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Music Friday: Ed Sheeran’s Grandad Makes a Wedding Ring From Dental Gold in 2017’s ‘Nancy Mulligan’

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

Christie’s Jewelry Specialist Reveals Why Nearly Identical 10-Carat Sapphires Have Surprisingly Different Values

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.

Super-Dense ‘Diamond’ Planet Orbits a Pulsar 4,000 Light Years Away

Four thousand light years away in the constellation of Serpens, a priceless planet five times the size of our Earth races around a tiny neutron star in an orbit that takes barely 130 minutes. Comprised mainly of carbon and oxygen, the planet is so incredibly dense that astronomers believe that the carbon has taken on a crystalline structure — and that means the entire planet could consist largely of diamond.

The unnamed planet, which scientists describe as the dead core of a once-massive star, orbits a pulsar named PSR J1719-1438. Pulsars are fascinating because these tiny neutron stars spin hundreds of times per second, emitting beams of radiation that can be detected here on Earth. PSR J1719-1438 is just 12.4 miles in diameter, but has a mass that is 1.4 times as much as our Sun.

Matthew Bailes and his team at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, first reported on the likelihood of a diamond planet in 2011.

“The evolutionary history and amazing density of the planet all suggest it is comprised of carbon — i.e. a massive diamond orbiting a neutron star every two hours in an orbit so tight it would fit inside our own Sun,” said Bailes.

Although the diamond planet is not visible, astronomers can detect it when monitoring the pulsar. Beams from the pulsar are emitted in regular intervals, but are altered due to the gravitational pull of the planet, which is 3,000 times larger than the pulsar.

PSR J1719-1438 and its companion diamond planet are located about one-eighth of the way toward the middle of the Milky Way, which spreads 100,000 light years in diameter.

Although Bailes’ diamond planet was the first to make headlines, Yale astrophysicists in 2012 theorized that super-Earth 55 Cancri e was also a diamond planet. Located 40 light years away, the carbon-based super-planet is about two times the size of Earth, eight times more dense and has a surface temperature of 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit.

Credits: Images courtesy of Swinburne Astronomy Productions.

$1.4 Million Solid Gold Darth Vader Mask Marks a 40-Year ‘Star Wars’ Milestone

Tokyo-based luxury jeweler Ginza Tanaka just unveiled a 33-pound, solid gold Darth Vader mask to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of the original Star Wars movie.

Carrying a retail price of $1.4 million, the 24-karat gold mask has so many components that it took a crew of 10 goldsmiths three months to perfect the prototype. That piece is now on display at the jeweler’s flagship store in the heart of Tokyo’s upscale Ginza shopping district.

“The most difficult aspect was that each section of the mask was created by a different gold craftsman and then assembled to make one Darth Vader mask,” Hirotsugu Tsuchiyaa, Marketing Manager for Ginza Tanaka, told the Associated Press.

The dazzling life-size replica was offered for sale on Star Wars Day, traditionally the 4th of May. Star Wars fans mark that day because “May the fourth” is a clever pun of the film’s iconic line, “May the force be with you.”

The original Star Wars hit theaters on May 25, 1977. That movie spawned a franchise of seven subsequent films, including Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which will be released later this year.

Interestingly, the Darth Vader “mask” created by Ginza Tanaka is not a mask at all because it can’t be worn. At 33 pounds, it’s too heavy to be a mask and, secondly, there’s no place to put one’s face. The golden replica of the original black Darth Vader helmet measures 11.8 inches tall and 10.4 inches wide. The precious metal alone is worth $650,000.

Ginza Tanaka noted that the gilded Darth Vader helmets have a three-month delivery time.

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com/NipponNewsNet.

Half-Ton Stone Embedded With 170,000 Carats of Emeralds Steals the Show in Abu Dhabi

Standing nearly four feet tall and weighing more than a half ton, the world’s largest emerald-embedded stone attracted impressive crowds last week at the Abu Dhabi International Jewellery & Watch Show.

