How Durable Is a Diamond Ring?

How Durable Is a Diamond Ring?

Engagement rings and wedding bands are often adorned with exquisite diamonds, symbolizing the epitome of elegance and commitment. However, many individuals perceive the emphasis to be more on the price tag rather than the inherent beauty of the gem itself.

One of the primary rationales behind recommending diamonds for bridal jewelry is their remarkable capacity for daily wear and tear.

Thus, an intriguing inquiry emerges: To what extent can a diamond truly withstand the test of time?

Within this educational handbook, we shall delve into the various facets of diamond durability, alongside an exploration of gemstone endurance in general. Moreover, we shall provide comprehensive answers to these inquiries:

  • Is it possible for diamonds to fracture?
  • Which gemstones are suitable for everyday wear?
  • Why do diamonds possess remarkable hardness while simultaneously being susceptible to brittleness?

Are Diamonds Truly Hard but Fragile?

You may be acquainted with the notion that diamonds are renowned as the most resilient natural substance on Earth. Nevertheless, the definition of hardness within the realm of diamonds and gemstones diverges from the conventional understanding.

Considering that diamonds are purportedly the toughest material, why do we encounter instances of them succumbing to chips or fractures? Such occurrences appear incongruous for a substance proclaimed as the world’s hardest.

This discrepancy arises due to the disparity between hardness and durability within the realm of gemology. Hardness alone does not guarantee long-lasting robustness or suitability for everyday wear; rather, it is merely one among numerous factors that contribute to a gemstone’s overall endurance and ability to withstand daily use.


Gemstone Hardness

Each mineral possesses a quantifiable rating of hardness. This includes jewelry settings, gems, glass, as well as lab-grown minerals, all of which are assigned a hardness value on the renowned Mohs Hardness scale. The Mohs scale, ranging from 1 to 10, serves as a comprehensive system for assessing the scratch resistance of various minerals.

mohs hardness scale

A diamond reigns supreme on the Mohs scale, achieving a perfect score of 10. As the hardest naturally occurring substance on Earth, no other mineral or gemstone can rival the diamond’s ability to withstand scratches. Remarkably, only a diamond itself can scratch another diamond.

While many individuals assume that the prevailing reason behind marketing diamonds as the premier choice for engagement rings and wedding bands is their exorbitant cost in comparison to colored gemstones, the truth is far more nuanced. The emphasis on diamonds stems from their exceptional resistance to dust-induced scratches accumulated over extensive periods of wear.

However, it is crucial to note that gemstone hardness exclusively pertains to susceptibility to scratching and not to the potential for chipping or breakage. These aspects should be taken into consideration when selecting a durable gemstone.

The primary peril faced by gemstones is the gradual accumulation of dust and dirt particles, which induce minuscule scratches. Nonetheless, such concerns do not apply to diamonds, as they remain impervious to such threats.

Gemstone Cleavage Planes

Gemstone cleavage planes are primarily associated with the occurrence of chipping and fracturing, devoid of any connection to scratch resistance. Comprehending this physical characteristic of a gemstone may prove challenging as it pertains to the inherent crystal structure of the stone.

In the realm of gemology, one may encounter the terms “cleave” or “cleavage.” These terms denote the gemstone’s capacity to divide or break along designated cleavage planes. Cleavage is exclusive to minerals with a crystalline nature, representing a vulnerability in the atomic bonds within the stone’s crystal structure. It signifies the strength of intermolecular cohesion within the gemstone.

Furthermore, gemstones can exhibit cleavage in various directions. Diamonds, for instance, possess the ability to cleave in four distinct directions. Consequently, the structural integrity of a diamond proves less optimal in situations involving forceful impacts.

Cleavage planes are commonly present in faceted gemstones known for their exceptional transparency. Similar to the way wood can divide, gemstones also possess this capability. The crystal structure encompasses diverse surfaces referred to as planes. For this reason, if a sufficiently forceful impact occurs, the stone will fracture precisely along the cleavage plane.

Read Also: Gemstone Refractive Index

Each gemstone possesses a designated cleavage rating, categorized as follows:

  • Absent
  • Inferior (or feeble)
  • Adequate (or moderate)
  • Prominent (or flawed)
  • Flawless

Gemstones exhibiting flawless cleavage are predisposed to fissure along specific planes, reminiscent of the grain in wood. Such stones can potentially divide, fracture, or chip. However, this doesn’t guarantee that accidental impact or dropping of a diamond ring will undoubtedly lead to such occurrences. It simply implies that certain gemstones carry a heightened risk. Diamonds, renowned for their flawless cleavage, are more susceptible to breaking along cleavage planes.

Gemstone Fracturing

Similar to the cleavage of gemstones, fracturing pertains to the breaking of gems or diamonds. Any form of breakage in a stone that is not associated with a specific cleavage plane is classified as a fracture. Diamonds possess a conchoidal type of fracturing. The fracture classifications are outlined as follows:

  • Conchoidal fracture: Exhibits breakage along concentric, curvilinear patterns.

  • Fibrous (Splintery) fracture: Causes the formation of slender, needle-like projections and sharp tips in the stone.

  • Hackly fracture: Results in the creation of rough and jagged points when the stone is broken.

  • Uneven fracture: Gives rise to a coarse texture devoid of distinct sharp points.

Assessing the Suitability of Gemstones for Engagement Rings

The comprehensive evaluation of a stone’s suitability for an engagement ring incorporates factors such as gemstone hardness, gem cleavage, fracturing, and parting. These elements collectively contribute to the determination of a wearability grade for gemstones. The wearability grades are characterized as follows:

  • Exceptional
  • Highly Satisfactory
  • Satisfactory
  • Substandard
  • Exclusive for Collectors

It is important to note that the definitive wearability grade of a gemstone is not immutable. The manner in which you maintain and care for your stones significantly impacts their longevity. Considerations such as frequency of wear, storage practices, cleaning routines, and more, all influence the overall durability of the gemstone.

