Keno Brothers Blog

Articles in June 2018

June 5th, 2018
The precious pearl – adored by the world since the ancients — is June’s official birthstone. Today we’re featuring one of the most celebrated natural pearls, La Peregrina, whose history is steeped in both legend and lore. Meaning “pilgrim,” La Peregrina was considered a treasure for Spain, and has been called the largest, finest example of a teardrop-shape natural pearl, weighing in at 55.95 carats.

After its discovery in the Gulf of Panama in the 16th century, King Phillip II of Spain gave the pearl to Queen Mary I (Mary Tudor). It has also been owned by Spanish royalty, the Bonapartes of France, and the British Marquis of Abercorn. In 1969, Richard Burton spent $37,000 (outbidding a prince at Sotheby’s) to buy La Peregrina for Elizabeth Taylor as a gift for Valentine’s Day.

La Peregrina, which sold at auction in 2011 for a record $11.8 million, was rumored to be nearly eaten by Taylor’s dog shortly after she received it. In a Caesars Palace suite, Taylor was wearing the pearl on a delicate pearl and diamond chain. She suddenly realized it was gone. She looked down and saw her dog happily chewing on something, and in a split second, reached down and pulled the pearl and diamond pendant out of the dog’s mouth. The pearl was unscathed.

Taylor then asked Cartier to reset La Peregrina with pearls, diamonds and rubies. She wanted the necklace to resemble the painting of Mary, Queen of Scots, who was wearing it as a choker. The pearl’s original setting can be seen in Taylor’s cameo in Anne of the Thousand Days (1969) – and the new, more exquisite setting in the films Divorce His — Divorce Hers (1973) and A Little Night Music (1977).

Interestingly, the close call at Caesars wasn’t the only near-misfortune for La Peregrina. According to legend, it was once lost in a sofa at Windsor Castle – and a duke’s wife once misplaced it at a family wedding and later found it in the bride’s train.

Natural pearls like La Peregrina are exceedingly rare and treasured because they are created by mollusks randomly, without human intervention. When a grain of sand or similar irritant sidles between the mollusk’s shell and its mantle tissue, the process begins. To protect itself, the mollusk instinctually secretes multiple layers of nacre, an iridescent material that eventually becomes a pearl. Cultured pearls, by contrast, are created when a bead is embedded inside the body of the mollusk to stimulate nacre secretion.

In 2005, La Peregrina was one of 12 rare pearls featured during a six-month exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History called “The Allure of Pearls.” Other specimens included the Hope Pearl, the Drexel Pearl, the Black Beauty, the Pearl of Kuwait, the Queen Mary Brooch with two large natural pink conch pearls, the South Sea Drops, the Survival Pearl, the Pearl of Asia and the Paspaley Pearl. La Peregrina was loaned for the presentation by Elizabeth Taylor, of course.

Credits: Images courtesy of Smithsonian/NMNH Photo Services.
June 6th, 2018
Dance superstar Stephen "tWitch" Boss helped choreograph an elaborate flash mob marriage proposal that Austin natives Patrick Barker and Johanna Alvarado will never forget.

Barker had met tWitch on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where the former So You Think You Can Dance alum has become the resident DJ. The break dance and hip-hop specialist just launched a new web series called "tWitch, Please... Help Me Dance!" — so when Barker hinted that he was planning to propose to his girlfriend, tWitch had the perfect plan.

tWitch's ultimate surprise proposal takes place on the back lot of Warner Bros. studios. Alvarado believes she's taking a standard studio tour, but the scene quickly morphs into an elaborately choreographed flash mob — starring her boyfriend, tWitch and a troop of professional dancers.

The "tWitch, Please... Help Me Dance!" video shows Barker working on his dance moves under tWitch's tutelage. tWitch tells the groom-to-be that learning the moves will not be easy, but the end result will be well worth it.

"After this work, they'll be stories you can tell for years and years to come," tWitch says.

As the couple rides onto the Warner lot in a tour cart, the guide tells them and the other passengers that they need to be extremely quiet because they are about to witness the taping of a commercial.

Just then, she hears the opening refrain from Bleachers' "Let's Get Married" and the other passengers — actually professional dancers — take their places on the set.

Barker hands Alvarado of sunflower and joins the dance troop.

Alvarado is overwhelmed as a storybook flash mob marriage proposal plays out in front of her eyes.

