Halloween, Part 2

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The word Halloween or Hallowe’en dates to about 1745 and is of Christian origin. The word “Hallowe’en” means “hallowed evening” or “holy evening”.  It comes from a Scottish term for All Hallows’ Eve (the evening before All Hallows’ Day).  In Scots, the word “eve” is even, and this is contracted to e’en or een. Over time, (All) Hallow(s) E(v)en evolved into Hallowe’en. Although the phrase “All Hallows'” is found in Old English “All Hallows’ Eve” is itself not seen until 1556.

Development of artifacts and symbols associated with Halloween formed over time. Jack-o’-lanterns are traditionally carried by guisers on All Hallows’ Eve in order to frighten evil spirits. There is a popular Irish Christian folktale associated with the jack-o’-lantern, which in folklore is said to represent a “soul who has been denied entry into both heaven and hell“:

On route home after a night’s drinking, Jack encounters the Devil and tricks him into climbing a tree. A quick-thinking Jack etches the sign of the cross into the bark, thus trapping the Devil. Jack strikes a bargain that Satan can never claim his soul. After a life of sindrink, and mendacity, Jack is refused entry to heaven when he dies. Keeping his promise, the Devil refuses to let Jack into hell and throws a live coal straight from the fires of hell at him. It was a cold night, so Jack places the coal in a hollowed out turnip to stop it from going out, since which time Jack and his lantern have been roaming looking for a place to rest.

In Ireland and Scotland, the turnip has traditionally been carved during Halloween, but immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin, which is both much softer and much larger – making it easier to carve than a turnip. The American tradition of carving pumpkins is recorded in 1837 and was originally associated with harvest time in general, not becoming specifically associated with Halloween until the mid-to-late 19th century.

Decorated house in Weatherly, Pennsylvania

The modern imagery of Halloween comes from many sources, including Christian eschatology, national customs, works of Gothic and horror literature (such as the novels Frankenstein and Dracula) and classic horror films (such as Frankenstein and The Mummy). Imagery of the skull, a reference to Golgotha in the Christian tradition, serves as “a reminder of death and the transitory quality of human life” and is consequently found in memento mori and vanitas compositions; skulls have therefore been commonplace in Halloween, which touches on this theme. Traditionally, the back walls of churches are “decorated with a depiction of the Last Judgment, complete with graves opening and the dead rising, with a heaven filled with angels and a hell filled with devils”, a motif that has permeated the observance of this triduum. One of the earliest works on the subject of Halloween is from Scottish poet John Mayne, who, in 1780, made note of pranks at Halloween; “What fearfu’ pranks ensue!”, as well as the supernatural associated with the night, “Bogies” (ghosts), influencing Robert Burns‘ “Halloween” (1785). Elements of the autumn season, such as pumpkins, corn husks, and scarecrows, are also prevalent. Homes are often decorated with these types of symbols around Halloween. Halloween imagery includes themes of death, evil, and mythical monsters. Black, orange, and sometimes purple are Halloween’s traditional colors.

Trick-or-treating is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. Children go in costume from house to house, asking for treats such as candy or sometimes money, with the question, “Trick or treat?” The word “trick” implies a “threat” to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given. The practice is said to have roots in the medieval practice of mumming, which is closely related to souling. John Pymm writes that “many of the feast days associated with the presentation of mumming plays were celebrated by the Christian Church.” These feast days included All Hallows’ Eve, Christmas, Twelfth Night and Shrove Tuesday. Mumming practiced in Germany, Scandinavia and other parts of Europe, involved masked persons in fancy dress who “paraded the streets and entered houses to dance or play dice in silence

In England, from the medieval period, up until the 1930s, people practiced the Christian custom of souling on Halloween, which involved groups of soulers, both Protestant and Catholic, going from parish to parish, begging the rich for soul cakes, in exchange for praying for the souls of the givers and their friends.

In Scotland and Ireland, guising – children disguised in costume going from door to door for food or coins  – is a traditional Halloween custom, and is recorded in Scotland at Halloween in 1895 where masqueraders in disguise carrying lanterns made out of scooped out turnips, visit homes to be rewarded with cakes, fruit, and money. The practice of guising at Halloween in North America is first recorded in 1911, where a newspaper in Kingston, Ontario, Canada reported children going “guising” around the neighborhood.

American historian and author Ruth Edna Kelley of Massachusetts wrote the first book-length history of Halloween in the US; The Book of Hallowe’en (1919), and references souling in the chapter “Hallowe’en in America”. In her book, Kelley touches on customs that arrived from across the Atlantic; “Americans have fostered them, and are making this an occasion something like what it must have been in its best days overseas. All Halloween customs in the United States are borrowed directly or adapted from those of other countries”.

While the first reference to “guising” in North America occurs in 1911, another reference to ritual begging on Halloween appears, place unknown, in 1915, with a third reference in Chicago in 1920. The earliest known use in print of the term “trick or treat” appears in 1927, in the Blackie Herald Alberta, Canada.

The thousands of Halloween postcards produced between the turn of the 20th century and the 1920s commonly show children but not trick-or-treating. Trick-or-treating does not seem to have become a widespread practice until the 1930s, with the first U.S. appearances of the term in 1934, and the first use in a national publication occurring in 1939.

A popular variant of trick-or-treating, known as trunk-or-treating (or Halloween tailgaiting), occurs when “children are offered treats from the trunks of cars parked in a church parking lot”, or sometimes, a school parking lot. In a trunk-or-treat event, the trunk (boot) of each automobile is decorated with a certain theme, such as those of children’s literature, movies, scripture, and job roles. Trunk-or-treating has grown in popularity due to its perception as being more safe than going door to door, a point that resonates well with parents, as well as the fact that it “solves the rural conundrum in which homes [are] built a half-mile apart”.

Halloween costumes are traditionally modeled after supernatural figures such as vampires, monsters, ghosts, skeletons, witches, and devils. Over time, in the United States, the costume selection extended to include popular characters from fiction, celebrities, and generic archetypes such as ninjas and princesses.

Dressing up in costumes and going “guising” was prevalent in Ireland and Scotland at Halloween by the late 19th century. Costuming became popular for Halloween parties in the US in the early 20th century, as often for adults as for children. The first mass-produced Halloween costumes appeared in stores in the 1930s when trick-or-treating was becoming popular in the United States.

