Diamonds might be forever, but few gemstones are as mysteriously compelling as alexandrite, making it the perfect unique engagement ring option. The ever-changing hue and rarity of the stone make it extremely special and more than just a passing trend, and it’s ideal for brides who want something especially one-of-a-kind.
What Is Alexandrite?
Alexandrite is a rare variety of chrysoberyl, well-known for the fact that it’s a pleochroic stone, which means that it appears as a different color depending on its setting. In daylight, alexandrite appears greenish-blue to dark yellow-green, but in incandescent or candlelight, it looks pink to red.
The History of Alexandrite Gemstones
Alexandrite was discovered in 1834 in emerald mines near the Tokovaya River in the Urals. According to legend, it was discovered the same day Russain tsar Alexander II came of age, hence the name alexandrite. Because it shows the colors red and green, the colors of old Imperial Russia, it became the national stone of tsarist Russia. This regal history combined with the rarity of the stone makes it feel extra special and exclusive.
Alexandrite Gemstones vs. Diamonds
It can be difficult to compare alexandrite and diamonds, as Caitlin Mocuin, jewelry designer and founder of Mocuin, points out. “Alexandrite is a very, very different looking gemstone [than a diamond],” she explains. “I would say it’s desirable for someone who is looking for a more unique and unusual engagement ring.”
For those looking for something that stands out, alexandrite might be the better choice over a diamond since it feels a bit more exclusive. “If you are an outside-the-box kind of person, then alexandrite is a great choice,” says jewelry designer Helen Ficalora. “Alexandrite is a very valuable, rare, unusual, and expensive stone.”
While diamonds are by far the most durable gemstones out there, alexandrite isn’t a bad option in terms of strength. “Alexandrite is a great choice for an engagement ring due to its 8.5 out of 10 Mohs hardness,” says jewelry designer Nicole Rose Kopelman.
What to Look for in an Alexandrite Ring
The most important thing to know about alexandrite is that the color is going to change: In daylight, it looks green to blue to yellow-green, and in incandescent or candlelight, it appears pink to purple to red.
Because of this special color-changing aspect, you should consider the metals and any other stones you’re including to make sure they work with all the varying shades.
“It looks great in yellow gold, which highlights the red/purple warm tones and also contrasts the green/teal cool tones,” Ficalora says. “A white metal will work in the reverse. It depends if you like the warmer tones or the cooler tones, and which you would prefer to compliment.”
The color also determines the price—the stronger the color change, the more expensive it’s going to be. “Ones that change to red are more valuable than purple or brownish tones,” says Mocuin. “You should only be paying a high price for one that displays both a warm and cool color and displays reds,” she adds.
To make sure you’re getting the best stone, buy a certified stone from a reputable laboratory that grades gemstones, advises Peter Amerosi, diamond expert, Gemological Institute of America graduate, and vice president of Gerald Peters. “Their report will reveal unbiased information about the gemstone you are purchasing,” he explains.
“You should avoid treated gemstones as they were altered at some point to change color, clarity, or durability,” he adds. “Synthetic stones are chemically identical to natural stones, except synthetic stones were grown by a man in a laboratory. The value of natural stones is much higher than synthetic. If possible, and if your budget allows, I recommend sticking to natural gemstones only.”
In terms of settings, Peters says it’s a good idea to get a hard precious metal to hold alexandrite in place since it’s softer than a traditional diamond.
How to Care for Your Alexandrite Ring
Caring for an alexandrite ring is pretty simple since it’s a hard stone. Peters recommends using a soft brush, like an old toothbrush, with mild soap and room temperature water. “Consider this type of cleaning a ‘car wash,’” he says. “If you want a more in-depth clean, visit the jeweler you purchase the ring from. They will be able to steam, sonic clean, and even polish your ring. Consider this type of cleaning a ‘full detailing.’”
