What Is Alexandrite
Alexandrite is a variety of the Chrysoberyl mineral, it has the ability to change color
depending on the surrounding light.
It is typically transparent and differs from other varieties of Chrysoberyl as it contains,
in addition to iron and titanium, also chromium and it is this element that is responsible
for the very special color change as it absorbs light in the yellow and blue area of the
spectrum and therefore, in daylight, appears greenish.
Alexandrite was first discovered in the Ural mountains in Russia around 1830 and was for
many years the only source for this type of gemstone.
It is said to first be discovered in the Emerald mines near the Tokovaya River.
The name Alexandrite was given in honour of the Russian tsar Alexander II (1818-1881) and
as the colors of the Imperial Russia was red and green, it became the national stone of
Russia and was mainly reserved for the royal family.
The most sought after Alexandrite stones are those that show a clear Emerald green in
daylight and changes to ruby red under incandescent light. This combination is very rare
and can hardly be found in natural Alexandrite.
If you are buying a natural Alexandrite you should always ask for a certificate of
Authenticity or an Identification report from a renowned laboratory like the AGL,
American Gem Lab, or equivalent.
Also be aware that dealers of gemstones know very well how to use light sources to
enhance the looks of their products, so be sure that the stones are shown under a
daylight of 5000-6500Kelvin and under abt. 3000-3300Kelvin as incandescent light.
Chrysoberyl is a rare gemstone only found in a few areas around the world and the variety
that has the ability to change color, known as Alexandrite, is a very small percentage of
chrysoberyl again, it is not difficult to understand that the chance of finding
Alexandrite is indeed very small.
Top quality Alexandrite is not common in modern jewelry as it is hardly ever available
and if available is too expensive for the general public. Even lower quality stones are
expensive and of very limited quantity. Most stones produced today are bought by
collectors or mounted in special designer settings.
Imitation Alexandrite has been on the market for more than 100 years but only lately the
imitation stones are able to imitate closely the appearance of natural Alexandrite, and
it is difficult to see the difference actually.
However the price is a fraction of the price for natural stones and since the effect is
practically equal (and sometimes even have a higher perfection than natural stones, why
not buy the imitation?
How is Alexandrite formed
The forming of Alexandrite is initiated far below the Earth’s crust, some 250km below
the surface, within the Earth’s mantle which mainly consists of silicate rocks, rich in
iron and magnesium, but also contain other materials like oxygen, silicon, aluminum,
titanium, calcium, sodium, potassium and phosphorous.
The mantle is solid but the high temperatures cause the silicate material to flow.
In order for Alexandrite to form there must be chromium present in the rock formations.
If chromium is not present, chrysoberyl can still form, but the color-changing ability
that is associated with Alexandrite will be missing.
As the pressure within the Earth builds up, molten rock will be pushed towards the Earth’s
surface. As this molten rock, called magma (when magma is flowing out on the Earth’s
surface it is called lava), is pushed upwards it will pass through layers of rocks that
contain various material, some including chromium and water, and due to the heat, some of
these materials will melt and be mixed in with the original magma.
The magma heats up the water until it turns into steam. The steam is contained within the
rock formation as it travels towards the Earth’s surface and eventually the magma with the
steam begins to cool down as the pressure and heat become more reduced.
Minerals and other elements within the water and the magma will then begin to crystallize.
When crystallizing, some rocks containing high concentration of beryllium will combine with
any chromium in the rock formation, while it is crystallizing, and thus create the special
type of chrysoberyl that we call Alexandrite.
Other minerals present in the rocks forming Alexandrite may be included in the
crystallization process and thereby affecting both the color and the clarity of the final
Where can it be found
An Alexandrite of an extreme size weighing 5724 gram is said to have been discovered in the
Ural mountains in 1840. A Russian gemmologist reported that 2,000 kilos of rough Alexandrite
were mined at this deposit before it run out. Still a few small samples are found, but the
quantity and quality is insignificant.
