Gemstones have been captivating human beings for centuries, with their radiant hues and mesmerizing beauty. One such gemstone that has intrigued and enchanted people around the world is the Alexandrite. This rare and precious gemstone is known not only for its stunning appearance but also for its remarkable colour-changing properties. In this article, we will delve into the “What colour is Alexandrite Stone”
What is Alexandrite?
Alexandrite is a rare variety of the mineral chrysoberyl, and it is considered one of the most valuable and coveted gemstones in the world. What sets Alexandrite apart from other gemstones is its incredible ability to change colour under different lighting conditions. This phenomenon, known as pleochroism, gives Alexandrite a chameleon-like quality, making it appear as if it has multiple personalities.
Its History and Discovery
The story of Alexandrite begins in the Ural Mountains of Russia in the early 19th century. It was here that the gemstone was first discovered in 1830. The gemstone was named in honour of the young Russian tsar, Alexander II, and it quickly became a symbol of Russian royalty.
At first glance, Alexandrite appears green or blue-green in daylight, but when exposed to incandescent light, it undergoes a mesmerizing transformation, turning red or purple-red. This captivating colour change baffled early gem enthusiasts and led to the gem’s legendary status.
Its Unique Colour Change Property
The secret behind Alexandrite’s incredible colour change lies in the presence of chromium impurities within the crystal structure of chrysoberyl. Chromium is responsible for absorbing different wavelengths of light, depending on the light source. In daylight, it absorbs predominantly green and blue wavelengths, giving Alexandrite its greenish-blue appearance. In incandescent light, it absorbs red wavelengths, resulting in the gem’s stunning red or purple-red hue.
The exact colour of Alexandrite can vary, depending on the quantity and type of chromium impurities present. Some Alexandrites exhibit a more pronounced colour change, while others may display subtle variations. This unique property has captured the hearts of gemstone enthusiasts and collectors worldwide.
Why it is a Popular Gemstone
Alexandrite’s rarity and captivating colour-changing quality have made it a sought-after gemstone in the world of jewellery. Its rich history, especially its association with Russian royalty, adds to its allure. The gemstone’s uniqueness and scarcity make it a symbol of exclusivity and luxury.
In addition to its aesthetic appeal, Alexandrite also holds significance in the world of gemology. It is considered one of the most valuable coloured gemstones, and its value is often compared to that of fine diamonds, rubies, and sapphires. The American Gemological Laboratory (AGL), Gemological Institute of America (GIA), International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA), and the World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO) all play a crucial role in assessing and certifying the quality and authenticity of Alexandrite gemstones.
The Science Behind Alexandrite’s Colour Change
The mesmerizing colour change of Alexandrite is a result of its unique crystal structure and the presence of chromium impurities. To understand this phenomenon better, we need to delve into the science behind it.
As previously mentioned, chromium is responsible for absorbing specific wavelengths of light. When Alexandrite is exposed to daylight, which contains a balanced spectrum of colors, the chromium ions in the gemstone absorb primarily green and blue wavelengths, allowing the gem to appear green or blue-green.
In contrast, when viewed under incandescent light, which has a higher proportion of red wavelengths, the chromium ions absorb these red wavelengths, causing the gem to exhibit a stunning red or purple-red hue. This transition between colours is what makes Alexandrite so captivating and highly prized.
The Different Factors that Affect the Colour of Alexandrite
The colour of Alexandrite is influenced by several factors, including the following:
- Chromium Content: The concentration of chromium impurities in the gemstone’s structure plays a significant role in the intensity of its colour change. Gemstones with higher chromium content tend to exhibit a more pronounced shift in colour.
- Cut and Clarity: The cut of the Alexandrite can impact the way it interacts with light. A well-cut gemstone will display its colour change more effectively. Clarity also plays a role, as inclusions or imperfections can affect how light travels through the stone.
- Lighting Conditions: The type and quality of lighting can influence how Alexandrite appears. Natural daylight, incandescent light, and fluorescent light can all produce different colour effects.
- Origin: Alexandrite from certain regions, such as Russia and Brazil, is highly prized for its colour and quality. The origin of the gemstone can affect its value.
