Alexandrite is a very rare gemstone that was named after Tsar Alexander II since the very first crystals were discovered close to his twelfth birthday in 1830 in emerald mines in the southern Urals region in Russia. It became the national stone of Tsar’s Russia helped by the fact that the stone has a color change factor showing both red and green, the main colors of the Russian flag at the time.
Top quality Alexandrite is very rare and rarely used in modern jewelry. Rarer than fine ruby, sapphire or emerald, the main attraction of Alexandrite is the breathtaking way it changes color according to light. Green during the daylight, the stone changes to a soft shade of red, purplish-red or purple-grey in candle light or artificial light. Some have called it “an emerald by day and a ruby by night”. Not surprisingly, the more intensive the color change, the more valuable the stone. This feature makes fine Alexandrite, especially in sizes of more than one carat , one of the most expensive of gemstones with interest in stones of Russian origin the most sought after.
Interest in Alexandrite declined as Russian mines became exhausted and other mine’s stones rarely showed the desired color change. Interest renewed somewhat when a mine in Hematita, Brazil discovered Alexandrite with distinctive color change and good clarity. Although these Brazilian stones are beautiful with arresting color change from raspberry red to bluish green, neither color has the intensity of hue of the top quality Russian gemstones. There are other mining locations – Sri Lanka, India, Myanmar, Tasmania and Zimbabwe – but today Hematita is
one of the most important sources in the world of Alexandrite.
Alexandrite and pearls are the birth stones for those born in June. Because of its ancientness, there is folklore aplenty connected with this incredible gemstone. In important situations, Alexandrite is reputed to be able to strengthen its wearer’s intuition to help him or her to find new solutions when logic fails to provide an answer. It is also reputed to support creativity and inspire imagination, balance in life and self esteem. According to legend, Alexandrite imparts the power and ability to experience joy to its wearer.
Alexandrite is a sturdy stone that is excellent for every day wear (8.5 on Mohs hardness scale). Because they are so rare, there are many are many synthetic stones out there many complete with color change. The largest cut Alexandrite weighs 66 carats and is displayed in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC. Alexandrite is so rare that anything over five carats is considered exceptionally large.