The future bride gets even more emotional when her parents and Barker's parents make a surprise appearance.

In the final scene, the bride is led from the tour cart to a gazebo, where her boyfriend has completed a costume change and is ready to propose.

Says Barker, "This is for you. This is for us. I love you so much and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?"

"Yes, of course," she answers.

Alvarado is so excited, bouncing up and down, that Barker has a hard time trying to get the diamond ring on her finger. Finally, with the ring securely in place, the couple embraces, the music resumes and the dancers celebrate by doing what they do best.

When asked by an interviewer how she felt about the flash mob proposal, Alvarado commented that she was "beyond happy."

"It was magic," she said.

Check out the full segment of "tWitch, Please... Help Me Dance!" (Episode 2) at this link...

Credits: Screen captures via
June 7th, 2018
Antwerp's brand new "DIVA" museum celebrates the Belgian city's 570-year love affair with diamonds. Since the 15th century, traders from around the world journeyed to Antwerp to buy and sell luxury items, and the DIVA museum tells that story in a most unique way.

Jérome, a virtual butler, escorts visitors through the "house" of a fabulously wealthy fictional mistress. Through the use of soundscapes, multimedia, interactive elements and actual artifacts, each of the six rooms explores a different aspect of the city's history. Visitors will marvel at 600 objects, including diamond-encrusted boots, a stunning owl cup and bejeweled peacock brooch.

The first steps inside DIVA’s house take the guest into her amazing Wunderkammer, a luxurious chamber exhibiting a collection of curiosities and objects from every corner of the globe. Among the items are silverware, jewelry, precious stones and other highly sought-after items of yesteryear, including coconuts, shells and coral.

The Atelier is a room where the visitor can sit at a workbench and learn how beautiful jewelry was made. Demonstrated are the arts of diamond-cutting and silversmithing.

Next, DIVA’s butler takes visitors to the International Trading Room, where a large, multimedia globe makes it instantly clear why Antwerp was — and still is — the diamond center of the world. Projected trade routes illustrate how diamonds have made their way to and from Antwerp for the better part of six centuries.

In the Dining Room, guests are invited to take a seat at DIVA's surrealistic arrangement of tables, decked out with silver services worthy of the grandest of banquets. The rules of etiquette and stories about some of Antwerp’s aristocratic families shed light on the use of silver and the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

The fifth room is The Vault. Visitors must answer a few questions to gain entry, and they are rewarded with access to an abundance of information about diamond security.

Lastly, guests are escorted into The Boudoir, where DIVA keeps her most most dazzling and precious jewelry treasures.

DIVA: Antwerp Home of Diamonds is open to the public every day except Wednesday. Cost of admission is 10 Euros ($11.78) for adults, 7 Euros ($8.24) for those under 26. Children under 12 may visit for free.

Credits: All images © DIVA. Peacock by White Light. Snake by Dominique Provost. All other images by Carla Janssen Hofelt.
June 8th, 2018
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you uplifting songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, alt-country rocker Ryan Adams compares a glorious, sunny day to June's official birthstone in his 2007 ditty, "Pearls on a String."

The song, which appeared as the ninth track on the artist's ninth studio album Easy Tiger, is a celebration of all the wonderful things life has to offer — with a special emphasis on nature's beauty and the joy of music.

He sings, "Blue eyes for miles / Pretty as a peach / Glorious kind and always on time / Never far outta reach / Tomorrow's on it's way / And there's always new songs to sing / Glorious kind, always on time / Pearls on a string."

In an interview with Australia's Herald Sun, Adams explained that the songs featured on Easy Tiger are "strays" that arose from a writing project that was originally intended to go in a different direction.

"They are very, very simple, very easy songs that, in my opinion, were written on the periphery of some more complex work," he said. "These were the tunes around them that just kind of happened. It's shocking to me how they happened."

Easy Tiger made its debut at #7 on the U.S. Billboard 200 list and charted in 14 countries. The 43-year-old Adams has released 16 albums as a solo artist and three with his former band, Whiskeytown.

Born in Jacksonville, N.C., Adams described his childhood as "dysfunctional." His father left the family when Adams was five, so he, his mom and siblings had to move in with his grandparents. At age eight, Adams began writing short stories and was inspired by the work of Edgar Allan Poe. At 14, he got his first electric guitar and soon joined a local band named Black Label.

