The beautiful Alexandrite stone is nature’s magic trick. This chrysoberyl gemstone can change color under different light, making it incredibly unique and much sought after.
In the daylight, the stone gives off a bluish-green color, and in darker conditions under incandescent light, it becomes a purplish red. This chameleon-like gemstone is adored for so many reasons, and well unpack them all below.
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What is Alexandrite?
The alexandrite gemstone is often referred to as an emerald by day ruby by night as a result of its color changing abilities. The perfect specimen will have a raspberry color in dim light or red in incandescent light and bright green in daylight. However, this perfect gem is as yet undiscovered.
The color of the stone occurs due to its chromium content, the same chemical that gives rubies and emeralds their coloring. The amount of color change it causes is given as a percentage, and a 100% color change is the most valuable. If the colours differ from the expected colouring too much, the value is affected and could pose the question of whether it is actually an alexandrite or not.
Alexandrite is however, incredibly rare and is often found as a by-product while mining for other gemstones. To give you an idea, one alexandrite is found for every hundred emeralds. If you find an alexandrite, consider yourself lucky!
What is the Meaning of Alexandrite?
Before we even go into specifics, the first thing we will say is that if you happen to have an alexandrite gem, you are one of the lucky ones!
If we go into the specifics of this stone, it’s believed to bring good fortune and love and is generally a good omen. Many believe that this rare stone brings about the balance between the physical and spiritual world.
Alexandrite is also the national stone of Russia, the birthstone for June and the stone for the 55th wedding anniversary.
History of Alexandrite
The first alexandrite ever discovered was found on the birthday of Russia’s Prince Alexander II in 1830 at the Ural Mountains. Miners who were mining emeralds close to the Ural Mountains discovered it accidentally.
The story goes that the miners were working and brought some emeralds back to camp after a long day. When the emeralds were brought out into the campfire light, they gave off a beautiful shade of red. This caused quite some confusion the following morning, when the stones appeared as emerald green in daylight. They soon realised that they had found something truly unique and valuable.
In 1839 the stones were officially identified and given the name alexandrite in honour of the prince. The stone was also made the official stone of Russia as the colors happened to be the same as the Old Imperial Russia’s military colors.
Properties of Alexandrite
The alexandrite was first found in the Russian Ural Mountains inside some of the most prestigious emerald mines. They belong to the chrysoberyl family and are incredibly durable given the 8.5 hardness level. If you are lucky enough to find one of these stones, they are hardy enough to incorporate into most types of jewellery.
They are found in Russia, Sri Lanka, Brazil, India, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Southern Tanzania, and Myanmar – although there are no mines dedicated to sourcing these gems, they are usually found while looking for other stones.
In addition to the unique color effect of the gem, it is also unique in that it has traces of chromium, iron, and titanium. It is a lot more modern than other gemstones and has not been referenced in ancient history, leading one to believe that it really was found for the first time in the 19th century.
The elements all come together to produce a brilliant green in daylight as well as vibrant red in incandescent light, with the more opaque color being more expensive.
How Much is Alexandrite Worth?
Due to the incredibly rare nature of this gemstone, it tends to be on the more expensive side. It is also worth mentioning that the supply of this stone is on the decline, so if you get your hands on one, it is well worth the investment.
Currently, one-carat alexandrite gems can go for around $15,000. Alexandrite gems that are bigger than one carat can go for between $50,000 and $70,000 for every additional carat.
The most valuable alexandrite in existence weighs 65.08 carats and has an estimated value of over $4 million.
The Smithsonian Institute owns this incredibly rare – and expensive – gemstone. This stone was found in Sri Lanka. Another two impressive specimens have also been found in Sri Lanka coming in at 43 and 27.5 carats respectively. These two gems are on display in the British Museum of Natural History.
How To Tell If An Alexandrite is Real?
The first way to check if the stone you have is in fact a real alexandrite is to test the color change in different lighting. In bright light, it should appear emerald green and in dim light, it should look red or purple. If this is not clearly visible, you may not have an alexandrite. The most accurate way to know for sure is to have a jeweller analyse the stone.
It’s worth noting that synthetic alexandrite stones do exist, and appear to have the same physical and chemical properties as the natural alexandrite. Synthetic alexandrite can provide a color change too, although this often involves a sapphire-like color change from greyish blue to pink. These varieties are worth around a dollar per carat, making them cheap and easy to get. It’s been in production since the early 1900s and is in use in some antique jewellery.
The Alexandrite is a Magical Find
The color changing alexandrite stone is magical for so many different reasons. The natural alexandrite rare and hard to find, which makes it a unique addition to any collection while the ability to change color indicates a sort of hidden magic within the stone. Now you know why we called it nature’s magic trick!