Category: Stories of Interest (page 1 of 94)

This Might Be A Good Time To Sell Diamonds or Jewels

I need to start watching the diamond market more closely as I continue to see record setting auction prices. An incredible purchase recently took place in Hong Kong and set a new world record for any diamond or jewel for that matter. The oval mix-cut “Pink Star” diamond smashed the pre-sale estimate of $60 million and sold for an impressive $71.2 million. The bidding lasted only five minutes with an opening price of $56 million. The diamond was purchased by renowned Hong Kong jeweler Chow Tai Fook. Life for the Pink Star began after it was mined by De Beers in an unspecified location in Africa in 1999. It was uncovered as a 132.5 raw diamond and two years were spent cutting and preparing the diamond for the market. Obviously two years is an exceptionally long time to cut a diamond but this find was like no other. As it turns out this is the largest diamond ever classified as “internally flawless fancy vivid pink” as graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The giant pink diamond was also graded by the GIA to have the highest color and clarity. It is part of a rare subgroup of gem diamonds known as Type IIa, considered chemically the purest of all diamond crystals and accounting for less than 2 percent of all gem diamonds, according to Sotheby’s. Below are some the previous high selling gem auction prices from this past year. If you have some items that you’ve been thinking about selling, this might be a good time to consider…

  • The Oppenheimer Blue Recently Sold For $58 million: A 14.62-carat fancy vivid blue rectangular cut diamond that fetched a world record for any jewel sold at an auction. The blue diamond was sold by Christie’s Geneva Magnificent jewels sale in May. The Oppenheimer Blue was named in honor of its previous owner, Sir Philip Oppenheimer. ‘The Oppenheimers have been leaders in the diamond industry for generations and Sir Philip could have had any diamond he wanted. But he chose this one, with its perfect hue, impeccable proportions and fabulous rectangular shape.

  • De Beers Millennium Blue Recently Sold For $32 million: A 10.10-carat fancy vivid blue oval cut diamond. Sold at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite sale in April. The gem was unveiled by De Beers in 2000 to commemorate the millennium and displayed at London’s Millennium Dome.

  • The Unique Pink Recently Sold For $31.5 million: A 15.38-carat fancy vivid pear-shaped diamond sold for a world auction record price for any fancy vivid pink diamond. Sold at Sotheby’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels and Noble jewels sale in May.

  • The Cullinan Dream Recently Sold For $24.3 million: A 24.18-carat mixed cut fancy intense blue diamond. This blue diamond is the largest fancy intense blue diamond ever to be auctioned off. The blue diamond was sold at Christie’s New York Magnificent Jewels and the Cullinan Dream sale in May.

  • Pink Pear Shaped Diamond Recently Sold For $18.2 million: A 9.14-carat fancy vivid pink pear-shaped diamond, which was sold at Christie’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels sale in November.

  • Miroir de L’Amour Recently Sold For $17.7 million: A dazzling pair of 52.55 and 50.47-carat pear-shaped diamond earrings with color grading D-color and flawless clarity. In addition, the diamond earrings are graded type IIa, which makes them even rarer. The earrings are the world’s largest perfect pear-shaped diamond eardrops to be offered at an auction.

  • The Aurora Green Diamond Recently Sold For $16.8 million: This 5.03-carat rectangular-cut fancy vivid green diamond is called the Aurora green. This green diamond is set within a ring surrounded with pink round cut diamonds, which makes the color contrast even bigger. This item got sold at Christie’s Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels sale in May

Custer’s Last Stand

This weekend marks the anniversary of the “Battle of Little Bighorn”. For those not familiar with U.S. history, the battle pitted the the U.S. army’s 7th Cavalry Regiment against Indians from several tribes, primarily Sioux and Cheyenne. The leader of the U.S. Army was Lieutenant Colonel George Custer, and the Native Americans were led by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. The Indians had been successfully resisting American efforts to confine their people to reservations for more than a decade. Although both chiefs wanted nothing more than to be left alone to pursue their traditional ways, the growing tide of white settlers invading their lands inevitably led to violent confrontations. Increasingly, the Sioux and Cheyenne who did try to cooperate with the U.S. government discovered they were rewarded only with broken promises and marginal reservation lands. In 1876, after many claimed the U.S. Army blatantly ignored treaty provisions and invaded the sacred Black Hills land, many formerly cooperative Sioux and Cheyenne abandoned their reservations to join Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse in Montana. The U.S. Army soon ordered all the “hostile” Indians in Montana to return to their reservations or risk being attacked. Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse ignored the order and sent messengers out to urge other Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapahoe Indians to unite with them to meet the white threat. By the late spring of 1876, historians say more than 10,000 Indians had gathered in a massive camp along a river in southern Montana called the Little Big Horn. “We must stand together or they will kill us separately,” Sitting Bull told them. Custer had originally been told there were no more than 700 to 800 hostile Indians in the area. When the 7th Calvary attacked on June 25, 1876, near the Little Bighorn River in eastern Montana, they were greeted by what some say were thousands of Native Americans. The entire battle actually started in the afternoon and lasted overnight, but in the end the U.S. Army’s 7th Calvary was decimated. Many historians say the battle with Custer’s Battalion lasted less than an hour as he and his troops were grossly outnumbered, perhaps by a ratio of 9:1. Not only did Custer die, but so did two of his brothers, his brother-in-law, and his nephew were also killed. Call it bad intel, faulty strategy, or karma it was a rough outing for the U.S. military. (Source: History; Wiki)

