Gemstone- hardness or durability: Whenever we look for a gemstone, we always consider the 4Cs to test the quality of the gemstone. But there are several factors as well which affect the quality of the gemstone. Factors like gemstone-hardness or durability are also essential to understand the uniqueness and quality of the gemstones. But what we often get confused about is whether to give more weightage to hardness or durability. Whether both the terms mean the same or convey different meanings? Let's understand all of this in our further read.
What is gemstone hardness?
Friedrich Mohs, a German geologist, invented the "scratchability" hardness scale in 1812. The greater a gem's rating, the less "scratchable" it is. This scale is used to differentiate the hardness of gemstones to their durability. Diamond is ranked #10 on the scale. At #1, Talc is at the bottom. Another diamond can only scratch a diamond. Talc is scratched by almost anything. A #8 topaz will scratch a #7 quartz, but the opposite is not true.
Hardness, as measured by the Mohs scale, is the capacity to withstand scratching. That is all there is to it. There's nothing else. The Mohs scale is a three-dimensional ordinal scale. The term Ordinal means the order in which things happen. It does not imply that each object is at the same distance from the others. This indicates that diamonds are arranged in order of their hardness.
What is gemstone durability?
The extent to which a gem will show wear is primarily determined by its hardness. Wearability or "durability" are terms used to describe this. Just because a gem is harder or more durable than another does not mean it is tougher or more durable on the Mohs scale. The tsavorite gemstone is an example of this. It is a softer gemstone with a Mohs hardness of 6.5 to 7, and it scratches readily, yet it is durable.
You may pound that jewel to death, and it will scrape and gouge, but it will not shatter. Then there's tanzanite, which has a Mohs hardness of 6.5 to 7. However, it differs significantly from tsavorite, a gemstone in the same 6.5-7.0 range. The tanzanite has the same 'hardness' grade on the scale as the tsavorite, but it is not nearly as durable.
Cleaning weaker stones, such as quartz, will cause them to lose their lustre and become dull. A stone with a Mohs hardness of 7 or above is typically suitable for everyday jewellery. Pearls and opals are two of the most popular jewellery stones, although they have a value of less than 7. Excellent, Very Good, Good, Poor, or Display Only are the different levels of wearability or durability. A stone with an "Excellent" grade may be worn in nearly any setting for any occasion, including daily use.
A stone with a wearability rating of "Poor," such as an opal, should be used cautiously in jewellery. Although gemstone hardness has an impact on durability, other elements are also important. A gem's hardness does not guarantee that it will last a long time. Some diamonds are susceptible to temperature fluctuations, common chemicals, and even sweat. Cleavage in gemstones is one of the most significant characteristics.
The strength with which the molecules of a gemstone bond to one another is referred to as cleavage. in other words, it's similar to wood grain. Splitting a piece of wood along the grain is simple, but splitting it across the grain is far more complex. Cleavage planes are found in many gems and vary by gem species. Depending on how readily the mineral cleaves, cleavage planes are classified as excellent, good, fair, or bad.
What is more important, gemstone-hardness or durability?
Have you heard that the hardest natural substance is a diamond? On a mineralogical hardness scale known as the Mohs Scale, it has a hardness often. The hardness of a gem is a relative value that indicates which gems it can scrape and which gems it can scratch. The Mohs Hardness Scale ranges from 1 to 10, with ten being the hardest and scratching all the jewels below it on the list. For example, Sapphire and Ruby have a hardness of 9, Topaz has a hardness of 7-ish, Tourmaline has a hardness of 7, Moonstone has a hardness of 6, Peridot has a hardness of 6, and Talc has a hardness of 1.
The Mohs scale is purely relative; it does not indicate how much harder a diamond is than a Sapphire or Ruby or how much tougher one gem is compared to the other. For example, Sapphire and Ruby (both nine on the scale and the corundum mineral family) are roughly four times harder than diamond. In comparison, Sapphire and Ruby are only two times harder than Topaz, an eight on the scale.
Durability is not the same as hardness; it is the capacity to endure wear or damage. A diamond possesses excellent cleavage, which means it may shatter cleanly along a defined plane if struck at the correct angle. Another stone with flawless cleavage is Topaz, which has a hardness of 8. Cleavage reduces the durability of a gem. While Ruby and Sapphire are not as hard as Diamond, they lack cleavage, as do Spinel and Amethyst. Some gem types have the same hardness as others, but their durability varies.
There are numerous gem variations of the mineral beryl, all of which have a hardness of 7. Emerald is a bright green variation of beryl, whereas Aquamarine is a blue variant, Morganite is pink, and Heliodor is yellow. Emerald isn't as hardy as other types of beryl, and it's prone to internal fractures that need extra care. Some gems, such as Jade, a 6 to 7 on the Mohs scale but harder than Diamond, aren't very hard.
For thousands of years, gems have been prized for their beauty and durability. They become prized treasures if properly cared for and passed down through the generations. So that you may properly care for your jewels, understand their traits and attributes, and maintain the condition of your beautiful jewellery. We need to understand that hardness is just one factor that helps in determining durability. They are interlinked to each other. We need to consider both gemstone-hardness and durability as factors affecting the quality of the gemstones.