Tzar’s star gem

James tells us about the chameleon gem Alexan­drite, favourite of the Im­pe­rial Rus­sian court

EDP Norfolk - - Inside -

What makes Alexan­drite so spe­cial?

GEMOLOGIST­S will tell you about the rar­ity of the phe­nom­e­nal Alexan­drite, de­scribed as “emer­ald green by day, and ruby or rasp­berry red by night”.

In 1834 Alexan­drite was first dis­cov­ered along­side beryls in the Ural moun­tain mines in Rus­sia. The den­sity of the stone makes it per­fect for jew­ellery – pro­vid­ing you can find one. The orig­i­nal stones that were cut were pre­sented to Tsar Alexan­der II for his 16th birth­day; the colours within the stones also match those of Im­pe­rial Rus­sia and so the gem be­came the of­fi­cial stone for the Tsars of Rus­sia and so gained its name.

Within the Rus­sian min­ing in­dus­try, de­spite the best ef­forts, for ev­ery one crys­tal of Alexan­drite they are un­earthing, nearly 200 emer­ald de­posits are found – the stones are that rare. The size of Alexan­drite crys­tals, once cut, are rarely above one carat in weight and the larger ex­am­ples out-price some of the world’s finest di­a­monds, emer­alds and sap­phires, mak­ing this gem­stone not only de­sir­able but very ex­pen­sive.

Ex­cep­tional ex­am­ples above three carats com­mand a sum in ex­cess of five fig­ures per carat when they even­tu­ally come to the trade mar­ket. This ex­tra­or­di­nary chameleon stone re­acts to light due to the chromium hue vari­ant within the crys­tals; a per­fect 100% vari­ant has yet to be found but the mag­nif­i­cent emer­ald green to rasp­berry red can be found in the finest ex­am­ples on the mar­ket, which makes it one of world’s most de­sir­able gems.

The colour change ef­fect is due to Alexan­drite trans­mit­ting green and red light equally. In­can­des­cent and day­light sources are dif­fer­ent in wave­lengths and so re­fract the light un­evenly, mak­ing the crys­tal pleochroic. This op­ti­cal ef­fect al­lows the hu­man eye to see the colour vari­ants.

Ac­cord­ing to leg­end the wear­ers of Alexan­drite reap many ben­e­fits in­clud­ing find­ing true love, good luck, wealth and for­tune. A pop­u­lar Rus­sian myth is that the wearer strives for ex­cel­lence through dis­ci­pline and self-con­trol.

A post-rev­o­lu­tion­ary pe­riod ring has re­cently been pur­chased by Juels’ Lim­ited and is cur­rently un­der the ex­per­tise of the re­pairer in Birm­ing­ham’s jew­ellery quar­ter; once fully re­stored it will find a suit­able home in our win­dow dis­play.

If any­one has any Rus­sian jew­ellery or Rus­sian sil­ver James at Juels’ Lim­ited would love to ap­praise it for ei­ther in­sur­ance or a cash price to pur­chase.

“Ac­cord­ing to leg­end the wear­ers of Alexan­drite reap many ben­e­fits in­clud­ing find­ing true love, good luck, wealth and for­tune”

Above: A stun­ning ex­am­ple of Alexan­drite

Left: A statue of the Tzar Alexan­der II

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