Alexandrite is perhaps one of the rarest and most mysterious gemstones on the marketplace today. This exotic gemstone was first discovered in 1834 in the Ural Mountains in Russia and named after the Russian tsar Alexander II.
Alexandrite has captivated the gemstone community because of its rare ability to change its color. In daylight, it has a green to bluish green hue. In incandescent light, it displays a red to purplish-red hue. This quality makes it one of most valuable gemstones in the world. Since it displayed both red and green, which were principle colors of Imperial Russia, it became the national stone of the Eastern country. It is considered the official birthstone of June by the National Association of Jewelers in 1912. Although it became popular at the beginning of the 20th century, top quality alexandrite is extremely rare and is rarely found in jewelry on the market today.
Alexandrite is a variety of chrysoberyl. What differentiates this gemstone from other forms of chrysoberyl is that it contains chromium in addition to the standard iron and titanium. The chromium is what causes the fascinating color change within the gemstone. Only chrysoberyls that display a noticeable color change can truly be called alexandrite. It is a very durable stone, ranking an 8.5 on the Moh’s scale of hardness. Top quality alexandrite should have no traces of brown or grey in its either its green or purple color and must display a distinct color change. If the stone can be proven to come from Russia, its economic value greatly increases. An fine alexandrite more than one carat that is cut by a skilled artisan can be more expensive than a top quality sapphire, emerald of ruby.
Russia is still a primary source of alexandrite for the marketplace. However, a vast deposit of the gemstones were discovered at Hematia in Minas Gerais, Brazil in 1987. This variety of alexandrite has good clarity and decent color and display the mandatory distinctive color change of their Russian counterparts. Even though the Brazilian alexandrites are not as green as the Russian variety, their ability to change color supersedes the lack of intense color. The Hematia deposits are an important source of alexandrite in today’s economy. However, this alluring gemstone can also be found in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar and Burma. There have been some fine specimen to be unearthed in these countries. However, none that match the beauty and intensity of the Russian variety.
Since alexandrite was discovered, there have been myths and rumors surrounding the mystical powers of the stone. Alexandrite is a rare gemstone that is said to have regenerative powers. It is said to enhance rebirth of it’s wearer’s inner and outer self, thus, creating the ability to become more creative and pragmatic in achieving one’s goals. Some cultures believe that alexandrite enhances its wearer’s intuition. Crystal healers believe that alexandrite helps reinforce self-esteem and increase feelings of joy while being able to realize the interconnectedness of nature in all things. Asian cultures believe that this stone will bring its owner good fortune. Western cultures once believed that this was a good stone for gamblers, as it was said to bring luck and money their way. Physically, this stone is said to aid in problems of the pancreas, spleen, testicles as well as cellular and regenerative tissue issues. It is also believed to be a balancing stone, aligning the physical, mental and emotional states.
Although alexandrite is extremely rare in the mainstream marketplace, gemstone aficionados and skilled artisans are fascinated by this gemstone. They say the true beauty of alexandrite lies in its understated sophistication. At first sight, many are unaware of its unique ability to change color or its high value. For those that do know the history, characteristics and lore of the alexandrite, this will remain one of the rarest and mysterious gemstones on this Earth. Exotic, historic and alluring, if one can afford it, alexandrite jewelry is destined to become your new family heirloom.