A few nights ago while waiting for a more interesting television program to come on I turned to the Liquidation Channel and heard the name Alexandrite. The stone was not shown but the name, which I think is beautiful, was enough to spark my interest to learn something about the gem. I’m glad I did investigate because the Alexandrite gem, like the Morganite, has an amazing history as to the origin of the name but unlike the Morganite the Alexandrite has the ability to change colours. And, it was that characteristic that put the Russian Alexandrite centre-stage as the most desirable of gemstones.
But when the deposits in the emerald mine in the Urals in the 19th century where it was first discovered appeared to be exhausted, the gem’s popularity diminished. Then, in 1987, an Alexandrite deposit was discovered in a mine in Brazil propelling this miraculous gemstone into the limelight once again because the Brazilian Alexandrite gems also have good colour and clarity and the coveted colour-changing ability.
What’s in a Name?
If you are thinking of Alexandra (an English Queen) or Alexander (the Great) you’re on the right track but the gem wasn’t named for either of them but for the Russian Tsar Alexander (1818-1881) because it was first discovered in April 1834 in an emerald mine in the Urals coincidentally on the very day the future tsar came of age, and since its colours are both red and green the Alexandrite became the national gem of tsarist Russia.
The miracle of changing colours
The Alexandrite really is an incredible gemstone with a most sensational feature, namely, its surprising ability to change colours according to the light it’s in. Example: in daylight, the Alexandrite is green or bluish-green; in incandescent or artificial light, the Alexandrite turns a soft shade of red, raspberry red, or reddish purple. This colour change is also independent of one’s viewing angle in whatever light. Not surprisingly, this unique optical characteristic makes the Alexandrite one of the most valuable gemstones, especially in fine qualities like those discovered in the Urals. But it is also valuable because it is rare and especially valuable if its origin is undisputed Russian to make a one-carat among the most expensive gemstones in the world and rarer than a fine sapphire, emerald or ruby.
Myth & Lore
The Alexandrite is believed to possess magical qualities – probably because of its mysterious colour-changing ability – and be a good omen or talisman because it strengthens the wearer’s intuition to help him/her find a way out of a situation where logic fails and there appears to be no answer or way forward. It is also reputed to inspire the imagination and aid creativity. It is also said to be a stone for collectors, experts, connoisseurs, and gem enthusiasts because only they can discern and appreciate its uniqueness and high value that are not immediately evident. If you are one of those people, you perhaps may have felt some of the mysterious magic and lore ascribed to the Alexandrite and like all the others who love it you too are completely and utterly fascinated by this uniquely beautiful gemstone.
For more information about this incredible gemstone and perhaps see it for yourself call LL Private Jewellers at 604-683-3918.