Diamonds might be forever, but few gemstones are as mysteriously compelling as alexandrite, which is what makes this gemstone the perfect option for a unique engagement ring. The ever-changing hue and rarity of the stone make it extremely special and more than just a passing trend. In short, an alexandrite engagement ring is ideal for anyone who wants something truly 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 Pros and Cons of Alexandrite Engagement Rings
One of the most appealing features of an alexandrite engagement ring is that it stands out. For those looking for something eye-catching and unique, 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,” notes jewelry designer Nicole Rose Kopelman. If you work with your hands and need a stone that will hold up to a significant amount of wear and tear, an alexandrite engagement ring could be a fabulous option.
Although alexandrite has desirable qualities there is one con to note. 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.”
What to Look for in an Alexandrite Ring
Because of alexandrite's 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. Here are a few other questions to note before purchasing an alexandrite ring.
- What metals pair best alexandrite? “It looks great in yellow gold, which highlights the red/purple warm tones and also contrasts the green/teal cool tones,” says Ficalora. “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."
- How much do alexandrite rings cost? The color also determines the price—the finest alexandrite color is green to blue-green in daylight and red to purple-red in incandescent light, with medium to medium-dark tone and moderately strong saturation. Stones that are too dark or too light with weak saturation are more common and therefore generally less expensive. “Ones that change to red are more valuable than purple or brownish tones,” Mocuin says. “You should only be paying a high price for one that displays both a warm and cool color and displays reds.”
- How can I tell if the ring is high quality? 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, and vice president of Gerald Peters. “Their report will reveal unbiased information about the gemstone you are purchasing,” he explains.
- What settings look best with alexandrite? In terms of settings, Amerosi 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.
“You should avoid treated gemstones as they were altered at some point to change color, clarity, or durability,” Amerosi 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.”
How to Care for Your Alexandrite Ring
Caring for an alexandrite ring is pretty simple since it’s a hard stone. Amerosi 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, Amerosi says you should remove it before heavy cleaning, exercising, swimming, or encountering any chemical.
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 Russian 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.
Now, scroll through the 19 of the most stunning alexandrite engagement rings ahead.
Abby Sparks Jewelry 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.
Price at time of publish: $10,500
AfricaGems 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.
Price at time of publish: $5,555
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.
Price at time of publish: Not listed
Juliet & Oliver The Caro Alexandrite 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.
Price at time of publish: $1,790
Joseph Jewelry 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.
Price at time of publish: $2,144
Capucinne 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.
Price at time of publish: $3,500
Gemologica Alexandrite 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.
Price at time of publish: $800
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.
Price at time of publish: $2,600
1stDibs Oval Alexandrite and Diamond 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.
Price at time of publish: $2,899
Mark Broumand 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.
Price at time of publish: Available upon request
Capucinne 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.
Price at time of publish: $1,350
AfricaGems Classic 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.
Price at time of publish: $18,383
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.
Price at time of publish: $26,000
Allurez Diamond and Alexandrite Engagement Ring
A solitaire alexandrite stone takes center stage on a white gold infinity band dotted with diamonds.
Price at time of publish: $6,775
Capucinne Amy Alexandrite Ring
Set in a cluster of smaller diamonds, this alexandrite stone radiates deep jewel tones. Claw prongs hold the stone in place while the salt pepper diamonds wrap around the outside.
Price at time of publish: $1,300
willwork Alexandrite Bridal Set
Regal and whimsical, this alexandrite is sure to stand out. The princess-cut alexandrite stone is crowned with small accent diamonds and embellished with stones throughout the band.
Price at time of publish: $549
BBBGem Vintage Pear Shaped Alexandrite and Sapphire Engagement Ring Set
This vintage-inspired ring is full of rich tones. The thin bands offer a delicate and feminine detail, while the diamonds line the underneath shaft of the ring adds a bold aesthetic.
Price at time of publish: $928
Peter Suchy Octagon Cut Alexandrite Diamond Platinum Ring
The thick and bold shape of this ring is sure to make a statement. Unlike traditional alexandrite stones, this one has a yellow hue reminiscent of a yellow diamond. Two diamonds for additional sparkle surround the stone.
Price at time of publish: $48,000
Gorman Jewelry Italian Alexandrite Diamond Bridal Set
This 14k rose gold double band ring is classic and elegant. Not only do the bands of this ring give a timeless aesthetic, but the alexandrite stone also makes the entire ring saturated in color.
Price at time of publish: $2,799
Meet the Expert
- Helen Ficalora is a jewelry designer and founder of Helen Ficalora.
- Caitlin Mocuin is the founder of the New York fine jewelry brand Mocuin.
- Peter Amerosi is a diamond expert and the vice president of Gerald Peters.
- Nicole Rose Kopelman is the CEO of Nicole Rose Jewelry Inc.