Are some gemstones too fragile for every day use?

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George Mauer

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Mar 26, 2009, 9:09:56 PM3/26/09
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Hello,
I am looking for an engagement ring and I've determined that my price-
range ($1500) should be enough to allow me to get a decent mounting
with a nice bling-y semi-precious stone. Probably I would like
something large, shiny and purple or pink.

I've been talking to a lot of jewelers about this and one recommended
to me that for an engagement ring that will be worn daily I should not
do amethyst or kunzite, or topaz because these are too fragile and
will scuff and chip with every day use. Out of the stones that we
discussed she basically only recommended sapphire, diamonds, and
moisannite (ok, ruby too but thats way out of my range).

In your opinion, is that a fair assessment or is that just her opinion
that will vary from jeweler to jeweler?

Thanks so much for helping me out.

m4816k

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Mar 30, 2009, 1:14:00 PM3/30/09
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"George Mauer" <gma...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:hq9os4pj9bh07h516...@4ax.com...

I would agree with her and maybe add spinel to the list - it's quite durable
and availabe in both pink and purple. But I'm not a professional, so feel
free to ask around.


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Peter W. Rowe

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Mar 31, 2009, 6:12:32 AM3/31/09
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On Thu, 26 Mar 2009 18:09:56 -0700, in rec.crafts.jewelry George Mauer
<gma...@gmail.com> wrote:

>>Hello,
>>I am looking for an engagement ring and I've determined that my price-
>>range ($1500) should be enough to allow me to get a decent mounting
>>with a nice bling-y semi-precious stone. Probably I would like
>>something large, shiny and purple or pink.

Well, that rules out diamonds. You can, of course, get diamonds in pink, or a
purple to reddish purple, the latter usually seen as treated stones rather than
wholely natural color. But in anything anyone would call large, those would be
way over your stated budget. So semiprecious it is. Or synthetic of some sort.
But first, lets clear up one thing. The term semiprecious is unfortunate, and
at this point, generally discouraged in the gemological trade, simply because
it's not accurate or really descriptive. It implies that those stones
traditionally referred to as semiprecious are somehow less valueable or less
precious or less rare, than the so called precious stones, and that's simply not
a valid distinction. I can show you diamonds that look like crap. Hardly worth
calling precious, not to mention the fact that, found on every continent in the
world, mined by the millions of carats, it's not even all THAT rare. Somewhat,
yes, and costly in general to process, but not as rare as some of the stones
considered semiprecious. Same thing with sapphire, ruby, emerald, etc. Some of
them are exceedingly rare quality levels (the same with diamond in it's finest
qualities), and really good emerald or ruby are rarer, and often more costly
than diamonds. But I can also show you ruby, sapphire, and emerald that's not
worth much more than aquarium gravel. Well, I'm over stating it a bit, but not
by much. That stuff isn't precious. So the type of gem shouldn't determine
the label.

And at the same time, some of the less known, and so called semi precious stones
are less known simply because they are so exceedingly rare. Some of those are
very beautiful gems indeed, in fine qualities. They aught to be called precious
for their beauty and rarity, but the traditional use of those terms isn't so
flexible. Thus the problems with those words.

End of that particular off the subject rant...

Anyway...


>>
>>I've been talking to a lot of jewelers about this and one recommended
>>to me that for an engagement ring that will be worn daily I should not
>>do amethyst or kunzite, or topaz because these are too fragile and
>>will scuff and chip with every day use.

