British Crown Jewels Were Hidden From Nazis in a Biscuit Tin, BBC Documentary Reveals

Priceless gems from the British Crown Jewels were hidden from the Nazis in a biscuit tin and buried underground at Windsor Castle during World War II, a BBC documentary revealed last night.

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Fearing an invasion, King George VI ordered that the most precious jewels — including the Black Prince’s ruby and Saint Edward’s sapphire — be removed from the royal crowns, stashed in a Bath Oliver biscuit tin and buried under a sally port, which is a secret exit from the castle used in times of emergency.

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The treasures were placed deep in the ground at the royal family's country residence in Berkshire and secured with steel doors. The limestone excavation was filled in with soil and covered with turf. Queen Elizabeth II, who was only 14 at the time, first learned of her father's ploy during her BBC interview with Alastair Bruce.

"What was so lovely was that the Queen had no knowledge of it," Bruce noted. "Telling her seemed strangely odd."

Some historians speculated that the royal gems had been whisked away during the war to a vault in Canada or a cave in Wales. But, confidential correspondence from Sir Owen Morshead, the royal librarian, to Queen Mary, the mother of George VI, finally uncovered the secret of the biscuit tin. The British Crown Jewels — 23,578 in all — are currently under armed guard in the Jewel House at the Tower of London.

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During the interview, the 91-year-old monarch got to take a close look at the Imperial State Crown, the stone's from which were remounted for her father's coronation in 1937. The crown is set with 2,868 diamonds, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, hundreds of pearls and a famous ruby that's not actually a ruby.

The Queen pointed out that the 2lb 13oz crown has been reduced in height since her father wore it. She also joked that it's important not to look down when wearing the crown as your "neck would break."

She told Bruce that her favorite gem in the crown is the Black Prince's ruby, which is, in fact, an irregular cabochon red spinel weighing 170 carats. The stone is set in the cross above the 317-carat Cullinan II diamond at the front of the Imperial State Crown and its history dates back to the middle of the 14th century.

The Queen seemed to be saddened by the plight of the pearls mounted in the crown. She said they are “not very happy now” and had been “hanging out for years.”

“I mean, the trouble is that pearls are sort of live things and they need... warming,” she said.

Princess Elizabeth ascended to the throne in 1952 at the age of 25 after her father died unexpectedly.

The BBC documentary was broadcast by the Smithsonian Channel on Sunday night.

Credits: Queen Elizabeth II screen capture via Smithsonianchannel.com; British Crown Jewels, including Saint Edward's Crown, by United Kingdom Government [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons; Imperial State Crown showing Black Prince's ruby by Cyril Davenport (1848 – 1941) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Birthstone of the Month: Extraordinary Jeweled Egg Features World's Largest Polished Garnet

One of the most extraordinary examples of January's official birthstone is this objet d'art featuring what is believed to be the world's largest polished garnet.

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Reminiscent of the jeweled eggs designed for the Russian tsars by the House of Fabergé more than 100 years ago, the "Garnet and Diamond Egg Creation" by Idar-Oberstein-based Manfred Wild was carved from an immense rough garnet sourced in Orissa, India. The garnet egg, which possesses the deep red hue of a fine claret wine, weighs 5,696 carats.

The egg opens to reveal a diamond cross mounted in 18-karat yellow gold and platinum, set on both sides with a total of 456 diamonds weighing approximately 8.50 carats. The cross is embellished with a single octahedral brown diamond at its center, weighing approximately 5.74 carats, and five cube-shaped natural yellow diamonds, weighing approximately 10.04 carats.

The cross emerges from a large faceted rock crystal quartz, measuring 125mm in diameter, and beneath the egg is an 18-karat gold "crown of thorns." When turned, the crown opens and closes the egg. The stem beneath features two rows of almandite garnets — 46 in all — with a faceted rock crystal acting as a spacer between.

The entire object is crafted using 403 grams (14.2 ounces) of 18K gold and 30.50 grams (1.07 ounces) of platinum. The egg measures 150 x 120 mm (5.9 inches x 4.7 inches) and the mounted piece has an overall height of 12 inches.

In November of 2014, the "Garnet and Diamond Egg Creation" was one of the top lots in a Bonham's Los Angeles auction titled "Gems, Minerals, Lapidary Works of Art and Natural History." Its pre-sale estimate was set at $300,000 to $400,000, but the piece remained unsold.

