Welcome to Music Friday when we often shine the spotlight on inspirational songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, five-time Grammy nominee Brandon Heath seeks divine intervention in “Diamond,” his 2012 song about a young coal miner who is hardly living up to his potential. He wants to be a better man, but needs God’s help to find the “diamond” buried deep inside.
He sings, “I got something down inside of me / That only You can see / Help me dig a little deeper now / And set that diamond free.”
For Heath, the diamond symbolizes the ability to bring his life to the next level — a life of clarity, not confusion, of compassion, not cruelty, of ambition, not excuses.
In the last lines of the song, Heath invites the Almighty to seek him out in the coal mine: “Come down with your old flashlight / Underground, black as night / No telling what you’re gonna find in me.”
“Diamond” is the fourth track on Heath’s fourth studio album, Blue Mountain. The album is unique because each song takes place in the Blue Mountains and is told from the point of view of a particular character. The real and fictional players featured in the songs include his grandfather, his mentor, a farmer, a coal miner and a death-row inmate. Each song weaves a message of hope, love and redemption.
When it was released in 2012, the album earned strong reviews and a #5 spot on Billboard‘s U.S. Christian Albums chart. It also reached #97 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
“[The songs] are all kind of telling my story a little bit,” Heath revealed to The Clarion-Ledger. “[They talk] about my own fears, and my own desires. As a songwriter, it was more fun to give someone else my own voice. I think the best way to describe a place is to describe its people. And so, all these characters tell a story about what Blue Mountain is and who lives there.”
Born in Nashville, Tenn., Brandon Heath Knell turns 39 next Friday. The son of a police officer dad and hairdresser mom, Heath received his first guitar as a Christmas gift when he was 13. In high school, he converted to Christianity and explored his spirituality by participating in faith missions to India and Ecuador. Those trips helped inspire a career in contemporary Christian music.
Please check out the audio track of Heath performing “Diamond.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…
Written by Brandon Heath, Ross Copperman and Lee Thomas Miller. Performed by Brandon Heath.
My father’s father broke this ground
Daddy mined till we laid him down
Only God knows what they found beneath
Now here I stand in my own boots
Ax to grind and a point to prove
Tangled up in my own roots, it seems
I got treasure up in Heaven
I got dirt all over me
I have only scratched the surface
Of the man I’m meant to be
I got something down inside of me
That only You can see
Help me dig a little deeper now
And set that diamond free
Why do I do the things I do
All the things that I don’t want to
Act like I don’t fear You at all
Hard head and a heart of stone
Older now but I haven’t grown
Any riches that I have to show are small
Set it free
Set it free
Set it free
Set it free
Come down with your old flashlight
Underground, black as night
No telling what you’re gonna find in me
Credits: Screen capture via YouTube.com.
Gone with the Wind fans will get a fascinating glimpse at “the real, and unexpected, Vivien Leigh” when Sotheby’s London brings to auction 250 of the illustrious leading lady’s personal items on September 26.
Leigh, who is most famous for her role as Scarlett O’Hara, loved clothes and jewelry, and was not afraid to mix historic jewels with contemporary couture. Highlighted lots include a large mid-19th-century diamond bow brooch/pendant that Sotheby’s described as the ultimate accessory. The bow motif appeared frequently in Leigh’s wardrobe, and this piece is expected to yield $32,000 to $45,000 at auction.
A second highlighted jewelry item is a gold ring gifted to Leigh by her second husband, British actor and director Laurence Olivier. The ring has an inscription that reads “Laurence Olivier Vivien Eternally” and is expected to sell in the very affordable range of $515 to $770.
“Behind the guise of the most glamorous and talked-about woman of her age we find a fine art collector, patron, even a bookworm, who was the intellectual equal of the literati, artists and aesthetes she counted among her coterie,” commented Harry Dalmeny, chairman of Sotheby’s UK. “This is our chance to discover the real, and unexpected, Vivien Leigh.”
Also up for grabs is a silver cigarette box (high estimate of $770) from Myron Selznick, the talent agent who helped Leigh land one of the most coveted roles in cinematic history; Leigh’s copy of Margaret Mitchell’s novel, Gone With the Wind, complete with a handwritten poem from the author ($9,000); and a bound copy of the original film script ($4,500) from the epic 1939 motion picture.
The two-time Academy Award winner, who was only 25 when she starred with Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind, died in 1967 at the age of 53. Her collection had been passed down to her daughter, Suzanne Farrington, who died two years ago. Farrington’s sons chose to put their grandmother’s possessions up for auction.
Their joint statement read, “We hope people take as much pleasure from this collection as our grandparents, parents and families have done.”
Overall, the 250 lots are expected to yield about $650,000. More information about the September sale will be released later in the summer, according to Sotheby’s.
