February 1st, 2023
For the seventh year in a row, the National Retail Federation is predicting that Valentine's Day shoppers will spend more on jewelry gifts than any other category. Jewelry purchases are expected to top $5.5 billion in 2023, outperforming the second-strongest category — "an evening out" — by $1.1 billion.

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Overall Valentine's Day spending is estimated to reach $25.9 billion this year, an increase of $2 billion compared to 2022.

Jewelry-related purchasing will account for 21.2% of all dollars spent on Cupid's favorite holiday. Although jewelry remained the strongest category (in dollars), the category's share of the pie notched down from 25.9% in 2022. That surprisingly high percentage was somewhat of an anomaly because many consumers chose not to spend on "experiential" activities due to concerns related to the pandemic. In fact, jewelry's 21.2% share is higher than it was in 2021 (18.8%).

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In the survey conducted by the NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics, exactly 21% of respondents said they will gift a jewelry item to a special someone, while “gifts of experience,” such as an evening out or tickets to a concert or sporting event, reached a seven-year high of 32%.

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More than half (52%) of US consumers plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day in 2023 with average spending reaching $192.80, up from $175.41 per person in 2022. It's the second-highest amount recorded since NRF and Prosper began tracking this data back in 2004.

“Valentine’s Day is a special occasion to shop for the people we care most about,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “This year, as consumers embrace spending on friends and loved ones, retailers are ready to help customers celebrate Valentine’s Day with memorable gifts at affordable prices.”

Other popular, but less expensive, Valentine gifts include candy (to be given by 57%), greeting cards (40%), flowers (37%), and gift cards (20%).

Even the 28% of those who don’t plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day will still mark the occasion with a special non-Valentine themed treat or an evening with friends and family, according to the NRF.

The survey of 7,616 U.S. adult consumers was conducted January 3-11 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.

Credits: Image by BigStockPhoto.com. Charts courtesy of the National Retail Federation.
January 26th, 2023
Five hundred years ago, European explorers embarked on long and dangerous voyages across uncharted seas in a quest to find new trade routes to east Asia — the source of valuable spices, such as pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

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This year, modern-day explorers will be targeting deep-space asteroids as a potentially limitless resource of rare precious metals, such as platinum, gold, iridium and palladium.

After securing $13 million in seed funding last April, AstroForge is about to launch two missions that will assess the viability of mining metal-rich asteroids and processing the material in space.

This April, the Huntington Beach, CA, company will be testing its technique for refining and extracting precious metals from "asteroid-like material" in a zero-gravity environment. The samples will be sent into space aboard SpaceX’s Transporter-7 rideshare.

In October, a second mission will be heading to deep space to collect high-resolution images of the surface of an asteroid that AstroForge expects to mine at a future date. That asteroid is 22 million miles from Earth — but relatively nearby in terms of space travel.

If the first two missions are successful, the company has queued up two additional missions — one to land on the asteroid and the next to refine material and bring it back to Earth.

AstroForge CEO Matt Gialich told techcrunch.com that his company is working with advisors from universities, NASA and the research nonprofit Planetary Science Institute to help identify the most promising asteroids to exploit.

“With a finite supply of precious metals on Earth, we have no other choice than to look to deep space to source cost-effective and sustainable materials,” Gialich said in a statement.

Instead of trying to explore the vast number of asteroids in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, the AstroForge team will be looking for asteroids closer to Earth. The closest target asteroid would require a journey of only 11 months.

Deep-space mining has the potential to reap trillions of dollars worth of precious metals, vital resources that are critical to various industries, including jewelry. Space mining is also positioned as a way to preserve Earth's declining resources and protect its environment.

According to gizmodo.com, AstroForge will be targeting asteroids ranging in width from 20 feet to 1,500 feet. Instead of landing on the asteroids, it plans to blast them from a distance and then collect the smaller pieces for processing.

The US government has already made legal preparations for the eventuality of space mining. The SPACE Act, which became law in 2015, includes provisions for private companies to extract resources from asteroids with limited government interference. Although the law does not allow for companies to claim, say, an asteroid, for their own, miners may keep anything they obtain from their exploration and mining.

