When buying jewelry, one of the main concerns we have is how to care for it because we know that jewelry is not indestructible. Most of the time, we think of a gemstone’s durability having to do with whether or not it will scratch when we wear it. We know that some gemstones are softer than others, but we don’t always understand what that means when wearing a particular gemstone. Interestingly, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) measures a gemstone’s durability with two different standards, Hardness and Toughness.
Hardness: Hardness is defined by GIA as a gemstones resistance to scratching. It is measured on Moh’s Hardness Scale which is a 1-10 numbering system. Talc scratches very easy and rates a 1 on the scale, while Diamond is the hardest mineral and rates a 10 on the scale. As you may have read in a previous blog, www.angelacisneros.com/post/who-are-you Ruby and Sapphire are the same mineral Corundum, and they rate a 9 on the Moh’s Hardness Scale. It is important to note that the scale is not incremental, the difference between a 9 and 10 is very great! Most of the gemstones we wear and love fall between a 6 and an 8 on the scale. Peridot 6.5, Emerald and Aquamarine 7.5-8, Amethyst 7, and Topaz 8.
Toughness: Toughness is the gemstone’s resistance to breaking and chipping which is equally as important when considering a gemstone’s durability. GIA rates Toughness as either Poor, Fair, Good, and Excellent. Diamond rates a 10 on the Hardness Scale and has Good rating on Toughness. Corundum (Ruby, Sapphire) rates a 9 on the Hardness scale, but has an Excellent rating on Toughness. Emerald rates a 7 on the Hardness scale but is Poor in Toughness. Bumping or hitting a gemstone on a hard surface can cause gemstones rated poor or fair to become chipped or even crack. You want to take care especially if you are wearing a ring!
As you can see, Hardness and Toughness should both be considered when you are choosing a gemstone and the setting of the jewelry. While Emerald is Poor in Toughness, the right jewelry setting can protect it better, and along with proper care, like taking it off when doing yard work, cleaning, cooking, sports/exercise, and working with animals, you can keep it looking shiny with less scratches and no chipping. It also stays cleaner!
There is a reason we say “a diamond is forever,” and it is because it has the most combined durability than all the other gemstones. I have seen a diamond that is 100 years old look amazing, but a colored gemstone 5-10 years old look very worn with scratches and small chips. Many brides have opted to use a colored gemstone in place of the center diamond in their engagement rings bringing a unique take to their dream ring, but it is very important to keep in mind a gemstone’s durability when choosing a color. I usually recommend Corundum because it comes in all the colors of rainbow, Ruby (red), blue Sapphire, orange Sapphire, yellow Sapphire, green Sapphire, purple Sapphire, and pink Sapphire, and is the next best gemstone in durability after Diamond.
I would love to help you with your special purchase or custom design! Angela Cisneros Jewelry Concierge brings back the joy and confidence of jewelry shopping, so that you can celebrate with ease! My by-appointment approach means:
One-on-one appointments (personal attention and no crowds!)
Discretion and privacy (surprises remain surprises!)
Expert help from a Graduate Gemologist with 23 years of experience (yep, that’s me!)
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