July 22nd, 2024
About 150 million miles away on the surface of Mars, NASA's one-ton Curiosity rover accidentally rolled over the top of a nondescript white rock, busting it apart to reveal the beautiful yellowish-green crystals of pure sulfur that were inside.


While NASA scientists had long known about the presence of opal on the Red Planet, the discovery of elemental sulfur was a complete surprise.

“I think it’s the strangest find of the whole mission and the most unexpected,” Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told CNN. “I have to say, there’s a lot of luck involved here. Not every rock has something interesting inside.”

The discovery took place on June 7, the 4,208th Martian day of Curiosity's mission, which began in August of 2012. After accidentally smashing the rock, the rover used an instrument on the end of its robotic arm, called the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer, to determine its composition.

Vasavada described the Martin pure sulfur crystals as having a “beautiful, translucent and crystalline texture.”


The most beautiful specimens of sulfur crystals on Earth have a bright yellow appearance, similar to citrine. The major difference is that citrine has a rating of 7 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness and sulfur rates a relatively soft 2.5. Sulfur is similar in hardness to a cultured pearl and can be scratched with a fingernail.

If you believe that Martians may have once inhabited the fourth planet from the Sun, it's unlikely they were making their sulfur crystals into jewelry. The material is extremely brittle and difficult to facet. What's more, when moisture (even perspiration) or heat is applied to the stone, it smells nasty — like rotten eggs.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory reported that the collection of fragments from the smashed rock measured about 5 inches (13cm) across. They hadn't expected pure sulfur to be present on the planet and now they are trying to decipher how sulfur contributed to Mars' evolution.

“No one had pure sulfur on their bingo card,” Vasavada told CNN.

On Earth, sulfur occurs naturally in the environment and is the fifth most abundant element by mass. Pure sulfur is often connected with volcanic activity.

Back in January of 2023, a research team analyzing archived data from NASA’s Curiosity rover identified a “halo” of networks along the Martian landscape that are likely rich in opal. Since the iridescent gem is formed from water and silica, the findings provided additional evidence that the Red Planet had a watery past that could have supported microbial life.

Credits: Mars sulfur crystals image by NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS. Sulfur crystal photo by Ivar Leidus, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons..
July 19th, 2024
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town demands an engagement ring and a walk down the aisle in the high-energy 2010 country hit, “Little White Church.”


Fairchild portrays a young woman who is fed up with her boyfriend — a “charming devil” with a “silver tongue.” He’s been skirting a marriage commitment for far too long, and now Fairchild needs to lay down the law. From here forward, he won’t be riding this “gravy train” until he buys her a shiny ring and takes her down to the little white church.

She sings, “You’ve been singing that same old song / Far too long, far too long / Say you’ll buy me a shiny ring / But your words don’t mean a thing.”

Co-written by Little Big Town band members Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet, along with Nashville-based songwriter Wayne Kirkpatric, “Little White Church” was inspired by a phrase jotted down in Fairchild’s notebook.

Sweet told songfacts.com that a writing session turned into an avalanche of creativity when they started working on “Little White Church.”

“And it came together pretty fast,” Sweet said. “Karen had the idea written in her book… because you drive around [Franklin] Tennessee and you see all these beautiful, quaint, picturesque, little white churches all over the place.”

Fairchild wanted the song to incorporate a bluegrass-inspired musical form called “call and response,” which can be heard in the rousing “take me down, take me down” chorus.

"It sounds and feels like we had fun, because we did," Sweet said.

“Little White Church” was the lead single from Little Big Town’s album The Reason Why. The song climbed to #6 on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and had crossover success on the US Billboard Hot 100, topping out at #59.

Founded in 1998 in Homewood, AL, Little Big Town has earned three Grammy Awards out of 15 nominations. The group is credited with 24 singles on Billboard's Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts, including two #1s and six others in the Top 10.

Little Big Town is on the road through mid-December with stops in the US, UK, Switzerland and Scotland.

Check out the group's performance of "Little White Church" live at CMT's Summer Camp in 2022. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Little White Church”
Written by Jimi Westbrook, Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Phillip Sweet and Wayne Kirkpatrick. Performed by Little Big Town.

