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How To Choose A Diamond

When buying a diamond it is very easy to get carried away. Before you begin shopping determine a budget. Only you can decide what amount is comfortable for you. Remember -- Diamonds are expensive and for this reason you need to know how to choose the best diamond for your money.

Set a Budget: Don't start looking for a diamond before you have set a budget. Setting a budget will allow you to quickly focus on the diamonds available in your price range.

Know the 4C's: Over the years, diamond professionals have developed standards for comparing and evaluating diamonds. These standards are better known as the 4 C's - Carat weight, Colour, Clarity, and Cut -- which, together, affect the appearance and value of the diamond. A diamond's value is influenced by its rarity. Before purchasing your diamond you should take the time to learn what characteristics influence a diamond's value. Only then can you decide which of the 4C's - Carat weight, Colour, Clarity, and Cut - are most important to you. Strive for a stone that offers the best combination of the 4C's.

Choose the shape that pleases you: Today's most popular shape is round, but diamonds come in many appealing shapes, including the emerald, heart, pear, and princess cuts.

Choose your diamond's colour: Remember, the difference in colour is minute, but the price is not.

Choose the Clarity: Most diamonds have blemishes and inclusions. These inclusions are what makes your diamond unique. Diamonds are graded under 10X magnification, so you might think twice before paying for better clarity that can't be seen with the naked eye.

Carat weight: Obviously everyone strives to purchase as large a diamond as possible. Remember, a large diamond is not always a beautiful diamond. Make sure you haven't compromised too much on the other C's before selecting your diamond. Be especially careful on the diamond's cut. A poorly cut diamond loses its fire and brilliance, therefore looking more like a piece of glass.

Buying diamonds on the Internet can be cheaper than buying them from conventional sellers due to lower overhead costs. But before deciding to buy a diamond online make sure the diamonds are certified through an independent laboratory.

An interesting page that discusses the 4C's in greater detail is Learning About The 4Cs Of Diamonds on Leo Schachter's site, a self-described diamond artisan.

Written initially by Dana H originally for WikiHow.

Zodiac Stones

Aries
Bloodstone: A variety of chalcedony that is green with small red inclusions of jasper, which resemble drops of blood, hence the name. People once thought that the bloodstone helped combat blood-related diseases and that it could even stop bleeding. Another name for the bloodstone is heliotrope.
Taurus
Sapphire: Is a type of corundum. A sapphire's hardness is second only to a diamond's. Sapphires are named after the Latin word for blue: sapphirus. Although most associated with the colour blue, sapphires also come in a variety of other colours. These fancy sapphires can be green, pink, and yellow. There are also some that change colour and look blue in direct sunlight and purple indoors.
Gemini
Agate: It is considered a precious stone in Islam. According to tradition the wearer of an agate ring, for example, is believed to be protected from various mishaps and will enjoy longevity, among other benefits. In other traditions agate is believed to cure the stings of scorpions and the bites of snakes, soothe the mind, prevent contagion, secure the favour of the powerful, and bring victory over enemies.
Cancer
Emerald: The Smithsonian Institution in Washinton D.C. is home to the Gachala Emerald. Donated by famous jeweller Harry Winston, it is uncut, measures about 5&bsp;cm, and weighs 858 carats (172 g). Another famous emerald is the 1759 carat (351.8 g) uncut Guinness Emerald Crystal. Both were found in Columbia.
Leo
Onyx: From the Greek onux, which means "fingernail", it is a variety of chalcedony that is comprised of parallel alternatively coloured layers of white and black. Onyx is thought to help one sleep better and some believe it can relieve stress and protect against discorders of the nervous system.
Virgo
Carnelian: Related to agate and onyx -- it is also a form of chalcedony -- the carnelian is favoured for its red-brown colour and most often this typically opaque stone is carved into cabochon: a polished convex oval shape. It is believed to combat infertility and impotence.
Libra
Peridot: The majority of peridot today is mined on the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona by Native Americans. Peridot has been mined for over four thousand years and is even remarked upon in the Bible, referred to by its Hebrew name, pitdah. Ancient Egyptians called it the "gem of the sun" and ancient Romans thought of it as the "evening emerald".
Scorpio
Beryl: Refers to a family of gemstones that includes aquamarines and emeralds. Beryls are actually colourless and get their colour from radiation or other minerals that bond with the crystal structure. Manganese turns it pink while a combination of iron and irradiation from uranium gives it a yellow hue.
Sagittarius
Topaz: Probably the most well-known topaz is the Braganza, a 1680 carat gem set in the Portuguese Crown. For years it was believed to be the second largest diamond in the world until it was discovered that it was in fact a colourless topaz. The ancient Greeks thought topaz could make the one who wears it invisible in times of dire need.
Capricorn
Ruby: Some famous star rubies include the Delong (100.32 carat), Midnight Star (116.75 carat), and the Rosser Reeves (138.7 carat). Star rubies are rubies cut into a cabochon that exhibit asterism: a phenomenon caused by dense inclusions of tiny parallel slender fibers in the mineral -- in the case of rubies it is small needles of rutile (titanium oxide) -- that cause the light to reflect a billowy star-like formation of concentrated light that moves around when the mineral is rotated.
Aquarius
Garnet: Supposedly, Noah navigated the rough seas in his boat that held the animals of the world for 40 days and 40 nights with the aid of a lantern carved from garnet. Garnet derives from the Latin word granatum -- pomegranate. This is because they resemble the seeds of a pomegranate.
Pisces
Amethyst: Considered sacred to Buddha by Tibetan monks, the prayer beds of their rosaries are frequently made of the gemstone. Exposing an amethyst to too much sunlight will negatively affect the stone, causing its colour to fade over time. Amethyst is thought to promote celibacy and that it symbolises piety. Thus its use in the Catholic churches, most prominently as the stone set in the rings of Bishops.