The yearly New York Halloween Parade, begun in 1974 by puppeteer and mask maker Ralph Lee of Greenwich Village, is a large Halloween parade and one of America’s only major nighttime parades (along with Portland’s Starlight Parade), attracting more than 60,000 costumed participants, two million spectators, and a worldwide television audience of over 100 million. The largest Halloween parade in the world takes place in Derry in Northern Ireland, which was named the “best Halloween destination in the world” having been voted number one in a USA Today readers’ poll in 2015.

Eddie J. Smith, in his book Halloween, Hallowed is Thy Name, offers a religious perspective to the wearing of costumes on All Hallows’ Eve, suggesting that by dressing up as creatures “who at one time caused us to fear and tremble”, people are able to poke fun at Satan“whose kingdom has been plundered by our Saviour”. Images of skeletons and the dead are traditional decorations used as memento mori.

Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF” is a fundraising program to support UNICEF, a United Nations Programme that provides humanitarian aid to children in developing countries. Started as a local event in a Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood in 1950 and expanded nationally in 1952, the program involves the distribution of small boxes by schools (or in modern times, corporate sponsors like Hallmark, at their licensed stores) to trick-or-treaters, in which they can solicit small-change donations from the houses they visit. It is estimated that children have collected more than $118 million for UNICEF since its inception. In Canada, in 2006, UNICEF decided to discontinue their Halloween collection boxes, citing safety and administrative concerns; after consultation with schools, they instead redesigned the program.

There are several games traditionally associated with Halloween. Some of these games originated as divination rituals or ways of foretelling one’s future, especially regarding death, marriage and children. During the Middle Ages, these rituals were done by a “rare few” in rural communities as they were considered to be “deadly serious” practices. In recent centuries, these divination games have been “a common feature of the household festivities” in Ireland and Britain. They often involve apples and hazelnuts. In Celtic mythologyapples were strongly associated with the Otherworld and immortality, while hazelnuts were associated with divine wisdom. Some also suggest that they derive from Roman practices in celebration of Pomona.

The following activities were a common feature of Halloween in Ireland and Britain during the 17th–20th centuries. Some have become more widespread and continue to be popular today. One common game is apple bobbing or dunking (which may be called “dooking” in Scotland) in which apples float in a tub or a large basin of water and the participants must use only their teeth to remove an apple from the basin. A variant of dunking involves kneeling on a chair, holding a fork between the teeth and trying to drive the fork into an apple. Another common game involves hanging up treacle or syrup-coated scones by strings; these must be eaten without using hands while they remain attached to the string, an activity that inevitably leads to a sticky face. Another once-popular game involves hanging a small wooden rod from the ceiling at head height, with a lit candle on one end and an apple hanging from the other. The rod is spun round and everyone takes turns to try to catch the apple with their teeth.

Several of the traditional activities from Ireland and Britain involve foretelling one’s future partner or spouse. An apple would be peeled in one long strip, then the peel tossed over the shoulder. The peel is believed to land in the shape of the first letter of the future spouse’s name. Two hazelnuts would be roasted near a fire; one named for the person roasting them and the other for the person they desire. If the nuts jump away from the heat, it is a bad sign, but if the nuts roast quietly it foretells a good match. A salty oatmeal bannock would be baked; the person would eat it in three bites and then go to bed in silence without anything to drink. This is said to result in a dream in which their future spouse offers them a drink to quench their thirst. Unmarried women were told that if they sat in a darkened room and gazed into a mirror on Halloween night, the face of their future husband would appear in the mirror. However, if they were destined to die before marriage, a skull would appear. The custom was widespread enough to be commemorated on greeting cards from the late 19th century and early 20th century.

In Ireland and Scotland, items would be hidden in food—usually a cake, barmbrackcranachanchamp or colcannon—and portions of it served out at random. A person’s future would be foretold by the item they happened to find; for example, a ring meant marriage and a coin meant wealth.

Up until the 19th century, the Halloween bonfires were also used for divination in parts of Scotland, Wales and Brittany. When the fire died down, a ring of stones would be laid in the ashes, one for each person. In the morning, if any stone was mislaid it was said that the person it represented would not live out the year.

Telling ghost stories and watching horror films are common fixtures of Halloween parties. Episodes of television series and Halloween-themed specials (with the specials usually aimed at children) are commonly aired on or before Halloween, while new horror films are often released before Halloween to take advantage of the holiday

Haunted attractions are entertainment venues designed to thrill and scare patrons. Most attractions are seasonal Halloween businesses that may include haunted housescorn mazes, and hayrides, and the level of sophistication of the effects has risen as the industry has grown.

The first recorded purpose-built haunted attraction was the Orton and Spooner Ghost House, which opened in 1915 in Liphook, England. This attraction actually most closely resembles a carnival fun house, powered by steam. The House still exists, in the Hollycombe Steam Collection.

It was during the 1930s, about the same time as trick-or-treating, that Halloween-themed haunted houses first began to appear in America. It was in the late 1950s that haunted houses as a major attraction began to appear, focusing first on California. Sponsored by the Children’s Health Home Junior Auxiliary, the San Mateo Haunted House opened in 1957. The San Bernardino Assistance League Haunted House opened in 1958. Home haunts began appearing across the country during 1962 and 1963. In 1964, the San Manteo Haunted House opened, as well as the Children’s Museum Haunted House in Indianapolis.

The haunted house as an American cultural icon can be attributed to the opening of the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland on 12 August 1969. Knott’s Berry Farm began hosting its own Halloween night attraction, Knott’s Scary Farm, which opened in 1973. Evangelical Christians adopted a form of these attractions by opening one of the first “hell houses” in 1972.

The first Halloween haunted house run by a nonprofit organization was produced in 1970 by the Sycamore-Deer Park Jaycees in Clifton, Ohio. It was cosponsored by WSAI, an AM radio station broadcasting out of Cincinnati, Ohio. It was last produced in 1982. Other Jaycees followed suit with their own versions after the success of the Ohio house. The March of Dimes copyrighted a “Mini haunted house for the March of Dimes” in 1976 and began fundraising through their local chapters by conducting haunted houses soon after. Although they apparently quit supporting this type of event nationally sometime in the 1980s, some March of Dimes haunted houses have persisted until today.

