Hot Rocks From Humes Jewelers
December 8th, 2021
Underrated and often misunderstood, zircon is the colorful alternative birthstone for December. Available in a wide range of brilliant hues — from red, orange, yellow, green to blue and brown — zircon is the oldest mineral on Earth.

Back in 2014, a tiny zircon crystal that scientists believed was 4.4 billion years old was helping to unlock the mysteries of how the Earth first formed. John Valley, a professor of geoscience, and his team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, claimed that a translucent red zircon discovered in Western Australia’s remote Jack Hills region was nearly as old as the Earth itself.

Zircon likely got its name from the Persian word "zargun," which means “gold-hued.” The American Gem Society (AGS) also noted that zircon's name could be traced to the Arabic word "zarkun," which means "vermillion," the brilliant red pigment used to paint buildings in Biblical times.

While zircon has deep roots in science and history, contemporary jewelry buyers are often confused about the difference between zircon and cubic zirconia. Zircon is a naturally occurring mineral and cubic zirconia, also known as CZ, is a synthetic stone grown in a lab.

Zircon in its purest form is colorless and displays flashes of multicolored "fire" that can rival that of a diamond, according to the AGS. Other varieties of zircon owe their color to impurities in its chemical composition. The Smithsonian noted that zircons are most often cut as round brilliants to best show off their dispersion and brilliance.

The most popular color of zircon is blue, which happens to be the alternative birthstone for December. The others are tanzanite and turquoise.

The world's primary sources of zircon are Australia, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tanzania, Myanmar, Canada and the US.

Zircon claims a hardness of 7.5 on the Mohs scale, compared to topaz (8), sapphire (9) and diamond (10).

The zircon gems in the photo, above, are from the Smithsonian's National Gem Collection. They were gifted by the Roebling fund and range in size from 48.3 carats to 105.9 carats. Two were sourced in Thailand and the other two were mined in Sri Lanka.

Credit: Photo by Dane A. Penland / Smithsonian.
December 7th, 2021
A group of coins known as the "Big Three" of numismatics — an early 20th century nickel, a 19th century dime and a vintage silver dollar — recently netted a spectacular $13.35 million payday for Las Vegas collector Bruce Morelan.

The grouping included the finest example of the five known 1913 Liberty Head nickels, a high-grade example of one of the nine known 1894-dated dimes struck at the San Francisco Mint and one of finest of the 15 known "King of Coins," an 1804-dated U.S. silver dollar.

The three coins with face value of $1.15 had been acquired by Morelan over the past four years working with dealer Laura Sperber of Legend Numismatics in Lincroft, NJ. The coins were authenticated by Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS).

Paying the record purchase price was Ian Russell, president of GreatCollections Coin Auctions of Irvine, CA.

“The PCGS Price Guide estimated the combined value of the ‘Big Three’ at $10.85 million, but I happily paid 23% more for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get the Holy Trinity all at one time. Each of the three coins set a new record price,” stated Russell.

Russell said he paid above book value because quality and rarity costs money in today's robust coin market.

"The 1913 Nickel is the ultimate U.S. rarity, and this is the finest known," he told The Jeweler Blog. "We had reached out to the owner and representative of the other two examples in private hands, and they were not interested in selling theirs, so I knew we had to pay a premium to secure this coin."

Russell purchased the trio as a group for $13.35 million, but estimated that the 1913 nickel accounted for approximately 50% of the total value.

GreatCollections is primarily an auction house that specializes in rare coins and banknotes, but the company also represents buyers and sellers in private transactions, such as the one with Morelan.

Russell told The Jeweler Blog that two of the three coins already have new owners, and he expects the third coin to be sold very soon.

"In talking with the new owner of the 1913 Nickel, he is ecstatic," Russell said. "We had discussed this coin for some time, and for the transaction to happen unexpectedly and so quickly, made his day. It was a goal of his to own a 1913 nickel — likely America's most famous coin."

Russell explained that the 1913 Liberty Head nickels are among the most famous and coveted rarities with only five examples known.

"Two are permanently in museum collections, including one at the Smithsonian, leaving just three for the public to own,” he said.

Prior to Morelan’s and Russell’s acquisitions of the 1804 dollar, 1894 San Francisco dime and 1913 Liberty Head nickel, only a few other collectors are known to have owned examples of all three. They include the late owner of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team Dr. Jerry Buss (1933-2013) and the late Baltimore financier Louis E. Eliasberg Sr. (1896-1976).

