Diamonds vs. Forbidden Wedding Ring Gemstones

Faded and Vibrant Amethyst Gem

The Amethyst on the Right Has Faded to a Boring Color.

Cracking, Chipping and Fading. Did You Know About the Risks?

Some gemstones seemingly have no business in wedding rings. Some crack too easily and others are too soft. It seems as if some gems scratch with the swipe of a fingernail. Or they practically chip by looking at them the wrong way.

In this post I’ll name the forbidden wedding gemstones and tell you why they cause problems. Oh yeah, and I’ll tell you a bit about diamonds.

Leading the Pack of Forbidden Gems

Chipped and Cracked Emerald

This Emerald Worn for Years is Chipped and Damaged. It Used to Look Nice.

Opals are notorious for cracking and splitting.

Tanzanites chip and scratch, and both tsavorites and pearls scratch and dull easily.

Amethysts and citrines will often fade and show wear over time.

Emeralds have many interior fissures that can weaken the gem and cause cracking.

Ten Forbidden Gemstones for Wedding Rings and Why

Scratched tsavorite gem in bezel setting

Tsavorite Gem After Heavy Daily Wear Looks Dull and Scratched, but Unbroken

1. White Topaz, doesn’t sparkle as well as a diamond, light colored gems look bad when dirty and a ring worn daily gets dirty faster than you’ll clean it. People may see its color and think it is just an awful looking diamond.
2. White Sapphire, doesn’t sparkle like a diamond and ends up looking hazy.
3. Tanzanite cracks and chips,  is heat sensitive and can shatter if shocked.
Cultured Pearl with Broken Away Nacre Coating Showing the Inner Implant of Mother of Pearl

Pearls Can Scratch, Lose Their Luster, Or Lose Their Nacre Coating With Hard Daily Wear.

4. Tsavorite scratches easily.
5. Emerald both cracks and chips and has natural fissures that can break apart.
6. Opal scratches, chips and cracks easily.  It is also heat sensitive and solvent sensitive.
7. Amethyst is susceptible to scratches, the color can fade and it’s heat sensitive.
8. Peridot is a difficult color to pull off for many skin tones and it scratches.
9. Golden Citrine scratches and looks bad when dirty.

10. Pearl is delicate and scratches easily.  It’s also chemical sensitive and relatively soft.

For more on your favorite gemstones and their care and sensitivities.

Diamonds, the Strongest Gemstones for Wedding Rings

Diamonds however are just the opposite. They’re hard, don’t scratch, and although they can chip (rarely) they hold up well to the rigors of everyday wear.

Fifty Year Old Diamond

This Diamond is Fifty Years Old. It Sparkles and Shines and Has No Blemishes.

Sapphires and rubies rank just below diamonds on the Mohs Hardness Scale (a scale of gem hardnesses), and are also good choices for gemstones set in daily-wear rings.

For more about diamonds, check my 4-C’s of diamonds series, starting with Shopping for Diamond Clarity.

Classic Cars and Forbidden Gemstones

Sports Cars in a Mechanics Garage. Sports and Collector Car Center, Tempe Az.

Fabulous and Gorgeous, Cars and Colored Gemstones. Do You Love Them Less Because They Need More Maintenence?

On the other hand, I also subscribe to the philosophy that you should wear what you want to wear.

Just because you know your beloved classic Jaguar is going to need a lot more mechanical work than a Honda, is no reason you shouldn’t love it and drive it.

It is after all your choice.

It’s Your Choice, Just be Informed First

Opal Inlay Ring with Damage Before Repair

Inlaid Opal Wedding Ring with Pieces Broken Out

It’s the same with gemstones. Just because a particular gem is not as strong as a diamond—and more than likely will have to be replaced sometime in the future—is no reason not to wear it.

If opals rock your world, I say go for it. If the green hue of a emerald is your “power” color then by all means don’t let me stop you from setting one in your wedding ring.

Just let us discuss the safest setting option and not just put it up there in four prongs to be dinged from the get go.

But Joe Jeweler Said, “You Should Stick to Diamonds.”

Ancient Wedding Ring with Aquamarines in it.