On the evening of 11 May 1984, in Jackson Township, New Jersey, the Haunted Castle (Six Flags Great Adventure) caught fire. As a result of the fire, eight teenagers perished. The backlash to the tragedy was a tightening of regulations relating to safety, building codes and the frequency of inspections of attractions nationwide. The smaller venues, especially the nonprofit attractions, were unable to compete financially, and the better funded commercial enterprises filled the vacuum. Facilities that were once able to avoid regulation because they were considered to be temporary installations now had to adhere to the stricter codes required of permanent attractions.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, theme parks entered the business seriously. Six Flags Fright Fest began in 1986 and Universal Studios Florida began Halloween Horror Nights in 1991. Knott’s Scary Farm experienced a surge in attendance in the 1990s as a result of America’s obsession with Halloween as a cultural event. Theme parks have played a major role in globalizing the holiday. Universal Studios Singapore and Universal Studios Japan both participate, while Disney now mounts Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party events at its parks in Paris, Hong Kong and Tokyo, as well as in the United States. The theme park haunts are by far the largest, both in scale and attendance.

On All Hallows’ Eve, many Western Christian denominations encourage abstinence from meat, giving rise to a variety of vegetarian foods associated with this day.

Because in the Northern Hemisphere Halloween comes in the wake of the yearly apple harvest, candy apples (known as toffee apples outside North America), caramel or taffy apples are common Halloween treats made by rolling whole apples in a sticky sugar syrup, sometimes followed by rolling them in nuts.

At one time, candy apples were commonly given to trick-or-treating children, but the practice rapidly waned in the wake of widespread rumors that some individuals were embedding items like pins and razor blades in the apples in the United States. While there is evidence of such incidents, relative to the degree of reporting of such cases, actual cases involving malicious acts are extremely rare and have never resulted in serious injury. Nonetheless, many parents assumed that such heinous practices were rampant because of the mass media. At the peak of the hysteria, some hospitals offered free X-rays of children’s Halloween hauls in order to find evidence of tampering. Virtually all of the few known candy poisoning incidents involved parents who poisoned their own children’s candy.

One custom that persists in modern-day Ireland is the baking (or more often nowadays, the purchase) of a barmbrack (Irishbáirín breac), which is a light fruitcake, into which a plain ring, a coin, and other charms are placed before baking. It is said that those who get a ring will find their true love in the ensuing year. This is similar to the tradition of king cake at the festival of Epiphany.

Drinking Pickle Juice: 10 Reasons It’s All the Rage

 

 

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At first, drinking pickle juice might sound kind of gross. But there are several reasons to consider it.

Athletes have been sipping this briny beverage for years. Experts didn’t know all the reasons why pickle juice was good to drink after exercising. They just knew that it seemed to help relieve cramps.

They were right. It appears to help with muscle cramps, plus more. Here’s a look at 10 healthy benefits of drinking pickle juice.

1. It soothes muscle cramps

Dehydrated men experienced faster relief from muscle cramps after drinking pickle juice, according to a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

About 1/3 cup of pickle juice is all it took to have this effect. Pickle juice relieved cramps more than drinking the same amount of water. It also helped more than drinking nothing at all.

This could be because the vinegar in pickle juice may help with rapid pain relief. Vinegar may help stop nerve signals that make tired muscles cramp.

2. It helps you stay hydrated

For most people, drinking water for hydration after a workout is fine. Water is probably all you need if you’re exercising moderately or for an hour or less.

But it’s a different story if you’re exercising hard, exercising for longer than an hour at a time, or exercising in hot climates.

Drinking something with sodium and potassium can help you get hydrated faster. Sodium is an electrolyte that you lose when you sweat. Potassium is another electrolyte lost in sweat.

Pickle juice contains a lot of sodium. It also has some potassium. After a sweaty or lengthy exercise session, sipping some pickle juice can help your body recover to its normal electrolyte levels more quickly.

Watching your sodium intake or on a low-sodium diet? Be sure to check with your doctor and dietitian about pickle juice before drinking it.

3. It’s a fat-free recovery aid

If you’re trying to lose weight, you’re probably not too psyched about consuming high-calorie sports drinks.

It’s still a good plan to replace lost electrolytes after exercising hard, for a long time, or in hot weather. Plus, if your muscles are cramping, you’ll probably want relief as fast as possible.

Pickle juice to the rescue! Pickle juice contains no fat, but it can have some calories. It can have anywhere from zero to 100 calories per 1-cup serving. The amount of calories depends on what’s in the pickling solution.

4. It won’t bust your budget

If you already eat pickles regularly, you don’t have to spend money on sports drinks. Even if you don’t eat pickles, you can still choose pickle juice as a budget-friendly alternative to more expensive workout beverages.

You can also buy commercially prepared pickle juices marketed as sports drinks. They cost more than drinking what’s left in your pickle jar when all the pickles are gone. The upside is that you’ll know from reading the nutrition label what you’re getting in each serving.

5. It contains antioxidants

Pickle juice has significant amounts of vitamins C and E, two key antioxidants. Antioxidants help shield your body from damaging molecules called free radicals. Everyone gets exposed to free radicals, so having plenty of antioxidants in your diet is a good idea.

Vitamins C and E also help boost your immune system function, among other roles they play in your body.

 

PALLADIUM VS PLATINUM & WHITE GOLD!

 

Palladium, Platinum and White Gold - Metal Illustration

Take a strong hard look onto the four beautiful yellow diamond engagement rings here above – can you tell which is made of platinum, which made of white gold or even palladium?

Palladium, Platinum or White Gold?

The beautiful stone that’s displayed on top of your finger is the primary focus of every engagement ring. However, the color, weight and quality of the band on which it rests are other important factors to consider when choosing a ring that follows you through eternity. The choices of quality metal are seemingly limitless, and certain options that appear similar to the untrained eye are actually very different. Before you decide on a band, you must know the differences between some of the most popular wedding band metals: palladium, white gold and platinum.

What is Palladium?

One of the world’s rarest metals, palladium makes for a special wedding band that’s high in quality and, relatively speaking, lower in price than other high-quality metals. With the increase in the price of gold and platinum, palladium is one of the best choices for those with a lower budget who don’t want to sacrifice quality or beauty.

The metal is similar to platinum in that it’s hypo-allergenic and keeps well over time. Like the love shared between a married couple, it’s strong and never tarnishes over the years. It doesn’t require plating or other metals for protection – it will naturally stay white without regular maintenance and care. While it’s in the same group as platinum and looks very similar, it’s much lighter than its sister metal which is good for pricing but might feel weird for some (and great for others).

The popularity of palladium in engagement rings has recently soared – in fact, many are questioning whether it is becoming the new platinum.

