Have you seen those magical, iridescent moonstone rings all over social media?
Or maybe you’re being targeted with those cute teeny tiny fine diamond bands , or the “raw” stone look -which is so “Hot right now!”
Let’s face it social media taps into your history whether you like it or not , so if you’re browsing engagement rings (or advertisers believe you’re in that demograph ) you’re probably being bombarded with lots of different ring ads .
For the first time in history brides are finding their rings through instagram and facebook instead of the big commercial jewellery companies . People are moving away from the old diamond 3 stone or solitaire and towards more unique rings , that express their own individuality , which for me as an independent jeweller is bloody awesome.
However there’s a lot more to consider than a ring that looks super pretty on a mobile device.
Unfortunately a lot of the more unique style rings found especially on Instagram are not all that suitable for engagement or wedding rings , because they are just not constructed good enough to be worn everyday .
Plus often they showcase gems that I personally would never recommend using in a ring designed for everyday wear.
Whilst there is no such thing as a good or bad gem , it’s good for you the customer to have some insider knowledge , before you make that expensive purchase.
Remember a chipped stone is not fixable – it’s forever .
Let’s talk firstly about the Mohs scale.
Developed in 1812 by German geologist Friedrich Mohs, (pronounced “moze”) is used to identify a gem or minerals hardness and resistance to being scratched. This scale has been used by jewellers and geologists for centuries and is still the undisputed authority today.
The scale works like this: a mineral gets a higher rating than a mineral that it can scratch. Diamonds are unable to be scratched by any other mineral or gem and therefore get a perfect 10 rating. The second hardest mineral can be scratched only by diamond but, here’s the thing — this scale isn’t linear, it’s logarithmic — meaning that a diamond isn’t just 1x as hard as the next hardest mineral, it’s many, many times harder (as shown with the sharp upswing in the graph below).
This scale and the concept of stones being harder than others can be a real wake up call for most people. It also sheds light on why so many wedding and engagement rings use diamonds , simply because they are the hardest natural substance on earth and engagement rings tend to go through a lot of potentially damaging situations within a lifetime of wear.
Jewellers use the the Mohs Scale because it determines which gems are suitable for jewellery making. The harder a stone is, the easier to work with and set without breaking and the more able to handle the wear and tear of everyday tasks without being scratched. I would never assume my customers necessarily know the difference between the two, because it’s often not disclosed when you’re ring shopping online or in a store.
Even if you still choose a soft gemstone for your ring, this is perfectly ok , but I do feel it’s my job to at least make you aware of the risks BEFORE purchasing.
The reality is that everything from putting your hand in your pocket to accidentally tapping it against your car door has the potential to leave a mark on a soft stone , and if you drop a ring with a soft stone on say a hard tiled surface , chances are it will chip . Even at our most careful, our normal every day actions can put these stones at risk .
Below is a list of stones you may want to re consider as they have very low durability.
- Lapis Lazuli
- Rose Quartz
- Paua pearl
- To a much lesser extent Morganite, Garnet, Amethyst , Topaz , Tourmaline – these sit 7-8 on the scale , these will take a few knocks , but I would steer away from them if you are known to be super hard on rings , never take them off , or lead an active , sporty type lifestyle.
Beyond gem hardness, jewellers also rate diamonds and gemstones on toughness, resistance to breaking or chipping, and resistance to temperature changes and household chemicals. Diamonds and sapphires rate high on this scale, but opal, moonstone, and pearl rate exceedingly low.
Beyond chipping and breaking, certain soft stones have distinct weaknesses:
- Opals can crack or craze if they get too dry, ending up looking like shattered tempered glass , alway’s choose a SOLID opal .
- Pearls can lose their trademark iridescence if exposed to hot water, leaving them looking like yellowed plastic.
- Pearls are very porous and susceptible to chemicals which they absorb.
- Over time, Pearls can naturally erode and deteriorate away.
- Constant wear in water and cleaning products will see the top surface dull on many gems .
So what are good hard wearing gems?
Whilst nothing is indestructible , and I mean NOTHING – even diamonds can break if impacted hard enough, there is a few amazing stones you should be able to rock for a lifetime .
The obvious first choice is diamond – but we all know that these can cost an absolute BOMB , are overpriced ( Because De Beers control the market ) and have a dubious ethical past which is why I work a lot in Moissanite .
Moissanite has all the diamond feels and hardness just below diamonds .
I go into full details in a previous blog on why I rate them so highly !
Other choices are sapphires ( which come in all colours!) , spinel ( many colours as well ) and rubies *( although Rubies and Ceylonese Sapphires do command diamond huge prices).
Once you’ve chosen stones for your ring, you need to look critically at the overall style and setting. One of the biggest trends in the last few years is dainty, delicate looking jewellery with a very light weight metal content . The problem is that metal is what secures your stones in place and a lack of it is guaranteed to lead to problems in the future. When you’re looking at rings, think about whether it looks like it could actually withstand being worn every day. My work is very substantial , even my claw work is very solid compared to those on a commercially produced ring.
Here are some of the design details that don’t ( In my opinion ) cut the mustard.
- Super dainty thin bands
- Those “organic ” raw stone rings found all over Instagram with the folded thin metal claws that will just catch on everything and inevitably snap off , not only that , often those raw gems are the lowest grade material that’s too included *( internal cracks, fissures etc) to be cut . You are just asking for life long issues buying into this trend.
- Micro pave, or teeny tiny low quality diamonds – even my halo rings use a top quality diamond at no smaller than 1.2mm round .
- Delicate prongs that don’t securely hold the stone(s) in place
- Cad designed and mass manufactured rings ( pretty much all those cheaper chain store rings ) and the big Fashion Brands.
- Inverted diamonds- where the “points” stick up out the ring
- Rings that are too hollowed out internally
Ring metal choice
When it comes to choosing the actual metal for your ring I only work in precious metals eg: gold and silver and occasionally platinum .
Whilst gold is considerably more costly to purchase , it really is ten times more durable than sterling silver . * ( I do go into more details and show the differences in a previous blog post).
However if gold just is not in your budget do choose a style that has some “grunt” to it, and perhaps go for brushed sterling or something with texture that will not show scratches or dents as easily over time.
Please note I do not work in Steel ,Copper , or Titanium .
The bottom line
For me the bottom line is about being transparent in an industry that is more often not.
Remember pretty much everything looks good under halogen lights , but all that glitters is possibly not suitable for everyday wear – don’t be fooled into buying a ring that you want for a lifetime because it’s a bargain or trending.
With jewellery you definitely get what you pay for, especially in regards to engagement and wedding rings.
So let’s talk, together we can choose the perfect style and gems for your ring , so you can pass it on for generations to come.