Credit: Psyche illustration by NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU.
January 25th, 2023
Quick quiz: What do American socialite Kim Kardashian and the late Diana, Princess of Wales, have in common?

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"The Attallah Cross," of course.

The reality star and Skims mogul couldn't resist the opportunity to bid on the oversized amethyst cross when it was offered for sale at Sotheby's “Royal and Noble” online auction last week. The cross was a favorite accessory of the widely adored British Princess and in many ways symbolized her growing self-assurance and independence.

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Kardashian's winning bid of £163,800 ($226,000) was well above the £80,000 to £120,000 pre-sale estimate. Kardashian reportedly snagged the piece within the final five minutes of the auction.

According to Sotheby's, Kardashian is said to be honored to have acquired this exquisite piece of Royal history.

"This is a bold piece of jewelry by its size, color and style which cannot fail to make a vibrant statement, whether it be of faith or fashion — or indeed both," noted Sotheby London's Head of Jewelry, Kristian Spofforth. "We are delighted that this piece has found a new lease of life within the hands of another globally famous name."

According to the auction house, the late ’80s was a time when Diana was making bolder fashion choices and taking more autonomy in her life. It was during this period, in 1987, that British Crown Jeweler Garrard lent her an eye-catching amethyst-and-diamond cross to pair with an exquisite baroque-style purple and black velvet gown by Catherine Walker & Co.

She wore the ensemble to a high-profile event held at Garrard’s London headquarters in support of Birthright, a charity which strives to protect human rights during pregnancy and childbirth. Diana confidently dangled the large 136mm x 95mm (5.35 in. x 3.74 in) amethyst cross from a waist-length strand of pearls.

Designed by British Crown Jeweler Garrard circa 1920, the piece was originally commissioned by a regular customer, but later circled back to Garrard, where it was purchased during the 1980s by the late Naim Attallah (1931-2021), a high-level executive at the jewelry company.

Over the years, Diana would continue to collaborate with Garrard, borrowing her favorite amethyst and diamond cross on many more occasions, according to Naim Attallah’s son, Ramsay.

“When I was growing up, we’d always have it on the table for Christmas lunch,” Ramsay told vogue.com, “but it was never worn by anyone other than Diana and it hasn’t been seen in public since she died [in 1997].”

In an article appearing on Sothebys.com, writer Gemma Champ noted that Diana was a step ahead of one of the defining trends of the 1990s: oversized crosses.

Champ also pointed out that Kardashian's fondness for The Attallah Cross shouldn't be surprising because of the reality star's love for vintage jewelry and classic glamor.

During her appearance at the 2022 Met Gala, for example, Kardashian wore the actual crystal-encrusted dress in which starlet Marilyn Monroe breathlessly serenaded President John F. Kennedy during his Madison Square Garden 45th birthday celebration in 1962.

Credits: Amethyst cross photo courtesy of Sotheby's. Princess Diana photo by John MacIntyre, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Kim Kardashian photo by The White House from Washington, DC, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
January 24th, 2023
A $1 million diamond engagement ring is at the center of the high-profile clash between NBA pro Ben Simmons and British TV personality Maya Jama.

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The new Love Island (UK) host, 28, broke off their year-long engagement in December, prompting the forlorn 26-year-old Brooklyn Nets forward to send his ex-fiancée a formal legal notice to get the ring back.

While initial reporting points to an equitable solution, with Jama saying through her representatives that she will return the ring, the bigger question is "Does she legally have to?"

There is no uniform law in the US or Canada regarding the return of engagement rings after a breakup. In fact, the case law regarding this subject is murky, at best.

The Alabama Court of Appeals, for example, recently ruled that an engagement ring given on the condition of marriage must be returned to the giver if the relationship fails.

In Montana, engagement rings are seen as “absolute gifts,” so the recipient can keep it whether the couple goes through with the marriage or not.

According to an article posted by Virginia-based law firm SmolenPlevy, most states view an engagement ring as a semi-contract, or a “conditional gift.”

