Alexandrite is formed from volcanic lava flows. It was discovered in 1830 by miners in the Tokovaya emerald deposits in Russia’s Ural Mountains. But it was not until 1842 that the Finnish Nordenskiöld gave it its official name, in honour of Tsar Alexander II, whose birthday was being celebrated at the time. Due to its colour variations which range between red and green which sometimes feature darker hues (two colours reminiscent of the Russian Imperial Army’s uniforms) alexandrite stone quickly became the symbol of Tsarist Russia, in honour of the Tsar. The stone was so successful, particularly in the manufacturing of jewlerry for the Tsarian court, that the Russian mines were overexploited and quickly depleted, leading to a shortage. It was not until decades later, at the end of the 20th century, that new deposits were identified in Sri Lanka, Brazil, the State of Minas Gerais, Tanzania, at Mozambique’s borders, and in Madagascar.
Along with Cat’s Eye, alexandrite is a highly valued variety of chrysoberyl stone. This gem features different facets whose shades can shift from beautiful transparent yellow to beautiful brown-green yellow. Similar to other gem varieties such as emerald or ruby, the primary characteristic of alexandrite is to change shades depending on the level of light to which it is exposed, whether natural or synthetic. It changes from a vibrant shade of blue and green when exposed to natural light, and to a purplish red when placed under synthetic light. These hue variations earned it the nickname “emerald of the day, ruby of the evening”. They are due to the material from which this stone is composed of, namely aluminium oxide, beryllium and chromium. It is, moreover, a very hard stone as its index is 8.5 on the Mohs scale.
This rare and high-quality mineral was particularly prized by Master gemologist George Kunz of Tiffany who purchased a large quantity of them to create numerous rings of all sizes from the late 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century. It also was highly appreciated by the English during the Victorian era.
Its primary benefits were identified during the 19th century. Russian author Nikolai Leskov (1831 – 1895) attributed it the power to strengthen intuition in one of his short stories, helping one to predict the future. French writer Eliphas Levi (1810 – 1875), a former clergyman and a great figure of the occult, believed that alexandrite could, in particular, improve arterial and venous circulation. Its popularity in Russia has not waned as it is considered a source of imagination and creativity. Thanks to its varying shades, it helps to alleviate sadness and emotional excess by providing confidence and hope. Physically, it is considered capable of improving the effectiveness of treatments in the case of prolonged physical or psychological dysfunctions. Finally, it can attract luck and romantic fulfillment to the wearer.
Along with pearl and moonstone, alexandrite is one of June’s birthstones.
Like chrysoberyl stone and cat eye, alexandrite consists of a very particular olivine crystalline structure whereby, the Be2+ cations occupy the tetrahedral sites while the Al3+ cations occupy the octahedral sites. In addition, the average bond length are: Be-O = 1,638 Å et Al-O = 1,914 Å.
Alexandrite’s colour adjusts according to the light level. It thus becomes blue-green in daylight, pink-red when placed under artificial light and transparent grey under fluorescent light. Its ability to shift from magenta to a shade between green and light blue or to tones with yellow and orange is as a result of its strong pleochroism. Pleochroism is an optical principle that means that a stone has the ability to absorb several light spectra depending on the axis on which they cross its various facets.
This stone is called trichroic in optical terms, as it has three secondary shades that appear according to the axis and origin of the light. It varies between shades of blue-green, reddish or yellow. It also features a white streak.
The most astonishing alexandrite was found in the Russian deposits which are today depleted. The stones extracted from Brazil’s deposits are not of equivalent quality and are not always pleochroic. The most beautiful alexandrite stones can sell at higher prices than diamonds, depending on the amount of carats and their size. This gem also has a slightly lower hardness index than ruby or sapphire. This stone is very resistant to heat and shock. It has a vitreous lustre and can appear transparent or even translucent.
This rare stone is type II, i.e. it can have visible inclusions of liquid or solid matter, especially when its weight exceeds its carats. These inclusions do not, however, diminish its beauty or quality, but can reduce the value of this stone. The largest stone was mined in Sri Lanka and was valued at 1846 carats.
Alexandrite is a rare stone that offers, among other qualities, the capacity for compassion and kindness towards others. It fosters love and selfless cooperation, without one expecting anything in return. It also gives you the strength to forgive others and thus free yourself from the wounds and grudges that are blocking you. It equally promotes resilience in stressful situations. It helps you to overcome difficulties as well as to better understand and manage one’s emotions. Thanks to its regenerative effect, it also improves your ability to bounce back after difficulty or failure as well as your ability to embrace change. It can therefore signal a new beginning or a new life. From an esoteric point of view, it helps one to cleanse the soul. It can also allow you to excel and achieve your goals as well as boosts your self-confidence.
Due to its changing colours, Europeans associate it with love as well as jealousy. This mineral helps to bring soul mates closer together, even when they live far away, by strengthening the love in their relationship. It is also the stone that symbolises the 55th wedding anniversary and thus the stability of the relationship. Sri Lankans and Indians deem it a mineral that brings both luck, prosperity and longevity. Psychics use it for its ability to foster intuition and their vision of the future. Tibetans considered Vaiduriam, a rare type of alexandrite, as a sacred stone that helps sorcerers understand the language of birds and animals while offering common people greater peace of mind as well as better judgement.
It is a stone that promotes judgement, allowing you to re-center yourself while boosting self-esteem and self-assertion. It is therefore essential for those who want to live in harmony to reflect on their actions or to take a step back to analyse the different facets of a problem. In particular, it can be used to promote questioning and to help solve difficulties or to make decisions.
This stone also has many physical virtues. It helps to preserve the proper functioning of the heart, by preventing cardiac disorders, as well as of the brain, by aiding its circulation. It protects against and prevents cardiovascular disorders.
It also helps to remove bad cholesterol from the body. It assists the emunctory functions of the pancreas, liver and spleen. It helps to maintain the balance of the nervous and lymphatic systems. It can also be used to relieve neck and neck muscle pain and soothes sore throats. Finally, it reduces stress and boosts your energy.