The rarest of rare gems on this planet, and possessing both the vibrant qualities of rubies as well as emeralds, natural alexandrite is rightly esteemed as one of the few finest gems in nature that change color depending on light. Discovered in the mid 1800’s in the Urals (Russia), the gem was christened after the Russian Csar Alexander II at his coming of age celebration.
Though it is so rare that most of the world’s population would not have even seen one, it is an official part of the Birthstone list, under June. Initially found only in Russia, mines were unearthed in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Madagascar, Brazil and Zimbabwe as well. Even so, the most vibrant color change is seen in the stones from Russia only – mines that produce only a few carats of the gem per year.
Though color changing varieties of sapphire, tanzanite, quartz, garnet and many others exist, alexandrite is the only one that is solely color changing in nature. While in bright sunlight it is an emerald green, under candle or incandescence natural alexandrite turns a sparkling deep ruby red.
Understandably, the more extreme the red and green are when an alexandrite changes color, the higher the value of the stone is. A variation of the chrysoberyl rock, Alexandrite may change color anywhere between 5% and a 100%. As the deciding factor when buying alexandrite jewelry is the color change, it trumps clarity and cut when it comes to price.
Another factor when purchasing an alexandrite is the size. Not only is it an extremely rare stone to find in high quality, but also in sizes above a single carat. While a stone of one carat or less is sold at $15,000 per carat, the minute that a stone is any larger, the price shoots up to $50,000 to $1,000,000.
A gem with qualities that are unique to say the least, it is often a task to distinguish it from synthetically stimulated fakes of the natural stone. If the stone is perfect or borderline perfect when it comes to quality and size, high chances are that it is a fake. For example if it has a great range of color change, high clarity and sparkle, sizes exceeding a carat and the like, then it probably isn’t natural. Of course, this is just a naked eye evaluation, if you are investing in one, make sure you get a certification of authenticity to go with.
Owning a gem of such mystique is a dream shared by all who love jewels, but when it comes to setting this stone in a metal band for a ring, a clasp for a pendant or a setting for an earring, you have to keep in mind that the metal should suite both colors – the vibrant verdant green and the crimson. As both tend to be cooler colors of the spectrum, the ideal choice would be a silver or white gold setting.
As the stones are more economical as well as common in sizes smaller than a carat, it would also be a good idea to combine more than one for a pendant, where as in rings and studs a solitaire setting would be best. Its mystery is unmatched, as is its value, and owning alexandrite jewelry is a thing of pride.