Alexandrite Quick Facts
Color: Varies depending on the lighting
Mohs Hardness Scale: 8.5
Symbolism & Meaning: Creativity, good fortune, and love
Official Birthstone Month: June
Zodiac Signs: Gemini and Cancer
Other Recognitions: Traditional gift for the 55th wedding anniversary
Alexandrite Color & Value
What color is alexandrite? Well, the answer depends on the lighting. The most beautiful examples of alexandrite have the unique characteristic of appearing green in natural or fluorescent lighting and shifting to red in incandescent light. While other gems can change color depending on a light-source change, alexandrite’s color change is so dramatic that the phenomenon is often called “the alexandrite effect.” The color-changing properties of alexandrite are due to trace amounts of chromium.
An alexandrite’s color, as well as its color change, is a significant indicator of its overall value. While most alexandrites are smaller than a centimeter, stones over one carat can cost between $50,000 and $70,000 per carat! When certain types of long, thin inclusions are oriented parallel to each other, they can create an additional phenomenon called chatoyancy, or the cat’s-eye effect, increasing the alexandrite’s overall value.
Alexandrite is a unique form of chrysoberyl, making it one of the rarest gemstones in the world. Named Alexandrite after Tsar Alexander II, it was first discovered in 1830 in the Ural Mountains in Western Russia. Those first alexandrites were of exquisite quality, displaying vivid hues and dramatic color changes. Unfortunately, the alexandrite mineral deposits found in the Ural Mountains have since been depleted. Today, alexandrite is found in Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, and Brazil. Deposits have also been found in Burma, Madagascar, and Tanzania.
Due to limited supply in nature, lab-grown alexandrite was created in the 1960s. Alexandrites can be grown through melt, hydrothermal, or flux methods in a lab. These synthetic stones have the same chemical and physical properties as natural alexandrites. Although the synthetics are far less costly than natural alexandrites, they’re still among the most expensive synthetic gemstones available. Synthetic alexandrites tend to have a blue to purple color change.
Alexandrite Care & Cleaning
With a hardness rating of 8.5 on Moh’s Hardness Scale, alexandrite is a durable gemstone that’s compatible with almost any mounting and suitable for ordinary wear.
When it comes to cleaning, using a soft brush and warm, soapy water is always a safe method for cleaning alexandrite. Due to its high durability, ultrasonic and steam cleaners are also usually harmless, but we recommend checking with a professional jeweler first. Fracture-filled gemstones should only be cleaned with warm, soapy water.
Alexandrite Jewelry & Gift Ideas
An exceptional gemstone, and one of the most unique birthstones, alexandrite makes a beautiful piece of jewelry to add to any gemstone collection. In addition to being one of the birthstones for the month of June, alexandrite is also the traditional gemstone for the 55th wedding anniversary. Alexandrite’s high hardness rating makes it ideal for any mounting, including rings.