Well, yes and no. Amethyst, especially in the synthetic ones (which are indeed
amethyst in all senses of the word except where the crystals grow), are
inexpensive, and gorgeous. So though your jeweler is correct that they will
show wear and tear with every day use, it's also quite possible to simply have
it repolished, or to replace it, when it gets too worn. They're cheap enough
that this is not a costly option, even if you do it every few years. This of
course ignores the usual and customary emotional value of an engagement stone,
which some people would never want to replace. But the option exists. Same
with Topaz. Now, Topaz is slightly harder than amethyst, so it will scuff a
little less. But it's brittle, and has one direction in which it breaks
especially easily, so the danger is more that one day you either find your stone
split in two, or just gone. It costs a good bit more than amethyst too, in good
pink colors. Not much in purple topaz. But nice pinks and peachy pink colors.
If you're careful with a topaz, you might wear it for years. If you're rough in
rings, you might wear it for six months. Kunzite, well, don't consider it. The
color is not stable in sunlight, and fades when exposed to it. It's good for
jewelery only worn indoors or in the evening. Out doors, or even just bright
indoor lights, will fade the color. Plus it's even more fragile than topaz.

>> Out of the stones that we
>>discussed she basically only recommended sapphire, diamonds, and
>>moisannite (ok, ruby too but thats way out of my range).

I mentioned pink diamonds. If you want small ones, they're wonderful. For
large ones, you'll need more money. Moissanite is a fairly nice synthetic.
Very tough, you aren't likely to damage it. But the color is a slightly off
white, tending to the fainly greenish range, rather than pink or purple or even
a really good white. And to my mind, somewhat over priced, for what it is.

Pink Sapphire is wonderful. In the best qualities, it too will cost more than
your budget if you want to actually have a ring to hold the stone included in
that figure. But you can get very pretty stones that may not be quite the top
of the ladder, yet are still very nice. As well, you can get synthetic versions
that look the same as naturals, for much less money. As with the synthetic
amethyst, the main difference is where the crystal grew, in a lab versus in the
ground. There are a number of types of synthetic sapphire and ruby (same gem
type, in different colors) Good strong pinks are less common that decent
looking synthetic ruby. But you CAN get a wonderful looking synthetic ruby
within your budget. The good hydrothermal or flux grown stones, like the
Chatham stones, are a quality product, that duplicates well the visual
impression of the naturals, even when examined carefully with a loupe. (unlike
the cheap flame fusion types that you know from things like class rings and
cheap jewelry) An expert can identify them as synthetic more easily than the
synthetic amethysts, but it's still not obvious, and the stones are beautiful,
and a good value, reasonably priced.


>>
>>In your opinion, is that a fair assessment or is that just her opinion
>>that will vary from jeweler to jeweler?

She's generally right, in that stones other than diamond, and to a degree,
sapphire and ruby, are prone to more wear over time. The softer they are, the
more this is the case. Her list does miss a few hard stones. Chrysoberyl for
example is just as durable as sapphire, maybe even a tad more so, since it's
slightly less brittle. Best known in the alexandrite version, and good quality
alexandrites will be costly. But as with sapphire and ruby, you can get good
looking synthetics. Again, the Chatham company makes a good looking one for a
reasonable price. These, either the natural or synthetic, aren't purple or
pink. They're color change stones, changing depending on light source. In
incandescent light, some of them may be reddish or purplish, changing to a
bluish or greenish tone (in good ones) in fluorescent light or sunlight. Not
sure if these are the colors you want, but they are tough and durable.

As another reply pointed out, Spinel is another natural stone very similar in
durability to sapphire, that's also available in the colors you wish, and
generally for less money than similar sapphires.

Other red to pink to purple stones worth mentioning include a wide range of
garnets, which though not exceptionally hard, are reasonablly tough. They're
scratch over time, but can be repolished or replaced. Then there's tourmaline,
another stone famous for it's pink colors. Again, harder than amethyst, and
fairly durable, though not great, you still will scuff it up with daily wear.
But it IS available in a wonderul range of soft red and pink colors, not to
mention almost every other color in the rainbow except a good purple. Can also
be found in stones having two or three colors in the same gem. Very pretty. And
like the others that can wear and scratch, you can always have it repolished if
needed.

