Alexandrite is another birthstone assigned to June. This is an extremely rare stone. The stone was first discovered during the time of Czar Nicholas of Russia, in the Ural mountains. The story is rather romantic compared to the discovery of other stones. Since the stone changes color under certain lighting condition, it has been called the stone that is ruby by night and emerald by day. When discovered Czar Nicholas named it for his son Alexander. The colors also represent the colors of the Russian Army red and green. Those first alexandrites were of very fine quality and displayed vivid hues and dramatic color change. They are extremely difficult to find today. Anyone presenting a Russian Alexandrite for sale should have a certification that is has been lab certified.
The spectacular Ural Mountain deposits didn’t last forever, and now most alexandrite comes from Sri Lanka, East Africa, and Brazil. The newer deposits contain some fine-quality stones, but many display less-precise color change and muddier hues than the nineteenth-century Russian alexandrites. You’ll still find estate jewelry set with some of the famed Ural Mountain alexandrites. They remain the quality standard for this phenomenal gemstone. Use extreme caution in purchasing this stone from someone who declares it is a genuine Russian Alexandrite.
Other gems also change color in response to a light-source change, but this gem’s transformation is so striking that the phenomenon itself is often called “the alexandrite effect.”
The most important quality in an Alexandrite is the distinct color change and clarity. The more distinct the color change the more valuable the stone is. Alexandrite is made of elements chromium, where it gets its green color and beryllium which is a very rare element. For these two elements to be found together is rare indeed, but for both to be found in this location is more than extraordinary, and hence we have the Alexandrite, rarer than a diamond.
This is a fascinating gemstone, by day in sunlight the stone is red/purple and at night it is green/blue. It is a hard stone, 8.5 on Mohs Scale. When first discovered it was thought to be an emerald until the stone turned red during the day, much to the surprise of the Russian gemologist who discovered it.
It is a much sought after stone by gems collectors and those who are looking for a piece of jewelry with a true Russian stone. The stones are small but to the collector of either, to have the real Russian stone is the most important. The difficulty is in finding 2 stones of approximately the same size and quality for earrings. This is almost an impossible task, the only hope would be to find them in an estate sale.
The Russian stones as stated are a much more pure version of the Alexandrite and the colors of the stones from SriLanka, or Brazil are hazy and dull and simply do not match up to the Russian stone. After seeing the Russian stone, these from other places simply would not measure up. There are some smaller stones from India that do show a lovely light green and some purple red and they are the closest to the Russian, but just not like the real thing, and they do not command the price that a Russian stone does.
The Russians did develop lab Alexandrites that of course are very clear stones with dramatic color change, and they are not inexpensive, if one is determined to have one, then this is the way to go. There are simply some from the ground gemstones that are simply too expensive for the average jewelry lover, and lab gemstones will test positive, as they have the same physical and chemical properties as the from the ground stone.
Not all natural Alexandrites have great color change and this makes it even more difficult to get a good one. Surprisingly enough it is the gem collector or the jewelry collector who has heard of this stone. This is my favorite gemstone, so of course, I am surprised when someone has not heard of it. If gemstones and jewelry are not your things, of course, you are not familiar with it. I think the “romantic story” behind it is part of the love, and no one has tried to dispute it to the best of my knowledge. The photo below shows an Alexandrite in an uncut stage.
So, June babies, this is truly a magnificent birthstone, rarer than the birthstone of any other month.
Content and pictures courtesy GIA.