The Jeweler Blog Presents ‘Jewelry Sounds of the Nineties’

The Jeweler Blog has another roundup of Music Friday songs that feature jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. But this time we’re not asking you to stretch your memory muscles too far. It’s the nineties, and if the songs of this decade tell us anything, it’s that singing about love and romance — and the inevitable jewelry mentions that go along with them — never get old.

Artist: Prince
Year: 1991

Peaking at number one on the R&B charts and number three on the Billboard Hot 100, “Diamonds and Pearls” is the title track and just one of many hits from Prince and the New Power Generation’s 1991 album. Featuring the soulful vocals of Rosie Gaines, “Diamonds and Pearls” is an upbeat ballad about love. The song’s title, as well as its lyrics —“If I gave you diamonds and pearls, would you be a happy boy or a girl?”— put this song squarely in our Music Friday wheelhouse.

Interestingly, “Diamonds and Pearls” doesn’t have a traditional B-side, but rather a mashup of other songs on the album, a promotional effort which may have served to push four of the album’s other songs to hit single status. Or maybe it’s just Prince’s star power: in his career, the prolific artist has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, produced 10 platinum albums, and racked up 30 Top-40 singles.

Prince – Diamonds And Pearls – MyVideo

Artist: Billy Joel
Year: 1993

Billy Joel has long sung about his real life, whether it’s his surroundings (“Movin’ Out”), his loves (“Uptown Girl”), or, in the case of “Lullyabye”— his daughter, who was eight when this song was released on his River of Dreams album in 1993. The song’s gemstone reference is tangential but lovely nonetheless: “Goodnight my angel now it’s time to sleep. And still so many things I want to say. Remember all the songs you sang for me when we went sailing on an emerald bay.”

“Lullabye” went through several iterations before it became the tribute to Alexa Ray—Joel’s daughter with Christie Brinkley—that you hear on the album. Originally, it was written as an intro to the title track and was modeled after a Gregorian chant; Joel even had the words translated to Latin. Later, inspired by his daughter, he added lyrics to the melody. Joel fans who are curious about that earlier version can hear it on his box set, My Lives.

Artist: Journey
Year: 1996

Love that lasts forever is a “band of gold that shines” in Journey’s 1997 Grammy-nominated hit, “When You Love a Woman.” Journey was formed in 1973, hit its peak in the early eighties, and finally disbanded in 1987. After reuniting in 1995, “When You Love A Woman” was the lead single from their first new release, Trial By Fire. And, surprisingly, after a steady stream of hits in the seventies and eighties, it became the group’s highest-charting adult contemporary single.

The official video for the song—allegedly recorded at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch in California—is also one of Steve Perry’s last performances as lead vocalist. A hip injury prevented him from performing, and, after several temporary replacements, the group chose Filipino Arnel Pineda to be new lead vocalist. Where did they find him? On YouTube, of course. This is the nineties, after all. The video shows Pineda singing lead vocals in a live performance.

Artist: Diamond Rio
Year: 1998

When Diamond Rio’s lead singer Marty Roe sings about putting a “big down payment on that itty bitty diamond ring,” we want to know how big the down payment really could have been if the ring is that small. Maybe it just seemed big to him. Either way, the country crossover hit’s catchy refrain “kissable, huggable, lovable, unbelievable” will probably make you forget you ever had a question—at least for a little while.

Diamond Rio (how awesome is it that even the band’s name has a gem in it?) has comprised the same six members since it jumped on the scene in 1984. This is especially admirable when you consider that the group was first signed to Arista Records in 1988, but did not release its first single until 1991 because health issues were afflicting three of the members. Since that debut single, “Meet in the Middle” (which reached #1 on Hot Country Songs), the group has earned 13 Grammy nominations as well as fans beyond its solid Country base.

Artist: Peter Gabriel
Year: 1999

We know, we know… you’re saying, “But wait, I know this song. It’s from the movie Shall We Dance with Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez, and that movie is from 2004. You are so busted!” Okay, you’re right, but we’re not wrong. “Book of Love” did, indeed, garner mega-attention from that film, but because of its final lyric, “you ought to give me wedding rings,” and the fact that it was originally released on a 1999 album called 69 Love Songs, we get to include it in this list on both counts that matter.

Written by Stephin Merritt (best known as singer-songwriter of the Magnetic Fields) and performed by Peter Gabriel, the song was also featured on the Scrubs finale when J.D. prepares to leave Sacred Heart Hospital for the last time. Filmed in old-school movie style, the scene has J.D. envisioning a bright future for himself as Gabriel effectively delivers the show’s swan song.

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