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Thursday, August 30, 2012

No, No, No Emeralds in Engagement Rings!


(01/20/2017  This is an addition to this blog article.  If you read the entire article and all of my responses to the comments you will see that no matter which gem material you want to know about, I won't recommend it for an engagement ring unless it's diamond, ruby or sapphire. It doesn't matter what the gemstone is, I will always say the same thing: Stick to diamond, ruby and sapphire if you want something that will last as long as your marriage does.  ALL other gemstones I will say no to whether they are natural, synthetic or simulants.)

 
I had a very nice young couple in looking for engagement rings the other day. I liked that both of them came in together because it ultimately means that the young woman will get exactly what she wants. Well almost.....She wanted an engagement ring with an emerald set in it. I get these requests a few times per year and it's always a bit disappointing for the purchaser when I have to tell them about the risks of emeralds in rings.

Gem materials are described by gemologists as gemstones when they have beauty, rarity, and durability. Some of these three descriptions are a little challenging today. I have seen quite a few gemstones that the word beauty is a bit of a challenge for. With modern mining techniques it seems like there is an endless supply of gem materials, especially diamonds, although this is not actually true (it takes mining one ton of rock to end up with 1 carat of diamond and some stones, with tanzanite as a prime example, being effectively mined out of existence in a generation or two). Durability is an even trickier issue because gems like opals are certainly beautiful and rare (well the finer ones are) but they are quite fragile as gemstones go. And this durability issue is the problem I want to discuss today.

When customers come to me and say they don't want a diamond in their engagement ring (and many do---let's not forget Princess Diana's large sapphire ring) I routinely tell them that I only recommend diamonds, rubies and sapphires for engagement rings because they are the most durable of the gem materials. This doesn't mean you can't scratch or break them at all, as anything worn every day of your life will tend to get banged around quite a bit, but it does mean that they have the highest hardness of the natural gem materials available to us. Fortunately sapphires come in a wide variety of colors including blue, pink, purple, orange, yellow, white, black (as in star sapphires) and a pretty ugly green (we'll get back to that in a minute). When corundum (which is what sapphire and ruby are) is red, it's a ruby; so it's the same gem material as sapphire but it's called a ruby when it's red.

Emeralds are actually a fairly hard gemstone when measured on the Mohs scale of hardness. Diamond is a 10, corundum is a 9 and beryl (the gem family that emerald is from) is approximately an 8. The scale, however, is not what it seems. The differences in numbers only reflect which next harder material will scratch the one below it. The relative hardness is quite different. Diamond is approximately 90 times harder than sapphire. There is also some variation within the same material. Aquamarine, another member of the beryl family is a true 8 on the scale but emerald comes in closer to 7 1/2.

So part of the problem with emerald as an engagement ring (or any every day wear ring) is that the hardness simply isn't high enough to take normal daily abuse. However there are two other problems with emeralds. Almost all emerald material is at least lightly included and much of it heavily included. This is called "jardin" (French for garden) sometimes, in an attempt to glorify what would be completely unacceptable in other gem materials. All of these inclusions in emeralds tend to mean the stone is much more fragile than other gem materials. However there is an additional problem. Emerald is routinely treated with either oil or various fracture filling substances in order to hide the inclusions. Oil, and some of the fracture fillers, can leach out over time simply due to normal wearing (washing hands, exposure to cleaning chemicals, etc.), or due to regular cleanings at your favorite jeweler. (For more on gemstone treatments please see this article and this one.) This will mean that the look of the stone can change over time as well, so one day you look down at your pretty stone and say that's not the beautiful gem I remember!

Okay, you say, I won't get an emerald so surely there is another green gemstone that is more durable! Well easier said then done. There really isn't any other gem stone that has a real emerald color. Tourmaline comes in a range of striking greens (although not the same green as emerald) and greenish blues but tourmaline has a scratch hardness lower than emerald. My wife has a tourmaline engagement ring. It started out at 10.50 ct. and we're down to 9.50 ct. after repeated repolishings to clean up the stone after she scratched it. She now only wears it occasionally (but fortunately, because she's MY wife, she has a multitude of other rings to wear on that finger). Another customer of mine who insisted on a tourmaline (despite an onslaught of warnings from me) just had to have her stone repolished after only a few years of wear. There was literally nothing left of the top facets on the stone. There are, as I mentioned above, green sapphires, but the color of the green leaves a little something to be desired as it tends towards a paler, lime like green with tinges of blue in it. More durable yes. As pretty, no.

So if you want an emerald in your engagement ring, just be prepared to replace it occasionally. Fine emeralds, however, can be very expensive stones so it can be quite a hit. Or you could get a ring with a number of smaller emeralds in it. That way at least, if you should have to replace some, it won't cost you quite as much.

The ring pictured above is a sapphire and diamond engagement ring with a natural color (unheated) blue sapphire.

 I have been writing this blog for a number of years and have covered quite a bit of information. The directory can help you get to the articles you might have the most interest in. All comments are appreciated but I do filter them for content so if you shouldn't see yours that may be the reason.