Another way to clean it at home on your own is to put it in a bowl of water with a few drops of ordinary dish detergent, then rinse and dry with a soft cloth. Alexandrite is hard, but not as hard and durable as a diamond. Because of that, Peters says you should remove it before heavy cleaning, exercising, swimming, or encountering any chemical.
Now, scroll through the stunning alexandrite engagement rings ahead.
Abby Sparks The Margo Ring
This custom engagement ring was designed by and named for a botanist for a nature-inspired feel. The center alexandrite stone is framed by marquis diamonds in a fanned floral pattern for vintage charm on a platinum band.
SHOP NOW: Abby Sparks Jewelry, starting at $10,500
Genuine Alexandrite Engagement Solitaire Ring
This solitaire ring allows the stunning alexandrite stone to really shine completely on its own. With a simple band and no competing stones, all the attention is on the changing hue.
SHOP NOW: Africa Gems, $4,200
Effy White Gold Alexandrite and Diamond Ring
A beautiful oval alexandrite stone is surrounded by small round diamonds in a unique star-like setting. The band is white gold with little pavé diamonds for a more cool-toned alexandrite hue.
SHOP NOW: Effy, $3,287
Alexandrite Engagement Ring
This ring is perfect for vintage lovers with an art deco milgrain edging all around the band. The round alexandrite stone is in a round setting with diamonds in a cluster formation.
SHOP NOW: Juliet & Oliver, $1,710
Custom Two-Tone Alexandrite and Diamond Engagement Ring
Mix up metals a bit with this custom two-tone ring featuring a round alexandrite stone in a two-tone white and rose gold band. Two rows of accent diamonds make this even more interesting.
SHOP NOW: Joseph Jewelry, $2,159
Pear Alexandrite Engagement Ring
The blue hue of alexandrite looks particularly stunning in a pear cut. With marquise diamonds fanning out on each side and a yellow gold band, this is a beautiful and unique piece.
SHOP NOW: Capucinne, $2,720
Alexandrite Gemstone Diamond Halo Ring
A simple rose gold band is a more unique option for alexandrite, which is typically paired with white or yellow gold since the color changes. The small diamonds in the halo setting add a little glimmer.
SHOP NOW: Gemologica, $360
Gabriel NY Pavé Oval Shape Alexandrite Engagement Ring
If you’re looking for something more elaborate with a vintage flair, you’ll love this Gabriel NY option. An oval alexandrite sits in an intricately designed gold band full of small diamonds.
SHOP NOW: Icing On The Ring, $1,745
Alexandrite Yellow Gold Ring
An oval alexandrite ring sits in the middle of a twisting band, surrounded by small diamonds for plenty of sparkle. The yellow gold band complements the warm tones.
SHOP NOW: 1stDibs, $4,246
Oval Cut Alexandrite Ring
This large alexandrite ring (which is a deep purple in the pictures, indicative of its great quality) sits in a sparkling diamond halo. This is certainly a bold choice that will stand out.
SHOP NOW: Mark Broumand, price upon request
Dora Oval Alexandrite Ring
This lab-grown alexandrite ring is a budget-friendly option that is still gorgeous to look at. The oval stone has clusters of round diamonds on either side, finished off with a rose gold band. It’s also available with a natural alexandrite stone by request.
SHOP NOW: Capucinne, $1,210
Classic 3-Stone Alexandrite Ring
This ring takes a classic engagement ring style and makes it more unique by using an alexandrite stone instead of a diamond. The round center stone has a baguette diamond on either side.
SHOP NOW: Africa Gems, $13,900
Abby Sparks The Katy Ring
This custom ring was actually inspired by a design in the video game The Legend of Zelda. The pear-shaped alexandrite stone is lab-grown to achieve the purple color they were going for, surrounded by a halo of marquise diamonds.
SHOP NOW: Abby Sparks Jewelry, starting at $26,000
Diamond and Alexandrite Engagement Ring
A solitaire alexandrite stone takes center stage on a white gold infinity band dotted with diamonds.
SHOP NOW: Allurez, $3,229