Endless Time and Jewelry Blog
December 9th, 2016
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun music with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, the Squirrel Nut Zippers sing about a gal with an affinity for fine jewelry in their irresistible Swing Revival performance of "Baby Wants a Diamond Ring."

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In the song written by bandleader James (Jimbo) Mathus, the protagonist presses her slow-to-commit beau to do the "right thing." She sings, "Baby wants a diamond to have and hold / A diamond ring with a band of gold."

Later in the song, she clarifies that although a string of pearls are "so nice," only a diamond ring will win her heart.

"Baby Wants a Diamond Ring" appeared as the second track of the band's fifth studio album, Bedlam Ballroom, which was released in 2000. Four years earlier, their album Hot sold more than 1.3 million copies and was certified platinum, thanks to the strong support of National Public Radio and college radio stations.

Critics have had a hard time defining the style of the Squirrel Nut Zippers. Their music has been called a fusion of Delta blues, gypsy jazz, 1930s-era swing, rockabilly, klezmer and other genres. One writer comically defined their music as "30s punk." Another called the group a perpetually confused stew of Southern Roots and Surrealist paintings.

NPR admitted during its Morning Edition that it was not easy to categorize the music of the Squirrel Nut Zippers, except to say that it was "hot" — an obvious nod to the title of the 1996 album.

The Squirrel Nut Zippers, which were established in Chapel Hill, N.C., in 1993, are back on stage after a hiatus of seven years. Their current tour supports the 20th anniversary of Hot. Original band members Mathus (vocals and guitar) and Chris Phillips (drums) reactivated the band with a new lineup that includes several leading musicians from New Orleans as well as singer Ingrid Lucia of Flying Neutrino’s fame.

“We are humbled and incredibly excited by the initial Zippers shows since the re-launch,” Mathus told Worldcafelive.com. “It’s not a reunion, it’s a revival!"

The name Squirrel Nut Zippers is derived from a southern term for a variety of bootleg moonshine called "nut zippers."

The band has previously toured with Neil Young and performed at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. They've appeared on The Tonight Show, Late Show with David Letterman, Conan O'Brien and Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve.

Please check out the audio track of the Squirrel Nut Zippers performing "Baby Wants a Diamond Ring." The lyrics are below if you'd like sing along...

"Baby Wants a Diamond Ring"
Written by James Mathus. Performed by the Squirrel Nut Zippers.

Hey there baby
I have gotten some news for you

You think you're something out of sight
To take me out every night
Take me out show me everything
But you won't do the right thing

Baby wants a diamond to have and hold
A diamond ring with a band of gold

String of pearls are so nice
But it ain't worth a trip to paradise
Your weary romance is much too slow
You gotta give up o that dough

Baby wants a diamond to have and hold
A diamond ring with a band of gold

Baby wants a diamond to have and hold
A diamond ring with a band of gold


Credit: Photo via Facebook/Squirrel Nut Zippers.
December 8th, 2016
If you're feeling romance in the cool December air, there's good reason. This is the most popular month to get engaged. Exactly 16% of all marriage proposals take place during the 31 days of December, according to The Knot's ninth annual Real Weddings Study.



What's more, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are the #1 and #2 most popular days for popping the question. These facts come from Facebook, whose 1 billion active users (yes, that's billion with a "b") love to report their "relationship status." (If you were wondering, the #3 and #4 most popular days for going down on bended knee are New Year's Day and Valentine's Day.)

Facebook has 191 million users in the U.S. and more than 2.5 million will change their status to "engaged" in an average year. Thirty percent of all “engaged” status updates will take place during November and December.

Experts believe that the winter engagement phenomenon is attributed to two factors: the romantic nature of the season… and convenience. Suitors likely choose December to pop the question because they get swept away by the magic of the holiday season. And, certainly, there’s no better time to propose than when all the family is in town to celebrate with the newly engaged couple.

The Knot's survey revealed that the average amount spent on an engagement ring in the U.S. was $5,871 in 2015 and the average engagement lasted 14.5 months. The most popular wedding months were October (17%) and September (15%). The Knot noted the average marrying age of those surveyed was 29 for the bride and 31 for the groom.

These ages are a bit higher than what Facebook has reported in the past. The average age of Facebook's newly engaged couples is 24, which would put their marrying age at about 25.

Keep an eye on your Facebook page because there's a very good chance that somebody you know will be changing his or her relationship status from "in a relationship" to "engaged." There's sure to be an engagement ring selfie captioned with a romantic note colorfully tagged by a string of engagement ring, diamond and heart-shaped emojis.