Aquamarine Wedding Ring From Long Ago.

But wait! Don’t diamonds represent the union between a man and a woman? Aren’t diamonds the go-to wedding gemstone? Well…yes and no.

It’s actually only been recently that diamonds came to symbolize marriage.

In fact, it was the famous diamond conglomerate, DeBeers that popularized diamonds for wedding rings.

Prior to that, wedding rings were set with rubies, sapphires and other colored gemstones.

Sometimes a Forbidden Gemstone Choice Just Works – Elaine’s Story

Etruscan Three Opal Inlay Wedding Ring by Calla Gold Jewelry

Elaine’s Opals Ring After Seven Years. It Still Looked Good Though it Needed Help.

Seven years ago my client Elaine was ready for a new wedding ring. This time she wanted what she wanted regardless of the difficulty of her choice. She wanted an opal wedding ring.

Rather than try to talk her out of it, I made sure she knew that, like our kids, an opal owns you; You care for it, as opposed to it serving you. You maintain it, sometimes throw money at it and otherwise play in its sandbox because it is the boss.

Did I really say that about kids? I exaggerate, except the part about throwing money away and being at their beck and call, a lot. Seriously, I love being a mom.

After picture replacing damaged opal in wedding ring.

Elaine’s Ring After Seven Year Maintenence. We Cut and Inlaid New Opal pieces and it Looks Fantastic.

Elaine was ready for the task of being the mom of an opal ring. I explained the setting options she had to get the most protection for her opals. She chose the Etruscan style I offered.

Amazingly enough she wore it daily for seven years before she needed to have a new opal piece cut. I told her I’d expected to hear from her within three years. I was really impressed with her care of her ring and those opals!

How Forbidden are the Forbidden Wedding Ring Gemstones?

So…forbidden gemstones in wedding rings? Are there such things? Not really. If you’re the kind of girl that likes a bit of color around your finger, and won’t mind having to re-polish or replace a less-than-super-hard-and-indestructible center stone sometime in the future, don’t let me talk you out of it.

White Gold With Colored Diamond Wedding Band

The Chosen Birthstones Were Too Fragile For a Wedding Band, so We Used Colored Diamonds to Represent the Birthstones Needed.

Let me inform you about any stronger gem alternatives for the colored gem you have your heart set on for your ring.

Then you can choose your gem as well as your color with no surprises down the line. Once you know what to expect, and are cool with that I say: Go for it!

A “Settin’ Those Forbidden Wedding Gemstones” Kinda Jeweler,
Calla Gold


About Calla Gold

Calla Gold is a Personal Jeweler and Author who takes pride in working with clients one-on-one to integrate their personal sense of style and taste into custom designed jewelry and repaired jewelry pieces.   Unlike typical Santa Barbara jewelry businesses, Calla Gold has no brick-and-mortar location. Calla Gold comes to you, bringing you the jewelry collection you want to see and collaborating with you to create unique custom jewelry. Calla also works with at-a-distance clients.


  1. Dr. Lynn K. Jones on August 14, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Now I know why they say “diamonds are forever”!! Thanks for this great information about how to pick the appropriate gem for the ring based on its durability and sustainability. More great information from the best personal jeweler in the world!

    • Calla Gold on August 15, 2013 at 7:31 am

      Hi Lynn,
      If you see me walking down the street, gardening or hiking or riding my mountain bike and you see my wedding ring, you see diamonds. They stand up to the lifestyle I live in Santa Barbara and sparkle even when it’s been a while since I’ve cleaned them.
      No other gem is that helpful to me. So yes I love diamonds! Diamonds are forever a girls best friend!
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  2. Lisa Darsonval on August 14, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Congratulations Calla Gold on your 200th blog post! Your dedication to your work and blog are incredible, and so is your knowledge about different gems. I always learn something new when I read your blog posts, and I especially love the little bits of humor and personality you throw into them.

    PS I really liked your classic cars and forbidden gemstones analogy. Great way to think about it.

