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Alexandrite is one of the three birthstones for June, along with pearl and moonstone. Alexandrite is also the traditional gift for the 55th wedding anniversary.
Alexandrite is rare form of the mineral chrysoberyl. Alexandrite is known as a color-change gem. This means that alexandrite will change colors under different types of light. The best alexandrite is green in sunlight (fluorescent) and red in lamplight (incandescent). Some gemstone aficionados have popularized the saying “emerald by day, ruby by night” to describe the color change exhibited by alexandrite.
Some gems are more of a bluish green in daylight, and a purplish red in incandescent light. The phenomenon known as color change is a result of the complex way the mineral absorbs light, particularly at the 580 NM absorption band. While alexandrite is not the only gem that changes color in response to a light-source change, it is the most dramatic. For that reason, color change is often referred to as “the alexandrite effect.”
Alexandrite was first discovered in Russia’s Ural Mountains in 1830. The first alexandites were of a very fine quality and displayed rich hues and dramatic color change. This new gemstone discovery was named after Russia’s Czar Alexander II, heir apparent to the throne. The gem also caught the country’s attention because its red and green colors mirrored the national military colors of imperial Russia.
Today, fine quality alexandrite is exceptionally rare and valuable. Russian alexandrite may remain the quality standard but is now very scarce. Most alexandrite on the market comes from deposits in Brazil, Sri Lanka, and East Africa. While fine gems are still available, many display a less vibrant color change and in more subdued tones. Alexandrite is also very rare in sizes over 2 carats.
Alexandrite is a relatively hard gemstone, with a Mohs hardness of 8.5, it also has excellent toughness. These two factors make alexandrite an excellent choice for rings. Alexandrite is not typically enhanced, which is quite rare. You can feel confident cleaning your alexandrite jewelry in warm soapy water at home. At the jewelry store, ultrasonic and steam cleaners are usually safe.
At Facet Foundry Jewelry Studio we are lucky to currently have four pieces of alexandrite jewelry in our Estate Collection.