And finally, if we're considering synthetics at all, and pink is a color you're
after, don't forget pink cubic zirconia. Yeah, I know, it's dirt cheap. and
way over sold on TV shopping channels giving it a poor image. But it IS
durable, and can be very pretty for little money, especially if you get a better
quality stone, which means one that's been precision cut and polished. Costs a
few dollars more, but then looks worthy of the word gemstone, even if it doesn't
closely match any of the natural gems. And if you like these, you can easily
afford to buy a dozen of them all at the beginning. They will, even if durable,
eventually scuff or chip, but then you'd already have a good stock of
replacements... Possibly not what you want for an engagement ring, but I toss
out the option just in case.

Of course, opinions will vary from jeweler to jeweler as to which stones are
tough enough to work, and which are not. It mostly depends on just how much
durability you wish. Even diamonds can be damaged, after all. Some people can
wear the fragile stones for years, even daily, without problem, and others
can't. And the design of the mounting can have a big influence, since it's
possible to design mountings that can give a more fragile stone, more protection
from impact and abrasion. In general, the more fragile less durable stones
will tend to cost you a bit less, though not always, so if you pick carefully,
you not only can save money, but get a beautiful ring, and have some cash to
stash away for later in the event you need to replace or repolish the stone.

>>
>>Thanks so much for helping me out.

Hope this helps.

Peter Rowe

Graver

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Mar 31, 2009, 2:30:52 PM3/31/09
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To: rec-craft...@moderators.isc.org

On Thu, 26 Mar 2009 18:09:56 -0700, in rec.crafts.jewelry George Mauer
gma...@gmail.com> wrote:

> >>Hello,
> >>I am looking for an engagement ring and I've determined that my price-
> >>range ($1500) should be enough to allow me to get a decent mounting
> >>with a nice bling-y semi-precious stone.  Probably I would like
> >>something large, shiny and purple or pink.

(snip)


George,


You'd be suprised at what you can find on Ebay in the way of
Sapphires, I've purchased some beautiful yellow, as well as flawless
reds that in reality are in the same family as Rubies. I've purchased
1/2 carat Moissanite for very good prices that make a great look. I
think you should stay with round stones, as they'll have more settings
for you to choose from, and also you'll get the most flash from a
brillant round cut.

Just some thoughts.

George Mauer

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Mar 31, 2009, 2:31:09 PM3/31/09
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> Hope this helps.
>
> Peter Rowe

Wow. Boy does it help! Thank you so much Peter and m4816, today's
going to be a far more informed trip to the jewlers.

Peter W. Rowe

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Mar 31, 2009, 2:34:16 PM3/31/09
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On Tue, 31 Mar 2009 11:31:09 -0700, in rec.crafts.jewelry George Mauer
<gma...@gmail.com> wrote:

>>Wow. Boy does it help! Thank you so much Peter and m4816, today's
>>going to be a far more informed trip to the jewlers.

You're welcome. By the way, it's spelled "jewelers". Missing that "e" makes it
look, well, odd. Almost ... well... ( oh never mind.. :-) )

robynahawk

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Mar 31, 2009, 11:22:36 PM3/31/09
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George - I think you have a Jeweler that actually knows her stuff!

This is a link to a Wikipedia Article on the Mohs Scale of Hardness:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohs_scale_of_mineral_hardness

When looking for a stone that you want to wear daily - this should be
your FIRST resource.

Kunzite is a 6.5 - so too soft for everyday wear. If you knock on
something it tends to get small feathery fractures inside the stone.
When it was introduced (by Tiffany's) it was referred to as the
"Evening Stone" as it shouldn't be exposed to sun for extended
periods - the color has a tendency to fade.

Quartz (Amethyst) is a 7 - and while it would hold up to frequent wear
- it can get scratched up - but then too it is fairly inexpensive and
could be replaced when the stone starts to show wear.

Topaz is an 8 - the only Topaz that will show wear is the Vapor
Deposition Treated "Mystic" varieties as it is a surface treatment.
Again - cheap enough to replace.

