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What can scratch a diamond?

We can’t help but to be dazzled and mesmerised by diamonds. These are among the most sought-after precious gemstones in the world. They continue to reign as the ultimate status symbol for members of royalty and nobility, heirs and heiresses, celebrities, fashion icons and other wealthy people.

Also, for many people, declarations of love aren’t complete without the presentation of a diamond. It’s difficult to imagine engagement rings and wedding bands without some bling. Men have also adorned their lady loves with diamond necklaces, tennis bracelets and earrings.

Photo by Sabrinna Ringquist on Unsplash

We have certainly crystallised the significance of diamonds into the human experience. It’s therefore no surprise that we would want to handle them with utmost care. After all, they cost a pretty penny. 

Do we need to consider wear and tear? Can everyday wear affect our diamonds? Can a mishap or mishandling result in a diamond being scratched? We have answers to these questions below:

1. Can metal scratch a diamond? 

Swords, needles, knives and other metallic items are no match for a diamond. Some metals may be harder than diamonds, but they will not scratch them. These include steel, titanium and tungsten – the hardest metal. 

Even precious metals such as gold or silver will not scratch a diamond. If you run the experiment, you will find that the opposite will happen – the diamond will scratch gold and silver. 

This is due to the atomic structure formed after billions of years of heat and immense pressure below the earth’s surface which resulted in the crystallisation of carbon.

With such a gruelling and lengthy process, it’s no wonder why a diamond will scratch metals. A diamond is clearly a demonstration of how beauty and strength work together as a team.

2. Can industrial sandpaper scratch a diamond?

Once again, our diamond is unbeatable – even in a square off with industrial sandpaper. You may be thinking, Sandpaper isn’t made from sand, even though it has sand in the name. 

True. Sandpaper contains grains and grits of garnet, aluminium oxide, alumina zirconia or silicon carbide. Even though the abrasiveness ranges from ultra-fine to extra coarse, it pales in comparison to a diamond. 

They may be excellent for sanding down hardwood flooring but will not have the same effect on diamonds.

Some people use sandpaper to test if a diamond is real or fake. Although it’s a highly effective test as cubic zirconia and other softer stones will show scratches, we recommend that you take your gemstone to a jeweller or gemologist to get it tested. 

It may be a sapphire or a topaz, which may not be as valuable as diamonds but are beautiful just the same. You wouldn’t want to ruin those.

3. Can hard rock scratch a diamond?

A diamond is number one on the Mohs Hardness Scale with a rating of 10. Ranked below are notable gemstones sapphire, ruby and topaz. 

While these are beautiful, they are miles behind as it pertains to hardness. Each mineral on the Mohs Hardness Scale can be scratched by the one above it and will scratch the one below.

Moissanite, which is more affordable and the more sparkly alternative to diamond, is a close second in terms of hardness. It is rated as 9.25, making it way harder than the stones below it. As hard as it is, it’s still not able to scratch a diamond.

Recent studies are casting some doubt on the stance that diamond is the hardest mineral. Some scientists argue that hexagonal diamonds, namely hexagonal boron nitride and lonsdaleite are harder than diamonds. 

They also point out that while these may be harder, they are not able to scratch a diamond. The research is ongoing.

For now, the diamond remains the champion of hard minerals and is unmatched when compared to  


4. Can a diamond scratch a diamond?

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A diamond is totally scratch resistant, until it comes face to face with another diamond. That’s right – only a diamond can scratch another diamond. You may ask, “Does colour make a difference?” 

The fact is that yellow, colourless, white and other colours will scratch each other. What if they are earth mined or lab grown diamonds? Yes, they will scratch each other as well. It doesn’t matter what the cut, clarity, colour and carat are.

We will go further to say that diamonds are cut with, you guessed it – diamonds. Diamond drill bits, which are considered to be the most accurate and versatile of all drill bits, are used to drill holes into diamonds and other gemstones. 

