Traveler's Despair Turns to Elation as Albany TSA Pulls Out All the Stops to Find Lost Diamond

Earlier this month, airline passenger Kana Chi-Murenbeeld had just cleared the security checkpoint at New York's Albany International Airport when she looked down at her engagement ring and was horrified to see that a prong had broken off and her pear-shaped diamond was missing from the setting.

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“I have never in my life been so panicked and upset in an airport, let alone anywhere else in public before,” wrote Kana Chi-Murenbeeld in note to TSA. Married only three years, the young woman had worn the diamond ring every day since her engagement in 2013.

Overcome with despair, the Fort Lauderdale resident sank into a seat at the back of the checkpoint area and cried.

Supervisory Transportation Security Officer Louetta “Rainy” Littman spotted the distraught passenger and assured her that her diamond was "not lost yet."

While a group of TSA officers continued to screen passengers, other officers were on their hands and knees looking for the diamond. They scoured the area from the ticket document checking station through the entire checkpoint lane, going through the stack of bins, peering under machines and using flashlights in the hope of seeing a reflection bouncing off the diamond.

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After about 10 minutes, Transportation Security Officer Steven Kaminski glanced at a bin with a tissue left inside of it.

“Nobody had looked in that bin yet, so I looked in and there it was,” he said. “I just wanted to help her out. I know I would have been disappointed if I had lost a valuable item like that and nobody had helped me.”

Chi-Murenbeeld was quick to thank the entire TSA crew, and especially the man who saved the day.

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“She squeezed the air out of me with a huge hug,” Kaminsky said. She also hugged all of the other officers who were involved in the diamond hunt.

“The amazingly kind and caring supervisor on duty was on top of the situation right away, having her team of officers scour the area as well as calm me down with her optimistic attitude,” noted Chi-Murenbeeld. “I have traveled all around the world and can say in all honesty that I have never met such an amazing team of workers in the airline or security industry.”

Credits: Steve Kaminiski and Albany TSA team photos courtesy of TSA. Ring photo courtesy of Kana Chi-Murenbeeld.

18.4-Carat 'Rockefeller Emerald' Sets World Auction Record at Christie's in Rockefeller Center

The 18.4-carat “Rockefeller Emerald” set a new world auction record for the highest per-carat price ever achieved for an emerald when it fetched $5.5 million yesterday at Christie's New York, which is headquartered, quite fittingly, in Rockefeller Center.

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Described by Christie's as possessing mesmerizing color and impeccable clarity, the Colombian emerald was originally purchased in 1930 as part of a pendant brooch by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., for his wife, Abby. After Abby passed away in 1948, Rockefeller asked New York jeweler Raymond C. Yard to disassemble the Van Cleef & Arpels brooch so the individual emeralds from the setting could be distributed among the Rockefeller children. Yard set the center emerald in a platinum ring and Rockefeller gifted it to his son, David.

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"This is supremely natural beauty," Rahul Kadakia, Christie's International Head of Jewelry, told CNBC. "This truly is the finest emerald that's ever come up for sale at auction, or anywhere else in the world."

The ring features the octagonal step-cut emerald flanked on either side by trapezoid and circular-cut diamonds.

Christie's noted that the intense color and distinct saturation that typifies a Colombian emerald is illustrated perfectly in this remarkable stone. American Gemological Laboratories described the stone as "exceptional," possessing what AGL calls an "unusual combination of size, provenance, absence of treatment and quality factors [that contribute] favorably to its rarity and desirability."

The Rockefeller Emerald's per-carat price of $304,878 edged out the $281,329 achieved by the previously record holder — a 23.46-carat emerald-and-diamond pendant brooch formerly owned by actress Elizabeth Taylor. That Bulgari brooch was sold by Christie's New York for $6.6 million in 2011 as part of the landmark auctions of “The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor” and still claims the record for the highest price ever paid for an emerald jewel.

Members of the Rockefeller family are often characterized as American royalty. John D. Rockefeller Jr. was the only son among five children of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller, America's first billionaire. During the Great Depression, "Junior" developed Rockefeller Center, an impressive complex of midtown Manhattan office buildings, which he called the "city within a city."

"It's very, very cool that we have this city within a city, selling the stone that belonged to the man who built it," Kadakia told CNBC.

Credits: Rockefeller Emerald images courtesy of Christie's.

