The Extraordinary Alexandrite – June Birthstone

If you were born in June, you actually have not one but two birthstones to choose from – the classic Pearl and the very extraordinary gemstone, Alexandrite.

We’ve written a post on the timeless beauty of pearls previously, so in today’s post, we’re exploring Alexandrite in detail.

Alexandrite composition and origin

Alexandrite is an interesting and rare gemstone – a color-changing variety of the mineral Chrysoberyl. It changes color according to changes in light. In natural daylight, the color appears as a greenish-blue through to yellow-green. Under incandescent or candle light, it changes to a color of raspberry pink through to red.

Alexandrite is often described as “emerald by day, ruby by night” by gemologists. The changing color of this gemstone is caused by the presence of foreign materials or impurities within the mineral’s structure.

This gem is created through rare geological conditions – namely the occurrence of specific contrasting rock types coming into contact with one another as a result of nature – and this doesn’t happen very often. This means that it is extremely scarce and consequently, highly valuable.

Alexandrite was first discovered around 1834 in the emerald mines near the Tokovaya River in the Urals. This gem was named after the tsar Alexander II, who was the Emperor of Russia from 1855 to 1881. It was first discovered on the day that Alexander II came of age.

The highest quality form of this gem is so rare that it’s not very often found in modern jewelry of today. It’s usually found in antique jewelry made in Russia, or in some cases from England. The jewelry company, Tiffany & Co, also manufactured some pieces of Alexandrite jewelry at the turn of the 20th century.

Although Alexandrite is a rare gemstone, new sources other than Russia have recently been found (in Brazil, Sri Lanka and Tanzania), which has opened up the market a little more.

Legendary and mythical meanings of Alexandrite

Alexandrite is classed as a “new” gemstone compared to the likes of diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and rubies. It’s been around for less than 200 years and in terms of gem history, this isn’t a very long time.

During the time Alexandrite has been around however, it’s been associated with some legendary properties already. The way that this gemstone was formed, through the mysterious connection of contrasting rocks, along with how this stone’s color changes from opposite ends of the spectrum has led to this gemstone being seen as a stone of duality.

The green colors of Alexandrite represent growth, peace, hope, calm and fertility, whereas the red colors represent conflicting characteristics such as energy, power, passion and aggression.

It makes sense therefore that Alexandrite can be symbolic of conflicting emotions such as love and anger. Some people wear this stone in the daytime as they believe it will bring them good luck and fortune. Some wear it at night as they believe it will show them the way with love and feelings of the heart.

Alexandrite has also been described as a “prophetic stone” by the Russian writer Nikolai Semyonovich Leskov. The French author, Eliphas Levi, wrote about how this stone could strengthen and clear human blood vessels in one of his books, “The Key to the Great Mysteries”.

Finally…

Legendary meanings aside, there’s no doubt that there’s something magical about Alexandrite. Created through a rare occurrence of nature with its beautiful changing colors, this is a gemstone to be treasured if you happen to have one in your possession!

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Image sources:

  • Top and bottom images – by Christina Rutz (alexandrite diamond ring) [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons (text overlay added by Golden Age Beads).
  • Middle photo of Alexandrite – by User: at en.wikipedia, from Wikimedia Commons


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