Barbara Sinatra's 20.6-Carat Engagement Ring Tops 'Lady Blue Eyes' Collection at Sotheby's

The 20.6-carat emerald-cut diamond ring that Frank Sinatra famously presented to fourth wife, Barbara, in a glass of champagne is the top jewelry item in a series of upcoming Sotheby's auctions focusing on the treasures gathered by the couple during their 22-year marriage.

The legendary singer had met Barbara in the early 1960s, but they didn't start dating until 10 years later. When Frank was finally ready to cement the relationship after a turbulent four-year courtship, he reportedly tossed two huge diamonds onto the bed told Barbara to pick one. The emerald-cut diamond was her favorite, so Frank had a jeweler set the stone in a platinum ring accented with triangular-cut side stones.

Ever the romantic, Frank decided to forgo the traditional box and surprised Barbara by submerging the diamond ring in a glass of champagne. According to Sotheby's, Frank hadn't offered a formal proposal, so the engagement was only official after Barbara made him choose which finger to put it on. The couple married in Palm Springs in 1976. Frank was 60 and Barbara was 49.

Barbara's ring will hit the auction block at Sotheby's New York with a pre-sale high estimate of $1.5 million. It's one of 200 lots grouped under the banner of "Lady Blue Eyes: Property of Barbara and Frank Sinatra." Items range from artwork and show memorabilia to jewels and objects from their home. Sotheby's believes the 200 lots should yield at least $3.5 million.

In her memoir, Lady Blue Eyes: My Life with Frank, Barbara described how her husband always went out of his way to make her feel "loved and cherished every day, taking the time to express his feelings."

"He loved buying jewels for her and spontaneously surprising her in interesting ways," Mari-Claudia Jimenez, managing director of Sotheby's Fiduciary Client Group, told CNN. "There was a time when he'd put bracelets and rings in her pockets for her to find. One time, they were watching television, eating popcorn and she found a diamond ring inside the popcorn box."

Frank Sinatra passed away in 1998 at the age of 82. Barbara Sinatra died in July of 2017. She was 90.

Credit: Jewelry image courtesy of Sotheby's. Frank and Barbara Sinatra photo courtesy the Estate of Barbara Sinatra.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree's New Crown Jewel Sparkles With 3 Million Swarovski Crystals

For the first time since 2004, the world-famous Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center has a new crown jewel. Designed by renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, the 900-pound tree topper measures 9 foot 4 inches in diameter and features 70 rays covered with three million Swarovski crystals.

On Wednesday, a massive crane raised the Swarovski Star to the top of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in preparation of the official lighting ceremony, which will take place on the evening of November 28.

Each of the 70 rays of the Swarovski Star is designed to glow from within, with the light refracted by the crystal surface, creating a sparkling effect.

While the new star is about the same size as its predecessor, it is nearly twice as heavy and contains far more crystals. The previous star weighed 550 pounds and was studded with 25,000 crystals.

Libeskind, who created the master plan for the reconstruction of New York's World Trade Center site, said that the new Swarovski Star is inspired by the beauty of starlight — something that radiates meaning and mystery into the world.

"The Star is a symbol that represents our greatest ambitions for hope, unity and peace," he said. "I am tremendously honored to collaborate with Swarovski on the Star, and with the entire design team, to bring cutting-edge innovation and design to crystal technology."

Added Swarovski Executive Board Member Nadja Swarovski: "Each holiday season the Star brings joy to New Yorkers and visitors from around the world, and will shine as a beacon of hope for many years to come."

While the star majestically sits atop a 72-foot-tall Norway spruce on the Plaza, an exact replica will be displayed on the ground level so visitors can explore its design close up.

Rockefeller Center officially began the tree-lighting ceremony in 1933, when a Christmas tree was erected in front of the then-RCA Building and covered with 700 lights.

