Tzar’s star gem
James tells us about the chameleon gem Alexandrite, favourite of the Imperial Russian court
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