In this view, the ring is given with the understanding that the couple will get married in the future and symbolizes a verbal contract. Ownership of the ring is not fully transferred until the wedding ceremony is completed.

A few jurisdictions, explained SmolenPlevy, take a slightly different view, calling the ring an “implied gift.”

In this case, ownership of the ring is determined by whomever calls off the wedding. If the giver breaks it off, he or she is not entitled to the ring, and it becomes a gift. If the receiver breaks off the engagement, the giver can ask for the ring back.

Ownership of the ring can also be complicated by whether the ring was a family heirloom, or whether it was given as a “gift” on a holiday or birthday, for example.

The non-legal, but traditional, etiquette calls for the engagement ring to be returned to the giver if the recipient breaks the relationship, or if the breakup was mutual. If the giver is responsible for the breakup, the receiver controls the destiny of the ring.

A 2015 survey conducted by findlaw.com revealed that 78% of Americans believe the person who gave the engagement ring is entitled to get it back, if they want it. Twenty-two percent said the recipient should keep it.

Interestingly, the survey data hardly varied between male and female respondents, or their current marital status of single, married or divorced.

The best way to avoid costly, emotional and drawn-out litigation, according to SmolenPlevy, is to enter into a prenuptial or premarital agreement, which outlines clearly who will get the ring if the wedding never takes place. This agreement also can cover what happens to the ring if the couple gets married but later divorces.

If it's too late for a prenup, consider talking to a local family law attorney, who can explain how courts in your area have ruled regarding the fate of engagement rings.

Credit: Image by BigStockPhoto.com.
January 23rd, 2023
The entire Buffalo Bills squad honored Damar Hamlin during yesterday's AFC divisional playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals by wearing 14-karat gold "3" pendants under their uniforms.

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The 24-year-old safety, whose uniform number is 3, was recently released from the hospital after sustaining a scary, life-threatening injury during a Monday Night Football game on January 2. Hamlin had taken a blow to the chest and went into cardiac arrest. Quick action by the team's medical staff is credited with saving his life.

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That game, which was paused and then canceled because of the seriousness of Hamlin's injury, was also against the Bengals.

Since then, Hamlin's remarkable and inspirational recovery has touch the lives of sports fans and non-sports fans, alike. He was strong enough to visit his team in the locker room prior to the game and cheer them on from a sky box.

Donations have poured into Hamlin's foundation, which collected $8.6 million to support young people through education and sports.

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The "3" pendants were gifted to the team by Gabriel Jacobs of New York-based Rafaello & Co.

Known as the "Jeweler to the Stars," Jacobs told TMZ, "I was extremely moved by all the outpouring of love and donations that came from all across the world. Being a jeweler, I wanted to give back in my own way by gifting these pendants as a way for the Buffalo Bills team to continue to honor Hamlin."

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The pendants measure 2 1/2 inches tall and feature a tiny heart applied to the bottom-right of Hamlin's number. Inscribed on the back of the pendant is a quote from Hamlin: "If you get a chance to show some love today do it! It won't cost you nothing."

Jacobs shared pics of the pendants on his company's Instagram page. Players Dion Dawkins and Von Miller posted photos of the jewelry on their respective Instagram Stories.

In addition to the 80 pendants that Jacobs provided to the players and Hamlin's family, he also designed a special white gold and diamond version for Hamlin himself.

NFL players are allowed to wear chain necklaces during the game as long as they do not have a “hard object” attached to them. If there is a hard object attached, that item can not be visible. Players will typically tuck chain necklaces under their shoulder pads to keep them from being yanked off.

Despite the inspirational boost provided by the "3" pendants, the Bills were beaten by the Bengals 27-10. The Bengals will go on to play the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFL Championship game.

Credits: Jewelry images via Instagram / rafaelloandco. Players join in group prayer during rescue efforts to save Damar Hamlin, photo by Schetm, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.
January 20th, 2023
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you classic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today we present Jackson Browne’s “In the Shape of a Heart,” a 1986 ballad that uses a ruby necklace to convey the pain the artist feels when he learns his lover has gone. Rolling Stone magazine called it “one of Browne’s finest love songs.”