Most of the early Alexandrite is now found in mainly Russian museums and with private
In 1987 a large deposit of Alexandrite was discovered in Brazil with, especially the purple
reds, being superior to the Russian stones.
High quality examples have also been found in India, Madagascar, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Tanzania
Today India is the main source, but also, especially Tanzania and Madagascar have been
producing some quantity.
Until 2000 Brazil produced some very high quality stones but the Brazilian production seem to
have dwindled somewhat in recent years although there are still some stones coming out from
Brazil as well.
There has been found Alexandrite in Zimbabwe but due to the present situation in the
country, little or no production is currently going on.
Myanmar has been quite closed until recently, and we may see a larger quantity of
Alexandrite coming out of there in the time to come.
Some of the finest “cat’s eye” samples have been found close to Barnardmyo.
In Sri Lanka the production quantity has become low lately as the sources are becoming
depleted of quality samples.
What is the value of Alexandrite
The price for natural Alexandrite, with a high grade of clarity and strength of color
change, is comparable to, or surpasses, the price of Rubies, Emeralds and diamonds, and can
be as high US $25,000.00, or more, per carat for a properly cut specimen.
Prices in the range of US $3,000 – US $10,000 is common for good quality samples and you can
still find a fair amount of Alexandrites for sale at this point in time (2013).
Lab-grown Alexandrite will cost in the range of US $25-85 per carat.
This is a grown chrysoberyl gemstone behaving like a natural Alexandrite from a company
called GEOLITE at
The weight is 2.81 carat, much larger than most natural Alexandrites. If you could find a natural
one of this size it would cost you more than US $40,000.00 whereas this grown crystal has a price tag
of US $238.85. A similar natural stone would be something like 160 times more expensive, a huge difference.
But, of course, if you have the money to spend try looking up some natural stones at places like
http://www.africagems.com/alexandrite1caratplus.html or some of the other online shops.
Some of these shops have a good reputation but we have never tried them so it is difficult for us to
recommend one before the other, you just have to find out on your own.
Just be aware that where there is big money to be made there may be un-sincere parties involved as well.
There are also other names that are used for other gemstones that have the ability to change color like:
Alexandrite Sapphire, Alexandrite Garnet and Blue Alexandrite. Blue Alexandrite is just another name for
None of these are actually Alexandrites and should actually just be called “color changing Sapphire” and
“color changing Garnet”.
However some of these stones may be mistaken for being Alexandrite although natural Alexandrite is more
If you really want to spend money on a gemstone maybe you would consider a 8.660 carat
Alexandrite at a price of US $235,552.00 found at
This is an incredible beautiful gemstone and really one-of-a-kind. It deserves a very special mounting
as well, and can become a precious heirloom for generations to come, or it can become the pride of an eager
The company has a wide range of Alexandrite for sale from US $10.80 to the one mentioned above at
Alexandrite is believed to help balance your emotional state, to make you more confident and increase
self-esteem. (yes, agreed, owning a natural Alexandrite jewelry……)
It is supposed to bring happiness and success and initiate change. It is supposed to intensify love and
sensuality. (again, agreed, giving a jewelry with natural Alexandrite is likely to intensify things………..the
receiver will probably be happy……and it will bring about changes in your wallet…)
It is also believed to be increasing prosperity and longevity and promote spiritual growth.
It is further believed that Alexandrite can improve blood circulation and purify blood.
It can also strengthen blood vessels and have a positive effect on spleen and pancreas, besides assisting
in treatment of leukaemia.
It can also help strengthen creativity and find a way out of any difficult situation, enhance the ability
to make decisions and move on.
It can improve your ability to be heard and increase your confidence when speaking publicly.
I am not a “big believer” unless it is scientifically proven, and most, if not all, of the above do not have that certification.
My advice is, as always, pick what you want and believe in it and it will work………(hopefully)