Adams dropped out of high school as a 16-year-old and performed with a number of local bands. He eventually earned his GED and built his reputation as a singer-songwriter, musician, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and poet. He's been called a "new Dylan" and "the Kurt Cobain of alt-country."

In 2009, he famously married singer-actress Mandy Moore in a secret ceremony. They were divorced in 2015.

Please check out the audio track of "Pearls on a String." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Pearls On A String"
Written by Bradley Smith Pemberton, Jonathan Graboff, Neal Graeme Casal and Ryan Adams. Performed by Ryan Adams.

One, two, three
Blue eyes for miles
Pretty as a peach
Glorious kind and always on time
Never far outta reach
Tomorrow's on it's way
And there's always new songs to sing
Glorious kind, always on time
Pearls on a string

Soft, precious and easy
Under the sea
If you dive down far enough to the bottom
Look around and you will see
Tomorrow's on it's way
And there's always new songs to sing

Glorious kind, always on time
Pearls on a string
Glorious kind, and always on time
Pearls on a string

The sun shinin' down
The children laugh and play
Glorious kind, and always on time
Out there in the day
Tomorrow's on it's way
And there's always new songs to sing

Glorious kind, and always on time
Pearls on a string
Glorious kind, always on time
Pearls on a string
Glorious kind, always on time
Pearls on a string

Glorious kind, always on time
Pearls on a string

Credit: Screen capture via
June 11th, 2018
Former nurse and Jupiter, Fla., resident Carol Winig is on a mission to identify the honest little girl who found her engagement ring in a supermarket parking lot and turned it over to the store's management. Winig wants to give the youngster a reward and a big hug.

The six-year-old had spotted the diamond solitaire ring in the parking lot of a Publix supermarket on May 14 and promptly turned it in. The girl didn't give her name and her identity remains a mystery.

Earlier that day, Winig had been shopping at the same Publix and stopped into the bathroom to wash her hands. She removed three rings from her hand — her engagement ring, a platinum wedding band and an antique wedding band that once belonged to her husband's grandmother — and slipped them into her back pocket.

“As I did it, I put the rings in my back pocket and I said to myself, ‘This is probably not one of your better moves, putting them there. Just remember to take them out,’” she told local ABC affiliate WPBF.

Winig forgot to take them out, and that's where her story takes a turn for the worse. Standing near her car with a cart of groceries, she reached into her pocket to pull out her receipt. Just then she heard a "ting, ting, ting" as her receipt dropped to the ground in the parking lot.

“All I could find was the receipt,” Winig said. “So even though it made no sense, I thought, ‘Well, if that’s all I’m seeing, then I didn’t lose anything.’”

What she failed to realize was that all three precious rings had fallen from her pocket and were left behind in the parking lot as she drove away.

About 20 minutes later, at about 7 p.m., the mystery youngster found the most precious of the three rings — Winig's engagement ring — lying on the pavement. It was the ring Winig's husband gave her when he first proposed.

The next morning, Winig realized that all three rings were missing, so she scampered back to Publix to try to find them. After searching the parking lot unsuccessfully, she entered the store and asked if any rings had been turned in.

Management handed her an envelope with the engagement ring inside.

“That’s my ring! That’s my ring!” Winig remembered saying to the staff. And then she cried as she placed it back on her finger.

"For me, that was the most incredible gift to have been able to get the ring back," she told WPBF.

Now, Winig is trying to find the honest, heroic young lady responsible for returning her ring. The staff at Publix did not get her name, just the fact that was six years old.

“This little girl needs to be hugged and rewarded," Winig told WPBF.

Winig's story has gotten a fair amount of media attention. It was covered by local ABC affiliate WPBF and was a featured on the website, but the little hero has yet to come forward.

Winig still holds out hope that the other two lost rings may eventually be found, but "that would be a miracle," she said.

Credits: Screen captures via
June 12th, 2018
The Diamond Producer Association's high-profile "Real Is Rare" campaign scored 1.5 billion media impressions among the coveted 21-to-34-year-old demographic during its first 12 months of advertising, according to an independent research firm.

Aimed at making an emotional connection with millennials via a storytelling approach, the commercials reached 98% of its core audience, with each millennial exposed to the messaging 20 times over the course of the year.

The independent, cross-media study by Kantar Millward Brown (KMB) revealed that the latest emotional storytelling videos, "The Other Party" and "Reveal," generated a significant increase in consideration of diamonds for purchase, as well as favorable opinions of diamonds and love for diamonds.