Coveted by kings and commoners alike for thousands of years, garnet is a versatile gemstone that comes in a wide variety of natural colors, including pink, purple, orange, yellow, violet, green, black, brown and deep-red.

Garnet varieties commonly seen in jewelry include pyrope, almandine, andradite, demantoid, grossularite, hessonite, rhodolite, tsavorite, spessartine and uvarovite. Garnets achieve their range of color from trace amounts of iron, manganese, calcium or aluminium in their chemical makeup.

Credits: Photos courtesy of Bonhams.

Platinum Jewelry Complements Solidarity 'Blackout' at the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards

Platinum jewelry was front and center at Sunday’s 75th annual Golden Globe Awards as Hollywood's biggest stars wore black to show their solidarity with the "Time's Up" movement, a group dedicated to promoting gender equality in the entertainment industry. And while the red carpet "blackout" conveyed a serious social message, the platinum jewelry adorning the black ensembles exuded glamour and sophistication.

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White diamond earrings, colorful sapphire and emerald gemstones, and vintage jewelry — all set in platinum — were popular choices for the red carpet, noted Platinum Guild International. Among the A-list celebrities who chose platinum accessories this year were Golden Globe winner Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird), Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives) and many more.

Ronan, who won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical for her role in Lady Bird, wore platinum dangle earrings by Cartier. The “Cartier High Jewelry” glistened with diamonds and sapphires.

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Clarke's V-shaped platinum necklace by Harry Winston flashed with 18.91 carats of diamonds. Completing the look were other Harry Winston pieces, including platinum earstuds with emerald-cut diamonds (6.32 carats) and three platinum bands (not shown).

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Gadot chose a Tiffany and Co. platinum ensemble, which included diamond chandelier earrings and a bracelet adorned with princess-cut diamonds (not shown).

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Eva Longoria showed off her baby bump while wearing platinum earrings set with emerald-cut diamonds by Lorraine Schwartz.

Other notable actresses wearing platinum included the following:

Nicole Kidman in platinum by Fred Leighton:
• Art Deco earrings with diamonds (7.25 carats).
• Art Deco Old European ring with diamonds (6.10 carats).
• Art Deco ring with diamonds.

Issa Rae in platinum by Lorraine Schwartz:
• Necklace with diamonds (100 carats) and a Colombian emerald center (35 carats).
• Ring with a Colombian emerald (42 carats) and diamonds.

Natalie Portman in platinum by Tiffany & Co.:
• Diamond earrings.
• Ring featuring a 5-carat sapphire and diamonds from the “2017 Extraordinary Colors of Tiffany Collection.”

Kate Hudson in platinum by Harry Winston:
• Vintage “Secret Wonder” pendant with diamonds, sapphire and aquamarine (30.01 carats).
• Vintage 1969 diamond cluster earrings (23.12 carats).

Claire Foy in platinum by Harry Winston:
• Sparkling cluster diamond earrings (4.25 carats).
• Rock band with a radiant-cut diamond (7.7 carats).
• Rock band with an oval-cut diamond (8.97carats).

Debra Messing in platinum by Lorraine Schwartz:
• Earrings with pear-shaped Colombian emeralds (32 carats).
• Ring with a Colombian emerald (40 carats).

Viola Davis in platinum by Harry Winston:
• “Secret Combination” necklace with diamonds (111.48 carats).
• Earstuds with round brilliant-cut diamonds (8 carats).
• “Traffic” ring with diamonds (1.49 carats).

Helen Mirren in platinum by Harry Winston:
• “Winston Cluster Wreath” necklace with diamonds (46.94 carats).
• “Secret Cluster” earrings with diamonds (8.35 carats).
• “Flower” ring with ruby and diamonds (10.36 carats).

Lily James in platinum by Harry Winston:
• “Winston Cluster Flower” earrings with diamonds (8.19 carats).
• “Sunflower Twin” ring with diamonds (1.81 carats).

Ashley Judd in platinum by Martin Katz:
• Earrings with emerald briolette drops (11.59 carats) and kite-shaped diamonds (2 carats), accented with six round diamond connectors, microset with 445 round, single-cut diamonds.

Credits: Photos by INSTARImages, provided by Platinum Guild International.

Here's a First Look at the XXIII Olympic Winter Games Gold Medal; Can You Guess What It's Worth?

