Just two weeks after confirming her secret engagement to Ukrainian heavyweight boxer Wladimir Klitschko, actress Hayden Panettiere told E! News that she took a lead role in designing her dazzling 6-carat emerald-cut diamond engagement ring. Sporting a distinctive split-shank setting and a diamond-pavé band, the ring is estimated to be worth $500,000.

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“I designed it with Montblanc,” she said. “They made me this amazing book where they did a bunch of sketches. I told them my idea over time, and tweaking things here and there, it came to fruition.”

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After a bit of prodding on the October 9 edition of LIVE With Kelly and Michael, the petite five-foot-one-inch Nashville star finally admitted that she and her hulking six-foot-six-inch boyfriend were engaged.

“There’s a very large diamond ring on your ring finger,” noticed co-host Kelly Ripa. “I’m not sure if you want to announce anything. Does that signify anything? Is that a promise of something?”

“It might be,” Panettiere said coyly, with a giant snake draped over her shoulders. “I think it speaks for itself.”

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The 37-year-old boxer and the 24-year-old starlet met at a charity event and starting dating in 2009. They broke up in 2011, but rekindled their romance this past spring. “It’s like the 2.0 version,” Panettiere told Glamour magazine. It’s believed the couple has been unofficially engaged since March.

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Klitschko retained his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles on October 5 by outpointing previously undefeated Alexander Povetkin.

The pair has no wedding plans yet, due to Panettiere’s busy schedule. The second season of Nashville currently airs Wednesday nights on ABC.

 

Acting on the divine vision of a respected Hindu guru, Indian archaeologists began excavating the ancient Unnao fort in the village of Daundia Khera on Friday in a quest to find 1,000 tons of gold worth more than $40 billion.

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Swami Shobhan Sarkar told Indian authorities that he dreamt that a huge cache of gold was buried under the fort of former King Raja Ram Bux Singh. The king was an Indian martyr who fought the British during the country’s struggle for independence in 1857 and has long been associated with local stories of hidden treasure.

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The charismatic guru had written to the prime minister, Manmohan Singh, a few weeks earlier, explaining that the late king came to him in his dreams and asked him to not only find the treasure but hand it over to the government of India. The $40 billion bounty would be used to help India through these difficult economic times.

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“The dead ruler’s spirit has been roaming the palace and asking for the gold to be dug up. It is a hidden treasure for the country,” Sarkar said.

Apparently, the guru’s credibility warranted immediate action. A 12-person team from the Archaeological Survey of India was sent to survey the area and begin the excavation of two 100-square-meter blocks.

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Before the digging started, Sarkar performed prayers and marked out the points to be excavated by the archaeological team, the Press Trust of India reported. The digging, which will be conducted mostly by hand, could take 20 laborers a month to complete.

Deepak Chaudhary, a supervisor at the dig, told India Today that “drilling machines had hit something that seemed different from earth” about 20 meters under the soil. “We can establish it’s the treasure only after we dig that deep,” he said.

Thousands turned up at the site as the news of the buried bonanza spread. The district administration quickly beefed up security, banned access into the fort premises and assembled barricades to control the movements of curious onlookers.

Since reporting his initial prediction, Sarkar also announced his vision of second suspected gold burial site. The swami believes there is a 2,500-ton pile of gold (worth $100 billion) beneath a temple in the same region.

The new claim has attracted vandals and illegal digging at the site, with some treasure-hunters having already dug up nine different spots in search of the gold, according to the Hindustan Times.

 

For the Halloween edition of our blog, we introduce you to the spooky collection of bejeweled skeletons recently revealed by art historian and relic hunter Paul Koudounaris, also known as “Indiana Bones.” 

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The elaborate skeletons, which were hidden for centuries in churches throughout Europe, are the subject of Koudounaris’ new book, “Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures and Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs.” According to the Daily Mail, Koudounaris hunted down and photographed dozens of eerie, but beautifully adorned, skeletons in the world’s most secretive religious establishments.

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The Los Angeles-based Koudounaris believes the skeletons are about 2,000 years old and were removed from Roman catacombs during the 16th century on the orders of the Vatican. The relic hunter explained that the skeletons were certified by Vatican officials as early Christian martyrs and became sacred subjects known as “catacomb saints.”

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The catacomb saints were preserved with a glue-like substance made from animal fat and then painstakingly decorated with a bounty of gold, silver, pearls and gemstones — a task that could take up to five years.

Once completed, the adorned skeletons were displayed in Catholic churches throughout Europe as a tangible reminder of the spiritual treasures of the afterlife.

By the 19th century, the blinged-out skeletons fell into disfavor, as they really weren’t saints at all, and posed an embarrassment to the church. They were removed from display and hidden away in lock-ups and containers, according to Koudounaris.

“One of the reasons they were so important was not for their spiritual merit, which was pretty dubious, but for their social importance,” Koudounaris told the Daily Mail. “They were thought to be miraculous and really solidified people’s bond with a town. This reaffirmed the prestige of the town itself.”

 

Last updated August 3, 2017