This is an addenda to the original article because I didn't seem to get this point across clearly enough when I wrote it (judging from the comments):  Diamonds, rubies and sapphires!!!  Those are the only natural stones I will ever recommend for every day wear.  Ever.  All other gem materials will wear much more quickly and they will not last a lifetime.  There is no guarantee you won't have to repolish sapphires and rubies (and diamonds too occasionally) after some years of wear but they will hold up better than any other gem material.  So again: Diamonds, rubies and sapphires.  You can ask me about the durability of any other gem material there is and I'm going to say the exact same thing: Diamonds, rubies and sapphires for every day wear rings.  As sapphires come in a wide range of colors (as do diamonds if you've got some money to spend)  you have a fair number of colors to choose from so you aren't limited to just red, white and blue but these are the only stones I'm going to recommend. Ever! (Okay if they find a new gem material on a comet and it's at least as hard as sapphires I would probably add that to the list.)

94 comments:

  1. Wow this was super informative. Thank you! Would you be able to now help me figure out how to get a diamond that is not a "blood diamond" ? :( I don't want to worry about the ethics involved. Do you also have any advice on how reliable Moissanite is? I hear that it makes for a beautiful engagement ring and that it's as "hard" and long-lasting as a diamond but I don't know. Anyways, interesting post you've made here. I never thought about sapphire until today.

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    1. You can look at this article I wrote regarding the issue of blood diamonds: http://spirerjewelers.blogspot.com/2009/12/sourcing-of-diamonds.html
      No matter what the makers and sellers of Moissanite say it is not as hard or as durable as a diamond and while it may look similar it does not look the same.

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  2. your thoughts on black diamonds?

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    1. Black diamonds are generally as durable as regular diamonds however natural color black diamonds (most these days are irradiated to be black) are actually diamonds that are so heavily included with dark inclusions that they appear black. In other words, no matter what anyone tells you, they're pretty much just junk. And 30 years ago they would have been used for industrial purposes. But as with anything these days, if you market the heck out of it, people will buy it. Years ago, before they were "in" I did sell a few and I'm happy to get them in for people today but I honestly don't think they are worth the money asked for them.

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    2. I like my black diamond ring because it came from space. black diamonds came from the supernova of a carbon star.

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    3. Ummm, no. Black diamonds do not come from space. They come from the earth, from the same diamond mines that white (or other colored) diamonds come from. Please read the above comment of mine about what they are.

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  3. Are red spinels as robust as a ruby?

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    1. Red spinels are a good alternative to rubies but they are not as hard as corundum so their durability is good but not as good as ruby. They are, however, a very reasonably priced alternative to ruby and they can come in a very nice pure red color. I have a very nice 2 ct. oval pure red spinel that goes for $1000/ct. By comparison I also have a 1.37 ct. oval pinkish red ruby and it goes for $3500/ct. With those kind of price differences you could always replace the spinel in 10-15 years and it would still cost less than buying one ruby.

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  4. Please, what are your thoughts in Tsavorite as a replacement for emerald?
    Is it hardy?
    Will it simply look like coloured glass?
    Ty :)

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    1. Tsavorite Garnets can be a very attractive stone. They are not the same color as emeralds are however. They don't tend to have the heavy inclusions that most emeralds have so they tend to be more durable from that standpoint but garnets can sheer more easily. They also have a lower scratch hardness so they will not hold up as well from that standpoint over time either in a ring worn every day. Best bet for every day wear rings is still diamond, ruby and sapphire.

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    2. Thank you for taking the time to respond... im daftly romanticising the imperfections of emeralds... however I am torn for the reasons you've stated.
      Funny then that emerakds should carry much value at all?

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    3. Emeralds can be used in a variety of types of jewelry without the risks associated with rings. Rings are subject to constant abuse. They get banged around a lot, when you wash your hands or do housework you are coming into constant contact with strong cleaning agents, etc. Emeralds have value because they are rare, and quite beautiful. Opals are also expensive but I don't recommend you wear them in rings on a daily basis either. Frankly, for an occasional wear ring, emerald should be fine. It's when it's used as an engagement ring and is worn 24/7 that the problems develop.

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    4. I actually have an emerald-cut Tsavorite in a solitaire setting for my wedding ring, and it does indeed have scratches and chips after being worn daily since 2002. I chose it because of color, price, and the fact that it's my birthstone. I also wear a red garnet daily that I've had since 1990, and it was cleaned and the stone repolished just this week, eliminating a long-standing chip along a top facet edge (the stone now appears significantly pinker than the rich red I aimed for as a teenager when it was gifted to me - the repolishing may have enlarged the window a tish too much). The garnets absolutely aren't the sturdiest choice, but my sentimental preferences and their affordability made them the best option for me.

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  5. What about a lab created emerald as an option for an engagement ring? If it is free of inclusions (which is how some of them are made), the risk of fracture would be less. Would it still be too fragile for an e-ring (for every day wear)? Thank you in advance for your reply.

