Alexandrite is a relatively rare variety of Chrysoberyl of Russian origin. This gemstone, in spite of the international classification, ranks as a gem of first grade (a second grade, according to some sources). In other words, it’s a precious stone. However, it does not exist in the list of precious stones, since the natural Alexandrite is extremely rare.
One Finnish mineralogist (a member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Science) was the first who discovered Alexandrite. He decided to name it in honor of Russian Tsar Alexander II.
A curious specimen of Chrysoberyl gets in the hands of a Finnish scientist named Nils Gustaf Nordenskiöld in 1833. This stone contained chrome and possessed a unique color. Russian writer Nicolay Leskov described the color of this unique gem as “a green morning combined with a bloody evening.”
At first, Nils took this crystal for Emerald thanks to its intense green color. But the following study confirmed that its hardness is 8.5/10 that is not equal to Emerald. Nils was lucky to examine the stone in the evening. He was impressed, as the crystal shined by the blood-red color in the rays of the candle flame. Surprisingly, the day of discovery accidentally matched with the day of the adulthood of Russian monarch, Alexander II. As a result, the mineralogist decided to name the gem after the Russian Tsar.
Natural Alexandrite is extremely rare in Russia and whole world alike. It is due to the rarity of perfect crystals without fissures. As a result of cutting one can obtain just one karat of the cut gemstone.
According to the statistic of the Russian Empire (1831-1862), there were only 135 crystals of cut Alexandrite. The later development of deposits took place in the period between 1878 and 1882. These works have allowed obtaining just 204750 karats. There are no more records concerning the future mining.
Russian Alexandrite had no rivals until 1908 before one remarkable specimen came to the European market from Sri Lanka. Later followed the discovery of Brazil mines in the middle of 80s of the 20th century. But the deposits turned exhausted within three months.
Principal mines of natural Alexandrite belongs to Russia. The crystals of this gemstone lie along with the pieces of Emeralds. The large development started in 1833. This mine produced approx. 410000 karats of the gem. But the best specimens arrived in 1839 in from the Krasnobolotsky mines. The most valuable specimens were of 30 karats in weight. It was a shock for the mineralogists of these times. The deposits of Alexandrite also are in Brazil, South Africa, Madagascar and, Sri Lanka.
There were numerous attempts undertaken to obtain an artificial crystal of Alexandrite. Most of them concluded without results. One scientist from Novosibirsk managed to grow up a crystal of Alexandrite capable of changing its color, as well as the original specimen. He has heated the sample to the temperature of 2500 K, using the method of Chohalsky. During the one week, he obtained the crystals of 12 millimeters in length and 30 millimeters in diameter. The US scientists managed to make the crystals of 45 millimeters in length.
Some jewelry stores sell some gems capable of changing their colors from blue-green to pink under the name Alexandrite. But usually, it’s just a colored Corundum.
Alexandrite rapidly won the hearts of Russian elites since its discovery. Each lady dreamt of obtaining this unique stone. But today, natural Alexandrite is only a subject of collecting. You may accidentally meet this gemstone in a luxury jewelry store. At the same time, you can find this stone among vintage jewelry (mostly as a family treasure). There are many synthetic gems on the market for an affordable price. But if you will manage to purchase Alexandrite, you might consider yourself an owner of one of the rarest gemstones in the world. In the US chart, Alexandrite is an alternative birthstone for June.