Credits: Images courtesy of GreatCollections Coin Auctions.
December 6th, 2021
Millennials (ages 25-34) outspend Gen Zers (ages 18-24) by 63% when it comes to buying an engagement ring. The average price paid for a ring by Millennials is $6,700, compared to $4,100 spent by their younger counterparts, according to a newly released survey by The Knot.

Across all age groups, the average spend is $6,000 — up slightly from the pre-pandemic spend in 2019 of $5,900. Ring costs varied widely depending on whether the couple was buying an engagement ring with a diamond or non-diamond center stone. The average cost of a diamond engagement ring is $6,800, versus an average of $2,500 for a ring with a colored gemstone center stone.

Roughly two out of three couples said they stuck to a set budget, while nearly 30% spent more than planned (up 9 percentage points since 2020).

The most popular type of engagement stone continues to be a diamond (86%), with round (41%) remaining the most popular cut. The wedding planning site noted that the oval shape has been enjoying a steady increase in popularity over the past six years. Only 2% preferred it in 2015, but now that number is up to 19%. 

Among the 10% of respondents who chose a non-diamond for their center stone, the most popular pick is moissanite, which now accounts for more than one-quarter of non-diamond stones (28%, +9% vs. 2019). Moissanite is even more popular among Gen Zers (35%).

Nearly one in four engagement rings in 2021 featured a center stone that was lab-grown. That number is up from 11% in 2019.

The Knot also said that bridal couple’s precious-metal preferences are trending away from white gold. Forty-five percent purchased white gold rings in 2021, compared to 61% in 2017.  Yellow gold has increased in popularity by 11 percentage points since 2017.

What’s more, The Knot reported that while online channels, such as social media and jewelry websites, continue to be the leading resource for ring research and inspiration, proposers value the importance of in-store shopping. Exactly 67% of engagement rings were purchased in-store, with half of in-store purchases happening at local jewelers in 2021.

Proposers said they visited two to three retailers and checked out 10 rings on average — in-store — before purchasing. 

More than 90% of couples announced their engagement on social media, with Instagram (78%) and Facebook (77%) being the most popular, and 20% of couples announced on Snapchat. Of those who got engaged in 2021, more than 75% have already set a date for 2022, with fall being the most popular season. 

Of the nearly three in four engagements taking place outdoors this year, 35% occurred at a scenic spot, such as a mountain top or a place with a city view. Nearly one in three engagements took place during a planned trip, up 7% from last year when many trips had to be canceled because of COVID restrictions.

“The Knot 2021 Jewelry & Engagement Study” reflects the impressions of more than 5,000 respondents who got engaged from January through November 2021. 

Credit: Image by
December 3rd, 2021
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you joyous songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Cuban-American singing sensation Camila Cabello kicks up her heels in the 2021 international dance hit, "Don't Go Yet."

Viewed on Youtube more than 47 million times, the video of this instant classic tells a story of a young woman who can't cope with the idea of being apart from her boyfriend. Throughout the song she implores him to stay — even though he's scheduled to take a flight. Cabello sets the scene by using precious metals to paint a picture of a magical, romantic place.

She sings, "I imagine myself in satin, the room was platinum and gold / I'd dance and catch your eye, you'll be mesmerized, oh."

Written by Cabello and collaborators Scott Harris, Eric Frederic and Mike Sabath, "Don't Go Yet" made its radio debut in July of 2021 as the lead single of Cabello's third studio album, Familia. The song quickly became an international success, charting in 33 countries.

It was nominated for Song of the Summer at the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards and as the Best International Video at the 2021 LOS40 Music Awards.

"Familia" in Spanish means "family," and Cabello's official video for "Don't Go Yet" is all about family. The singer told YouTube’s “Released” that the song and music video were both inspired by Cuban-Mexican family parties from her childhood, where "everybody eats dinner, and then after you put on a little cheap disco ball with lights and suddenly the living room is the dance floor."

The video is teeming with a cast of colorful characters, including professional dancers, reality show celebrities and Cabello's actual relatives.

The 24-year-old, Cuban-born Cabello is best known for her smash hits "Havana" (2018) and "Señorita" (2019), a duet she performed with Shawn Mendes.

She got her first big break in 2012, when she placed third on The X Factor. Soon after, she joined a group called Fifth Harmony, which signed a record deal with Syco Music, a music company owned by X Factor host Simon Cowell.

Please check out the awesome video of Cabello and her familia performing "Don't Go Yet." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along…

"Don't Go Yet"
Written by Camila Cabello, Cabello, Scott Harris, Eric Frederic and Mike Sabath. Performed by Camila Cabello.

