June’s Alternative Birthstone: Alexandrite

The rare and precious gemstone ‘alexandrite’ is an alternate birthstone for the month of June, and the gemstone associated with the Zodiac sign of Gemini.
It is prized as a good luck charm and is said to bestow joy and self-confidence upon its wearer.

Unique Geological Alexandrite Combination
Alexandrite emerged millions of years ago in a metamorphic environment, but unlike many other gemstones, its formation required specific geological conditions.

The chemical elements beryllium (a major constituent in chrysoberyl) and chromium (the coloring agent in alexandrite) have contrasting chemical characteristics and as a rule do not occur together, usually found in contrasting rock types. Not only has Nature brought these contrasting rock types into contact with each other, but in order to prevent the formation of emerald instead, the chemical element silica (the second most common element in the Earth’s crust) has to be absent. This geological combination has occurred rarely in the Earth’s history and, as a result, alexandrite crystals are very scarce indeed.

Color & Color Change Determines the Price
The most sensational feature of this gemstone is its ability to change color. Green or bluish-green in daylight, alexandrite turns a soft shade of purplish-red or raspberry red in incandescent light. This unique optical characteristic has made alexandrite a most valuable gemstone and determines its price depending on the degree of ability to change color.

Alexandrite, Imperial Russia’s Principle Colors
This rare gemstone was named after the Russian tsar Alexander. The first crystals were discovered in 1834 in the emerald mines of the Ural Mountains, at the same time as the new tsar came of age. Showing nuances of red and green, the principal colors of Imperial Russia, alexandrite inevitably became the national stone of tsarist Russia. The country remained a primary source of alexandrite as gems from the Ural Mountains became available on the market.

When the Russian deposits were thought to have been exhausted, interest in the unique color-miracle decreased, especially since alexandrite from other mines hardly displayed the coveted color change, unique to this gemstone. In 1987, the discovery of alexandrite in a place called Hematita in Minas Gerais, Brazil, changed the situation dramatically. Even though the color of the newly discovered Brazilian stones was not as strong a green as that of Russian alexandrite, the unique color change was clearly. discernible. Today Hematita is one of the most important deposits of alexandrite in economic terms. Alexandrites are also obtained from sources in Sri Lanka, but the hue of these stones compares less than favorably with that of the Uralian alexandrites. They appear green in daylight and a brownish red in artificial light. The Tunduru area in southern Tanzania has also produced some outstanding specimens since the mid-1990s, and varieties of alexandrite have also been found in India, Burma, Madagascar and Zimbabwe.

George Frederick Kunz’ Victorian Parures
Due to its scarcity, Russian alexandrite is seldom found in modern jewelry. It was used by Russian master jewelers in the 19th century and the Victorian gemologist George Frederick Kunz showed his fascination for the gemstone by having his firm produce a series of rings and parures using alexandrite. Alexandrite is a gemstone for enthusiasts and connoisseurs.

The mysterious color change will only occur upon exposure to different light sources and one may feel some of this magic and lore once acquainted with this beautiful gemstone. Alexandrite is considered a good omen in critical situations, having the ability to strengthen one’s intuition where logic alone does not appear to help.

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