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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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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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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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Ever since Mr. Big gave Carrie a stunning black diamond engagement ring in the iconic television series Sex and the City, black diamonds have gained much more interest in brides-to-be and fashionable women alike. These dark, opaque stones have a mysterious and provocative quality about them. Why black? As Big explained to Carrie, “Because you are not like anyone else”.

Colored stone jewelry can create a more personalized and unique look than the traditional diamonds. They can complement an outfit subtly, or pull together a look with a statement. With black stones, there are three main types that are made into jewelry: black diamonds, onyx, and spinel. Some very, very dark sapphires can also pass, but they will generally be off-black with hints of their base color. For truly black stones, opt for one of the three above.

Black StonesThe most common no doubt is onyx. Onyx is actually a type of quartz that is black in color and extremely opaque. Quartz is relatively inexpensive, which makes onyx the black stone commonly used in beading and costume jewelry – however, if made well it can also be incorporated into fine or fashion jewelry. Out of the three, onyx is the softest (least durable) rating a 7 out of 10 on the Moh’s hardness scale. That is not to say it is fragile, however, it would be best suited to a necklace or earrings instead of a ring or bracelet, which is exposed to more wear and tear.

Black spinel is not widely known, which makes it all the more unique. It also possesses qualities that make it great for use in jewelry – it has a hardness of 8 on the Mohs scale, uniform in appearance, high reflectance and lack of cleavage (mineral lines in the stone that makes it prone to chipping). Unlike onyx, sapphire, and black diamond, black spinel is rarely heat-treated for its color. Price-wise, it would be somewhere between onyx and our next option, sapphire.

As sapphires are prized for their vivid colors, very dark almost black sapphires are priced more favorably than their lighter counterparts. Dark sapphires and black diamonds will tend to be more included than not, so be sure to buy from a reputable, experienced jeweler who knows and can tell you the difference between stones. Some inclusions could have a negative effect on the stone’s durability – making sapphire’s 9 on the Mohs scale less important in regards to that stone.

Good quality, natural colored black diamonds are hard to find. Most black diamonds in the commercial market have undergone irradiation or heat treatment to get to that color. This treatment is permanent, and is done usually on “white” diamonds that are heavily included – which as stated previously may or may not affect durability, depending on the inclusion type and location. Diamond is the hardest material on Earth at 10 on the Mohs scale.

The appearance varies only slightly between these types of stones, but keep in mind 1) type of jewelry – a necklace, ring, earrings? 2) type of setting – does the stone stick out or is it protected by metal/other stones? And 3) budget. The general rule of thumb for engagement rings would be either diamond or sapphire, for fancier fashion or fine jewelry black spinel, and for costume jewelry opt for onyx.

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A StoreShopping for engagement rings can be a highly emotional and daunting task. Jewelry stores can be intimidating. Don’t be put off by the seemingly endless styles and confusing prices. Let’s make it easier and break it down. Once you have an idea of what is important to you, find a reputable jeweler that you trust, preferably with gemmological qualifications, who can source stones and who works with a good goldsmith so that you can guarantee good product and service. It is well worth spending the time to find the right retailer as this ring is for life, not just for the proposal, and just as any other long wearing item, it will need upkeep – claws that hold the stone in place will need tightening, white gold will need rhodium plating, polishing, cleaning, resizing, insurance validations are all things you may need to follow up with.

So what variables do you need to consider to make your shopping experience easier? Take a note of your priority in each category and bring the list with you when browsing:

The fundamentals are Style and Material. Here we will focus on diamond engagement rings only.

1: STYLE:

  • 1 stone is called a solitaire, it is very popular – it says “you are the one and only”.
  • 3 stone rings stand for “I Love You” or “Then, Now, Always”.
  • Other designs are less conventional but always beautiful: the halo design is a single stone surrounded by a ring of smaller stones. This can look stunning if they are all diamonds as it makes the overall effect of a larger diamond, also if the centre stone is coloured, the halo frames that stone and makes it really stand out.
  • When diamonds are set in a line either part or all the way around the ring in a band, then this is called an eternity ring. This is popular when the knuckles are larger than the base of the finger and your rings tend to spin around, it is a more popular choice as the wedding band.

2: METAL:

Depending on skin tone and preference there are silver and golden coloured metals.

  • Silver is very soft and not very appropriate for setting precious stones.Ring Styles
  • White gold is a good alternative. The higher the carat value, the more gold content, and the higher the price. More gold usually means softer, except for 19K which has a different alloy and is extremely hard, and does not need rhodium plating as often. Gold will always want to revert to its original yellow, so over time a 14K gold ring will tarnish and need plating every 2 years or so to bring it back to the bright white, and of course when you do this the ring will look brand new again! Rhodium plating typically costs $60, so keep this in mind when purchasing.
  • Platinum is the hardest and whitest of the white metals. It does not scratch as easily as gold and will never need plating. However, over time, with constant wear, the ring will eventually collect scratches. As the metal is harder, normal jewelry polishing wheels at retail shops may not be able to polish off all marks.
  • Yellow and rose gold will have more colour with higher carat value, but will be softer.

 

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