Oh, my love, oh, yeah, yeah
I'm in love, yeah

I replayed this moment for months
Alone in my head, waitin' for it to come
I wrote all your lines in the scripts in my mind, and
I hope that you follow it for once

I imagine myself in satin, the room was platinum and gold
I'd dance and catch your eye, you'll be mesmerized, oh

We'd find a corner, then your hands in my hair
Finally we're here, so, why
Are you sayin' you got a flight, need an early night?
No, don't go yet

Oh, yeah, don't go yet, don't go yet
Oh, yeah, don't go yet, don't go yet
Oh, yeah, don't go yet, don't go yet
What you leavin' for, when my night is yours?
Just a little more, don't go yet

Baby, don't go yet, 'cause I wore this dress for a lil' drama

And I bet, I bet that you think that you know, but you don't
Baby, come to mama
I get, I get what I want when I want
And I get it how I wanna, wanna
And I want you baby, gotta get you, baby

We'd find a corner, then your hands in my hair
Finally we're here, so, why
Are you sayin' you got a flight, need an early night?
No, don't go yet

Oh, yeah, don't go yet, don't go yet
Oh, yeah, don't go yet, don't go yet (No, no)
Oh, yeah, don't go yet, don't go yet
What you leavin' for, when my night is yours?
Just a little more, don't go yet

La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la (Don't go yet)
La-la-la-la-la-la-la, hey (Don't go yet)

(Oh-no-no, don't leave yet)
(No te vayas, quédate)

(Oh-no-no, don't leave yet) Ahora voy yo
(No te vayas, quédate)
(Oh-no-no, don't leave yet) Stay a little longer
(No te vayas, quédate) Know you really wanna
(Oh-no-no, don't leave yet) Stay a little longer
(No te vayas, quédate) Oh

Oh, yeah, don't go yet, don't go yet
Oh, yeah, don't go yet, don't go yet
Oh, yeah, don't go yet, don't go yet
(Oh-no-no, don't leave yet) What you leavin' for, when my night is yours?
(No te vayas, quédate) Just a little more

(Oh, yeah, don't go yet, don't go yet) What you leavin' for, when my night is yours? Yours, yours
What you leavin' for, when my night is yours?
Just a little more, don't go yet

Credit: Screen capture via / Camila Cabello.
December 2nd, 2021
A 41,500-year-old oval-shaped pendant crafted from a mammoth tusk represents the oldest human-decorated jewelry ever found in Eurasia, according to an international team of researchers.

Discovered in the Stajnia Cave in southern Poland, the jewelry has a sophisticated design that includes 50 puncture marks in a looping curve, along with two drilled holes. The holes indicate that the item was likely worn as a pendant.

“This piece of jewelry shows the great creativity and [the] extraordinary manual skills of members of the group of Homo sapiens that occupied the site,” noted Dr. Wioletta Nowaczewska, a researcher from Wrocław University in Poland.

The scientists believe the markings could represent the monthly cycle of the Moon or Sun, or a counting system that kept track of hunting tallies.

“If the Stajnia pendant’s looping curve indicates a lunar analemma or kill scores will remain an open question,” Dr. Adam Nadachowski, a researcher in the Institute of Systematics and Evolution of Animals at the Polish Academy of Sciences, told

The pendant was discovered alongside an awl made from horse bone and a number of bone fragments. The researchers believe the artifacts may indicate that humans of this period were beginning to produce small and transportable personal adornments.

Why humans started using jewelry at this time is a mystery that researchers are trying to understand, according to Sahra Talamo, a chemist at the University of Bologna in Italy, who led the study.

The researchers noted that similar carved decorations have appeared at other sites across Germany, France, Russia and the Siberian Arctic. The Polish artifact predates the others by 2,000 years, according to the researchers.

Cousins of modern-day elephants, woolly mammoths roamed Eurasia until about 10,000 years ago. Measuring 14-feet-tall at the shoulder, the giant beasts weighed up to 22,000 pounds.

The Stajnia Cave findings were first reported in the journal Scientific Reports.

Credits: Mammoth tusk jewelry photo by Antonino Vazzana/BONES Lab. Mammoth illustration by DataBase Center for Life Science (DBCLS), CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
December 1st, 2021
Back in 2002, tanzanite joined turquoise and zircon as an official birthstone for the month of December. The occasion was momentous because, up until that point, the list hadn't been amended since 1912. The gem you see here is an extraordinary example of tanzanite from the Smithsonian’s National Gem Collection at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.

The 18.56-carat, emerald-cut stone was purchased for the Smithsonian with funds from the Tiffany & Co. Foundation in 2011. This is significant because 43 years earlier Tiffany played a vital role in making tanzanite a household name.

It was 1967 when Maasai tribesmen discovered a patch of shockingly beautiful bluish-violet gems in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Samples were entrusted to a prospector named Manuel d’Souza, who shared the crystals with distinguished gemologists. Originally thought to be sapphires, the gems turned out to be a totally new, vibrant blue variety of the mineral zoisite.

A year later, Tiffany looked to feature the gemstone in a broad-based advertising campaign, but its marketing team had to overcome a branding hurdle. The name “blue zoisite” sounded very much like “blue suicide” — and that alone could have tanked the campaign. So, the team at Tiffany decided to promote the gems as “tanzanite,” a name that would honor their country of origin.

Tiffany’s marketing campaign was a huge success and tanzanite would eventually earn the title of “Gem of the 20th Century.”

In 2002, a jewelry-industry trade organization — the American Gem Trade Association — designated tanzanite as an official birthstone for the month of December.

Tanzanites are said to be 1,000 times more rare than diamonds due to the fact that the blue-violet gem is mined in only one location on Earth. The area measures 2km wide by 4km long and the remaining lifespan of the mine is less than 30 years.

According to the Smithsonian, tanzanite exhibits the optical phenomenon known as pleochroism. This is when a gemstone presents multiple colors when observed at different angles. A tanzanite could appear intense blue, violet or red depending on the direction through which the crystal or polished gem is viewed.

Credit: Photo by Greg Polley / Smithsonian.
November 30th, 2021
Actress Lindsay Lohan’s Thanksgiving weekend ended on a spectacular note, as the Mean Girls star turned to Instagram on Sunday to announce her engagement to fund manager Bader Shammas.

Lohan’s 9.8 million Instagram followers were treated to an unpretentious, four-pic gallery showing her and her new fiancé enjoying their special moment. The new engagement ring can be seen in all four photos, which shared the caption, “My love. My life. My family. My future.” She punctuated the post with the hashtag “love” and a diamond ring emoji.

Because the ring is a bit blurry in the series, jewelry-industry experts were hard-pressed to lock down the shape, size and value of the ring. The diamond certainly has a squarish shape, so the experts narrowed down the possibilities to radiant, cushion or princess cut.

The metal type is likely platinum or white gold and the thin band seems to be adorned with diamonds.

The jewelry-industry insiders couldn’t agree on the size of the center stone, with estimates ranging from 3 carats to 6 carats. The same experts placed the value of the ring in the neighborhood of $150,000 to $250,000.

The 35-year-old Lohan and 34-year-old Shammas were first spotted together at a Dubai music festival in 2020 and have been dating ever since. According to The Independent, Shammas holds the title of assistant vice president at Credit Suisse and the couple has been living in Dubai, the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates.

The Freaky Friday actress was previously engaged to Egor Tarabasov in 2016. Her previous engagement ring was similar to the current one in that it also featured a square-shaped center stone and thin band. 

Lohan will return to the big screen in 2022 with a starring role in a Netflix romantic comedy that is still untitled. She will play a newly engaged, spoiled hotel heiress who loses her memory after a skiing accident. Her co-star and love interest in the film is Glee alumnus Chord Overstreet.

Credits: Images via Instagram / lindsaylohan.
November 29th, 2021
A new "Engagement Expectations" study conducted by The Knot and De Beers Group reveals that 96% of pre-engaged women want to have some involvement in the selection of the engagement ring and would not want the proposal to be a total surprise.

Carried out just ahead of "engagement season," the period between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day, the study reveals new insights into marriage proposals in a post-COVID environment. Nearly 300 women in a serious relationship were surveyed about expectations related to the proposal process — from where and how it takes place, to the selection of the engagement ring.

Three-fourths of pre-engaged females have thought a lot or some about their engagement ring and most are increasingly preferring more personalized and unique engagement rings.

The primary choice for an engagement ring center stone remains a diamond, with the majority citing this as their first choice. But contrary to popular opinion, pre-engaged women are less focused on carat weight and more concerned with the shape, style and setting of the stone.

The majority (68%) also believe that ring designs today are more unique than in their parents' generation, and one in five feel the exchange of rings has more meaning and significance today.

When it comes to purchasing the ring, about 2 in 10 respondents expect both partners to contribute to the cost; most women (76%) expect their partner will pay.

The findings also highlight an increased interest in intimacy and connection when it comes to the proposal itself.