With the new year upon us and the Winter Olympics in South Korea right around the corner, it's time to take a close look at the medals that will be awarded at the Games and noodle out what they're really worth.

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Designed by Seoul-based Sukwoo Lee, the gold, silver and bronze medals to be awarded from February 9 - 25 at the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang will range in weight from 586 grams for a gold medal to 493 grams for a bronze medal. At today's spot price, the gold medals — if they were, in fact, made of pure gold — would be worth $26,974 each.

The truth is that the gold medals contain just 6 grams of pure gold and 580 grams of 99.9% silver, resulting in an actual precious metal value of about $624. The silver medals contain 580 grams of 99.9% silver ($348), and the bronze medals are made of 493 grams of copper ($4.93).

Yes, there was a time when Olympic gold medals were made of solid gold, but the last ones were awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, way back in 1912.

Starting in 1916, the International Olympic Committee mandated that gold medals be made mostly of silver, and gilded with exactly 6 grams (0.211 ounces) of 24-karat gold. The IOC also required the medals to be at least 60mm in diameter and 3mm thick. The Pyeongchang medals are 92.5mm (about 3.6 inches) wide. The thickness of the coins range from 4.4mm to 9.42mm.

Lee's design was inspired by the texture of tree trunks, with the front bearing the Olympic rings and dynamic diagonal lines that reflect both the history of the Olympics and the determination of the participants. The reverse displays the winner's sports discipline, event and the Pyeongchang 2018 emblem. In total, 259 sets of the medals have been made.

The bark-like ridges on the face of Lee's design are made from extrusions of three-dimensional Hangeul consonants. Hangeul, which dates back to the 15th century, is the Korean alphabet and the foundation of Korean culture. The Hangeul letters extend to the edges of the coins and can be read around the rims.

The ribbons are made from gapsa, a traditional South Korean fabric. They are light teal and light red in color and embroidered with Hangeul patterns and other designs.

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The medal comes with a wooden case designed with curves witnessed in Korean traditional architecture. The case will house the medal, medal description, the IOC badge and a medallist note.

The Winter Games in Pyeongchang will be followed by the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. Although the medal designs have yet to be revealed, the organizers are imploring environmentally conscious citizens to unload their old cell phones in a recycling effort to amass enough precious metal to create 5,000 gold, silver and bronze medals.

Credits: Images via pyeongchang2018.com.

Shy Guy Dresses Like Santa to Surprise Girlfriend With Over-the-Top Marriage Proposal

A self-described shy guy who prefers to stay out of the spotlight surprised his science teacher girlfriend with a Santa-themed marriage proposal in front of a gym full of screaming middle schoolers.

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Dressed like Saint Nick, Chris Garrett walked onto the court during the Rainbow Lake Middle School's teachers-versus-students volleyball game. He took the microphone from the game's announcer and told the crowd, "I have a pretty busy journey ahead of me."

While the crowd of students and teachers were probably thinking of a journey that included toys for the local kids of Spartanburg, S.C., Garrett had something completely different in mind.

"I have a very special gift I need to give to a very special person," the disguised Garrett said.

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At that point, seventh-grade teacher Traci Thompson was ushered onto the court, where the faux Santa removed his beard, got down on one knee, pulled a ring box from his pocket and presented his girlfriend with an oval-shaped diamond ring.

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"Will you marry me?" Garrett asked.

Thompson said, "Yes," and the crowd erupted in cheers for the couple.

“It’s a special moment,” Garrett said. “She’s the girl of my dreams.”

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During a post-ceremony interview, Thompson admitted that Santa's voice sounded familiar.

“I’m still like, in shock,” Thompson told goupstate.com. “I remember thinking, ‘Who is that Santa?’”

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Thomas noted that the proposal caught her off guard because her boyfriend is a mild-mannered, behind-the-scenes type of guy.

"This literally would have been the last way I would have expected [the proposal] to happen," she told NBC affiliate WYFF4.

Garrett admitted he prefers to stay "out of the lights like this," but wanted to do something extra special.

“This way, she can share it with everyone here, her family, the kids,” Garrett told goupstate.com.

Summing up what she saw as a perfect proposal, Thompson told her boyfriend of three years, and now fiancé, "You did so good.”

Credits: Screen captures via wyff4.com.