next year and a half.

Terry planned to propose to Anna last fall on a trip to Smoo Cave in northern Scotland. It was a place the couple dreamed of visiting since they first met, and "smoo," appropriately, is an old Norse word meaning "hiding place."

Before they got to their Scottish destination, Terry feared that his surprise might be foiled. For instance, he worried that the X-ray machine at airport security might expose the precious metal-and-diamond treasure tucked in the wooden necklace. It didn't.

Months earlier, Terry learned that a local blacksmith had admired Anna's carved necklace and that his girlfriend had contemplated trading it for some of the blacksmith's work. She didn't.



Finally at Smoo Cave, Terry convinced Anna to take off the necklace so he could photograph it against a rocky backdrop. After taking the shot, he used a knife to crack open the seal that kept the two halves of the necklace together.

With his camera focused on the couple and set on automatic, he went down on bended knee and slid the opposing halves of the necklace apart to expose the engagement ring inside.



“She stood there with this completely confused and dumbfounded look on her face," Terry told the Huffington Post. "And when she finally worked out what had just happened, she yelled, ‘Yes!’ and pounced on me.”

After she was able to collect her thoughts, Anna expressed some lighthearted objections to her fiancé's clever — but risky — ruse.

"Wait, it’s been in there the entire time?" she yelled. "I could have lost it, you... idiot!"

The couple is now saving to purchase a home, which promises to be the venue of their wedding.

Credits: Images courtesy of the couple.
May 12th, 2017
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, the sensational Ed Sheeran sings about how his struggling grandfather made a wedding ring from dental gold in his 2017 hit, "Nancy Mulligan."



The song details the wartime love story of his grandparents and how their relationship flourished despite religious differences and the objections of their families.

With the scene set during the Second World War, Sheeran recounts in his grandpa William Sheeran's voice how he fell in love with Nancy Mulligan at London's Guy's hospital. He was a struggling dentist and she was a nurse.

Sheeran sings, "On the summer day when I proposed, I made that wedding ring from dentist gold / And I asked her father but her daddy said no / You can’t marry my daughter."

"One was a Protestant from Belfast and [the other] was a Catholic from southern Ireland," Sheeran explained on the Beats 1 radio show. "They got engaged and no one turned up to the wedding."

Sheeran, 26, noted that his grandparents were so poor that they had to borrow clothes for their wedding and that the gold for his grandmother's wedding ring came from a collection of gold teeth his grandfather had collected during dental surgeries.

(Note: While gold used in jewelry is generally 14-karat or 18-karat and alloyed with copper, silver and zinc, dental gold is usually a 16-karat alloy containing palladium, silver, copper and/or tin.)

"[They] had this sort of Romeo and Juliet romance, which is like the most romantic thing. I thought I'd write a song about it and make it a jig," said Sheeran.

The couple was married for more than 60 years and had a profound impact on their grandson's life. William passed away in 2013, but Nancy remains a big fan of her internationally famous grandson.

"Nancy Mulligan" is part of the Deluxe Edition of Ed Sheeran's third studio album ÷ (pronounced Divide), and despite the fact that it wasn't officially released as a single, the song still managed to chart in 17 countries. Divide made its debut at #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. On the day of its release, the tracks from Divide achieved 56.73 million streams on Spotify,

Please check out the official audio track of Sheeran’s “Nancy Mulligan,” which has been viewed 32.3 million times. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.

"Nancy Mulligan"
Written by Ed Sheeran, Benjamin Levin, Johnny Mcdaid, Foy Vance, Amy Wadge and Murray Cummings. Performed by Ed Sheeran.

I was 24 years old when I met the woman I would call my own
Twenty two grand kids now growing old, in the house that your brother brought ya
On the summer day when I proposed, I made that wedding ring from dentist gold
And I asked her father but her daddy said no
You can’t marry my daughter

She and I went on the run
Don’t care about religion
I’m gonna marry the woman I love
Down by the Wexford border
She was Nancy Mulligan, and I was William Sheeran
She took my name and then we were one
Down by the Wexford border

Well I met at her Guys in the second world war
She was working on a soldier’s ward
Never had I seen such beauty before
The moment that I saw her
Nancy was my yellow rose
And we got married wearing borrowed clothes
We got eight children now growing old
Five sons and three daughters

She and I went on the run
Don’t care about religion
I’m gonna marry the woman I love
Down by the Wexford border
She was Nancy Mulligan, and I was William Sheeran
She took my name and then we were one
Down by the Wexford border

From her snow white streak in her jet black hair
Over 60 years I’ve been loving her
Now we’re sat by the fire, in our old armchairs
You know Nancy I adore ya

From a farm boy born near Belfast town
I never worried about the king and crown
Cause I found my heart upon the southern ground
There’s no difference, I assure ya

She and I went on the run
Don’t care about religion
I’m gonna marry the woman I love
Down by the Wexford border
She was Nancy Mulligan, and I was William Sheeran
She took my name and then we were one
Down by the Wexford border


Credit: Ed Sheeran image by Lunchbox LP [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
May 11th, 2017
At first glance, these two gorgeous sapphires seem to be nearly identical. They both weigh approximately 10 carats and boast a comparable cut and hue. However, when offered for sale at Christie's New York, one fetched $50,000, while the other commanded $305,000. Why the big difference?



Christie's jewelry specialist Jessica Peshall shed light on the seemingly subtle differences in the stones that can dramatically affect their valuation.

In an article titled, "Unlock the Mysteries of Your Jewel Box," the London-based specialist explained that, when it comes to world-class sapphires, it's all about the origin.



"The three most important geographical locations for sapphires, in order of the premiums their origins command, are Kashmir, Burma and Sri Lanka," Peshall wrote on christies.com.

The sapphire on the left, which weighs 10.27 carats and was sourced in Sri Lanka, exhibits a well saturated, bright, clean appearance, according to Peshall. When the hammer went down at Christie's New York in September of 2016, the winning bid for the gem was $50,000.

The 10.50-carat sapphire on the right originated in Kashmir, the source famous for yielding the most highly sought sapphires in the world. These gems, according to Peshall, have a vivid, rich blue saturation and velvety texture. The gems appear to be glowing from within.

When the Kashmir sapphire was auctioned at Christie's New York in December of 2015, it sold for $305,000 — more than six times the amount of its Sri Lankan cousin.

In her article, Peshall also outlines the key differences between cultured and natural pearls, treated and untreated emeralds, as well as heated and natural rubies. Click this link for the full story.

Credits: Images via Christies.com.