"We are very pleased with the results, which confirm we are moving the needle on consumer sentiment," said Deborah Marquardt, chief marketing officer of DPA. "We see desire for diamonds improving, with consumers saying that diamonds are the ultimate gift of love, and an important part of rare and special relationships."

DPA spent $40 million on the campaigns between June 2017 and June 2018. Television and digital video consumed 43% of the budget, while digital and social media accounted for 42% of the spending. Print (10%) and strategic out-of-home, including cinema (5%), rounded out the mix.

The past year's campaign was so successful that DPA is raising its annual global budget to $70 million, of which $50 million will be invested in the U.S. for paid media, PR programs, research, education and advocacy initiatives.

DPA plans to keep the current campaign through the end of the fourth quarter of 2018, but will debut a new campaign aimed at female self-purchasers at the end of the third quarter.

"We recognize that we are still in the beginning stage of a long consumer journey," Marquardt noted. "We are learning as we go, and look forward to continued engagement and partnership with the industry and other stakeholders to inform our path forward."

KMB's studies were conducted in December 2017 through January 2018, with a nationally representative sample among U.S. adults, aged 21 to 34.

Credits: Image captures via
June 13th, 2018
In 1940, billionaire banker and philanthropist David Rockefeller married Margaret "Peggy" McGrath, and during their 56-year marriage the couple collected magnificent works of art and fine jewelry. Yesterday, 19 jewelry items from their massive collection hit the auction block at Christie's New York, with most far outperforming pre-sale estimates.

An aquamarine and diamond “Leaves and Flowers” bracelet (circa 1960) designed by Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co., for example, was estimated to sell for $40,000 to $60,000. When the hammer went down, the bracelet had fetched $250,000 — more than four times the high estimate.

Schlumberger designed the bracelet as a series of five rectangular-cut aquamarines weighing from 14.80 to 28.77 carats, within circular-cut diamond leaf surrounds, joined by circular-cut diamonds and polished gold links.

The jewelry offerings at Christie's represented the continuation of the auction house's mammoth Rockefeller family estate sale of some 1,550 lots across six auctions. The proceeds of the sales — a tally that is likely to exceed $1 billion — will be used to support 11 philanthropies.

Before David Rockefeller died in March of 2017 at the age of 101, he ordered that the bulk of his estate — including three homes, and a collection of museum-quality paintings, tapestries, furniture and fine jewelry — would be used to fund bequests to his favorite charities. His beloved wife had passed away in 1996.

Peggy and David Rockefeller's purchases reflected a high level of refinement. They owned impressionist and modern art from Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Juan Gris and Paul Gauguin, for example. Their sophisticated taste expanded into the realm of fine jewelry, with more of the finest examples shown, below...

• Also designed by Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co., circa 1958, is this sapphire, diamond and emerald "Sea Shells" bracelet. Christie's set the pre-sale estimate at $50,000 to $70,000, but the realized price was $250,000. The pear-shaped sapphire and circular-cut emerald openwork band is set with six diamond-embellished sculpted gold shells.

• This ruby and diamond bracelet by Raymond Yard, Rockefeller's personal jeweler, is designed as three articulated circular and fancy-cut diamond panels, each centering upon an oval-cut Burmese ruby. The pre-sale estimate was $40,000 to $60,000, but the selling price climbed all the way to $348,500.

• Another Yard piece (circa 1944) — a sapphire and diamond ring — was one of the auction's top lots. Originally expected to sell in the range of $150,000 to $200,000, the platinum ring set with a 5-carat oval-cut Kashmir sapphire and surrounded by circular, baguette and half moon-shaped diamonds sold for $372,500.

• Lot 174 of the auction included a suite of peridot and diamond jewelry by Van Cleef & Arpels. When the hammer went down at Christie's, the sale price of $348,000 had surpassed the pre-sale high estimate by $228,000. Suspended from the peridot necklace is a detachable pear- and oval-cut peridot pendant-brooch. Also included in the suite are peridot earrings, bracelet and ring.

Credits: Images courtesy of Christie's.
June 14th, 2018
After more than 20 years of Sherlock Holmes-like sleuthing, scientists are crediting teeny, rapidly spinning diamonds for generating the curious microwave "glow" coming from a number of regions in the night sky.

