Is Alexandrite Good for Engagement Rings? (+Buying Guide)

Last Updated on February 20, 2023 by Juli "Jewels" Church

Have you ever considered an alexandrite engagement ring?

There's been a recent surge in popularity for these mystical gemstones, and it has left many curious about their allure.

The captivating color-changing properties of alexandrite make it a unique and sought-after choice for engagement rings.

alexandrite engagement rings guide

christina rutz, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

So, if you're looking for something that's truly one-of-a-kind, keep reading, and I'll share with you everything you need to know about alexandrite engagement rings and answers to questions like: 

  • Can I wear alexandrite every day?
  • Is natural alexandrite rare?
  • What causes color change in alexandrite engagement rings?

What is Alexandrite?

Alexandrite is one of the birthstones for the month of June alongside pearl and moonstone. It is also a rare variety of the mineral chrysoberyl. The chrysoberyl family is small, only containing green chrysoberyl, cat's eye chrysoberyl, and alexandrite.

Loose Alexandrite stones. credit: Gem Stories

This rare stone was originally found in Russia's Ural Mountains. Today, the majority of the mines alexandrite material has already been mined and excavated. For years it shut down. It's reopened, but not many alexandrite carats are mined there.

Ural Mountains of Russia credit: xkottx

Other locations of natural alexandrite comes from:

  • Brazil
  • Sri Lanka
  • Madagascar
  • Myanmar (former Burma)
  • Zimbabwe

The alexandrite stone was found by a popular mineralogist by the name of Nils Gustaf Nordenskiöld. Initially, it was thought to be emerald, the dark green variety of the mineral beryl.

Turns out, there was something quite different about this stone, and quite special.

What Makes Alexandrite Special?

Alexandrite gemstones are one of the few unique stones that have the ability to change color. Color change stones are rare and gem-quality alexandrite is no different. There are also color change sapphires and color changing diamonds.

We call stones that absorb different wavelength of light to produce color change pleochroic. Alexandrite is a special pleochroic stone as it can change color in many different kinds of light.

Traditionally, color change in a gem is occurs in sunlight and incandescent light. Alexandrite is best known for this effect, often dubbed "the alexandrite effect".

When an alexandrite engagement ring is viewed in sunlight, it may appear a green, blue green, or blue color. When viewed under a candle or flame, it appears reddish purple, red, or brownish tones of red.

The stone was named after the Russian tsar Alexander II, which in turn gave it popularity. Not only that, but old Imperial Russia made it their national stone because it reflected the red and green colors of their country.

Do Alexandrite Rings Make Good Engagement Rings?

There's no doubt that gemstones are beautiful, and there's so many to choose from. It's no wonder why many are turning away from an industry-pushed traditional diamond engagement ring for alternative gemstone for the center of their engagement ring.

The problem with choosing another gem for your engagement ring as opposed to a diamond is the overall wearability. There's multiple factors that go into the durability of a gemstone. The most important aspect is the hardness of the stone.

The hardness of a gemstone is determined by the mineral scale of hardness, also known about the Mohs scale. We talk about it again and again throughout our Learning Guides, so if you're a frequent visitor, you're probably sick to death of it.


But for the rest of you, mineral hardness equates to scratchability. The scratch resistance is one of the factors that contribute the wearability of a stone. It's a big factor too, because it tells you how well the stone is going to hold up to the dirt and dust particles in the air.

Natural stones and mined metals can't stand up for years and years without being damaged unless they have a high hardness level. Generally, a stone that reaches a 6 or harder is considered a hard stone, making it good enough for daily wear.

An alexandrite engagement ring is considered to have excellent wearability. Its hardness reaches a level of 8.5, below a sapphire (9) and above an emerald (7.5-8). It has poor cleavage in one direction, meaning it shouldn't split, shatter, or break easily. Diamond engagement rings have perfect cleavage and are more likely to chip from a hard drop or blow.

So, alexandrite engagement rings are a great colored stone alternative to diamonds. They hold up really well on the day to day.

Natural Alexandrite Stone vs Lab Created Alexandrite

These days, more and more people are on the hunt for alexandrite engagement rings. However, many are disappointed when they find lab created alexandrite instead of alexandrite mined from the ground,

Of course, lab created gemstones are grossly misinterpreted as fake gemstones. But they're not. The origin is created in a lab, but they have all the same features and grades as the natural versions. The same goes for lab created alexandrite and natural alexandrite.

However, the major difference is that lab created stones don't have monetary value like natural ones. They are also much cheaper, depending on the rarity of the natural stone or how complex the process is to synthesize.

How to Buy an Alexandrite Engagement Ring

It's easier to find lab created alexandrite engagement rings with better color change than if it were natural. The natural one would come at a much higher price. However, the quality factors for choosing the best alexandrite stone remains the same between the two.

The quality factors for diamonds are cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. With colored gemstones, it's a little different. They may be described as A, AA, or AAA quality. However, if you don't know what the gemstone quality grade entails, you won't know if it's right or not.

So, that being said, we can use the same 4Cs and apply it to colored gemstones too.

Alexandrite Cut

Typically, the cut quality of a colored gemstone isn't what commands the most value. But a well-cut alexandrite is essential to having a strong pleochroic effect. When cutting an alexandrite, the gem cutter must be able to facet the stone into a shape and angle the stone in the light to preserve its color change. If not cut well, it won't have a great shift.