Interesting she didn't mention the Beryl Family - also an 8 but more
of them are natural colors so less chance of getting that worn look -
maybe she just doesn't have any Morganite (more of a peachy pink).

As the previous posters have mentioned Spinel is an excellent option -
but I have to disagree with Peter - I don't think that Alexandrite is
in your price range. However - since you were considering a
synthetic stone in Moissanite you may want to look at the Russian Lab
Grown Alexandrite - you can get the showy size you are looking for
with the added bonus of "color change"!

Other inexpensive and showy looks might be a Malaya Garnet - pinky
purple - or a Rubellite Tourmaline!

Go to your bookstore - get a copy of Gemstones of the World by Walter
Schumann (short sweet and easy to read) - and do some research!

Robyn Hawk
Looking for a Gemshow in your Area?
http://GemShows.blogspot.com


George Mauer

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Mar 31, 2009, 11:23:26 PM3/31/09
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On Mar 31, 1:34 pm, Peter W. Rowe <rec.crafts.jewe...@earthlink.net>
wrote:

Darn spell check, didn't notice the little red line this time.

Peter W. Rowe

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Mar 31, 2009, 11:25:21 PM3/31/09
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On Tue, 31 Mar 2009 20:23:26 -0700, in rec.crafts.jewelry George Mauer
<gma...@gmail.com> wrote:

>>
>>Darn spell check, didn't notice the little red line this time.

On my news/mail client (forte agent), the spell check isn't real time. You have
to actually use it before hitting send. Easy to forget. Also easy to let it
correct errors, only find afterwards that it got the spelling right for wrong
usages, so the correctly spelled words are grammatically odd. Ya just can't win
sometimes.

cheers

Peter

Peter W. Rowe

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Mar 31, 2009, 11:52:31 PM3/31/09
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On Tue, 31 Mar 2009 20:22:36 -0700, in rec.crafts.jewelry robynahawk
<robyn...@gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>>George - I think you have a Jeweler that actually knows her stuff!
>>
>>This is a link to a Wikipedia Article on the Mohs Scale of Hardness:
>>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohs_scale_of_mineral_hardness
>>

One thing to keep in mind about mohs hardenss is that it's simply an order, not
a good linear scale. Diamond, at 10, is some 40 times harder than sapphire at
9, depending on how you measure it. And sapphire is harder than beryl by more
than the interval between quartz and topaz. Also, hardness is only the measure
of how easily the stone can be scratched. It is not the same as toughness, or
the resistance to chipping and breaking. Spinel, for example, is a bit softer
than sapphire, but it's a good deal tougher and harder to chip. One can
illustrate the difference with a piece of glass, and a piece of plastic like
nylon. A sharp corner on the glass easily scratches the softer nylon. But drop
them both on the floor, and the plastic bounces while the glass shatters.
Topaz, as you note, is harder than quartz. But it's not as tough, what with a
perfect cleavage direction.

>>When looking for a stone that you want to wear daily - this should be
>>your FIRST resource.
>>
>>Kunzite is a 6.5 - so too soft for everyday wear. If you knock on
>>something it tends to get small feathery fractures inside the stone.
>>When it was introduced (by Tiffany's) it was referred to as the
>>"Evening Stone" as it shouldn't be exposed to sun for extended
>>periods - the color has a tendency to fade.

Not just a tendancy. It WILL fade, though how fast depends on the intensity of
the light and the duration. Also, like topaz, it too has a direction of perfect
cleavage (this is a direction through some types of crytals along which it's
much easier to split the crystal.)

>>
>>Quartz (Amethyst) is a 7 - and while it would hold up to frequent wear
>>- it can get scratched up - but then too it is fairly inexpensive and
>>could be replaced when the stone starts to show wear.
>>
>>Topaz is an 8 - the only Topaz that will show wear is the Vapor
>>Deposition Treated "Mystic" varieties as it is a surface treatment.
>>Again - cheap enough to replace.

