David Douglas Diamonds & Jewelry

Articles in August 2015

August 3rd, 2015
Florida treasure hunters struck it rich when they recovered $1 million in Spanish gold coins and chains from the site of a 300-year-old shipwreck just off the coast, near Ft. Pierce. The discovery of 52 gold coins, 40 feet of gold chain and 110 silver coins was announced on the 300th anniversary of the fateful sinking of the Spanish treasure ships known as the 1715 Plate Fleet.

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A hurricane decimated the historic fleet on July 30 and 31, 1715 — killing 1,000 sailors, sinking 11 of the 12 ships and leaving untold treasures scattered across the ocean floor. The ships had departed from Havana, Cuba, a week earlier and had been loaded with precious resources destined for Spain. The bounty included gold and silver coins, gold bars, emeralds, pearls and Chinese porcelain.

The Schmitt family of Sanford, Fla., found the precious bounty with the help of a metal detector about 1,000 feet off coast at a depth of 15 feet. The family was working the site under a contract with 1715 Fleet-Queens Jewels LLC, which holds the exclusive rights to explore the wrecks. The Schmitts and 1715 Fleet-Queens Jewels will share the take 50-50 after the State of Florida receives its portion of 20 percent.

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Among the Spanish coins recovered were examples of the Tricentennial Royal — special coins that were minted specifically for the king of Spain. Gold coins dating to the early 1700s were often misshaped because the weight and quality of the precious metal was far more important than aesthetics. A certain number, however, were made perfectly round so they could be presented to the king, Philip V.

Amazingly, the coins and chains looked to be in perfect condition, despite being under sand and saltwater for three centuries. That's because gold is one of the least reactive chemical elements and is extremely resistant to corrosion.

The Schmitts' lucky find actually took place on June 17, but the family held off the announcement so it could coincide with the 300th commemoration of one of the worst maritime disasters in history.

Eric Schmitt told National Geographic that his family's treasure hunting expeditions rarely yield anything of value. "Typically we excavate empty holes and find beer cans," he said.

But on the morning of June 17, the outcome was much different. First, he found one gold coin and then there were more. "It was absolutely unreal," Schmitt said.

Witness Schmitt's unbridled joy as he happens upon the treasure in this underwater video...


Credits: Facebook/1715 Fleet - Queens Jewels, LLC; YouTube screen capture
August 4th, 2015
The Ancient Egyptians mined peridot on the Red Sea island of Zabargad and anointed the vibrant green stone as the "gem of the sun." Thousands of years later, modern scientists have proven that August's official birthstone is truly extraterrestrial, as it has been found embedded within meteorites and scattered across the surface of Mars.

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While nearly all of the peridot that you see in your jeweler's showcase was born deep within the Earth's mantel, some very special specimens originated in deep space.

Did you know that translucent gem-quality peridot is a prominent part of a stony-iron meteorite called a pallasite? The formation contains large gem crystals in a silvery honeycomb of nickel-iron.

A beautiful example of this phenomenon is seen in the Esquel meteorite that was presumed to be formed from an ancient planetoid that blasted apart eons ago.

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A second example is the Marjalahti, a 99-pound meteorite that crashed into Karelia, Russia, in 1902. The territory at the time was controlled by Finland, so the specimen resides at the Geological Museum of the University of Helsinki.

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Peridot is credited with being the first gem to be discovered on another planet. The Mars landing of 2003 revealed that green peridot crystals — in the form of the gem's less-precious cousin, olivine — cover about 19,000 square miles of the Red Planet's surface. (About three weeks ago, we reported on the presence of fire opal on Mars — a discovery that could point to evidence of life on that planet.)

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In addition to being the official birthstone of August, peridot is also the 16th anniversary gemstone. Colors range from pure green to yellowish-green to greenish-yellow, but the finest hue is green without any hint of yellow or brown, according to the Gemological Institute of America.

The world's largest faceted peridot weighs 310 carats and is part of the Smithsonian’s National Gem and Mineral Collection.

Credits: Pallasite by Doug Bowman, via Wikimedia Commons; Marjalahti courtesy of NHM Vienna; Slice of Marjalahti via International Meteorite Collectors Association (IMCA.cc)/Collection of Christian Anger; Peridot grouping by Chip Clark/National Gem and Mineral Collection, Smithsonian.
August 5th, 2015
The internet is buzzing about Beyoncé's newest bling — an eye-popping pair of $345,000 diamond stilettos that she'll likely wear in an upcoming music video.