The priceless stone, which is 45 inches tall and 29 inches wide, is embedded with 130 emerald crystals weighing about 170,000 carats.

During the opening of the international exhibition, Show Director Nehmat Fadel told the Khaleej Times that the surprise of the show was the emerald-embedded stone.

“It was discovered 10 years ago in Brazil, and it’s being displayed in the region for the first time,” he said.

In fact, this was the first time the mammoth stone had been seen outside of Brazil.

The hexagonal emerald crystals exhibit a wide range of colors — from translucent and opaque variegated green to dark green. The largest of the crystals range from one-half inch to 9 inches in size.

The emerald crystals are embedded in a metamorphic rock called mica schist. The host rock is made up of quartz and mica.

“You got an entire mine full of emerald crystals embedded in just one piece and it’s beautiful. It stands upright, is presentable and unique,” noted John Martin, who represents the emerald attraction.

Martin was hard-pressed to estimate how much the emeralds could be worth, stating that the only way to properly value the precious gems would be to extract the crystals from the host and study them individually.

The spokesman said the crystal-embedded stone is symbolic of the show’s host city, specifically alluding to Greek philosopher Aristotle’s observation that often “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

“Abu Dhabi is a special place to unveil the stone, as it is symbolic of the emirates,” Martin said. “In 1971, when all the emirates came together, it impressed the world with its unity. Similarly, each crystal will have a value, but together it’s much more powerful and beautiful. So, this is a stone that makes a statement for the emirates.”

Credits: Images courtesy of JWS Abu Dhabi.

Music Friday: Kelly Clarkson Describes Herself as ‘A Diamond From Black Dust’ in 2012’s ‘Dark Side’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you hit songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Kelly Clarkson reveals her vulnerable side and wonders out loud if her boyfriend can love her — despite her flaws — in her 2012 hit, “Dark Side.”

In this soaring synth-pop ballad, songwriters Alexander Geringas and Michael Busbee employ a gemstone’s genesis to illustrate Clarkson’s true potential.

Specifically, they reference how carbon has the ability, over time, to transform into a precious diamond. Clarkson argues that even though she’s not “picture perfect” and has an ominous “dark side,” she is still a gem at her core.

The 2002 American Idol winner sings, “Like a diamond / From black dust / It’s hard to know / It can become / If you give up / So don’t give up on me.”

Clarkson told New York radio station Z100 that she liked “Dark Side” because “it’s still got a beat to it. It’s a sweet-sounding song, but with a dark lyric, and I like that.”

In reviewing the song, Kat George of VH1 said, “This is what we love best about Kelly — that she’s just a regular girl. Acknowledging the pitfalls of her personality, Kelly invites us all to be imperfect without letting us (or herself) be any less perfectly lovable.”

“Dark Side” was released as the third single from Clarkson’s Grammy-award winning album, Stronger. The song topped the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart and peaked at #42 on the Billboard Hot 100. Overall, it charted in 13 countries.

A year after the release of “Dark Side,” Clarkson made jewelry-industry news when she was stymied in her bid to claim the 200-year-old turquoise ring once owned by famed British novelist Jane Austen. Clarkson had won the ring in 2012 at a Sotheby’s auction in London.

Clarkson’s winning bid of $235,000 was more than five times the auction house’s high estimate. But instead of allowing Clarkson to take the ring back to the U.S., British authorities unexpectedly declared the ring a “national treasure” and blocked its export. If a British patron could match Clarkson’s winning bid, the singer would have to forfeit the ring so it could stay in the U.K.

Jane Austen’s House Museum launched an aggressive fundraising appeal through its website and Facebook page. Donations from around the world flooded into the “Bring the Ring Home” campaign, generating an infusion of $253,000 — more than enough to match Clarkson’s bid.

