Yeah, so I totally fell prey to all the hype surrounding the Hope Diamond, and I went to go see it on my whirwind tour of D.C. The 45 carat diamond is currently on display at the National Museum of Natural History. In my defense, I went to the museum with the intention of visiting their mineral display (which is phenomenal), and didn’t even really know that the Hope Diamond was there.
There were a couple of things about the Hope Diamond that I found really interesting. First, this was the first time that it’s been displayed unset. I felt that this was an honest way to show the diamond without the added distraction of the necklace. Also, the empty necklace without the diamond set in it was stunning on its own. It looked almost lonely in it’s incompleteness, and I really liked the nostalgia and vulnerability of the separation.
The other thing that really threw me about the Diamond was the fact that the exhibit actually addressed the fact that the stone is thought to be cursed. There are stories, although inaccurate, that depict the Hope Diamond originally being stolen from a Hindu Temple or being initially set in a religious sculpture; with the curse resulting from the sacrilege of the stones removal. Although a lot of the stories surrounding the stone are embellished or fabricated entirely, some of the lore is true. Many people who have encountered the diamond have died untimely deaths, from owners to stone setters, to potential thieves. It’s interesting how the history of the stone has been fabricated in such a way as to transform the diamond into an idol to be both feared and worshiped.
Images: original sketch of the Hope Diamond, uncut; Hope Diamond and empty setting at the Smithsonian.
After blogging about the Love Locks a while back, I noticed that the only location within the United States that Love Locks were being collected was in Guam, which is a pretty unattainable location for most of us to access. Love Padlocks are a custom by which sweethearts affix padlocks to a fence or similar public fixture to symbolize their love, or they’re used to commemorate a loved one. I found myself attracted to the memorial aspects of this guerrilla tradition, and how such simple devices are used to permanently mark emotions, loved ones, wishes, or memories. Naturally, I’d like to have an opportunity to have a collection point a little closer to home than Guam.
So, I’ve been scouting out locations to start a collection locally. Unfortunately, Providence urban planners have been pretty diligent about not using building materials that would be conducive to having padlocks attached to them. Traditionally, the site of a Love Padlock grouping is on a bridge or scenic outlook; that way the people who leave their lock can throw the key into the water or down the side of a cliff. It’s a nice symbolic gesture alluding to how the sentiment that is commemorated by the lock will last as long as the lock is in place. But, here in Providence there is no chain link, or fences with smaller rails by the rivers… Except for in India Point!
On a recent bike I ride, I noticed that the new hardscaping for the India Point Park overpass was done with really nice square link fencing, perfect for locking things to it! And, the location is just a short walk away from the Bay, where the keys can get tossed into the water! I’m going to be making up anonymous invitations to post around in order to get people to initiate the collection… so keep an eye out, or just go stick a lock over there ASAP!Images from top to bottom: Metal chain-link railings at Mount Huang, China, adorned with padlocks, the keys ceremoniously thrown to the bottom of the cliff; Love padlocks on the Passerelle Leopold Sedar Senghor in Paris; Future site of Love Padlocks in Providence’s India Point Park.
Apparently, I’m only making tacky or ironic posts these days. Supporting this revelation, I just came across an article from the Associated Press about a Swiss luxury watchmaker who just revealed a new design for a watch made of fossilized dinosaur feces, and poisonous toad skin costing $11,290. The dial is made of Coprolite, which is a fossilized animal dung.
“A relic of the Jurassic period, it has taken millions of years for this organic substance to embrace its present warm and matchless tints,” states the press release from Artya, sounding like something out of a J. Peterman catalogue parody ala Seinfeld. “In its mineral aspect, it forcefully underscores the pristine strength emanating from the very dawn of life.”
The coprolite used to make the watch dials came from a plant-eater that died about 100 million years ago in what is now the United States, designer Yvan Arpa told the Associated Press. The strap for the Coprolite watches is made with the blackened skin of American cane toads. In live cane toads, the skin is toxic and can kill if ingested.
Despite being an incredible expensive accessory, the watch looks pretty chintzy and cheap. The contrasting textures and colors compete for attention and result in a watch that definitely looks like you’re wearing crap on your wrist.
I just came across an interesting news story about the new phenomena of ‘love locks‘ in Cologne, Germany. Apparently, the officials in Cologne are baffled by the new romantic tendency to padlock ‘love locks‘ on the Hohenzollernbrücke bridge that stretches across the Rhine River.
According to this new custom, couples close the padlock and then toss the key into the Rhine to signify their enduring love. Commemorating the couples’ devotion to each other, there were originally only about 10 padlocks permanently affixed to the bridge, but the number has now grown to the thousands. Some have scratched their initials in the metal locks, while others have gone as far as having them professionally engraved to honor anniversaries, weddings, or other important dates. Apparently, the tradition began in Italy, and has slowly been spreading across the world.
This commemorative act is a very Victorian sentiment, so I found it to be intriguing. I really appreciate the symbolism of jointly sealing a token and relegating the key to the Rhine. The collection has become a physical index of peoples emotions. Aside from the sentimentality of the act, the locks themselves look beautiful on the bridge. I’ve attached a photo below of a collection of heart shaped locks from The Victoria and Albert Museum, which I though were appropriate to accompany this story. If you want to learn more, I came across an interesting wikipedia page that references other communities that have adopted this symbolic gesture.
Images: top and middle: ‘love locks‘ on the Hohenzollernbrücke bridge; bottom: Gold, enamel, and gem set hear shaped padlock clasp pendants, 1855.
I was recently shown this website, catsforgold.com, which boasts the refining service of turning your unwanted gold scrap into adorable cats. This seems like a wonderful opportunity to get rid of some junk, and receive a package of purring love in your mailbox.
Now, I have a couple of questions about the services touted by this website… First, what kindof cats are we talking about here? I really don’t want a stray cat or an alley cat, or a cat with feline leukemia. Also, is it possible to get a pet of lesser worth in trade for silver? Maybe a Guinnea pig? I do have a couple ounces of scrap silver lying around, and a new hamster would be nice.
Anyway, if you have some scrap gold and want a new pet, check out www.catsforgold.com…