Archives July 2023

Philly man sentenced to prison for leading jewelry theft ring

A Philadelphia man has been sentenced to a little more than six years in prison for leading a theft ring that targeted 12 jewelry stores across the country and sold the jewels back to stores on Jewelers’ Row in Center City.

From May 2018 through February 2020, Duanne Pierce, 60, led a theft ring with seven other people, often stealing from multiple stores in a single day, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Investigators say the criminal group did this to reduce the likelihood of being caught because it presented challenges to law enforcement investigating the out-of-state perpetrators.

Pierce was found guilty of participating in 11 thefts, and his role was to steal jewelry such as diamond rings and gold chains. He would take them from a display case or from the employee-only area of a store, while the others would distract sales associates. He then resold the stolen jewelry to local jewelers in Philadelphia.

In March 2022, a federal grand jury returned a 10-count indictment charging Duanne Pierce and co-defendants Charles Tillery, Janel Pierce, Yolanda Fife, David Tillery, Telfa Wills, and Clifton Fleming with conspiracy to transport stolen property across state lines, and interstate transportation of stolen property and aiding and abetting. All of the defendants plead guilty.

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Custom Ring Designed and Worn By Tupac Shakur Sells At Auction For $1.2M

A custom ring designed by the late rapper Tupac Shakur was sold for a hefty amount at a recent auction.

CNN reports that the gold, ruby, and diamond crown ring sold for $1.2 million at the hip-hop-themed Sotheby’s Auction on July 25. The sale makes the ring the most valuable hip-hop artifact ever sold at auction. Worn by the “California Love” rapper at his last public appearance at the 1996 Video Music Awards, the ring—described as a diamond-encrusted gold band topped with a gold circlet studded with a cabochon ruby and two pavé-cut diamonds—went for more than three times the auction house’s estimate.

It was inspired by the crowns of Europe’s medieval kings and was designed months after Shakur signed with the infamous Death Row Records following an eight-month prison sentence. Shakur’s godmother, Yaasmyn Fula, says she and her godson worked with jewelers in New York on the piece as “an act of self-coronation,” as he’d survived a “tumultuous” period of his life. Inscribed in the ring is “Pac & Dada 1996,” referencing his engagement to Kidada Jones, the actress, model, and daughter to super-producer Quincy Jones.

Other elite hip-hop members, including De La Soul’s Kelvin Mercer, attended the auction. Mercer said the piece contained more than meets the eye. “What’s so special about this ring is that it shows him in a moment where he was not necessarily on the front lines as an artist, but just a man expressing his love for another person, and that’s beautiful to see,” Mercer said.

shakur-crown-ring-sells-at-sothebys-auction-1-million-2023-7″According to Insider, originally, the ring was estimated to sell between $200,000 and $300,000.

Other pieces that were up for auction included handwritten notes for Wu-Tang Clan’s album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) by RZA, original artwork by Bill Sienkiewicz for EPMD’s first

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‘Andy Griffith Show’ actress Betty Lynn’s diamond engagement ring hits $1,800 as auction of more than 500 belongings nears end

MOUNT AIRY, N.C. (WGHP) — There are only a few days left to stake your claim on the personal belongings of Betty Lynn, the actress who played Thelma Lou on “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Lynn died on October 16, 2021, at the age of 95 after a brief illness. While she was born in Kansas City, Missouri, she was living in Mount Airy, North Carolina, at the time of her death. Mount Airy is notably Andy Griffith’s childhood home and the inspiration behind the show’s setting, Mayberry.

Rogers Realty & Auction opened bidding on 531 of Lynn’s personal artifacts on July 21 with proceeds benefitting the Surry Arts Council in Mount Airy. The auction ends on Monday, July 31 with five lots closing every minute beginning at noon.

