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Billed as only the third yellow diamond larger than 200 carats ever to appear at auction, "The Yellow Rose" could fetch $4.4 million or more as the top lot of Christie's Magnificent Jewels sale at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues in Geneva on May 15.

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The unmounted 202.18-carat gem boasts excellent polish and symmetry and a Fancy Intense Yellow color. Sourced in South Africa, the pear-shaped modified brilliant cut gem carries a clarity grade of SI1.

Here are some more auction highlights:

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Lot 32 is a platinum pendant highlighting a pear brilliant-cut diamond of 30.02 carats. The D-color, internally flawless gem is expected to yield $1.7 million to $2.8 million.

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A pair of natural pearl sautoirs are included in Lot 99. The longest of the two has 171 round to oval and button shaped natural pearls ranging in size from 12.55 to 4.45 mm. The shorter strand holds 182 round to roundish and button shaped natural pearls ranging from 10.75 to 4.10 mm. The pre-sale estimate for the pair is $1.7 million to $2.5 million.

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The Taffin Diamond Ring, Lot 66, is projected to sell in the range of $1.3 million to $2 million. Set in platinum, the 23.15-carat emerald-cut diamond is rated D-flawless.

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Beautifully matched round diamonds weighing 30.03 and 30.02 carats, respectively, are mounted as platinum earrings that should earn from $1.1 million to $1.6 million. The diamonds of Lot 72 each carry a color grade of K and a clarity grade of VS2.

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Lot 51 is a Cartier-designed ring spotlighting a 20.02-carat pear brilliant-cut diamond. Christie's believes the D-flawless diamond will draw bids in the range of $1 million to $1.7 million.

Credits: Images courtesy of Christie's.

In the lead-up to the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in France, luxury jeweler Chaumet and the Paris 2024 Athletes' Commission were tasked with coming up with a medal design that would truly symbolize the City of Light. And their final concept seems to be right out of the playbook of the recent NFL and MLB championship rings, where a piece of Super Bowl turf or World Series game ball leather is actually embedded into the collectible.

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In this case, every one of the 5,084 medals to be awarded at the Summer Games will include at its center an 18-gram hexagonal slice of iron from the actual Eiffel Tower.

"We wanted these medals to be truly unique, to bear the Paris 2024 signature," said Tony Estanguet, President of Paris 2024. "To achieve this, we married the strongest symbol of the Games, the medal, with the ultimate symbol of Paris and France around the world, the Eiffel Tower."

Unveiled at the 1889 World's Fair, the 300-meter-tall Eiffel Tower impressed the world with its stature and innovation. During the 20th century, the structure underwent renovation work and certain metallic elements were removed and carefully preserved. The Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel contributed these veritable pieces of the history to the Olympic Games Paris 2024 so they could enjoy a second lease on life.

The original iron of the Eiffel Tower was cut into a hexagon and that's why the slice of iron on the medals mimics that shape. Stripped of its “Eiffel Tower brown” paint, the iron has been restored to its original color. The greyish iron color contrasts with the gold, silver and bronze to give the medals a two-tone look.

The hexagon iron is affixed to the medal by a “claw setting,” which was traditionally used by the House of Chaumet for its high- jewelry creations. Six metal appendages are stamped on the surface and placed at the six corners of the hexagon. For the Paris 2024 Games, claws in the shape of “Clous de Paris” (pyramid squares) are reminiscent of the famous rivets on the Eiffel Tower.

The rays that radiate from the center of the medal are struck rather than engraved to give the medal a 3D effect and to add sparkle.

The Olympic medals are all engraved with the name of the sport, discipline and event of the medallist on the edge.

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The other side of the Olympic medal tells the story of the revival of the Games in Greece. A traditional figure on the medals since 2004, the goddess of victory, Nike, is depicted in the foreground, emerging from the Panathenaic Stadium, where the Olympic Games were revived in 1896.