Some is cheap. In the pinkish tones, you can get into the so-called "imperial"
topaz, which depending on quality and size, can get at least into the hundreds
of dollars per karat. Still likely within the budget, but I don't think I'd
call them all exactly cheap. Also, though they are an 8 in hardness, their
slight brittleness and that cleavage direction does make them vulnerable to
chipping and breakage, even if they don't get too scratched up.

>>
>>Interesting she didn't mention the Beryl Family - also an 8 but more
>>of them are natural colors so less chance of getting that worn look -
>>maybe she just doesn't have any Morganite (more of a peachy pink).

Good call. I forgot that one too. Morganites aren't as common as some, nor are
they a bright pink, but they are indeed pretty, and so long as you stay out of
top quality aquamarines, or any decent quality of emerald, they can be
affordable. Personally, I like the golden beryls better. Bright clean lively
golden colors, and not excessively priced.

>>
>>As the previous posters have mentioned Spinel is an excellent option -
>>but I have to disagree with Peter - I don't think that Alexandrite is
>>in your price range. However - since you were considering a
>>synthetic stone in Moissanite you may want to look at the Russian Lab
>>Grown Alexandrite - you can get the showy size you are looking for
>>with the added bonus of "color change"!

I didn't imply that natural alexandrite was in the price range. I said they're
costly. I might have added that in the finest qualities, they can be among the
most costly gems you'll find around, if indeed you can even locate a stone in
those rare qualities. You can find moderatly priced ones on the net, but
frankly, most of them are somewhat less than stunning in appearance. And I'm
being tactful with that characterization.... :-) However, as you note, you CAN
find good and attractive synthetic alexandrite. The russian ones are nice, as
you mention. Personally, I also quite like the Chatham ones. as well. Maybe
it's just that "made in the U.S." thing right now... But Tom Chatham is a neat
guy, and no doubt appreciates the business.

>>
>>Other inexpensive and showy looks might be a Malaya Garnet - pinky
>>purple - or a Rubellite Tourmaline!
>>
>>Go to your bookstore - get a copy of Gemstones of the World by Walter
>>Schumann (short sweet and easy to read) - and do some research!
>>

Another good call. There are also many good sites on the net with decent
gemological info for free. Be a bit wary of any who are coupling it with a
strong attempt to sell you gems, but nevertheless, there's a lot of good
gemological info on the net. Wikipedia has a goodly amount, for example.


Peter

charles

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Apr 1, 2009, 6:44:58 AM4/1/09
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There's an option to always spell check before sending any message.

In FA 2.00 it is under options>general preferences>spell checking.


m4816k

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Apr 1, 2009, 6:45:38 AM4/1/09
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"Graver" <mger...@oh.rr.com> wrote in message
news:gsn4t4tf8hllen3fb...@4ax.com...

Graver,

I wouldn't recommend anyone who's not overly familiar with the subject of
gemstones, to buy them from Ebay. There are indeed some wonderful offers and
great prices, but also quite a lot of folks who are waiting for uninformed
buyers. With today's level of treatments and imitations used to sell
gemstones (or "gemstones"), I'd be very cautious. IMO, for any gem newbie
it's more important who you buy from, than what you buy.

Peter W. Rowe

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Apr 1, 2009, 6:50:24 AM4/1/09
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On Wed, 01 Apr 2009 03:44:58 -0700, in rec.crafts.jewelry charles
<ckr...@SPAMTRAP.west.net> wrote:

>>
>>There's an option to always spell check before sending any message.
>>
>>In FA 2.00 it is under options>general preferences>spell checking.
>>