It was officially recognized as a precious metal in January 2010, and it’s now a legal requirement that any palladium ring that weighs more than 1 gram is hallmarked. It’s even been said that palladium is rarer than gold.

The Cons of Palladium: Still rare and hard to find. Not all jewelers and craftsman are experienced working with it and therefore the existing amount of designs made in Palladium is very limited and those that are able to do custom made rings are also limited (not all designs can be made in palladium). Repairing it (including resizing) is problematic and even if possible will probably leave a mark.

White Gold

Since gold is typically a yellow color, other metals are needed to create a white finish. Palladium is actually one of the alloys used to change the hue of the metal, in addition to silver, copper, nickel and zinc, which work together to make it especially strong and durable. It’s also quite resistant to rust and corrosion.

While the end result may appear silver, there will always be a slight golden glimmer in white gold wedding bands. It’s available in a variety of carats, which allows for a beautiful metal no matter what your budget. Prices and styles vary based on the metals used to produce the white shade and the percentages of each one.

Beautiful and original, white metal is a natural element, which makes it more prone to damage from harsh chemicals. Those with the unique bands must take extra care when using household cleaning products, and should regularly wash their rings to ensure optimal shine and quality. With proper care, this metal is personal and long lasting.

Platinum

As the top-of-the-line metal for engagement bands, platinum is the leader in beauty and quality. It’s the most durable, as well as the heaviest and most expensive option on the market. It never wears out and only needs period gentle washing with soap and water to keep it shiny and bright. The white metal accentuates any stone you choose, and work particularly well with blue and pink diamonds.

As the rarest of the metals, platinum is one of the most popular choices for engagement rings. While it’s also the most expensive of the options, some designs may not cost much more than a higher end white gold, depending on weight and intricacies. It requires less maintenance than both white gold and palladium, and is the brightest white of all the metals.

Why is Platinum so much more expensive than Palladium and Gold?

As can be seen, today, Gold and Platinum are pretty near in pricing and when gold was in the $1,600+ it even passed the platinum (for a short time for a short amount) whereas in the past the spreads were enormous.

At times, when gold was in the area of $1,000 per oz platinum was in the $2,000 area.

For proportions, keep in mind that during July of 2014 Palladium has hit its 13 years high at $872.90 (during that moment Platinum was around $1500). But, if now the prices are so close to each other, how come platinum bands & rings still costs 2-3 times more than gold and palladium?

The sum of the parts is greater than the whole! The price of the band is not made only from the price of the material. Platinum is by far heavier than gold, around 60%. Meaning that if a gold ring would have weighed around 5gr of gold, then it would have weighed approximately 8 gr in platinum.Platinum jewelry is consisted of nearly pure platinum. When you craft gold jewelry you usually make it from 14k gold or 18k gold. The meaning is percentage of gold within the alloy. 14k gold is 14 out of 24 which means 58% gold (same logic for 18 which makes it 75%). This is the part you pay for… the rest is not really calculated. Palladium is also pure (approximately 95%). However, as mentioned above, the same ring would weigh much less in palladium than platinum, combine the fact that the material is cheaper… and the result is cheaper.Platinum manufacturing process is more complex than gold which adds labor costs.

Lotus Flower

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Because of this the lotus flower has come to be associated with purity and beauty in the religions of Buddhism and Hinduism respectively; the ancient Egyptians scholars observed that in the night-time the lotus closed its flowers and sank into the water, and came up with a different association with the flower related to rebirth and the Sun; in actual fact the Lotus slowly emerges from a pond over a three day period and then blooms in the morning until mid-afternoon.

It can therefore be assumed that the lotus flower meaning is different between cultures, though in fact they share many similarities.

I would like to explain how some of these associations came about, and I will therefore split up this article into three main sections, based upon the three main groups, that is to say that of the ancient Egyptians, the Buddhists, and Hinduism.

Meaning of the Lotus Flower to the Ancient Egyptians

Anybody who has taken a look at Egyptian culture cannot fail to have noticed the significance of the meaning of the Lotus flower in their culture.

In ancient Egypt there were two main types of lotus that grew, the white, and the blue (scientifically a waterlily, but symbolically a lotus). Further to this another type, the pink lotus flower was introduced into Egypt sometime during the late period of their civilization. If one is to observe the many hieroglyphics, it is easy to see that the blue Lotus flower is the most commonly portrayed.

As mentioned in the introduction above about the meanings of the lotus flower, this plant is known to be associated with rebirth. This is a consequence of it supposedly retracting into the water at the night, and emerging a fresh in the Sun the next day (see the introduction for how a lotus plant actually comes into bloom). The Egyptians therefore associated the lotus flower with the sun which also disappeared in the night, only to re-emerge in the morning. Therefore the lotus came to symbolize the Sun and the creation. In many hieroglyphics works the lotus is depicted as emerging from Nun (the primordial water) bearing the Sun God.

As something that is associated with rebirth, it is no surprise that the lotus flower is also associated with death, and the famous Egyptian book of the dead is known to include spells that are able to transform a person into a lotus, thus allowing for resurrection.

Another interesting fact about the lotus flower meaning to the Egyptians was the way that it was used as a symbol for the unification of the two Egyptian kingdoms, that is to say the bonding of upper and lower Egypt. For a long time the lotus had been used in the hieroglyphics and art of upper Egypt, whereas in lower  Egypt the Papyrus plant was notably in abundance. Therefore pictures of lotus and Papyrus that had grown up together and become inter-wound with each other came to be a symbol of the bringing together of the two kingdoms.

Lotus Flower Meaning in Buddhism

In Buddhism the lotus is known to be associated with purity, spiritual awakening and faithfulness. The flower is considered pure as it is able to emerge from murky waters in the morning and be perfectly clean. Therefore in common with Egyptian mythology the lotus is seen as a sign of rebirth, but additionally it is associated with purity. The breaking of the surface every morning is also suggestive of desire, this leads to it being associated with spiritual enlightenment.

As Buddhism stems from a different part of the world to Egyptology, there are many more colors of lotus to be seen. So it is not too surprising that the many different colors have come to be associated with  different aspects of Buddhism. The main symbolism of the lotus flower and their meanings are given here.