You’ve been singing that same old song
Far too long, far too long
Say you’ll buy me a shiny ring
But your words don’t mean a thing
No more calling me baby
No more loving like crazy

Till you take me down (take me down)
You better take me down (take me down)
Take me down to the little white church
Take me down (take me down) take me down (take me down)
Take me down to the little white church
Take me down

You can’t ride this gravy train
Anymore, anyway
There’s a price for keeping me
Well, I ain't cheap and I ain’t free
No more calling me baby
No more loving like crazy

Till you take me down (take me down)
You better take me down (take me down)
Take me down to the little white church
Take me down (take me down) take me down (take me down)
Take me down to the little white church
Take me down

Come on

Charming devil, silver tongue
Had your fun, but now you’re done
Mama warned me ’bout your game
She don’t like you anyway

No more calling me baby
No more lovin' like crazy
No more chicken and gravy
Ain’t gonna have your baby

Till you take me down (take me down)
You better take me down (take me down)
Take me down to the little white church
Take me down (take me down)
You better take me down (take me down)
Take me down to the little white church
Take me down to the little white church (take me down)
Take me down (take me down to the little white church)
Take me down (take me down)
You better take me down (you better take me down)
Take me down to the little white church
Take me down (take me down)
Take me down to the little white church
Take me down (take me down)
You better take me down (take me down)
Take me down to the little white church
Take me down to the little white church, take me down to the little white church

Credits: Photo by Eagledj, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.
July 18th, 2024
Gold prices surged to an all-time high of $2,482 per ounce yesterday, sparked by expectations of a Fed interest-rate cut in September. Yesterday's record price is nearly 29% higher than a year ago ($1,926) and almost 72% higher than five years ago ($1,446).


With gold experiencing an astonishing ascent, let's take a look at the US facilities that secure the largest reserves of gold bullion.


The US Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, KY, secures about half of the US Treasury's gold reserves. Holdings amount to 147.3 million ounces (4,176 metric tons), and it's believed that Fort Knox houses 2.3% of all the gold ever refined in the world.

Located on the site of a military base that dates back to 1918, the Depository commenced operations in 1937 after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed controversial legislation that prohibited the private ownership of gold. US citizens were compelled to sell their gold bullion back to the government. This legislation effectively bolstered the value of the US's reserve of the yellow precious metal by $8 billion.

The granite-lined vault at Fort Knox gained fame as one of the most secure places on Earth. The main vault door reportedly weighs 20 tons and is 21 inches thick. The robust 1930s construction was designed to withstand an aerial bombing.

Fort Knox has never had a security breach, unless you count the efforts of tycoon Auric Goldfinger in the James Bond thriller, Goldfinger (1964). In the film, the villain hatches a plan to increase the value of his own gold holdings by raiding the Depository and contaminating the US bullion supply.

The US Mint also stores gold in five other secured facilities, with the largest operating in West Point (54.1 million ounces) and Denver (43.8 million ounces).


About 800 miles east of Fort Knox, the basement of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in Lower Manhattan houses 507,000 gold bars weighing 6,331 metric tons and valued at more than $200 billion.


Located five stories below street level at 33 Liberty Street, the vault is so heavy it relies on the bedrock of Manhattan Island to hold its weight. The bedrock is 80 feet below street level and 50 feet below sea level.

The major difference between the Fort Knox and New York City facilities is that 95% of the Federal Reserve Bank's holdings in New York is gold owned by foreign governments and international investors.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's official website, much of the gold currently in the vault arrived during and after World War II as many countries wanted to store their gold reserves in a safe location. The bank is currently celebrating its 100th birthday.

Trivia: Not all gold bars are created equal. Bars cast in the US prior to 1986 were generally rectangular bricks. After that year, the US conformed to a long-standing international standard, which required a trapezoidal shape. The size of a standard gold bar is 7 inches long, 3 5/8 inches wide and 1 3/4 inches thick. The weight of a standard gold bar is 400 troy ounces or 27.5 pounds.