“Betty Lynn made a significant contribution to the great Mount Airy Community, her large fan base, the Catholic Church and the Surry Arts Council,” the auction description reads. “The Surry Arts Council can state with full assurance that all of the items in the auction were the property of Betty Lynn and were given to the Surry Arts Council prior to her passing. Proceeds from the auction will go to the Surry Arts Council to support children’s and school programs.”

Many of the items are going for very modest prices. As of Thursday evening, high bids on multiple rings and hats had only gotten as high as $10.

The highest bid, however, was $1,800 for Lynn’s 1-carat platinum diamond engagement ring.

Betty Lynn's 1-carat platinum diamond engagement ring (Rogers Auction Group)
Betty Lynn’s 1-carat platinum diamond engagement ring (Rogers Auction Group)
RETURN TO MAYBERRY — Pictured: (l-r) Betty Lynn as Thelma Lou, Andy Griffith as Andy Taylor, Don Knotts as Barney Fife — (Photo by: Frank Carroll/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images)

Her personal guitar with pick and

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Tupac Shakur’s Crown Ring Sells at Sotheby’s Auction for $1.02 Million

  • Tupac Shakur’s crown ring was sold at auction for $1.02 million, Sotheby’s announced Tuesday.
  • The gold ring, encrusted with rubies and diamonds, features a reference to his fiance Kidada Jones.
  • Yaasmyn Fula, the artist’s godmother, offered the ring for auction.

Tupac Shakur’s custom crown-shaped ring, which he wore shortly before he died, sold for nearly $1.02 million Tuesday, becoming the most valuable hip-hop artifact ever sold at auction.

Sotheby’s in New York sold the ring as part of a large sale of hip-hop artifacts, including autographed letters from Shakur and a demo tape for his single “Trapped,” per a press release from the auction house. Prior to auction, the ring was estimated to sell between $200,000 to $300,000.

The lots, meant to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the musical genre, also included memorabilia from many other memorable names — Mos Def, De La Soul, and Wu-Tang Clan, to name a few. 

The 14-Karat gold ring, encrusted with diamonds and rubies, features an inscription on the side that reads “Pac & Dada 1996” — a reference to his engagement to actress Kidada Jones.

According to the press release, Yaasmyn Fula, the artist’s godmother, offered the ring for auction, telling Sotheby’s it was custom designed by Pac and assembled by jewelers in New York City following his months behind bars and his newly signed deal with Death Row Records. 

“Reflecting his recent affinity for Niccolo Machiavelli’s political manifesto ‘The Prince’ (Tupac would start going by “Makaveli” after reading The Prince while incarcerated), Tupac modeled his design after the crowns of the medieval kings of Europe in ‘an act of self-coronation,’ according to Fula, a celebration of

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High Jewelry Houses Went for Colored Diamonds, Want to Stay Out of the Safe

PARIS — Haute couture week here offered a glittering Parisian conclusion to a season of traveling jewelry showcases, with historic houses and independent names making a reveal or giving an encore of their latest designs.

And whether used to double down on established codes or carve out new ones, color continued to dominate the collections shown last week, particularly in diamonds.

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One would have been forgiven for forgetting that yellow ones are a rarity of nature given their profusion in collections shown in Paris, starting with Graff, where many gradations were on display in the “Sunrise” line showcased in its Saint-Honoré flagship.

“Now for engagement rings, you have more ladies choosing yellow [diamonds] instead of white,” revealed design director Anne-Eva Geffroy, reminding that Laurence Graff was among the first to collect them.

The star of the exhibition was the pear-shaped 30.28-carat fancy intense yellow centerpiece diamond, flanked by a further 167 carats of yellow and white diamonds on a never-seen-before necklace. But there were plenty more, including a necklace made of a cascade of yellow pear-shaped gems that morphed into a line of rail-set baguettes, and a row of golden brilliant-cut stones lined with a second row of white.

That contrast was also front and center at Messika, where founder Valérie Messika said that the sunny hue of yellow diamonds was reinforced by their pristine counterparts, and vice versa.

