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April 21, 2005

only one is beautiful

I recently began a self-directed crash course in diamonds, and have discovered that while they may be a girl's best friend, the buying of diamonds is a pursuit designed for left-brained men; the statistician, the accountant, the engineer is quite at home with shopping diamonds. If you care to know what you're buying, and have an analytical bent, it's a snap. Every attribute is qualitatively measured out, stone by colorless stone. Every aspect of these rocks is classified, each facet of their natural states, every detail of their subsequent preparation. Every flaw is confessed on paper, and certified by experts. And this blizzard of information is neatly summarized (for those of us less inclined to analysis) in a single number which is always easy to find on any invoice, because it is prepended by a dollar sign.

But these numbers really help with diamond hunting, especially to my inexperienced eye. When I look at one diamond, I am dazzled. When I turn and look at another, I am dazzled again, and I have forgotten what the first diamond looked like. To get the very best I can afford, I must look at the numbers, the classifications, the codes which are recorded and certified by the master appraisers.

Women have no such papers. They come with numbers, to be sure, and some men seem very preoccupied by these numbers. But rulers were meant to be bent or even broken; there is no set of numbers for which Eve's daughters have not fielded an army of beautiful exceptions. And the trouble with measuring a woman's beauty becomes even more problematic since so much of what would have to be certified is not numerically describable. What womanologist could assign a number, a code or a category to the dusty smudge of flour on her brow when she's just burned a third batch of cookies in a row? How could a woman's resilience in adversity be compared to that of any other, unless precisely the same adversity were imposed upon them both? How do you place her face on a chart at the moment she laughs at something silly you have said?

In our culture, all the expert quantification, qualification and classification of beauty is done by people who have no business with beauty in the first place. They may very well measure prettiness, but not beauty. For beauty cannot exist in abstraction. To see beauty in a person or a thing, you must, in some way be connected to it, even to the point of being absorbed in it. To see beauty requires something from the beholder as well as from the one beheld. It is not true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, for this presupposes that what one man sees in a woman is not truly there, and only exists in his imagination; but it is approximately and partly true, for the magnitude of what he sees will never be visible to others.

I believe everyone is beautiful, but I also know I'll never see the greatest beauty in everyone. Comparison is not only odious, but obfuscatious. Set two side-by-side, and you cloud up your vision; soon you are back to comparing numbers again. A man has only one container for the appreciation of women's beauty. When his cup is filled to overflowing with wonder and mystery, he cannot then fill it twice without spilling what he had before. To see and enjoy the greatest and the truest beauty he must look at only one.

Posted by joel at April 21, 2005 01:39 AM

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Yep. Hence the good fight. Oh, and I'm happy for your diamondness.

Posted by: Honest + Popular at April 21, 2005 02:59 AM

Joel, I spend my workday selling diamonds! I explain all the ins and outs to perplexed people all the time. There are definately basics you need to know so you don't get ripped off, but in the end you have to ask yourself, "does it look nice"? Leave a message at my blog if you want some help. And have fun!

Posted by: Janjan at April 21, 2005 09:07 AM

Dude, aren't you done putting together your pimp goblet yet? Get your pasty white ass to icedoutgear.com for the real shizzle, dawg!

Posted by: Saint Kansas at April 21, 2005 09:54 AM

HAHAHA! Pimp goblet! Kansas, you kill me!

JOel, you are a poet and romantic, you are. Now sell off my old engagement ring! ; )

Posted by: k_sra at April 21, 2005 10:01 AM

Bless you, Joel, for using the word "obfuscatious" - and for preceding it with the word "prepending."

My college friends long ago came up with a catchall inelegancy for what you describe so well here: "scrunchy." (This was long before marketers grabbed it up and pouffed it out for use in confining a girl's ponytail.) Scrunchy touches on the beloved's beauty, manner, winsomeness, and grace. It is not a quantity - either she's scrunchy, or not.

Go for my personal point of view... get a scrunchy girl to marry you.

Posted by: nightfly [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 21, 2005 12:18 PM

I will confess that (to my eyes) beside L, all other women pale and fade. We're now well into our second decade and the malady is just getting worse. She's the model woman.

I got her a "used" ring of a center sapphire with a pair of side diamonds back when I was as poor as I am today. It still looks great on her hand.

Pretty is all that really matters in a ring: You're already getting ripped off by De Beers.

Posted by: manasclerk at April 21, 2005 04:19 PM

Let me amend manasclecrk's comment. Two things matter in a diamond: pretty & 'not mined by child slave labor in Africa' (forgive my soapboxing -- as a San Franciscian, I'm contractually obligated to point out the political ramifications of every darn thing).

As for all the things that matter in a woman, it looks like you've got it. Congratulations and happy wishes to you both!

Posted by: Nora Sawyer at April 21, 2005 04:59 PM

Nightfly, that is true enough! An alternative is Canadian diamonds.
Look here:


and here:


Posted by: Janjan at April 21, 2005 05:32 PM

It is a sign of how much I have liked your stories and now your diamond meditation that I went out and got a typekey account. Now, between work, blogs, bank, email accounts, ebay, and more I have a total of 15 usernames and passwords to remember.

I think there is a story in me (hint).

Posted by: Colleen [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 21, 2005 10:23 PM

i think baseball analogies are good rbi material for the occasion...but, here in good old middletown usa [muncie indiana] we find plain-speak works, too. we just have problems telling time with the rest of you changing your clocks back-and-forth a couple times a year - just don't be late for the wedding! my missus and i have been practicing for almost 40 years now and are looking for others to follow the examples of the few - you guys might join that company someday ... i only hope your example of longevity will be back in the majority by then.

Posted by: uncle jim at April 24, 2005 12:09 PM

Every time I overcome this street, I have the feeling that something precious flutters on my own. Something that bids up to rise above the little person wich I am and in that window sill to settle with a new brightness, with the strike colors of its wings, suddenly, the steel butterfly unfolds its revealed nature.

Posted by: elkenarra at May 4, 2005 06:00 AM

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