The 2024 medals measure 85mm in diameter and have a thickness of 9.2mm. The gold medal is the heaviest of the three types of medals at 529 grams (1.16 pounds), while the silver medal weighs in at 525 grams and the bronze medal at 455 grams.

Contrary to what many people believe, a gold medal awarded at the Olympics contains just 6 grams of gold. The core of the gold medal is actually made of 99.9% silver. Silver medals are completely silver, and the bronze medals are made of copper

There was a time when Olympic gold medals were made of solid gold, but the last ones were awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, way back in 1912.

The Summer Games will take place in Paris from July 26 through August 11.

Credits: Images courtesy of Paris 2024 / Ulysse Périer.

A gold watch worn by John Jacob Astor, the wealthiest passenger on the ill-fated Titanic, recently set an auction record as the most expensive piece of Titanic memorabilia. An American private collector paid $1.5 million for the 14-karat gold Waltham pocket watch engraved with the initials "J.J.A." That was nearly 10 times the high estimate established by British auction house Aldridge & Son.

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Astor and his new wife, Madeleine Talmadge Force, had been honeymooning in Europe and Egypt to allow the scuttlebutt surrounding their marriage to settle down in the states. The fact that Madeleine was just 18 years old and nearly 30 years his junior caused an uproar in the US, and gossip columnists were all over the story. The couple tied the knot in Newport, RI, in September of 1911, and stayed abroad until April 1912.

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The couple was finally en route home when tragedy struck at 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912. The "unsinkable" Titanic clipped an iceberg in the waters 370 miles east of Newfoundland, Canada, and started to take on water.

Madeleine was safely loaded onto Lifeboat #4, but Astor was not allowed to join his wife. The officer in charge told him they could not accommodate any men until all the women and children were away.

At about 2:20 a.m., the 882.5-foot-long luxury ship — a modern engineering marvel of its day — disappeared beneath the ocean. Of the 2,200 people on board, 1,500 died, including Astor, who was one of the richest men in the world with a presumed net worth of $87 million ($2.8 billion in today's dollars). Madeleine survived.

Astor's body was recovered about a week after the disaster by the steamer CS MacKay-Bennett. He was identified by the initials sewn on the lapel of his jacket and by the initials inscribed on his 17-jewel pocket watch.

Also recovered from his body were gold and diamond cuff links, a three-stone diamond ring, $2,440 in cash, £225 in English notes, £5 in gold, a gold pencil and a pocketbook.

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The real estate mogul's possessions were turned over to Astor’s son, Vincent, who had the gold watch completely restored. Vincent wore the watch regularly, but in 1935, presented it as a christening gift to the infant son of William Dobbyn IV, John Jacob Astor’s executive secretary and confidant. The watch would remain in the Dobbyn family until it was auctioned in the late 1990s.

Now, 112 years later, Astor is back in the news again. His watch earned top billing at Aldridge & Son's April 27 auction titled, “Titanic, White Star and Transport Memorabilia.”

Credits: Watch photos via Henry Aldridge & Son. Photo of John Jacob Astor IV and his wife, Madeleine, circa early 1910s. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Welcome to Music Friday when often feature throwback tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, country legend Emmylou Harris pledges eternal devotion to a noncommittal beau in her 1975 hit, “If I Could Only Win Your Love.”

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In the very first verse, Harris makes the case for why her love interest should take the plunge.

She sings, “If I could only win your love / I’d make the most of everything / I’d proudly wear your wedding ring / My heart would never stray one dream away.”

Originally written and performed by The Louvin Brothers in 1958, “If I Could Only Win Your Love” became a country hit 17 years later when Harris included it on her critically acclaimed Pieces of the Sky album. The song shot to #4 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and earned the #1 spot on the RPM Country Tracks chart in Canada.