The five-set first part of the “Midnight Sun” collection marked her 10th anniversary in high jewelry, casting yellow diamonds as a symbol of the “brilliance of the sun in the middle of the night” — or rather the glamorous ’70s club scene.

Beyond the reveal of stunners that included the mirror-polish Ultimate Party collar featuring a 20-carat pear-cut yellow diamond and 9-carat cushion-cut diamond “made to shine but

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Yellow Diamonds Shine Bright At The Paris High Jewelry Previews

After weeks of destination shows for press and hand-picked high jewelry clients, Haute Couture Fashion Week in Paris saw a shower of diamonds across Place Vendôme and some of the city’s most luxe hotel suites, with the latest fine and high jewelry offerings from the big jewelry houses. If real trends can be identified up in the rarified world of high jewelry, yellow diamonds was one of them, as Graff’s signature colored stone popped up also in the disco-inspired collection at Messika, Buccellati, and De Beers’s Metamorphosis collection. From Tasaki in the gardens of the Ritz, to Chaumet’s celebration of nature via Gemfields’ designer showcase; houses explored the gifts of the natural world. Boucheron however, took a different tack, presenting one of the most original collections of the season, that saw Creative Director Claire Choisne at her audacious best.


With the Jardin de Chaumet collection, the Paris heritage house went back to its design roots, as Nature’s jeweler par excellence for over two centuries. Celebrating the bounty of the harvest, the wheat motif famously seen in the 1811 Wheat Ear Tiara tiara becomes a delicately rendered necklace with a contemporary touch in the form of a geometric diamond pendant, while the ruby and diamonds Feuilles de Vigne earrings graze the shoulders. Elsewhere, yellow diamond pansies, vibrant ruby tulips, and opal tree bark gleam amongst winking white diamonds.


Creative Director Claire Choisne

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Bill Gates is not engaged to Paula Hurd despite photos of her wearing ring, rep confirms

Bill Gates has dispelled speculation that he’s engaged to Paula Hurd after photos captured his girlfriend wearing a ring on her ring finger.

A representative for the Microsoft billionaire confirmed on Tuesday 18 July that the couple is not engaged and the ring in question has belonged to Hurd “for decades”. “Our office can confirm that the ring Mrs Hurd was seen wearing has belonged to her for decades,” the spokesperson told People.

Paula Hurd – the 61-year-old widow of Mark Hurd, the late businessman who died in 2019 – was seen sporting the diamond ring in New York City on Monday, in photos obtained by TMZ. Her late husband, with who she shares two daughters, was the CEO of software company Oracle and a former Hewlett-Packard executive.

The engagement speculation came nearly two years after the Microsoft co-founder and his ex-wife Melinda French Gates finalised their divorce in August 2021. The former couple were married for 27 years.

According to hurd-bill-gates/” data-ylk=”slk:People;elm:context_link;itc:0″ class=”link “People, the 67-year-old entrepreneur confirmed he was dating Paula Hurd in February this year. A source told the outlet that their relationship is “widely known” but his girlfriend had “yet to meet” Gates’ three children: daughters Jennifer, 27, and Phoebe, 20, and son Rory, 23.

Gates and Hurd were seen sitting next to one another at multiple sporting events, including the Laver Cup in London in September 2022 and the Australian Open in January 2023, before they took their romance public.

In May 2021, Bill and Melinda Gates announced they were separating after 27 years of marriage. They finalised their divorce in August 2021. In addition to welcoming three children throughout their decades-long marriage, they continue to run their private charity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Over the last 27

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Grown Brilliance Sustainable And Luxurious Lab-Grown Diamond Jewelry

How do many lab-grown diamond fine and high jewelry companies that claim to be environmentally sustainable provide evidence to back such claims for their designs?

