Emeralds are a very durable gem that can be worn every day, despite their delicate appearance convincing many people otherwise.
What is known as durability in gemstones is made up of three different parts: hardness, toughness, and stability.
A lot of online sources cite hardness as a measure of durability, which is an oversimplification. Some will also confuse an emerald’s surface-reaching inclusions with scratches, which is completely wrong.
Emeralds are a variety of the mineral species beryl. While not listed directly on the Mohs Hardness Scale, its ranked hardness is 7.5-8 depending on how pure the beryl mineral is. According to this scale, your fingernails are around 2.5 in terms of hardness.
This tells us that emerald is a very hard and scratch-resistant gemstone in comparison to most materials you encounter every-day.
J8986 | medium | left | “Jewelry ID: J8986 Weight: Emerald 4.97ct – Diamonds 0.92ct” Toughness is the main area that emeralds come up short, relative to other gemstones. This includes other varieties of beryl like green beryl and aquamarine. No, the term green beryl is not a mistake, and yes, you read that right. Green beryl and emeralds are different varieties of beryl despite both being green.
What toughness measures is how much a stone can be knocked around without breaking or chipping. Emeralds are brittle due to their inclusions, while their aquamarine mineral cousins are nearly inclusion-free and much tougher. Despite this, when put to the test your finger will be messed-up long before the emerald of your ring breaks.
This factor refers to how stable the crystal is to various chemicals and conditions. Color stability is also evaluated.
For example: The heat of a lamp, daylight, or intense UV rays will not damage the emerald or change the green color in any way. This makes emeralds much more stable than aquamarines, which will fade in daylight. It also makes the dark-blue variety of beryl hard to preserve from fading.
E1151 | medium | left | “Emerald ID: E1151 Weight: 0.83 Carats Origin: Colombia” In comparison to some sapphire colors, the color in emeralds is even more stable. Bear in mind that high stability is not an invitation to bleach your emeralds, or any other piece of jewelry. This is a good way to put undesirable pits in the metal.
Overall, emeralds are a very good gemstone to wear day-to-day without durability issues. The only problem is it will need to be cleaned.
Since most emeralds are treated with oil-filler for clarity, they can never go into a jewelry cleaning machine of any type. The machines might damage the emerald in addition to removing the oil-filler, and any jewelry cleaning solution should make note of being safe for emeralds. Warm, soapy water and a toothbrush will take care of most jewelry (meaning no pearls, ivory, amber, or anything organic).