Amethyst vs Alexandrite (Quick Comparison)

Up close, alexandrite and amethyst may look similar on the surface.  Both have a purple-red hue and are very pleasant to the eye; however, alexandrite is much rare than amethyst.

While there are some differences, similarities do exist as well.

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In today’s guide, let’s explore the differences as well as similarities between amethyst and alexandrite.

Amethyst vs. Alexandrite


Alexandrite is a variety of chrysoberyl, made of beryllium and chromium.  When it combines with various metal oxides, such as iron, it can change color when viewed under a light.  One of the main reasons it’s so rare is that it’s very hard to find these two compositions in the same rock.  Alexandrite can often be found alongside other rock formations, such as dolomite, gneiss and marble, to name a few.

Amethyst is a type of quartz, which is an entirely different crystalline mineral family.  Amethyst comes from volcanic lava, and the stone itself is silicon dioxide.  This crystal may contain other minerals within its composition, such as aluminum and iron, which can affect the purple color.


Alexandrites are pleochroic, which simply means the crystal is able to show differing lights, depending on the direction of the rays.  This gemstone can go from green in the sun to almost red when the light disappears. It’s why it’s known as the “emerald by day, ruby by night” stone. Alexandrites can come in a variety of these two hues, which can include a blue-green to a red-violet combination.

Amethysts are always known for its purple color, which can range from a light pale purple to a deeper, dark purple.  The darker the purple is, the more valuable it can be.


Alexandrites are always smaller in size in comparison to amethyst.  They almost always come in at less than one carat, whereas an amethyst can weigh 100 times this.  To put it in perspective the largest alexandrite ever found was 65.7 carats.


Alexandrite is harder than amethyst as it measures about 8.5 out of 10 on the Mohs scale, whereas amethyst measures a seven.  This scale determines how scratch resistant it is.  The higher the number, the hard it will be to scratch.

Both are relatively durable and usually won’t chip; however, exposing it to harder stones can cause damage.


Alexandrite was discovered in the early 1800s by a famous mineralogist by the name of Nils Gustaf Nordenskiöld.  As he was exploring the Ural Mountains, located in Russia, he happened to come across this stone.  Initially, he thought it was emerald since the mountains were known to carry these; however, when explored in detail under light, it was soon found to be a newer stone since it displayed a red hue.  As a new stone, it was named after the Russian ruler at the time.

Historically, amethyst goes well beyond when alexandrite was found.  It goes as far back as when ancient Greeks and Romans found the gemstone and would use it to ward off any intoxicating powers.  To them, the crystal was said to keep the wearer clear minded and quick witted.  It was also a sign of royalty.  While there’s nothing definite, it’s believed amethyst was found around 2000 BC.

Where it’s found:

Alexandrite is more in demand, as well as higher in value when it comes from Russia.  However, if it’s sourced from Russia, it will only be sold as an antique as it isn’t minded anymore.  Today, Brazilian alexandrite is the closest thing you will find to Russian alexandrite.  This gem was founded in 1980 and quickly became the next source for jewelers.  Aside from Brazil, some deposits are also found in Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and Africa.

Amethyst is found all throughout the world, including Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay, Canada, United States and much more.  Most prized mines are found in Brazil, Uruguay and even Siberia.  Because of the many mines throughout the world, it’s much easier to find than that of alexandrite.


As noted, alexandrites are much rarer than that of amethyst, which, of course, means it will cost more.  Usually, a natural alexandrite can cost well into the thousands.  Keep in mind that lab created alexandrites do exist on the market and can be much less.  An honest seller will always let you know if it’s unnatural or not.

Amethysts, on the other hand, are always affordable.  Tumbled stones can be less than a few dollars, whereas even a geode, weighing no more than a few pounds, can retail for less than $200.  Jewelry is affordable, too.  It’s not too hard to find a pendant or ring for under $600.

Metaphysical properties:

Alexandrite is said to bring good luck and fortune to your life.  It opens the crown chakra and finds life’s purpose.

Amethyst is said to be closely associated with your spiritual abilities as well as your wisdom power.  It’s said to bring peace as well as protect you from any negative energies.  It brings peace, motivation as well as helps you focus since it may help give you a clear mind.


Amethyst and alexandrite are both said to open the crown and third eye chakra.  The crown chakra, located at the top of our head, links you to the higher planes, whereas the third eye chakra is located between your eyebrows.  This chakra is representative of your subconscious and spirituality.

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About Me

Hi! I'm Lauren, and I run Moonlight Gems AZ. I'm an avid crystal collector and would love to share my expertise with you.