Gemstone jewellery is beautiful and something to be treasured. Some people may feel nervous about wearing gemstones in their daily life, but most gemstones are resilient enough to be worn every day without damage.
If you are careful with your jewellery, you should be able to wear whatever you like! However, I appreciate it can be good to know about the durability of specific gemstones for pieces like rings which are at a greater risk of being knocked, so I take a look at some of the best gemstones for everyday wear.
What is the Mohs scale?
To understand what makes a gemstone good for everyday wear, it's worth looking at the Mohs scale. This is a scale of mineral hardness for gemstones that goes from the softest (1) to the hardest (10).
It was created by the famous geologist and mineralogist Friedrich Mohs in 1812 as a simple way to categorise the ability of one mineral to visibly scratch another.
Gemstones that are well suited to daily wear
The best gemstones for everyday wear are those that are harder and more sturdy.
Diamonds, rubies and sapphires
Diamonds are the hardest stone, scoring a 10 on the Mohs scale, which is perhaps one of the reasons they have typically been used for jewellery such as engagement rings, which are worn every day. Rubies and sapphires are also very resilient and can be worn every day, with both rating 9 on the Mohs scale.
Amethyst is a beautiful violet gemstone that is also relatively hard, with a 7 on the Mohs scale, which means that this could be a great option if you want a gemstone ring or long necklace that is resilient.
Similar to Amethyst, Quartz scores a 7 on the Mohs scale. There are many different types of quartz, such as Ruby Quartz, Rose Quartz and Smoky Quartz, so you can find the colour that most appeals to you.
Citrine also rates a 7 on the Mohs scale and it has a very attractive golden yellow colour. It is rare in its natural form but can result from the heat treatment of Amethyst. It's a perfect subtle stone if you want something that can be worn on a daily basis!
Gemstones that are generally fine for everyday
These gemstones are not quite as hard as those mentioned above, but should still work very well if you want jewellery that can be worn regularly.
Tanzanite is a little softer than those mentioned above, typically scoring between 6.5 and 7 on the Mohs scale. It is still hard enough to be worn confidently, though, and is a very attractive stone with a similar violet colour to Amethyst.
Also achieving a rating between 6.5 and 7 on the Mohs scale, most people can wear Onyx without any concerns. There are several fantastic varieties of Onyx to suit different styles, including Green Onyx and Black Onyx
This gorgeous stone is rated a 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale so might need a little more care but is still fairly resilient. Its gentle pearlescent colour makes it a fantastic choice for every day.
Gemstones that should be treated a little more carefully
In terms of the Mohs scale, Pearl is a soft stone (scoring 2.5 - 4.5) which means that it can be scratched more easily. It is often reserved for more precious jewellery rather than everyday pieces but, as always, if you treat your jewellery with the care it deserves, it should be absolutely fine.
Amber is a very mesmerising gemstone with an unusual and distinctive appearance, but it is also relatively soft, with a rating of 2-2.5 on the Mohs scale. Most people, therefore, like to treat their Amber jewellery with care, and it is a great option for earrings and short necklaces that are less likely to scratch.
While emeralds are higher on the Mohs scale than some other stones in the list, they do tend to have more inclusions than some stones which can make them more susceptible to cracking or breaking.
What is gemstone cleavage?
Another factor to consider is that some gemstones will cleave more easily than others due to the way the bonds are formed. Cleavage is the tendency of a crystal to break cleanly along distinct planes.
Stones such as quartz, opals and rubies have no cleavage, whereas diamonds and topaz do have cleavage - meaning they have the potential to split, although this is still unlikely.
How does the gemstone setting affect durability?
Protective settings can also help gemstones to be worn safely on a daily basis, particularly those that are more vulnerable to scratches. A rub-over setting, or a bezel setting, is perhaps the most well-known protective setting, where the gemstone is wrapped in a continuous circle of the chosen metal to keep it secure.
It’s important to note that this blog should not put you off from buying a particular gemstone that you love - most jewellery is fairly resilient as long as you aren’t dropping it or hitting it against hard surfaces. Equally a high score on the Mohs scale does not necessarily mean that a stone can’t be damaged!
However, hopefully, this guide has been a useful way to help you decide on the gemstone you should choose. You can browse our range of gemstone jewellery for further inspiration.