Credits: Gold bars photo by Stevebidmead, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons. Fort Knox photo by Chris Light, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Federal Reserve Bank of New York building photo by Beyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Gold vault photo by Federal Reserve, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
July 17th, 2024
World-class sprinters Xavier Worthy and Tia Jones, both clad in white and wearing sandals, held hands while relishing a slow, sandy walk toward the beachfront. This is where Worthy had prepared a candle-lit rose-petal pathway leading to a mammoth red-rose wreath flanked by free-standing white block letters spelling out "Marry Me." 


Worthy, a first-round draft pick of the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, got down on one knee and proposed to the track and field star with a stunning emerald-cut diamond set on a diamond-studded white metal band. Jones said, "Yes."


It was designed by Houston-based Leo Khusro, whose client base includes many NFL stars.


The romantic scene was documented as a video on the couple's shared Instagram page. The simple caption read, "The Worthy’s," punctuated by two emojis, a diamond ring and red rose. Jones made sure to show off her ring throughout the 60-second Reel.


Worthy and Jones could become the fastest couple to ever tie the knot. A wide receiver, Worthy recently set a record for the fasted 40-yard dash (4.21 seconds) in NFL Combine history. Back in February, Jones matched the indoor 60-meter hurdles world record of 7.67 seconds at the USATF Indoor Championships.


Jones sustained an ACL injury later in that USAFT meet and was still recovering when she just missed qualifying for the US Olympic Team, which will be competing in Paris later this month.

Still, it's been a whirlwind of excitement for the couple. Only a few weeks ago, they announced on Instagram that they had purchased a home together.

"We are home owners," wrote Jones. "Super blessed to be able to experience buying a home with the person you love!! Nothing more important than family and building a foundation!"

In early June, Worthy signed a four-year rookie contract worth $13.8 million.

Credits: Screen captures via Instagram / Xavierandtiaa.
July 16th, 2024
The second-largest piece of the moon on Earth — an irregularly shaped blackish-brown specimen weighing about 94 pounds (42.7 kg) and similar in size to a rugby ball — is now part of a special exhibit at Portland International Jetport in Maine.


The display titled "Fly Me to the Moon" also features one of the largest pieces of Mars on Earth, samples of the most beautiful extraterrestrial substance yet discovered and an iconic Gibeon meteorite celebrated for its striking resemblance to Edvard Munch’s painting, “The Scream.”

All the specimens are on loan from the Maine Mineral & Gem Museum (MMGM), which is located in Bethel, about 70 miles north of the jetport. The special exhibit is set to run for five years.


According to Darryl Pitt, a consultant to the mineral museum and a meteorite dealer, the chunk of moon was found in Libya in 2021, and was likely blasted to the Earth when an asteroid struck the moon. No one really knows for sure when it fell to Earth.

“We are thrilled to have ‘Fly Me to The Moon’ at the jetport,” said Airport Director Paul Bradbury. “We love celebrating unique aspects of Maine and the MMGM is certainly among them.” The Jetport services more than 2.2 million passengers per year.

The name of the exhibit pays homage to Frank Sinatra's classic 1964 hit, which was often associated with the Apollo missions to the moon.

“This exhibit will be full of beautiful examples of meteorite specimens from the moon, Mars and the asteroid 4 Vesta," noted Dr. Cari Ciorrigan, the Curator of Meteorites at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. "Having all of these samples on exhibit together in an airport, free of charge to the public, is an amazing educational and inspirational opportunity for those lucky enough to fly through Portland!”

Nestled in the picture-postcard town of Bethel, MMGM is a world-class museum and education facility featuring 40,000 gems and minerals, 6,000 meteorites, a library of 10,000 volumes and 17 interactive exhibits that present Maine minerals and gems in the context of local mining history and Maine’s geology. The 15,000-square-foot museum opened its doors to the public for the first time in December of 2019.

Credit: Photo by Scott Hight, courtesy of Maine Mineral & Gem Museum.
July 15th, 2024
An Ontario couple recently sought the help of CTV News Toronto after a $4,000 diamond engagement ring they purchased in February at a jewelry store in Cancun, Mexico, turned out to be a $50 fake.


The woman, who requested to be identified in a CTV News Toronto report under the pseudonym "May" because she was so embarrassed to have been caught in a fake diamond scam, said that she was "devastated" and "sickened" when, upon returning home, a certified appraiser told her the diamond wasn't real.

What was more appalling is that the jewelry store behind the scam was "highly recommended" by their tour guide.

