Alexandrite is a rare variety of Chrysoberyl and was discovered in the Ural Mountains. The gemstone has vivid red and green colors that were identical to the military colors of Imperial Russia, so the stone was named for Alexander II, heir apparent to the Russian throne. Because of the way the mineral absorbs light it changes color from green in daylight to brownish or purple red in incandescent light.
Not all color-change Chrysoberyl is Alexandrite, and other gems change color in response to different light sources. This property so distinct in Alexandrite the phenomenon is often called the “Alexandrite Effect.”
Color change is the primary quality factor for Alexandrite stones and the most-prized Alexandrite will display strong color change from blue green to red purple, with deep saturation of color.
Natural Alexandrite typically does not receive any treatment. Because there is a large market for lookalike gems, synthetic “Alexandrite Effect” stones are produced using natural color-change Chrysoberyl. Synthetic Alexandrite may be identified by inclusions caused by various synthetic crystal growth processes. When in doubt, a professional gem lab can determine the authenticity of a stone.
Alexandrite is one of the birthstones for the month of June. Metaphysical practitioners believe Alexandrite can instill confidence, increase self-esteem, balance the emotions, and facilitate change. The stone is said to bring success, happiness and to enhance love and increase sensuality. Because Alexandrite is a rare gemstone, it is thought to have regenerative power.
With a hardness of 8.5, Alexandrite is a very durable stone suitable for any type of jewelry and style of stone setting. When cutting or faceting Alexandrite, avoid extremes of heat or cold. To avoid fracturing the stone, do not subject it to impact. Alexandrite can be mechanically cleaned or cleaned by hand using warm, soapy water and a soft brush.