Alexandrite is an amazing color-changing gem that is found in some truly gorgeous pieces of antique and vintage jewelry.
In daylight, Alexandrite is green or bluish-green. It changes to red or purple or lavender in the evening light.
A mystical and fascinating stone, it appeals to those with a literary or artistic sensibility. Looking at genuine, mined Alexandrite is said to evoke strong emotion in a sensitive person.
Beautiful, and rich with meaning and history… It’s no wonder antique Alexandrite jewelry is favored by the discerning.
The History of Alexandrite.
Of all the gemstones, Alexandrite probably has the most fascinating history.
It was discovered in Russia around the time that Tsar Alexander II was celebrating his 16th birthday in 1834 and it was named after him.
This gem came to be intrinsically tied in with Russia’s dramatic history and fascinated the Russian aristocracy and future generations.
It was also said to be the favorite gem of Tsarina Alexandra. Her wistful beauty and the story of her tragic life cannot fail to move anyone.
In 1891, The Ladies’ Home Journal wrote: “… Alexandrite appears to be in the ascendancy jewel comes from Siberia, and is of a beautiful dark green transparent color, which under any artificial light changes to that of pigeon blood ruby. The Alexandrite is cut like a diamond and is being used by the leading jewelers for lace pins, bracelets, and other ornaments.”
The Meaning of Alexandrite
To this day, Alexandrite is associated with duality. Hope and sadness, pain and pleasure, loss and life, tears, and laughter.
It is said, the green or blueish-green color seen in brighter light symbolizes ‘hope’. The red or purple or lavender colors seem in dimmer light symbolize ‘blood’.
” Look, here it is, the prophetic Russian stone! O crafty Siberian. It was always green as hope and only toward evening was it suffused with blood.” Leskov, Nikolai Semyonovich (1884), “Alexandrite”
Things to Consider When Buying Antique or Vintage Alexandrite Jewelry
- Natural Alexandrite does not come in any other colors than green or greenish-blue and red or purple or lavender.
- If it is yellow or brown it is probably color change chrysoberyl which is often sold as Alexandrite.
- The closer the green is to emerald and the closer the red is to ruby, the more valuable the stone.
- It is extremely rare to find a stone that changes to red. Normally the color is purple or lavender.
- Naturally mined Alexandrite is rare and valuable and very seldom comes in large carats.
- Nearly all of the Alexandrite you see today in contemporary jewelry is lab-created.
- Something in a vintage or antique setting with small stones is more likely to be naturally minded Alexandrite than a big stone, especially if it is in a modern setting.
- A big stone is almost certainly lab-created. If it is natural it should command a very high price!
- Only a trained and trusted gemologist can tell you for certain if it is mined or lab-created Alexandrite.
- It is always sensible to buy antique and vintage jewelry from a reputed dealer.