Music Friday: Lee Ann Womack Needs to Know, 'Does My Ring Burn Your Finger?'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you popular songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, country star Lee Ann Womack sings about a marriage gone wrong in her 2001 hit, "Does My Ring Burn Your Finger?"

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Womack plays the part of a loving wife whose husband has betrayed her, leaving his wedding band behind. She's heartbroken and yearns to get him back. She wonders if he has trouble with commitments — or maybe he's rediscovered an old flame.

The title of the song evokes a symbol of their wedding "promise" that's suddenly become too unbearable to wear.

She sings, "Did my ring burn your finger? / Did my love weigh you down? / Was the promise too much to keep around?"

Written by husband-and-wife team Buddy and Julie Miller, "Does My Ring Burn Your Finger?" was released as the fourth single from Womack's popular CD I Hope You Dance. The song went to #23 on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, while the album zoomed all the way to #1 on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums chart.

USA Today's Ken Barnes picked "Does My Ring Burn Your Finger?" as his #1 song for 2001, describing it as "a searing, chill-conjuring performance of a seething Buddy and Julie Miller tune by country's reigning female vocalist."

In November of 2001, Womack performed the song live during the CMA Awards. The performance was so powerful and so memorable that a Billboard critic couldn't come up with the words to describe it.

In his 2017 review of Womack's 10 Best Songs, Billboard's Chuck Dauphin wrote, "Womack delivered what just might be her most dominant vocal performance – so far. Do us a favor. Check out her performance of this song from the 2001 CMA Awards on YouTube. We get paid to write words describing such moments, but damn. Sometimes, there are none that can aptly describe it."

Born and raised in Jacksonville, Texas, in 1966, Womack developed a love for country music at a young age. Her father was a DJ and often brought her to work to help him pick his playlist.

She emerged as a contemporary country artist in 1997 and was favorably compared to Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette. Womack has released nine studio albums and sold more than six million albums worldwide. She has received five Academy of Country Music Awards, six Country Music Association Awards and a single Grammy Award.

Please check out her scorching live performance of "Does My Ring Burn Your Finger?" at the 2001 CMA Awards. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Does My Ring Burn Your Finger?"
Written by Julie Miller and Steven Paul (Buddy) Miller. Performed by Lee Ann Womack.

When I gave you my heart
It was not what you wanted
Now the walls say your name
And the pictures are haunted
Does my ring burn your finger
Did my love weigh you down?
Was the promise too much to keep around?

I remember your words and I can't keep from cryin'
I could never believe that your kisses were lyin'
Was there somethin' from the past
Buried in a shallow grave?
Did you think that it was too far gone to save?

Please tell me baby
Please tell me now
You say that I should just go on
Now please tell me how

Now it's just me and the night and I'm so broken hearted
I just wait in the dark here for my dearly departed
Did my ring burn your finger?
Did my love weigh you down?
Was the promise too much to keep around?



Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com/Lee Ann Womack.

'Inkalamu,’ a 5,655-Carat Emerald Crystal, Makes High-Profile Debut in Delhi

Nearly six months after winning the 5,655-carat "Inkalamu" emerald at a Gemfields auction last November, luxury jeweler Diacolor finally revealed the Zambian-sourced crystal to the public last week at the company's flagship store in Delhi, India.

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Inkalamu, which means the “Lion Emerald” in Zambia's regional Bemba language, was discovered at the Kagem mine on October 2 and offered for sale in Singapore in mid-November. There, 45 approved auction partners competed for the extraordinary find — an emerald that boasts remarkable clarity and a perfectly balanced golden green hue. The carat weight is equivalent to 1.1 kg or 2.5 lbs.

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“The minute I heard about it, I simply had to have it,” Diacolor's founder and chairman Rajkumar Tongya told The Economic Times. “Such a rare find from Mother Nature, I just couldn’t resist the temptation.”