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  6. Lab created (synthetic) emeralds should be somewhat more durable however a lot of them are made to resemble emeralds and that includes the inclusions in them. Actually I have rarely seen a synthetic emerald without some kind of inclusions in them. I have often seen emerald simulants (other materials made to look like emerald) that are clean but that isn't the same thing. Either way though emeralds will scratch much easier than diamonds, rubies or sapphires so I still wouldn't recommend them for every day wear. On the other hand, synthetics are much less expensive than natural emeralds so if you had to replace a stone every few years it certainly wouldn't hurt your pocketbook as much!

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  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  8. There is no better or worse in terms of sapphire engagement rings. Sapphires come in a variety of colors. It's just a question of which color she prefers.

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    1. Hey! I was actually wondering about black sapphires specifically. I was told that that include too many inclusions and are made in such a way that results in lower durability. If that's the case, would a black spinel or a black diamond be best in your opinion? I like the idea of sapphires more due to their affordability

      Thanks so much!
      -Frank

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    2. Hi Frank. I have only seen black star sapphires, and I'm pretty sure the only way they are ever is cut when they have a star. In fact, black star sapphires aren't actually black but a dark brown, purple or blue color that appears black because of how dark the color is in it. I have never seen a faceted black sapphire. While there is probably some lapidary hobbyist who has cut a faceted black sapphire it's unlikely you're going to find one in any form other than as a cabachon. Because of the inclusions that form the star there is a higher chance of damaging the stone through wear and tear. But the same thing applies to black diamonds as their color comes from so many black inclusions (assuming you're dealing with natural color stones). So I can't really tell you what would be better here because I'm not sure what look you're going for. If you want a faceted stone you should just give up on the sapphire idea. Diamonds, in any form, will always be more durable than anything else so you might want to stick with them.

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  9. Thank you for such great information.Was wondering what your thoughts were on using tanzanite in engagement rings?

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  10. Unfortunately tanzanites are also fairly fragile and I don't recommend them for everyday wear either. They can break fairly easily and they also scratch fairly easily. You can get purple sapphires that are very much the same color as tanzanites and they are much more durable.

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  11. What are your thoughts on a morganite engagement ring? I know it's been in trend lately but am worried about it being easily scratched or damaged. Is there another coral/blush diamond alternative?

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    1. Sorry I didn't publish this comment sooner. It got lost in my emails. The issue is the same as with all the other gemstones. Nothing is as durable as diamonds, rubies and sapphires. You can get sapphires in a variety of colors and it might be possible to get something close to morganite but it won't be an easy search.

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  12. I had a tourmaline engagement ring which was a fail, and an emerald replacement which was worse! What do you think of concave cut chrysoberyl for everyday wear? I have now read about half of your blog posts and they are informative and entertaining.

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    1. If you go back and read my whole article again you'll see that what I clearly say is that the only gemstones considered durable enough for every day wear and tear are diamonds, rubies and sapphires (of any color). Chrysoberyl is not as bad as a tourmaline or emerald but it is still not as hard (at an 8 1/2 on the Mohs scale) as sapphire or diamond. Given that you seem to be hard on your rings, no I would absolutely not recommend a chrysoberyl for you. Stick to the top three stones (well technically two since both ruby and sapphire are corundum) in hardness.

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  13. What are your thoughts on citrine for earrings? I know they are 7 on the Mohs scale and I am afraid they might scratch pretty easily. Thank you for your posts, they are very helpful.

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    1. The only time the hardness of stones is critical is when they are going in rings (well for a jeweler, it's critical when they're setting the stones but that isn't your concern). Any gemstone can be used safely in earrings or pendants. Most should be okay in bracelets if you aren't too hard on your stuff. Rings however take a lot more abuse than anything else so that is where you need to exercise care.

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  14. Hi Daniel,
    Thanks for sharing this - it's really useful to read the opinion of someone experienced in this area. I've always thought I'd like an aquamarine engagement ring, because I love the colour, but having read your article it seems like that's not the best idea. Do you think a light blue sapphire would be a better choice? Are they relatively easy to come by? If so, would you mind sharing any insight on whether it would be cheaper than a diamond, more expensive, or around the same price?
    Thanks :)
    - J

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    1. Yes a pastel blue sapphire would be a better choice than an aquamarine. They are not the same color blue as an aquamarine but from the durability standpoint they are better. Diamonds are pretty consistently more expensive than colored stones. Obviously if you have a really junky diamond it can be cheaper than a fine sapphire but if quality levels are equivalent then diamonds are always more expensive. Pastel blue sapphires are less expensive than darker sapphires and will be much less expensive than diamonds. I can always get you pastel blue sapphires. Whether you can find them elsewhere depends on who you are dealing with and their contacts in the industry.

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    2. Hi Daniel,
      I have found a designer that I like quite a bit, but her prices for sapphires compared to aquamarine is a lot more than we're wanting to spend (1,500 more for the sapphire.) I love the color of aquamarine and pastel blue sapphires, but the price difference makes me lean towards the aquamarine. I know you've said there are only 3 stones you'd recommend for everyday wear, but do you think aquamarine can live up to everyday wear since it's rated at an 8 and I'm not particularly hard on jewelry (I take off my rings to wash my hands/dishes, put lotion on, etc.) or will the sapphire ultimately be cheaper in the long run? Thanks!

