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How Hard Is a Ruby Gemstone: Durability & Mohs Scale Rating

by Madonna

Rubies have captivated the human imagination for centuries. Their deep red color and inherent beauty make them one of the most sought-after gemstones in the world. Beyond their visual appeal, one critical aspect that defines the value and usability of a gemstone is its hardness. In this article, we will delve into the world of rubies and explore just how hard these precious stones are, with a focus on their durability and the Mohs scale rating.

Introduction to Rubies

Rubies, a variety of the mineral corundum, are known for their striking red color, which ranges from rich crimson to pinkish-red hues. These gemstones have held cultural significance throughout history, being associated with love, passion, and power in many societies. Rubies are often used in high-end jewelry pieces, such as rings, necklaces, and earrings, to add a touch of elegance and luxury.


One of the crucial factors that determine the value and longevity of a gemstone like ruby is its hardness. A gemstone’s hardness is an indicator of its ability to resist abrasion and scratching, making it an essential consideration for jewelry design and everyday wear.


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Understanding Hardness in Gemstones

Hardness, in the context of gemstones, refers to a mineral’s resistance to being scratched or abraded. The ability to withstand wear and tear is vital for gemstones used in jewelry, as they often come into contact with various surfaces and materials. The hardness of a gemstone is typically measured using the Mohs scale.

The Mohs Scale of Hardness

The Mohs scale of hardness is a system developed by German mineralogist Friedrich Mohs in 1812 to rank minerals based on their relative hardness. This scale consists of ten minerals, each assigned a hardness value from 1 (the softest) to 10 (the hardest). Here’s a quick overview of the minerals on the Mohs scale:

  • Talc: The softest mineral, easily scratched by a fingernail.
  • Gypsum: Slightly harder than talc but still quite soft, can be scratched by a fingernail.
  • Calcite: Harder than talc and gypsum but can be scratched by a copper coin.
  • Fluorite: Can be scratched by a steel knife.
  • Apatite: Harder than previous minerals but can still be scratched by a steel knife.
  • Orthoclase Feldspar: Can scratch glass and steel but is scratched by corundum.
  • Quartz: Scratches glass and can only be scratched by topaz, corundum, and diamond.
  • Topaz: Harder than quartz but can still be scratched by corundum and diamond.
  • Corundum: Hard enough to scratch all minerals below it on the scale.
  • Diamond: The hardest mineral, capable of scratching all other minerals on the scale.

Ruby’s Hardness on the Mohs Scale

Ruby is a variety of corundum, which is ranked as the ninth-hardest mineral on the Mohs scale. With a hardness of 9, rubies are exceptionally durable and well-suited for use in jewelry. They are harder than most other gemstones commonly used in jewelry, such as sapphires (another variety of corundum), emeralds, and pearls.

Rubies’ high hardness ensures that they can withstand the rigors of daily wear, resisting scratches and maintaining their luster over time. However, it’s essential to note that while rubies are hard, they are not as hard as diamonds, which have a Mohs hardness of 10. This means that diamonds can scratch rubies, making it crucial to store them separately to avoid damage.

When is it appropriate to wear rubies?

Wearing rubies is appropriate for a variety of occasions, and the choice largely depends on personal style, preferences, and cultural traditions. Here are some common occasions and guidelines for when it’s appropriate to wear rubies:

1. Everyday Wear:

Many people choose to wear ruby jewelry as part of their daily attire. Small ruby earrings, pendants, or rings can add a touch of elegance to everyday outfits without being overly extravagant.

2. Special Occasions:

Rubies are often associated with special occasions and celebrations. They are a popular choice for anniversary jewelry, particularly for significant milestones such as the 15th and 40th anniversaries. Ruby jewelry can also be worn on birthdays, especially if one’s birthstone is ruby (July birthstone).

3. Evening Events:

Rubies can be perfect for formal evening events, such as galas, weddings, and cocktail parties. A ruby necklace, bracelet, or statement ring can add a vibrant pop of color to an elegant gown.

4. Engagements and Weddings:

Ruby engagement rings and wedding bands have become increasingly popular for couples looking for a unique and meaningful alternative to traditional diamond rings. Rubies symbolize love and passion, making them an excellent choice for such significant life events.

5. Cultural and Religious Ceremonies:

In some cultures and religions, rubies hold particular significance. They may be worn during religious ceremonies, festivals, or rites of passage as a symbol of devotion and spirituality.

Durability and Wearability of Rubies

The hardness of rubies plays a significant role in their overall durability and wearability. A gemstone’s durability encompasses its ability to resist chipping, cracking, and breaking when subjected to impacts or stress. Rubies, with their Mohs hardness of 9, are considered highly durable and well-suited for use in all types of jewelry, including rings and bracelets.

However, while rubies are exceptionally hard and durable, they are not entirely immune to damage. In some cases, extreme force or sharp blows can lead to chipping or fracturing. Therefore, it’s essential to handle ruby jewelry with care and avoid exposing it to situations where it may endure significant physical stress.

The Role of Hardness in Jewelry Design

The hardness of a gemstone, such as a ruby, plays a pivotal role in jewelry design. When creating jewelry pieces, designers consider the gemstone’s hardness to determine its suitability for specific settings and styles. Here are some ways in which hardness influences jewelry design:

1. Setting Style:

The choice of setting style for a ruby depends on its hardness. Since rubies are relatively hard, they can be securely set in various settings, including prong settings, bezel settings, and channel settings. These settings not only highlight the beauty of the ruby but also protect it from damage.

2. Gemstone Combinations:

Designers often combine rubies with other gemstones in jewelry pieces. When selecting companion gemstones, they consider the hardness of each stone to ensure that they won’t scratch or damage each other during wear. For example, rubies are often paired with diamonds due to their similar durability.

3. Jewelry Type:

Rubies’ hardness makes them suitable for various types of jewelry, including engagement rings, wedding bands, earrings, and necklaces. Their resistance to scratches ensures that they remain pristine and beautiful even with daily wear.

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In summary, rubies are among the hardest and most durable gemstones, with a Mohs hardness rating of 9. This hardness makes them an excellent choice for jewelry, as they can withstand everyday wear and resist scratches. However, it’s essential to handle ruby jewelry with care and follow proper maintenance practices to ensure its longevity and beauty.

When designing jewelry with rubies, designers consider their hardness to determine suitable settings and companion gemstones. With proper care and attention, your ruby jewelry can continue to shine and enchant for generations to come, making it a valuable and cherished addition to your collection. So, the next time you admire a stunning ruby gemstone, you can appreciate not only its visual allure but also its remarkable hardness and durability.


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