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/Swarovski; Nadja Swarovski and Daniel Libeskind image by Bryan Bedder/Getty for Swarovski (PRNewsfoto/Swarovski); Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree by Bryan Bedder/Getty for Swarovski (PRNewsfoto/Swarovski).

Marie Antoinette's Natural Pearl Pendant Crushes Auction Record As It Sells for $36.1 Million

A natural pearl pendant that was once owned by Queen Marie Antoinette and smuggled out of France just before her arrest in 1791 fetched $36.1 million at Sotheby's Geneva last week.

Aggressive bidding elevated the price to more than 18 times the pre-sale high estimate and demolished the previous record for the highest price ever paid for a natural pearl. The former title holder was La Peregrina, a pear-shaped natural pearl that was sold at Christie's in 2011 for $11.8 million as part of Elizabeth Taylor's collection.

"Tonight we saw the Marie Antoinette factor work its magic," said Daniela Mascetti, Sotheby's Jewellery Chairman, Europe. "No other queen is more famous for her love of jewels, and her personal treasures, pearls and diamonds that survived intact the tumults of history."

The ill-fated French queen's natural pearl and diamond pendant is set with an oval diamond in a diamond bow motif. The slightly baroque drop-shaped natural saltwater pearl measures approximately 15.90mm x 18.35mm x 25.85mm and originally hung from Marie Antoinette's three-strand pearl necklace. The pendant entered the auction with a modest pre-sale estimate of $1 million to $2 million.

With a revolution raging in France in March 1791, Marie Antoinette and her husband, King Louis XVI, prepared to flee the country. The queen wrapped her most precious jewels in cotton and packed them neatly into a wooden chest. The diamond, ruby and pearl treasures were secretly shipped to Vienna in the care of Count Mercy Argentau, a loyal retainer to the queen.

“The jewels made it, but unfortunately, she did not,” Mascetti said.

Three months later, the royal family was captured in Varennes as they were trying to leave France. Both Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were imprisoned and executed by guillotine in 1793.

Their last surviving child, Marie-Thérèse, was finally allowed to flee to Vienna after serving three years in solitary confinement. There, the teenage princess reclaimed her mother’s jewels that had been kept safe by her cousin, the Austrian Emperor Francis II.

The jewelry remained in the queen’s family for the next 200 years and had never been seen by the public — until they went on a promotional tour in the lead-up to Wednesday's auction in Geneva.

The pendant was among 10 exquisite pieces that once belonged to Marie Antoinette, all of which attracted fierce bidding. Together they realized a total of $42.7 million against a pre-sale estimate of $1.6 million to $2.9 million.

A beautiful three-strand necklace strung with 119 natural pearls also saw intense bidding. The final price of $2.3 million far outperformed the estimated price of $200,000 to $300,000.

The queen's jewelry was part of a larger auction collection comprised of 100 pieces from the Bourbon Parma family — a family linked to the royal dynasties of France, England, Spain, Austria, Holland and Italy. According to Sotheby's, international collectors and history lovers demonstrated the full force of their fascination with the storied treasures. Participants represented 43 countries.

Credits: Images courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Music Friday: Vince Gill Proposes With a Pretty Diamond Ring in 'Like My Daddy Did'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you romantic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, 21-time Grammy winner Vince Gill buys a pretty diamond ring and proposes to the girl of his dreams in his 2016 release, "Like My Daddy Did."

He sings, "I found a little girl and I fell in love / She shines brighter than the stars above / I bought her a pretty diamond ring / Asked her, if she would marry me."

His girlfriend, however, is skeptical about making a lifelong commitment. Her hesitance stems from a fear that Gill might "treat her like her daddy did." We learn that her dad left the family when she was just a little kid.

"He took off runnin', I never saw his face again," she says.

Gill consoles her: "There's nothing you could tell me that would change a thing / I still want you to wear my ring."

Ironically, Gill promises, "I'll treat you like my daddy did." Gill's dad was loving and kind. When Gill was a kid, his dad took him fishing and never missed any of his ballgames.