In a new study led by researchers at Great Britain's Cardiff University and published earlier this week in the journal Nature Astronomy, an international team has shown that it is likely the microwaves emanating from star systems far out in the Milky Way are coming from tiny crystals of carbon, otherwise known as nanodiamonds, inside of dust and gas that surrounds newly formed stars.

For decades scientists have been able to measure a faint and mysterious stream of microwaves, dubbed the anomalous microwave emission (AME), but could never pinpoint the exact source. The microwaves seemed to be emanating from clouds of "spinning dust."

"In a Sherlock Holmes-like method of eliminating all other causes, we can confidently say the best and likely only candidate capable of producing this microwaves glow is the presences of nanodiamonds around these newly formed stars," said lead author of the study Dr. Jane Greaves from Cardiff University's School of Physics and Astronomy.

Scientists used high-powered telescopes in West Virginia and Australia to monitor three young stars that were known to emit AME light.

By studying the infrared light that was coming from the protoplanetary disks surrounding the stars, the team was able to match the infrared light with the unique signature that is naturally given off by nanodiamonds.

The team noted that the unique signal came from rapidly spinning, hydrogenated nanodiamonds. These minuscule particles — hundreds of thousands of times smaller than a grain of sand — have a crystalline carbon structure surrounded by hydrogen-bearing molecules on its surface. The nanodiamonds can occur, say the scientists, when carbon atoms become superheated in the highly energized star-forming regions of space.

"This is a cool and unexpected resolution of the puzzle of anomalous microwaves radiation," Greaves continued. "It's even more interesting that it was obtained by looking at protoplanetary disks, shedding light on the chemical features of early solar systems, including our own."

Credit: Image by S. Dagnello, NRAO/AUI/NSF.
June 15th, 2018
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you the sweetest songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, country stars George Jones and Lacy J. Dalton sing the praises of a very special ring in their 1984 ditty, "Size Seven Round (And Made of Gold)."

The song chronicles the love story of a couple, from their wedding day through their golden years. Even as they grow old together, her size-seven wedding band remains a shining symbol of their enduring relationship.

They sing, "Size seven, round and made of gold / This circle joins us heart and soul / And it won't let our love grow cold / Size seven, round and made of gold."

"Size Seven Round (And Made of Gold)" appeared as the seventh track of George Jones's 1984 album, Ladies' Choice, which was composed mostly of duets with female country artists. Twenty-one years later, the song returned on the 2005 reissue of the country legend's LP, My Very Special Guests.

The song peaked at #19 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and #11 on the Canadian RPM Country Tracks chart.

Born in a log cabin in the small town of Saratoga, Texas, Jones got his first guitar at the age of nine. By 1955, at the age of 24, Jones had already served in the Marines, was married twice and recorded his first hit song, “Why Baby Why.” In 1969, he married Tammy Wynette. They were divorced six years later, although they continued to perform together after the breakup.

Jones told Billboard in 2006 that when it comes to his music, “It’s never been for the love of money. I thank God for it because it makes me a living. But I sing because I love it, not because of the dollar signs.”

Over a career that spanned seven decades, Jones is credited with charting 168 country songs. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992. Jones passed away in 2013 at the age of 81.

Born Jill Lynne Byrem in Bloomsburg, Pa., Lacy J. Dalton scored a number of hits songs in the 1980s, including "Takin' It Easy," "Crazy Blue Eyes" and "16th Avenue." She's still actively touring at the age of 71.

Please check out the audio track of the Jones/Dalton duet of "Size Seven Round (And Made of Gold)." The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

"Size Seven Round (And Made of Gold)"
Written by Monroe Fields and Gary Lumpkin. Performed by George Jones and Lacy J. Dalton.

With all my love, my dreams and plans
I placed a ring upon your hand
To tell the endless love we found
Love's golden band, size seven, round

Size seven, round and made of gold
This circle joins us heart and soul
And it won't let our love grow cold
Size seven, round and made of gold

The years have passed, our ring is old
But time can't tarnish pure love's gold
Each day our love is young and new
There's just no end to love that's true.

Size seven, round and made of gold
This circle joins us heart and soul
And it won't let our love grow cold
Size seven, round and made of gold.

Size seven, round and made of gold
This circle joins us heart and soul
And it won't let our love grow cold
Size seven, round and made of gold.

Size seven, round and made of gold.

Credit:Credit: George Jones photo by BstarXO Chester L. Roberts (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons.