Gold cannot scratch glass, as it is much softer.
This means that while glass can scratch gold, gold cannot impact glass at all.
To help explain just why this is, let’s take a look at the individual properties of gold and glass.
Can Gold Scratch Glass? (EXPLAINED)
What Is Gold?
There are no other elements with more uses than gold.
As both an element and a mineral, gold is highly prized due to its rarity, color, resistance to tarnishing, and other special properties.
Although trace amounts of gold can be found almost everywhere, there are only a few areas where large deposits are present.
Gold is formed in hydrothermal veins, which are deposited by solutions that ascend as dispersed particles through placer and sulfide deposits.
Gold has more uses than any other element, although most new and recycled gold goes towards the production of jewelry.
However, it is also used in a wide range of other applications, such as medicine, dentistry, electronics, computers, optics, gilding, and pigments, to name a few.
Gold is one of the most malleable metals, and it can even be drawn into a wire that is only one atom in width.
A single gram of gold can likewise be flattened into a sheet of 11 sq ft.
This ability makes it incredibly useful for many applications, most notably infare shielding.
As of 2017, China is the world’s largest producer of gold, although Canada, the United States, Mexico, Peru, Australia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, and Ghana make up the top ten producers overall.
In terms of physical properties, gold only has a hardness of 2.5 to 3.0 on the Mohs scale, and it produces a golden yellow streak.
Although it is most commonly known for its golden color, it can also whiten if naturally alloyed with silver.
What Is Glass?
Glass as a manufactured material is everywhere and is typically based on the chemical compound silica. However, soda-lime glass, which only contains about 70% silica, is the most commonly found and makes up about 90% of all man-made glass.
Glass is most often formed by the heating and then rapid cooling of its molten form.
Volcanic glass is the most well-known naturally occurring glass, with obsidian being the most notable.
However, pumice, tachylyte, and sideromelane also fall into this category.
The creation of glass using silicates dates back to at least 3,600 BC, in Egypt, Syria, and Mesopotamia, with the creation of glass beads.
However, despite its brittle nature, it can remain intact for very long periods, which is why we are still finding glassware from centuries past in the form of bowls, vases, and bottles.
In fact, sea glass, a material commonly used in jewelry, is formed by glass that has been broken and shaped by ocean waves, leading to smooth weathered pieces that almost resemble colorful translucent stones.
As a measurement for hardness, glass ranks between 4.0 to 7.0 on the Mohs scale, with most having a hardness of 5.0.
This makes a good middle ground for testing where specimens fall on the scale.
Anything softer than 5.0 won’t leave a scratch on a glass plate, whereas anything harder, such as quartz, will leave a scratch that can be either seen or felt with your finger.
Can Gold Scratch Glass?
Gold, as noted above, cannot scratch glass.
This is because it is much softer and can instead be scratched by a piece of glass.
Because it is so easily scratched, you will often find that gold jewelry, particularly rings, will have tiny scratches along the surface due to everyday wear.
While it is possible to buff these out, due to how malleable the material is, it is an inevitable part of wearing gold jewelry.
Can You Protect Gold From Scratching?
Whether you have gold jewelry, gold ornaments, or gold specimens, you’ll want to take care to protect them from coming in contact with anything harder than them.
This can be easier said than done, seeing as a lot of materials have a greater hardness.
However, it is possible to avoid scratches.
For example, when it comes to jewelry, you can remove the piece whenever you need to do anything that involves hands-on activities, such as exercises or manual labor.
Doing this can help lower the risk of deep gouges, which can be difficult to buff out effectively.
If you have a gold specimen, you may want to keep it wrapped in a soft cloth when storing it, to ensure that it won’t bump or grind against any harder objects.
If you’re displaying a gold object, placing a soft cloth under it can also lower the risk of scratches.
You can also use a polishing cloth on your jewelry or gold pieces to help keep them in good condition, and if there are any scratches that you can’t get rid of on your own, many jewelry shops offer professional buffing to remove surface blemishes.
You should keep in mind that over buffing can also be harmful, especially for pieces that are engraved.
This is because the engraving can be gradually worn away, which isn’t usually something that you would want.
If you’re unsure whether or not what you have is genuine gold, you can also test for this at home before going through the effort to try and protect or restore it.
You can use a drop of vinegar to see whether or not the color of the metal changes.
If it does, it’s not true gold.
You can also look for hallmarks, which most true gold pieces will come with, indicating how many carats the item is.
Testing At Home
While gold isn’t going to scratch glass, it can be easily scratched by it.
This is something you can test on your own at home, or you can observe how genuine gold pieces get scratched by other harder materials.
If you’re ever unsure about what materials are harder, you can always refer to a Mohs scale chart for more information.