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House of Borgezie owner Christopher Shellis confirmed that he toiled more than two months to hand set 65.50 carats of diamonds — 1,300 in all — onto a special-edition pair of 18-karat white gold stilettos for the 33-year-old Queen Bey.

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“All I can say at the moment is there is a more than very good chance that they are going to be in the next Beyoncé video,” the Birmingham, England-based designer told Footwear News.

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The publication reported that the custom shoes will take the name Stella Constellation, but will be similar in style and opulence to Borgezie's Princess Constellation — a design that the company likes to call the "Eighth Wonder of the World."

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“They are the crown jewels of stilettos. They’re a bit like the 1960s E Type Jag — it doesn’t matter what you do, you’re not going to improve on them,” Shellis told the Mirror. “Occasionally in a designer or artist’s life there may come a moment in time when you stand back and [realize] you may just have created your finest work so far. I think this is truly that moment.”

In 2010, Shellis made headlines with his Eternal Borgezie Diamond Stilettos — shoes designed in 18-karat yellow gold and featuring 2,200 brilliant-cut diamonds. At the time, he revealed that he had to reinvent the fundamental principal of the classic stiletto construction, using a fluted heel shape reminiscent of a lily stamen.

“The result is not so much a shoe, but rather a fine piece of jewelry that can be miraculously, yet practically, worn as the ultimate feminine adornment,” Shellis said.

Shellis is comfortable incorporating elements of jewelry design into his fine footwear because he has more than 25 years of experience in the jewelry field, including diamond setting, gold and silversmithing and precious metal casting.

The House of Borgezie owner likes to promote the fact that he offers a 1,000-year warranty on his top-of-the-line stilettos. So, when Beyoncé's descendants wear out a heel or brake a strap by the year 3015, the repair should be completed for free.

Credits: Stilettos via Borgezie.com, Beyoncé via Getty Images.
August 6th, 2015
After five days of hand-wringing drama, we finally have a clear winner in the spirited national debate over the purpose of the plastic disk-shaped doohickey that we often see affixed to common earring backs. In an online poll conducted by NBC, viewers overwhelmingly agreed — by a margin of 92 to 8 — that the plastic part should stay on.

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If you're wondering how earring backs became part of the national consciousness — and a trending topic on Mashable.com — you should look no farther than an August 1 tweet by Chelsea Smith, who in a moment of great clarity revealed she had spent her entire life wearing her earrings "wrong."

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The 19-year-old posted two photos, one showing the earring back with the plastic disk intact, and the other showing the earring back with the disk removed. Her caption: “After my nineteen years of living I have now realized that you are supposed to take the plastic part off.”

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Her comment, which was retweeted 45,000 times and favorited 43,000 times, churned up a tidal wave of commentary. Some Twitter users shared in Smith's embarrassing "aha" moment, while others explained that the disk is valuable — adding vital support for saggy earlobes. Still others were stuck in the middle, reporting that they attempted to remove the plastic part, but had no success at all.

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Lifestyle and jewelry-industry experts told Today.com that the larger the earring back, the more stable and secure the earring will be. The larger disk back also improves comfort and wearability, especially with heavier earrings.

Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb of The Today Show joked about how the plastic disks make the backs easier to handle and harder to lose when they're inevitably dropped on the floor. What's more, the backs help prevent the earring holes from tearing or getting too large.

Comedian Julie Klausner got the biggest laugh during the segment when she chimed in from The Today Show kitchen that the plastic back is like "a bra for your earlobe. It keeps everything where it needs to be."

Gifford and Hotb encouraged their viewers to visit the show's website, where they could take a position in the great earring-back debates. A Today Show poll of 32,000 viewers quickly revealed that the vast majority believe the plastic disk should stay on.

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When asked, "Do you keep the plastic backing on your earrings?" 92 percent agreed with the statement, "Yes, of course! It's supposed to be there to support the earring." A scant 8 percent said, "No, definitely not. The plastic is meant to come off."

Credits: Twitter/Chelsea Smith; Today.com
August 7th, 2015
Welcome to Music Friday when we introduce you to new songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today's featured song — "Home We'll Go (Take My Hand)" — is a brand new collaboration between DJ extraordinaire Steve Aoki and Canadian breakthrough band Walk Off The Earth.