"There ain't no scars on this heart of mine," he sings.

In the end, Gill's girlfriend accepts the diamond ring and they get married.

In a promotional video about the song he penned, Gill said, "I love the yin and yang of the story, how he's undaunted by her past. It's sweet."

"Like My Daddy Did" appeared as the fourth track of Down to My Last Bad Habit, Gill's 14th studio album. Over the course of his 40-year career, the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has sold more than 26 million albums and placed more than 40 singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. He's won 21 Grammy awards from 44 nominations and earned the 2,478th star of the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2012.

Born in Norman, Okla., in 1957, Gill was inspired to pursue a music career by his dad, who was not only a lawyer and an administrative law judge, but also played part-time in a country music band. At the age of 10, Gill was already an accomplished guitarist. His love for instruments led him to learn how to play the mandolin, banjo and fiddle.

After graduating high school, he moved to Louisville to join the band Bluegrass Alliance. In the 1970s, he earned widespread fame as the frontman for the country rock band Pure Prairie League. Gill became a solo artist in 1983 and married "The Queen of Christian Pop" Amy Grant in 2000. More recently, he joined the Eagles on tour, singing lead vocals.

Please check out the video of Gill performing the acoustic version of "Like My Daddy Did." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Like My Daddy Did"
Written and performed by Vince Gill.

I found a little girl and I fell in love
She shines brighter than the stars above
I bought her a pretty diamond ring
Asked her, if she would marry me

She said, will you treat me like my daddy did
Left me and momma, I was just a kid
He took off runnin', I never saw his face again
So, when it comes to love, I ain't the trustin' kind
There's a whole lotta scars on this heart of mine
I'm crazy about ya, I'm not sure I can

I took that pretty girl by the hand
I looked her in her eyes and said I understand
There's nothing you could tell me that would change a thing
I still want you to wear my ring

I'll treat you just like my daddy did
He took me fishin' when I was a kid
When I played ball, he never missed a game
When it comes to love, I'm the trusting kind
There ain't no scars on this heart of mine
I'm crazy about ya, I'm pretty sure I can

Tomorrow morning is our wedding day
And all your fears are gonna fade away
Together we're gonna build a bridge
No, I won't treat ya like your daddy did
We'll have the kind of love that's the trusting kind
I'll give you ever piece of this heart of mine
We were meant to be, I'm pretty sure we can

I found a little girl and I fell in love
She shines brighter than the stars above

Credits: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

18.96-Carat 'Pink Legacy' Sells for $50.3 Million, Sets Auction Record at Christie's Geneva

In the lead-up to yesterday's highly anticipated auction of the "Pink Legacy," Christie's Rahul Kadakia had gone out on a limb and said the 18.96-carat fancy vivid pink diamond was "as good as it gets."

“To find a diamond of this size with this color is pretty much unreal,” said the International Head of Jewellery at Christie’s. “You may see this color in a pink diamond of less than one carat. But this is almost 19 carats and it’s as pink as can be. It’s unbelievable.”

Kadakia's evaluation was right on the mark as the vibrant, VS1-clarity, rectangular-cut gem was purchased by Harry Winston for $50.3 million, establishing a record price-per-carat for a diamond of that hue.

The hammer price at Christie's Geneva was at the top end of the $30 million to $50 million pre-sale estimate, and set a new high-water mark for fancy vivid pink diamonds at $2.7 million per carat. The previous record holder was the 14.93-carat Pink Promise, which sold at auction for $2.2 million per carat a year ago in Hong Kong.

“We are proud to continue in the Winston tradition of acquiring the finest gems in the world,” Harry Winston Chief Executive Officer Nayla Hayek said in a statement. The winning bidder also appended the diamond's name. It will now be known as the "Winston Pink Legacy."

