So you’ve heard of mysterious Alexandrite. And now you want an Alexandrite engagement ring! We can’t blame you! Whether it’s your rare and mystical June birthstone, or just because you are mesmerized by its unique color change, we got you. I’m obsessed too – it was the gemstone that made me become a gemologist! But, before you charge ahead, there’s LOTS to know about how to choose a quality gem. And there’s a terrible number of fakes and poor quality stones out there. So, let’s talk about how to avoid mistakes and select the perfect Alexandrite engagement ring!
What is Alexandrite?
- A gem in the chrysoberyl family.
- Changes color from Green to Red.
- A durable gem.
Alexandrite is a gemstone in the family group “chrysoberyl” that changes color in different lighting. When outside in daylight, an Alexandrite stone is a green or greenish-Blue. But inside, under warm lightbulbs or by candlelight, it is a purplish-Red. This leads some to refer to it as an “emerald by day, ruby by night.”
This unique and mysterious color change is one reason couples search for an Alexandrite engagement ring. Another is that it is quite a hard gem at 8.5/10 on the Mohs Hardness Scale (diamond is a 10)! In other words, “Alex” stands up to everyday wear.
What is the best color for an Alexandrite engagement ring?
- Green or blueish-Green to Red or purplish-Red are the best.
- Lab stones are a little more blue and a little more purple.
- Imitation stones don’t change color or change to the wrong color.
Like all colored gemstones, the most important factor is color. In color-change gems, this also means how completely the stone changes from one color to another!
Natural Alexandrite engagement rings
A top quality natural Alexandrite will change fully from Green to Red under different light sources. There will be no hints of green in the red, no hints of red in the green. The gem will appear to magically, fully transform simply by turning on a light. Natural stones with this full color change are exceedingly rare and sought after. Couples should be aware that lower quality natural gems look more like a water color painting, with some purple spilling over into the green, and vice versa.
Lab Created Alexandrite engagement rings
Lab-created Alexandrite has the same hardness, color change, and chemical composition as its natural namesake. In terms of color, a Lab stone’s green hue tends to lean more blueish than the Natural version. Its red hue also tends to lean more purplish. True Lab-created stones (as compared with simulants, see more below) have full, spectacular color change.
There are a ton of “simulants” out there. What we mean by a “simulant” is a gem that people call Alex, but it is NOT an Alexandrite stone. Natural or Lab. This is important because simulants either don’t change color or change to the wrong color. Some are even the wrong color to begin with. Most simulated stones are also not nearly as durable. Due to Alex’s mystical lure, simulants have been made since the 1800’s! So, when looking for an Alexandrite engagement ring, know that just because it’s antique, doesn’t mean it’s real. Always buy from a source that has actually tested and examined the stone.
Is Alexandrite rare?
Yes! Natural gems are exceedingly rare. More rare than diamonds, actually. This is because the elements needed to form it do not regularly occur together here on Earth. As a result, there are only a few Natural Alexandrite deposits in the whole world! This also means that there is a real probability that these deposits will be exhausted at some point. Russian gems have already been exhausted. In other words, there will likely come a time when this gem is not mined anymore. As you would assume, that makes gem quality stones intensely rare. In fact, many jewelers have never even seen a Natural Alex. This spectacular rarity makes an Alexandrite engagement ring a truly once-in-a-lifetime gift indeed.
Is an Alexandrite engagement ring expensive?
There’s always a way of getting what you want at a price you can afford! Couples can include the color-change stone in their engagement ring in several ways. Because of its scarcity, gem quality Natural Alex commands high prices. So, many couples opt for a smaller Natural center stone or include small Natural side stones in order to make Alexandrite affordable. Another great option is Lab Alexandrite, which, due to being made by man, is much more reasonable.
Price Difference: Natural v. Lab Alexandrite
|Carat Weight||AAA Natural Alex||Lab Alex|
How to Pick a Lab Alexandrite Engagement Ring
Couples choosing a Lab Alexandrite should first ensure their jeweler is selling true Lab Alexandrite and not a simulant. Then, as Lab Created Alex is formed in perfect color change and clarity, all you have to do is pick a shape, size, and setting!
Lab Alexandrite Shape & Size
Couples choosing Lab stones have greater options when it comes to shape (cut) and size (carat weight). In other words, Lab Alex comes in heavier carat weight than Natural Alex, as well as in shapes not often faceted in natural stones (such as round and princess cut). Couples can therefore choose a gem that looks more similar to a natural stone, such as a 1.0 carat oval, or go big with a 4.0 ct cushion! Options are endless.
How to Pick a Natural Alexandrite Engagement Ring
Couples choosing a Natural Alexandrite engagement ring center stone should consider color and color change, clarity, size and shape, clarity, and certification. Let’s talk shop!
Natural Alexandrite Color Change
- Select a “strong” color change for the most complete shift in color.
Color and color change are the most important aspects of your Alexandrite stone. Fine quality Natural gems change from a full Green or blueish-Green to a full Red or purplish-Red. How fully your Alex changes color is a huge factor in its value. The color change quality scale has three options: “weak”, “moderate”, and “strong.” The finest stones have strong color change. In other words, if a stone exhibits color change in about 85% of its body in different lighting, it is a top “strong” quality. Moderate color change shows around 50% color change. Weak color change is only slightly noticeable. Weak and moderate color change Alexandrite may appear more like watercolor paintings, with colors bleeding through in any light.
Natural Alexandrite Color
- Top color stones change from Green or blueish-Green to Red or purplish-Red.
- Make sure your gem is not too dark or light that you can’t see the colors.
- Gems with “grey” or “brown” overtones are less valuable.
