The durability of a gemstone can determine the type of stone you choose, because it affects how you wear and care for your gemstone jewelry. Gemstone durability is measured using the Mohs scale. Otherwise known as the Mohs hardness scale, it was developed in 1812 by Freidrich Mohs, a German mineralogist, to rank minerals and provide a measure of their strength.
The Mohs scale is important to consider when deciding to buy engagement rings or any other fine jewelry. Below we’ll discuss how this scale relates to durability and can help choose a gemstone that may last a lifetime.
What Is the Mohs Hardness Scale?
The Mohs scale ranks gemstones from 1 to 10, with 1 being the softest and 10 the hardest. A stone’s Mohs rating provides a measure of its scratch resistance to other minerals. Diamond is known to be the hardest and can scratch any other stone. Talc is the softest. Reference minerals in between include gypsum, calcite, fluorite, apatite, orthoclase feldspar, quartz, topaz, and corundum. Sapphire has a hardness value of 9, so it can scratch any mineral rated 1 through 8; however, it cannot scratch a diamond.
It’s important to note the Mohs scale is not linear. A diamond is actually 4 times harder than a sapphire stone. Sapphire, which is next up on the scale from topaz, is only 2 times harder. The level of hardness between each value varies, although the dividing line between hard and soft stones is generally considered to be 7.
Explaining Gemstone Durability
When we talk about durable gemstones, there’s more to it than the Mohs scale. Hardness and durability are two different things. Here are three factors that contribute to gemstone durability:
Hardness: Defines how well a gemstone resists scratches and abrasions. It is an important consideration for gemstone wearability, especially regarding rings and bracelets and their resistance to everyday wear and tear.
Toughness: A mineral’s resistance to breaking and chipping, which is often measured as its tenacity, or resistance to blows. For example, a diamond can’t be scratched by steel, but a blow by a hammer can shatter one.
Stability: The stability of a mineral refers to its resistance to chemicals, heat, light, and humidity. Despite how hard a diamond is, extreme temperature changes can fracture it or worsen existing cracks. Opals may crack in low humidity, while prolonged light exposure can discolor citrine, amethyst, and topaz as well as pearls and other organic gems.
What Are the Best Gemstones for Engagement Rings?
Any gemstone below a rating of 7 is a risk of damage from daily use, even if you take extra care. When you’re choosing an engagement ring, a hardness of at least 7 or 8 is best. Diamonds, sapphire, and moissanite are among the most durable gemstones for rings. However, stones like aquamarine, tourmaline, and garnet are sometimes preferred; although emerald is a Mohs 8, natural internal fractures make it prone to chipping and breaking.
How to Care for Gemstones and Jewelry
Whether you choose the hardest or softer gemstones, you can preserve your jewelry with the proper care. To protect your jewelry:
- Do not store a diamond next to any other gem, which it can scratch.
- Do not wear jewelry while doing something that can scratch, damage, or expose a gemstone to chemicals.
- Clean it with mild soap and water and a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Avoid ultrasonic cleaners or steam cleaning
- Follow our tips for cleaning a diamond engagement ring or wedding band.
Contact Jeweler’s Touch
We offer a wide selection of durable gemstones for engagement rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings at our Placentia jewelry store. If you need assistance, our expert jewelers can help you pick a gemstone that suits your needs, preferences, and budget. Our store is open during the pandemic and ready to serve you virtual appointments, curbside pickup, and delivery are available to customers in Orange County and beyond. Make an appointment online or call us at 714-579-1616.