What Factors Enhance Diamond Strength?

If you’ve recently engaged in diamond shopping, you might have discovered that diamonds exhibit unique characteristics. Retailers often prioritize sales targets rather than providing comprehensive information about the gems.

While it is widely known that diamonds possess exceptional scratch resistance, they are prone to chipping and splitting when subjected to accidental impact. However, are there any measures one can take to minimize the likelihood of such incidents?

Indeed, there are.

Undoubtedly, there exists no enchanting formula to magically enhance the durability of your diamond (Improvius Durabilitis!). Nevertheless, there are straightforward considerations to ponder when selecting diamond engagement rings.

The Impact of Diamond Cutting on Diamond Longevity

One crucial factor to consider is the quality of the diamond’s cut. When it comes to round cut diamonds, this entails selecting an appropriate cut grade. Opting for an ideal cut diamond is essential as it guarantees exceptional light performance and stability.

It is important to recognize that the cut quality directly influences the durability of the diamond jewelry. A poorly cut diamond compromises its crystal structure, resulting in diminished durability. Combining subpar gem cutting with the diamond’s susceptibility to cleavage and fracturing creates an unfavorable scenario.

Among all diamond shapes, round diamonds are the only ones assigned an official cut grade in a diamond grading report. Other diamond shapes have specific measurement and proportion ranges. By choosing a diamond that falls within the “ideal proportion range” for a particular shape, you can ensure enhanced strength for your diamond.

Read Also: Where to Buy Loose Diamonds

The shape and proportions of your diamond are dictated by the quality of its cut. When a gem cutter fails to execute a precise cut, the proportions become irregular and asymmetrical, thereby jeopardizing the fundamental structure of the diamond.

Choosing Protective Ring Settings

Another measure you can take to shield your diamond from potential fractures or cleaving is selecting a protective ring mounting. Prong settings prove effective in enveloping the diamond’s edges, offering an added layer of security. It is worth noting that the girdle, being the most susceptible part to breakage or chipping, necessitates particular attention.

Alternatively, low-profile ring settings present themselves as a favorable choice. Unlike tall prong settings, which can easily catch on fabrics and increase the likelihood of accidental impacts, lower settings such as bezel settings or flush settings offer a more seamless and secure option.

Read Also: Flush Settings for Engagement Rings (Including Pros and Cons)

Frequently Asked Questions About Diamonds Durability

Is the Durability of Diamonds Universally Uniform?

Variations exist among diamond categories beyond the realm of natural diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds exhibit identical physical attributes to their natural counterparts, rendering them resistant to minor abrasions while susceptible to cleaving and fracturing. This principle extends to both naturally occurring fancy colored diamonds and their lab-grown counterparts.

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Which Gemstones Exhibit Optimal Durability?

When it comes to everyday wear, all of these gemstones are deemed suitable. However, the wearability of each stone may vary in accordance with its individual longevity, taking into account various contributing factors that determine durability.

  • Moissanite (a laboratory-created diamond simulant)
  • Corundum Gemstones (Sapphire and Ruby)
  • Cubic Zirconia (an alternative to lab-created diamonds)
  • Alexandrite
  • Topaz
  • Aquamarine (a type of Beryl)
  • Morganite (a type of Beryl)
  • Emerald (a type of Beryl)
  • Spinel
  • Garnet
  • Amethyst (a variety of Quartz)
  • Quartz (including Clear quartz, rose quartz, and smoky quartz)
  • Citrine (a type of Quartz)

Do Diamonds Reign Supreme as the Ultimate Endurance Gemstone?

Diamonds do not hold the title for unrivaled durability. While their gem hardness may be comparable, their vulnerability to chipping and fracturing undermines their overall resilience. Due to their perfect cleavage in four distinct directions, diamonds are prone to breakage, particularly when subjected to forceful impact.

Certain individuals appreciate the alternative of selecting a colored gemstone. However, not every precious stone employed in a ring possesses the endurance to withstand the test of time throughout a marital journey.

Which Gemstones Reign Supreme for Everyday Adornment?

The optimal choice for colored gemstones suitable for daily wear is none other than corundum. Within the corundum family reside the illustrious sapphire and the captivating ruby. While sapphires are commonly associated with deep blue hues, they manifest in a diverse array of shades that extend beyond this conventional perception.

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Sapphire, in fact, encompasses an exquisite spectrum of colors, with the exception of vibrant red tones. Red corundum, renowned as the bewitching ruby and the designated birthstone for July, stands as a captivating manifestation of this gemstone variety.

Neither sapphire nor ruby possess cleavage characteristics. Unlike a diamond, these precious stones cannot be effortlessly divided. While lacking gemstone cleavage, they are susceptible to fracturing. Although there exists a slight possibility of chipping when a sapphire is struck, it remains relatively low. Not an impossibility, yet highly improbable.

Moreover, corundum, which includes sapphire and ruby, registers a 9 on the Mohs scale. Although 9 is in close proximity to 10 (the position of diamond), it does not imply a comparable level of hardness.

The disparity between 9 and 10 within the realm of gemology diverges from a mere one-number gap, as it does in other aspects of life. In reality, diamonds exhibit a hardness four times greater than that of sapphires and rubies. Meanwhile, sapphires and rubies boast a hardness twice that of topaz, which ranks at 8 on the scale.

Thus, although diamonds and topaz may only differ by two numbers, the actual resistance to scratching between the two is significantly distinct.

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