While we LOVE our diamonds – white diamonds, rose cut diamonds, champagne diamonds, colored diamonds, salt & pepper diamonds – we’re equal-opportunity gem lovers and have many other sparkling faves on our list.
The upside of diamonds (besides their glimmering sparkle) is their impressive strength – at a 10 on the Moh’s hardness scale, they’re the hardest gemstone on the planet. So, in today’s blog, we’re sharing our favorite gemstones durable enough to wear on the daily. Whether it’s for an engagement ring or a #treatyourself ring to wear as your signature piece, these stones will hold up to your daily routine (and look stunning while you’re at it).
1. White Sapphires
Completely colorless, white sapphires are the closest cousins to diamonds. If you love the white bright diamond vibe, a white sapphire is the perfect alternative gem for you. And rated a 9 on Moh's hardness scale, they’re the next hardest gemstone besides the perfect 10 diamond.
What’s the difference between white sapphires and diamonds?
THE SPARKLE FACTOR
Besides being slightly softer, white sapphires have a subtler sparkle than diamonds. While diamonds give off a blinding, multicolored disco ball sparkle, white sapphires exude more of an intimate silver-white candlelit glow.
Sapphires are a more ethical, sustainable alternative to diamonds. Around 80% of sapphires are mined artisanally by small scale miners, making them easier to buy directly from the mine. Small scale mining is also much less disruptive to the environment than the mechanized mining methods used in diamond extraction.
At Gem Breakfast, we only purchase sapphires from dealers that directly support artisanal miners. Many of our suppliers own a piece of the mine or source directly from the mine. This means better traceability in every stone's journey to us.
The best part: white sapphires look similar, but are much less expensive than diamonds.
2. Colored Sapphires
If you love a colored stone, sapphires are the ultra-durable (rated a 9 on the hardness scale), incredibly stunning answer to your prayers. Made mostly of the mineral corundum, when mixed with small doses of other elements, it transforms into almost every color under the rainbow: blue, teal, green, pink, yellow, orange, pinkish-orange (Padparadscha), and purple. You can even find bi-color sapphires with two different hues, or color-change sapphires that shift with the light.
Most sapphires are heat-treated to intensify their color - if there’s no mention of treatment, you can assume it’s been heat-treated. If it isn’t heat-treated, the company will share that with you.
Read more about sapphires on our blog!
A little known fact: rubiesare actually just red corundum (the mineral that creates sapphires). The name 'ruby' just refers to its red color. Rubies are chemically identical to sapphires, and the red hue is created by trace amounts of chromium.
Rated a 9 on the hardness scale, rubies are perfect for worn-daily rings and especially as an engagement ring gemstone. Plus, who can resist that luxe red hue?!
Rated 8 on Moh’s hardness scale, spinel is perfect for everyday wear, and seriously stunning in its rainbow of hues and tones. Spinels range from soft pastels to deeply saturated tones of red, lavender, blue, pink, purple, and black.
Spinels are one of the few colored stones that need no heat treatment to improve their color and clarity – they’re extremely vivid and brilliant without any outside help! They’re also renowned for their magical color-shifting abilities, transforming with changing light.
One of the rarest gemstones around, spinel costs much less than its more popular cousins, ruby and sapphire. Found in such small quantities, spinel can only be sourced from small local suppliers, meaning you won’t find a spinel at your average big box jewelry store.
All the spinels at Gem Breakfast are sourced from dealers who deal directly with local mines in Sri Lanka.
Learn more about spinel on our blog!
Chrysoberyl is the next hardest stone after sapphire, rated an 8.5 on the Moh’s hardness scale. It’s extremely rare and ranges in color from yellow to green to yellow-green.
Alexandrite is the color-changing variety of chrysoberyl – like spinel, the color shifts with the light and can look blue or green in daylight, and red or purple in artificial lighting. Alexandrite gems are even more rare than the standard chrysoberyl gemstones.
Chrysoberyl is also known for its “cat-eye” inclusions – in some stones, a line of light appears across the surface, creating a gorg cat-eye effect.
ROCKEFELLER ART DECO OVAL CUT RING (sold - reach out to commission something similar)
For casual wear, your gemstone options are endless! Emerald, mother of pearl, tourmaline, morganite, garnet, moonstone, amethyst, or tanzanite – whatever makes your heart beat faster!
To find out the meaning behind your favorite gemstones, read our blog.