What Is So Special About Alexandrite?

By | July 2, 2024

Imagine discovering a gem that seems to possess magical qualities—the alexandrite. This fascinating gemstone, discovered in the 1830s in Russia, has the extraordinary ability to change color depending on the light, making it both mysterious and enchanting. By daylight, you’ll see a brilliant green or bluish-green, but under incandescent light, it transforms to a purplish-red or raspberry hue. Renowned for its rarity and unique optical qualities, alexandrite has captured the fascination of gem enthusiasts around the world. Dive into this article to explore the captivating history, science, and allure behind one of nature’s most mesmerizing treasures. Have you ever wondered what makes alexandrite so special? You’re not alone! Alexandrite, a relatively rare and stunning gemstone, has fascinated gem enthusiasts and jewelry lovers alike for its incredible color-changing ability and rich history. Let’s dive into what makes this stone so unique and why it’s considered one of the most extraordinary gemstones you can find.

What Is So Special About Alexandrite?

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The Origins and Discovery of Alexandrite

To appreciate alexandrite’s allure, it’s vital to go back to its origins. Alexandrite was first discovered in Russia’s Ural Mountains in the 1830s. It’s named after the young Tsar Alexander II of Russia. Imagine the 19th-century gemologists’ amazement when they stumbled upon a stone that appeared green in daylight and turned a vivid red under incandescent light. This unique property set the stage for its global fascination.

How Alexandrite Was Named

The gemstone was aptly named to honor the future Tsar Alexander II. Given the timing of its discovery around his coming of age, the Russian connection adds a historical and cultural layer of intrigue to this already captivating stone.

The Unique Color-Change Phenomenon

One thing that makes alexandrite stand out is its dramatic color change. Alexandrite is part of the chrysoberyl family, but it’s this specific color-changing variety that has captured people’s attention.

Science Behind the Color Change

Why does alexandrite change color? The magic lies in the complex way the crystal absorbs and reflects light. Alexandrite is trichroic, meaning it can display three colors when viewed from different angles. The chrome (Cr3+) ion in the gemstone causes the light absorption that leads to the visible color change.

Here’s a simple breakdown:

Light SourceColor
Daylight (sunlight)Green to bluish-green
Incandescent light (lamp light)Red to purplish-red

Essentially, alexandrite changes color because different light sources contain varying wavelengths, triggering different colors in the stone. Isn’t that fascinating?

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Alexandrite’s Place in Gemology

Gemology, the scientific study of gemstones, places alexandrite in a league of its own, mainly due to its rarity and unique features.

Physical Properties

Here’s a quick look at alexandrite’s standard attributes:

Hardness8.5 on the Mohs scale
Specific Gravity3.73 – 3.75
Refractive Index1.746 – 1.755
Crystalline StructureOrthorhombic

Apart from its mesmerizing color change, alexandrite’s robust nature makes it suitable for various jewelry pieces, from rings to necklaces.

Sourcing and Rarity

Initially found in the Ural Mountains, alexandrite deposits have since been discovered in places like Brazil, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. Still, high-quality alexandrite remains exceptionally rare, especially those with a strong, distinct color change.

Alexandrite in Jewelry

Settings and Designs

Given its rich colors and sparkle, alexandrite is A gem cutter’s dream. The stone is versatile enough for various jewelry styles, from classic solitaires to intricate, multi-stone designs. You can find alexandrite set in anything from sleek, modern rings to vintage-style brooches, ensuring there’s an option for every taste and occasion.

Caring for Alexandrite Jewelry

While alexandrite is relatively hard and durable, it’s crucial to care for it properly. Clean your alexandrite jewelry with mild soap and a soft brush, and always avoid exposing it to harsh chemicals. Storing it separately from other gems will help prevent scratches.

What Is So Special About Alexandrite?

Alexandrite’s Symbolism and Cultural Significance

What elevates alexandrite beyond its physical properties is its rich symbolism. Often referred to as the “emerald by day, ruby by night,” alexandrite is linked with various positive traits and beliefs.

June Birthstone

Alexandrite is one of the birthstones for June, sharing the honor with pearls and moonstone. Because of its rarity, owning alexandrite is considered a significant gesture of love and wealth.

Spiritual and Healing Properties

Many believe that alexandrite has metaphysical properties, including:

  • Balance: Its color-changing quality symbolizes balance and adaptability.
  • Creativity: It’s thought to inspire imagination and creativity.
  • Healing: Some say alexandrite can aid emotional healing and reduce stress.

Historical and Modern Usage

In the 19th century, Russian royalty wore alexandrite for its perceived good fortune. Today, it remains a popular choice among collectors and those who appreciate its uniqueness.

Alexandrite in Popular Culture

Beyond being a gemstone, alexandrite has made its way into popular culture and various forms of media.

Movies and Television

From high-stakes heist movies to fantasy dramas, alexandrite often symbolizes rarity, value, and sometimes even magic. Its unmistakable color shift makes it a perfect plot device in stories requiring a touch of mystique.


Writers often use alexandrite to symbolize duality or transformation, fitting given the stone’s natural properties. It frequently appears in stories where characters undergo significant personal changes.


In the fashion world, alexandrite remains a symbol of opulence and elegance. High-fashion designers occasionally incorporate alexandrite in their collections, using its unique properties to create stunning, one-of-a-kind pieces.

Investing in Alexandrite

Given its rarity and unique characteristics, alexandrite is a worthwhile investment for gemstone enthusiasts and collectors.

Valuation Criteria

Here are the main factors affecting alexandrite’s value:

Color ChangeThe more distinct the color change, the higher the value.
ClarityClearer stones are more valuable.
Carat WeightLarger alexandrites are rarer and thus more expensive.
OriginStones from original Russian mines are particularly prized.

Buying Tips

When purchasing alexandrite, always request a certified gemological report. This documentation ensures you’re buying an authentic stone. Given its rarity, working with reputable jewelers is essential for making a wise investment.

Future Trends

As awareness grows about alexandrite’s unique properties and historical significance, it’s likely to see increased demand. Being one of the rarer gemstones, it’s anticipated to appreciate in value over time.


So, what makes alexandrite so special? Its mesmerizing color change, rich history, rarity, and cultural significance come together to create a gemstone that’s truly one of a kind. Whether you’re a collector, a jewelry aficionado, or someone looking for a meaningful gift, alexandrite has something unique to offer. Its combination of beauty, history, and symbolism is hard to match, making it a gem well worth your admiration and investment.

If you’re curious about gemstones that captivate both the eye and the heart, exploring alexandrite may just be the fascinating journey you’ve been looking for. Whether catching the “emerald by day” or the “ruby by night,” you’ll find that alexandrite is indeed a marvel of the natural world.

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Author: marklsmithms1

Hi, I'm Mark, the author of Maura Gems and Jewellery. As a team of qualified gemmologists and goldsmiths, we bring you world-class jewellery at Bangkok prices. With offices in both Bangkok and the UK, we ethically source the finest gemstones directly, eliminating any middlemen. We offer a wide range of stunning ready-made jewellery items in our new online store, available for retail or wholesale. Additionally, we specialize in custom-made jewellery where we can bring any design to life. Whether you're a trade professional or an individual customer, we cater to all. Feel free to email me at mark@mauragemsandjewellery.com or call/WhatsApp me at 07470547636 or +66949355718. Discover our incredible collection by visiting our online store. I guarantee you'll love what you find there!

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