I know. But for moderating purposes, that actually gets in the way, running
into oddities with font mismatches that occur when converting messages people
send to the group that land in my incoming email, to outgoing messages actually
going to the group. It ends up spell checking even some of the headers, which
always bogs down. As well, I don't really consider it always appropriate for
me to be spell correcting the messages other people write. I'm a moderator, not
an editor, and not everyone appreciates having a nanny oversee what they write.
So when I edit or correct, it's only as needed, usually to fix the glitches that
occur in the conversion from incoming to outgoing message. That's already
enough fuss sometimes, without also bothering with other peoples spelling.

cheers

Peter

Mr G H Ireland

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Apr 9, 2009, 10:23:43 PM4/9/09
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In article <4gn5t4dbg3brmhis8...@4ax.com>, George Mauer

<gma...@gmail.com> wrote:
>  By the way, it's spelled "jewelers".

Not here in England, it isn't! Here, it is "jewellers"

G.H.Ireland

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p911z

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May 28, 2009, 1:32:40 PM5/28/09
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I think you should consider Corundum, Quartz or Topaz. They all are
durable stones having a hardness of 8 and above on Moh's scale and
thus can be used for daily wear. Another reason, they all come in a
variety of colors, so you can get a wide choice of colors to chose
from.

Peter W. Rowe

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May 28, 2009, 1:34:23 PM5/28/09
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One correction here. Quartz is the defining mineral for the mohs hardness
scale's 7. It is not as hard as corundum (sapphire,ruby, and a 9 on that scale)
or topaz.

Peter

Movi...@home.com

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Nov 6, 2010, 5:01:01 AM11/6/10
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On Thu, 26 Mar 2009 18:09:56 -0700, George Mauer <gma...@gmail.com>
wrote:


George,

The best substitute for a diamond, in my opinion, is a natural zircon.
Zircon is not cubic zirconia (CZ), but a completely natural crystal
with a high refractive index of around 1.95. That refractive index
alllows it to exhibit the fire that you also see in diamonds. And it
costs a lot less.

Here are some examples (none of these were greater than $1000):

http://www.dansstarrgems.com/Sold-Zircon-Cut-Stones.html

You can get a colorless zircon fairly inexpensively too. I once cut a
zircon as a diamond replacement and only charged the guy $250. There
are quite a few hobbyist gem cutters who would be happy to cut one for
you.

Dan Starr

Peter W. Rowe

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Nov 6, 2010, 5:09:16 AM11/6/10
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On Sat, 06 Nov 2010 02:01:01 -0700, in rec.crafts.jewelry Movi...@home.com
wrote:

>>
>>George,
>>
>>The best substitute for a diamond, in my opinion, is a natural zircon.
>>Zircon is not cubic zirconia (CZ), but a completely natural crystal
>>with a high refractive index of around 1.95. That refractive index
>>alllows it to exhibit the fire that you also see in diamonds. And it
>>costs a lot less.

Dan,

Two comments.

first, note that this newsgroup has a rather low volume of messages. That
translates to very long message retention times on some servers. The message
you responded to, for example, was over a year and a half old, so no doubt the
original poster will never see your suggestion. That doesn't mean you shouldn't
or cannot post such replies, just know that you are, in essence, starting a new
discussion.

Second, as to zircon being a good substitute for diamond, I'd offer some
caution there. It does have a high refractive index, which leads to great
brilliance and fire (two different properties) if well cut. In fact, the
dispersion (fire) is substantially more than with diamond itself in many cases,
though this varies depending on the zircon's properties (which vary due to
radioactive decay damage to the crystal structure between so-called high and low
zircon). Some zircon's look a lot like diamonds, some have less fire, and
others have way too much...

The big problem with natural zircon has to do with durability. They're not all
that hard, so if the OP had an objection to, say, amethyst, the zircon won't be
better. Many of them are also uniquely prone to abrasion, with worn/crumbly
looking facet edges being almost diagnostic with these once they've been worn a
while.

But you're right, in that for a natural stone, they are one of the better ones
if one wishes to duplicate the appearance of diamond.

Peter Rowe
moderator
rec.crafts.jewelry

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