- Size and Carat Weight: Larger Alexandrite gemstones with a more substantial carat weight tend to be rarer and more valuable.
How to Distinguish Between Natural and Synthetic Alexandrite
Given the rarity and value of natural Alexandrite, synthetic or lab-grown versions of the gemstone have emerged in the market. Distinguishing between natural and synthetic Alexandrite can be crucial for collectors and buyers. Here are some tips to help identify the authenticity of an Alexandrite gemstone:
- Certification: Always purchase Alexandrite from reputable sources and request certification from well-known gemological organizations like the GIA or AGL. These certifications confirm the authenticity and quality of the gemstone.
- Price: Be cautious of extremely low prices, as genuine Alexandrite is a rare and valuable gemstone. If a deal appears too good to be true, it may be a synthetic or imitation stone.
- Colour Change: Examine the gemstone’s colour change properties carefully. A genuine Alexandrite should exhibit a noticeable shift from green or blue-green to red or purple-red under varying lighting conditions.
- Fluorescence: Alexandrite may exhibit a distinctive fluorescence under ultraviolet (UV) light. This property can help distinguish it from synthetic alternatives.
- Inclusions: Natural Alexandrite may contain inclusions, but they should not be excessive. Synthetic versions often lack these natural imperfections.
- Origin: Knowing the origin of the Alexandrite can provide valuable information about its authenticity. Russian Alexandrite, for example, is highly regarded for its quality.
The Different Types of Alexandrite Jewelry
Alexandrite’s beauty and rarity make it a popular choice for various types of jewellery. Here are some common forms of Alexandrite jewellery:
- Rings: Alexandrite rings are a popular choice for engagement rings and special occasion jewellery. The gemstone’s color-changing property adds a unique and romantic touch to these pieces.
- Pendants: Alexandrite pendants are elegant and versatile. They can be worn as everyday accessories or for formal occasions, allowing the wearer to showcase the gemstone’s captivating colours.
- Earrings: Alexandrite earrings come in various styles, from simple studs to elaborate drop earrings. They offer a subtle way to incorporate this enchanting gemstone into your jewelry collection.
How to Care for Alexandrite Jewelry
To ensure that your Alexandrite jewellery retains its beauty and value, it’s essential to care for it properly. Here are some tips on how to maintain your Alexandrite jewellery:
- Cleaning: Clean your Alexandrite jewellery regularly with a soft, damp cloth to remove dust and dirt. Avoid harsh chemicals or ultrasonic cleaners, as they can damage the gemstone.
- Storage: Store your Alexandrite jewellery in a soft pouch or a lined jewellery box to protect it from scratches and damage.
- Avoid Extreme Temperatures: Alexandrite is durable, but it can be sensitive to extreme temperatures. Avoid exposing your jewellery to rapid temperature changes.
- Minimize Impact: While Alexandrite is relatively hard, it can still be chipped or damaged by a strong impact. Be mindful when wearing it, especially in situations where it may be subjected to rough handling.
- Professional Inspection: Periodically have your Alexandrite jewellery inspected by a reputable jeweller to check for any loose settings or signs of wear.
In the world of gemstones, Alexandrite stands out as a true marvel. Its remarkable color-changing property, rarity, and historical significance make it a gemstone like no other. Whether you’re drawn to its mesmerizing hues, its value as an investment, or its rich history, Alexandrite has something to offer every gemstone enthusiast.
When choosing the right Alexandrite gemstone, remember to consider factors such as colour change intensity, origin, and certification from reputable gemological organizations like the GIA or AGL. Alexandrite jewellery, whether in the form of rings, pendants, or earrings, allows you to showcase this exceptional gemstone in style.
For those fortunate enough to own Alexandrite jewellery, proper care and maintenance are essential to preserve its beauty and value. With the right precautions and a little TLC, your Alexandrite jewellery can be passed down as a cherished heirloom for generations to come.
So, whether you’re captivated by its chameleon-like charm or simply appreciate the beauty of fine gemstones, Alexandrite is a gem that continues to enchant and inspire. Explore the world of Alexandrite and discover the magic of its ever-changing colours.
Also read: What is Alexandrite Stone