  1. Blue Lotus: The blue lotus flower is associated with a victory of the spirit over that of wisdom, intelligence and knowledge. If you get to see it a blue Lotus in Buddhist art you will notice that it is always depicted as being partially open and the centre is never observed.
  2. White lotus flower: this color lotus is known to symbolize Bodhi (being awakened), and represents a state of mental purity, and that of spiritual perfection; it is also associated with the pacification of one’s nature. This lotus is considered to be the womb of the world.
  3. Purple Lotus: known to be Mystic and is associated with esoteric sects. It can be shown depicted as either an open flower or as a bud. The eight petals of the purple Lotus are representative of the noble eightfold path; one of the principal teachings of the Buddha. Following this path is thought to lead to self awakening, and is considered one of the noble truths.
  4. Pink lotus flower: this is the supreme lotus and is considered to be the true lotus of Buddha.
  5. Red lotus: this is related to the heart, and the Lotus flower meaning is associated with that of love and compassion.

The Lotus Flower and its Meaning in Hinduism

Perhaps one of the strongest associations of the lotus flower with religion is that that is observed in Hinduism. In this religion the lotus flower meaning is associated with beauty, fertility, prosperity, spirituality, and eternity.

Many of the gods and goddesses of Hinduism are linked to the flower, for example the goddess of prosperity, Laxmi, is usually depicted as being seated atop a fully opened lotus flower. Likewise Brahma, the god of creation is depicted as emerging from a lotus that crawls from the Naval of the sustainer Lord Vishnu.

As a lotus is able to emerge from Muddy Waters un-spoilt and pure it is considered to represent a wise and spiritually enlightened quality in a person; it is representative of somebody who carries out their tasks with little concern for any reward and with a full liberation from attachment.

It is very interesting how the open flower and the unopened Lotus bud forms are associated with human traits. The unopened bud is representative of a folded soul that has the ability to unfold and open itself up to the divine truth.

Stock Market 101: Understanding the Basics InvestingPersonal Finance

 

Bank exchange rate display

The stock market is a complicated entity to understand. We’re bombarded with information about stocks, and the ebbs and flows of the trading day, but some people might have a hard time understanding the basics.

You may have read about Snapchat opening up an IPO, and wondered what an IPO is, and why they are important?

My goal here is to break down the basics of the stock market – the stuff you need to know if you want to impress your friends at dinner one night.

Get ready for Stock Market 101, and buckle in.

Disclaimer: This post will by no means make you a stock market expert. If you’re looking for trading tips and advice, I suggest you consult someone who does that for a living.

Dow Jones Industrial Average, Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500

These are the three bigwigs that make up the New York Stock Exchange (the place where most of the trading goes down). Each of these is called a “stock market index,” which is just a fancy way of saying that they’re methods used to measure a section of the stock market.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is an index that measures the stock trading of 30 different blue-chip companies, ranging from American Express to Walt Disney. Implemented in 1896, it’s probably the most-watched stock index in the United States.

The Nasdaq Composite is also closely watched for other reasons. Its more than 3,000 components consist primarily of technology companies and growth companies, but it also holds components of companies not in the United States.

The third horse in this race is the S&P 500. The S&P first came on to the scene in 1923, and the 500 stands for the number of companies that have their stock included in this index.

What Is a Stock, Anyway?

Stocks are pretty simple. Investors buy stock for a particular company because they feel that the particular company’s valuation will increase. You invest in the stock, sit on it and watch it appreciate (go up in value) – or depreciate and go down.

There are two types of stocks: common stocks and preferred stocks. Common stock is what most people think of when they think of stock. You buy shares in the company (it could be one share or 1,000) – and you watch the value go up or down. The goal is to buy low and sell high. Depending on the investment policies of the company, they may or may not give money back to the shareholders in the form of a dividend.

Preferred stocks are a combination of a traditional stock and the bond (more on bonds later!). The price doesn’t change as much as regular stocks, and there’s always a dividend. Common stockholders get the right to vote on certain matters, while preferred stockholders do not.

Shares and Stock Valuation

Whether the stock is common or preferred, publicly traded companies are sold in shares. When you buy stock in Alphabet (parent company of Google) or Snapchat or Hershey’s, you buy a small piece of the company, a share. The actual percentage of the company that’s represented by each share depends on how many shares are available for trading as well as the terms for shares that aren’t publicly available. These latter types of shares are typically reserved for company executives and early investors.

Stock valuation is a term for figuring out how much a stock is worth. Part of that is based on share price, but it goes beyond that. We’ll get into some of this later on, but for now, what causes stock prices to move?

What Causes Stock Market Fluctuations?

The basics of stock prices fall under the principles of supply and demand. If more people want to buy a stock (the demand is high) than how much stock is available to trade (supply is low), the price of that stock moves up. On the other hand, if people don’t want to buy a stock (low demand), and there is a surplus of said stock (high supply), the price of that stock will be low.

After that, it gets a little more complicated. There’s also a global economic element to this.

“It’s a Small World” may be a Disney song, but it becomes truer every day in business. The big corporations listed on the stock market tend to have investments all over the globe. Imagine something happens – anything from an oil spill to the election of an unexpected politician. Whatever it is, if it causes a big enough shock over a big enough area, it may cause people to take their money out of stocks and put it back into bonds, which are considered safer assets due to guaranteed returns.

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While that tends to be good for mortgage rates, it’s not good for your stock portfolio.

Making things even more complicated is the fact that you can’t value a company on the share price alone. Let’s dig in just a little deeper.

Dividends, Dividend Yield and Market Capitalization

Dividends are the payments made by a corporation to its shareholders, and are based off of the company’s profits. If a company does well, the shareholders’ dividends increase. If a company is doing poorly, the shareholders’ dividends would decrease, and the holder would probably consider selling them off.

Market capitalization is simply the price of individual stock of a particular company multiplied by the number of shares being traded.

So if a company’s share is worth $100, and there are 50 million shares being traded, the company’s market capitalization would be $5 billion. If a company’s share is worth $50, but there are 150 million shares being traded, that company’s market capitalization would be $7.5 billion.

That’s why you cannot value a company based solely off of the price of their stocks.

Also, from an investing standpoint, you should be wary of investing in stocks simply because they’re trading at a high dollar value. You want to take a look at what is called the “dividend yield,” which is how much a company pays out in dividends each year divided by its share price.

To get the basics on dividend yields, let’s do a quick example. Let’s say Sabre is trading for $20 a share, and Dunder Mifflin is trading for $40 a share. If both companies pay out a dividend of $1 per share a year and you have the money to buy into one or the other, which company would you invest in based off of the dividend yield?