Throughout a stellar career that has spanned 55 years, Harris has reserved a soft spot in her heart for The Louvin Brothers’ tune. While introducing the song in the video, below, Harris calls it her “first single.” This is significant because Harris would go on to release 70 singles, 26 studio albums, three live albums and 11 compilation albums.

She has won 14 Grammys and, in 2008, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2018, she earned a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2022, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Harris as one of the "200 Greatest Singers of All Time."

Now 77 years old and still touring, Harris was born in Birmingham, AL, to a Marine Corps officer dad and wartime military mom. Her dad endured 10 months as a prisoner of war in Korea when Emmylou was just five years old.

She spent her childhood in North Carolina and was the class valedictorian of her high school. Later, she dropped out of college to pursue a music career in New York City. She worked as a waitress during the day and performed in Greenwich Village coffeehouses in the evening. She recorded her first album, Gliding Bird, in 1969.

According to her official website, Harris been a vocal advocate for many causes, including animal welfare. In 2004, she established Bonaparte's Retreat with the goal of rescuing shelter dogs in the Nashville area and adopting them into forever homes.

She is currently touring, with dates scheduled in Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia, Colorado, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Rhode Island, North Carolina and Georgia.

Please check out the video of Harris’ performance of “If I Could Only Win Your Love.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“If I Could Only Win Your Love”
Written by Charlie and Ira Louvin. Performed by Emmylou Harris.

If I could only win your love
I’d make the most of everything
I’d proudly wear your wedding ring
My heart would never stray one dream away

If I could only win your love
I’d give my all to make it live
You’ll never know how much I give
If I could only win your love

Oh how can I ever say
How I crave your love when your gone away
Oh how can I ever show
How I burn inside when you hold me tight

If I could only win your love
I’d give my all to make it live
You’ll never know how much I give
If I could only win your love

Oh how (oh how)
can I ever say (can I ever say)
How I crave your love when your gone away
Oh how
can I ever show
How I burn inside when you hold me tight

If I could only win your love
I’d give my all to make it live
You’ll never know how much I give
If I could only win your love

Credit: Image by jess hodge (digboston), CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Did you know that Mount Erebus, the world's southernmost active volcano, emits a continuous plume of gas and steam loaded with tiny crystals of metallic gold said to be worth about $6,000 per day, or $2.2 million per year?

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But before you book your tickets to Antarctica's Ross Island to capture your share of the glittery fortune, understand that the precious particles spewing from the volcano are no larger than 20 micrometers (.02 mm) and are scattered up to 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) from the site. What's more, the picturesque place is barely inhabitable, with today's high temperature expected to reach a bone chilling -48°F.

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According to a recent report in IFL Science, Mount Erebus is not only the southernmost active volcano, but also the tallest active volcano in Antarctica at 12,448 feet.

Legend states that when British explorer Captain Sir James Clark Ross first viewed the peak in 1841, it was in the midst of a violent eruption. Mount Erebus is named for the primordial god of darkness in Greek mythology. "HMS Erebus" was also the name of one of the captain's ships.

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Today, an aerial view of the peak shows an active lake of red-hot lava. The vast majority of Antarctica's 138 volcanoes are dormant, but eight or nine are still considered active, with Mount Erebus topping the list.

The gold-spewing volcano is also known for randomly launching “volcanic bombs,” which are boulders of partially molten rock.

Mount Erebus was the site of one of the most devastating airline disasters. In 1979, an Air New Zealand flight crashed into the side of the volcano, killing all 257 people on board. The 11-hour round-trip sightseeing adventure from Auckland to Antarctica was meant to give tourists a close-up look at the active volcano. Investigators assumed that the pilot may have experienced a "whiteout" condition where he couldn't distinguish the ice-cake ground from the overcast sky and the ice-covered volcano.

Credits: Mount Erebus photo by NASA/Jim Yungel, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Aerial view of Mount Erebus by Pierre Markuse from Hamm, Germany, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Map by USGS, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

One of the most stunning examples of May’s official birthstone is the 75.47-carat Hooker Emerald, a historic gem that was unearthed in Colombia, transported to Europe by Spanish conquistadors and subsequently mounted onto the belt buckle of an Ottoman sultan.

