There is no denying the fact that shiny, sparkling diamonds are forever, but have you ever come across a mysteriously captivating gemstone such as 'alexandrite'?!
There is a famous saying for alexandrite "an emerald by day and a ruby by night." Alexandrite's rarity and this unique feature, i.e., its ever-changing hue, differentiates it from all other stones and makes it super unique. It has all the qualities needed to be a perfect engagement ring.
What is Alexandrite?
Alexandrite is a scarce variety of gemstone from the chrysoberyl family. It is well-known for the fact that it is a pleochroic stone. A Pleochroic gem shows two or three colors when viewed from different angles, which means that Alexandrite appears with a different color depending on the angle viewed and its setting.
During the daytime or in the daylight, Alexandrite appears greenish-blue to dark yellow-green, but it appears to be pink to red under incandescent light.
History of Alexandrite
Alexandrite was first discovered in 1834 in emerald mines near the Tokovaya River in the Urals. As per legend, Alexandrite was discovered on the same day Russian tsar Alexander II came of age. Because it displayed red and green colors, which were recognized as the colors of old imperial Russia, it was adopted as the national stone of tsarist Russia. Alexandrite's regal history, along with its rarity, makes it extra luxurious and exclusive.
While Alexandrite found favor in the jewelry salons of Russia and France, it was in the USA that the company Tiffany & Co. radically popularized the gem. Tiffany's master gem buyer, George Kunz, fell in love with the stone and traveled to Russia in search of it. It is unknown how much of the gemstone he bought, but Tiffany had reserves so massive that it cornered the market on the stone for decades.
For much of the 20th Century, there were no discoveries of the mineral, so it became very rare. Luckily, in 1987, a deposit was found in Brazil, and in 1993, another on the border of Tanzania and Mozambique.
Alexandrite's Meaning and Mystical Properties
Alexandrite is the birthstone of June, along with pearl. It is also the anniversary stone of the 55th year of marriage.
The gemstone is thought to bring luck, good fortune, and love. It creates a balance between the physical and spiritual realms, opening the crown chakra and allowing one to access the universe's healing energy. It is also believed to heighten intuition, creativity, and imagination.
Alexandrite makes an excellent engagement ring stone because it is said to encourage romance. It is believed that Alexandrite invites more happiness and joy into our lives, especially for those too busy, scared, or jaded by love. This stone can positively affects your emotional well-being, promotes a strong sense of self-esteem, and helps you have a better appreciation for the people in your life.
It reminds us of our purpose in life and where we came from. It brings strength and reminds us to face life's challenges. As with the changing color of Alexandrite, life, too, is not always what it seems to be.
Why Should You Consider Buying Alexandrite Rings?
- Alexandrite rings are a different kind of gorgeous. If you want to stand out from the crowd, then Alexandrite is an excellent choice. Its color-changing properties are something diamonds could never do.
- Alexandrite scores 8.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, making them quite durable and a good choice for an engagement ring.
Pros and Cons of Alexandrite Rings
- unique and stands out
- feels exclusive
- rare, unusual, and valuable stone
- durable enough for daily wear
- very different from diamonds
Overall, if you are looking for something unique and unusual, there is no comparison to alexandrite rings.
How to Buy Alexandrite?
Buying a gemstone requires a lot of research and exploration, especially when you purchase something that has an emotional value attached to it, such as an engagement ring.
There are a few key factors that you must consider before buying an alexandrite ring.
As color change is the most exclusive and distinctive feature of Alexandrite, the intensity of the color change is the most critical factor in alexandrite pricing. The consensus is that Alexandrite should be emerald green to peacock blue in daylight and a ruby red or amethyst hue in incandescent light. The most prized stones undergo a complete shift from lovely green to luscious red.
The brighter the colors and the more dramatic the change from bluish-green in daylight to purplish-red under incandescent light, the more valuable the gemstone.
The color change quality scales include three options: "weak," "moderate," and "strong." The finest stones display the sharpest color change, i.e., around 85%. On the other hand, moderate quality stones bring about 50% color change, while color change is slightest in the weakest stones.
- Intense: These stones display the finest color change
- Stong: High degree of color change. Top 25% of all Alexandrite's
- Medium: Average color change
- Light: Commercial quality color change. Still desirable due to the price point
A good quality alexandrite has few inclusions, but it is extremely rare to find an Alexandrite with no eye-visible imperfections.
Alexandrite clarity grades include eye clean, very slightly included, slightly included, moderately included, and included. Color and color change takes priority over clarity when determining the value of the stone.
In rare cases, needle-like inclusions are oriented parallel to each other and can create chatoyancy, also known as cat's-eye, increasing the stone's value. Typical inclusions include negative crystals and parallel rutile silk.
Alexandrite can have twinning, needle, and crystal inclusions, just like what you can see in diamonds. In addition, fingerprints, liquid inclusions, and hollow tubes are common (also found in other precious stones). Alexandrite can also have fluorite, apatite, mica platelets, rutile, and multi-phase inclusions because of the elements present during the growth process.
Alexandrites are available in a variety of shapes and cutting styles in the market. However, most common cuts are ovals and cushions, but round cuts and other cuts such as emerald cuts are equally popular. Since it is a rare gemstone, cuts that save weight are most common.
Lapidaries cut Alexandrites according to the shade of the rough material to get the desired color (the primary price driver). The darker material is cut shallow to allow more light into the gem. In comparison, lighter material is cut deep to allow the stone to hold more light and increase saturation.
The lapidary must also factor in color change when cutting Alexandrite. In addition, these stones possess unique cleavage properties that make them difficult to cut. Cutting Alexandrite is an art and requires years of experience.
