When you invest in a piece of jewelry it’s common to consider how long the piece is expected to last and what kind of care will be necessary to keep it looking its best. The quickest way to get an idea of the durability and required care of a piece is to know the hardness of the gemstone used in the piece.
Jewelers use a scale called the Mohs Hardness Scale to measure a gemstone’s susceptibility to being scratched. The scale ranges from 1-10 with diamond, the hardest naturally occurring material, at a 10 and talc (used in baby powder) measuring a 1.
With a rating of 10 the only material that can scratch a diamond is another diamond. A diamond will scratch any other gemstone without the diamond being damaged. This makes diamonds an excellent everyday wear option because of its exceptional hardness, and is part of the reason diamonds have come to be the standard in lifelong everyday wear pieces like engagement and wedding rings.
All other gemstones are some degree softer than diamond, but there are still many that would be considered ideal for everyday wear. In fact, any gemstone that is a 7 or higher on the Mohs scale we consider appropriate for everyday wear.
What about gemstones that are lower than a 7 on the Mohs scale? Let’s take opal as an example with a hardness value of between 5.5 - 6.5. An opal ring worn every day will rapidly be covered in fine scratches and will lose its polish. This fact means that opal, as well as other gemstones that are softer than a 7, should be worn with careful consideration when set as a ring. Softer gemstones are ideally set as pendants and earrings because they are subject to far less wear and tear than rings or bracelets.
Below you can see the hardness of every gemstone sold here at Park City Jewelers:
Aquamarine: 7.5 - 8
Red Beryl: 7.5 - 8
Emerald: 7.5 - 8
Tourmaline: 7 - 7.5
Garnet: 6.5 - 7.5
Zircon: 6.5 - 7.5
Kunzite: 6.5 - 7
Peridot: 6.5 - 7
Tanzanite: 6.5 - 7
Opal: 5.5 - 6.5
Turquoise: 5 - 6
Pearl: 2.5 - 4.5
Let’s face it, everyday life can be hard on jewelry. Keep the Mohs Hardness scale in mind when you make your next jewelry purchase. It will give you valuable knowledge about the lifelong durability and required care for your new favorite piece.