Snake Ring Made in Prison by Clyde Barrow for Bonnie Parker Hits the Auction Block

The three-headed snake ring that notorious outlaw Clyde Barrow crafted in prison for the love of his life and partner in crime, Bonnie Parker, will be offered for sale at RR Auction in Boston later this month.

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The silver-tone promise ring — featuring green and red jewels — was recovered from their bullet-riddled ’33 Ford Model B by Sheriff Smoot Schmid after the "Sowers Raid" in November 1933. Bonnie and Clyde fled on foot, escaping the police ambush despite wounds to their legs from the bullets that passed through the car. The legendary couple famously robbed banks and evaded the law for two years until they met a tragic demise in 1934. Bonnie was 23 and Clyde was 25.

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This promise ring, which is expected to fetch $40,000+ at the auction house's “Gangsters, Outlaws and Lawmen” sale on June 24, is recorded in Sheriff Schmid’s inventory as “Bonnie Parker Ring (3 Silver Snakes with Tiny Jewels)."

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An authentication paper written by New Hampshire-based graduate gemologist David H. Bellman explained that Clyde was a skilled amateur craftsman, dabbling in jewelry-making, leather craft and woodworking. He was also an accomplished musician.

The snake ring he crafted in 1930 while incarcerated at Eastham Prison Farm near Huntsville, Texas, bears his personal trademark, an arrow passing through the musical note "B." The arrow in his maker’s mark may be that of Cupid, symbolizing his love for Bonnie, or it may be a clever, graphical way to spell out his last name, [B]arrow. He likely carved the design from a block of wax and then fabricated the ring from copper using the lost-wax casting process. The final step was plating it in silver.

Among some of the other items known to have been made by Clyde while in jail are a beaded necklace given to his sister, Marie, a hand-tooled leather belt with metal studs and blue and red stones, and his own polished silver belt buckle with a five-pointed Texas Star in the center surrounded by abalone shell. Bellman noted that the leather belt, belt buckle and snake ring all exhibit similar styles of artistic approach and the same level of high-quality, though unrefined, craftsmanship.

The couple's exploits were romanticized in the 1967 blockbuster film,
Bonnie and Clyde, with Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty playing the title roles. Bonnie and Clyde captured two Academy Awards, including Best Cinematography.

Interestingly, at the time of her death, Bonnie was wearing the wedding ring that was given to her by Roy Thornton, who she married just before her 16th birthday in 1926. Their marriage crumbled when Thornton was jailed in 1929. Bonnie met Clyde in 1930, and they immediately fell in love. Two months later, Clyde would become an inmate at Eastham Prison Farm, where he would test his jewelry-making skills. Although they were never formally engaged, the three-headed snake promise ring remains a powerful symbol of two of America's highest-profile antiheroes.

On May 23, 1934, Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed and killed by police officers near the town of Sailes, in Bienville Parish, La.

Credits: Jewelry images courtesy of RR Auction; Bonnie and Clyde photo by one of the Barrow gang [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Music Friday: 'Your Love Is a Pearl,' Sings Joshua Kadison in 1994's 'Beautiful in My Eyes'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you hit songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we shine the spotlight on one of the most requested wedding songs of the 1990s: "Beautiful in My Eyes" by Joshua Kadison.

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Kadison's lyrical love letter offers a sweet and sentimental prediction of how a relationship will become stronger through the years. Kadison pledges that even as they grow old together — and lines appear on their faces — she will always be beautiful in his eyes. To emphasize the concept of a "perfect" love, Kadison introduces June's official birthstone in the first verse.

He sings, "You're my peace of mind / In this crazy world / You're everything I've tried to find / Your love is a pearl."

Released in 1994 as the second single from his critically acclaimed debut album
Painted Desert Serenade, "Beautiful in My Eyes" ascended to #19 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and charted in five countries. The song was Kadison's most successful single, even surpassing the performance of his breakout hit, "Jesse."

In reviewing the album, Bryan Buss of Allmusic described it as "chock full of odes to finding romance, longing for romance and losing romance." MyWeddingSongs.com rated "Beautiful in My Eyes" #7 on its list of "beautiful" songs to play on your beautiful day.

Born in Los Angeles in 1963, Kadison started writing songs at the age of 12. Four years later, he hit the road as a teenager, searching for life's answers after the tragic death of his mother. He made a living playing at bars in cities, such as Santa Barbara, Nashville and Dallas. His major influences included Cole Porter, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, Nina Simone, Igor Stravinsky and Bela Bartok.

