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A space rock containing over 100 million tons of platinum at its core was seen flying within 1.5 million miles of the Earth this past weekend, sparking interest in the future of space mining.

platinum asteroid

This asteroid “2011 UW-158” flyby was captured by the Slooh online observatory, using a team of telescopes located in the Canary Islands. Two live feeds were provided; one long range that showed the asteroid moving across the viewing field visible as a small white spec, the other a close up centered on the asteroid. Commentary was provided by both Slooh astronomer Bob Berman, and host Eric Edelman.

plat asteroid

A special guest appearance was made by Planetary Resources President Chris Lewicki. Planetary Resources is an asteroid mining venture – that counts Google founders Larry Page and Eric Schmidt among its backers – has its sights set on the 2011 UW-158. Due to the (relatively) close proximity of the asteroid, which is approximately six times farther than the Moon but 60 times closer than the next nearest planet, Venus, it has sparked a renewed interest in the viability of space mining.

The company has calculated the asteroid to contain about 100 million tons of pure platinum, approximately $5.4 trillion dollars’ worth. While they have also been tracking similar asteroids in our solar system, this is the one that has come the closest to the Earth.

Officials from NASA believe that futuristic space mining may be feasible as early as 2025. Asteroids would be “captured” and brought into orbit of our Moon, where space miners would be able to collect resources. NASA states that the elements present in asteroids, such as rocket fuel and water, could be gathered by future generations in the quest to explore more of our solar system.

 

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lady luckA fancy vivid yellow diamond weighing a whopping 77.77 carats is expected to be the top lot at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, with a pre-sale estimate up to $7.7 million.

Clearly the top lot has auspicious ties to the number seven. In the Western world, seven is considered the luckiest of all numbers; many a gambler has dreamed of hitting the 7-7-7 slot machine jackpot. For potential Asian buyers, seven is a lucky number that signifies togetherness, and the yellow hue is also symbolic of royalty and power.

The “Lady Luck Diamond” boasts a VS2 clarity and a pure fancy vivid yellow, the most desirable saturation for colored diamonds. Pure yellow diamonds owe their coloration to nitrogen atoms dispersed throughout the crystal matrix, which is extremely hard to penetrate. The amount of nitrogen present determines a yellow diamond’s saturation level, which is why the more intensely saturated gems are extremely rare and valuable.

Flanked by five-carat heart-shaped diamonds on either side, the “Lady Luck” is presented as the lady luck 2centerpiece of a three-stone ring in rich 18 karat yellow gold. It can also be detached and worn as a pendant on its own.

The “Lady Luck” is sure to appeal to a wide audience of bidders later this month at Sotheby’s “Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite Sale” at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. The auction comprises 320 lots in total, including rare colorless and colored diamonds, gemstones, and signed pieces from the Art Deco period. Total sales expected to be generated are over $100 million.

 

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A Kazak herdsman had the luckiest day in his life when he literally stumbled upon a large gold nugget lying on the ground in Xinjiang, a far western region of China.gold nugget

Berek Sawut, the lucky herdsman hailing from Qinghe County in Altay Prefecture, tells China Xinhua News that he was walking around a local mining site when he suddenly spotted a brilliant gold object lying exposed on the ground. Asked about his initial reaction, Sawut responded, “When I walked closer, I was dumbfounded. My god, it was a piece of gold. I was so excited that I started jumping up and down.”

The nugget – approximately 23cm by 18cm long and weighing almost 8kg – was analyzed for composition, confirming that the nugget is about 80% pure gold, with the remaining being quartz, sandstone and other minerals.

It has a precious metal estimated value of $255,000 at the current spot gold price, but experts believe that the piece could fetch over three times as much due to the specimen’s rarity and uniqueness. It is the largest gold nugget to china nuggetcome out of the Altay region, a mountainous territory that hugs the border of Russia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan. This region has long been known for its’ gold mining, in fact “altay” is “gold” in Mongolian. Not to mention, most curiously of all, the large nugget is naturally shaped resembling the map of China.

Whether or not Sawut will get to keep or sell his find is yet to be determined. According to Chinese law, mineral resources that are found on or below the surface in this region is deemed as property of the state. However, given that his story has gone viral on Chinese media and that other mineral finds in the area were not confiscated, it is likely he will be allowed to keep it.

 

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nizamThe Duchess of Cambridge stepped out on her first official event of the year in great style, with an elegant navy Jenny Packham evening gown and her signature wavy locks. But what stole the show was what she was wearing on her neck, a priceless diamond necklace known as the Nizam of Hyderabad.

