An Introduction to Alexandrite, June's Other Birthstone

July 03, 2019

Photo of Alexandrite courtesy of GIA

Those who are born in June have many options for birthstones. Besides Pearl and Moonstone, Alexandrite is another possible choice. It is a very desirable gemstone since it is considered to be quite scarce, and it carries a price tag to match its rarity. It is very difficult to find at most jewelry stores because many do not stock it. Alexandrite has a hardness of 8.5 on the Mohs scale.


Magical Color Change

Alexandrite is a phenomenal variety of Chrysoberyl, which means it has a unique property called “color change”. Color change occurs in gemstones where the stone appears to be a different color when viewed under different light sources. In fluorescent light, some fine specimens will appear to be bluish green color, while the same stone under incandescent light is purplish red. That’s why there is an old saying stating that Alexandrite is an “Emerald by day and a Ruby by night”. It is one of a very select few gemstones that have this amazing property.


Sources of Alexandrite

Alexandrite was originally discovered in the Ural Mountains of Russia and was named after Czar Alexander. Some say it was discovered on his birthday, while others say it was on his coronation day. Thus, the stone became named after him. Red and green are also the Russian imperial colors, making Alexandrite the perfect stone to represent the Czar. 

Since Russia is the original source for these fine stones, they became the benchmark for quality Alexandrites. Another source was found in Sri Lanka, which produced newfound material into the 1980’s. Now, there are some newer deposits in Brazil, Tanzania, and Madagascar. Currently, the Brazilian sources for Alexandrite yield the most important and significant stones.

Twinned Chrysoberyl CrystalTwinned Chrysoberyl Crystal from Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Photo by Yaiba Sakaguchi.

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 Photo Courtesy of G.I.A.
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