|22k and 18k gold boulder opal and tsavorite garnet pendant|
I thought that for today I would review a topic in a much earlier post because it seems to get more comments and questions than any other posting and it seems that I haven't been able to get my point across clearly enough (at least given the questions I keep getting). It has to do with what stones you can use in every day wear rings (like engagement rings). You can view the original posting here or you can just read this one.
|18k gold vibrant orange sapphire ring|
So what do you do if you want to stay away from diamonds (for whatever the reason)? You go to sapphires or rubies. Sapphires come in a plethora of colors (except for red because then they are called rubies) so you do actually have a good selection of colored stones to choose. Sapphire is 9 on the hardness scale of 1-10 and only diamond is harder. The hardness scale is a relative scale so while sapphire is 9 it is actually much softer then diamond.
All other gem materials are truly not hard enough to be worn on an every day basis. Some of them are more durable than others but if you are looking for a gemstone that will represent a lifetime of marriage nothing else is going to work.
Emeralds in particular are problematic. While their scratch hardness on the Moh's scale is actually pretty high, they are almost always filled with inclusions that make them extremely fragile. Now if you don't mind replacing them every few years that's fine but they aren't exactly a cheap stone. And if you're looking for green stones, this is really going to be a problem for engagement rings as green sapphires, while available (and relatively inexpensive) are not the kind of green that emeralds occur in. They tend towards a light yellowish lime green with blue overtones to them. Tourmalines are also too soft for every day wear. They don't break that easily but they do scratch. I gave my wife a 10.26 ct. tourmaline in her engagement ring and we're down to 9.50 ct. because of how many times I have had to have it repolished and she has only used it as an occasional wear ring after the first couple of years that she had it.
Chrysoberyls, which include alexandrite, are also fairly high on the Moh's scale but again they are not as durable as sapphires or diamonds. Anything in the quartz family or softer (this includes things like amethyst, opals, citrine, etc.) are a real problem because there is so much quartz dust in the air that the stones can actually get scratched just from that. Opals break very easily as well. Pearls are an organic substance and they scratch very easily and are also subject to cleaning chemicals and other substances that you come in contact with on a daily basis.
So here's what I tell people: If you don't mind replacing the stone every few years (or if you are one of the more careful people out there every 5-10 years) go ahead and get whatever you want. But if you are looking for a meaningful stone that will be still be with you at your 50th anniversary party stick to the diamonds, rubies and sapphires. All of the other ones will be problematic.