Shirley Temple's 9.54-Carat Blue Diamond Ring Comes Up Short at Sotheby's New York

Shirley Temple's 9.54-carat blue diamond ring was billed as the star of Sotheby's New York auction on Tuesday, but went unsold when the bidding stalled at $22 million, short of the reserve price and well below the high estimate of $35 million.

"The Shirley Temple Blue Diamond is an exceptional stone in quality, rarity and provenance. It has been an honor to share its story with collectors, connoisseurs and Temple's loyal fans over the past few months," Sotheby's noted a statement. "Unfortunately, tonight wasn't its night in the salesroom, but we remain fully confident that it will find a buyer."

Temple was nearly 12 years old and had just wrapped up her new film, The Blue Bird, when her father, George Francis, surprised the box office phenomenon with a cushion-cut fancy deep blue diamond in an Art Deco-inspired platinum setting. George Francis paid $7,210 for the ring 76 years ago, which is equivalent to about $122,000 today. The diamond had earned a grade of VVS2 and was presented at the auction in its original platinum setting.

As an adult, Shirley Temple Black became a diplomat, serving as a United Nations delegate, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana and later as the U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia. She reported wore her blue diamond ring throughout her life. She died in February of 2014 at that age of 85.

The poor showing for Temple's blue diamond came only two weeks after the slightly larger and internally flawless 10.10-carat “De Beers Millennium Jewel 4” set an Asian auction record at Sotheby’s Hong Kong when it sold for $32 million. The pre-sale estimate for the fancy vivid blue gem had been $30 to $36 million.

On May 18 at Christie’s Geneva, the 14.62-carat rectangular-cut “Oppenheimer Blue” has a chance to set a new record for the highest price ever paid for a diamond of any color. The current record of $48.5 million is held by the 12.03-carat cushion-shaped internally flawless “Blue Moon” (now called “Blue Moon of Josephine”). The Oppenheimer Blue boasts a VVS1 clarity and is the largest fancy vivid blue diamond ever offered at auction.

Images courtesy of Sotheby’s. Shirley Temple promo shot ©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection.

Plan to Put a Ring on It This Sunday, National Proposal Day

Hey, romantic couples out there. If you missed an opportunity to propose to the love of your life on Christmas Day, New Year's Eve or Valentine's Day, you have another chance this weekend. Not only does Sunday, March 20, represent the vernal equinox (first day of spring), but it's also National Proposal Day.

Conceived by John Michael O'Loughlin decades ago as a perfect time for procrastinating lovers to finally ask for their partners' hand in marriage, National Proposal Day has slowly become an accepted part of our holiday lexicon.

O'Loughlin picked the vernal equinox as the ideal day for couples to make the ultimate commitment to each other because it's the special time of the year when day and night are equal lengths worldwide. O'Loughlin reasoned that this symbolizes "the equal efforts of the two required to comprise the successful marriage."

If you're wondering if the autumnal equinox — another perfectly balanced day — would carry the same symbolism as the spring version, your hunch is right on. There is a second National Proposal Day on the first day of fall, September 22.

The romantic O'Loughlin created National Proposal Day after watching his cousin wait years for a proposal that never came. He felt that a special day earmarked for proposals would put a fire under some partners who have waited a bit too long to pop the question.

National Proposal Day is promoted as a worldwide event, and O'Loughlin encourages romantic couples to meet up with like-minded friends via social media using the hashtag, "proposalday." O'Loughlin, who registered the name Proposal Day!®, clarified that March 20 doesn't have to end with a proposal. It can be used, instead, to spark a conversation about a future proposal.

Twice a year, in the lead up to National Proposal Day, O'Loughlin adds to the excitement by announcing the world's most eligible bachelor and bachelorette. This past fall, he chose John F. Kennedy's grandson, Jack Schlossberg, and British actress Emma Watson. This spring's most eligible guy and gal will be posted at the official Proposal Day!® website on the late evening of Friday, March 18.

Image: BigstockPhoto.com.

Platinum Jewelry Illuminates the Red Carpet at Sunday Night's 88th Academy Awards

Well before Spotlight won for Best Picture and Leonardo DiCaprio scooped up his first-ever Best Actor award for The Revenant, a bevy of Hollywood beauties — all donning stunning platinum baubles — illuminated the Red Carpet at the 88th Academy Awards. The jewelry mirrored the star-studded festivities — exciting, dramatic and frequently over-the-top.

Here are some of the highlights from Sunday night...

• Cate Blanchett, a Best Actress nominee for Carol, wore platinum by Tiffany & Co. Her ensemble included drop earrings with marquise and round diamonds ($125,000), a starfish cuff with round diamonds and a ring with a 2.30-carat round center diamond surrounded by a swirl of round diamonds ($110,000).

• Charlize Theron turned heads in a show-stopping 48.8-carat Secret Cluster Diamond Necklace by Harry Winston. The long platinum necklace was complemented by diamond cluster earrings (15.49 carats), cushion-cut diamond ring with micropavé (8.78 carats), micropavé diamond band and Queen ring with diamonds (7.44 carats). The platinum grouping was valued at $3.7 million.