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Browne, who tragically lost his first wife, Phyllis Major, to a drug overdose in 1976 at the age of 30, confirmed that “In the Shape of a Heart” is, indeed, a story about their tempestuous relationship.

The song starts off with the ruby reference: “It was a ruby that she wore / On a chain around her neck / In the shape of a heart / In the shape of a heart / It was a time I won’t forget / For the sorrow and regret / And the shape of a heart / And the shape of a heart.”

Browne writes about missing the warning signs of his wife’s distress, while never really understanding “what she was talking about” or “what she was living without.”

In the end, when he realizes she’s not coming back, he takes the ruby heart necklace from the bed stand, holds it for a moment, and then drops it through a fist-sized hole in the wall.

He sings, “In the hour before dawn / When I knew she was gone / And I held it in my hand / For a little while / And dropped it into the wall / Let it go, heard it fall.”

In reviewing the song for Rolling Stone, Jimmy Guterman wrote that Browne “nails heartbreak to the wall and sends his listeners scurrying for the Kleenex.”

Released as the second single from his Lives in the Balance album, “In the Shape of a Heart” peaked at #10 on the U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. Asylum Records pressed a red vinyl promotional single in — you guessed it — the shape of a heart.

Born in Heidelberg, West Germany, the 74-year-old singer-songwriter has sold more than 18 million albums in the U.S. and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. Among his most famous songs are “These Days,” “Running on Empty,” “Doctor My Eyes” and “Take It Easy.” As a political activist and humanitarian, Browne has supported the efforts of Amnesty International and co-founded MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy).

Please check out the video of Browne performing “In the Shape of a Heart.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“In the Shape of a Heart”
Written and performed by Jackson Browne.

It was a ruby that she wore
On a chain around her neck
In the shape of a heart
In the shape of a heart

It was a time I won’t forget
For the sorrow and regret
And the shape of a heart
And the shape of a heart

I guess I never knew
What she was talking about
I guess I never knew
What she was living without

People speak of love don’t know what they’re thinking of
Wait around for the one who fits just like a glove
Speak in terms of belief and belonging
Try to fit some name to their longing

There was a hole left in the wall
From some ancient fight
About the size of a fist
Or something thrown that had missed

And there were other holes as well
In the house where our nights fell
Far too many to repair
In the time that we were there

People speak of love don’t know what they’re thinking of
Reach out to each other though the push and shove
Speak in terms of the life and the learning
Try to think of a word for the burning

You keep it up
You try so hard
To keep a life from coming apart
And never know
What breaches and faults are concealed
In the shape of a heart

In the shape of a heart
In the shape of a heart

It was the ruby that she wore
On a stand beside the bed
In the hour before dawn
When I knew she was gone
And I held it in my hand
For a little while
And dropped it into the wall
I let it go, heard it fall

I… I guess I never knew
What she was talking about
I guess I never knew
What she was living without

People speak of love don’t know what they’re thinking of
Wait around for the one who fits just like a glove
Speak in terms of a life and the living
Try to find the word for forgiving

You keep it up
You try so hard
To keep a life from coming apart
And never know
The shallows and the unseen reefs
That are there from the start

In the shape of a heart
In the shape of a heart
In the shape of a heart
In the shape of a heart
In the shape of a heart
In the shape of a heart



Credits: Photo by Craig ONeal, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
January 19th, 2023
Nikola Jokic, the 6'11'', 284-pound center for the Denver Nuggets is not only one of the most dominating players in the NBA, but he's arguably one of the sweetest.

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Averaging 25 points, 11 rebounds and nearly 10 assists per game, the two-time defending Most Valuable Player strikes fear into the hearts of his opponents while, at the same time, wears a loving tribute to his family on the laces of his size 16 Nike basketball shoes.