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    3. As I have said in a number of my other responses, the pricing of some of the other gem materials may be so small that it doesn't matter if you have to replace the stone every few years. But my question to you is, in 25 years do you want to have the original stone that was in your engagement ring or something 2 or 3 times removed? I mean, it's all about the meaning here to some extent right? So the choice is yours. Yes you could get the aquamarine at the lower price but it won't last you the lifetime of your marriage.

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  15. very informative article, thank you. do you know any alternative for opal or tourmaline which is more durable?

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    1. Unfortunately there is absolutely nothing that can substitute for opal which I strongly discourage from using in a ring for every day wear. Tourmaline is equally problematic unless you're thinking of pink or red tourmaline in which case you can use pink sapphire or ruby. Green stones in general are a problem. While there is green sapphire it is never "emerald" or "tourmaline" green. Usually it is either a muddy blue green or a yellowish green.

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  16. Thank you for the information :) I find that sapphires which are greenish blue in colour are the most beautiful. I've read somewhere that sapphires and rubies do not stand the test of time very well. The person who said that has been working for 5 years or so in a jewelry shop and she commented that after 10 years sapphires and rubies look really bad. How true is this?

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    1. Everyone has different colors that they appreciate. Personally I'm not fond of any green in my sapphires but that's just me. You're lucky that you like this color however as they are much cheaper than true blue sapphires will be. Ruby and sapphire are not as durable as diamond and they will show signs of wear over time. However they can be repolished to their original beauty and are still much less expensive than diamonds. Additionally wear and tear on a stone is a very individual thing. I have some customers who have had their sapphires for 20 years and the stones still look like new. Then I have others who wear them for five years and you have to think that they must be driving their cars back and forth over them.

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  17. Great post! These are all so beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

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  18. Dear Daniel,

    It's so wonderful to read your informative blog, more specifically about emeralds.
    However, my girl friend and I are simply crazy about emeralds, and I can't resist buying it for her engagement ring, despite your clear warnings.
    Could you please give me some tips on how to check the high quality emeralds? Color? Karats?
    Does the cut shape (square or circular) affect durability?

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  19. As long as you're prepared to replace it periodically go right ahead and get one. The shape of the stone does not in any way effect the durability of the stone. The type of setting it goes into can have some impact (a bezel setting is better than a prong setting) but regardless, if you whack it right it will break. You need to make sure you have proper insurance on the piece as well that will actually cover the loss in the event of breakage (not all policies cover this). Determining the quality of an emerald has to do with color and clarity. Carats (not karats which refer to the purity of gold) simply refers to the weight. The bigger the stone, the rarer the stone and the more expensive it will be (all other factors being equal). Color can be somewhat of a personal issue. Personally I prefer lighter, brighter colored emeralds that have very few inclusions. But if you're looking for the darker green most people are familiar with that's fine too. The amount of inclusions in the stone will effect the price as will the types and amounts of treatments used on the stone. You need to find a trustworthy, knowledgeable jeweler to work with who understands gemstone disclosure issues about treatments and has some experience in working with emeralds (obviously I would be the best choice! but if you aren't near me you'll have to look for someone else). Preferably they should be a member of the AGTA (American Gem Trade Association) as they are obligated to disclose all treatments.

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  20. I'm looking for your take on moon rock as well as quarts for an engagement ring. I am against diamonds due to my research and until i read the article i was all for emeralds.Now I'm sure not so great bit really looking for your opinion pn moon rocks and quarts. what kind of issues will i encounter and treatment. Also I am curious if you purchase a stone that is not finished ie one that was just mined not shapped or polished does that affect the hardness. Some unique rings I've seen are just the stone unshaped and polished. What is your take on that as well. What problems and issues could there be ie emerald or amythist.

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  21. I am curious about your take on moon stones and quartz. Due to reseaech I'm not looking for a diamond. I was thinking about emerald until I read your article. I'm thinking that like you suggest a saphire or ruby. is best. I'm just curious though about problems. with moon stone and quartz. Also a lot of people ask about finished gems but I've seen nice unique ones where gem is not finished. If using a softer stone ie emerald or amythist and not finishing it is it harder and more durable. Last question is your talke on lab created diamonds and other gems

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    1. First of all the hardness of a gemstone is the same no matter what form it is in. Whether it's an uncut stone, a cabochon cut (smooth top, flat bottom which is what I think you may be talking about) or a faceted stone the hardness is the same. The hardness is determined by the crystal structure and that doesn't change with cutting. Moonstones are fairly soft material and will scratch easily. They don't tend to break as easily as something like emerald but they will scratch and the scratches will effect the beautiful sheen across the top of the stone that you get in fine material. Quartz is also subject to scratching. There is so much quartz in the earth's crust that much of the dust in the air is made up of microscopic particles of quartz so the dust in the air can actually scratch a stone you are wearing.

