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Hardness Of Stones

Moh's scale of hardness was developed by a German mineralogist in 1812, it's not a scientifically accurate scale but is functional (good enough) and still used by jewellers to classify stones. Low numbers indicate softness and high numbers hardness so higher number stones will scratch lower number stones. Here is a list of the most common stones and their hardness. Sterling silver (and Gold) has a hardness of about 2.75 so you can imagine how easy it is to scratch if you are not careful.

Hardness Mineral

1 Talc

2 Gypsum, Cinnabar, Amber, Mica

3 Calcite, Coral, Pearl

4 Iron

5 Apatite, Turquoise, Haematite, Glass, Opal, Flourite,Lapis Lazuli

6 Feldspar, Glass, Peridot, Jade, Kunzite, Nephrite,Tanzanite, Moonstone

7 Quartz, Garnet, Beryl, Emerald, Aquamarine, Amethyst,Citrine, Iolite, Tourmaline

8 Topaz, Alexadrite, Cat's Eye, Hawks Eye, Crysoberyl,Zircon, Spinel

9 Sapphire, Ruby

10 Diamond


Obviously the above list is one of the main reasons why jewellery needs to be kept seperate and boxed/wrapped. If you allow jewellery of different hardnesses to rub against each other in a large jewellery box then you will get scratches. In particular, great care needs to be taken of pearls and amber items. Stones above 7 on the scale are pretty resilient and OK for everyday wear but remember that their gold and silver settings only have hardnesses of just above 3.5, so if you want to keep that surface shiny you need to be careful. Although, there is a charm about the patina of a well worn piece of jewellery.
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