Facebook continues to monitor relationship statuses by providing a growing list of options. They now include “single,” “in a relationship,” “engaged,” “married,” “in a civil union,” "in a domestic partnership," “in an open relationship,” “it’s complicated,” “separated,” “divorced” and “widowed.”

Credit: Bigstockphoto.com
December 7th, 2016
Rapper Gucci Mane is proud to wear the three-stone diamond man-gagement ring gifted by his new fiancée Keyshia Ka'oir. Mane took to Instagram on Friday to show off the massive ring that features a 4-carat round center diamond flanked by 2-carat side diamonds. The ring is estimated to be worth $120,000.

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Mane, 36, posted a short video of the ring along with a caption that read, "Love my wife. I'm never taking my ring off. Thank u my baby."

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Mane's man-gagement ring post came exactly 10 days after he surprised Ka'oir with a 25-carat diamond engagement ring and a Kiss Cam proposal at an Atlanta Hawks basketball game.

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Celebrity jewelers estimated that her ring was worth between $3 million and $5 million. The design showcases a cushion-cut center stone embellished by a band completely encircled with cushion-cut diamonds.

The 31-year-old model, actress, stylist and entrepreneur posted a beautiful closeup of the ring on her Instagram page, along with this caption, "OMG!!! Babeeeeeeee thank u! I LOVE U !! Yessssssse 25karats." (Note: The ring is gorgeous but we must point out she should have used "carats" with a "c" to describe the weight of her new diamond.)

A Beverly Hills celebrity jeweler told HollywoodLife.com that Mane and Ka'oir have tapped into a trend that sees more men embracing the idea of wearing engagement rings.

"Engagement rings for men are the hottest trend and are now quickly becoming part of the tradition," she said. "Men are sporting various designs with diamonds and gemstones.”

We've been tracking the subject of man-gagement rings for the past few years...

In 2012, 17% of men surveyed by TheKnot.com and Men's Health magazine said they would be open to wearing a man-gagement ring.

A survey conducted two years later by XO Group Inc. — parent company of The Knot — revealed that 5 percent of engaged men actually wore man-gagement rings. That same year, The Atlantic ran a 1,300-word story titled "The Rise of the Man-gagement Ring." Despite the hype, the man-gagement ring failed to wow the masses.

Will 2016 be remembered as the year that the man-gagement ring finally became "a thing"? Only time will tell.

Credits: Images via Instagram/laflare1017; Instagram/keyshiakaoir.
December 6th, 2016
Scientists from the University of Bristol’s Cabot Institute have developed an ingenious means of transforming nuclear waste into man-made diamond batteries that can generate power for more than 5,000 years.



Diamond batteries could be used for applications that require super-long-lasting, dependable, power sources, such as satellites, spacecraft and pacemakers. Scientists also believe that processing nuclear waste into a clean energy source would be a great benefit to the environment.

It's interesting how the scientific community has fallen in love with diamonds. Only two weeks ago we explained how imperfect diamonds could provide the answer the world's long-term, high-density data storage needs. A single diamond, researchers claimed, might have the storage capacity of one million DVDs.

The Bristol scientists claimed that a diamond battery built in 2016 would last until the year 7746 and even longer. The power supply is based on the 5,730-year half-life of carbon-14, which is the radioactive version of carbon. Carbon-14 is found in the graphite blocks that are used to house uranium rods in nuclear reactors.

The spent blocks would normally be an environmental hazard, but by heating the graphic blocks, much of the radioactive carbon is emitted as a gas. This gas could then be collected and converted into diamond crystals using a high-temperature chemical reaction. When placed near a radioactive source, the man-made crystals produce a small electrical charge. To make the process even safer and more efficient, scientists plan to encase the radioactive diamonds within a layer of non-radioactive diamond material.

The result is a diamond within a diamond that generates a small electrical current, while emitting less nuclear radiation than a banana, the scientists claim.

"Safely held within diamond, no short-range radiation can escape," Dr. Neil Fox from the University's School of Chemistry, told the Daily Mail. "In fact, diamond is the hardest substance known to man. There is literally nothing we could use that could offer more protection."

While it has yet to be determined how much radioactive material would be contained in each battery, scientists claimed that one diamond battery containing one gram of carbon-14 would deliver the power equivalent of an alkaline AA battery. But instead of fading in 24 hours, the diamond battery would maintain its power for thousands of years.

After 5,730 years, the battery would still have 50% of its original capacity. After 11,460 years, the diamond battery's capacity would have halved again, but still maintain 25% of its original power. Even as it degrades, it would still have the ability to keep the object in question running smoothly. The battery's design has no moving parts, no emissions and requires no maintenance.