Named after the man who bestowed this extravagant gift, it has been a part of the Royal Collection of Jewels since 1947 when the Nizam of Hyderabad gave it to Queen Elizabeth II as a wedding gift. At the time, the Nizam was one of the richest men in India, and he governed over an area that indisputably is the origin of the most valuable diamonds in the world. The Golconda region, located just west of the Hyderabad district has produced large diamonds of such purity and quality that many are located in museums and royal collections to this day. The Hope diamond (Smithsonian Natural History Museum), Daria-i-Noor (Central Bank of Iran), Koh-i-Noor (British Crown Jewels), and the Archduke Joseph (recently sold at auction for a record-breaking price) are some famous diamonds with Golcandan provenance.nizam

This is the first time where the Duchess has stepped out in jewels from the royal vault, and she chose the fundraising gala at the National Portrait Gallery in London.  Despite the host of celebrities also attending and the priceless paintings themselves, all eyes were on the Duchess’ neckline. Media reports speculate that Kate will be undergoing a change in wardrobe to look more regal in the coming months.

The Nizam of Hyderabad is constructed of colorless diamonds and platinum, featuring a double drop pear-shaped pendant and thirteen emerald cut diamonds. It is seen worn by the Queen in many official portraits, and like other priceless jewelry pieces is unlikely ever to leave the British Crown’s possession.

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Paul WalkerAlmost ten years ago, in the holiday season of 2004, Paul Walker happened to be in a Santa Barbara jewelry store at the same time as another couple that was browsing. That couple was Kyle and Kristen Upham, who were looking for an engagement ring. They were already secretly married in a private ceremony before his deployment to Iraq, but now he was back and wanted to get her a proper ring.

While they were browsing, the “Fast and Furious” star struck up a conversation with them. Kristen recalls when Walker found out that Kyle had just come back from his first tour in Iraq: “I remember seeing the look in his face. He kind of transformed.”

Kristen was back at the store to look at a ring she really, really liked. It featured a round brilliant center diamond, accented with baguette diamonds in the band set in white gold. At $9,000 though, it was out of her husband’s budget. They left the store empty-handed, but received a call later on from Irene King, the sales associate who had helped them, asking them to return to the store. Waiting for them was her dream ring, wrapped up and paid for in full by a mysterious benefactor. The staff at the store refused to give out any details, as per his wishes. According to King, Walker had pulled aside the store manager in private and asked to put the ring on his tab, walking out shortly after.Paul Walker

The staff kept his secret for nearly a decade, until his recent untimely death sparked the wish to share his random act of kindness in tribute to his outstanding character. A great number of Walker’s colleagues and friends in Hollywood have since spoken out about his fantastic work ethic, talent, polite demeanor and passion for charitable projects. He will always be remembered in the people whose lives he touched, and for Kyle and Kristen Upham, they will always have a reminder and a story to tell when they pass down her ring for future generations.

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platinum wedding ringShould you choose white gold or platinum jewellery? What’s the differences between white gold and platinum? The first difference between white gold and platinum is the most basic and is the foundation of all the other differences. White gold and platinum are different metals. White gold jewellery are mostly plated. The plating of white gold, which is done using rhodium, is a practice that has been used in the jewelry industry for decades, it makes white gold bright and white. However, it is decorative so it’s not permanent; it’s used to event out the color and soften white gold’s yellow tint. Depend on the wear and tear of the individual, the plating could last several years, but eventually it wears off and needs re-plating.

Platinum is heavier and naturally white metal although a little grayish in color and has been used for hundreds of years. Platinum is harder to work with then white gold. The higher melting temperature makes it more difficult to cast. The platinum solders are also at higher temperature. These and other reasons make platinum more expensive to work with then white gold. It is the preferred metal when it comes to softer gemstones such as emeralds or to consumers who have sensitive skin or are allergic to nickel which is commonly used in white gold jewellery in North America.

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cufflinksToday’s popular male stars, such as Jay-Z, Johnny Depp, the Jonas brothers and Justin Bieber, tend to wear more jewelry and that’s opening the door for other men to realize that jewelry is a part of putting an outfit together. Jewelry is also a status symbol for men who have become more established in life and their careers. The more popular and traditional men’s jewellery are watches and cufflinks.

As men’s jewelry progresses, it will go through those conservative categories, of watches and cufflinks, to more modern categories, including bracelets, rings and pendants. These categories will continue to grow as the younger generation moves into the market. Younger generation may not be able to afford nice watches yet but they can all afford some nice silver men’s jewellery. Men’s jewellery can’t be too flashy, feminine or ostentatious; they need to have a masculine appeal. Brushed and blackened metals are great choices of design, and most of the time men’s jewellery are easy to maintain.

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Read Part 1: Can Diamonds be Chipped?  and Part 2: Tips to Prevent Damaging Diamonds

Accidents happen. It’s hard not to get upset when your diamond gets chipped, but understand that it’s not uncommon. It is part of the risk you take when wearing jewelry; although diamonds sustain less damage in everyday wear and tear than other gemstones, they are not indestructible.

First of all, you need to evaluate the chip(s) in your diamond. How big is it relative to your diamond? Is it instantly noticeable? Is it something you can live with? Keep these questions in mind when you bring your diamond ring to a specialist for an in-depth appraisal. A Graduate Gemologist and/or certified Appraiser will be able to assess the chip(s) effect on the diamond’s structural integrity, value, and can suggest viable options based on their evaluation.

