The Best Gemstones for Engagement rings
Let’s talk about Hardness…
You might have heard sales assistants or seen articles that mention or refer to the hardness of a gemstone. There is a hardness scale for gemstones/geology that has a scale from one to 10 where diamonds are the hardest and talc/powder is the softest.
Hardness vs. Toughness of Gemstones
Hardness is a very confusing term. It refers to the gemstone’s scratch resistance and it’s resistance to breakage. A Gemstone's resistance to breaking is referred to the toughness of the stone. This depends on the gemstones crystal structure- more simply put, how densely the atoms are arranged in the crystal structure to resist breaking
Here is a simple way to compare the two aspects of gemstones:
BOUNCING BALL GLASS
Toughness Scratch Hardness
Flexible (not necessarily hard) Hard (not necessary flexible)
- Myth buster: if you thought that a diamond can’t break, sadly I am about to ruin your belief that it cannot. Diamonds can break if pressure is applied on the area where the atoms in the crystal structure are at their weakest- this is obviously invisible to the naked eye. The popular slogan we all know and all grew up with: “Diamonds are Forever”- has created a very big misconception around this beautiful and unique gemstone. But that’s why we are here to help set the record straight and to educate you correctly!
- The answer is simple - diamonds are the best option for engagement rings.
- Diamonds are the only gemstone that will not scratch. Why? Because they are the hardest substance known to man. More on this topic below
- However, we realise that this doesn’t always suit everyone's budget, but luckily there are other options as well
- They are available in a variety of different colours which gives a lot of choice
- A lot of people love and adore coloured stones and prefer this for their engagement ring. That’s okay, just know that ALL coloured stones will scratch over time and lose their polished surface and clean cut facet edges.
- The earth's crust is mainly composed of quartz which is a 7/10 on Mohs hardness scale. Thus, as a general rule, we recommend that any gemstone in a ring should preferably have a 7/10 hardness or higher, otherwise dust can even scratch your gemstone.
- For an engagement ring, you want a gemstone that is as hard as possible to stand the test of time. Here are a few of our favourite recommendations:
RUBIES & SAPPHIRES
- 9/10 The Corundum species (Rubies and Sapphires) as a whole are on a 9 on the Mohs scale, but still 120 times softer than a diamond which means even though Sapphire is the ‘better’ option if you choose a coloured gemstone it will still scratch over time. Like it’s softer counterparts, but over a longer period of time. This is the best colourful gemstone alternative to a diamond for an engagement ring.
- The good news is that Sapphires are not only blue as you’ve seen on Kate Middleton’s hand. It comes in many different colours such as pink, yellow, green, purple etc. and serves as a great colourful alternative.
BERYL GROUP: MORGANITE, AQUAMARINE, EMERALD
The beryl group consists of gemstones that might not seem related as the colours (and names) vary dramatically. Nevertheless, they are hard gemstones and the most famous three gemstones in this group are known as the green Emerald, the very popular light pink (or peachy-pink) Morganite and the light blue (or light blue-green) Aquamarine.
- 8/10 Topaz is available in many colours and a very affordable coloured gemstone for a ring. It is available in different shades of blue (Sky, Swiss and London Topaz), Pinks, yellows and colourless.
7-7.5/10 Hardness. Tourmaline is also known as the “rainbow stone” because it occurs in so many different colours (nearly every colour of the rainbow). The stone occurs in many beautiful colours, but beware, it can scratch easily.
QUARTZ (AMETHYST, SMOKEY QUARTZ, ROSE QUARTZ, LEMON QUARTZ, PRASIOLITE, BLACK ONYX)
Hardness 7/10 .This group of stones have quite a variety of colours to choose from. Each unique in its own right! Here are a couple you might recognise: Amethyst, Smokey Quartz, Citrine and Prasiolite. However, they will scratch easily as Quartz is the same hardness as the ordinary stone/sand you will pick up or find when you go outdoors.
Synthetic Gemstone Options
Synthetic versus Simulant
The term ‘synthetic’ can often be very confusing to the public and misleads people to think it means ‘fake’. However to put the record straight, synthetic in Gemmological terms means that a gemstone is manmade or lab grown. Simulant on the other hand is ‘fake’. It’s purely a look alike of a gemstone but made of other materials to make it look like the real deal.
A synthetic diamond is a diamond. Thus it has a hardness of 10/10. The only difference between a synthetic diamond and a natural diamond is where it was made. Synthetic diamonds are lab grown (manmade- but still a diamond!) where as a natural diamond was well…. Formed by mother nature. It took many years of experimenting from various companies (General Electric, Genesis etc.) to get this right, as one needs extreme heat and pressure to form a natural diamond in a lab. But they did it and these days it is more affordable than a natural diamond - especially the coloured diamonds. Natural fancy coloured diamonds (pinks, reds, greens, blues etc.) can reach excessive value, but the synthetic counterparts are much more affordable. This is a great alternative if the natural diamond does not fit the budget.
However, it’s good to keep in mind that some companies, as part of their policies, will not deal with any synthetic stones but only natural gemstones.
A very popular diamond alternative in the market is Moissanite and thus we have included it in the module. A Synthetic gemstone means it is manmade (made in a laboratory). These gems fall in this category. Below is a great chart from Allurez comparing a Moissanite to a diamond.
8.5/10 Hardness. Another very well-known gemstone commonly used as a diamond alternative is the very inexpensive Cubic Zirconia. It is not a diamond, only a diamond simulant (looks like a diamond but has none of the diamond’s physical or chemical characteristics). It is commonly used in costume jewellery because it is very cost effective to manufacture.
What gemstones are NOT suitable for everyday wear?
6-6.5/10 Hardness. Tanzanite’s specifically are quite the darling gemstone but it’s very important to mention that it’s not recommended to wear as an engagement ring but rather as a dress ring. They are too soft to wear on a daily basis and will quickly become scratched and dull if worn in an engagement ring.
2.5-4.5/10 Hardness Jackie Kennedy said “Pearls are always appropriate”. Even though we love this quote and these beauties are extremely tough (like the bouncing ball we explained earlier), they are soft and very sensitive to chemicals. Thus they are unfortunately not suitable for everyday wear, especially in rings.
5.5-6.5/10 Hardness. These mesmerizing gemstones are beautiful, but we recommend that they are worn per occasion in a ring, but freely wear them in earrings and pendants where they won’t scratch that easily.
- 6-6.5/10 Hardness. Moonstones have such a unique personality (iridescence), but they should be kept for special occasions and not worn daily.
- 5-7/10 Hardness. Peridot is a beautiful vivid yellowish green gemstone. Beautiful in rings, but should rather be worn on occasion and not on a daily basis.
What to do if my Coloured Gemstone becomes dull over time?
- There are ways around this: replace the stone. Most coloured stones aren’t as pricy and are easy and cost effective to replace. However, some coloured gemstones are quite pricey and then the second option might be the way to go.
- The other option is to have the stone removed, repolished and replaced. However, the risk here is you might have to have the claws redone when you choose this route - but it’s still a more affordable route should you choose this option.