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Choosing a diamond ring for the one you love or some nice earrings for yourself sounds easy, just go to your local jeweler and pick out what catches your eye. They all sparkle, but it's what your eye doesn't see that separates an OK diamond from a knockout.

Doing a little research about diamonds goes a long way especially when choosing solitaire pendants, earrings or rings. A solitaire is a larger single diamond rather than a cluster of smaller diamonds.

When you go shopping you need to be familiar with the 4Cs. This refers to the carat, cut, clarity, and color of a diamond.

First C-- Carat. This is a unit of weight measurement for all gemstones. The carat is further broken down into points the same way a pound is broken down into ounces. One carat equals 100 points, so a half carat is 50 points etc. The larger the carat weight of a single diamond, the larger it is. This is not true when it comes to clusters of diamonds. Clusters are measured by Total Carat Weight, the combined weight of all of the diamonds. You could have two rings with one-carat total weight but you need to look at the number of diamonds in each. One may have 10, 10 point stones the other may have 5 20 point stones. Remember the larger the diamond, the rarer the stone and greater the price.
But size isn't everything.

The next C--Cut. Cut refers to not only the shape of the actual stone, but the way it refracts light. First there are several shapes a diamond can have--round, oval, pear-shaped (teardrop), emerald, princess, and trillion to name a few. Round, oval and pear-shaped diamonds are self-explanatory. Emerald is rectangular shape, princess is square-shaped, and trillion is triangle-shaped. More important than the shape of the diamond is how it was cut. Facets are cut into the diamond and act as mirrors to reflect light. If a stone is cut too deep or shallow it will lose some of the light.

Clarity--This refers to the size and number of flaws or inclusions in a diamond. Inclusions are impurities in the diamond and can make the diamond look cloudy. Diamonds are rated from internally flawless (IF) to included (I). Where the inclusions are in the diamond can also determine its value.

Color--This of course refers to the color of the diamond. Diamonds can range in color from colorless to yellow. Color is graded on a scale from D and continues down through the alphabet. The less color a diamond has the more rare it is and the more expensive it tends to be. Diamonds can also be found in colors such as blue and pink. These are called fancy diamonds and are rare.

When purchasing a diamond, keep these 4 Cs in mind and ask for a fifth C--a certificate explaining all of the diamond's properties. Diamonds that have these are called certified. Certification shows you exactly what your are purchasing and generally comes with more quality stones. It can also be a helpful tool when insuring the diamond.