    • Calla Gold on August 15, 2013 at 7:40 am

      Thank you Lisa for coming by and helping me celebrate my 200th blog post!
      I’m glad you liked my car and gems analogy. It is close to my heart. In a fit of sentimental craziness I bought my Dad’s MGA when I was 19. He’d driven me and my mom to the Monteray Jazz Festival in it when I was 1 and a half.
      It was a wreck and after spending stupid amounts of money on it and getting stranded on San Marcos Pass at dusk one Saturday night I decided that it was not the car for me.
      I sold it to a shy young man in need of a girlfriend. It was a better place for that car and it was 90% fixed up. I hope selling him my memories helped him find romantic happiness. It was a ridiculously sexy car.
      Now I drive a sensible reliable car and I wear wedding diamonds. I loved that trip down memory lane. Thanks Lisa!
      I especially like that you like the bits of humor. That’s fun to throw in.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  3. Linda Menesez on August 16, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Happy 200th Blog Post, Calla!! That’s quite an achievement! This wedding gemstone article is so packed with information, about all the “whys and wherefores” of picking out the “right” stone for a wedding ring. I love that you are willing to be as flexible as your clients want to be, while at the same time being sure they know the positives and negatives of each choice.


    • Calla Gold on August 16, 2013 at 4:48 pm

      Hello Linda,
      I so appreciate your congrats! It’s pretty exciting to realize that I made it to 200 posts!
      So happy your liked the information!
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  4. Sue M. on August 18, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Ms. Gold,
    I love the pictures of what happens to fragile gemstones. All the talk in the world doesn’t have the impact of those images.

    • Calla Gold on August 19, 2013 at 8:40 pm

      Hi Sue,
      I’m glad the graphic nature of the damaged gemstones didn’t ruin your appetite or anything!

  5. Angela on December 17, 2013 at 9:34 am

    I’ve learned so much from your blog, thank you! What are your thoughts on zircon for a daily wear/wedding ring? I just love the color of blue zircons, and their sparkle, but I’m worried it won’t hold up over time.

    • Calla Gold on December 17, 2013 at 7:43 pm

      Hello Angela,
      I so appreciate you enjoying my blog and asking me a question.
      When you ask about zircon I’m thinking you mean the December birthstone zircon. That is my birthstone and I rue the day the makers of laboratory created cubic zerconia put the word zircon in the name of their fake creation. Zircon is a gorgeous and sparkly gemstone and deserves to be known and respected in its own right. Oops, jumping on my soap box there.
      Blue zircon is a wonderful gemstone. Alas it is a tad on the brittle side and can chip and scratch. Daily wear would spell trouble for you little beauty. Wear a blue zircon as a pendant, or as earrings or in a right hand ring that doesn’t get daily outings, but more occasional wear.
      It falls in the forbidden wedding gemstone list.
      However if you understood the caveats and loved it a ton and didn’t mind the occasional need to polish or replace it you could just go for it.
      I have clients wearing opal wedding rings and emerald wedding rings. It just depends on how much of a rebel you are!!
      Calla Gold

  6. Dee Olive on June 15, 2014 at 9:32 am

    Love the topics on your blog Calla Gold, especially this one! I’m actually planning to get an anniversary ring and was thinking of getting a morganite ring. I love the blush color of the stone but am concerned how it will hold out as a daily wear ring. Appreciate your advice on this.

    • Calla Gold on June 16, 2014 at 8:33 am

      Hello Dee,
      Morganite could be a very good choice for your anniversary ring. It is a beryl, the family of gems that includes aquamarine and emerald. Morganite is clearer and sparklier than an emerald because it is so clean compared to emerald which tends to have lots of inclusions, called Le Jardins by the French or the gardens.
      From a hardness standpoint it is 7.5 to 8 which is comparable to emerald and superior to amethyst.
      This means it’s nowhere near as hard as diamond, but no gemstones are. You may need to have the facets re-buffed now and then as a maintenance step if you wear it daily.
      The soft blush color is pleasing and makes your skin look good.
      I say go for it, love it and enjoy it and do needed maintenance when it starts looking dull no matter how you clean it.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  7. Dee Olive on June 16, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Thank you so much Calla! I might just add morganite earrings to go along with the ring 🙂

    • Calla Gold on June 16, 2014 at 10:25 am

      That is a great idea. I recommend large size gems for your ring and your earrings. Because the color is breathy and delicate, a larger size looks better!
      Calla Gold

  8. Sabina on October 21, 2014 at 6:39 am

    Thank you so much for this post Calla! It is SO useful (but then again so are all of the posts on your blog…) Can I ask your opinion on black onyx for the centre stone of a ring? I want something a little more unique for my engagement ring and I love the colour black but I’m unsure of whether onyx will be strong enough to not chip etc?

