The Mohs Scale Explained

Updated: May 30, 2021


When choosing what gemstones to buy, it is sometimes good to know how hard and durable they are; one way we can do this is by using the Mohs scale. This was developed by the German Minerologist, Friedrich Mohs, in 1822.

Simply put, this scale measures how gemstones compare to each other and their ability to scratch each other - a soft stone such as Malachite can be scratched by a harder stone such as Topaz, but Malachite cannot scratch Topaz. Using this scale, we are able to chart the hardness of each gemstone with the softest mineral, Talcum, scoring one on the scale and Diamond scoring 10. This is an ancient idea and was mentioned by the Roman philosopher, Pliny the Elder, but it was Mohs who developed the scale we use today.

Whist being useful, the Mohs scale does have some limitations because some stones, whilst scoring highly in terms of hardness, might be brittle or prone to breaking due to internal flaws.

If you are choosing a stone which you will wear every day, such as in an engagement ring, you might choose a Topaz.

Remember though, that a stone being relatively soft does not make it unsuitable for use in jewellery. Pearls, Malachite and Amber are all examples of stones with a low Mohs rating, but which make fabulous jewellery. You just need to be a little careful and not throw them in with harder stones which might scratch them.

I have created a list of all the gems I use in my jewellery along with their Mohs rating below:

The Mohs Hardness Scale

1 - Talcum

2 - Gypsum

3 - Calcite

4 - Fluorite

5 - Apatite

6 - Feldspar

7 - Quartz

8 - Topaz

9 - Corundum

10 - Diamond

Below is a list of some of the stones I use in my jewellery. If you want to see the products available in the stones listed, just press the links.

ABALONE - 3.5 (see here)

AGATE - 6.5–7 (see here)

AMAZONITE - 6–6.5 (see here)

AMBER - 2–2.5 (see here)

AMETHYST - 7 (see here)

AVENTURINE - 7 (see here)

CARNELIAN - 6–7 (see here)

CHRYSOPRASE - 6.5–7 (see here)

CITRINE - 7 (see here)

FLUORITE - 4 (see here)

GARNET - 6.5–7.5 (see here)

GOLDSTONE - 6 (see here)

HEMATITE - 5.5–6.5 (see here)

HOWLITE - 3.5 (see here)

JADE - 6.5–7 (see here)

JASPER - 6.5-7 (see here)

LABRADORITE - 6–6.5 (see here)

LAPIS LAZULI - 5–6 (see here)

LAVA - 3– 5 (see here)

MALACHITE - 3.5-4 (see here)

MARBLE - 3 (see here)

MERLINITE - 6–7 (see here)

MOOKITE - 6–7 (see here)

MOONSTONE - 6–6.5 (see here)

MOTHER OF PEARL - 3.5 (see here)

OBSIDIAN - 5–6 (see here)

PEARL - 2.5 (see here)

PERIDOT - 6.5–7 (see here)

QUARTZ - 7 (see here)

RHODONITE - 5.5–6.5 (see here)

ROCK CRYSTAL - 7 (see here)

SEA BAMBOO - 3.5-4 (see here)

SODALITE - 5.5–6 (see here)

TIGER’S EYE - 6.5–7 (see here)

TOPAZ - 8 (see here)

TURQUOISE - 5-6 (see here)

Fortunaearrings is a handmade jewellery store featuring a wide range of unique earrings made of gemstones and sterling silver. As well as gemstone earrings which will appeal to the gemstone collector, you will also find a range of earrings made of Venetian glass lampworked at my Devon workshop. See my full handmade jewellery portfolio by clicking the shop link at the top of this page.

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