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Your Guide To The “Changing-Color” Gemstone, The Alexandrite

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Alexandrite is one of the rarest gemstones and exhibits colour change with the light source. It is a rare form of chrysoberyl with the chemical formula Al2BeO4. Chrysoberyl is a rare mineral itself, and since the number of chrysoberyl that show colour change is very small, there is a very small chance of finding alexandrite.

It is almost impossible to find two alexandrites showing the same colours under the same light conditions. Some exhibit a shade of green in daylight, while others show a reddish shade under incandescent light. This is why it is described as “emerald by day, ruby by night.”

History of Alexandrite

It is recorded that the first samples of alexandrite were discovered by a Finnish mineralogist, Nils Gustaf Nordenskjold. These were found in Russian emerald mines close to the Tokovaya River in the Urals.

The stone itself is named after the Russian tsar Alexander II. The legend says that the gem was first discovered on his 16th birthday. Because of the vibrant green and red colours that the gem shows, the alexandrite was named as the official stone of the Tsardom of Russia. This was because red and green were the major colours of the old Imperial Russia.

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Alexandrites of very high quality are extremely beautiful, and they are hardly used for making jewellery. An in-depth look into antique Russian jewellery may yield results, though, since the best Russian jewellers fell in love with the gemstone.

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George Frederick Kunz, the master gemologist at Tiffany’s, also loved the alexandrite. As a result, a number of rings were made during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Victorian jewellery from England also possessed some small alexandrites.

What is the Meaning of Alexandrite?

Alexandrite is the birthstone for the month of June. According to Russian legends, the wearers will have good luck and good fortune. It is also generally believed that the stone brings excellence by helping its wearer to have concentration, self-control, and discipline.

Alexandrite is associated with the Gemini zodiac sign. It is also known as the “stone of Mercury.” Because it represents the planet Mercury, it is said to possess the healing power of the messenger god.

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The gem is also known as a rejuvenating one. It would pick you up if you are feeling down. It is also said to possess emotional healing ability, and be able to provide comfort.

How Does Alexandrite Form?

Alexandrite is simply a chrysoberyl. It is a mineral that consists of colourless or yellow chrysoberyl, chrysoberyl cat’s eye, and colour changing alexandrite cat’s eye. It is different from other chrysoberyl because it contains chromium as a major impurity.

The colour-change phenomenon that Alexandrite exhibits is rare because of its chemical composition. It can only be formed when aluminium and beryllium combine with chromium, iron, and titanium. There are rare occasions when vanadium is contained in the make-up.

The probability of chromium combining with aluminium and beryllium under the appropriate conditions to form alexandrite is extremely small. This is a major reason why alexandrite is so rare and valuable.

Alexandrites are now mined in Brazil, Tanzania, India, Myanmar, and Madagascar. Some of the finest stones have been mined in Sri Lanka, including the world’s largest faceted alexandrite which was 65.7 carats.

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Recently, lab-grown or synthetic alexandrite became a popular choice for alternative to natural alexandrite. BIRON® Gems is a good place to start with such gemstones. They grow from the same chemical ingredients under the same conditions as the natural counterpart, resulting in more affordable.

The Colour of Alexandrite

Colour change is the main characteristic that differentiates alexandrite from other varieties of chrysoberyl. Although there are other minerals that exhibit colour change, only a few show a clear change in colour saturation like the alexandrite. The colour-change phenomenon that it shows is called the “alexandrite effect.” This unique characteristic makes it very valuable, especially in fine qualities.

The best alexandrites are blue-green, greenish blue, vanadium green, or teal under fluorescent or daylight. They change colour to red or purple-red under incandescent light. The more visible the change in colour and the more vivid the colour, the more valuable the gem.

The colour change effect is because the alexandrite transmits green and red light equally. The light sources (incandescent and daylight) are rich in wavelengths, and this affects the colour of the gemstone.

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They are also noted for their ability to show different colours when checked in different directions, which is called “pleochroism.” The pleochroic colours in alexandrite are green, orange, and purple-red.

Conclusion

A natural alexandrite that is transparent, of good quality and has a good colour change can be quite pricey. But if any gemstone is worth breaking the bank for, it is an alexandrite. It is simply a unique and spectacular stone.

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