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Today, the beveled square-cut gem is set in a platinum brooch adorned with 109 brilliant-cut diamonds weighing approximately 13 carats. When Janet Annenberg Hooker donated the piece in 1977 to the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, it was valued at $500,000. Based on inflation alone, today it would be worth more than $2.5 million.

If the name Janet Annenberg Hooker rings a bell, it may be because the renowned philanthropist and publishing heiress was the principal benefactor of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Her cash donation to the museum of $5 million allowed for the construction of a fabulous gallery, which was named the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals.

The emerald brooch designed by Tiffany & Co. is an open-ended circular band of platinum. The two ends of the band curl outward into scrolls and are connected at the top by a large round brilliant-cut diamond. Multiple "spokes" span the band and converge in the center, forming the setting for the Hooker Emerald.

The emerald was mined in Colombia in the 16th or 17th century and was sent to Europe by Spanish conquistadors to be cut and polished. The gem was sold to the ruling family of the Ottoman Empire and became part of the crown jewels during the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid II (1876-1909). The sultan reportedly wore the emerald mounted onto his belt buckle.

In 1908, the emerald was smuggled to Paris on behalf of the sultan, who hoped the proceeds from its sale would ensure him a comfortable life in exile should he be dethroned by a revolution. The sultan never received the anticipated windfall. The money raised by the sale of the gem went to the succeeding government.

The massive emerald was auctioned to Tiffany & Co, which initially set it in a tiara. Despite being featured in the New York World's Fair "House of Jewels" exhibit in 1940, the tiara remained unsold for decades. In 1950, Tiffany reset the emerald into a brooch that appeared on the first page of its Christmas catalog. Five years later, the brooch was purchased by Hooker. In 1977, she donated it to the Smithsonian.

The Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals that was named in her honor was officially opened in September of 1997, just three months before she passed away at the age of 93.

Lush green emeralds have excited legions of gem admirers for thousands of years. The first emerald mines were in Egypt, and Cleopatra was known to favor this, the most precious member of the beryl family. The name “emerald” comes indirectly from the ancient Greek word for green, “smaragdos.” Ancient Romans believed emerald could relieve eyestrain, and the grass-green emerald was said to be one of the four precious stones given by God to King Solomon.

Besides being the birthstone for the month of May, it’s also the official gemstone for 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.

Credit: Photo by Chip Clark / Smithsonian and digitally enhanced by SquareMoose.

Love was in the air during the LOT Polish Airlines flight 3905 from Warsaw to Kraków last week. In a touching video posted to the airline's Facebook and Instagram pages, we witnessed Captain Konrad Hanc, clutching a bunch of flowers and a ring box as he got down on one knee and popped the question to his flight attendant girlfriend, Paula.

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Hanc could hardly hold back the tears as he emerged from the cockpit to proclaim his love in front of a full cabin of passengers.

“On today’s flight there is a very special person and I hope that she doesn’t expect anything,” he said. “Ladies and gentlemen, about one and a half years ago in this job I met the most wonderful person that completely changed my life.”

Wearing his heart on a highly decorated four-bar sleeve, Hanc continued, “You are most precious to me. You are my greatest dream come true. This is why I have to ask you a favor, honey. Will you marry me?”

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At that moment in the camera turned to witness Paula sprinting down the narrow aisle from the back of the plane.

She embraced her husband-to-be and said, "Of course, I will."

As the captain placed the engagement ring on the ring finger of his fiancée's right hand, Paula questioned, "I don't know if this is the right hand for this."

Hanc replied, "Yes, it is."

(In most Western countries, it's traditional for the engagement ring to be placed on the ring finger of the left hand. Oh, well.)