The founder's son, Rishabh, who is Diacolor's creative director, told the India-based publication that he got goosebumps when he first laid eyes on the “kryptonite-type” emerald.

Neither Diacolor nor Gemfields have revealed the amount of the winning bid.

Despite its massive size, Inkalamu is not the largest crystal to be unearthed at the Kagem mine. In 2010, it yielded a 6,225-carat emerald named “Insofu,” the Bemba word for “elephant.”

And it's not a coincidence that the father-son team at Diacolor purchased that rough gem, as well.

Rajkumar Tongya hinted to The Economic Times that Inkalamu might yield a "pear-shaped, uniform-looking jewelry set."

A Gemfields representative said in October that Inkalamu will take its place among the world’s most exceptional gemstones of all time, and if the crystal is divided into smaller stones, the “The Pride of Inkalamu,” so to speak, will continue the legacy for generations to come.

Before Diacolor takes on the task of cutting and polishing the mammoth stone, the company will be promoting it during an international tour of retail outlets and museums.

The name Inkalamu honors the work carried out by two of Gemfields’ conservation partners, the Zambian Carnivore Programme and the Niassa Carnivore Project in Mozambique. Gemfields will divide 10% of Inkalamu’s auction proceeds equally between the two carnivore initiatives.

Credits: Images courtesy of Gemfields.

June's Birthstone: This Smithsonian 'Treasure' Features 339 Natural Pearls

Natural pearls are among the rarest of all gems. In fact, experts believe the odds of opening a random oyster in the wild and finding a natural pearl is 1 in 100,000. What's more, if someone was lucky enough to amass a small collection of natural pearls, there's hardly a chance that they'd match in terms of size, shape, color and luster.

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These factors underscore why the Smithsonian's "Dunn Pearl Necklace" is so incredible.

Designed by Cartier in the 1920s and donated to the Smithsonian by Mrs. Arthur Wallace Dunn in 1977, the Dunn Pearl Necklace is adorned with 339 natural pearls, ranging in size from 3.3mm to 7.8mm.

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Not only is that an astonishing number of natural pearls, but the five rows of cream-colored gems are very well matched. It's hard to fathom how many oysters had to be processed in order to yield the natural pearls that make up this necklace.

In a Smithsonian review of the piece, the author called the Dunn Pearl Necklace a "treasure from the vault" at the National Museum of Natural History.

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In additional to the extraordinary array of pearls, the necklace includes an Art Deco-era platinum clasp set with 428 old-mine diamonds. The diamond total weight of the piece is approximately 16 carats.

Mrs. Arthur Wallace Dunn was the wife of a prominent Washington, DC-based journalist and author, who hobnobbed with presidents Warren G. Harding, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.

June's official gemstone — the pearl — is unique among all of the gems because it is the only one formed entirely within a living creature. Natural pearls occur when an irritant enters the oyster's shell. To protect itself from the foreign body, the mollusk secretes layers of nacre, which, over time, become a lustrous pearl. To make a cultured pearl, a shell bead is surgically implanted into the mollusk to induce nacre production.

Credits: Dunn Pearl Necklace by Donald E. Hurlbert/Smithsonian. Clasp closeup by Ken Larsen/Smithsonian.

Antwerp Diamond Industry Celebrates 100th Anniversary of Tolkowsky's 'Brilliant Cut'

Exactly 100 years ago, a 19-year-old Antwerp engineer named Marcel Tolkowsky perfected a mathematical formula for the 57-facet "brilliant-cut" diamond. Tolkowsky's accomplishment prevails as the most iconic and successful cut in history due to its ability to maximize a diamond's fire, brilliance and sparkle.

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The Antwerp World Diamond Centre recently held a street fair and ceremonial diamond cutting to honor Tolkowsky and the 100th anniversary.

