Alexandrite has been described as an “emerald by day and a ruby by night”, because it’s a pleochroic gem, which means it can show different colors when viewed from different angles and under different light sources.
Specifically, alexandrite is a rare color-change variety of the mineral chrysoberyl, and can appear as different shades of green, orange, and purplish-red. It truly lives up to the name “nature’s magic trick”.
Alexandrite was discovered in the Ural Mountains in Russia in the 1830s and was named after Czar Alexander the II. It was quite fitting for the country and the time period, because the stone’s green and red mirrored the national military colors of imperial Russia. These first alexandrites were high quality, displaying vivid hues and dramatic color changes.
Ural Mountain alexandrite can still be found in some extremely rare and valuable estate jewelry, but today alexandrite is mostly mined in Sri Lanka, East Africa, and Brazil. Fine quality alexandrite exists in these deposits, but they are rare and don’t quite live up to those from the Ural Mountains. If you ever come across a piece of estate jewelry containing a Ural Mountain alexandrite, consider yourself very lucky.
The value of alexandrite stones come from the 4 Cs, knowing that it’s a rare stone. You want to look for fine quality stones that offer more dramatic color change and higher clarity.
Cuts range from oval to cushion, among others, and you’ll likely find carat size to be smaller due to its rarity. Always consult with a reputable jewelry on caring for your alexandrite jewelry, including cleaning and regular inspections.
Alexandrite in Jewelry
Because alexandrite can look like an emerald or ruby at a quick glance, consider classic jewelry designs, such as a pendant framed in diamonds or a three-stone ring set in platinum. Alexandrite is the symbolic gemstone for the 55th wedding anniversary, but is also a beautiful option for any special occasion and is a great conversation-starter.