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Great Wisdom From T. Boone Pickens

I was sent this brief life lesson the other day and wanted to pass it along. Apparently it was penned and posted on LinkedIn by T. Boone Pickens, the 89 year young, Founder, Chairman and CEO at BP Capital and TBP Investments Management. Good stuff!

Last month I turned 89 years old, mindful of the fact I’m now 24 years beyond traditional retirement age.

My post-65 era has included the most productive years of my life.

I was 68 when I left Mesa Petroleum. I turned out the lights at 6 p.m. my last day in the office, as I had throughout my career. Not once at my farewell dinner at Bob’s Steak and Chop House did I mention retirement.

When I then formed BP Capital, I went from having 400 employees to six. We started hunting with a rifle, not a shotgun.

I’ve long thought in terms of resurgence rather than retirement. One of my longtime associates, Bobby Stillwell, likes to say that “Boone has been in the prime of his life three times.” I first met Bobby in 1963, so he has seen a lot of water flow under the bridge. He left BP Capital some time back but he still serves as Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer of the T. Boone Pickens Foundation.

Indeed, an imaginary headline has captivated me for years: “The Old Man Makes a Comeback.” And I have repeatedly, most recently from mini-strokes I experienced in December.

I have learned that if you never give up, if you push through the resistance and keep driving for what you want, you will ultimately achieve rewards beyond any you had hoped for. Because deep down, just beyond the hard, tough spot we all have found ourselves in, there awaits the opportunity to become stronger, more successful, and more fulfilled than you ever imagined. You just can never, ever, give up.

Oh, there have been ups and downs throughout but if nothing else, I hope that I can serve as a role model for how to live in the fourth quarter of life. The rewards are beyond anything I experienced as a “young man.”

I show up to work every day by 7 a.m. and leave at 6 p.m. I tell anyone who will listen that the most critical trait for success in the workplace is a good work ethic.

Age is meaningless in some instances. I didn’t make my first billion until I was 70, and although I paid a good measure of taxes before then, I’ve paid more than 85 percent of my taxes since. Opportunity comes in many forms, and in America it is endless. We are allowed second, third, fourth, and fifth acts — and who knows how many more.

Admittedly, part of what drives me is fear. I want no part of becoming a FOFWAW — a Fine Old Fart With A Watch. Too many of my friends reached 65, retired, and then spent their days unengaged, unmotivated, and unenthused. Much too quickly, those days were done for them. They are gone.

I’ve lived by a watch that tells time a bit differently. I embrace change. Those facing retirement age don’t need a new watch but rather a different outlet. You can stay around as long as you stay active — and, of course as I’ve mentioned time and again — you have a plan.

I thank the Lord for letting me hang around as long as I have. Every day is still thrilling for me. I thrive when I’m in the middle of the action. That remains the only place for me. That’s my plan, and I’m sticking to it.

T. Boone Pickens, founder and chief executive officer of BP Capital LLC, speaks during the Skybridge Alternatives (SALT) conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Thursday, May 10, 2012. Participants from the around the world discuss macro-economic trends, geopolitics and alternative investment opportunities in the global economy. Photographer: Jacob Kepler/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** T. Boone Pickens