The Daily Mail reported that the researchers have been awarded funding to develop the project over the next three years.

Check out the video below for more details on this breakthrough technology...


Credit: Image via Bigstockphoto.com.
December 5th, 2016
The 10.05-carat "Ratnaraj" ruby and a flawless, 4.29-carat, fancy vivid blue diamond each sold for more than $10 million and were the costars of Christie's Magnificent Jewels sale in Hong Kong last week.

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The stunning Ratnaraj, which means "king of precious stones" in ancient Sanskrit, was one of the most significant pigeon’s blood rubies ever to be offered at a Christie's auction. The oval gem, which was sourced in the famous Mogok Valley in Burma, sold for $10.2 million, or just over $1 million per carat.

The result was the third-highest price per carat ever paid for a ruby. The record holder remains the "Crimson Flame," a 15.04-carat ruby that sold at Christie's Hong Kong in December of 2015 for $18.3 million ($1.21 million per carat). The 25.59-carat Sunrise Ruby holds the record for the highest price ever paid for a ruby at auction — $30.3 million at Sotheby’s Geneva in May of 2015.

Ratnaraj's selling price was in the midrange of the pre-sale estimate of $8.8 million to $12.5 million. Had it sold at the high end of the range, it would have competed with Crimson Flame for the price-per-carat record.

"Top-quality Burmese rubies are rare, especially ones that are more than 5 carats in size," explained Christie's Hong Kong jewelry specialist May Lim. "In recent years we’ve been lucky enough to find a number of amazing rubies for our sales."

The Ratnaraj is the centerpiece of a ring designed by Faidee. The setting places the oval ruby within a radiating surround of oval-shaped diamonds. Smaller, round diamonds adorn the band. The pigeon's blood classification represents the most desirable, highly saturated color for a ruby.

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Yielding an impressive $2.7 million per carat was a marquise-cut, 4.29-carat, fancy vivid blue, internally flawless diamond. The selling price of $11.8 million made the blue diamond the top lot of Christie's Hong Kong auction. The pre-sale estimate had been $9.7 million to $12.3 million.

The impressive blue gem is set in a platinum ring by Moussaieff and is flanked by triangular-shaped diamonds. The center diamond earned a purity rating of Type IIb, a rare category representing less than 0.5% of all diamonds.

Fancy vivid blue diamonds continue to yield the highest prices at auction.

“The Blue Moon of Josephine” established a new record for the highest price paid per carat for any gemstone when the hammer went down at Sotheby’s Geneva in November 2015. The internally flawless, 12.03-carat, cushion-shaped, fancy vivid blue diamond sold for $48.5 million, or $4.03 million per carat.

In May 2016, “The Oppenheimer Blue” became the priciest gem ever auctioned when it sold for $57.5 million at Christie’s Geneva. The fancy vivid blue, step-cut, rectangular-shaped diamond weighed 14.62 carats and earned a clarity rating of VVS1. Its price per carat was $3.96 million.

Credits: Images courtesy of Christie's.
December 2nd, 2016
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, the spotlight shines on Rock and Roll icon Stevie Nicks as she sings "24 Karat Gold," the title song from her 2014 album.

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In a recent interview, Nicks revealed that the song she penned in 1980 — but didn't release until 2014 — was about her passionate, but short-lived, romance with Fleetwood Mac bandmate Mick Fleetwood.

"It was about our relationship and how desperate it was for a while," she said. "But it had its 24-karat moments."

For Nicks, 24-karat gold seems to represent perfection. The term comes up in the title of today's featured song, numerous times in song's lyrics ("There were dreams to be sold / My 24 karat gold"), in the title of her 2014 album (24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault) and the name of her current concert series ("The 24 Karat Gold Tour").

While "24 Karat Gold" appears as the fourth single from Nicks' eighth studio album, it was actually written 34 years earlier during the Bella Donna album sessions. The original 1981 no-frills demo, featuring Nicks playing the piano with an accompanying drum machine and bass, can be found on YouTube.

The 68-year-old Nicks is currently embarking on a seven-week, 27-city tour that kicked off in Phoenix (her birthplace) on October 25 and ends in Inglewood, Calif., on December 18. Last night, she appeared at New York City's Madison Square Garden.

The Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter is best known for her work with Fleetwood Mac and as a solo artist. Collectively, she's scored 40 top-50 hits and sold more than 140 million albums. Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album accounted for 40 million of those sales, making it the fifth-highest-selling album of all time.

Nicks was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 and was selected by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the world's top "100 Greatest Singers of All Time."

Please check out the official lyric video of Nicks' "24 Karat Gold." You can also follow along with these lyrics below...