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A song about getting through the hard times with the help of one's friends, "Home We'll Go" features both gold and diamond references in the second verse: "The sun it glows like gold / Feel it warm as a burning coal / Let your soul shine bright like diamonds in the sky / So take my hand and home we'll go."

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Aoki, who DJs hundreds of sets across the globe each year and is famous for tossing giant cakes at his frenzied audiences, is a fan of mixed musical genres. Aoki's collaboration with Walk Off The Earth, for example, is a banjo-driven whimsical mix of country and electronica. The song's folksy whistling intro segues into a catchy dance number punctuated by creative instrumentation.

The DJ explained to DigitalTrends.com that his high-res version of the song includes special elements that make it extra special. The little features, he said, make a big difference.

"Those are the details that bring the songs to life," he said. "Like the whistling in 'Home We’ll Go' — that comes out a lot more in high-res."

"Home We'll Go" is the eighth track on Aoki's Neon Future II album, which released in mid-May and has already zoomed to #2 on Billboard's U.S. Dance/Electronica Albums chart and #66 on the broader based U.S. Billboard Hot 200 albums chart. Walk Off The Earth's Canadian fan based helped push Aoki's album to #25 on the Canadian Albums chart.

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Walk Off The Earth, an alternative/reggae rock band, was formed in 2006 in Burlington, Ontario. The band made its mark by covering popular music on YouTube. In 2012, the band's live cover of Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" netted 127 million views in just four months.

The band earned Juno Award nominations for Breakthrough Group on the Year in 2013 and Group of the Year in 2014. (The Juno Award is Canada's version of a Grammy.)

Each band member can play multiple instruments, some of which are truly unique for a rock band. These include the xylophone, glockenspiel, electric toothbrush, melodica, didgeridoo, kazoo and euphonium.

We know you will enjoy the official video of "Home We'll Go." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Home We'll Go (Take My Hand)"
Written by Sarah Blackwood, Ryan Marshall, Gianni Nicassio and Thomas Salter. Performed by Steve Aoki, featuring Walk Off The Earth.

Don't let your head hang low
You've seen the darkest skies I know
Let your heart run child like horses in the wild
So take my hand and home we'll go

The sun it glows like gold
Feel it warm as a burning coal
Let your soul shine bright like diamonds in the sky
So take my hand and home we'll go

Home we'll go, home we'll go
Home we'll go, home we'll go
Home we'll go, home we'll go
Home we'll go, home we'll go

It's a long road but we're not alone
Together we stand and we're coming home
It's a long road but we're not alone
Together we stand and we're coming home

Don't let your head hang low
You've seen the darkest skies I know
Let your heart run child like horses in the wild
So take my hand and home we'll go

Home we'll go, home we'll go
Home we'll go, home we'll go
Home we'll go, home we'll go
Home we'll go, home we'll go


Credits: Facebook/SteveAoki, Facebook/Walk Off The Earth
August 10th, 2015
British lawmaker Keith Vaz says it's time for the Queen Mother to return the legendary Koh-i-Noor diamond to India.

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The Koh-i-Noor, whose name translates into "Mountain of Light," was seized by the East India Company in the mid-19th century and has become a sore symbol of Britain's colonial past. Vaz, who is a Member of Parliament, is pushing for return of the Koh-i-Noor to coincide with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Britain in November.

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The 105.6-carat diamond is currently set in the platinum Crown of Queen Elizabeth and is displayed among the British Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.

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“What a wonderful moment it would be, if and when Prime Minister Modi finishes his visit, he returns to India with the promise of the diamond’s return,” said Vaz.

The Koh-i-Noor, which was once thought to be the largest diamond in the world, has a long and checkered history that dates back more than 700 years. The enormous rough diamond was unearthed at the Kollur Mine in India and first recorded in Hindu texts as early as 1306 in the time of the Kakatiya Dynasty. The 793-carat stone — the size of a hen's egg — was originally installed as one of the eyes of a temple goddess.

Over time, the diamond passed through the hands of numerous invaders, including Persian ruler Nadir Shah, who gave the precious stone its current name in the 1700s. In 1849, when the British East India Company took over the Punjab region (which is now eastern Pakistan and northern India), the Koh-i-Noor was surrendered by Maharajah Ranjit Singh to British Queen Victoria.

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Credits: Facebook/SteveAoki, Facebook/Walk Off The Earth
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Credits: Facebook/SteveAoki, Facebook/Walk Off The Earth