"All of that time on the road was great therapy for me," he told
Billboard magazine. "It strengthened my soul and focused my songwriting — however corny that sounds."

At 30 years old, he got his big break when he was signed by EMI Records and released
Painted Desert Serenade. VH-1 named Kadison the network's major video breakthrough artist of 1993.

Despite his commercial success, Kadison still didn't feel fulfilled.

"It felt as if I had the world at my feet but it wasn't what my soul wanted," he said. "I felt I had learned all I could from my experiences in the pop music field. The lessons of fame and success and all that go with them were amazing, but I knew there was much more to life I had to learn."

He took a long sabbatical to study music. First it was classical, then it was jazz. He did an apprenticeship with a Native American sound healer and worked with her for three years until her death.

"It was the strangest thing really. She found me as much as I found her," he said. "She told me I would be her last student. At the time, I didn't understand the profundity of that statement. From Otelia, I amplified my respect for both silence and sound.”

Kadison still performs at the age of 54 and has a strong fanbase in Germany. Trivia note: Kadison dated the actress Sarah Jessica Parker in the early 1990s.

Please check out the video of Kadison's performance of "Beautiful in My Eyes." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Beautiful in My Eyes"
Written and performed by Joshua Kadison.

You're my peace of mind
In this crazy world
You're everything I've tried to find
Your love is a pearl
You're my Mona Lisa
You're my rainbow skies
And my only prayer is that you realize...
You'll always be beautiful in my eyes

The world will turn
And the seasons will change
And all the lessons we will learn
Will be beautiful and strange
We'll have our fill of tears
Our share of sighs
My only prayer is that you realize...
You'll always be beautiful in my eyes

You will always be
Beautiful in my eyes
And the passing years will show
That you will always grow
Ever more beautiful in my eyes

And there are lines upon my face
From a lifetime of smiles
When the time comes to embrace
For one long last while
We can laugh about
How time really flies
We won't say good-bye
Cause' true love never dies...
You'll always be beautiful in my eyes

You will always be (You will always be)
Beautiful in my eyes (Beautiful in my eyes)
And the passing years will show
That you will always grow
Ever more beautiful in my eyes

The passing years will show
That you will always grow
Ever more beautiful in my eyes



Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

$1.3 Million 'Australian Trilogy' Collection Features 1-Kilo Coins Adorned With Fancy-Color Diamonds

The Perth Mint has just unveiled "The Australian Trilogy," an exclusive, one-of-a-kind collection of one-kilo coins meticulously set with fancy-color diamonds sourced from Rio Tinto’s Argyle Diamond Mine.

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The mint uses three precious metals — yellow gold, platinum and rose gold — in a set of coins that celebrate Western Australia’s unique heritage and natural treasures.

With a mintage of just one, "The Australian Trilogy" carries a price tag of AUS$1.8 million ($1.36 million) and boasts a hefty combined weight of 6.6 pounds.

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The Australian Kookaburra coin, crafted from 99.99% pure gold, depicts two kookaburras perched on a wooden fence gazing toward a round 0.47-carat fancy deep purple-pink diamond. (The photo, above, shows the freshly struck coin, minus the diamond.)

Fashioned from 99.95% pure platinum, the Australian Kangaroo coin portrays this iconic animal bounding across an outback plain over an emerald-cut 0.46-carat fancy dark gray-violet diamond.

To complete the trilogy, the 91.67% rose gold Australian Koala coin illustrates this native marsupial beneath a eucalyptus tree in a rural landscape beside an emerald-cut 0.58-carat fancy intense pink diamond.

The artistry on each coin is bordered by a title inscription, the year 2017, the weight, fineness and metal, and The Perth Mint’s traditional "P" mintmark.

Each release also displays the renowned Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on its obverse. The Australian Kookaburra coin has a face value of AUS$5,000.

The one-of-a-kind set will be on display in The Perth Mint Shop throughout June — or until a buyer takes it home.

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The Australian Trilogy was revealed to the public by officials of The Perth Mint, the Australian government and mining company Rio Tinto.

“The Australian Trilogy has elevated our creations to a new level with three diamond-studded gold and platinum coins in one dazzling presentation,” Perth Mint Chief Executive Officer Richard Hayes said in a statement.

Check out the video below, which offers an insider's perspective of how the coins came together at The Perth Mint.



Credits: "The Australian Trilogy" and executive images courtesy of The Perth Mint; Coin screen capture via YouTube.com.