"24 Karat Gold"
Written and performed by Stevie Nicks.

Set me free, set me free
Is this what you wanted, to happen to me?
Golden wings in the sunset
Take me back
All alone I waited
But there was no one, out there

There were dreams to be sold (chain of chains)
My 24 karat gold (chain of chains)
There was some love to be sold (chain of chains)
You said you might be coming back to town (chain of chains)
All alone I waited

There was no one out there
In the rain she lay face down.
What is this freedom that she wanted
What kind of freedom...
What kind of game?

There were dreams to be sold (chain of chains)
My 24 karat gold (chain of chains)
There was some love to be sold (chain of chains)
You said you might be coming back to town (chain of chains)

Set me free, set me free
Is this what you wanted, to happen to me?
Golden wings in the sunset
Take me back
All alone I waited
But there was no one, out there

There were dreams to be sold (chain of chains)
You like my 24 karat gold, chain of chains
(chain of chains)
(chain of chains)
You like my 24 karat gold
(chain of chains)
Yes you like my 24 karat gold

Yeah
My love


Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.
December 1st, 2016
In 1967, Maasai tribesmen discovered shockingly beautiful bluish-violet gems in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Samples were entrusted to a prospector named Manuel d’Souza, who shared the crystals with distinguished gemologists. Originally thought to be sapphires, the spectacular gems turned out to be an unusually vibrant blue variety of the mineral zoisite.

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The mesmerizing mineral quickly caught the attention of Tiffany & Co., which launched a campaign to market the gems as "tanzanite." The name honors Tanzania, the only place on earth where tanzanite can be found. Tanzanite is one of the official birthstones for December.

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A Maasai folktale recounts how tanzanite came to be. Once upon a time, the story goes, lightning struck the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, scorching the land. In the aftermath, a spectacular blue crystal was left shimmering in the ashes.

That tale provided the subtitle and inspiration for a new coffee-table book, Tanzanite: Born From Lightning. Written by Hayley Henning, former executive director of the Tanzanite Foundation, and Didier Brodbeck, publisher of the French magazine Dreams, the 208-page book features dazzling jewelry from the world's top brand names as well as first-hand accounts of how tanzanite was discovered and brought to market.

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The book showcases superb creations made by Boucheron, Bulgari, Cartier, Chanel, Chaumet, Chopard, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Piaget, Van Cleef & Arpels, Wallace Chan and more. There are also photos of uncut specimens weighing 100 carats or more.

In 2017, tanzanite will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its discovery. Once a mineral oddity, tanzanite has evolved into one of the most desirable gemstone varieties — thanks to the efforts of Tiffany and the rest of the jewelry industry. Tiffany's marketing campaign earned tanzanite the noble title of "gem of the 20th century" and, in 2002, the American Gem Trade Association added tanzanite to the jewelry industry’s official birthstone list. Tanzanite joined turquoise and zircon as the official birthstones for December.

Tanzanite is said to be 1,000 times more rare than diamonds due the fact that tanzanite is mined in only one location on earth. The area measures 2km wide by 4km long and the remaining lifespan of the mine is just 30 years.

“There are no gemstones that fall into the same category as tanzanite,” Henning told Rapaport Magazine. “There is nothing that comes in really big sizes, gemmy, rare, velvety, gorgeous and affordable. Tanzanite has all these fantastic elements that make it so special and that is why designers love to work with it."

"I am sure in time, as tanzanite becomes less and less available, people will understand just how rare and special it is," she continued. "If you were to show consumers these gorgeous images in the book and ask them, 'What do you think this gem costs?' people would expect it to be so much more.”

Credits: Book cover by publisher 24 ORE Cultura S.r.l.; Tanzanite crystals by Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons; Faceted tanzanite by Gemologos2009 (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
November 30th, 2016
A metal-detector enthusiast in Cambridgeshire, England, has unearthed a spectacular 3,000-year-old torc made from 1.6 pounds of twisted and burnished 20-karat gold. Measuring nearly 50 inches around, the beautifully preserved golden torc is the largest ever found in the UK.

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Historically, a torc was worn as a neck-ring with the opening in the front, but the massive Bronze Age specimen pulled from a site 60 miles north of London was likely worn a different way, according to the British Museum's Bronze Age curator, Neil Wilkin.

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Wilkin said the torc displayed "unprecedented" craftsmanship and may have been worn around the waist by a pregnant woman during a fertility ritual. Others believe it was worn as a sash, over thick winter clothing or by a prized goat or sheep in the course of a sacrifice.

The golden torc was found by an anonymous treasure hunter walking with his metal detector over a freshly plowed field.

