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Hardness refers to a material’s resistance to scratching.
Toughness refers to a material’s resistance to breaking or chipping.

A diamond is the hardest known material and is a 10 on the hardness scale. The only material that can scratch a diamond is another diamond.

The Mohs Hardness Scale is shown below and indicates the hardness of various gems and minerals.

Diamond 10
Corundum (Ruby and Sapphire)  9
Topaz  8
Quartz  7
Orthoclase (Feldspar)  6
Apatite  5
Fluorite  4
Calcite  3
Gypsum  2
Talc  1

Additional gemstones and their relative hardness are also show below.

Alexandrite 8.5
Beryl (Emerald, Aquamarine) 7.5 – 8.0
Iolite 7.0 – 7.5
Garnet 6.5 – 7.0
Peridot 6.5 – 7.0
Tanzanite 6.5 – 7.0
Jadeite 6.5 – 7.0
Opal 5.5 – 6.0
Lapis Lazuli 5.0 – 6.0
Turquoise 5.0 – 6.0
Pearl 2.5 – 3.5
Gold 2.5 – 3.0
Amber 2.0 - 2.5

The significance of hardness is important when it comes to wearing your jewelry. Stones that measure 6.5 or higher on the hardness chart are good for everyday wear in a ring. However, even these stones will abrade over time. Stones falling below 7 are a little more sensitive to scratching and are best worn in pendants and earrings when worn on a daily basis. Knowing where your gem falls on the hardness scale is advised so that you know the best way to wear and maintain your jewelry.

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