If you said Sabre, you’re right. Sabre would be yielding at 5%, while Dunder Mifflin would be yielding at 2.5%.

Initial Public Offering (IPO)

Snapchat is a perfect example to explain what an initial public offering is, simply because they just issued their IPO recently. It has dominated headlines and is probably the most anticipated public offering since Facebook, a fellow competitor in the social media space.

An IPO is the first sale of stock from a private company looking to be publicly traded. IPOs are usually used to raise capital to expand in some way, shape or form, by getting investors to invest cash into a business for a hopeful large return later on.

Companies go public for a variety of reasons. It enables them to raise a sizable wad of cash in order to carry out future plans for expansion and continued operations. It also allows the founders and initial investors to begin to reap the rewards of their hard work by making some of their own stock publicly available.

Bonds and Treasury Bills

Bonds and treasury bills (or T-bills) are similar and different at the same time. Although they aren’t stocks, if you’re going to participate in the market, it probably helps to understand how they work. Both bonds and treasury bills involve an upfront investment with the understanding that a fixed interest rate will give you a solid return on the investment – but how long it takes for you to get that return and how the return is calculated differs between the two.

Bonds offer a fixed rate of interest over a fixed period of time. You don’t get as much of a return on your investment as you would if you were to invest in the stock market, but since it’s a fixed rate, volatility is a non-issue.

T-Bills are bought for a shorter period of a time and are always bought back less than a year later. T-Bills are also only available in denominations of $1,000 and have a maximum purchase of $5 million. They are purchased from an auction setting, and your return value is calculated by the difference between the discounted value you paid for the T-bill and the amount you receive back.

Hypothetically, if you invested $9,000 in a 13-week T-bill, you would be getting a letter from the U.S. Government saying “Hey, pal. Thanks for purchasing this T-bill. In 13 weeks, with our 2.04% interest rate, we’re going to cut you a check for $9,183 for your trouble.” As a result, you just made $183 on your investment for letting the government borrow $9,000 for 13 weeks.

Overwhelmed yet? If, on the other hand, what you’re feeling is closer to excitement than exhaustion, you might want to figure out how to get started investing.

Stock Market 101: Understanding the Basics

Andalusite – The Unknown Star

Andalusite – The Unknown Star Article Comments

Andalusite is a beautiful semi-precious gemstone with a diverse and changeable personality. It is often used in art objects and jewelry. Andalusite was first discovered in Andalucia, Southern Spain from which it gets its name.

There are some good reasons for its artistic popularity. Andalusite is known for its pleochroism. Pleochroic minerals reflect different colors resulting from the absorption of different wavelengths of light traveling through the crystal from different directions. Mother Nature produces andalusite in brown, green, red, yellow, greenish-brown and brownish-green. Other gemstones that share pleochroic characteristic include carletonite, elbaite, iolite, kunzite, tanzanite and zoisite.

Asterism is another light effect that occurs in some gemstones. Some andalusites benefit from this phenomenon. The Greek word aster means star. When some crystal gemstones are formed, minute needle-like mineral deposits form a star or cross shape in the gemstone. This variety of andalusite is called chiastolite and contains the dark mineral strips of carbon or clay, which form an X or cross. These andalusite gemstones are sometimes used in the creation of inspirational items and jewelry. Check out tigereyejewels.com to see a magnificent multi-gemstone Rosary featuring andalusite. Star Sapphires, star rubies and star rose quartz are all the result of asterism.

Another gemstone effect that is similar to asterism is called cat’s eyes. It is caused by the same inclusion of minute mineral crystals imbedded in gemstones and reflecting light. However, with the cat’s eye affect the imbedded mineral shimmers from top to bottom. Andalusite is one of the most common cat’s eye stones. The cat’s eye effect is also known as the chatayancy, which comes from the French word for cat (chat – pronounced, shot).

Relating cats to gemstones is an ancient trend that we still enjoy today. Tiger eye gemstone has been popular since ancient times and just as andalusite has its particular beauty expressed in terms of cats. You can see the two gemstones elegantly combined at tigereyejewels.com.

How Were Birthstones Chosen for Each Month?

How Were Birthstones Chosen for Each Month?

Photos of Birthstones

Do you have a favorite type of gemstone? Of course, many people love diamonds. But there are many other types of beautiful gemstones.

In fact, each month of the year has a particular gemstone associated with it. We call these special monthly gemstones birthstones, since many people believe the particular gemstone that corresponds to the month of their birth has special properties.

How did certain gemstones become associated with the months of the year? Experts believe that birthstones can be traced back to the Bible. In Exodus 28, Moses sets forth directions for making special garments for Aaron, the High Priest of the Hebrews. Specifically, the breastplate was to contain twelve precious gemstones, representing the twelve tribes of Israel.

Later, these twelve stones were likely also linked to the twelve signs of the zodiac. Eventually, they also became associated with the twelve months of the calendar year.

Throughout history, there have been many myths and legends associated with birthstones. Many cultures have believed that birthstones have magical healing powers or bring good luck. Not all cultures have agreed on which stones correspond to which months, though, so you can find different lists of birthstones over the course of time.

Today, most jewelers agree on a basic set of birthstones. Let’s take a look through the calendar to learn a bit more about each of these birthstones.

The birthstone for the month of January is the garnet. Some believe garnets provide safety during travels. February’s birthstone is the amethyst, which is thought to make one courageous. If your birthday is in March, your birthstone is the aquamarine. Aquamarines have been associated with certain healing powers.

April features what is arguably the most coveted birthstone: the diamond. Diamonds remain an enduring symbol of love. Another birthstone associated with love is the emerald, which is the birthstone of May. June’s birthstone is another popular jewel: the pearl. Pearls have long been a symbol of purity.

The birthstone for July is the ruby. Ancient cultures believed the ruby could ward off evil. The peridot is the birthstone of August. Symbolizing strength, the peridot is sometimes known as the “evening emerald” due to its light green color. September’s birthstone, the sapphire, was also thought to guard against evil, especially poisoning.

The opal is the birthstone of October. It represents faithfulness and confidence. November’s birthstone, the topaz, is usually associated with love and affection. Finally, December’s birthstone is the turquoise, which was often thought to symbolize luck and success.