New York-based Grown Brilliance does all of the above, and more. Embodying a new wave of beautifully designed and evidence-based sustainable lab-grown diamond jewelry, this brand produces six stylistically diverse collections a year. While these are classics with an artistic twist, they are also of notably high quality: 95% of Grown Brilliance diamonds are I+ in color, and VS2 or higher in clarity. Led by founder and Creative Director Akshie Jhaveri, the brand’s supply chain, including packaging, is carbon-neutral, thanks to offsets purchased from the United Nations carbon off-set platform. In a transparent move, Jhaveri supplied this writer with sustainable bona fides including proof-of-sustainability certificates for her brand’s diamond growing, cutting, polishing and jewelry manufacturing facilities. As of this writing, Grown Brilliance is being audited by the sustainable industry standard organization SCS Global Services. The goal is to obtain SCS certification as a carbon-neutral or climate-neutral jewelry business.

Equally of note, Grown Brilliance is pioneering the e-tailing of sustainable lab-grown diamond jewelry by enabling customers to have their custom designs rapidly created with artistry and technical precision — at prices that compare exceedingly well to those of their competition As Jhaveri explained, “Our website’s Truly Custom tool allows people to design their unique lab-grown diamond ring, which we produce within 14 days, all without charging for this bespoke service.” (Grown Brilliance also offers Truly Custom necklace, earring and bracelet design options.) Too discreet to mention

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3 engagement ring styles we’re loving right now, shop 20% off now through July 22


Diamonds Direct 105 3 engagement ring styles we're loving right now, shop 20% off now through July 22
A dream. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

Whether you’re getting ready to pop the question, or dreaming of saying “I do”, the bridal collections at Diamonds Direct are sure to put a sparkle in your eye. Keep reading for a look at the most popular ring styles. Plus, you won’t want to miss Diamonds Direct’s Summer Showcase, now through to Saturday, July 22 for 20% off engagement rings and more.

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We’ll take them all, please! (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

1. Oval centers

There is nothing not to love about a classic oval cut. If you’re on the hunt for simple elegance, an oval solitaire will never go out of style. Looking for a little more pizazz? Try an oval center with trapezoid cut diamonds on either side for an extra gorgeous look.

2. Emerald centers

We have been dreaming about these rings. For brides looking for a classic, yet modern piece, you can’t go wrong with an emerald center.

Our favorites: We couldn’t keep our eyes off of this yellow gold setting with round-cut diamonds on the band AND a hidden halo (left). For a trendier look, an emerald center with a bezel halo was another winner (right).

Shop the designer: C. Gonshor

Check out the Diamonds Direct website for full details on their offerings.

3. Three-stone settings

Diamonds Direct 105 3 engagement ring styles we're loving right now, shop 20% off now through July 22
Glamorous. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

For those who love glitz

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Meghan Markle wears $2,800 diamond ring which has a special ’empowering’ message

Meghan Markle is known for her charity work and strong feminist beliefs, with the Duchess of Sussex even making sure to send a special message with her jewellery

Meghan Markle has some beautiful jewellery pieces

Meghan Markle has a beautiful jewellery collection, but one piece in particular carries a very special message.

The Duchess of Sussex, 41, treated herself to a new diamond ring last year from luxury jewellery brand Shiffon Co and it has an “empowering” meaning behind it

The ring, which is the company’s 1972 Tennis Pinky Ring, was created “in honour of the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the landmark legislation that paved the way for women in sports.”

According to Shiffon Co’s website, the piece of jewellery “pays homage to the iconic Tennis Bracelet”.

The ring, which costs $2,800 (£2,130), also helps to support women as 19.72 percent of profits go into a Women in Sports Investment fund which invests in women-led sorts companies, including health and wellness brands.

Meghan Markle’s ring has an ’empowering message’(Getty Images)

Shilpa Yarlagadda is the woman behind Shiffon Co and she said it was “such an amazing moment” to see Meghan wear her ring.

“I’ve always been super inspired by her. I listened to her UN Women’s speech when I was in high school. I watched Suits and I was a part of an organization called One Young World,” she explained.

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