Alexandrite Jewelry Buying Guide: Quality Factors The Alexandrite Stone One of the world’s rarest gemstones, the alexandrite is a unique and coveted chrysoberyl mineral. The third hardest gemstone in the world, it is only behind the diamond and corundum in terms of durability and measures in at 8 ½ on Mohs’ hardness scale. Renowned for its color changing properties, high quality alexandrite appears to be deep forest green in the daylight and ruby red to magenta under incandescent lights. A Brief History Originally discovered in the Ural Mountains of Russia, the stone was documented by mineralogist Nils Gustaf Nordenskiold in the mid-19th century. Named alexandrite after the future Tsar, Alexander II of Russia, it soon became the gemstone of choice for Russian nobles. In the late 19th century, premiere gemologist and mineralogist for Tiffany & Co., George F. Kunz, popularized the stone in Europe and North America after setting it in a series of rings and pendants. Since then, all alexandrite pieces are judged by the original stones found in the Ural Mountains. When purchasing a piece of alexandrite jewelry, look for these quality factors: Color Without question, fine alexandrite is marked by its intense emerald green appearance in the daylight and rich red hues under incandescent lights. Poorer quality stones that are too light will look almost yellowish under lighting changes. On the other hand denser stones will appear brown and almost black. Once thought to only exist in Russia, in the latter part of the 20th century, alexandrite deposits were found in Sri Lanka, Brazil, India and Madagascar. While these stones, particularly in Sri Lanka, are often larger than the ones found in the Ural Mountains, they often suffer from poor coloring and undesirable hues. Cut The alexandrite’s unique color change is the result of both pleochroism, a phenomenon where objects appear to be different colors at different angles due to polarized light and the appearance of chromium in its structure. For gemstone cutters, this becomes a unique challenge as each stone needs to be cut to display both spectrums of the color change. This often results in a mixed cut where both brilliant-cut crowns and step-cut pavilions are used on one stone.
Clarity Quality alexandrite jewelry will possesses a dramatic color change with clean material. However, the clarity of the stone doesnâ€™t define its value as much as its color will. Most alexandrite stones have little to no inclusions, although in a few incidences long thin inclusions have been found creating a cat eye effect also known as chatoyancy. Weight Traditionally, Russian alexandrite gems are less than three carats and fashioned stones are usually less than one. Larger stones have been found in deposits outside of Russia, but are extremely rare and may have quality issues. The Alaska Jewelry Difference Today, true Russian alexandrite is cut from the discarded rough of the original mines which were closed in the early 20th century. As a result, very few vendors have ever seen genuine Russian alexandrite. Luckily, Alaska Jewelry is an exception. As one of the few places where Russian alexandrite jewelry can be purchased, their higher valued stones have been certified by either the AGL or Gubelin Gem Lab in Switzerland for authenticity. To learn more about alexandrite or their collection of alexandrite jewelry, please visit them at www.alaskajewelry.com. Company Bio: Since 1990, Alaska Jewelry has been at the forefront of exquisite jewelry for both men and women. Using only the highest grade materials, their striking designs have made them the premier jeweler for gift givers and jewelry connoisseurs across the globe. For more information on their fine pieces, please visit them at www.alaskajewelry.com.