Alexandrite is one of the most expensive gemstones. It has a unique ability to change color depending on lighting. While indoors, your ring may look red or purple, but outdoors it looks green to bluish green. Although diamond can’t change colors, it’s the hardest among gemstones. Diamond is also a classic because it’s in high demand and the most popular choice in engagement rings. Below we compare and contrast alexandrite vs diamond to explore which is worth more.
Difference in Color
Alexandrite vs diamond has a great difference in color. In fact, this characteristic may be how the two gems differ the most. Alexandrite changes colors depending on the light, whereas diamond doesn’t. In incandescent light, alexandrite is red to purplish red. When you bring it out into the sunlight, the gemstone is green to bluish green. It has moderately strong to strong color saturation.
Color is an important quality factor in the alexandrite market. Stones that are too light don’t have the striking color intensity that consumers favor. However, if you prefer less intensity in color, you can go for the gems that don’t have such an intense color. You will often find those gems priced lower than the alexandrite with intense color.
On the other end of the spectrum, alexandrite that’s too dark appears almost black from not having enough brightness. Alexandrite from Sri Lanka is larger than that from Russia. However, the color of Sri Lankan alexandrite is yellowish green to brownish red. The best quality alexandrite in terms of color come from Russia.
You might not think there are differences in color among white diamonds but there is. Clear diamonds have a separate color grading scale from colored diamonds. White diamond can have a yellowish tint, which decreases its value. The most valuable diamond according to the color scale is colorless. Colored diamonds like blue and purple are typically more valuable than white diamonds because they occur less frequently in nature. The five standard color ratings on the grading scale are colorless (D-F), near colorless (G-J), faint (K-M), very light (N-R), and light (S-Z).
Difference in Hardness
It’s a well-known fact that diamond is the hardest gemstone with a Mohs rating of 10. Between alexandrite vs diamond, diamond is the harder gem. However, alexandrite ranks well on the Mohs scale of hardness at 8.5. It’s a fairly durable stone that doesn’t scratch easily. Compared to diamond, it scratches easier than diamond. Diamond is 58 times harder than minerals with a Mohs hardness of 9. This should give you an idea of how much harder it is than alexandrite.
Difference in Clarity
Alexandrite vs diamond differ a lot in clarity. While no to few inclusions are highly valued in diamond, inclusions can raise the value of alexandrite. In general, alexandrite doesn’t have many inclusions. And alexandrite with intense color and excellent clarity is high in value. But certain types of inclusions in the gem are also valuable. Long, thin inclusions that are parallel to each other are valuable in this gemstone if they create the chatoyancy effect. A less technical term for it is the cat eye effect. Chatoyancy increases the value of alexandrite. Some people refer to it as cat’s eye alexandrite, which is an extremely rare gem.
Diamonds low in clarity tend to have a lot of inclusions and/or blemishes. This decreases the value of the gem. How visible the inclusions are influences its rating on the clarity scale. No two diamonds have the same inclusions, which can help in identifying individual gems. Ratings on the clarity scale for diamond include flawless, internally flawless, very very slightly included, very slightly included, slightly included, and included.
Flawless diamond is extremely rare. You could spend a lifetime in the jewelry industry without coming across one. Thus, flawless diamonds are more valuable than included diamond. A flawless diamond doesn’t have inclusions or blemishes visible under at least 10X magnification. Only experts can check a diamond’s clarity because positioning of the inclusions make a difference in its rating. While shopping for diamond, the seller will let you know what clarity it has.
Difference in Cut
Another difference between alexandrite vs diamond is how they’re cut. Most alexandrite has a mixed cut, such as a mixture of brilliant cut crown and step cut pavilion. Brilliant cuts have triangular and kite shaped facets. Step cuts comprise concentric rows of parallel facets. Another common cut for alexandrite is oval mixed cut.
Gem cutters find this gemstone difficult because of its pleochroism, the technical term for its ability to change colors. Cutters must position the rough correctly to show the pleochroic colors face up. Their goal is to show the strongest color change through the crown.
One way that alexandrite vs diamond is similar is the importance of cut. A well-cut diamond sparkles to its full potential. The angles and facets influence how much light returns to the eye. Diamond with a poor cut can appear dark or unattractive. The diamond cut grading scale consists of excellent, very good, good, fair, and poor.
Difference in Price
Because Russian mine production has declined, alexandrite with intense color is becoming rarer. As a result, high quality alexandrite with vibrant color is increasing in cost. The majority of fashioned alexandrite are less than one carat. Like diamond, alexandrite typically increases in price with carat size. Alexandrite can reach large sizes, such as 8.8 carats. Assuming it’s of good quality too, a gem of this size is significantly more expensive than smaller alexandrite.
This gemstone can be as expensive as diamond. One 1.99 carat emerald cut alexandrite is selling for $76,000. Price varies widely as it depends on the quality and size of the gem. You’ll find alexandrite jewelry as low as $150, but it more commonly costs thousands of dollars. Diamond is similar in price. It ranges from $200-$100,000. It all depends on the quality and size.
The Bottom Line
Alexandrite vs diamond may have a lot of key differences, but we think they are around the same in value. Both gemstones are fairly expensive. Alexandrite jewelry is commonly worth thousands of dollars just as diamond. One reason why is alexandrite is rare. It’s becoming rarer as supply declines. Between alexandrite versus diamond, which gem do you prefer and why?