Once owned by the Oppenheimer family — famous for its connections to the De Beers mining company — the Winston Pink Legacy was discovered in a South African mine about 100 years ago and hasn't been altered since it was first cut in 1920.

The Winston Pink Legacy is the largest fancy vivid pink diamond ever offered at auction by Christie’s. In fact, over the course of its 252-year history, only four fancy vivid pink diamonds larger than 10 carats have ever appeared for sale.

Kadakia said in September that “its exceptional provenance will no doubt propel it into a class of its own as one of the world’s greatest diamonds.”

Despite its impressive $50.3 million hammer price, the Winston Pink Legacy fell short of the world record for the highest price ever paid for a pink diamond — or any gemstone. That honor is still held by the fancy vivid Pink Star, a 59.5-carat diamond that sold for $71 million in 2017.

Credits: Images courtesy of Christie’s.

Miners Seek Coveted 'AO' Status for Colombian Emeralds, Claim They're Geographically Unique

Colombian miners are seeking to gain coveted "AO" status for their emeralds, widely considered to be the finest in the world. "AO" is shorthand for "appellation of origin," which is a designation given to products that possess unique characteristics associated with their geographic location.

One of the most notable products with "AO" status is Parma ham from Italy. For ham to be marked with the Parma name, it must be produced in the Italian province of Parma using pigs exclusively from that area. Other famous "AO" products include Tequila from Mexico, Bordeaux wine from France and Gruyere cheese from Switzerland.

Colombia's national emerald producers’ association, Aprecol, is planning to submit its "AO" application to Colombia’s patent and registration office by the end of this year, according to the Financial Times. Once approved by that office, the application will be forwarded to the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, for further consideration. A final decision could come as early as March 2019.

The association will argue that Colombia's emeralds are distinctively different than emeralds mined in other parts of the world. Not only do they possess a rare combination of intense color and crystalline transparency, but they also have a unique chemical fingerprint, according to gemologists. With the use of X-ray spectroscopy, they can pinpoint whether a stone was sourced at Colombia's Muzo, Coscuez or Chivor mine.

“We want customers to know that when they buy a Colombian emerald, they are getting the genuine thing, that it was exported from Colombia legally and that it was mined ethically and responsibly,” Aprecol president Edwin Molina told the Financial Times.

The Colombian-sourced Gachala Emerald, above, weighs 858 carats and was gifted to the Smithsonian by Harry Winston in 1969. The extraordinary gem was mined in Gachala in 1967.

Credit: Image by Chip Clark/Smithsonian.

Graff Unveils First 67 Diamonds Cut From the 1,109-Carat Lesedi La Rona

Sixty-seven diamonds ranging from just under 1 carat to more than 100 carats will be known forever as the legacy of Lesedi La Rona, the 1,109-carat gem-quality rough diamond that was discovered at the Lucara Karowe mine in Botswana in 2015.

When billionaire diamantaire Laurence Graff purchased the rough stone for $53 million in 2017, he was reverential in his statements about the second-largest rough diamond ever discovered. He said at the time, "The stone will tell us its story, it will dictate how it wants to be cut, and we will take the utmost care to respect its exceptional properties.”

Graff Diamonds noted Monday that after more than a year of detailed analysis, cutting and polishing by its elite team of gemologists and master craftsmen, the first 67 stones were ready to be revealed. The company also dropped a teaser that "a principal diamond of unprecedented size" was still in the works.

All of the Lesedi La Rona diamonds boast a D-color and "exceptional clarity," according to the company. In addition, each stone will be laser inscribed with the words “Lesedi La Rona” and "GRAFF" alongside a Gemological Institute of America identification number.

On its website, Graff Diamonds demonstrated the intricate three-dimensional mapping used to maximize the yield from the massive rough diamond.

Once cut and polished, the first 67 Lesedi La Rona finished diamonds were incorporated into beautiful jewelry, including solitaire rings, earring and pendants. Graff said the jewelry represented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a piece of diamond history.