"'They are perfect, you won't get scammed.' I remember them saying that specifically," she told CTV News Toronto.

The Cancun jeweler promised to forward to the couple via email all the documentation regarding the diamond's characteristics, including cut, clarity, carat weight and color. That never happened.

When the couple tried to have the charged reversed via their credit card provider, the company agreed to refund to the card, but then sided with the jeweler after the merchant complained.

The couple learned that they were on the hook for the full purchase price of $4,176.

"This was something that should have been a spur-of-the-moment, a beautiful moment, but turned into a headache for the last couple of months," May told CTV News Toronto.

The bottom line is that couples should avoid getting caught up in the moment. An engagement ring purchase has to be a clear-headed decision.

"You go down there, you're having a good time, and the salespeople just tell you what you want to hear," Steven Knight, a spokesperson with the Canadian Jewellers Association (CJA) told CTV News Toronto. "They're happy to take your money."

He also noted that consumers who buy abroad have limited protection if something goes wrong.

"You actually are gambling because there is no way you know what you are getting, and you're taking a chance spending that kind of money," said Knight.

CTV's Consumer Alert reporter Pat Foran reached out to the credit card company on the couple's behalf. A spokesperson for the card company told the reporter that the investigation was ongoing and a favorable decision already had been granted to the couple.

In a column called "The Smart Traveler’s Guide to Buying Jewelry on Vacation," Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company offered a number of helpful tips.

Check Up on the Business. Do your homework by checking the jeweler's website, social media pages and reviews. Check message boards for any signs of deceit.

Stick With Well-Known Brands. And pay a price that you would normally expect from that brand. If a store claims to be able to sell you a high-end luxury watch for a fraction of its value, it’s likely a knock-off. After all, these stores are looking for a profit, and it’s unlikely they were able to obtain the merchandise at such a deep discount.

Read the Return Policy. Make sure you’re able to return the item with no conditions.
Read all the fine print on the back of the receipt to make sure you’re not signing any type of “sales contract.” The American Society of Appraisers found that despite “guarantees” of a full refund if the item appraises for less than you paid, the fine print often lists tight conditions. For example: “No return for diamonds unless they grade at least 2 color grades different.” Says Jewelers Mutual, "No well-respected jewelry store needs a condition like that."

Beware of Import Taxes. Make sure to factor in any potential import taxes before you decide your jewelry shopping budget. You can check the latest US tariff data using their Interactive Tariff and Trade DataWeb. Canadian tariff info is here... 

Pay with a Credit Card. As with all major purchases, having an electronic record will make it much easier to dispute any issues or return the item. Take advantage of this protection.

Experienced travelers know that unless you are a gemologist, or very knowledgeable about jewelry pricing, you're better off buying your fine jewelry at home from a reputable jeweler.

These same experienced travelers do acknowledge, however, that they will buy costume jewelry and handmade artisan pieces abroad.

For example, user 1025cruise on the cruisecritic.com message board commented, "Now, if you wanted to buy something unique, go for it. I've bought my wife jewelry in Bermuda from a shop in the mall there that looked nice, and wasn't priced too bad. I've also gotten her something in Cozumel, but it wasn't expensive at all and was something that really could only be gotten there (black coral)."

Credit: Image by Bigstockphoto.com.
July 12th, 2024
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you nostalgic tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Dion helps us celebrate July’s official birthstone with his 1963 hit, “Ruby Baby.”


In this song of unrequited love, Dion croons about a girl who may be out of his league. He sings, “I got a girl and Ruby is her name / She don’t love me, but I love her just the same / Ruby Ruby how I want you / Like a ghost I’m gonna haunt you / Ruby Ruby when will you be mine?”

Written by the powerhouse hitmakers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, “Ruby Baby” ranks a close second to the Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday” on our unofficial list of the most famous “ruby” songs of all time.

“Ruby Baby” was originally recorded in 1956 by The Drifters, who watched it rise to #10 on the R&B charts. But when Dion released his version in 1963 it zoomed to #2 on the broad-based US Billboard Hot 100 chart and remained in the Top 40 for 11 weeks. The song brought Dion worldwide fame.

