A Further Ten Fascinating Jewellery Trivia Facts!
1 ~ Got acid? Pop a pearl!
For centuries people all over the world (but mainly in Asia) have swallowed precious pearls, either whole or crushed in water, to cure ailments of the digestive tract, and it's not quite as crazy as it seems! Pearls are mostly made up of calcium carbonate – a natural antacid – and pretty good for easing heartburn and trapped wind. If you're suffering from a little tummy discomfort yourself, don't reach for Granny's heirloom pearl necklace just yet - nowadays there are much cheaper antacids available at your local pharmacist! Image by Wheeler Cowperthwaite via Flickr 2 ~ Pearl Cocktail
When you're Queen of Egypt you can do better than a Brandy Alexander for a digestif cocktail ... Legend has it Cleopatra once dissolved a pearl in vinegar and drank it, just to win a bet with Marc Antony! Opinions on the value of the pearl vary, with estimates varying from one to ten million sesterces, about the same in dollars in today's value. 3 ~ The largest pearl ever found weighed 34 kgs A Filipino fisherman found the huge pearl inside a giant clam in 2006 and, having no idea of its value, kept it under his bed as a good luck charm. The value of his find was only discovered when he handed it to a relative for safe keeping after his house burned down! The Pearl of Puerto measures approximately 67cm by 30cm and is valued at over $100million USD. The previous record holder was another giant clam pearl known as the Pearl of Allah (also known as the Pearl of Lao Tze), weighing in at a mere 6.4 kg and worth $35million USD. Both these giant pearls were found off Palawan Island in the Philippines - our new favourite holiday destination!
Image via Smithsonian: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/heres-what-it-takes-make-massive-pearl-180960228/
4 ~ Another One-Carrot Diamond Ring
Can you believe this - yet another lost engagement ring turned up on a carrot! Back in August we told you the story of Swedish woman Lena Påhlsson whose engagement ring turned up in her garden with a carrot growing through it 16 years after it went missing. We thought that was pretty amazing, but surprisingly it wasn't a one-off. In 2004 Canadian grandmother Mary Grams lost her diamond engagement ring whilst weeding the veggie patch on her family farm. Then in August 2017 her daughter-in-law was pulling up carrots when, you guessed it, she found the ring tightly wrapped around the little orange vegetable. Mary had replaced the ring with a cheaper alternative, but her 'one-carrot' diamond still fits and Mary has sworn to take better care of it this time.
Read more here. Image Attribution: CTV via Daily Mail Uk
5 ~ Lost and Found While we're on the theme – no, not carrots; engagement rings! – here's another lucky lost-and-found story... Imagine going on holiday to Italy and losing your engagement ring. You'd think it was lost forever, right? Then imagine going back to Italy nine years later and finding your ring on the street wedged in a gap between pavers. The odds must be phenomenal, but that's exactly what happened to one New Jersey couple. The couple, Justin and Margaret Mussel, had been visiting family in San Marco dei Cavoti when Margaret noticed her 1.1carat princess cut diamond engagement ring was missing. The devastated couple searched high and low before deciding it must have been lost during a visit to Pompeii. Nine years later the couple were back in Italy and enjoying drinks in the front yard of their family's home one evening when passing cars' headlights kept glinting off something in the pavers on the other side of the road. Amazingly it was Margaret's missing ring! After spending nine years hidden just ten metres from the family home it was in remarkably good condition too! Read more here.
Image from an original by John and Margaret Mussel, via news.com.au
6 ~ Engagement Rings became Roman Catholic law The engagement ring seems an integral part of the marriage proposal today with no future groom worth his salt bending his knee without one (even if the ring is a Cheezel!), but it wasn't common practice until Pope Nicholas I declared it so in 860CE.
The Catholic Pope not only declared that an engagement ring must be given, but also that it must be of solid gold to prove the grooms ability to financially provide for his wife and future family and his commitment to go through with the marriage. He wrote: "…after the betrother hath betrothed to himself the betrothed with earnest, by marking her finger with the ring of affiance, and the betrother hath handed over to her a dower satisfactory to both, with a writing containing such contract…[then the pair may] enter into the marriage bond."
7 ~ Graphite is Forever We've all heard the De Beers slogan "Diamonds are Forever", but that's not strictly true.
Diamonds and graphite (the stuff inside your pencil) are both essentially crystallised carbon, but their structure is arranged differently. No one knows for sure how diamonds formed, only that they form around 100-160 km below the earth's surface. They make their way up to the surface (or at least a mineable depth) in volcanic explosions or when two tectonic plates overlap and push upwards. But enough of the science stuff, what about the diamond?! Having spent at least one million years deep beneath the earth's mantle, diamonds are used to being under tonnes of pressure. Once on the surface that pressure eases and the diamonds begin to ... relax ... a little. All that relaxing loosens the bonds between its atoms meaning that eventually every diamond will revert to plain old valueless graphite. If you're worried about your diamonds becoming worthless over time, don't be – the process will take so long it's unlikely anyone will be around to see it!
8 ~ There are 10 billion tons of gold in all the oceans... ... and we're not talking sunken treasure!
Have you seen the way an ocean glints in the sun? Sure some of it's reflection, but some of it just might be pure gold! It's estimated that there are around 16 tons of tiny gold particles in every cubic kilometre of sea water, meaning a total of 10 billion tons of gold in all the oceans combined! The only trouble is, these particles are so small that there is no known way to economically collect it.
9 ~ It rains diamonds on Jupiter
Ok, we can't really get there to prove it or collect them, but all the clever space boffins have concluded that it really does rain diamonds on Jupiter. Using their science brains they can say with enormous amounts of certainty that crystallised carbon exists in large quantities in Jupiter's atmosphere. Lightning storms on the planet turn methane into carbon soot which hardens into chunks of graphite, and then diamond, as it falls (rain on Jupiter has a lot further to fall than rain on Earth - thousands of kilometres in fact!). Unfortunately the surface temperature is too hot to sustain the diamonds in their crystal form so they possible revert to liquid carbon, rather like the water cycle we learned in school! Learn more here. Image Attribution: By NASA/JPL-Caltech [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
10 ~ Do opals prove aliens exist?
Opals form when silica (a fine sand-like substance) becomes trapped in a watery solution in rock crevices. Over time the silica and water mixture hardens to become a shimmery opal, with all opals naturally comprised of up to 30% water.
So how is it that tiny opals have also been found in meteorites?
If all opals have to contain water, then surely the presence of opal in some meteorites means that means that somewhere, at sometime, there has been water elsewhere in our galaxy and, as we all know, water is the foundation for life!
Next week: "Gemology: H is for..." For the gemologists amongst us, a look at gemstones beginning with H.