      I'm not sure what research you have done on diamonds that is discouraging you from using them but you might want to take a look at some of my other blog articles that deal with the topic of diamonds. On the right side of the page is a link called my blog directory and in that post I have many of my articles sorted by topic so you don't need to read the whole blog to get what you need from it. I also have talked about synthetic diamonds in some posts as well and if you use the search bar you will find some articles on it. I don't sell synthetic gems but many people do. The biggest problem with diamonds is that many of the people who claim to be selling synthetic diamonds are actually selling diamond simulants which are not at all diamonds and have many durability issues. Again, I have discussed this in other articles. Sapphires and rubies are the best alternative to diamonds if you are dead set against them but please remember that all stones wear over time (even diamonds which can chip over time) so some maintenance is necessary no matter what you get. Jewelry needs to be taken care of. What else do you have that you wear and use every day of your life that doesn't need to be properly maintained?

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  22. I found a company called lifegem and its where they take carbon out of hair and turn it into a diamond. What arw some issues that this could have. Is it possible to still have the hardness of a diamond

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    1. The stones this company produces are synthetic diamonds. That means that they have all of the same qualities that a natural diamond does. The stones incorporate the organic material in the growing process but the diamond is not composed entirely of the carbon they retrieve from the organic material. Actually an incredibly small percentage of the diamond is made up of that carbon. I have one customer who had two green diamonds made with fur from a beloved cat.

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  23. I wanted to know what else I can get my wife as her birth stone. I am at a loss because her birth stone is emerald. Just read your artical I was not aware that an emerald was that fragile. Any other recommendations ?

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    1. First of all you should understand these rules only apply to rings. It's perfectly fine to get your wife an emerald pendant or earrings or even a bracelet. Also if it's not a ring that is going to be worn all the time it's not as much of a risk. You can also get her a ring that has a number of small emeralds in it instead of a larger center stone. That way, if they break, it isn't such a hit to the wallet.

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  24. Thanks! This was a fabulous artice

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  25. Hi, the article was really helpful to me. I tend to hardly ever remove jewellery, and tend to be also not the most careful person in the world. What are your thoughts on an alexandrite? It goes 8.5 on the Mohs scale (I know the hardness is not directly proportional to the scale) and it's really difficult to find much information on this stone... Thank you so, so much!

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    1. Alexandrites are more durable than many gemstones. However they are also one of the most expensive gemstones in the marketplace. I still stand by my statement that for every day wear you should stick to diamonds, rubies and sapphires, but alexandrites are fairly tough and not subject to breakage like emeralds are. In all honesty you can scratch and break just about anything (even diamonds although they only scratch when another diamond is in contact with them--but they can break) so the goal is to go for the most durable material you can find and afford.

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  26. For more information on alexandrites I have written these two articles: http://spirerjewelers.blogspot.com/2010/09/alexandrite.html and http://spirerjewelers.blogspot.com/2014/06/alexandrite-again.html

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  27. Hello
    Wonderful information. What do you think about peridot engagement rings. I love the green with small hues of yellow in it. I understand that they are not high on the mohs scale. What other gemstone do you suggest with a higher durability that's true to peridot color? What about mint colored amethyst?

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    1. Peridots are the worst possible stone for an engagement ring. They are incredibly soft and scratch almost immediately. You can get sapphires sometimes that approximate the color in a peridot somewhat but I would refuse to make an engagement ring with a peridot in it, unless of course you were willing to replace the stone every year or two. Amethyst is purple. It's purple by definition. What some unethical jewelers call green amethyst, greened amethyst or mint amethyst is actually just green quartz. They try to make it sound better by calling it amethyst but it isn't amethyst nor can it ever be. That being said, green quartz is soft enough that it can be scratched over time simply by the dust in the area as a good deal of it is made up of quartz which has the same hardness. Again if you don't mind replacing it regularly (and green quartz is cheap so it's certainly a possibility) it's fine. But if you want to give your intended something that is going to last a lifetime neither peridot or any type of quartz are good options.

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  28. Okay so let's review. Diamond is great, sapphire/ruby is good, everything else is, at best, not as good, bad or terrible. If you don't mind replacing the stones regularly then go ahead and use anything. But if you want to have something that lasts stick to diamonds, rubies or sapphires.

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  29. I love the colors of morganite and aquamarine....but in doing my research and reading this, I guess I'll have to hint to the boyfriend to look for sapphires in colors that come close to the same. How hard will such gems be to find, especially if I specifically want a cushion cut and a larger stone? (at least 2 carats)

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    1. While neither stone's colors can be exactly replicated in sapphire, pastel blue and pink sapphires that might approximate the colors of aqua and morganite are available. Cushion cut 2 ct+ sized stones are available in these colors but they are certainly not as common and you will have less to choose from. Of course it also depends on what jeweler you're working with and their individual contacts. I'm sure I can get you some stones but I have been selling fancy colored sapphires for over 30 years.

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  30. This is a great article, and reading the comments has really helped me understand things I never knew about gemstones.
    Would you then recommend a purple sapphire over amethyst? My mother gave me her marquise diamond a few years back and I have been dying to reset it east/west in an art deco halo. I am in love with ruby, but my hubby's birthstone is amethyst. I am way too hard on my rings, bracelets, and watches to risk it with amethyst, so I was curious if the purple sapphire could replicate the amethyst's color while providing more durability. Also, how hard is it to match stones for those types of halos? Thank you for the article!