Transparent gems are most valuable as they allow one to see the true richness of color. However, the transparency makes it much easier to view imperfections. Unfortunately, finding a transparent alexandrite that is eye-clean is truly rare.
Over-saturation of color forces a gem to be semi-transparent as less light is allowed to escape. Opaque gemstones tend to be eye-clean but may appear black.
Like most gemstones, Alexandrite is weighed in carats. Price increases significantly the larger the size and higher the quality of the gemstone.
For smaller alexandrite stones, pear, marquis, and round are more popular choices, whereas oval, cushion, and emerald shapes are more desirable for large sizes.
Settings for Alexandrite Engagement Rings
Since Alexandrite is less durable than diamonds, it is good to opt for settings that hold the stone firmly in place. For example, bezel settings offer excellent protection as the metal surrounding the Alexandrite protects the gem from external damage.
Yellow gold is an excellent pair with Alexandrite, as it highlights the red/purple warm tones of the stone and contrasts the green/teal cool tones. You may choose white metal over yellow for a complete contrast. Overall, the choice of metal should depend on one's preference for warmer or cooler tones.
Since color change quality is the most striking feature of Alexandrite, the stone's color significantly impacts the pricing. The stronger the color change, the more expensive the stone will be. Stones that change to a red hue are more valuable than purple or brownish tones. Experts say a high price should be paid for Alexandrite which displays both warm and cool colors and a red hue.
Natural vs Lab-Grown Alexandrite
A fine quality natural alexandrite stone will change its hue from green to red in different light sources. This change of hue is unique in that there is no overlapping or mixing of hues, and it appears that the gemstone has entirely transformed from one shade to another.
Natural stones with the unique property of changing color are scarce and are some of the most sought after.
In lower-quality alexandrites, there is an overlapping of colors during color change. For example, color change results in mixing a purple hue with a green hue rather than displaying a distinct purple to green hue.
Russian and Brazilian mined Alexandrite is the most expensive.
- Typically fall on the border between chrysoberyl (no color change) and a weak color shift.
- These stones may not get lab certification for Alexandrite.
- Budget-friendly and will typically cost below $2000 per carat.
- Color change will likely be above 50-60%
- The price point is more consumer-friendly. Wholesale price for this category will be from $7,000 to $20,000 per carat.
- Try to buy Alexandrites that have Green to Blue-Green color. A little yellow is acceptable.
- Clarity is not as important as color change for medium-quality alexandrites.
- Includes gem quality.
- Superior color change (80 to 100%).
- Wholesale prices for 1 carat can be $20,000 per carat or more.
- Brazil and Russian Origins, you can expect a significant premium price of 2x market rate.
Lab-created Alexandrite is similar to natural ones in all aspects, except that they are grown in a laboratory. The hardness, color change, and chemical composition of lab-created Alexandrite are the same as the naturally occurring Alexandrite.
However, in terms of color, the lab-created variety displays a green hue, which is inclined more towards a bluish hue than natural Alexandrite. And its red hue tends to lean more towards the purple hue. The color change quality of genuine lab-created Alexandrite stones is more striking than natural ones.
Avoiding Fake Alexandrite
Sometimes jewelry labeled as genuine Alexandrite will instead be a different type of color-change chrysoberyl. While Alexandrite is a color-change chrysoberyl gemstone, over 30% of the stone must change color to be classified as an alexandrite, plus the color change has to be of a specific shade and intensity. Therefore, much color-change chrysoberyl does not fit into this category but is still be falsely labeled as Alexandrite.
So-called cheap Alexandrite jewelry usually features synthetic color-change corundum. You may also encounter a color-change glass imitation known as zandrite. Some vendors may sell these imitation gems as synthetic Alexandrite.
To avoid these imitation stones and make sure you are purchasing a genuine alexandrite, be sure to buy from a dealer that provides official documentation with your purchase. Also, be wary of anyone selling Alexandrite jewelry for cheap - because it probably isn't real.
Taking Care of Your Alexandrite Engagement Ring
Like any fine jewelry, alexandrite jewelry requires some care. However, because it is a hard stone, caring for Alexandrite does not require much effort.
- Use a soft brush and room temperature mild soapy water to clean your alexandrite rings.
- For any deep or intricate cleaning, take the ring to a jewelry store where they use steam or ultrasonic cleaners. They will often polish your ring as well.
- Remove your ring before doing any physical activity that may cause harm to it, such as exercising, cleaning, washing hands, heavy lifting, etc.
- Avoid applying high pressure to your rings to avoid any scratches or loosening of the stone from the setting.
- Keep your alexandrite ring away from any strong chemicals and exposure to high heat.
- It is good to store alexandrite rings separately in small boxes or bags to avoid any scratches.
Shop for Alexandrite Engagement Rings
There are numerous places online and offline where you can buy alexandrite engagement rings. However, purchasing a certified stone from a reputable store that sells graded gemstones is advised to ensure you are getting the best stone. Further, the market is flooded with alexandrite simulants. Therefore, it becomes more important to buy from trustworthy jewelers that have tested and examined the stone.
Shopping in person has its benefits, but online shopping certainly outshines those with its entire world of alexandrite jewelry to explore. Multiple filters for budgeting and sorting, ease of comparison, hi-tech images at different angles are just a few of the benefits of online shopping. And what's more?! You can do all that without stepping out of home, just at the click of a button.
Etsy is one of the most trusted and renowned global online marketplaces. They have an exquisite range of alexandrite jewelry, suiting a wide range of styles and budgets.
My favorite shops for Alexandrite engagement rings on Etsy include:
Shop now to add this mystical allure to your jewelry collection!