Is alexandrite suitable for an engagement ring?

Alexandrite, a gemstone discovered in the Ural Mountains of Russia in the early 19th century, has since captivated the imagination and desire of many with its unique color-changing properties. It is a variety of chrysoberyl and owes its enchanting color change to the presence of chromium within its crystal structure. This phenomenon allows the gem to exhibit emerald green to red hues depending on the lighting, making it a compelling choice for jewelry, especially engagement rings. This article delves into the suitability of alexandrite for engagement rings by examining its history, physical and optical properties, rarity and value, and considerations for its care and maintenance.

History and Symbolism

The discovery of alexandrite is steeped in legend, named after Alexander II of Russia, as it was found on the day of his coming of age. This connection to Russian royalty, along with its remarkable color-changing ability, imbued the gem with a sense of mystique and prestige. Alexandrite symbolizes luck, good fortune, and love, making it a meaningful choice for an engagement ring that represents a lifelong commitment.

Physical and Optical Properties

Alexandrite belongs to the chrysoberyl family, distinguished by its hardness and durability. With a Mohs hardness rating of 8.5, it is only surpassed by diamonds and corundum (sapphires and rubies), making it an excellent choice for everyday wear. Its toughness and resistance to scratching ensure that an alexandrite engagement ring can withstand the rigors of daily life, maintaining its beauty over time.

The most captivating feature of alexandrite is its color-changing ability, known as the alexandrite effect. Under daylight or fluorescent lighting, the gem appears green to bluish-green. In incandescent light, it transforms to a purplish-red, a phenomenon that is both rare and highly sought after in the gemstone world. This unique property can add a dynamic and personal touch to an engagement ring, symbolizing the changing nature of a relationship while maintaining its core beauty.

Rarity and Value

Alexandrite is a rare gemstone, with high-quality specimens being more scarce than diamonds. Its rarity is due to its specific geological formation conditions, which are not commonly found. The original Russian deposits are nearly depleted, making vintage Russian alexandrite highly prized and valuable. Today, new sources from Brazil, Sri Lanka, and East Africa contribute to the market, but the finest quality stones remain rare and command high prices.

The value of alexandrite is determined by its color change, clarity, cut, and carat weight. Stones that exhibit a strong and distinct color change from green to red are the most valued. Clarity is another crucial factor, with clear stones being more desirable. However, due to the rarity of alexandrite, inclusions that do not significantly affect the stone's beauty or durability are often considered acceptable. The cut of the gemstone also plays a vital role in showcasing its color change and brilliance, while larger carat sizes are exceedingly rare and exponentially increase in value.

Considerations for Care and Maintenance

While alexandrite is durable, proper care and maintenance are essential to preserve its beauty. It is recommended to clean alexandrite jewelry with mild soap and warm water, using a soft brush to remove any dirt or grease. Ultrasonic and steam cleaners should generally be avoided, as they can cause damage, especially if the stone has inclusions or fractures. It is also advisable to store alexandrite jewelry separately to prevent scratches from harder gemstones like diamonds.

When considering an alexandrite engagement ring, it's essential to purchase from reputable dealers who provide certification for the gemstone. This certification should include details about the stone's origin, color change, clarity, cut, and carat weight, ensuring that you are investing in a genuine and high-quality piece.


Alexandrite, with its unique color-changing ability, durability, and rich history, is an exquisite choice for an engagement ring. It offers a blend of beauty, rarity, and symbolism that can make an engagement ring truly special and personal. However, the rarity and value of alexandrite mean that it is an investment, and potential buyers should be prepared for the premium that comes with owning a piece of this enchanting gemstone. With proper care and consideration, an alexandrite engagement ring can be a treasured symbol of love and commitment for generations. Whether drawn to its physical beauty, its symbolism, or the allure of its rarity, choosing alexandrite is a testament to the unique bond between two people, making it a fitting emblem for the journey of marriage.

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