Home Aquamarine Aquamarine vs. Alexandrite:What is the difference?

Aquamarine vs. Alexandrite:What is the difference?

by Madonna

Gemstones have fascinated humans for centuries, not just for their beauty but also for the tales and properties associated with them. Among the myriad of gemstones, Aquamarine and Alexandrite stand out for their unique characteristics and stunning appearances. This article delves into the fascinating world of these two gemstones, exploring their origins, physical properties, and cultural significance. By the end, you’ll understand what makes each of these stones special and how they compare to one another.

Origins and History

Aquamarine: The Sea’s Gem

Aquamarine, a variety of the mineral beryl, is renowned for its captivating blue-green hues reminiscent of the sea. The name “Aquamarine” comes from the Latin words “aqua” (water) and “marina” (of the sea). Historically, this gemstone was believed to calm the waves and keep sailors safe. Ancient mariners would carry Aquamarine amulets engraved with Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, for protection during their voyages.


Aquamarine has been found in various locations around the world, including Brazil, Nigeria, Madagascar, and Russia. The most significant deposits are in Brazil, which produces some of the highest quality stones. The Santa Maria mines in the state of Minas Gerais are particularly famous for their deep blue Aquamarines.


Alexandrite: The Color-Change Phenomenon

Alexandrite, a rare and captivating variety of chrysoberyl, is celebrated for its remarkable ability to change color under different lighting conditions. Discovered in the Ural Mountains of Russia in the 1830s, it was named after Tsar Alexander II because its red and green colors mirrored the Russian military colors. This gemstone is often described as “emerald by day, ruby by night” due to its green hue in daylight and reddish-purple in incandescent light.


Apart from Russia, Alexandrite is also found in Brazil, Sri Lanka, and East Africa. However, Russian Alexandrites are considered the most valuable due to their historical significance and exceptional color-changing properties.

Physical Properties

Aquamarine: Clarity and Durability

Aquamarine’s most appealing feature is its stunning color, which ranges from pale blue to deep teal. The intensity of the color is influenced by the amount of iron present in the beryl crystal. The more iron, the deeper the blue.

One of the most desirable aspects of Aquamarine is its clarity. High-quality Aquamarines are often free of inclusions, making them exceptionally transparent and lustrous. This gemstone rates 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale of hardness, making it durable enough for everyday wear.

Aquamarine is also known for its excellent transparency and vitreous luster, which make it a popular choice for various types of jewelry, including rings, earrings, and pendants.

Alexandrite: The Chameleon Stone

What sets Alexandrite apart from other gemstones is its extraordinary color-changing ability. This optical phenomenon, known as the “Alexandrite effect,” is due to the complex way the mineral absorbs light. Alexandrite contains chromium, which causes it to appear green in daylight (which has a higher concentration of blue and green light) and red in incandescent light (which has more red and yellow light).

Alexandrite is relatively hard, scoring an 8.5 on the Mohs scale, which makes it suitable for everyday wear. However, finding Alexandrite free of inclusions is rare, and many stones have visible inclusions or “silk” (fine rutile needles). These inclusions can sometimes enhance the stone’s unique visual properties, adding to its character and charm.

Market Value and Rarity

Aquamarine: Accessibility and Affordability

While Aquamarine is not as rare as Alexandrite, it is still considered a precious gemstone. Its value is primarily determined by the depth of color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. Darker blue Aquamarines are more valuable than lighter ones, and stones without visible inclusions fetch higher prices.

Aquamarine is relatively accessible, making it a popular choice for jewelry lovers and collectors. Its affordability, coupled with its stunning beauty, ensures its enduring popularity in the gemstone market.

Alexandrite: The Investment Gemstone

Alexandrite’s rarity significantly impacts its market value. Fine quality Alexandrite is one of the most expensive gemstones, often surpassing diamonds in price per carat. The stone’s value is heavily influenced by the intensity and clarity of its color change, size, and overall quality.

Due to its rarity and high demand, Alexandrite is considered an excellent investment. Collectors and investors seek out this gemstone for its historical significance and the unique experience it offers. Owning a high-quality Alexandrite is not just about possessing a beautiful gem; it’s about owning a piece of natural magic.

Cultural Significance and Symbolism

Aquamarine: A Stone of Serenity

Aquamarine has long been associated with the calming and soothing energies of the sea. It is believed to bring tranquility, clarity, and harmony to its wearer. In ancient lore, it was said to be the treasure of mermaids and was used by sailors as a talisman for protection against the perils of the ocean.

In addition to its maritime connections, Aquamarine is also considered a stone of communication. It is thought to help individuals express themselves clearly and truthfully, making it a popular choice for those who work in public speaking or artistic fields.

Alexandrite: A Stone of Transformation

Alexandrite’s ability to change color has led to its association with transformation and adaptability. It is often seen as a symbol of balance, helping to reconcile the emotional and mental states of its wearer. This gemstone is believed to inspire imagination, creativity, and the pursuit of dreams.

In Russian folklore, Alexandrite was considered a stone of good omen. It was believed to bring luck, prosperity, and love to its owner. Today, it continues to be cherished for its mystical properties and the sense of wonder it evokes.

See Also: Alexandrite VS Emerald

Popular Uses and Jewelry

Aquamarine: Elegant and Versatile

Aquamarine’s exquisite color and clarity make it a popular choice for a wide range of jewelry pieces. It is often set in rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. The stone’s light color complements both white and yellow metals, making it versatile for various styles and settings.

Aquamarine is also the birthstone for March, adding to its appeal as a personal and meaningful gift. Its serene blue hues make it a perfect choice for bridal jewelry, symbolizing purity and harmony.

Alexandrite: Rare and Enchanting

Due to its rarity and unique properties, Alexandrite is often reserved for special, high-end jewelry pieces. It is frequently used in rings, pendants, and earrings, where its color-changing ability can be showcased to its full potential. Alexandrite jewelry is a statement of luxury and sophistication.

Collectors and enthusiasts value Alexandrite not only for its beauty but also for its rarity. Owning a piece of Alexandrite jewelry is often seen as a significant and prized addition to any collection.

Care and Maintenance

Aquamarine: Simple Care

Caring for Aquamarine is relatively straightforward. Due to its hardness, it can withstand everyday wear but should still be treated with care to avoid scratches and damage. To clean Aquamarine, simply use warm soapy water and a soft brush. Avoid exposing it to harsh chemicals or extreme temperatures.

Alexandrite: Gentle Handling

Given its value and rarity, Alexandrite should be handled with extra care. While it is hard and durable, it is still susceptible to damage if not properly cared for. Cleaning Alexandrite requires a gentle approach using warm soapy water and a soft cloth. Avoid ultrasonic cleaners and harsh chemicals, as these can harm the stone.


Aquamarine and Alexandrite are two distinct gemstones, each with its own unique set of characteristics and charm. Aquamarine’s serene blue tones and excellent clarity make it a beloved choice for those seeking beauty and tranquility. Its accessibility and affordability ensure that it remains a popular choice for a wide audience.

On the other hand, Alexandrite’s mesmerizing color-changing ability and rarity place it in a league of its own. This gemstone captivates the imagination and commands high value in the market, making it a coveted piece for collectors and investors.

Whether you are drawn to the calming essence of Aquamarine or the enchanting transformation of Alexandrite, both gemstones offer a glimpse into the fascinating world of natural beauty and wonder. Each stone tells a story, not just of geological formation, but of cultural significance and human fascination. In the end, the choice between Aquamarine and Alexandrite is not merely about preference; it’s about connecting with the timeless allure of these extraordinary gems.


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