Born in Ft. Worth, Texas, in 1982, Kelly Brianne Clarkson rose to fame in 2002 after winning the inaugural season of American Idol. Since then, Clarkson has sold more than 61 million singles worldwide, making her the best-selling American Idol contestant to date.

Please check out the video of Clarkson’s live performance of “Dark Side” at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Dark Side”
Written by Alexander Geringas and Michael Busbee. Performed by Kelly Clarkson.

There’s a place that I know
It’s not pretty there and few have ever gone
If I show it to you now
Will it make you run away

Or will you stay
Even if it hurts
Even if I try to push you out
Will you return?
And remind me who I really am
Please remind me who I really am

Everybody’s got a dark side
Do you love me?
Can you love mine?
Nobody’s a picture perfect
But we’re worth it
You know that we’re worth it
Will you love me?
Even with my dark side?

Like a diamond
From black dust
It’s hard to know
It can become
If you give up
So don’t give up on me
Please remind me who I really am

Everybody’s got a dark side
Do you love me?
Can you love mine?
Nobody’s a picture perfect
But we’re worth it
You know that we’re worth it
Will you love me?
Even with my dark side?

Don’t run away
Don’t run away
Just tell me that you will stay
Promise me you will stay
Don’t run away
Don’t run away
Just promise me you will stay
Promise me you will stay

Will you love me? Ohh
Everybody’s got a dark side
Do you love me?
Can you love mine?
Nobody’s a picture perfect
But we’re worth it
You know that we’re worth it
Will you love me?
Even with my dark side?

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Scuba Diver Rescues Newlywed’s Engagement Ring From the Bottom of Alabama’s Coosa River

A professional scuba diver pulled off a “needle in a haystack” recovery when he used a metal detector to rescue a newlywed’s engagement ring from the depths of Alabama’s Coosa River.

Brooke Leavins had accidentally pitched the diamond ring into river days earlier while shooing a bug on her family’s newly christened pontoon boat.

“I just cleaned it that morning and I thought, ‘Oh, I don’t want to get sunscreen all over it’ and put it in the cup holder,” Brooke told ABC News. “I had it in my fingertips and a bug landed on my arm and I went to flick the bug and I hit my fingertips on the Bimini rail and it just flew out into the water.”

“I heard it plop in the water, and I’ll never forget that sound,” she told WIAT.com.

Despite the shock of losing the ring, Brooke and her husband, Steven, alertly took photos of their exact location on the river. Those photos would come in handy a few days later.

The couple hired Spencer Phillips, a scuba instructor and co-owner of Southern Skin Divers Supply, to head up the recovery efforts. Phillips used the photos to position himself exactly where the ring entered the water. Hampered by swift currents and poor visibility, Phillips used a metal detector to assist in what he called “a tremendous needle-in-a-haystack situation.”

While navigating the river floor, Phillips found a discarded propeller to which he anchored himself.

“God put that propeller down there just for us,” Brooke told ABC News.

Phillips surfaced within 20 minutes. Acting a bit nonchalant, at first, the scuba instructor didn’t let on that he had found the ring.

“I think he winked at my husband and then he came back around to the back of the boat to get back in,” said Brooke. “He got up on the boat and he peeled back his glove and out comes the ring. Before he showed it to me, he said, ‘I don’t know if this is the right ring, but it’s a nice one.'”

Brooke cried at the sight of her cherished keepsake.

Steven told ABC News that finding the ring was a miracle.

“We had a lot of friends and family praying,” he said.

On Brooke’s Facebook page, she posted a close-up shot of the recovered ring snuggled safely back on her finger. The headline read: Saved By His Amazing Grace.”

Brooke, who exchanged marriage vows with Steve on New Year’s Eve, said she’s learned a life lesson about wearing precious jewelry on the water.

“The rings are never going on the boat again,” said Brooke. “We both feel naked without our rings on so we’ll probably get some cheap boat rings to wear.”

Credits: Images via Facebook.com/Brooke LaRae Leavins; Facebook.com/Spencer Phillips.