    • Calla Gold on October 21, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      Dear Sabina,
      Thank you for your feedback and question. For a daily wear ring onyx isn’t going to hold up. It will scratch and wear down. I would recommend black diamond if you want black for your daily wear gem. And since I’m being all opinionated, I prefer groupings of many little black diamonds to one big one. You get more of a glittery feel back from it. Onyx is in the Chalcedony group, a quartz family gemstone. Diamond is 10 on the mohs scale of gemstone hardness. Onyx is 6.5 to 7 on the scale.
      The little black diamonds will resist chipping much better.
      For more about the Mohs scale of gemstone hardness, check out this blog post:
      Good luck in choosing your center gemstone.
      Your Opinionated Jeweler,
      Calla Gold

  9. mohamed on November 18, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    thank you very much calla,i really Appreciate your post, i learned so much your blog, calla can you give me information Why are colored gemstones better than diamonds for an engagement ring or other high end jewelry

    • Calla Gold on November 18, 2014 at 9:06 pm

      Hi Mohamed,
      Colored gems are not better. Diamond is the hardest and the sparkiest so it is “best.” But colored gems are beautiful and an alternate to diamond for those who prefer to not use a center diamond as their gem of choice.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  10. Lindsey on August 30, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    Hi Calla,
    I didn’t see aquamarine on your list… any thoughts on its durability when used as a daily wear ring? I’d love to see one on my finger!

    • Calla Gold on August 31, 2015 at 7:12 am

      Hi Lindsey,
      Thanks for writing about aquamarine. I do love this gemstone. It is in the Beryl family which includes emerald and morganite, (named for J.P. Morgan, the famous industrialist and gemstone collector.)
      Beryl gemstone’s hardness on the MOHS scale is 7.5 – 8. This means you might over its life occasionally have to polish out scratches. However one of the properties of beryl is brittleness. If hit at just the right angle, damage can be done.
      If you love aquamarine and it is a beautiful gemstone, I say go for it. I’ll admit something to you. I have an emerald mother’s ring, it’s gorgeous, but when it gets dirty the only way I can really clean it is the to put it in the ultrasonic jewelry cleaner. It is a forbidden gemstone for the ultrasonic cleaner because of it’s brittleness. I know it might break one day, but I’d rather have it beautiful and clean than so-so and safe.
      At a certain point we all decide when we let go of the edge of the pool in the deep end and see what happens. If you love aquamarine, know it’s not the safest daily wear gemstone, but in a perfect world it’ll last you just fine. My emerald has been living in a perfect world for 22 years and is clean and beautiful. Ultrasonic vibrations or not.
      To play it safe you wouldn’t choose aquamarine for everyday, but then you wouldn’t get to wear the gemstone you love. And it might be fine. I say go for it.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  11. Andrey on November 4, 2015 at 11:19 am

    Hi calla, really liked reading your blog post. I’m currently trying to find the perfect ring for my perfect girl, and I’ve heard her specifically say she doesn’t like diamonds, so those are out. I know you’re number one warning is against opals, but those black opals are just so darn uniquely beautiful. My lady is a hard worker though, and I’m afraid she’d either be too scared to wear it, or break it. Do you know if boulder opals are any more durable?

