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7 Stones to Avoid in an Engagement Ring (And What to Buy Instead!)

July 08, 2020 4 min read

Sapphires for Engagement Rings

We’re often asked why we use some stones and not others. We always strive to make jewelry that isn’t simply beautiful, but will also last a lifetime. Read on to learn about our stone choices and how they lend themselves to becoming future heirlooms. 

Have you ever seen an unusual gemstone while browsing engagement rings? While a lot of these gems are gorgeous, there’s a reason a handful of stones are traditionally used for jewelry: they’re strong enough for day-to-day wear.

Unfortunately, what looks pretty isn’t always the best choice for future heirlooms. A poorly chosen center stone stands a chance of being damaged—or worse, destroyed—and perhaps sooner than you’d think.

There are a lot of gemstones we do not offer for engagement rings,to help you make an informed choice, we’ll go over these stones, the reasons why we don’t offer them, and some alternative stones.

But first, we have to talk about something called the Mohs scale.

What is the Mohs Scale?

The Mohs scale lists a mineral’s hardness by ranking it on an exponential scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is the softest and 10 is the hardest. If you’ve ever wondered why diamonds are the go-to stone for the majority of engagement rings, the Mohs scale sheds light on why: diamonds rank at the top, 10. By contrast, pearls rank at 2.5 (the same as a fingernail!)

Since engagement rings are meant to last a lifetime (or even many generations) this is where the problem comes in. Most stones fall below our recommended hardness, 9 or higher. Anything below will accrue damage over time, often through activities you may not be aware are harmful: reaching into your pocket, opening your car door, brushing against the kitchen counter, and more.

We want to ensure you have a gemstone that is durable and will remain safely in its setting for decades to come, so that’s why we recommend against soft gems.

Moonstone

Mohs rank: 6 to 6.5

With its ethereal elegance, moonstone is a beautiful gemstone. Unfortunately, this beauty comes at a price: moonstone is incredibly soft (it will scratch) and has poor toughness (it can cleave in two with one bad hit).

If you’ve had your heart set on a moonstone for your engagement ring, we can help you find an alternative. Figure out which quality of moonstone it is that you love. Is it the silvery shine? The stone’s opaque nature? The cabochon cut?

Once you know what it is you like about moonstone, you may be surprised by your options. For instance, many diamonds have these features—and with exceptional durability, too.

Silvery Diamonds make for a Durable Moonstone Alternative

Opal

Mohs rank: 5 to 6.5

The always-beautiful opal displays a captivating dance of colors in the right light. This has led to its growing popularity for engagement rings. Unfortunately, opals aren’t a great choice for future heirlooms. Because they are so soft, they can easily fall out of prongs or get scratched. With enough damage over time, an opal may even break. It’s not uncommon to have a vintage opal ring in your family and if you do, wear it with extreme care as it’s existence throughout generations is a testament the great care that has been taken by the wearer. 

If you’d like to own some opal jewelry, we offer opal stacking birthstone rings. The opals we use for this style are kept in a bezel setting so that they stay safe, and each stone is individually hand-selected for beauty and durability.

 

Opal Birthstone Ring in a Bezel Setting

Quartz 

Mohs rank: 7

Quartz is ill-suited for engagement rings due to its softness. While beautiful, quartz center stones are likely to scratch or fall out of prongs.

We suggest salt & pepper diamonds. You’ll get a similar look and feel to quartz, but diamonds are far more durable and have a far more intense, radiant sparkle.

Raw Quartz Crystals

Morganite

Mohs rank: 7.5 to 8

Morganite has surged in popularity in the past few years, and it’s easy to see why: this gemstone has one seriously pretty color. Unfortunately, this sudden popularity means that premium-quality morganite can be hard to come by. This gem is also likely to take damage over time due to its softness, so we don’t recommend it for engagement rings.

Instead, we suggest sapphire in its place. Although most commonly associated with blue, sapphire comes in a range of hues—including that warm, peachy-pink shade. Sapphire also offers better durability, so you get the same beautiful color but in a gemstone that will last far longer than morganite. 

Sapphire is a durable alternative to morganite

Amethyst

Mohs rank: 7

Amethyst is beautiful, but its softness makes it a poor candidate for an engagement ring. As a member of the quartz family, amethyst is just as likely to scratch or fall out of prongs. Currently, we offer bezel-set amethysts in our small stacking rings. Like our opal rings, these stones are hand chosen and safely set within a sturdy bezel. 

Fortunately, if you’re after a purple center stone, we have the perfect gem to suit that need: purple sapphire! Purple sapphire offers the same vibrant color as high-quality amethyst, but you get durability that’s suited well to day-to-day wear.

Amethyst Birthstone Stacking ring in a Bezel Setting

Aquamarine

Mohs rank: 7.5 to 8

Aquamarine’s softness makes it not a great option for everyday wear. Much like our other softer gemstones, we do offer this stone in our small stacking rings as a bezel, which keeps it relatively safe from hard knocks against counters, scratches, and falling out of prongs. You can however find lovely light blue hues in sapphires

Aquamarine Stacking Birthstone Rings in Different Golds

Moissanite in Pavé Bands

Due to our repeated experiences with smaller cuts of moissanite chipping, we offer only diamonds for pavé styles.

Your engagement should be perfect in every way, and this starts with choosing a ring and stone that fits into your budget and that will stand the test of time.

We would love to help you get started on this journey. Send an email tohello@valeriemadison.com or call (206) 395-6359.