Birthstones

January
Garnet: is found in almost any colour, but blue garnets are exceptionally rare. The name garnet refers not to a specific mineral, but a group of similar minerals. The most well known are the almandine and pyrope garnets, because they are red: the colour most associated with garnets.
February
Amethyst: The ancient Greeks believed that if this transparent purple variety of quartz was worn it would prevent the wearer from becoming inebriated. An interesting myth is that if placed in the drinking bowl of a pet, it would reduce the fleas on the pet.
March
Aquamarine: A transparent variety of beryl, the name is Latin for "sea water" and was often given to sailors to ensure a safe voyage and was also believed to prevent naupathia: seasickness.
April
Diamond: According to Guinness World Records the largest cut diamond is an unnamed black fancy coloured diamond: a diamond containing impurities that make it appear black. It weighs 555.55 carats (111.11 g) and has 55 facets.
May
Emerald: Although hard, it is known to be brittle. Thus rough emeralds are oiled after they are cut and polished. The oil seeps into any microscopic fissures in the gemstone. This strengthens the emerald and improves its clarity.
June
Pearl: The only non-mineral, widely-accepted, birthstone, pearls form inside an oyster, or other mollusks, as the result of a defence mechanism against irritants inside the shell, which envelopes the irritant in layers of nacre: the internal surface of the oyster's shell.
July
Ruby: Rubies are the red-coloured variety of the mineral corundum. All other colours of corundum are classified as Sapphires. The name Ruby is derived from the Latin for red -- ruber. The Guinness World Record holding largest ruby was awarded to Beijin Fugui Tianshi Jewelry for its 8.184 kg ruby. It measures 130x138x145 mm and was officially certified in December 2005.
August
Peridot: Belonging to the olivine group of minerals, it is found not only on Earth but on meteorites. This makes it one of the only gemstones known to exist elsewhere. The intensity of the green colour of peridot depends on the amount of iron integrated within the crystal structure.
September
Sapphire: It is believed to increase friendship, generosity love, and wisdom. According to Guinness World Records the largest carved sapphire is a 80 500 carats (16.1 kg) stone that was displayed in March 2005 at a show inthe USA. It is multicoloured, featuring blue, gold, and grey.
October
Opal:The majority of precious opal -- those with the characteristically beautiful flashes of colour inside -- is found in Australia. The word opal derives from the Latin opalus, which means "precious stone". The opal symbolises hope, innocence, and purity.
November
Topaz: Blue topaz is not naturally occuring. Most topaz are varying shades of yellow, but other colours, such as green, grey, pink, and white, are also found. To imbue topaz with a blue hue, it is exposed to gamma radiation and heated.
December
Turquoise: The colour turquoise was named for this gemstone. One of the most famous archeological artifacts to incorporate turquiose is Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun's burial mask. The solid gold mask is also inlaid with carnelian and lapis lazuli
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Jewellery Links

Anglo Platinum
Collectible Costume Jewelry
Conflict Diamonds
Damiani
Diamonds.com
Gems and Precious Stones: An Online Course
GIA (Gemological Institute of America)
Gold-Eagle
Gold Inspirations: Gold Jewelry Magazine
ICA (International Colored gemstone Association)
IPA (International Platinum Association)
Jewelry.com
JewelryCentral.com
JewelryMagazine.com
Johnson Matthey's Platinum Today
Moonblossoms
Natural Gemstones at USGS (United States Geological Survey)
Paloma Picasso
The Platinum Collection
Platinum Guild International
Precious Stones In The Bible
PriceGems.com
Rinaldo Gavello
Saori C. Jewelry Designs
The Silver Institute
Stephen Webster
The Wire Jewelry Museum
The World Gold Council