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What Are the Best Gemstones for Everyday Wear?

Written by Annabelle
June 18, 2019

In jewelry, not all stones are created equal! Some are more fragile than others and require special care, making them a risky choice for rings. If you're a ring lover who also happens to let your pieces take a lot of abuse from daily wear, read on to find out the best gemstones for everyday wear.

The Measurement Standard for Gemstones

Most people don't put much thought into it, but the study of gems is actually its own complex branch of science. Gemology is the study of minerals that are considered precious in human society, and gemologists analyze the chemical and physical structure of these minerals to determine their unique characteristics. From how the stones cleave (which affects cutting) to how soft they are, there's a scale for everything when it comes to gems. The Mohs scale of hardness is one such measurement.

Simply put, the Mohs scale measures a gem's durability. At the far end of the scale, the hardest gemstone is diamond at a solid 10. On the lower end, a gem-grade fluorite is a 4, making it unsuitable for rough wear due to its soft structure and tendency to break. For rings, it's generally recommended to have a stone of 7 hardness or higher.

Gems Not Suitable For Daily Wear

If you're really quite rough with your jewelry, you should probably reconsider purchasing any rings that contain the following jewels:

  • Amber – (2-2.5): Like pearl, this organic material is quite soft in comparison to its gemstone counterparts. Amber ranks at 2-2.5 on the Mohs scale, and is very easy to scratch if you're not careful.
  • Pearl – (2.5): At a hardness of 2.5, pearls are incredibly prone to damage. Not only do they scratch easily, but they require special care to maintain their luster. Pearl owners have to wipe down their jewelry after a day of wear to remove dirt and oils from the pearl's surface. If that's too much of a hassle, avoid pearl rings and opt for pendants instead.

    A vintage pearl ring.

  • Fluorite – (4): Less commonly seen in fine jewelry but quite prevalent in artisan jewelry, fluorite is a popular crystal that comes in a nice array of colors. While it makes wonderful pendants and earrings, it's a fragile choice for rings due to its hardness at 4.
  • Apatite – (5): This mineral comes in a signature blue, and yellow in rarer quantities. Its vivid color has been gaining traction among artisan and fine jewelry designers, but caution should be exercised with its hardness at 5 on the Mohs scale. It does not react well to heat, making it a dangerous option for any ring design that may need resizing or rhodium plating.

    An apatite necklace in cabochon and druzy form.

  • Opal – (6-7):¬†This silica-based gem has a hardness of 6-7 and comes in a variety of different forms based on source location. Some opals react strangely to heat changes and water, making them unsuitable for the jewelry wearer who refuses to removes their rings while cooking or washing their hands.

Gems For Everyday Wear

  • Tourmaline – (7-7.5): Tourmaline is a pretty stone that comes in a variety of colors, such as black, blue, green, two-tone, and pink. The pink variety was favored by Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi, who bought large amounts of it during her reign in the late 1800s! Aside from being approved by royalty, tourmaline ranks at a 7-7.5 on the hardness scale, making it durable enough for daily wear.

    A vintage gold ring set with diamonds and green tourmaline

    • Aquamarine – (7.5-8): This watery blue stone is actually in the same family as emerald; both are variations of the mineral beryl. Unlike emerald, however, aquamarine doesn't have a reputation for multiple inclusions within its structure. At a 7.5 to 8 hardness, it's not a bad choice for a ring if you're looking for a stone that reminds you of the sea.
    • Rubies and Sapphires – (9): Not many people know this, but rubies and sapphires are actually different colors of the same type of mineral. They rank right below diamonds at a 9 on the Mohs scale, and are an excellent choice for people who like a pop of color.
      sapphire ring

      This sapphire ring exhibits a beautiful color.

    • Diamonds – (10): The hardest precious stone, and also the most expensive. It's a worthwhile investment, however, because it takes quite a lot to chip, scratch, and wear away at a diamond. If you want a brilliant and long-lasting ring, this is the popular option.

Now that you're up-to-date on the best gemstones for everyday wear, consider stone replacement if you're not sure about keeping that opal or pearl on your fingers! And if you're wondering what to do with that leftover gem, take a look at our custom creation process for some inspiration. If it's not a good stone to have on your hand, you might as well wear it around your neck.

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Anlaura Clark

Hmmm. Wondering then why my favorite tourmaline ring got scratched up so easily (completely lost its polish, very dull/matte and almost opaque from surface scratches after relatively little wear). Is a cabochon tourmaline more prone to damage than a cut and faceted one?