The captain and the flight attendant shared a kiss and then Hanc looked down the aisle at his excited passengers and shouted joyously, "She said, 'Yes'."

Hanc then got on the loud speaker and announced, "And now I invite you to Kraków."

The cabin erupted with applause.

The captain intentionally chose the Kraków flight for the proposal because that city in the south of Poland is where they first met.

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After the flight, the couple posed for some social media shots, one of which focused in on her new ring, featuring a translucent cabochon-cut white or pale pink stone accented with small purple stones that are likely amethysts. The cabochon center stone might be a rock crystal or a pale pink rose quartz.

On Instagram, LOT Airlines wrote: "We're not crying, you're crying. Let's raise a glass to Captain Konrad and Stewardess Paula as they embark on their journey together. Here's the video of their sky-high proposal on our flight to Kraków, the city where their story began."

Please check out the full video here…

Credits: Screen captures via Instagram.com / flylot.

Mother’s Day 2024 jewelry sales are expected to hit $7 billion, outperforming all other retail categories by a wide margin.

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According to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics, Special Outings are projected to come in second at $5.9 billion in sales, while Electronics should rank third at $3.5 billion.

Overall Mother’s Day spending is expected to reach $33.5 billion this year. That figure is the second highest in the history of the survey, following last year’s record $35.7 billion.

“Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate the women who play a meaningful role in our lives,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Retailers know the significant importance of this day and are ready to help their customers with a wide selection of meaningful gifts for loved ones to show their appreciation.”

Exactly 40% of respondents said they will be buying jewelry for their moms this year. That’s 8 percentage points higher than the tally achieved in 2014.

According to the NRF, 84% of US adults are expected to celebrate the holiday. Of that group, most (59%) will be purchasing gifts for a mother or stepmother, followed by a wife (22%) or daughter (12%).

On average, those celebrating plan to spend $254.04 on Mother’s Day gifts and celebrations, the second highest per-person figure in history. The biggest spenders are expected to be those between the ages of 35 and 44, who are budgeting $345.75.

As the leading authority and voice for the retail industry, NRF provides data on consumer behavior and spending for key periods such as holidays throughout the year. The Mother's Day spending survey of 8,213 U.S. adult consumers was conducted April 1-8 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.

Credit: Image by Bigstockphoto.com.

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you classic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we feature three-time Grammy winner Tim McGraw singing Billboard's #1 country hit of 1998, “Just to See You Smile.”

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In this song about selflessness, unconditional love and heartbreak, McGraw portrays a hard-working Texas miner who is willing to do just about anything to make his girlfriend happy — and that includes delighting her with fine jewelry.

McGraw sings in the very first verse, “You always had an eye for things that glittered / But I was far from bein’ made of gold / I don’t know how but I scraped up the money / I just never could quite tell you no.”

The miner leaves his job in Amarillo to relocate with her to Tennessee, but the relationship quickly breaks down. The girlfriend finds a new lover and our hero graciously tells her that he’s happy for her.

“And given the chance I’d lie again,” he admits. “It’s worth all that’s lost / Just to see you smile.”

Released in August 1997, the song would go on to spend 42 weeks on the Billboard Country chart — the longest chart run for any country single in the 1990s.

“Just to See You Smile” was the third single from McGraw’s fourth studio album, Everywhere. Both the song and the album topped the Billboard Country charts.

The son of New York Mets star pitcher Tug McGraw, Samuel Timothy “Tim” McGraw was born in Delhi, LA, in 1967. Tim was brought up by his step-dad, Horace Smith, and didn’t know that the famous athlete was his biological father until he was 11. He signed his first record deal with Curb Records in 1990 and married country singer Faith Hill in 1996.

McGraw has sold more than 80 million records worldwide, and 25 of his singles have gone to score a #1 position on the Billboard U.S. Hot Country Songs chart. In addition to his three Grammy Awards, the artist has earned 14 Academy of Country Music awards, 11 Country Music Association (CMA) awards, 10 American Music Awards and three People’s Choice Awards.