"Destined to be passed down through generations, the legacy of this historic stone will live on in this truly remarkable collection of jewels," noted the website.

Despite its original size of 1,109 carats, Lesedi La Rona was nearly 2,000 carats smaller than the Cullinan diamond, which was discovered in 1905 and tipped the scales at 3,106 carats.

Graff also owns the 373.72-carat chunk that broke off the Lesedi La Rona during the mining process. That piece, which was purchased for $17.5 million, has yet to be processed.

Credits: Images courtesy of Graff Diamonds. Screen captures via graffdiamonds.com.

All-Diamond Ring Crafted From a Single Rough Gem May Fetch $250,000 at Benefit Auction

An all-diamond ring custom crafted from a single rough gem is expected to fetch up to $250,000 when Sotheby's offers it for sale December 5 at the third (RED) Auction in Miami. Proceeds from the sale will support HIV/AIDS programs in Africa.

Conceived by Sir Jony Ive, Apple’s Chief Design Officer, and renowned industrial designer Marc Newson, The (Red) Diamond Ring will contain no metal elements. The lab-grown rough diamond will be carved into a ring shape by master cutters in Antwerp using laser beam and water jet technology. It will come to life by removing material rather than adding it.

“It is not a precious stone in a metal setting mounted on a metal band,” Ive told robbreport.com. “It is truly a diamond ring.”

In the end, the ring will feature between 2,000 and 3,000 individual facets, some as small as several hundred micrometers (1,000 micrometers equals 1 millimeter). According to Sotheby's, the ring's interior will be cylindrically cut for the desired smoothness using a micrometer-thick water jet.

The ring in the photo, above, is conceptual. The actual piece will be custom-made for the winning bidder in any ring size up to 5. Sotheby's set the pre-sale estimate at $150,000 to $250,000.

Shawish Geneva was the first company to form a ring from a single diamond. Shawish unveiled the innovative ring to the public during the 2012 Baseworld Watch and Jewelry Show. That ring was laser-cut from a 150-carat rough diamond. While the Shawish ring was certainly groundbreaking, the Ive-Newson design is said to be more wearable.

The company responsible for creating the lab-grown rough diamond for this project is San Francisco-based Diamond Foundry. The rough is expected to be larger than 45 carats.

The (Red) Diamond Ring will be auctioned by Sotheby’s during Art Basel Miami. Previous (RED) Auctions have generated $68 million for AIDS research.

Credit: Image courtesy of Sotheby's.

Music Friday: Tommy and Janey Visit a Jeweler in 'Don't Love Make a Diamond Shine'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, country music artist Tracy Byrd tells the story of Tommy and Janey's life-changing trip to a jewelry store in 1997's "Don't Love Make a Diamond Shine."

In the very first verse, we are introduced to a young couple looking for the perfect engagement ring. They're holding hands and staring into the bridal case when a particular ring catches Tommy's eye.

Byrd sings, "Mister bring it closer, mister can we hold it / I think it's gonna fit just fine / As he slipped it on her hand, Janey kissed her man / Don't love make a diamond shine."

Byrd goes on to explain that any diamond — no matter what size — looks like a million bucks "sittin' on the hand of a girl in love." He also takes a shot at a rich couple whose perfect 15-carat diamond is "duller than dirt" because their relationship is on the rocks.

Written by Mike Dekle and Craig Wiseman, "Don't Love Make a Diamond Shine" was released as the third single from Byrd's fourth album, Big Love. The song reached #17 on the U.S. Billboard Country Songs chart and #13 on the Canada Country Tracks chart. Big Love became Byrd's third gold-selling album.

Born in Vidor, Texas, Byrd explored his musical talents with a local band called Rimfire while attending Southwest Texas State. A friend encouraged Byrd to sing a cover of Hank Williams' "Your Cheatin' Heart" at a mall recording studio and the result was so impressive that the studio's owner entered Byrd into a local talent contest. The artist caught the attention of MCA Records, which offered him a recording contract in 1992.

The 51-year-old has charted more than 30 singles, including 11 Top Ten hits. He's produced 10 studio albums and two greatest-hits albums.

Please check out the audio clip of Byrd performing "Don't Love Make A Diamond Shine." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Don't Love Make A Diamond Shine"
Written by Craig Wiseman and Mike Dekle. Performed by Tracy Byrd.

Tommy and Janey barely eighteen
Holding hands at the jewelry store
Eyes open wide staring inside
At the ring that they wanted for her

Mister bring it closer, mister can we hold it
I think it's gonna fit just fine
As he slipped it on her hand, Janey kissed her man
Don't love make a diamond shine.

Don't love make a diamond shine
It don't matter if it costs a dime
Dang thing looks like a million bucks
Sittin' on the hand of a girl in love.

A perfect fifteen carat is duller than dirt
If the heart don't wear it
With three little words it'll knock you blind
Don't love make a diamond shine.

There's a rich lady with a new Mercedes
Livin' up in a high rise
She's got a big ol' rock on her left hand
That looks cheaper than a Cracker Jack prize.

'Cause her man don't know that it ain't the dough
No all he needs to spend is time
And that big marquis'd be a laser beam
Don't love make a diamond shine.

Don't love make a diamond shine
It don't matter if it costs a dime
Dang thing looks like a million bucks
Sittin' on the hand of a girl in love.

A perfect fifteen carat is duller than dirt
If the heart don't wear it
With three little words it'll knock you blind
Don't love make a diamond shine.

Don't love make a diamond shine
It don't matter if it costs a dime
Dang thing looks like a million bucks
Sittin' on the hand of a girl in love.

A perfect fifteen carat is duller than dirt
If the heart don't wear it
With three little words it'll knock you blind
Don't love make a diamond shine.

Don't love make a diamond shine...

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

$1 Million Dream Angels Fantasy Bra Glitters With 2,100 Diamonds Weighing 71 Carats

It took the designers and artisans at Atelier Swarovski a total of 930 hours to complete the bejeweled 2018 Dream Angels Fantasy Bra, an impressive work that will be worn by supermodel Elsa Hosk at this year's Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. The $1 million bra and body chain are adorned with 2,100 diamonds weighing a total of 71 carats. The gems are set in sterling silver.

"The Fantasy Bra is blinding," the Swedish model told Elle.com. "It's like, 'Whoa.' [There are] 2,000 diamonds on it. That's a little crazy."

Hosk was working at a photo shoot recently when a special package from Victoria's Secret arrived on the set. Hosk guessed it was a birthday cake because her birthday was coming up. When she pulled off the ribbon and popped open the box, she was surprised to see the 2018 Fantasy Bra inside.

"I was just shaking, and I didn't believe they were serious," Hosk continued. "It was so beautiful. The whole day I was just in a constant smile because I was just so happy."

The fashion show is set to take place today in New York City and will air on ABC December 2. Joining Hosk on the runway will be Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Winnie Harlow and many other top-name models.

Hosk is following in the footsteps of 2017's Dream Angel Lais Ribeiro, who modeled a $2 million “Champagne Nights” Fantasy Bra glittering with 600 carats of white diamonds, yellow sapphires and blue topaz.

The 2018 Fantasy Bra is dialed down by comparison. Swarovksi's designers used lab-created diamonds for the bra and responsibly sourced topaz for the sterling silver body chain. The chain is highlighted by a pear-shaped 2.03-carat Atelier Swarovski Created Diamond, which has the same chemical composition, hardness, brilliance and fire of a traditionally mined diamond, according to the company.

For the first time, Victoria's Secret customers will be able to purchase a version of the Fantasy Bra made with Swarovski crystals instead of diamonds. The $250 replica will be available on November 29 at select Victoria’s Secret stores and online at victoriassecret.com.

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/ExtraTV.