While most pre-engaged women still want their partner to propose to them, they want the experience to be more personal and unique. Grand gestures and elaborate public displays were less appealing to respondents, with a solid majority saying the ideal way to pop the question would be one person proposing to the other (98%), planned ahead of time (66%), and in a private place (66%).

While females desire more intimate proposals, the majority (85%) feel there is more pressure on their partners to plan a unique proposal than in their parents' generation.

The Knot and De Beers Group Engagement Expectations Study was fielded on Instagram in October 2021 among 296 females in a serious relationship. A majority of female respondents (77%) participating in the survey believe they will be engaged within the next two years. Most were between the ages of 18 and 34.

Credit: Image courtesy of De Beers Group.
November 24th, 2021
More than a week after accepting a romantic marriage proposal from Twilight star Taylor Lautner, newly engaged Tay Dome was still basking in the glow of her oval-cut diamond engagement ring.

"I can get used to this view," she captioned an Instagram selfie of her outstretched left hand, against the backdrop of her famous fiancé.

The 29-year-old actor had popped the question to his registered nurse girlfriend on 11.11.21 and celebrated a few days later at the DAOU Vineyards in Paso Robles, CA. Both Lautner and Dome shared photos of their romantic getaway, and in a number of photos the ring was front and center.

In one photo, Lautner is holding a wine glass with his left hand while pointing at the 23-year-old's ring with his right hand. His fianceé smiles as she looks straight into the camera with her ring finger extended straight up. In his caption, Lautner shared with his 7.1 million Instagram followers just how much Dome has changed his life.

He wrote, "Cannot wait to spend forever with you @taydome You love me unconditionally. You don't put up with my [stuff]. You calm me when I'm anxious. You make me laugh way too much. You make every single day spent with you so special. And most importantly, you make me a better person. I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve brought to my life. I love you forever."

The November 11 proposal took place at Lautner's home in a room strewn with rose petals and lit by a fireplace and white candles. A pink neon sign above the fireplace spelled out "Lautner" in script.

Lautner posted a pic of the scene and captioned it, “11.11.2021 … And just like that, all of my wishes came true.”

According to, Lautner and Dome went public with their relationship three years ago during the Halloween season. Lautner posted to his Instagram page a photo of the couple wearing matching costumes.

Credits: Images via / taydome.
November 23rd, 2021
In April 2019, Botswana's state-run Okavango Diamond Company unveiled the largest blue diamond ever discovered in that country — a 20.46-carat oval gem with Fancy Deep Blue color and VVS2 clarity. At the time, the company's managing director called the gem "a once-in-a-lifetime find."

Earlier this month, the "Okavango Blue Diamond" made its New York City debut as the centerpiece of a spectacular display at the Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals, the newly renovated, 11,000-square-foot section of the American Museum of Natural History.

The vibrant gem occupies the lead showcase in a presentation about the wide variety of natural diamonds found in Botswana — from more common industrial diamonds used in construction, manufacturing and other sectors to gem-quality ones. More than 1,000 rough natural diamonds are included in the gallery that explains the different characteristics of diamonds, including size, shape, quality and color. There is also an emphasis on the unique way that Botswana runs its diamond industry.

Botswana is the second-largest producer of natural diamonds in the world and a major source of gem-quality, ethically sourced diamonds. The "Okavango Blue Diamond" was sourced at one of the world’s largest open-pit diamond mines, the Orapa Mine.

It was cut from a 41.11-carat rough diamond and its name honors the world heritage site known as the Okavango Delta. The lush delta is the home of hippos, elephants, crocodiles, lions, leopards, giraffes and rhinos. It's an area of exceptional biodiversity and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The government of Botswana established the first of four large diamond mines shortly after it attained independence in 1966. At that time, lawmakers entered into agreements with tribal leaders to make certain that the country's valuable diamond resources would always benefit the people.

“Our natural diamond resources are managed responsibly in a manner that puts the people of Botswana first,” said Okavango Diamond Company Managing Director Mmetla Masire. “There is a strong sense of local pride knowing that these diamonds are improving the lives of Batswana with profits directly reinvested in education, infrastructure and public health. We are so pleased to share with the world the larger story of the diamond industry of Botswana.”

The "Okavango Blue Diamond" and the other diamonds of Botswana are on loan from the Okavango Diamond Company. Visitors will find the gems within the museum's Melissa and Keith Meister Gallery, which is specifically designed to accommodate rotating exhibitions at the Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals.

Credits: Diamond photo courtesy the Okavango Diamond Company. Display photos by D. Finnin/©AMNH.