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Every diamond is different, incorporating a complex constellation of factors that determine the rarity of each stone. Although gemologists train for years to master the art and science of diamond appraisal, with a little basic instruction, anyone can learn how to read an appraisal and compare the grades of different stones.

Each diamond is as unique as the person who owns it. Just as a diamond reflects the color of the light it bears, it should also reflect the personality of the individual who wears it. Here lies the art of selecting a diamond, for yourself or as a gift.

Your knowledge of yourself or, if the diamond is a gift, your knowledge of a loved one, is expressed in your selection. Through your choice of a diamond, you are making a public statement either about yourself or about the loved one--and your relationship--and that statement is repeated every time the diamond is worn.

This is why, for many women, there is such mystique in diamond jewelry gifts, and why, for many men, there is such uncertainty in its selection. What is important in the selection of a diamond has little to do with the cost of the jewelry and much to do with the richness of the relationship.

Truly flawless diamonds are very rare, and very expensive, so you will seldom face the task of selecting a perfect diamond. It is a fairly simple matter to find beautiful diamonds with no flaws visible to the naked eye and buy them at reasonable prices.

Diamonds are graded using a system that judges the stone on its color, clarity, cut and carat weight - commonly known as the "four C's." Diamonds of uncommonly high quality and size are often sold as "certified diamonds" and come with a certificate that proves the stone's value. Even non-certified diamonds, however, should be evaluated using the four C's to help determine cost.

In this section, you will learn what each of the four C's mean and how each one affects the value of the diamond. Although it takes a trained eye to actually see the qualities described here, knowing what they mean can help you make a good choice in selecting your diamond.

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