The main thing you want to avoid in an alexandrite gemstone is windowing. Windowing happens when the center of the stone isn't faceted well. Light enters the stone and doesn't reflect back out. The center often looks like a window. When passed over a newspaper, you'll be able to see through the stone. If you can see through it, it's not a well cut stone.

Also pay attention to the shape. Fancy shapes are popular for alexandrite engagement rings because they have a larger surface area than round brilliants. Make sure your pear cut stone or your oval stone isn't misshaped.

Alexandrite Color

"Emerald by day, ruby by night".

That's the tagline that's been marketed for alexandrite since it became the national stone of tsarist Russia. It's rather clever, considering the best quality alexandrites show emerald green hues in sunlight and ruby red hues under incandescent light.

The strong the shift and the purer the green and red hues are, the better the quality-and the higher price. Color always takes precedence over clarity and carat weight.

credited ภรณ์ทิพา

If the alexandrite engagement ring stone shifts from a bluish green to a reddish brown, that color is considered less valuable.

But if an alexandrite ring that shows both red and green without a spectacular shift, or the colors look muddied, that would be less valuable than the bluish green one.

Read also: Top Red Gemstones

Alexandrite Clarity

Clarity is how free of natural inclusions the gemstone is. Like most gemstones, eye clean material is harder to find. The best quality alexandrites will be free of inclusions. Lab created alexandrites are almost always eye-clean. This is why it can be difficult to tell them apart from the natural ones.

Alexandrite Carat Weight

Gem quality alexandrite alone is hard enough to find. Most alexandrite these days is used as cabbing material. Some alexandrite cabochons are cat's eye alexandrite, another rare stone. However, cat's eye alexandrite is more common than natural faceted alexandrite.

Keeping that in mind, you can probably guess that alexandrite in higher carat weights are the most expensive and rare. Alexandrite is considered one of the world's rarest gemstones. They are rarely found over a carat.

That's why you'll see many alexandrite rings featuring the stones as accent stones or combined with multiple lines of diamonds for a fashion ring or anniversary ring.

How to Clean Alexandrite Engagement Rings

Cleaning your alexandrite engagement ring is pretty simple. Clean it with a solution of mild soap and warm water. Use a soft brush to brush away the dirt. Make sure to clean the prongs and basket (if you have one) underneath the center stone. Lotions and dirt are notorious for creating buildup in these closed in areas.

If you're looking for a more in depth clean, your alexandrite ring is safe to put in jewelry steam cleaners and ultrasonic cleaners. But heavy cleaning like that isn't necessarily as long as you clean it regularly with soap and water. Make sure you dry it with a soft cloth.

How Much Does an Alexandrite Ring Cost?

An alexandrite stone with the strongest color change will command the highest price for the gem. However, the color change colors themselves are important too.

Most natural alexandrites are less than one carat but still expensive because of their extremely special look and rarity.

Alexandrites with top color change are can run around $15,000 for a one carat stone. Stones over 1 carat can go up to $60,000 per carat.

Lab created alexandrites are still fairly expensive, sometimes around the same prices as a high quality diamond.

Where to Buy an Alexandrite Engagement Ring?

Most alexandrite rings and alexandrite jewelry found online or in stores is going to be lab created. Chain retailers like Kays and Jared will carry very few of them.

One of our favorite online diamond retailers also offers beautiful alexandrite jewelry and alexandrite engagement rings. They go by the name of Brilliant Earth.

Like many online diamond retailers, Brilliant Earth allows you to create your own lab created alexandrite engagement ring using their inventory of certified loose alexandrite stones and engagement ring settings. Choose white gold, yellow gold, rose gold, or a platinum band for your alexandrite engagement ring.

They feature a 360˚ video of their loose lab alexandrites, making easy to see its ever changing hue and allowing you to choose the perfect alexandrite for your engagement ring. Additionally, you have the option for preset alexandrite engagement rings or wedding bands.

Another thing I like about their alexandrite rings is that they don't always have it as the center stone. If you're a big fan of color, you may consider choosing an engagement ring with alexandrite side stones instead of the center.

There's lots of options at Brilliant Earth for a lab-created alexandrite engagement ring. They are responsibly sourced, offer a warranty plan for purchase, and their alexandrite stones are all certified by the GIA-so you know they're legit.

That being said, if your dream ring is a natural, high alexandrite, be prepared to go outside your comfort zone. Unless you live in a big city where are trusted jeweler can source you a natural stone, your options are basically limited online.

You already know that you'll pay a high price for a high quality alexandrite, but it's much harder to find a jeweler or jewelry designer selling legitimate pieces online. Remember, the average person can't tell the difference between a lab created alexandrite or a natural one. A skilled jeweler would be able to tell the difference by the type of inclusions in the synthetic stone.

Personally, I don't know of any approved retailers that will sell a natural alexandrite stone. However, I can advise you to only ever purchase a natural alexandrite stone with a legitimate grading report from a respectable grading lab. Always read return policies and restocking policies before buying from an unknown source. You may even take to social media or Reddit to see if anyone else knows about them.


Alexandrite engagement rings are a growing trend and it's easy to see why. They have excellent durability for everyday wear and a beautiful color change effect that can rival the beauty of other gemstones. 

While finding a natural alexandrite is difficult, finding a lab created one can still be difficult. Alexandrites aren't kept in many jewelry inventories at chain retailers, so be prepared to go on a hunt for this special stone. 

I hope you've learned everything you need to know to help you make an informed decision when purchasing an alexandrite engagement ring. 

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