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    1. Yes I would absolutely recommend purple sapphire over amethyst. Not only are they more durable but they are also more sparkly. Some purple sapphires do come in an amethyst like color (some have more pink and some have more blue in them). It is possible to source smaller purples in an amethyst color, but as always it depends on who you are working with. I could get you stones that would work if you want and you are welcome to contact me if you want to get some (if you're not local, something like this can easily be done over the phone). If you go to a more traditional jeweler you may not have as much luck.

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  31. Excellent article - thank you. I have just had the setting (claws) replaced on my red spinel cushion cut engagement ring. Shortly after, I noticed what seems to be a crack in the gem. I'm so disappointed but I just can't be sure it was caused by the jeweller, or just my own wear and tear. I've worn it every day for 10 years. Is this a reasonable 'lifespan' for a spinel? Would you recommend recut or replacement?

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    1. Unfortunately this sounds like it might have occurred during the repair job. Did the jeweler know that the stone was a spinel and not a ruby? Many jewelers still think it's okay to heat rubies (it really isn't anymore due to the plethora of treatments being done to them) and this one might have heated the stone in the process of doing the repointing (replacing the prongs). They might have heated it even if they did know it was a spinel because they assumed it wouldn't impact the stone. HOWEVER, there is some chance that the stone was cracked awhile ago but that the ring hadn't been cleaned in some time. If the stone wasn't clean you might not have noticed the crack before. I have found this often to be the case when someone thinks a jeweler switched their stone for another one. But either way the jeweler still has to assume some blame as any stone that comes in to be worked on should be looked at under magnification and any cracks or breaks in the stones should be pointed out at the beginning. More information on the entire process might help me provide more definitive information.

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    2. More information on the entire repair process you went through is what I meant to say.

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  32. I have a ruby ring which I really like but I'm looking at replacing the ruby with a darker one. The original ruby has very little lustre and is lighter than I like. Any suggestions about how I could go about this? How do you choose a trustworthy jeweller?

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    1. From your spelling of jeweller I assume you aren't living in the United States which kind of limits me in how I can respond. Rubies are a particular problem right now because of the extreme treatments many of them are being subject to and often you aren't really getting ruby anymore. So if you get a chance let me know where you are located and I might be able to give you a little more information on how you could proceed (in terms of finding a trustworthy jeweler). But you should also look at my other blog articles on gemstone treatments and specifically on ruby treatment. If you search for ruby you should find a couple of articles on the treatments they are using right now.

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  33. I just took my engagement ring in to the jeweler who made the wedding band for it 7 years ago. One of the prongs was coming loose so while being pregnant I took it off and said, I'd run it over at some point. Picked it up today and the jeweler said that the emerald was chipped under the prong causing it to get loose. He also said that all the diamonds were loose that were on the band. He said this was happening because the band is thin and starting to wear. He wants me to bring it in to routinely get it cleaned (free of charge) and keep an eye on it. He also said that I should be prepared to see the diamonds or emerald fall out. This makes me sad and I am thinking that it is time to completely upgrade to a new ring set. It was an old vintage ring and was by no means perfect. I only noticed later that the band had a defect and did not curve evenly. The wedding band I had custom made for it has the same curve to work together. It's a plain 14k g band. It just doesn't seem like it is worth it to fix it. If it were just the emerald maybe I could live with the fact that we replace the emerald from time to time but it sounds like the whole thing is done for. What are your thoughts?

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    1. Okay this is one of those times when I really can't say much of anything. Without seeing the rings I can't determine why the other jeweler is saying what he is. The fact that the emerald is broken goes to my point in this article but beyond that I'm not in a position to comment. If I were telling you what the other jeweler told you I might recommend you get new rings but again I can't tell you what he is seeing. Certainly if you're in my area you're welcome to stop in and let me take a look as well for a second opinion.

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  34. Are lab created opals as fragile as real ones? Would they be appropriate to wear everyday in a ring?

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    1. Assuming that they are actually synthetic opals and not simulants (synthetic means they have exactly the same makeup as a natural stone but are man made---simulant means they are some other material made to look like the stone)then yes they will be just as fragile. Synthetic stones have all of the same qualities as the natural stones, they are just man made.

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  35. It is an excellent article - thank you.
    I would like a pink gemstone for my engagement ring. I know the pink sapphire is a best bet for every day wear rings,but I specifically want a cushion cut and a larger stone? (at least 2.5 carats. What are your thoughts on a pink topaz or a pink spinel engagement ring? Thank you.

