Alexandrite is the birthstone of June.
For centuries fine gemstones have been treasured for their beautiful colors, however only alexandrite actually appears to change color. In daylight it appears to be a deep teal green, but indoors under tungsten lights it becomes a brilliant raspberry purple.
First discovered in the mountains of Russia in 1830 on the birthday of Czar Alexander II, it was named in his honor. Genuine alexandrite is one of the world’s most rare and coveted gemstones, so rare that most people have never even seen one.
Alexandrite is in the chrysoberyl mineral family and is the variety of chrysoberyl that displays a change-of-color from green to red. A distinct color change is the primary qualification for a chrysoberyl to be considered alexandrite.
A color change occurs in only a very few gemstones. For alexandrite, the quality of the color change is paramount. In fine examples, the change is typically one from a slightly bluish green to a purplish red.
The natural color change in alexandrite ranges from various shades of green (blue-greens, kelley-greens, olive-greens, teal-greens, etc.) when the gem is under “fluorescent” lighting, to various shades of red (burgundy-reds, purplish-reds, reddish-purples, violetish-purples, amethyst, etc.) in natural outdoor light “in the shade” (not direct sunlight).
Alexandrite will normally darken when taken out into direct sunlight, since it is subjected all the colors in the spectrum, and if subjected to several types of lighting source at the same time the colors may twinkle with both the red and the green color bouncing around different facets in the stone.
In terms of clarity, alexandrite is comparable to ruby, with clean faceted stones in sizes of one carat being rare and sizes over a carat and especially above 2–3 carats are extremely rare. Negative crystals and parallel rutile silk are common inclusions. Alexandrite is one of the world‘s most expensive gems, with prices similar to those fetched by fine ruby or emerald.
The original locality for alexandrite is Russia but Russian alexandrite is now extremely rare and expensive. The original source in Russia’s Ural Mountains has long since dried up after producing for only a few decades. Fine stones have also been found in Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Burma, Tanzania, Madagascar, India and Brazil. The method used for mining alexandrite is similar to strip mining and is quite harmful to the environment.
Created alexandrite has all of the same color transformation qualities and properties as naturally occurring alexandrite at a fraction of the cost to both you and the environment.