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Jewelry is Meant to be Breathtaking, Colorful, and Durable

When you choose a gemstone for a piece of jewelry, it might be your first instinct to go for the most beautiful. A breathtaking stone can elevate a piece and make it extraordinary. But don't rush through the process and go for the first gemstone you see. A great piece of jewelry should not just look good. It should also be durable so it will last for generations.

You don't want to buy a beautiful ring only to find out it rates poorly for wearability or is recommended as display only. It's important to know what you're getting into and what the durability of the piece is.

Beauty vs. Durability

The perfect piece will strike a balance between breathtakingly beautiful and durable. Understanding how gemstones rate and what care is needed is crucial to maintaining fine jewelry pieces.

It's assumed that hardness is the most significant factor in determining durability, but there are other issues to consider. Wearability is generally determined by hardness, toughness, and the piece's setting.

These three factors together will tell you a lot about a stone and the piece it's part of. Durability determines the care needed and when and where you should wear the piece.

When It Comes To Durability Almost Nothing Comes Close To Diamonds


The wearability scale starts with "excellent," meaning the piece can be worn in almost any setting. The scale ends with "display only," meaning the piece should only be displayed in a protected environment. These pieces are usually part of a collection.

Here's the full scale for reference:

  • Excellent

  • Very good

  • Good

  • Poor

  • Display only

The Mohs hardness scale is the most used way to determine how hard a stone is. It's based on a scale from 1 to 10, but the scale is a little deceiving. The stones are rated based on their ability to scratch or not scratch other stones. So it's a scale of hardness based on the surface resistance to scratching.

Here's the full scale for reference.

  • Talc: 1

  • Gypsum: 2

  • Calcite: 3

  • Fluorite: 4

  • Apatite: 5

  • Orthoclase: 6

  • Quartz: 7

  • Topaz: 8

  • Corundum: 9

  • Diamond: 10

For example, a diamond is rated at a 10 while Quartz is a and Talc is only a 1. A diamond could scratch both of the other stones. Quartz can scratch talc, but not diamond. Talc cannot scratch either diamond or quartz because it isn’t hard enough.

Gemstone Toughness

The toughness of a gemstone measures its resistance to breaking and chipping. This is determined by the cleavage planes on a stone. How strongly the molecules bind to each other defines how easily the stone will separate along those planes. It's similar to wood grain. Perfect cleavage will split easily, making the stone easy to work with. Poor cleavage will not split easily.

Some stones have no cleavage and are challenging to work with when creating jewelry.

However, stones with poor cleavage are less likely to chip during everyday use because the molecules don't split as easily. So they actually make more durable pieces.

Jewelry Setting

The last big factor to consider for durability is the jewelry setting. When looking at jewelry, you must consider how protected the stone is. Some stones will be fine with a less protective setting, while others need protection. For example, less durable stones may be better suited for earrings or a necklace than for rings since rings are more likely to get bumped or hit during daily use.

Gemstones and Their Qualities

When choosing a gemstone for your new piece, it’s vital to understand why a stone is beautiful but also where it falls on the durability scale. For example, you might love opals, but they aren’t good for everyday wear because opals are fragile stones. Let’s cover some of the most popular options, from most durable to least durable.


This beautiful stone is well known for its striking blue color, although it can actually come in many different color varieties. These are called fancy sapphires and come in pink, orange, yellow, purple, violet, and green. The most valuable blue sapphires have a deep, vivid color.

Sapphires are a 9 on the Mohs hardness scale, which means they are very hard and can withstand scratches from most things. They also have no cleavage, meaning they are extremely tough and will not break or chip from everyday wear.

This makes sapphires a beautiful and incredibly durable choice for any jewelry, but especially for rings, as they can withstand daily wear and tear.


Interestingly, rubies and sapphires are both a type of mineral called corundum. However, rubies are district in their dazzling red color.

But aside from the memorable color, rubies have the same durability as sapphires. They make great rings because they are hard gemstones that will not break if they hit something.


This beautiful stone comes in a wide variety of colors. This stone can naturally be found in reds, pinks, yellows, and more.

It's rated an 8 on the hardness scale, so it's a fairly hard stone. But it also has perfect cleavage, so it can break easily if hit at the right angle.

It's still a reasonably durable gemstone, especially when cut and set correctly. It just requires a little more caution, especially on a ring.

Emeralds Are Another Durable Choice For Everyday Jewelry


This gemstone is well known for its stunning dark green coloration, though it naturally occurs in yellow-green to blue-green tones as well.

It's a 7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, which is still rated well for everyday wear. However, emeralds have some cleavage, so be cautious of hitting it on anything and stay updated on regular maintenance.

Despite a slightly lower rating on the hardness scale, this is still a durable gemstone that will make a splash in any piece of jewelry.


Opal is a unique gemstone that naturally comes in various colors that can be nearly translucent, dark, or smoky. Some opals even have natural rainbow-like colors because of how they are formed.

But it's important to note that they only fall at a 5.5 on the hardness scale. That's pretty fragile for fine jewelry. Opals are prone to scratches if they're worn often. Interestingly, they have no cleavage and will not break or chip. But they scratch so easily that they are not considered very durable.

But don't let that stop you from investing in opal jewelry! These stunning stones just need a little extra care to remain beautiful and clear of scratches. Limited wear, regular cleanings, and a protective setting will ensure that your opal jewelry lasts for years to come.

Special Bridal Appointments with Caracts and Stones

While exploring colored gemstones for their jewelry, many are excited by the opportunity to create a unique engagement ring or wedding band.

That’s where our newest Bridal shopping appointments will make your shopping experience even more special! Choose from forty-five- to 120 minutes appointments where Caracts and Stones provide our jewelry experts (Linda herself is an option!), try-on sessions, a High-Tea or Charcuterie experience, and much more. Bring your significant other or your friends for all the fun of trying on rings and discussing designs.

Discover why four generations of jewelry connoisseurs shop with Caracts and Stones! Book your special appointment today.



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