For those new to the science of gemology, there is one key fact to note, not all gems are created equal! Whilst most people may be aware diamonds are the hardest substance known to man, the average customer would struggle to assess the strength of a sapphire versus a pearl.
So which gems are suitable for day-to-day wear, and which are best left for date night?
Fortunately jewellers do use a fairly straight forwards scale of 1 to 10 for measuring a gems durability, known as the Mohs scale. A diamond, being the strongest jewel, is rated a 10, whereas a weak, less durable gem such as amber would be rated a 2.
APS Tip: For day-to-day wear, look for a gem with a durability rating of 7 or above on the Mohs scale.
An undeniably beautiful gem, appreciated for its iridescent sheen and smooth spherical shape, the pearl is a staple of high end fashion house Chanel and, thanks in part to the cinematic classic Breakfast in Tiffany's, pearls are considered the perfect option for those looking for a timeless and sophisticated piece.
Unfortunately Pearls are also incredibly delicate and, due to their soft surface, easily scratched. Being a water based, organic substance, Pearls also require cleaning after every wear to remove excess oil and dirt from its surface in order to preserve their lustrous sheen, making them a rather high maintenance option.
Though undoubtedly a stunning classic, to avoid heat break, Pearls are best saved for a special occasion.
Mohs Rating: 2.5
Best for: Necklaces, Pendants, Costume Jewellery
Not Suitable for: Everyday wear, particularly rings
Another classic gem, which often appears in vintage pieces, the variety of colours and antique appearance of Opals have made them a favourite across generations. Though the unique flashes of rainbow make Opals an obvious choice for a stand-out-piece, being silica based, they can react strangely to heat and water and lack the rigid structure required for daily wear.
Mohs Rating: 5 - 6.5
Best for: Earrings and pendants
Not Suitable for: Everyday-wear rings and long chain necklaces
Garnets are most commonly found in red, however green, orange, and a vivid purple garnet are also available. Though this gem is not as strong as spinel and diamonds, their fiery colouring makes them an ideal choice for statement jewellery.
Mohs Rating: 6.5 - 7.5
Best for: Earrings, Rings and Necklaces
Not Suitable for: Everyday wear where it is likely to be knocked, such as a ring or bracelet.
Throughout history, Spinel has been mistaken for its more expensive counterparts, particularly Ruby. This gem is incredibly versatile in colour and clarity and makes a great alternative for those looking for a vibrant stone on a budget. Spinels isometric crystal system means it has the durability to be worn in high impact areas, such as the hand or wrists.
Mohs Rating: 8
Best for: Rings & Bracelets
Not Suitable for: Spinel is suitable for all jewellery
Sapphires and Rubies
Sapphires are said to represent nobility and truth and have long been associated with royalty, most infamously featuring in the engagement ring of Princess Diana. Though generally associated with a rich, blue hue, Sapphires can come in an extensive array of colours, from vibrant orange to a deep black.
Mohs Rating: 9
Best for: Engagement and wedding rings
Not Suitable for: Being such a strong gem, Sapphires and Rubies are suitable for all jewellery.
Made of just one element, Carbon, diamonds are not only the world's most famous gem, but also the strongest. Made under high pressure and heat, diamonds are a natural choice for day-to-day wear and have historically been the gem of choice for special occasion jewellery; particularly engagement and eternity rings.
Mohs Rating: 10
Best for: Engagement and Eternity Rings, Earrings
Not Suitable for: The high price tag of diamonds means they are a very expensive choice for larger statement pieces.
To find the right gem for your jewellery, book a consultation with APS Jewellery here.