In addition to color change, Alexandrite is also graded by the quality of both its colors. However, a gem’s main color isn’t only where it sits on the rainbow. How light or dark the stone is also contributes to its beauty, as does the intensity of that color.
Pro Tip! Grading reports often list only the hues it changes to and from. For example, a report may only list “blueish Green to pinkish Purple.” But what if the stone is so dark it is almost black? It can still technically be called “blueish Green.” Was that what you had in mind? Not likely.
Here’s your handy trick to getting the colors you really want. There are three categories to gemstone “color”: hue, tone, and saturation.
- Hue – the main color of your gem, for example, “Red” or “blueish Green.”
- Tone – how dark or light your gem is, for example, “dark” or “medium-light.”
- Saturation – how vivid or washed out your stone is, for example, “vivid” or “slightly brown.”
So, in Alexandrite, demand the following for the best color:
Ensure hues of Green or blueish-Green Red or purplish-Red. Since Alexandrite simply means “color change chrysoberyl,” gemologists sometimes classify other color changes (like yellow to green) as Alex, too. You want main hues of Green and Red.
Only consider gems that are “medium,” “medium-light,” or “medium-dark.” Anything else will be too light or too dark to really see the color change. And that’s a waste of money!
Top quality Alex is “vivid.” However, these gems are exceedingly rare. Couples looking for the best value should look for “strong” or “moderately strong” saturation. These gems do not show noticeable grey or brown and are priced more reasonably than vivid stones.
Natural Alexandrite Clarity
- The most valuable stones are eye clean.
- Couples may also consider “slightly included” gems with strong color change.
Alexandrite is a “Type 2” gemstone, which means gem experts expect them to have some internal markings called “inclusions.” That said, Type 2 gemstones also regularly occur in “eye clean” stones, meaning gems are available in which the inclusions are not noticeable to the naked eye. As with all gemstones, those which are eye clean are more valuable than those with eye visible inclusions. Couples choosing an Alexandrite engagement ring should opt for an eye clean stone, or one in which the inclusions are not distracting to the beauty of the gem. This is known as “slightly included.” An Alexandrite stone that is more heavily included should be avoided as the inclusions will detract from the gem’s beauty.
Natural Alexandrite Cut & Carat Weight
- Because of its rarity, stones are often cut to be larger instead of more perfect.
- Natural gems are often smaller than one carat.
The cut of a gem is its shape, as well as how well it is faceted. Natural Alex does not often occur in large crystals. As a result, gems are typically cut in the shape of the crystal (ovals, cushions, and emeralds) to retain the most weight possible. Most gems are smaller than one carat.
Faceting to retain weight is a blessing and a curse. In other words, it’s great to get a larger stone, but they often lack fine cut quality. “Windows” occur in shallow stones, when the center of the gem looks a light colored pool which shows the ring setting beneath. “Facet asymmetry” is when facets are cut haphazardly instead of as mirror images from left to right. Every couple’s tolerance for cut quality will vary. Some will be alright with certain asymmetry in their stones, others will want a more perfectly cut gem. Feel free to ask our gemologist to help you select the right Alex for you!
Natural Alexandrite Certification
Because of its rarity, and the immense amount of simulated Alex out there, Do Amore suggests purchasing a certified stone for your engagement ring. Certification ensures you are getting a Natural Alexandrite. Certification also provides you with an independent opinion of the gem’s quality, which is highly important in insuring such a rare gem. There are multiple gem labs offering certification. GIA is the most well known and well respected.
What is the best value in an Alexandrite stone?
Natural Alexandrite Settings & Side Stones
Couples who want a more affordable Natural Alexandrite engagement ring can opt to add small natural side-stones to a Diamond center. I made a Diamond engagement ring with natural side-stones (much like our Jemma ring) for my sister-in-law!
Because of its unique color-change properties, Natural Alex looks great in all metal colors. As it is often smaller in size, a Natural Alexandrite center stone looks great in settings which make it look a little larger, such as bezel and halo rings. A few of our favorite Natural Alexandrite engagement rings are Callan, Victoria, and Elle.
Natural Alexandrite Center Stones
The best value in Natural Alexandrite is a gem with strong color change in a shape that maximizes size, such as an oval. Oval cut gems look larger than their round counterparts, but do not come at the price premium a cushion does. While it may be tempting to select a weaker color change, Alexandrite’s ultimate value (retail, resale, and in terms of asset valuation for insurance, investment, or bond) is in its quality color change. So, making quality color change your biggest concern is the best way to protect your investment.
Gorgeous Natural 0.97ct (7.18mm x 5.30mm) Oval – Do Amore $10,864
Stunning Natural 1.70ct (7.79mm x 6.18mm) Antique Cushion – Do Amore $19,729:
Either of these gems would make a stunning, rare Natural Alexandrite engagement ring center stone!
Lab Alexandrite Engagement Rings
Choosing Lab Alex is the most affordable way to include the gem in your engagement ring. Because Lab stones are man made, couples will benefit from greater variety of size and shape options, as well as lower prices. Lab side stones of 2.0mm to 3.5mm range are also available!
Lab Alexandrite Settings
With its cool blueish-Green and reddish-Purple colors, Lab Alex tends to look best in white metals such as white gold, platinum, and palladium. It also looks stunning in rose gold. Couples choosing a larger Lab stone will like the look of solitaires, classic three stones, and even fancier side-stones! Our favorite settings for Lab Alexandrite engagement rings are Mae, Everly and the Twist Ring.
Can you help me build a great Alexandrite engagement ring?
It would be my honor. Send me a note here, or email me here, and let’s talk about exactly what you want, and how I can make your dreams come true! I’m also available to answer questions about color change, how to select a stone, how certification works, and what other color change stones there are out there! I love this stuff; drop me a line!