Storefront on Jeweler's Row in Philadelphia

Monday, July 7, 2014

What's the deal with Alexandrite?

For all of you June babies, you've probably at one point or another been confused about your birthstone. Pearl and Alexandrite are both consider birthstones for june, but what the heck is an Alexandrite anyway?  Well, to get technical, Alexandrite is a rare variety of pleochroic chrysoberyl found mainly in the Ural mountains.  Or in layman's terms, a color changing gemstone from Russia.  

The gemstone was named for the former Tsar of Russia, Alexander II.  It was discovered by a mineralogist in the early 1800's, who initially thought he had discovered a new deposit of Emerald.  It was only after the sun went down, and he lit candles in his laboratory that he noticed that the gemstone had turned from a blueish-green hue to a vibrant red.  

Gemstone dealers often romanticize Alexandrite with cheesy slogans like "Emerald by day and Ruby by night".  However, Alexandrite only shows distinct color change in EXTREMELY fine quality. Most commercial alexandrite displays only very subtle change in color.  In fact, genuine alexandrite with noticeable color change is usually far too expensive for common jewelry. Typically a synthetic color changing material is substituted for the real thing in things like mothers rings.  

That being said, rare exquisite Alexandrite does still exist in the market place.  The example shown below is a 26.75 carat cushion cut stone that is considered one of the rarest cut stones ever discovered with a high level of color change.

Alexandrite of this quality has not be found in decades.  Most of the original fine material found in Russia has been mined dry, and only very small or poor quality deposits have been located since. Other color changing stones have been found such as color changing sapphires and garnets, however, none match the exquisite beauty or intense gemological phenomenon as the original Russian' material.  

We do not currently have any legitimate alexandrite for sale in our store, and fine quality stones are still hard to come by.  We do, however, offer synthetic versions for sale in our Mother's Ring page.  

Visit us online at to start shopping now!