If the chip is small and lies on the girdle edge, you may be able to reset the diamond with metal covering the area of the chip. The purpose of this is two –fold: the metal will act as a barrier to protect the chip from further stress which can lead to more extensive damage, and it will also hide the chip from view. Styles such as Bezel, Half-Bezel, Bypass, or even the addition of new prongs can achieve this effect.

Another option may be to recut the diamond. This option should be considered if your stone is of high monetary or sentimental value, as the process is quite costly. Not all diamonds are good candidates for a recut however. If the stone has chips in multiple places and/or the chip is large, it may not even be considered for a recut. Similarly, a stone would not be recut if its internal inclusions pose a significant damage risk during the process. This is a very specialized area of jewelry repair that needs to be done by a diamond cutter with great care. Talk with your jeweler to see if this would be possible for your stone.

If all else fails, you may consider replacing the diamond. Depending on your insurance policy or jeweler trade-up policy, this can also be a cost-effective option.

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Diamond BoxWe finished off with Part 1: Can Diamonds be Chipped?

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In taking care of your diamond jewelry, this is especially important. For something that can last you forever, it does require some amount of maintenance to keep it in its best shape.

Routine checkups at your jeweler (recommended is about every 6 months) is key. They have the tools and expertise to evaluate your jewelry for any compromise in the structure or integrity. Checking settings for loose stones, worn prongs or metal can prevent diamonds being exposed or even falling out.

After that, it’s all up to you. Be slightly more cautious when wearing rings, diamonds can chip when coming in contact with any hard surface such as doorknobs, kitchen countertops, or car windows. Ideally you would want to take your rings off when doing any manual work with your hands: lifting heavy objects, doing chores, cooking, gardening, and more. The more your diamond jewelry comes into contact with other objects, the more likely it is to damage. That’s why rings are the most susceptible and show signs of wear more easily; bracelets are a close second followed by necklaces and earrings, which are relatively safe.

As diamonds are most easily damaged by other diamonds, take care in storing your diamond jewelry separately when not wearing them. Every piece should have its own compartment and not be touching another diamond piece. For necklaces, lay them out carefully and store them in a spacious box, not a pouch where it can move against itself.

Another factor that contributes to the risk of damaging diamonds is present in the diamond’s structure: inclusions. Inclusions are the naturally occurring “imperfections” in the molecular crystal of the diamond, and come in many forms. Not all inclusions increase the risk of damage; it all depends on the size, location, and type of inclusion present. Inclusions to pay particular attention to are feathers, twinning wisps, or cavities that reach the surface close to the girdle, where impact is the likeliest to happen. It’s best to consult with your jeweler or someone with formal diamond training such as a GIA Gemologist to discuss the role inclusions play in your diamond’s integrity.

Read on to Part 3: What to Do With a Chipped Diamond

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DiamondsThe short answer is yes, they can – and it’s not that uncommon.

Diamonds are the hardest material on Earth, however that doesn’t make them indestructible. To understand how and why they chip, we must first separate the concepts of hardness and toughness. These two terms are often confused for one another, but they are not related in any way. Hardness essentially is a measure of how resistant a substance is to being scratched. Hardness depends on the strength of bonds between atoms in the crystal, and also can vary depending on the direction (along the crystal planes) in which this property is measured. This is why, although much less likely, diamonds can be scratched; and they most definitely can be scratched when coming in contact with other diamonds.

Toughness is the measurement of the ability of a material to resist fracturing, breaking, chipping, or cracking in general. The toughness scale ranges from: Exceptional, Excellent, Good, Fair, to Poor, in which diamond only ranks at a Good. A diamond has a cubic crystal matrix, in which there are four perfect cleavage directions. A cleavage direction can be described as a series of side-by-side straight grains running in one direction, such as the graining on a piece of wood. It is a plane of weakness in the molecular crystal of the diamond. Due to these points of weakness in the diamond structure, it is very possible for a diamond to chip and fracture in everyday wear and tear – it wouldn’t necessarily need a big impact for a diamond to chip, only enough of an impact at the right angle.

The shape of a diamond also factors into how likely it is to chip. Acute angles are much more chip-prone than obtuse angles. For example, in round diamonds the areas most likely to chip would be along the girdle edge or the culet (if pointed). However when round diamonds are set in a piece of jewelry the culet is almost always protected, so it is more common to see chips occur on the girdle. For fancy-shapes with pointed girdle edges, the risk of chipping increases. Princess, Marquise, Pear, Heart and to a slightly lesser extent Emerald and Radiant have a higher percentage of damage on the pointed girdle edge. This is why they are always set with prongs protecting the sharp edges.

If you are panicking because you have chipped your diamond or fear of doing so – read on to Part 2: Tips to Prevent Damaging a Diamond

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