    • Calla Gold on November 6, 2015 at 7:16 am

      Hello Andrey,
      Thanks for liking my blog post and visiting the blog. I do believe that for a daily wear gemstone opal is not a good choice. If however you must get opal for her I recommend setting it in a bezel and using a flat opal or very low cabochon. Cabochon cut is the un-faceted slightly or greatly domed look that most opals are cut in.
      A gift of an opal ring would be a better right hand ring gift as women tend to switch around their right hand rings so it wouldn’t be worn every single day. I personally wouldn’t choose a doublet or triplet opal knowing they are many two or three layer of opal glued together. Boulder opal may be slightly stronger, but that is a maybe. The boulder part is potentially harder, but the opal section on top would be as vulnerable as any other opal.
      If you talk to a true opal expert you’ll hear that certain mines seem to give stronger opal. I bought some rough from a retiring expert who bragged that some of the as he called them Crystal Opals from Coober Pedy Australia were hardier than other opals. I did not know if it was true, but it opened the idea in my mind that some opal may be stronger than others so you’d want to look into that if you decided to go down the opal wedding ring path.
      I had a client years ago who had cracked her opal and loved it. I made a gold vine with a tiny leaf that sinuously snaked over the top of the opal and concealed the crack. She actually got more compliments on her ring once I’d added that element. That could be an idea to provide extra protection for your design if you choose to get her a pretty black opal wedding ring.
      Here’s more about opal:
      Your Personal Jeweler,

  12. Arya Akhavan on December 5, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Calla, I am a lay gemcutter and med student.
    Right off the bat, I can tell you that citrine, emerald, and aquamarine are too fragile and soft to use as an engagement ring.
    If you’re putting a gemstone in a ring that will be worn every day, you need to pick a stone with a hardness of 8 or higher.
    That limits you to topaz (pink, orange, brown, blue, white; cannot be grown in a lab), spinel (all colors except green; can be found in nature or grown in lab), sapphire (all colors; found in nature or grown in lab), chrysoberyl (yellow, green, brown), alexandrite (changes colors from green to red; found in nature or grown in lab), moissanite (all color;, can only be grown in lab, ), cubic zirconia (all colors; can only be grown in lab), yttrium-aluminum garnet (white, green, pink, yellow, blue; can only be grown in lab), and diamond.
    Arya Akhavan

    • Calla Gold on December 5, 2015 at 4:24 pm

      Hi Arya,
      Thanks for your viewpoint on gemstones that can be worn daily. I’m not a fan of cz and I’ve seen too many of them from people after five years or so with deep gouges, scratches and just a dull as dirt look. When you look at a clear gemstone and you’re used to seeing a diamond, an old cz is just going to look bad. Just my observation.
      Keep up your good work at the bench Arya.
      Your Jeweler Friend,

  13. Robert sr Tyrrell on September 15, 2017 at 5:36 am

    Here’s the TRUTH; There are NO forbidden gemstones when it comes to getting married. Diamond is the hardest on MOS scale but will crack and chip like anything else. They are NOT indestructible & have fine edges. Diamonds ARE NOT anymore RARE than anything else. Mined graded and cut by machines there is NO excuse for the exuberant price of commercial diamonds. There are several more rare stones (not marketed as well) that will be mined out soon & ARE RARE. Try reselling your diamonds. You get squat over gold scrap. You can get MORE bang for your busk with colored stones. It’s a complete misnomer that your engagement ring must be diamond started By De Beers in 40’s. Emerald is very hard Precious stone. A nice SPINEL OR SAPPHIRE comes in ALL colors naturally won’t fade. ZIRCON **Not Cubic Zirconium*** is; Double refractive ( disperses light better than diamond= single refractive) a good colorless specialty cut Zircon makes a diamond look fake. IF YOU MUST HAVE DIAMOND. Buy a good one. Anything below VS1 H is garbage( yes it is). If ppl stopped buying SI stones the pries would come back to reality. A GIA ( cert’d) 1ct SI 2 ( you can see the junk/ cracks in it) J-K color lt yellow to slight grey Color is $2k My cost. If it were any other gemstone of “equally horrible” grade I couldn’t give it away on EBay. If you can’t afford VS1 H There’s flawless man made “Carbon only” diamonds at more reasonable prices.

    • Calla Gold on September 20, 2017 at 4:26 pm

      Hello Robert,
      I like to let my readers comment and not edit or chuck comments. So here is yours.
      I will not re butt it as there are too many things I disagree with and I do not have the time to go over them point by point. All I will say is you are entitled to your opinion.
      Your Personal Jeweler,

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