 

https://wonderopolis.org/wonder/how-were-birthstones-chosen-for-each-month

The 10 Most Expensive Bills Wanted By Collectors

The 10 Most Expensive Bills Wanted By Collectors

The 10 Most Expensive Bills Wanted By Collectors

The new U.S. $100 bills rolled off the presses in October 2013 and for savvy banknote collectors offered a potential goldmine. Where most people would see the 100 in the corner, the real value could be in the small eight digit number about an inch above the denomination. The serial number can be the difference between a normal $100 bill and $15,000 for those who know what to look for. The human minds attraction to patterns plays a large role in the value of the bills. Binary patterns of 1’s and 0’s are the most sought after serial numbers, and a bill with serial number of 00000001 could be worth up to $15,000.

The first 100 printed are especially valuable and are treated differently according the the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The bills are labeled and split up to different banks so not a single one will have too many valuable low bills. Some banks allow employees to pluck the a bill from the pile and replace it with their own. Vault employees and others working in jobs with close access to money are responsible for starting the collection process. Other valuable serial numbers can be patterns like 43214321, or solid numbers. Different serial numbers attract collectors for many reasons, in America 77777777 bills are popular while in China 88888888 bills are a symbol of good fortune and bought as gifts. One collector has an 07041776 bill, to represent the date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and a 09112011 serial number.

Collecting banknotes can be an expensive hobby, and isn’t as widely known as coin collecting which is a popular pastime of many. Misprints, are also intriguing and are quite rare because they don’t usually make there way into circulation. Rare bills can be the most expensive, especially if they passed through the hands of a well known figure.

10. 1918 Alexander Hamilton $1000 bill: $8,000

In 2012 this American treasury banknote appeared on an episode of Pawn Stars. It was valued at $7,000, far less than others on this list because there are more around today, about 150 of them are still in existence. The 1918 series banknotes are considered collectable, with the $1000 denomination being the highest available currency to collect, $5,000 and $10,000 bills were issued but only exist in museums. Bills printed with a dollar sign are especially valuable, the most heavily circulated will sell for $8,000 but depending on serial number and condition they can go for $10,000 today.

9. 1929 Bank of New Zealand Banknote: $11,500

A 1929 100 pound banknote sold for $11,500 last December. The banknote was in near perfect uncirculated condition. The first banknotes local to New Zealand weren’t printed until 1967 and before that they were shipped over from Europe after the bank opened in 1930. The bill is one of the first New Zealand banknote printed, and has a portrait of Maori King Tawhiao. It has the handwritten date for the date of production, a cancellation and other annotations at the top, but in otherwise perfect shape and extremely rare.

8. Ming Dynasty Banknote: $60,000

A rare 400 cash banknote is being auctioned off on April 14 at Stack’s Bowers auction, with an opening bid of $60,000. The banknote will likely sell for more. It dates back to the first emperor of the Ming dynasty so was produced between 1368-1398. The banknote has a historical significance as well as a value for paper money collectors. The large format bill is only one of two examples of the currency, with the only other remaining note being held in a museum collection.

7. 1 million pound banknote: $115,000

One of the worlds nine one million pound banknotes was sold in 2011 at a specialized sale in London, England. It was printed August 30, 1948 under the post-war Marshall Plan to help the British economy. The notes were a part of a $300 million loan from the United States but were never legal tender. Most of the bills from the transaction were destroyed except the highest denominations and two million pound bills survived. The bill sold was printed on the Bank of England watermarked paper and was used when the treasury needed to borrow funds from the Bank of England. The banknote was the subject of a 1954 movie starring Gregory Peck called The Million Pound Note.

6.1928 $50 Gold Certificate: $120,000

A 1928 $50 gold certificate was is valued at $120,000 and will sell at Heritage Auctions in April. Its one of the best examples of the note. Gold certificates were a way to invest in gold and represented an amount of gold owned. These notes were the early forms of paper currency and were recalled in 1933 under the Roosevelt government when it became illegal for the public to possess gold. The higher denominations of the notes were redeemed and are now rare. Only a dozen or so $50 gold certificates exist today.

5. Australia’s first official banknote: $226,000

There is only a single bill left from the first printing of Australia’s first paper currency issued in 1817. There were 100, 10 shilling notes printed the first day and not even the Bank of New South Wales had a copy in its collection. It was thought none had survived until 2005 when one popped up in a Scottish collection in good condition. It was thought the bill was added to the collection by the originator of the bank, Lachlan Macquarie himself. The banknote will be sold in a Sydney action and is valued at $226,000.

4. Rare 1924 Australian Banknote: $1.2 Million

A rare 1000 pound Australian banknote was sold in a public auction, setting a new world record for most expensive Australian banknote ever sold. The Rare Coin Company purchased the banknote but it changed hands again to a private collector who agreed to allow the company to exhibit the bill to the public under strict insurance and security arrangements. The bill is the only known 1000 pound note in public hands and previously hadn’t been sold since 1998 where is got $86,000 before a controversy caused it to be seized by the Federal Police. The Bank of Australia claimed ownership, but relinquished it a short while later. 1000 pound bills were only circulated for a short time before they were restricted to internal affairs and exchanges between banks.

3. 1882 $500 gold certificate: $2.4 Million

A collection of early and rare U.S. banknotes was discovered in the back of a bankers drawer in mint condition. The notes date back to the 1800’s and were once thought to be worthless are valued 1700 times there original worth. The collection is expected to sell for $5.7 million dollars but the rarest of the collection is a $500 gold certificate from 1882 which was among the very first bank notes printed in America. The notes are incredibly rare and a lucky find for them to be in such great condition so many years later.

2. 1891 Red Seal $1,000 bill: $2.5 Million

The 1891 Red Seal bill sold at auction for $2.5 million in Schaumburg in April 2013.  According to CoinWeek, the bill set a new world record for a U.S. banknote sold at auction until it was beat by the 1890 Grand watermelon bill earlier this year. It was originally only expected to bring in $2 million. The Red Seal is only one of two thought to be in existence still today. The Red Seal last sold at auction in 1944 where it brought in a mere $1,350.  The banknote has a portrait of United States General, George Meade. General Meade served in the civil war and became Commanding Officer of the Army of the Potomac and fought in many major battles throughout the war.

