A Unique Color-Changing Gem
Alexandrite is a rare mystical gem that is the color-change variety of chrysoberyl, an aluminate of the mineral beryllium. It is most famous for its dramatic color-change from emerald green in daylight to violet reds in incandescent light.
This characteristic change is known as the "Alexandrite Effect" and is due to the gemstone absorbing equal amounts of green and red from a spectrum of white light. The stronger the change, the more valuable the gem.
Pleochroism is also present in Alexandrite, not to be confused with its famous color-change. Pleochroism is the change of body color when tilting or rotating in a consistent light source.
A Bit Of History
This gem was first found in Russia at the beginning of the 19th century up in the Ural Mountains. It's discovery coincided with future Tsar Alexander Nikolaevich's birthday and it was named in his honor.
The distinctive color-change and pleochroism of this gem garnered the attention of the royal family and become their official gem, and it is present in several Russian royal jewels.
The high quality Alexandrite used by royalty has long since been depleted, but it has set the valued color precedent that we still have today. Fortunately, new deposits have been discovered in Brazil, Southeast Asia, and some areas of Africa. Sri Lanka is known to have specimens with very clean clarity. Large, fine examples of Alexandrite tend to be found in old period jewelry due to the rarity of the stone from its modern day sources.
Alexandrite usually is faceted and cushion-cut to accentuate its transformative properties and is best showcased in rings and pendants. This fun gemstone is commonly used as the birthstone for June and is considered a good omen in Russia, thought to bring good luck and fortune to its wearer.
Generally, Alexandrite is neither treated nor enhanced. The trace element of chromium induces its chameleon-like behavior. Even synthetic sapphires that try to mimic Alexandrite's incredible display cannot truly replicate the inspiring drama.
Alexandrite are hard and durable stones perfect for everyday wear. Avoid harsh chemicals when wearing this stone or any kind of jewelry. Alexandrite can be washed in warm soapy water and cleaned with a soft bristled brush, or it can be wiped down with a soft cloth. Be sure to wrap when storing so that hard Alexandrite does not scratch softer stones in your jewelry box.