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Interesting Facts

Antique Alexandrite Gemstones and Jewelry:

Find alexandrite oval gemstone on our new web site


Find more alexandrite round gemstone on our new web site





Most sources credit the discovery of this very unique gemstone to the year 1830 on the birthday of Prince (and ultimately Tzar) Alexander II in the Ural mountains in Russia. In celebration of Prince Alexander's coming-of-age, this remarkable gemstone was named after him. Alexandrite was popular in imperial Russia both with the royal family and the wealthy elite, both because of its association with the Tzar, and because red and green were the colors of the Russian Empire. Alexandrite is known as a "color change" gemstone. It is emerald green in daylight, and a purplish red under artificial lights or twilight. It belongs to the chrysoberyl family of gems, and one of the most extraordinary types is a cats-eye variety of alexandrite, possessing a remarkably prominent "cat's eye". Alexandrite is well known as a extremely scarce and very costly gem. The quality of color change with different illumination is the primary basis for its quality and price. No more than one person out of 100,000 has ever seen a real Alexandrite gemstone, although synthetic Alexandrite is common and widely available. It is likely that if you read the fine print of 99% of the Alexandrite offered at retail jeweler's, you will find it to be "laboratory produced" - synthetic. Even as an artificially grown stone, alexandrite often commands a retail price of $300.00 to $500.00 per carat.

Of course, alexandrite can be found in Russian jewelry of the imperial era, as it was well loved by the Russian master jewelers. Master gemologist George Kunz of Tiffany was a fan of alexandrite, and the company produced many rings featuring fine alexandrite in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, including some set in platinum from the twenties. Some Victorian jewelry from England features sets of small alexandrite. However the original source in Russia's Ural Mountains has long since closed after producing for only a few decades, and only a few stones can be found on the Russian market today. In the past 15 years some very small deposits of Alexandrite have been discovered in Brazil, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and Mozambique. However the Brazilian gemstones tend to have washed out colors when cut, and the African and Celanese sources produce very dark, not brightly colored gemstones. The cut Alexandrite originating from Russia is usually "harvested" from vintage jewelry. For over a century this source of "recycled" gemstones from Russia was the only source of Alexandrite, and for many years, alexandrite was almost impossible to find because there was so little available. Russian Alexandrite remains elusive. A few specimens are still found from time-to-time in the Ural Mountains of Russia, and are sometimes available as an unset stone, but it is extremely rare in fine qualities. Stones over 5 carats are almost unknown.