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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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sunset proposalMarch 20th marks Proposal Day, the day on which an estimated 50,000 couples will get engaged!

Is March 20th the day to pop the big question? Possibly, but this lesser known holiday was initially started for the purpose of giving a nudge to couples who have not yet taken the ultimate step of commitment. Interestingly enough, it was a man by the name of John Michael O’Laughlin who founded Proposal Day. After seeing his cousin being strung along for years by a boyfriend who wouldn’t commit, O’Laughlin decided enough was enough and decided to dedicate one day out of the year just for the act of proposing.

Proposal Day falls on the Vernal Equinox, one out of two days of the year on which the Earth’s North and South poles are both perpendicular to the Sun’s rays. This means that the Sun appears approximately an equal amount of time above and below the horizon at every location on Earth, so that day and night are equal lengths. O’Laughlin specifically chose the day of an equinox because he believed the equal day and night symbolized “the equal efforts of the two required to comprise a successful marriage.” The Autumnal Equinox falls about six months after March 20th, and is considered by some to be a second Proposal Day for that reason.vernal equinox

The holiday is an opportunity to start a conversation about the possibility of a future proposal, according to ProposalDay.com. Besides, nowadays couples wait longer before tying the knot; a recent poll found that roughly 27 per cent of women whose partners had popped the question dated their partner for three to five years. As an added benefit, talking to your partner about the proposal beforehand means that you can go engagement ring shopping together, which takes some pressure off of finding the perfect engagement ring!

Although it’s certainly not as widely recognized as Valentine’s Day, there are signs that Proposal Day is gaining traction. It has been creating a buzz in numerous social media outlets like Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter and has even been featured in the national news media.

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The internet has revolutionized the way that consumers can maximize their buying power. You can now compare prices from different vendors and have items delivered to you from across the globe. This has pushed retailers to lower their prices to compete with internet businesses, which is great for consumers. However, certain things cannot be bought sight unseen. While buying electronics or home tools are fine to buy over the internet, diamonds are not. Buying diamonds should be almost like buying a house – you wouldn’t buy a house without taking a tour first, and you shouldn’t buy diamonds without seeing them. Just as houses are more than their square footage and amenities, each diamond is unique, with many nuances in its characteristics that can’t be defined in a piece of paper.

1. You can’t sell a feeling on the Internet. A diamond is not all about its physical characteristics like symmetry and the grading of the 4 C’s, but also the feelings that it elicits when it is bought and gifted.

2. Additionally, diamonds are much more than their 4 C’s. A diamond is a work of nature. I could give you the dimensions of a woman and her picture, but you need to see her to truly experience her beauty. The same is true of diamonds. You can’t fully appreciate the sparkle, shine and depth until you see it in person.

3. “It’s too good to be true! – it probably is. Diamonds are all unique, so they are all priced accordingly. Diamonds of the same size can vary greatly in price; for example a one carat stone can be anywhere from $3000 to upwards of $30,000. Even diamonds of the same size, shape, color and clarity will vary in price. Why? When diamonds are evaluated the whole picture is taken into account: things like placement of inclusions, brightness of the stone, any negative effects of fluorescence, the list goes on.

4. Nothing beats an expert’s eye. It is recommended for you can do some basic research yourself beforehand to have something to go by. However, even if you are willing to invest countless hours of your free time reading up all about diamonds, you cannot see what a jeweler sees. Remember that they have spent years looking at many, many diamonds and if they are a gemologist they have gone through several years of intensive additional schooling.

5. Buying online involves shipping, and this comes with its own risks. It is possible for the courier to lose or misplace your package, and dealing with the insurance companies will be a long hassle. Also in the event that you wish to return it for any reason, you will have to pay additional costs for shipping and insuring – and the higher value the package is, the higher price for insurance. With so much money at stake, would you want to risk it?

The best thing to do is find a reputable jeweler you can trust. Someone that focuses on the quality of the items they sell and not the quantity, who will take the time to listen to your needs and educate you. More importantly, find one with formal education such a a GIA Graduate Gemologist who will have the knowledge and tools to point out all the details of the diamond with you.

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FancyEvery other cut other than a round brilliant cut is called fancy shape and that   includes princess cut, radiant cut, emerald cut, heart shape, etc. Due to the symmetry of   round brilliant-cut diamonds, it is much easier to formulate proportion criteria. There is currently no cut grades assigned to any fancy shapes. With that said, here are some  general guidelines:

  • Diamonds with pointy ends, such as marquises, pears, and hearts,   should be thick enough at the points to stand up to normal wear and tear. If these diamonds are cut too shallow, a point may be vulnerable to chipping.
  • The symmetry of fancy-shaped diamonds. Compare how well the two halves of a diamond look when seen from the profile view and the top view. Diamonds with mismatched halves may have been cut that way to save weight.The two halves should display very little differences, and ideally be mirror images of one another.
  • “Bowtie” effect (an obvious diminished area of brilliance appearing like a bowtie) occurs in certain fancy-shaped diamonds when the proportions are off and it is common. Well-cut, fancy-shaped diamonds show only a minimal bowtie effect.
  • The degree of brilliance in a fancy shape can be one way to tell whether it is cut within acceptable proportions or not. It shouldn’t suffer from too much light leakage through the pavilion.

In general, it is ideal to purchase a fancy shape diamond from an educated jeweller or a graduate gemologist. Fancy shapes aren’t just about color and clarity just because there is no universal cut grade. Some princes cuts are very pretty and some are very dull, some emerald cut are beautiful to look at and some just look like a piece of glass, buying diamonds off certificates is not a good idea because general public aren’t trained to pay attention to what’s important when it comes to fancy shapes and it’s best to get a professional’s help. A good jeweller should always show you stones especially it’s a fancy shape before they ask you to commit!

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