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Importance of Gem Hardness In Jewellery

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If you’re looking for an item of jewellery that you hope will last a long time, such as an engagement ring, then this article is for you. We explain the Mohs Scale, which is used to measure gem hardness and durability – and what gemstone jewellery is best for you.

What is the Mohs Scale?

The Mohs Scale of mineral hardness is a special scale that tells us the hardness of minerals, precious stones and gems. It got its name from its inventor, a German geologist called Friedrich Mohs, who created the system in 1812.

How does Mohs Scale work?

The Mohs scale ranks gemstones and minerals in hardness from 1 to 10. The lowest number 1 represents the softest minerals and 10 corresponds to the hardest ones.

For example, diamonds rank 10 on the Mohs Scale, while chalk ranks 1.

How is the Mohs Scale helpful when buying jewellery?

The Mohs Scale helps you to understand how resistant to scratching and breaking a gemstone is.

Firstly, this is very useful when you’re thinking of buying jewellery that will be worn daily. Such as engagement rings which often suffer a lot of knocks, scratches, and wear and tear during their lifetime.

Secondly, it is helpful for knowing how to handle your jewellery in general. For instance, pearls have a hardness of only 2.5-4.5, so you should always treat them with care.

Which gems offer the best hardness for engagement rings?

Rubies are actually formed from the same mineral as sapphires, called corundum. So although they are rarer to see in engagement rings, they are in fact highly suited for this purpose as they are also ranked 9.

What about other gems?

Some people choose emerald, tanzanite or topaz for engagement rings. These can be fairly durable too, although you’d need to treat them with a little more care than sapphires and diamonds.

What gems would you NOT recommend for engagement rings?

Pearl and opal are considered unsuitable for engagement rings. Unless you’re willing to be extremely careful and remove your ring every time when doing housework, gardening, exercising, and so on, you should only pick these gems for occasional wear.

What can damage a gemstone?

Soft gemstones like opal can scratch or break extremely easily if you give them an accidental knock.

Pearls can be damaged by scratching, or if soaking them in water for too long.

You should always store your diamond and gemstone jewellery in separate boxes or bags, as diamonds left to roll around in a jewellery box can accidentally scratch other softer gems.

Can diamonds break?

Although it is extremely rare, yes, unfortunately, diamonds can break. However, luckily this will only happen if the diamond is subjected to a hard force at the right angle.

Having said this, it’s wise to treat your diamond jewellery carefully and remove it when doing activities like rock climbing or weight lifting.

Gem hardness in jewellery: what should I look for when shopping?

Gemstones are beautiful, colourful and luxurious – and should be enjoyed! They make stunning accessories and valuable additions to any jewellery collection.

Therefore, go ahead and wear any type of gemstone you want. As long as you’re aware of its durability and treat it accordingly, your jewellery will last a long time.

More helpful reading on this topic:

How to Keep Jewellery Safe From Damage

How to Care For Luxury Jewellery

5 Best DIY Jewellery Cleaning Tips

How to Clean Rings – 4 Best DIY Tips

The History of Gemstones

Shop Diamond & Gem Jewellery

Beautiful, sparkling engagement rings and gifts

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