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Diamonds. Well, obviously, they're a girl's best friend, but what is it about these little bits of carbon that fire the imagination and cause men to open their wallets? Their beauty and rarity combine to make diamonds a sought-after gem for a woman's jewelry box.
Loose diamonds are becoming more popular too, as jewelry makers are more willing to design for individuals. Loose diamonds are diamonds that have not been set into a piece of jewelry. There are advantages to having loose diamonds. They can be set as any piece of jewelry the person wants, and in the kind of metal with the kind of design she wants.
When buying loose diamonds, or any other diamonds, a buyer should consider the now-famous 4 Cs: cut, color, clarity and carat. These four aspects of grading a diamond allow a buyer to determine its quality. The 4 C's determine how much loose diamonds - and set diamonds - cost. However, a buyer has to determine which of these takes precedence in choosing a diamond.
Cut is different from shape. Shape concerns whether the diamond is round, emerald-cut, or pear-shaped, for example. Cut concerns how the facets cut into a diamond reflect and refract light. The cut of a diamond has a great deal to do with how it looks to the naked eye - how it sparkles. Buyers should look for cuts that are rated at least "good."
Color determines how much yellow tinge is present in the diamond. The scale, from "D" to "Z," covers diamonds that are colorless to those with a faint yellow tinge. Some diamonds in the "H-J" range may appear nearly colorless, but much "warmer" than diamonds with less color. They are also usually less expensive.
Clarity refers to flaws or "inclusions" in the diamond. These grades range from the very rare flawless to "slightly included." These S1 or S2 diamonds generally have inclusions that are not visible to the naked eye, but appear under any strong magnification. A better choice might be to look for diamonds rated VS1 or VS2 - very slightly included.
Carat is often thought to regard size, but in reality, it refers to weight. Of course, a heavier diamond is usually a larger one, but carat does strictly mean weight.
Loose diamonds used to be the standard. They came into popularity in Western Europe sometime in the 13th century, probably through Venice, Italy, since it was a major trade city of eastern goods. By the 14th century, jewelers had set up shop in Venice as diamond cutters, and the stones were widely desired by royalty, who had them set in custom pieces. By the 17th century, diamonds had become the standard of perfection and symbols of ultimate wealth. Loose diamonds were still the primary way these gems were purchased, since ladies wanted to choose their own settings. Jewelry stores as we know them became popular in the 1800s.
Loose diamonds can be purchased online, but it is always better to see the actual stone before buying. A picture can only show so much, and the buyer should make certain the stone is what she wants before purchasing. Seeing the gem up close is also the only sure way of determining things like its fire and brilliance.
Diamonds are still pricey little devils, whether loose or set. A mediocre one will run hundreds of US dollars and the truly great ones go into the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. How much are you willing to pay for a best friend?