He is currently embarking on his "Standing Room Only Tour '24," with 27 performances scheduled from coast to coast through June 29.

Please check out the audio track of McGraw’s performance of “Just to See You Smile.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Just To See You Smile”
Written by Mark Nesler and Tony Martin. Performed by Tim McGraw.

You always had an eye for things that glittered
But I was far from bein’ made of gold
I don’t know how but I scraped up the money
I just never could quite tell you no
Just like when you were leavin’ Amarillo
To take that new job in Tennessee
And I quit mine so we could be together
I can’t forget the way you looked at me

Just to see you smile
I’d do anything
That you wanted me to
And all is said and done
I’d never count the cost
It’s worth all that’s lost
Just to see you smile

When you said time was all you really needed
I walked away and let you have your space
Cause leavin’ didn’t hurt me near as badly
As the tears I saw rollin’ down your face
And yesterday I knew just what you wanted
When you came walkin’ up to me with him
So I told you that I was happy for you
And given the chance I’d lie again

Just to see you smile
I’d do anything
That you wanted me to
And all is said and done
I’d never count the cost
It’s worth all that’s lost
Just to see you smile

Just to see you smile
I’d do anything
That you wanted me to
And all is said and done
I’d never count the cost
It’s worth all that’s lost
Just to see you smile

Credit: Image by 1035 WEZL, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The 9.8mm natural quahog pearl at the center of the engagement ring Ken Steinkamp presented to Sandy Sikorski last summer continues to be a symbol of their love story. The couple just hosted a pearl-themed wedding at the famed Ocean House resort, high on the bluffs of Watch Hill, RI, and Inside Edition was on hand to chronicle the festivities.

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Pearl and clam iconography abounded.

There were faux pearls affixed to the place settings, pearl beads decorating the champagne bottles and pearl-like candies streaming down the side of the wedding cake. At the top of the cake was an open clam revealing what appears to be a white meringue treat in the shape of a giant pearl. Guests also enjoyed clam-shaped cookies, and Sikorski's granddaughter got into the spirit by wearing pearls on her shoes.

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The couple's pearl-themed adventure began in the winter of 2021.

While sharing a dozen quahogs (pronounced Kwo-hogs) at The Bridge Restaurant and Raw Bar in downtown Westerly, RI, the couple encountered a rare jewel that would forever change their lives.

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In an interview with Providence NBC affiliate WJAR, Steinkamp described the scene as only one clam remained uneaten on the tray.

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“No, no, no. You have it," Steinkamp said. "You really like these.”

When Sikorski attempted to slurp down the tender morsel, something was not quite right.

“I tasted this big, round thing in my mouth and I was thinking, ‘What the heck is this?” she recounted.

What Sikorski nearly consumed was a very rare natural pearl.

“What were the odds of a pearl being inside the shell?” Sikorski wondered out loud.

A local jeweler later told her that the odds of finding a natural pearl of that size in a perfectly symmetrical oval shape was one in a million.

On July 8, 2023, Steinkamp got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend of four years with a diamond-accented engagement ring featuring their special pearl at the center.

“We felt that [the pearl] was kind of a signal, or an odd bit of synchronicity,” Steinkamp told WJAR. “And we said, ‘This would be a great engagement ring.'”

The natural pearls found in clams are classified as non-nacreous and have a porcelain-like appearance. The cultured pearls grown in oysters present a deeper glow resulting from layers of nacre that refract the light.

A natural quahog pearl is very rare, and a single specimen — depending on the size, quality and shape — can be worth thousands of dollars.

“We’re both romantics and this is the perfect type of ring for that and the perfect place,” Sikorski told Inside Edition. “We feel it’s part of our life’s journey and it’s all come together for this.”

The couple will be honeymooning in Paris.

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com / Inside Edition.

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