Last edited 28 Jul 2021

Vickers hardness rating scale

Archaeometallurgy, Guidelines for Best Practice, published by Historic England in 2015, defines hardness as: ‘…a measurement of the strength of a material (its ability to resist plastic deformation).’

The Vickers hardness test can be used to measure the hardness of all materials including metals, ceramics and so on. It is also referred to as a microhardness test method (since it only requires a small test sample) and is based on an optical measurement system.

Vickers Hardness (HV) is calculated by measuring the diagonal lengths of an indentation produced by a diamond pyramid indenter on small samples that have highly polished surfaces. The lengths are measured to determine the hardness, which is based on a table or formula. Results are measured in units of hardness known as the Vickers Pyramid Number (HV).

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