The Girlfriend's Guide to Jewellery
14: Durability 2011-05-12
Durability is an important and practical characteristic of gemstones.
Durability refers to several of a gem’s characteristics such as how easily it can fracture, or how easily it scratches or chips. As beautiful as a stone may be if it not durable it will not be suitable for wear as jewellelry and it is not included on our list as a ‘gemstone’.
Stones that lack durability and are not considered ‘gemstones’ may be very beautiful and have considerable value as collectible polished or facetted stones and as mineral specimens.
Each gemstone is assigned a hardness rating according to the Moh’s Scale.
The Moh’s hardness scale is a scale of relative hardness running from the softest at 1 to the hardest at 10. It is a scratch test where the softest is talc at 1 and the hardest is diamond at 10. According to the Moh’s scale each successive stone on the scale can scratch all of those below it.
This scratch test is a test of hardness not indestructibility. Clearly as hard as diamonds are, were we to put one on a brick and smash a second brick down on top of it we’d end up with a broken diamond! It is helpful to know the hardness rating of a gem when deciding how to wear it. A gem not suitable for wear in a ring may be just fine in a brooch or pendant.
Picture: Eurico Zimbres, via Wikimedia Commons