As part of his game-day ritual, the Serbian-born big man ties his wedding band into the bow on his left shoe as a heartfelt tribute to the biggest treasures of his life, wife Natalija and one-year-old daughter, Ognjena.

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The NBA enforces strict rules about wearing jewelry on the court, but doesn't prohibit the display of bridal jewelry on sneakers.

The subtle — but deeply meaningful — gesture seems to be paying dividends for the perennial All Star, who has helped catapult his team to the top of the Western Conference standings with a record of 31-13.

Social media outlet Official NBA Buzz assembled a collage of Nikola's ring-embellished sneakers on its Instagram page. The ring is a simple platinum or white gold wedding band with beveled edges. See the post here…

Nikola and Natalija met in Serbia and have been dating since they were both in high school. She's been there every step of the way — from his teenage days in the Serbian League to his selection by the Nuggets in the second round of the the NBA draft in 2014. They married in October 2020 and welcomed their daughter 11 months later.

The couple comes from humble roots (Nikola grew up in a two-bedroom apartment that he shared with his two brothers, his parents and his grandmother), but are enjoying the spoils of a new five-year contract extension worth $264 million.

Despite being a public figure, Nikola — aka The Joker — prefers to keep his personal life under the radar. He and his wife maintain a low-profile social media presence and tend to stay out of the limelight.

Credits: Jokic family with the NBA MVP trophy, photo via Instagram / jokic.natalija. Nikola Jokic free throw photo by All-Pro Reels, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Nikola Jokic shooting photo by All-Pro Reels, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
January 18th, 2023
Legendary Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo popped the question to his model girlfriend Celina Locks last week with an eternally elegant four-prong princess-cut solitaire diamond ring.

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Best known for his two World Cup victories and stellar playing career that earned him the nickname "O Fenômeno" (The Phenomenon), the now-retired striker delivered his marriage proposal during the couple's recent Caribbean getaway.

Locks, a 32-year-old fashion model and founder of Celina Locks Beauty, took to Instagram to show off the new ring and deliver a sweet message to her new fiancé.

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"YES, I do!" she exclaimed, while punctuating the affirmation with two emojis — an infinity sign and an engagement ring.

On a separate line, she added in Portuguese, "Te amo, para sempre," which means "I love you, forever."

The 46-year-old Ronaldo responded to the post by writing, "Love you" followed by four red heart emojis.

Locks claims 411,000 followers on Instagram. Ronaldo boasts 29.6 million.

Described as modern and edgy, the princess-cut is technically a "square modified brilliant" and rates as the second-most-popular-shape used in engagement rings, just behind the classic round cut, according to brides.com.

"You'll get a more modern and geometrical look while still boasting a ton of brilliance," explained the publication's editors in their recent review of popular diamond shapes.

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Ronaldo and Locks have been dating since February of 2015 and have yet to announce a wedding date.

Ronaldo, who is currently the majority owner of Real Valladolid CF, a Spanish soccer team in the premier LaLiga division, is said to have a net worth of about $160 million.

He shouldn't be confused with 37-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo, who captains the Portugal national team and now plays for Al Nassr in the Saudi Professional League. He is currently one of the best soccer players in the world and has a net worth of $490 million, according to Forbes.

In March of 2021, Locks teased her Instagram followers with a long post about how she was entering a new phase of her life and how she had “immense happiness” inside of her. Readers speculated that she might be expecting a child. In fact, she was hinting about the launch of a new perfume.

Credits: Images via Instagram / celinalocks; Instagram.com / ronaldo.
January 17th, 2023
The Perth Mint is celebrating the Chinese Year of the Rabbit with a limited-edition, silver proof coin featuring the image of the Chinese zodiac animal rendered in a colorful mosaic of pure Australian opal.

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Irregular slivers of high-grade opal are meticulously arranged to fill out the shape of the rabbit, which stands out against a circular black background. Because each coin requires so many individual pieces of opal, and because each sliver displays a unique "play of color," no two coins will look exactly the same.

The Chinese Year of the Rabbit officially starts on January 22, and collectors are already having a hard time securing one of the coveted coins from the limited mintage of 5,000.