1. 1890 Grand Watermelon Bill: $3.2 Million

watermelon_r_lg

The 1980 Grand Watermelon banknote sold for more than double the previous record for antique currency in 2006 when it was sold but the record was temporarily taken when the 1891 Red Seal bill sold last April. In January, the Grand Watermelon reclaimed its title as the most coveted antique currency when it brought in $3.2 million at an Orlando Auction. The bill is only one of two known to still be around, and it’s the only available bill for collectors. The other is at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. The red seal Grand Watermelon note got its nickname for the appearance of stripes of green lines in the denomination number making it resemble the pattern of a watermelon.

http://www.therichest.com/luxury/most-expensive/the-10-most-expensive-bills-wanted-by-collectors/

How to Find Silver Coins in Circulation

How to Find Silver Coins in Circulation

By Contributor

1943 Walking Liberty HalfIt is possible to find silver US coins in circulation. You rarely find them in your change anymore, but they are out there and you can get them at face value. Here’s how to do it.

Silver Kennedy halves found in 2008US quarters and dimes were made of 90% silver up until 1964. Since then, they have been made of the copper-nickel sandwich we see every day. A common silver dime is worth about $1 and a quarter is worth about $2 in melt value today according to coinflation.com. So it would be worthwhile to find them. Half dollars were also 90% silver up until 1964. Those are worth about $5 each. What many people don’t realize is that halves continued to be made of 40% silver from 1965 through 1970, and those are worth about $2 each also. All very interesting, but how do we find them?

Silver coins found in 7 boxes of dimes (17,500)The key is you have to search through a lot of coins to find the silver coins. That means that unless you access a lot of coins at work for some reason, you need to get them from a bank. No problem, just go in and ask for a few rolls of coins and search through them. A roll of halves is $10, quarters are also $10, and dimes are $5.

Silver coins can be foundYour best bets are the dimes and halves. There are a lot of dimes and quarters in circulation. A dime is small enough that you may not notice a silver one, so some slip though everyday commerce, and that’s why you can find them. Silver quarters are scarcer because they are bigger and more easily noticed. So there are not as many to find. Half dollars basically don’t circulate, but they are still made and are sitting in the banks. Since people don’t pull them out of everyday change, you can find them in bulk lots from the bank. I recommend you try some of each and see what you think. You may hear this hobby referred to as coin roll hunting by people who practice it.

50 Rolls of dimesHere are some practical tips for searching for silver coins using this method. Get rolls from a bank you have an account at. If you start asking for a lot of rolls, some banks will want to charge you a fee if you don’t have an account. The coins are delivered to the banks in boxes. You can order boxes from a teller if you want to search a lot of coins. A box of halves costs $500, a box of quarters is also $500, and a box of dimes costs $250.

If your bank has a free coin counter, that is the easiest way to return the coins after searching. If you can unroll the end and put the coins back in after searching, that is good too. If not, sometimes the bank will give you free paper rolls. It is recommended to dump the coins back at a different branch than you pick up from, just to keep the tellers happy. I brought them some chocolates over the Holidays, and they have always treated me nicely.

Proof Kennedy Half found in a bank rollYou can get some coin collecting books and try to fill them up with every date in the series. This is a lot of fun to do with your kids. You can sell the silver coins to coin dealers, but you’ll get a better price on Craigslist or Ebay.

All the silver coins pictured in this article were found recently using this method. It’s really a thrill to pick a nice shiny silver coin out of a roll. Finding silver in circulation is a form of treasure hunting that many thought was long gone.

Good luck and happy hunting!

Tip

Silver S mint coins are still made each year for Proof sets. You can occasionally find proof coins as well, they are stamped on polished dies as seen above. The picture doesn’t do it justice. They are beautiful coins. Nickels dated 1942-1945 are 35% silver also, the nickel was needed for the war effort in World War 2.

Warning

Wash your hands after searching for silver coins or any coins, they can be quite dirty.

https://www.apmex.com/education/numismatics/what-nickels-are-silver

Diamond basic attributes – the 4Cs

Diamond basic attributes – the 4Cs

4C represents Color, Clarity, Cutting and Carat. The 4Cs are the shared common attributes used by different grading institutes, to determine the quality and value of each diamond. Therefore, it is crucial to know the 4Cs before buying a diamond.

1) Carat

Carat is the weighting unit of a diamond, as below:
1 carat = 0.2 grams = 0.007 oz.

Bigger diamonds are rarer, as such, the value per carat will also be higher. For example, the value of a 1 carat diamond would be much higher than the total of two 0.5 carat diamonds.

The weight of a diamond affects its size, although the same weight may lead to different sizes, the following table shows the approximate size to weight ratio:

2) Clarity

Diamond with no magnificationDiamond at 10x magnification

Clarity refers to the inclusion and blemishes of a diamond; the level of clarity is determined by the number, size, place, whether it is obvious and the general effect of those inclusions and blemishes to the appearance of a diamond. Since diamonds are formed naturally, the formation process would usually include some other substances which lead to so called crystals, feathers inside a diamond. Better clarity gives a higher value of a diamond.

The GIA Clarity Scale contains 11 grades. In determining a clarity grade, the GIA system considers the size, nature, position, color or relief, and quantity of clarity characteristics visible under 10× magnification.

 

Flawless (FL) – No inclusions or blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification

Internally Flawless (IF) – No inclusions and only blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification

Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) – Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10× magnification

Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) – Inclusions are minor and range from difficult to somewhat easy for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification

Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) – Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader under 10x magnification

Included (I1, I2, and I3) – Inclusions are obvious under 10× magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance

 

Since the diamond with “Included” grading includes quite obvious inclusion, we do not recommend and also do not offer diamonds with Grade I1 , I2 & I3 , except customers request us to provide.

3) Color

It refers to the level of colorless of a diamond. The rating is from D to Z. For D color, the best color level, representing colorless and continues with increasing presence of color to the letter Z, or light yellow or brown, as shown below:

D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
COLORLESS NEAR COLORLESS FAINT YELLOW VERY LIGHT YELLOW LIGHT YELLOW

 

Many of these color distinctions are so subtle as to be invisible to the untrained eye. But these slight differences make a very big difference in diamond quality and price.

4) Cutting

Color and clarity are born naturally with a diamond; however, on the other hand, Cutting is determined by the craftsmanship the diamond receives, which is an important factor to lead the diamond to sparkling perfection. The cutting factor involves complex determination, as a value factor, though, it refers to a diamond’s proportions, symmetry and polish.

Too Shallow Ideal Cut Too Deep

The proportions of a diamond refer to the relationships between table size, crown angle and pavilion depth. A wide range of proportion combinations are possible, and these ultimately affect the stone’s interaction with light.

GIA diamond graded cutting into 5 categories, from Excellent to Poor.

 

http://www.sydiamond.com/diamond_knowledge_tips_e.php