• Reese Witherspoon wore an impressive suite of platinum jewelry by Tiffany & Co., which included a pair of earrings, three platinum bracelets and one platinum ring. The $1 million grouping included a ring featuring an emerald-cut 7.49-carat tsavorite with diamond accents.

• Jennifer Garner was decked out in a platinum ensemble by Neil Lane. She wore four platinum-and-diamond bracelets (150-carats, priced at $2.5 million), swirl drop earrings with diamonds and emeralds (10 carats), emerald-cut diamond ring (10 carats) and two additional platinum-and-diamond rings.

• Presenter Priyanka Chopra wore a beautiful pair of diamond drops set in platinum by Lorraine Schwartz. The earrings boasted a total weight of 50 carats and were valued at $3.2 million. She also wore three platinum rings with the following total weights and values: 22 carats ($3.4 million), 10 carats ($850,000) and 8 carats ($300,000).

• Lady Gaga, who performed the Oscar-nominated song “Til It Happens to You,” wore more than $8 million worth of platinum jewelry, including emerald-cut diamond drop earrings from designer Schwartz.

Celebrities photos courtesy of Platinum Guild International. Photo credits: Getty Images. Cate Blanchett jewelry. Photo credit: Tiffany & Co.

Here's the Scoop on Why We Have a Leap Year

Today we celebrate Leap Year, the special time when February gets an extra day. The concept behind Leap Year has to do with keeping consistent time.

It takes the Earth approximately 365.242189 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds – to circle once around the Sun. But the Gregorian calendar year consists of only 365 days, so if we didn't add a leap day on February 29 nearly every four years, we would lose almost six hours off our calendar every year. After only 25 years, our calendar would be off by around 6 days.

By adding a day once every four years to our Gregorian calendar, we keep our measured time in alignment with the Earth’s revolutions around the sun. This extra day will be added every four years to our calendar until the year 2100—when we will need to skip the leap year to get the timing in sync again.

With all of this in mind, we can’t think of a better time to indulge in a calendar watch. There are annual calendars and perpetual calendars on the market and both are nice devices at different price points.

Essentially the annual calendar watch tracks the information of each month on the wrist, including offering day, date and month – taking into account months that are 30 and 31 days in length. However, this type of watch requires a resetting of the date every year at the end of February (which can be 28 or 29 days, depending on if it’s a leap year).

The annual calendar’s more exclusive and expensive sibling is the perpetual calendar. In addition to tracking all of the info the annual tracks, the perpetual also counts a few other dates, including leap year. With a perpetual calendar, the watch mechanism changes the date no matter how many days are in a month, taking into account leap years. Unlike annual calendars that need an annual adjustment, perpetual calendar watches will not need an adjustment until the year 2100 when, as mentioned we will skip a designated leap year.

Graphic courtesy: timeanddate.com

Leap Day Role Reversal: Women Get to Propose to Their Men on February 29

Get ready for some romantic Leap Day role reversals, as single ladies from coast to coast get down on one knee and propose to the men of their dreams. For more than 1,500 years, February 29 has been reserved for women who have waited far too long for their men to pop the question.

The concept of women proposing to men on Leap Day has its roots in 5th century Ireland when St. Brigid of Kildare forged a deal with St. Patrick to permit women to propose to men every four years. In Ireland, Leap Day is also called Bachelor's Day.

Apparently, this Irish traditional was then brought to Scotland by Irish monks. Legend states that in 1288, the Scotts passed a law that allowed women to propose on Leap Day. If the man refused the proposal, he would have to pay a fine, ranging from a kiss, to a silk dress or a pair of gloves. In upper-class circles, the fine for a proposal denial was 12 pairs of gloves. Presumably, the gloves would hide the shame of not wearing an engagement ring.

In English law, the day February 29 had no legal status, so people believed that traditional customs held no status on that day either. Hence, women were free to reverse the unfair custom that permitted only men to propose marriage.

In contemporary times, the idea of a woman proposing to a man at any time during the year is generally acceptable to the masses. Three-quarters of the respondents to a 2014 AP-WE tv poll said it would be fine for the woman to do the proposing, in theory. In the survey, nearly half of single women who hope to get married someday said they would consider proposing.

In practice, however, only about 5% of those currently married say the woman proposed, and the figure is no higher among couples wed within the past 10 years.

A stigma still seems to linger around the idea of a woman doing the proposing. During the 20th century, postcards, ads and articles would mock women for their aggressive behavior, casting them as desperate and unworthy. But, certainly, times have changed.

In 2010's romance/comedy Leap Year, Amy Adams is frustrated when another anniversary passes without a marriage proposal from her boyfriend. Aware of the Irish tradition that allows women to pop the question on Leap Day, she travels to Dublin to track down her fiancé in time to deliver a marriage proposal on February 29.

Image: BigStockPhoto.com