Alexandrite, A June Birthstone And Chameleon Gemstone

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June has three birthstones, so take your pick, June babies! You can choose alexandrite, pearls or moonstones. Before June ends, I thought we should take a closer look at these beautiful gems, and today the focus is alexandrite.

Alexandrite is fascinating in itself, since it changes colour according to the light. And in addition to that, it’s rare. Mined from the Ural Mountains, its qualities were first realised by the Finnish minerologist Nils Gustaf Nordenskiold of the St. Petersburg Science Academy when he noticed that the gem changed its colour from green to a purplish red under candlelight. He named it for Tsarevich Alexander (later Tsar Alexander II, ruled 1855-1881), who was turning 16 on the day of the discovery.

We have a beautiful 1960s alexandrite ring to to look at, from Romanov Russia, and we can see in the couple of videos below, how striking is the difference in colour, when the ring is shown in bright white light and then candlelight.


The 18K white gold ring is centred with a very rare natural Russian alexandrite from the Ural Mountains. The openwork shoulders are embellished with six diamonds. The alexandrite measures 7.34 x 6.08 x 3.1 mm and is approximately 1.03 ct.
The stone changes its dark bluish-green color to dark pinkish-purple in a candle light or yellow electric light.

It is interesting to note that Romanov Russia: Russian Antiques & Pre-1917 Antique Jewelry is offering this ring for sale as only the 4th alexandrite ring they have been able to find in the last five years, and only the 2nd with 1 carat alexandrite.

The American Gem Society briefly explains why alexandrite behaves as it does in different lights:

”Often described as “emerald by day, ruby by night,” alexandrite is a rare variety of the mineral chrysoberyl that changes color from bluish green in daylight to purplish red under incandescent light.

This chameleon-like behavior is the result of its uncommon chemical composition— which includes traces of chromium, the same coloring agent found in emerald. The unlikelihood of these elements combining under the right conditions makes alexandrite one of the rarest, costliest gems.”

Information in this post is courtesy  Romanov Russia: Russian Antiques & Pre-1917 Antique Jewelry and  American Gem Society.
Images and video are courtesy Romanov Russia: Russian Antiques & Pre-1917 Antique Jewelry .

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