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    1. Quite honestly I always recommend diamonds, rubies or sapphires. Pink sapphires in that size range will be fairly expensive (depending on the color of pink) but they will continue to be the most durable material you could get (well unless you want a pink diamond that size but then you're going to need a really, really big pocketbook). Can a pink topaz or a pink spinel be a good choice for an engagement ring? They can be okay but they will not hold up as well as a sapphire. To some extent though this depends on your lifestyle. Are you working out every day? Are you in a job that requires a lot of use of your hands? Do you do rock climbing? All of these things can impact how well a stone holds up. Here is what I can tell you though given the size range you're looking at. You could probably buy 2-3 spinels or topaz for the price of the one sapphire. So if they don't hold up you can always buy another one. I believe the spinel would be somewhat more durable than the topaz.

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  36. Hi, thanks for all the information. Both the article and comments are really helpful. I've been considering a Le Vian Chome Diopside ring as my engagement ring but I'm worried about it being too fragile for everyday wear.

    What is your opinion on chome diopside for everyday wear?

    Thanks again!

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    1. Chrome Diopside is extremely soft and fragile and would make a horrible engagement ring stone. It's far worse than emerald. It will be scratched within a year (I can pretty much guarantee that).

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  37. Hi Daniel - This is a great article. I originally was going to go with a moonstone engagement ring, but thankfully I was warned off. Instead I have a sapphire, and after 6 months, I noticed a pretty decent gouge mark on the rim edge of the stone. How could this happen? What can I do?

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    1. So when I say that diamonds, rubies and sapphires are the most durable of gem materials I am not saying they are indestructible. You can scratch any stone (even diamonds can be scratched by other diamonds) and you can chip and break any stone (yes including diamonds). A lot of this has to do with how hard you are on your jewelry. I have customers who wear pieces of mine every day for 20 years and the pieces sill look brand new. Then I have other people who wear something for 6 months and it looks like a truck ran over it. I have one customer who broke her largish diamond (not from me) three times! And her jewelry always looks like she took it off and stomped all over it and then threw rocks at it. So some of this is an individual thing. I don't know where you got the stone you did, but there is always some chance that it was treated (see my articles on gemstone treatments) weirdly and made it more susceptible to breakage but I don't usually see that in sapphires. The good news is that if you had gone with the moonstone then you would probably only have half a stone left by now! (-;

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  38. Thank you for your article. I've got my heart set on a deep aqua colored stone for my engagement ring, for personal reasons.. I did a bit of research and looks like an actual aquamarine stone that has a deep blue greenish hue could be the way to go.. But I'm still a bit concerned about durability.. Still the depth and brightness of the color is key to me.. Also all the meanings attributed to the aquamarine stone are also very enticing, having to do with the healing of the sea, and the good luck its said to bring to newly weds..

    That said.. Would you say it's a safe stone for an engagement ring? Or would you recommend another stone that could be also found in that bright, intense aqua color? And how would you recommend caring for either the aquamarine or another stone you suggest?

    Thanks again

    Btw, was thinking of having it on white gold with incrusted diamonds around.. Is the aquamarine/ white gold combo a good idea for upkeep or should I consider titanium instead?

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    1. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires. Those are the most durable of the gem materials. Aquamarine is a member of the beryl family, which emerald is also a member of. Aquas are sturdier than emeralds because they don't tend to be heavily included but they still have lower hardness than diamonds, rubies and sapphires so over time they will abrade faster than sapphires and rubies. If you don't mind replacing the stone periodically then it's a fine choice. If you want to always have the same stone in your engagement ring it isn't. My recommendation in this case would be to get a large aqua so you can have it repolished periodically. You won't find quite the same color in any other natural material. Personally I think the color of aquamarine looks much, much better in a high karat yellow gold. Of course I think all stones that aren't yellow look better in high karat yellow gold so you can take that for what it's worth. I'm not a fan of titanium (which is putting it mildly) but it won't help the aquamarine survive at all. It's the top of the stone that tends to get beat up and that won't be covered in any setting no matter what it's made of.

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  39. Hi Mr Spirer very informative article, read through all the comments and I am aware of your diamonds, rubies, sapphires mantra. I also read your comment about peridot being one of the worst stone in a ring.... I have a piece of faceted pallasite peridot and was thinking to set into an engagement ring till your article got me to seriously reconsider my decision. I will probably set the faceted stone into a pendant. incidentally, I also have a couple of unpolished peridots shards of the same source and was wondering if these shards would work well in a wedding band if I opt for channel setting with no centerstone?

    thank you in advance.

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    1. Same thing goes for any ring worn every day. Peridots will not last long at all no matter how you set them. Unless of course you'd like me to design something like a poison ring where the stone would be fully covered up all the time unless you opened the top up!

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    2. that sounds like a viable idea and I am actually very glad you figured that the meaning behind the stone is more important to me than showcasing its beauty. Let me give it some thoughts and get back to you. I understand that it is difficult to put a price for bespoke designs before any further discussion, but perhaps you can give a ballpark range of typical fees? truly appreciate your generous sharing of the subject matter.

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    3. My custom work starts at $1000 but honestly anything like what we're talking about is probably going to be in the $2000 range. That is for the ring and doesn't include a stone if you need one from me. But if you do need one from me peridot is really pretty reasonable priced.

