Some basics about Gemstones

Hello and Happy 2017 from your friends at Kaduka!  My apologies for being away so long and not keeping up with all the wonderful Birthstones, but I’m back and will do my utmost to keep up with this blog!

As I was reviewing my blog from last year, I was initially tempted to spread out January’s re-post over the entire month (thanks for the suggestion, Nancy D!), but as I was going over it, the thought occurred that it may be best to start off with information on 3 measurements of gemstone durability you may find useful; hardness, toughness and stability.  The information will (hopefully) tell you how to best care for your pieces that comprise your collection of lovely jewelry and I promise to do my best to include this information as I discuss the gemstones for each month moving forward!

First, let’s talk about the hardness of gems.  Based on the Mohs scale (developed in 1812 by German mineralogist Friedrich Mohs who tested 10 readily available materials), gemstones and minerals have a hardness (scratch resistance) rating that ranges from 1-10.  I believe that I can safely say that we’ve all heard that Diamonds (10 on the Mohs scale) are the hardest.   However, the “hardness” of the Diamond isn’t equal to its “toughness”.  This is because of its perfect “cleavage” which can cause it to break cleanly apart across certain planes (think how easily wood is split across its grain).

A “tough” gem is one that can withstand getting smacked around and still come up looking good (kind of like James Bond).  One such gem is Nephrite Jade, whose interlocking crystal structure makes it a good gem for everyday wear, even though it’s 6-6.5 on the Mohs scale.  Nephrite jade, in addition to quartz (and its varieties) Sapphire, Ruby and Jasper have no cleavage.

Just an FYI…I don’t want to cause any upset with the information about cleavage.  The highest concern about it is when the Gem is cut, polished and set.  Gem cutters are highly knowledgeable when it comes to cutting gems with cleavage and jewelers are experts in mounting your gem in a protective setting.

Finally, there’s the stability of Gemstones, which means that alterations to them can occur when they are exposed to various elements such as chemicals, heat, and light.  Gemstones such as Aquamarine (March’s birthstone) and Peridot (August’s birthstone) shouldn’t be exposed to acid.  Other stones, such as yellow-brown topaz can fade when it’s exposed to direct light for lengthy periods.  Opals (October’s birthstone) have high water content so they can crack from dehydration.

I didn’t want to overwhelm you with lots of information, so I hope the information I provided will give you an insight to the care of your jewelry.  If you would like a list of my references, please don’t hesitate to make a request!

Thanks for reading this, and look for my upcoming installment next week!



Image from Manikanta Impex



2 thoughts on “Some basics about Gemstones

  1. Thanks for the information! I had no idea that opals could break due to dehydration! I knew they were fragile but now I know why!

    Looking forward to reading your next blog! Be sure to let me know when it’s up!

    Blessings to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jo! I’m glad you found the information useful. I just posted about some of the origins of Valentine’s day, and my next post will be about caring for your jewelry!


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