Alexandrite is a relatively new gemstone in comparison to those that have been revered since ancient times. In its short history, however, this gemstone has been cherished by many and has made an impressive name for itself in the world of jewellery making. Alexandrite is one of the three birthstones for June (along with pearl and moonstone) and it is also traditionally given as a gift to represent 55 years of marriage.
What is alexandrite
Alexandrite is a mesmerising gemstone that appears to change colour depending on what kind of light it is reflecting. In bright daylight, alexandrite gemstones tend to appear blue or green in colour, as more blue and green light remains unabsorbed. In warm light, however (candlelight for example), the gemstone shifts in tone and appears to be red in colour, because the red end of the alexandrite's colour spectrum makes a greater contribution under these conditions. When alexandrite was first discovered by Russian miners, they at first thought they had collected emeralds. It was only later that night, as they first viewed the stones by firelight, that the colour shifted and they realised they had discovered something new.
Alexandrite is a variety of the mineral chrysoberyl. The main difference between alexandrite and other chrysoberyl variations (such as cat-eye chrysoberyl) is the mineral make up of this gemstone; chrysoberyl gemstones include both iron and titanium impurities, but in the case of alexandrite, chromium is also present – this specific combination of elements is what brings out the emerald-green hue of alexandrite.
Alexandrite gemstones can vary greatly in colour and tone, but the more opaque the gemstone, the more sought after and expensive it is likely to be.
The history of the alexandrite
As stated earlier, the alexandrite is a relatively modern gemstone. First discovered by Russian emerald miners in 1830 near the Tokovaya River in Russia’s Ural Mountains, this gemstone has become a big part of Russia's jewellery heritage. The stone was actually named after Prince Alexander II of Russia as it was discovered on his birthday. Furthermore, the stone's green and red colours matched Russia's Old Imperial military colours and soon became the official national stone of tsarist Russia as well as one of the most prized gemstones of the Russian Aristocracy.
Although it was first discovered in Russia, this gemstone has since been mined in various countries around the globe, including Brazil and Sri Lanka (where the deposits were even larger than those found in Russia) However, for much of the 20th century, no new deposits were discovered and therefore this gemstone became extremely rare.
During much of the 20th century, Tiffany and Co cornered the alexandrite market due to their unrivalled reserves of the precious gem. They worked to make this unusual gemstone popular with jewellery lovers everywhere.
The symbolism of alexandrite
Since its origins in Russia, the alexandrite has been believed to be a very good omen that will bring luck to the wearer. Its associations with luck, love, and good fortune added to the competitive popularity of this dazzling gemstone in tsarist Russia.
The alexandrite is also believed to have spiritual properties, with many people believing that this stone brings balance between the physical world and the astral, or spiritual world. In addition to this, alexandrite is also said to encourage creativity, intuition, and imagination – all of which are astrological traits associated with the star sign Gemini, which makes the alexandrite perfectly fitting as one of the June birthstones.
Joy, romance, and hope are also traits associated with this captivating gem, and it is thought to be a particularly thoughtful gift to anyone who is going through a difficult time in their life and is in need of a more joyous future. This gemstone also promotes self-esteem and emotional wellbeing, alexandrite jewellery is thought to give wearers a greater appreciation of the world around them.
The alexandrite gemstone is unusual and beautiful, perfect for anyone who is in search of something a little out of the ordinary. If you're searching for a June birthstone gift, these gemstones are a wonderful choice. To widen your options and discover other June birthstone gift ideas, view our exquisite selections of pearl jewellery and moonstone jewellery today.
Andrew Campbell started trading in antiques during the 1970s. Initially, Andrew lived in the South of England, travelling the country, searching for items of silver to buy. Andrew sold these items at various London markets and antique fairs. Over time, and through selling at a range of venues, Andrew built up a large and diverse customer base from private buyers to national and international trade customers.