"In 1919, my uncle Marcel unlocked the secret of light within a diamond," said Gabi Tolkowsky, one of the world's most renowned diamond cutters. "He figured out how to get the greatest amount of light to shine out of a diamond, calculating the number and arrangement of facets to maximize the light return. This was Marcel’s gift to the world, perfecting the journey of light, giving all those who came after him the knowledge of how to turn a diamond into a unique beauty."

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Marcel Tolkowsky proved that if a diamond was cut too deep or too shallow, the light coming down from the top would escape out the sides or bottom, resulting in a loss of brilliance. His solution: 57 precisely placed facets cut to exacting proportions so the light coming into a diamond is refracted up through the table and crown to the viewer's eye.

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During the celebration, the AWDC launched its unique “100 Years Brilliant” project, during which 57 well-know (and lesser known) Antwerp residents were invited to polish a single diamond — one person for each facet of a brilliant.

"In this way, ‘t Steentje – which is how the diamond industry is referred to in the local vernacular – will represent the multicultural character and diversity of the Antwerp diamond industry," explained AWDC CEO Ari Epstein.

Once the stone is finished, it will be exhibited in Antwerp's DIVA diamond museum.

The first facet was polished by guest of honor Gabi Tolkowsky, who famously spent three years cutting the 273.85-carat Centenary Diamond.

The second facet of the stone was polished by Constantinus ‘Stan’ Hunselmans, who shares his birth year with the brilliant.

“I celebrated my 100th birthday on January 14, and it is an honor that I was chosen," Hunselmans said. "It went really well. If I were a little bit younger, I might have considered a career switch.”

Since 1447, Antwerp has laid claim to the title of the "World's Diamond Capital." It should come as no surprise that Tolkowsky's brilliant cut was developed in this city.

Credit: Image courtesy of Petragems [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Diamond proportions graphics by Jasper Paulsen CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Flawless 'Bubble Gum Pink' Diamond Fetches $7.5 Million at Christie's Hong Kong

An internally flawless bubble gum pink diamond weighing 3.44 carats was the colorful star of Christie's Hong Kong auction on Tuesday as it sold for $7.5 million, or $2.2 million per carat.

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The cushion modified brilliant-cut diamond — aptly dubbed "The Bubble Gum Pink" — is set in a ring by luxury jeweler Moussaieff. The fancy vivid purplish-pink diamond is framed by small pear-shaped pink diamonds on the corners and larger marquise-cut white diamonds on the sides.

Celebrated for its superb color, The Bubble Gum Pink was classified by Christie's Chairman Francois Curiel as "probably the strongest pink I have ever seen in my 50-year life of jewelry specialty at Christie’s."

The hammer price for the auction's top lot was on the high end of Christie's pre-sale estimate of $6 million to $8 million.

Other top lots at the Magnificent Jewels event include the following:

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• A pair of emerald earrings called The Grand Muzos fetched $4.5 million. The Colombian-sourced emeralds weigh 23.34 carats and 23.18 carats, respectively, and are accented by white diamonds and pearls. Each of the diamonds weighs exactly 3.01 carats and share identical F-color and VS2 clarity gradings. Christie's had estimated the pair would sell in the range of $3.8 million to $6.5 million.

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• A necklace featuring 47 jadeite beads ranging in size from 9.8mm to 13.3mm and accented with a ruby and diamond clasp yielded $1.9 million, slightly below the pre-sale estimate of $2 million to $3 million. The necklace measures 22.24 inches (56.5cm) in length.

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• An elaborate diamond necklace by Bulgari — highlighted by a rare 1.02-carat vivid green-blue modified brilliant-cut diamond and a modified pear brilliant-cut diamond of 11.69 carats — sold for $1.57 million. The large center diamond is internally flawless. The hammer price was just below the pre-sale estimate, which Christie's set at $1.6 million to $2.3 million.

The Christie's Magnificent Jewels sale in Hong Kong presented more than 260 lots and netted $44.4 million.

Credits: Images courtesy of Christie's.