#3 - Just How Tough are Gems?

Posted on Monday, November 27th, 2017 at 8:26 pm by LaLonde Jewelers

Gems can be classified by a number which is a measure of their hardness. The scale of hardness is called the "Mohs" Scale. The scale is numbered from 1 to 10, and classifies gems and minerals based on the ability of a harder material to scratch a softer material. Although the scale dates to 1812 when German geologist Friedrich Mohs created it, the comparison of minerals by the ability to scratch one another dates back to ancient times as far as 300 BC.

Some common items you encounter daily are a fingernail, which is approx. 2.5 hardness on the Mohs scale. A copper penny is 3.0 hardness.

Almost all gemstones used in jewelry measure between 6 to 10 hardness. It had always been that way until around 1985 when home shopping on TV started. A number of networks started selling softer stones for jewelry stating that these gems were "so rare that you can’t find it in jewelry stores". 
Well, I thought that was partially right. You cant find those stones in jewelry stores because store owners wouldn’t carry them because they are too soft and would scratch easily, thus you would have unhappy clients!

The softer stones are usually not rare. They are cut and used for specimens that are put on a stand for display.



Written by Daniel J. LaLonde

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