17th Century Royal Spinel, Once Lost and Mistaken for Glass, Sells at Sotheby’s for $353,800

A 17th century spinel pendant once worn by Mughal emperors — and then mistaken 90 years ago as a worthless bauble — sold at Sotheby’s London last week for $353,800.

The 54.5-carat, wine-colored, uncut gem — which is inscribed in Persian script with the names of three emperors dating back to 1615 AD — oddly ended up in the possession of a British woman named Mrs. David Graham Pole in the 1920s. Pole misplaced the gem on a train trip to the north of England and somehow the gem ended up on the train tracks near Leicester, according to a published report from 1927.

The stone was scooped up by railroad employee Joseph H. Wade, who, believing the gem was worthless glass, gave it to his twin children to play with. The spinel was returned to its rightful owner two weeks later after Pole placed an ad in a local paper. The newspaper account said the gem was found “with considerable difficulty” in the corner of a room “where it had been flung by the children.” The article placed the value of the gem at $25,000.

Sotheby’s believes the rare gem may have been gifted to Mrs. Pole by her daughter, Dorothy, who lived with her diplomat husband in India from 1921-1929.

The irregular-shaped spinel, which is pierced through the center, hangs from a gold chain and is adorned by a tassel of seed pearls.

The spinel is inscribed with the names of Emperors Jahangir, Prince Khurram and Alamgir Aurangzeb, illustrating a common practice among Mughal emperors of marking the stones and passing them on to their descendants. Two dates are also shown — 1615 AD and 1670 AD. Sotheby’s noted that spinels were mined in Badakhshan, the region between Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Before the 19th century, spinels were often mistaken for rubies.

Sotheby’s London had set the pre-sale estimate for the piece at £60,000 ($77,600) to £80,000 ($103,400). A private collector placed the final bid at £272,750 ($353,800), or 340% of the high estimate.

Credits: Images courtesy of Sotheby’s.

37.8-Carat ‘Chalk Emerald’ Is One of the World’s Finest Examples of May’s Official Birthstone

The Chalk Emerald’s impressive clarity, color, size and regal lineage rank it among the world’s finest examples of May’s official birthstone.

Exhibiting the most highly prized velvety deep green color, the 37.82-carat Chalk Emerald is displayed near the Hope Diamond in the National Gem and Mineral Collection at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

The gem was sourced in the famous emerald-mining area near Muzo, Colombia — a destination widely known as the world capital of emeralds. The Smithsonian reported that emeralds were cherished by the indigenous people of Colombia for at least 1,000 years before the arrival of Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s.

The riches coming from the Colombia mines were of great interest to the Mughal rulers of India, who were captivated by the green gems. This demand sparked a robust gem trade linking the New World to the Middle East and India.

Legend states that the Chalk Emerald was once the centerpiece of an emerald-and-diamond necklace belonging to a Maharani of the former state of Baroda, India. The Smithsonian noted that the faceted stone originally weighed 38.4 carats, but was later recut (losing more than 1/2 carat in weight) and set in a platinum and gold ring designed by Harry Winston. The ring features the square emerald-cut stone surrounded by 60 pear-shaped diamonds totaling 15 carats.

The extraordinary ring was purchased by O. Roy Chalk, the New York-based real estate, transportation and media mogul, for his wife, Claire. The couple generously donated the Chalk Emerald to the Smithsonian in 1972, where it has been on exhibit ever since.

Emerald is the most valuable variety of the beryl family and is known to display a wide variety of visible inclusions, which are referred to as “jardin” (French for “garden”). These imperfections do not detract from the stone’s beauty but, instead, give each stone a unique fingerprint and distinct character.

The name “emerald” comes indirectly from the ancient Greek word for green gem, “smaragdos.” Besides being the birthstone for the month of May, it’s also the preferred gemstone to honor 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.

Credits: Images courtesy of Smithsonian/Chip Clark.