Some of Dion's most popular songs include "A Teenager in Love" (1959), "Lovers Who Wander" (1959), "Runaround Sue" (1961) and "The Wanderer" (1961).

Dion DiMucci, who will celebrate his 85th birthday next week, launched his career as the frontman for Dion and the Belmonts in the late 1950s. The group’s name was derived from the fact that the four singers all lived on or near Belmont Avenue in the Bronx, NY.

Dion would go on to have a successful solo career that has transformed him from a handsome teen idol to a widely respected grandfather of Rock & Roll. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.

We hope you enjoy this classic clip of Dion performing “Ruby Baby.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Ruby Baby”
Written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Performed by Dion and The Belmonts.

I love a girl and Ruby is her name
She don’t love me, but I love her just the same
Ruby Ruby how I want you
Like a ghost I’m gonna haunt you
Ruby Ruby when will you be mine?

Each time I see you baby my heart cries
I’m gonna steal you away from all those guys
From the happy day I met you
Made a bet that I would get you
Ruby Ruby Ruby when will you be mine?

I love a girl and Ruby is her name
When this girl looks at me she sets my soul aflame
Got some hugs and kisses too
Gonna give them all to you
Ruby Ruby when will you be mine?
Gonna get you sometime

Ruby Ruby Ruby Ruby will you be mine?
Ruby Ruby Ruby Ruby girl you're so fine?
Ruby Baby you know I love ya
I'm gonna get you by the stars above you
Ruby Ruby when will you be mine?
When will you be mine?

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com / EWTN.
July 11th, 2024
Newly engaged General Hospital star Kate Mansi was a bit miffed when her "official" announcement pic turned out to be a semi-unflattering selfie showing her squinting at the camera while chomping on a burrito. On the flip side, her emerald-cut diamond engagement ring looked great.


Producer Matt McInnis, 40, proposed to Mansi, 36, on July 3, during an Independence Week excursion to a cabin retreat framed by sky-high trees and spectacular mountains.


One day later, McInnis posted a pic of the couple on his Instagram page with the caption, "Apparently today is a holiday, but I think July 3rd was even better."

Manci commented on McInnis's post "LGM(atty)."


Eagle-eyed editors at etonline.com, noticed a sparkle on the ring finger of Mansi's left hand and started digging. What they came upon was a photo on Mansi's Instagram Story showing her enjoying a hefty burrito. The photo was captioned, "LGM(atty)."

Apparently the etonline.com editors interpreted LGM to mean "Let's Get Married" and ran with the story of their engagement.

Soon after, Mansi reposted the burrito pic to her Instagram timeline with a proper explanation. Apparently, she and her new fiancé are baseball fans…

"Never did I expect this to be the official photo of our announcement, but here we are. (And LGM = Let’s Go Mets. But… semantics)."


On the same day, Manci shared on Instagram a series of more appropriate announcement photos, simply captioned: "7.3.24."

The first of the group shows Manci snuggled in her fiancé's embrace, with the ring clearly visible as she puts her hand on his chest.


A second shot shows Manci's type-written letter "to the love of my life" with her left hand resting on the page and her emerald-cut diamond set on a simple white-metal band clearly in view.

Mansi currently portrays Kristina Davis on General Hospital. Prior to that, she won a Daytime Emmy award for her role as Abigail Deveraux on Days of Our Lives.

McInnis is a film and television producer who is best known for his work on Marvel-themed projects, such as Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Helstrom.

Credits: Photos via Instagram / katemansi, Instagram / matt_mcinnis.
July 10th, 2024
A playful and picturesque beachside proposal took a terrible turn for the worse when the groom-to-be scooped up his new fiancée, tossed her over his shoulder and marched her into the surf — only to have her lose her brand new engagement ring.


It's a jewelry-industry truism that the exchange of diamond jewelry should never take place in or around large bodies of water.

Unfortunately, 24-year-old Katie Nicholson (a fitness influencer known as Beast Barbie) and her now-fiancé Steven Frank had to learn this the hard way.

In social media posts that have been viewed more than a half million times, Nicolson described a proposal that quickly transitioned from elation to desperation.

Frank, who owns Beast Elite Training in Bedford, IN, was enjoying the Fourth of July holiday weekend with Nicholson at an ocean beach when he got down on one knee and surprised his girlfriend with a princess-cut diamond engagement ring. She said, "Yes," to Frank's proposal and the couple embraced.


