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Gemstones and Their Durability

When it comes to selecting your perfect piece of jewellery, it may not occur to you to check the durability of the stone you choose. Although gemstones are exactly that - stones - they all fall into different categories on the Mohs scale. The Mohs scale was developed to rank gemstones from 1 to 10, 1 being the softest stone and 10 being the hardest. For pieces of jewellery, specifically rings, it is always a good idea to find out where the stone of your choice falls on this scale. As you wear rings on your fingers, they are more likely to be damaged or scratched than they would be if you were wearing your stone in a necklace or earrings for example.


Diamonds (luckily for us!) fall as a ten on the Mohs scale. They are a strong and durable stone, making them a great choice to be set into a ring. Diamonds are categorised as 40 times stronger than the stones below them on the Mohs scale which includes sapphires and rubies. As well as their hardness and durability, diamonds also disperse a high volume of light, making them a sought-after and widely used stone in gem-set rings. There is nothing that can scratch a diamond other than another diamond.


Sapphires and rubies as previously mentioned fall in category 9 on the Mohs scale. Although they are not quite as hard as the sought-after diamond, they are both durable stones that are suitable for everyday wear. Sapphires are not prone to cracking or breaking, making it possible to size sapphire set rings and to work with them within jewellery design safely. Sapphires also have a strong resistance to chemicals, which means that if you do choose this traditional gemstone, it will not become etched or dull, no matter where or how often you wear it.


Another popular stone that sits just below sapphire at 7.5 - 8 on the Mohs scale is Emerald. With gorgeous, green hues, this gemstone is not as durable as its sapphire and ruby counterparts. It is not recommended that emeralds are worn every day. One of the main factors facing emeralds is heat, this makes working with them within the industry, for example, setting and sizing emerald rings, difficult as the stone can crack when heat is applied. Oils and resins can also make existing fractures within the stone more noticeable and therefore changes the overall look of your emerald. It is recommended that this deep green coloured stone is worn for special occasions only.


An example of a soft stone used in jewellery is the fiery opal. Opals fall around 5-6 on the Mohs scale, making this stone as hard as glass. It is important when choosing opals that the wearer takes extra care. Wearing an opal ring every day would not be recommended as the stone could easily become damaged. When it comes to cleaning opals, all-purpose jewellery cleaners can also be dangerous. Chemicals will penetrate the stone and will compromise the look of your mystical opal. To clean an opal, a baby toothbrush and warm water are recommended to ensure there is no lasting damage but allow you to keep your stone dazzling regardless.



As a general rule, if you have a gemstone ring you like to wear regularly, checking with a jeweller for wear on your piece every so often will help to keep your stone safe and looking as good as new. The sooner the cracks or blemishes that have appeared on the stone are checked, the better. Leaving a small chip or scuff can lead to further damage and even the loss of a stone. Checking where your favourite stones fall on the Mohs scale is advantageous to ensure your stone has the best chance of staying as sparkling as the day you bought it. Being aware that chemicals can cause your stone to dull and knowing the best way to clean and care for your gemstone is the best way to keep your pieces of jewellery in mint condition.


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