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    4. Daniel, Such a great article.
      I so much admire your patience. You say right off the bat which gems you recommend for everyday use but people still persist, it's like what part of NO do you not understand. Now I have a question. Aside from every day use are there settings you might recommend for use with softer stone than corundum that might offer some bump protection of the stone?

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    5. It is always possible to get a designer jeweler to make up a piece that had elements of the design rise up over the setting for the stone (easier with a bezel setting than a prong setting). That would act as a shield to some extent. The problem though is that you see less of the stone. But if you don't mind that element of it then it would be a functional piece with a softer stone. It would definitely have to be custom designed however.

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  40. This was a lovely article. Very informative. However, could you tell me what are your opinions on star sapphire engagement rings? My mother gave me her S.S. ring some years ago, but it's a bit fancy for everyday wear so I mostly keep it in my jewelry case. I don't really feel comfortable with having my boyfriend drop thousands of dollars on an engagement ring, I would much rather just have the star sapphire reset in white gold. However, I wouldn't want to ruin/lose the stone, as my mother has had it since middle school. Do you have any thoughts or advice?

    Thank you

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    1. Star sapphires, like all sapphires are usually the best alternative to a diamond ring. The only issue that occasionally happens with star sapphires is that NATURAL star sapphires tend to be fairly heavily included (as it's the inclusions that create the star effect)so sometimes they are a little more fragile than other sapphires. However my first question to you would be do you have a natural stone or a synthetic? There were an awful lot of synthetic star sapphires made and sold. Now it isn't a problem if you like the stone, but some people would prefer not to have a synthetic stone for their engagement ring. It's pretty hard for any competent jeweler to ruin a star sapphire but competent is the key word there. If you want to email me with some more information that might be a more productive way to deal with this issue for you (a picture of the stone would help). My email is daniel@spirerjewelers.com.

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  41. You mentioned in the article that small emeralds would probably be okay; what size do you recommend? I would like to have two small emeralds in my ring, as the white/green color combo has special meaning for me, but obviously I want my ring to last.

    Thanks for your helpful information!

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    1. The reason I said small emeralds would probably be okay is not because they are less fragile or have any less of a chance of breaking. The reason I said it is because they're less expensive. So put in the largest size that you feel financially comfortable replacing on a regular basis. They won't hold up any better so if the goal is to have exactly the same ring at the end of your life as you got at the beginning you should stay away from any size emerald.

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  42. A very educative article, thank you. I had my heart set on an emerald engagement ring having read your article however, I'm sadly limiting my options to an emerald cut ruby or black sapphire set in a rose gold band as those are the only colours I personally can bear as stones on a ring nor do I think it wise to buy a ring that would need periodic replacement. Is that a wierd combo? Could you advise me on what to look for when shopping for either stone? Also would I be better off with a darker or lighter ruby?

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    1. First of all someone else recently asked me about a black sapphire (on this posting so if you go look at all the comments, I have replied to him already) and truly you can really only get black star sapphires. I'm not sure that's the look you're going for so I would probably go with the ruby. If you like pink gold in your ring you should go for it. Rubies these days have a lot of problems. I have written an article on rubies which is here: http://spirerjewelers.blogspot.com/2012/11/gemstone-treatments-4.html. You absolutely must read this article before you consider buying a ruby. As for the color tone, I always tell people to get what you like. Burmese rubies tend to be pinker and lighter in color and are generally considered to be the most valuable rubies but if you don't like that color, get a darker red. It's really just a question of what your preference is, not what anyone else thinks (especially jewelers who may be trying to get rid of inventory).

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  43. My engagement ring is actually an inherited cocktail ring with 9 small emeralds and diamonds. I stopped wearing it many years ago because the prongs were so worn down, but it is still in my jewelry box. I wonder if they were put into a channel, would that protect the emeralds enough for every day wear?

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    1. Well the first problem you would face is resetting the stones. Any jeweler who agreed to do it without warning you of the risk of breakage wouldn't be doing his/her due diligence. But assuming you get them all reset safely would it be a better setting? Yes. Would it guarantee you that they won't break, unfortunately absolutely not. It is just the nature of the material.

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  44. Hello Daniel,
    Thank you so much for this blog post! I was THIS close to selecting a rose gold ring with a morganite stone in a bezel setting. However, I think now I will go with a platinum ring with a lab-created ruby, in a bezel setting.
    Thank you!

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  45. Hello Daniel!

    In love with the look of white opal. Would I have any luck with durability using lab created opals?

    I would like them as two small accent stones on her ring, and inlaid on my band.

    Is there another option if opals are not viable?

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    1. Opal, whether lab created or natural are one of the worst materials to put in a ring. They are one of the softer gem materials and they break if you look at them cross eyed sometimes. I would STRONGLY discourage you from doing an inlay on a man's ring for your ring. You will spend all of your time having it fixed (which will be more expensive than the original inlay probably). Please, no opals in engagement rings.

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  46. You state that diamond is 90 times harder than sapphire. Diamond is only 4 times harder than sapphire.

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    1. It actually depends on how you're looking at it. Grinding tests show diamond to be 90 times harder than corundum. However indentation hardness is rated at a little more than 4 times the hardness in a diamond than a sapphire.

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