Also, during the cutting process, the cutters use tools that are usually diamond bladed on the edges or have an edge of diamond dust. Such tools will guarantee precision.

5. Can intense heat scratch a diamond?

The diamond may be the superman of gems but even it isn’t totally indestructible. It can endure higher temperature than most other stones. Sudden and extreme temperature changes can however damage it.

Carbon is the main component of a diamond, just like coal. If presented with the right conditions – 900 degrees Celsius or more and enough oxygen, then we need not worry about it being scratched – start panicking because it may burn to ashes!

Despite the extreme heat, we may be able to salvage diamonds that are burnt. If there wasn’t enough oxygen, then a diamond can be spared. Usually, burnt diamonds are cloudy and rugged in appearance. They can be recut to remove the burnt area, which means they may become considerably smaller than their original size.

Isn’t it ironic how these dazzling gems that need years of intense heat to be formed can also be damaged by heat?

What can prevent it from being scratched? 

You should be able to enjoy your diamond jewellery without worrying about it getting in the way or being scratched. We have some suggestions as to how you can preserve your precious items:

1. Placement 

The placement or setting refers to how the diamonds are positioned in the metal part of the jewellery. Your lifestyle and daily activities may lead you to consider the setting when buying diamond jewellery. 

If the diamond is raised then it may be more susceptible to scratches, especially if it’s on a ring. If your desire is for the rock to appear bigger than it really is, then a raised setting may appeal to you. 

You may also consider raised settings if you aren’t very active or if you only reserve diamond jewellery for formal and special occasions.

Strong, quality metals such as platinum, white gold, yellow gold and silver are best for setting diamonds. If there is more metal surrounding the diamonds then there will be greater protection.

As it pertains to rings, raised settings such as prong, Tiffany and Cathedral are indeed eye-catching but may not be suitable for everyday wear as they can snag on clothes and other materials. 

On the other hand, settings such as Channel, bezel and halo hold stones firmly in place but may be a little more difficult to clean and resize.

2. Take off when using 

Photo by Corneilia Ng on Unsplash

Donning your diamond jewellery at home may be fun if you are having a ‘glamorous moment’ but it’s not a good idea. As irresistible as they are, you may have to take them off and store them in a safe place if you aren’t at a special event.

Think about the everyday substances that you use. It’s best to remove your diamond jewellery whenever you are going to use items such as soap, lotion, shampoo or hairspray. These can leave a film or residue on your rock which will cause it to appear cloudy instead of sparkly. 

This is especially more likely to happen when the diamonds are not cleaned frequently and thoroughly.

Additionally, household chemicals such as bleach and sanitizers are a huge no no when it comes to diamond jewellery. Remove your jewellery before you start cleaning.

3. Do not rub it against anything

Although the diamond is the most scratch resistant mineral in nature, there are still some everyday materials and surfaces that should be avoided. We certainly don’t want any damage, even if it is minimal.

We’ll start by reiterating that diamonds will scratch diamonds. So, if you have more than one piece of diamond jewellery then ensure that they aren’t touching each other in your jewellery box or drawer.

You also want to avoid rubbing toothpaste, baking soda and other abrasive products on your diamonds. Some people swear that these are excellent for cleaning, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Instead, opt for lint free clothes that will restore the brilliance. 

Also, avoid hard toothbrushes, as they too can scratch the metals that hold the diamond.

Final comments:

It is easy to understand why the slogan, Diamonds are forever. Other than it’s breath-taking beauty, a diamond can withstand and resist abrasiveness. It truly deserves its reputation as the most valuable gemstone.

As durable as it is, there are instances where it may be scratched by another diamond. Rest assured that it is possible to repair a scratched diamond as long as there is enough carat weight that will be left after polishing or recutting. Enjoy your diamond but be gentle with it. 

Don’t forget to consult a jeweller or gemologist to help you to maintain the mesmerising brilliance of a rock that is truly a gem.

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