Credits: Photos of auction items courtesy of Sotheby’s. Leigh and Clark Gable photo by Deems Taylor, Published by Simon & Schuster, New York (page 319 A Pictorial History of the Movies) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
Since 2004, visitors to the National Gem and Mineral Collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., have marveled at the Carmen Lúcia Ruby, one of the world’s largest and finest examples of July’s official birthstone.
At 23.10 carats, the extraordinarily rare Burmese ruby exhibits a richly saturated red color known as “pigeon’s blood.” When the Carmen Lúcia Ruby joined the National Gem Collection 13 years ago, curator Jeffrey Post called the gem “the most important addition to the collection in the 20 years that I’ve been here.”
The Carmen Lúcia Ruby is named for Carmen Lúcia Buck, the beloved wife of Dr. Peter Buck, who donated the ring to the Smithsonian after her passing in 2003. Carmen had been undergoing cancer treatments in 2002 and had heard rumors that the magnificent ruby might be coming on the market after being in private hands for decades. Carmen had hoped to purchase the ring to celebrate her recovery. Sadly, she would never wear it.
Knowing how much she admired the ring, Peter Buck, who is now 86, decided to provide the Smithsonian with the funds to purchase it and put it permanently on display. The Carmen Lúcia Ruby would be a gift to the American people and a testament to his everlasting love.
“So it seemed like a really appropriate thing to do, to give it to the nation so people could come and see it,” he told The New York Times in 2004. “She would have really liked that people could see it and know it was the Carmen Lúcia Ruby, and that it wasn’t locked away in a vault somewhere.”
The oval stone was sourced in the fabled Mogok region of Burma in the 1930s and is acknowledged as being one of the largest faceted Burmese rubies in the world. While sapphire, emerald and diamond gems weighing hundreds of carats exist, high-quality Burmese rubies larger than 20 carats are rarely seen.
A nuclear physicist by trade, Peter Buck is famous for making one of the most brilliant investments in U.S. history. In 1965, at the age of 35, Buck loaned $1,000 to his family friend, Fred DeLuca, so he could open a sandwich shop. That shop was intended to help the 18-year-old DeLuca pay for college at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. DeLuca honored his benefactor by naming the shop “Pete’s Super Submarines.” That single store has since grown into the mammoth Subway chain, with 44,000 restaurants in 112 countries. Buck’s net worth is currently estimated at $2.6 billion.
Peter Buck never disclosed how much he donated to the Smithsonian to purchase the ruby. We do know, however, that a similar stone — the 25.59-carat Sunrise Ruby — established a new world record for the highest price ever paid at auction for a ruby when it yielded $30.3 million at Sotheby’s Geneva in May of 2015.
The Carmen Lúcia Ruby can be seen near the Hope Diamond and Logan Sapphire at the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals, which is part of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.
Credits: Photos by Chip Clark/Smithsonian.
Spitfire New York socialite, philanthropist and emerald-lover, Brooke Astor, had a great motto: “Money is like manure; it’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around.”
Well, even though Astor passed away in 2007 at the age of 105, she continued to spread her wealth this week via a Sotheby’s auction that generated $18.8 million for her beloved charities.
Among the fabulous items up for auction were hundreds of personal possessions from her estate, including 64 lots of jewelry. The jewelry alone generated $5.7 million, $2 million above their high estimate.
The highlight of the auction was a platinum necklace made by Bvlgari in 1959. A gift from her husband, Vincent Astor, the breathtaking piece is set with 13 drop emeralds weighing approximately 71 carats, 14 cabochon emeralds (41 carats), 14 marquise diamonds (8.5 carats) and numerous brilliant-cut diamonds weighing 50 carats.
The necklace entered the auction with an estimate of $250,000-$350,000. It ended up selling for almost twice that — $686,500.
Astor stands before a portrait of her late husband, Vincent Astor, in her Park Avenue home in this photo from 1992.
Brooke Astor recounted in her 1980 autobiography that the necklace and matching earrings were commissioned during a trip that she and her husband took to London in autumn 1958. He died the following spring and Brooke did not know the jewelry had been ordered. Nearly two years later, she received a letter from the house of Bvlgari with the details of the pieces as well a note penned by her husband asking for the jewelry to be delivered on Brooke’s birthday. She completed the purchase with Bvlgari and considered the necklace to be the last and most memorable gift from her loving husband.
Another important piece from Astor’s collection was her platinum and diamond engagement ring featuring an emerald center stone weighing 22.84 carats. It carried a pre-auction estimate of $100,000-$150,000 and sold for $1.2 million.
Pair of platinum, emerald and diamond earclips by Verdura were estimated at $30,000-$40,000 and sold for $152,000. Platinum, emerald and diamond brooch by Van Cleef & Arpels was estimated at $60,000-$80,000, but sold for $254,500.
The organizations selected by Astor to benefit from her estate included the New York Public Library, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Pierpont Morgan Library, Animal Medical Center of New York, and the New York City Schools.