"It’s one of our most popular silver numismatic releases of the year,” said Neil Vance, Perth Mint's General Manager for Minted Products.

The coin’s outer ring displays an oriental border pattern along with stylized depictions of snapdragons, said to be lucky flowers for those born in the Year of the Rabbit, the fourth animal of the ancient lunar calendar. The outer ring also includes the inscription “YEAR OF THE RABBIT,” the Chinese character for “Rabbit,” the year 2023, the coin’s weight and purity, and The Perth Mint’s traditional “P” mintmark.

Designed by Natasha Muhl, the Aussie coin measures 36.6mm in diameter, which is slightly smaller than a US silver dollar.

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The one-ounce, legal tender, 99.99% pure, silver coin is the seventh release in the Australian Opal Lunar Series — a series that launched with an opal rooster design in 2017 and was followed up with opal-adorned Chinese zodiac offerings in 2018 (dog), 2019 (pig), 2020 (rat), 2021 (ox) and 2022 (tiger).

Those born in the Year of the Rabbit are said to be intelligent, creative, vigilant and compassionate.

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The obverse of the tiger coin features the Jody Clark effigy of Her Majesty the late Queen Elizabeth II, the weight and fineness, the “1 DOLLAR” denomination, “AUSTRALIA,” and the Queen’s name.

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Accompanied by a numbered certificate of authenticity, the collectible is housed in a classic display case with a clear lid that comes in an illustrated shipper.

The Perth Mint frequently pays tribute to themes that are truly Australian. From 2012 through 2014, for example, the mint promoted the Australian Opal Series of five coins depicting native animals, including the koala, wombat, kangaroo, pygmy possum and Tasmanian devil — all rendered in opal.

Vance confirmed that the gems used in the Opal Lunar Series come from the famous mining town of Coober Pedy, which produces more than 80% of the world’s opal supply and more precious opal than anywhere else.

Credits: Images courtesy of The Perth Mint.
January 16th, 2023
During the coronation of King Charles III at Westminster Abbey on May 6, the 74-year-old royal will be wearing the St Edward’s Crown, a lavish headpiece glistening with 444 gemstones set in 22-karat yellow gold.

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Considered the centerpiece of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, the crown dates back to the 17th century and was, ironically, fabricated for King Charles II in 1661.

The St Edward’s Crown has seen little use during its 362-year-old history and has spent most of its time in the Tower of London. In fact, only six monarchs have chosen to wear the St Edward's Crown on their coronations: Charles II (1661), James II (1685), William III (1689), George V (1911), George VI (1937) and Elizabeth II (1953).

Others have opted for other royal crowns that better suited their tastes and comfort levels. Queen Victoria (1838) and Edward VII (1902), for example, decided to forego the honor of using the St Edward's Crown because of its weight and opted for the lighter Imperial State Crown.

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Measuring 30 centimeters (11.8 inches) tall and weighing 2.23 kilograms (4.9 pounds), the St Edward's Crown is set with a colorful selection of 444 gems, including 345 aquamarines, 37 white topazes, 27 tourmalines, 12 rubies, 7 amethysts, 6 sapphires, 2 jargoons (colorless zircon), 1 garnet, 1 spinel and 1 carbuncle (red almandine). (This tally adds to 439 and the identity of the remaining six are unclear.) The crown has a velvet cap with an ermine band.

King Charles III will wear the St Edward's Crown at the moment of coronation and is likely to switch to the Imperial State Crown during the service.

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In a press release, Buckingham Palace announced that the St Edward’s Crown had been removed from the Jewel House at the Tower of London to allow for resizing ahead of the coronation.

The current version of the St Edward’s Crown replaced a 13th century crown that had been melted down in 1649 when Parliament abolished the monarchy during the English Civil War. The monarchy was restored in 1660 under the leadership of Charles II.

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The 1661 design was not an exact replica of the medieval design, but it mimicked the original in that it features four fleurs-de-lis alternating with four crosses pattée, which support two dipped arches.

Credits: Photos courtesy of Buckingham Palace.