Alexandrite: The Enigmatic Birthstone of June,

Alexandrite: The Enigmatic Birthstone of June

June's birthstones are both unique and captivating. Alongside the classic beauty of pearls, June also boasts the extraordinary alexandrite. Known for its remarkable colour-changing ability, alexandrite is a gemstone that has fascinated jewellers and collectors since its discovery in Russia around 200 years ago. As we continue our series about birthstones, we will look into the intriguing history, unique properties, and cultural significance of this enigmatic gem.

Discovery and Historical Significance

Alexandrite was first discovered in the Ural Mountains of Russia in the early 1830s. It was named after Tsar Alexander II, as it was found on the future emperor’s birthday. The gem quickly gained popularity among the Russian aristocracy, not only for its beauty but also for its association with the national colours of Russia—red and green.

Since its discovery, alexandrite has been surrounded by mystique and legend. It was believed to bring good luck, fortune, and love. The gem’s ability to change colour was seen as a symbol of duality and balance, representing both the sun and the moon.

Unique Colour-Changing Properties

One of the most extraordinary features of alexandrite is its ability to change color based on the lighting. In daylight or fluorescent light, alexandrite typically appears green or blue-green. Under incandescent light, however, it shifts to a reddish or purplish hue. This optical phenomenon is due to the gemstone’s unique crystal structure and the presence of chromium ions.

This colour change, often described as “emerald by day, ruby by night,” is what makes alexandrite so highly prized and rare. High-quality alexandrite with a strong colour change is exceedingly rare and commands high prices in the gemstone market.

Prominent Sources of Alexandrite

Originally, alexandrite was exclusively mined in Russia, but the original deposits are now largely depleted. Today, alexandrite can be found in other parts of the world, including Sri Lanka, Brazil, Tanzania, and Madagascar. However, the most sought-after specimens are still those originally from the Russian deposits. This is due to their superior colour-changing properties.

Evaluating Alexandrite: The Four Cs

Just like diamonds, alexandrite is evaluated based on the four Cs: colour, clarity, cut, and carat weight.

  • Colour: The most important factor, focusing on the intensity and quality of the colour change.
  • Clarity: While inclusions are common, they should not significantly detract from the gem's appearance.
  • Cut: A well-cut alexandrite will enhance the stone’s colour change and overall beauty.
  • Carat Weight: Larger alexandrite stones are extremely rare and thus more valuable.

Fascinating Facts about Alexandrite

  • Symbolism and Lore: Alexandrite is often associated with creativity, intuition, and imagination. It is believed to bring balance between the physical and spiritual worlds.
  • Synthetic Alexandrite: Due to its rarity, synthetic alexandrite is often used in jewellery. These lab-grown stones mimic the natural gem’s colour change and are more affordable.
  • Healing Properties: Some believe alexandrite has healing properties that can help with emotional balance and boost self-esteem.
  • Birthstone: As a June birthstone, alexandrite is believed to bring good fortune and love to those born in this month.
  • Anniversary Gemstone: Alexandrite is traditionally given on the 55th wedding anniversary, symbolizing lasting love and commitment.
  • Rare Phenomena: In addition to their colour change, some alexandrites exhibit chatoyancy, or the cat’s-eye effect, making them even more unique and valuable.
  • Largest Alexandrite: The largest known faceted alexandrite weighs 66 carats and is housed in the Smithsonian Institution. The largest uncut specimen, the Sauer Alexandrite, weighs a staggering 122,400 carats and was found in Brazil in 1967.
  • Russian Revolution Connection: During the Russian Revolution, many royal alexandrites were lost or hidden. Some resurfaced mysteriously around the world, adding to their allure.
  • Haunted Alexandrite: A legend tells of a cursed alexandrite ring from the Romanov dynasty that brought misfortune to its wearers. After the death of its last known owner, the ring vanished but occasionally appears at antique auctions with its ominous reputation.

Physical Properties of Alexandrite

Alexandrite is not only beautiful but also very durable, making it an excellent choice for jewellery. With a hardness of 8.5 on the Mohs scale, it's resistant to scratches and everyday wear. Its unique ability to change color—from green or blue-green in daylight to red or purplish-red under incandescent light—adds to its allure and makes it a conversation starter. This gemstone has a glassy luster, which gives it a stunning sparkle. Additionally, alexandrite sometimes exhibits a cat’s-eye effect, adding an extra layer of uniqueness. Found in places like Russia, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Tanzania, and Madagascar, alexandrite's rarity and unique properties make it a highly sought-after gemstone for collectors and those celebrating June birthdays.

Celebrating June Birthdays with Alexandrite

Alexandrite's unique beauty and rarity make it an exceptional choice for those born in June. Whether set in rings, necklaces, or earrings, alexandrite jewellery is both a stunning and meaningful gift. Its ability to change colour adds an element of surprise and wonder, making it a conversation piece and a cherished heirloom.

Design Your Custom Alexandrite Jewellery at The Bench Jewellery

At The Bench Jewellery, we celebrate the beauty of alexandrite by creating custom designs with you that highlight its unique qualities. Our expert designers and gemologists in Kamloops, Kelowna, and Chilliwack can help you create a piece that captures the essence of June's birthstone, tailored to your personal style.

Explore the captivating allure of alexandrite and create your custom jewellery with us today.

Design Custom Alexandrite Jewellery