Summer Safety Reminder For Parents And Caretakers

Summer is fully upon us, unfortunately, it’s a time of year accompanied by headlines about the tragic deaths of children left in hot cars. More than 800 children have suffered fatal heatstroke in hot cars since 1990, including 12 so far this year. The children that have died have ranged in age from 5 days to 14 years. More than half of the deaths are children under 2 years of age. In 2016, the number of children that suffered vehicular heatstroke deaths hit a two year high of 39, breaking what advocates hoped was a downward trend. The deaths of most of these children can be blamed on sheer forgetfulness – since 2002, 54% of recorded deaths occurred when a parent or caretaker unintentionally forgot a child in the car. 28% occur when a child accidentally locks himself inside of a car (which often included child lock features in the back seat), and 17% occur when someone intentionally locks a child in the car. The circumstances in the remaining one percent of cases are unknown. One of the things these caretakers may not fully understand is how quickly a car heats up — and how hot it can get. According to “noheatstroke.org” founder Jan Null, on days when the external air temperature exceeds 86 degrees, the air in a car can reach 154 degrees. The air temperature inside a car rises, on average, 40 degrees with 80 percent of that occurring in the first thirty minutes. Most notable, perhaps, is that the air temperature outside the car does not affect how quickly the temperature inside the car rises. And the trick of cracking a window to keep the car cooler? That doesn’t seem to make an effective difference. In a recent study of a car with all windows cracked, the temps inside raised on average +3.1 degrees per five-minute interval, rather than 3.4 degrees with the windows closed. An organization called Kids and Cars is working with lawmakers to put a stop to these preventable deaths. Last week Representatives Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Peter King (R-N.Y.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) reintroduced the Hot Cars Act to ensure that an alert system is standard in every car to prevent these tragedies. In the mean time, there are already several devices on the market designed to prevent hot car deaths.

1. Sensorsafe is a technology found in some car seats from the brand Evenflo. There is a receiver that goes into your car’s diagnostics port, a socket located inside a vehicle that accesses various vehicle subsystems where small receivers can be installed to tap into a car’s computer system. That receiver communicates with the car seat’s smart chest clip – letting the driver know through a series of chimes whether a child is still in the seat after the car is turned off.

2. General Motor’s Rear Seat Reminder System: This feature in some GM cars uses back door sensors that become activated when either the rear door is opened or closed within 10 minutes of the vehicle being started, or while the vehicle is running. Under these circumstances, when you reach your destination a reminder appears on the dashboard as well as an audible chime notification. When Faris opened the rear door before starting the car and then turned off the car, this reminder popped up on the dashboard: “Rear Seat Reminder. Look In Rear Seat.”

3. Driver’s Little Helper Sensor System is a sensor system sold at several major retailers that can be put in a car seat. The sensor goes under the car seat padding where the child sits. The sensor is then attached to a battery pack and synced with an app. You can set when you want the app to send you notifications after you stop the car. You can set the interval for when you receive the notification — the fastest being a minute.

4. Waze, a popular traffic app, has a setting that will remind a driver to check his or her back seat when a destination entered into the app is reached. But it won’t alert a driver during an impromptu stop. As Faris pulled into the driveway for her Waze destination, she received an alert before she turned off the car: “Check your car before you leave.”

Other Tips – Experts recommend the following layers of protection, even if you are using some sort of electronic sensor. Janette Fennell, president and founder of KidsAndCars.org, recommends leaving your purse or briefcase in the back seat, telling your daycare to call if you haven’t arrived as scheduled or making a habit of always looking in the back seat before you walk away from the car. “The biggest mistake that parents make is they really feel this can’t ever happen to them,” Fennell said. (Sources: ABC, Parents, noheatstroke, KidsAndCars)

17 Inches… One of My All-Time Favorite Life Lessons!

This was sent my direction by my friend John Santi, Wealth & Investment Advisor. John is always passing along some interesting items, but this one really caught my attention and I wanted to share it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have…

Over twenty one years ago, in Nashville , Tennessee , during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA’s convention.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend.
One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh, man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter; I was just happy to be there.

In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate.

Seriously, I wondered, who is this guy?

After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage. Then, finally

“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?”

After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches?”, more of a question than answer.
“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth’s day? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”

Another long pause.

“Seventeen inches?” a guess from another reluctant coach.

“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”…………“Seventeen inches!”

“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?
“Seventeen inches!”

“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello!” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter. “What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. If you can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.’”

Pause. “Coaches… what do we do when your best player shows up late to practice? or when our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate?”

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold. He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline.

We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We just widen the plate!”

Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag. “This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

Silence. He replaced the flag with a Cross. “And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate for themselves! And we allow it.”

“And the same is true with our government. Our so called representatives make rules for us that don’t apply to themselves. They take bribes from lobbyists and foreign countries. They no longer serve us. And we allow them to widen home plate! We see our country falling into a dark abyss while we just watch.”

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curve balls and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable.

From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today.

It is this: “If we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools & churches & our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …”

With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside, “…We have dark days ahead!.”

Note: Coach Scolinos died in Nov 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach. His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players—no matter how good they are—your own children, your churches, your government, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.”

And this my friends is what our country has become and what is wrong with it today, and now go out there and fix it… “Don’t widen the plate!”

This is just a small excerpt of the full Van Trump Report that I send out every day. To find out what you’re missing, sign up for a FREE 30-day trial.

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