Outfitted in a white sundress, Nicolson proudly showed off the ring in a photo shared on her TikTok and Instagram pages.


But then Frank, dressed in beige slacks and a white dress shirt, took Nicholson for an unscripted dip in the ocean. They disappeared under the waves, and when they emerged, Nicholson noticed that her ring was gone.


"Wait the ring," she titled one of the photos showing her and her fiancé digging through the sand in a hopeless attempt to retrieve the ring in knee-deep water.


The next photo shows how the scene has grown more intense as many passersby join to help in the search.

"There's no way we're finding it," read her next caption. "It’s in the OCEAN.”


But in the final frame, Nicholson reveals that the ring was found by one of the Good Samaritans. She simply calls him "Miracle Guy."

"& now we have the craziest engagement story to tell," Nicholson wrote in a social media post punctuated by a Grinning Face With Sweat emoji, a Grinning Face with Tears of Joy emoji and a Loudly Crying Face emoji. "This was quite the emotional roller coaster but I think we’re meant to be together."

On Instagram, she wrote, "My forever. How lucky am I to get to spend it with my best friend & the most amazing man. I’m so excited for this next chapter with you."

Credits: Screen captures via Instagram / beastbarbie_ and stevenfrank3_.
July 9th, 2024
In honor of July’s official birthstone, we present the bizarre story of the “Timur Ruby,” one of the world’s largest and most historic “rubies.” We use the word "rubies" in quotes, because the massive unfaceted 352.5-carat gem, which resides among the British Crown Jewels, was exposed in 1851 as a red spinel.


The Timur Ruby gets its name from Timur, the ruthless 14th century Turco-Mongol conqueror, who founded the Timurid Empire. Hailing from what is now Uzbekistan, Timur’s military conquests were vast, spanning from Mongolia in the east and the Mediterranean in the west, to India in the south and Russia in the north.


After successfully capturing Delhi in 1398, Timur left India six months later weighed down with a bounty of jewelry and gemstones. One of those stones was the Timur Ruby.


The unfaceted stone has a semi-polished flat face that is inscribed in Arabic script with the names of four Mughal emperors and two Persian rulers who possessed the stone. The inscriptions are dated between 1612 and 1771.


In 1841 or 1842, the fourth Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, Sher Singh, sat for a portrait wearing the Timur Ruby around his neck. Gracing his biceps were two massive and equally famous diamonds: the 186-carat Koh-i-Noor and the 182-carat Daria-i-Noor, both set within a golden armlet. (Singh met his untimely death in 1843 at the age of 43).


In 1849, when the British East India Company took over the Punjab region (which is now eastern Pakistan and northern India), it also confiscated the Timur Ruby and the massive diamonds from ruler Ranjit Singh.

The East India Company presented the Timur Ruby to Queen Victoria in 1851. The Queen was so excited about the gift that she wrote the following in her journal: “The [Timur Ruby] is the largest in the world, therefore even more remarkable than the Koh-i-Noor!”

Later that same year, advancements in gemology and mineralogy led to the determination that the “largest ruby in the world” was actually a big spinel.

Nevertheless, Garrards, the British crown jeweler, set the Timur Ruby in an Oriental-inspired necklace in April 1853. Two months later, the jeweler adjusted the necklace to allow the Timur Ruby to be detached for use as a brooch and to alternate with the recently re-cut Koh-i-Noor diamond.

Today, the Timur Ruby resides among the priceless British Crown Jewels, but has never been worn by a British Royal. Some speculate that members of the monarchy were hesitant to wear the necklace for fear of backlash from critics, who see the piece as historically Indian.

Gemologists know now that it’s virtually impossible for a ruby to be 350-plus carats. They understand that chromium atoms incorporated in a ruby’s aluminum oxide crystal give the gem its rich, red color. They also acknowledge that the chromium so vital to the ruby’s beauty is also responsible for causing fissures in the crystal, making rubies larger than 3 carats in size extremely rare and very valuable.

Credit: Painting of Maharaja Sher Singh by August Schoefft, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Photo of Timur sculpture by user:shakko, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.