The extraordinary torc was revealed at London's British Museum on the day the Portable Antiquities Scheme and Treasure (PAS) delivered its annual report about the number of finds made by the public. PAS, which is managed by the museum, cataloged 82,272 discoveries made in the UK during 2015. Of that number, more than 1,000 were considered "treasure" because they were gold, silver or prehistoric metalwork. Since 1997, the number of artifacts recorded by the PAS has grown to more than 1.2 million.

The UK's Treasure Act 1996 states that finders have a legal obligation to report all potential treasure to the local coroner in the district where the find was made. The Act allows a national or local museum to acquire the treasure for the public's benefit and pay a reward, which is usually shared equally between the finder and landowner. The value of the golden torc has yet to be determined.

The area in which the torc was discovered is famous for being a hotbed of archaeological finds from the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age. Cambridgeshire is one of the earliest-known Neolithic permanent settlements in the United Kingdom. The Neolithic period began in 10,200 BC and ended between 4,500 BC and 2,000 BC.

While the 3,000-year-old torc has a priceless historical value, its metal content alone is worth $25,585 at today's gold price.

Credits: Images courtesy of the British Museum.
November 29th, 2016
For more than 60 years, Californian Joel Hauser passionately pursued nature's "mineral marvels" — ornamental specimens of exceptional size and beauty.

The Gemological Institute of America Museum in Carlsbad, Calif., recently acquired a cache of Hauser's finest agates, geodes, minerals and petrified wood through a generous donation by the Hauser family.

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Many of the 63 standouts from the Joel and Barbara Hauser Mineral Collection represent pieces from places with restricted access or that are no longer producing, according to the GIA.

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GIA noted that on one of Hauser's California expeditions, he discovered agate geodes in Riverside County’s Little Chuckwalla Mountains. Today, the area is known as the Hauser Geode Beds.

Hauser, who passed away in 1993, was a skilled lapidary and innovator. Not only did he master the art of contour polishing, but he also designed and modified saws and grinding equipment that could handle the cutting and polishing of almost any specimen, including large pieces of petrified wood.

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“His freeform, undulating polishing style adds interest and texture while removing blemishes, without having to grind away more material than necessary," said Terri Ottaway, GIA’s museum curator. "Joel’s expertise, guided by an artistic eye and perspective, revealed the lovely patterns, markings and colors in the minerals."

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Nearly 50 of Hauser's most celebrated pieces are now on display at the GIA Museum. They will serve as as prime learning tools for students and visitors to GIA about mineral formation and lapidary artistry.

Credits: Azurite (Bisbee, AZ); Variscite (Utah); Laguna Iris Agate (Mexico); Petrified pinecone and wood (Argentina and Utah). All photos by Orasa Weldon; ©GIA.
November 28th, 2016
Scientists in the far eastern Amur River region of Russia are building a facility that can extract gold from ordinary coal. The announcement brings to mind the alchemists of ancient times, who sought to turn lead into gold.

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While the alchemists never found a way to transform base metals into precious metals, Russian scientists are reporting that after 15 years of research they finally have a commercially viable method for pulling trace amounts of gold from coal.

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Scientists capture minute particles of gold during the burning process. To secure the precious metal, smoke generated during combustion passes through a 100-fold purifying filter. The contaminants are washed out with water and the gold is captured by the filter.

For every ton of coal burned, one-half gram of gold can be recovered. At today's gold price, the gold extracted from one ton of coal would be worth about $19. As the process is perfected, the researchers believe they can get 1 gram of gold from a ton of coal.

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The proof-of-concept experiments will continue this coming year as the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Far East branch will be adding the purifying system to one of the Amur region’s boiler houses. If the tests are successful, the team hopes to receive a grant to develop and implement an industrial-grade device, according to RT.com.

"We plan to use municipal boiler houses to implement our filtering system because they burn about eight to 10 thousand tons in a season, and that’s potentially 10 kilos of gold,” Oleg Ageev, CEO of Complex Innovative Technologies of the Amur Scientific Center, said in a press statement.

The Amur installation, which is near the Chinese border, will get into full gear once the temperatures warm up in the remote far eastern region of Russia. Because the filtering system uses water and part of the process takes place outdoors, it only works when the temperature is above freezing.

Coal is one of the most important sources of energy in Russia. The country produced 323 million tons of coal in 2009 and is estimated to have the second-largest coal reserves in the world at 173 billion tons. The U.S. has the largest coal reserves at 263 billion tons.

Credits: Coal mining photo by Peabody Energy, Inc. (Provided by Peabody Energy) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Gold bars by istara [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons. Map by GoogleMaps.com.