Alexandrite is an oxide mineral made up of beryllium and aluminum. While aluminum is plentiful, beryllium is not, which makes this gemstone rare and expensive. Alexandrite is also known for its cat’s eye optical effect, where it would appear that there are two minerals within a single mineral.
This effect is produced by a large quantity of fiber-like formations within the alexandrite. The light is bounced back and forth within the crystalline structure of the alexandrite, creating the illusion of light and dark at the very least.
Take note that this particular effect can be observed in other kinds of gems, too, depending on the geologic inclusions within certain specimens. The dual-material look of alexandrite makes it more valuable, and the alexandrite is evaluated based on its optical properties and color saturation.
Alexandrite is a type of chrysoberyl that can change color (though not really). The change in color is due to the elements inside the crystalline structure that react differently to different kinds of light as well. It is not common to find alexandrite that weighs more than two carats. That’s why specimens that above two carats are naturally expensive.
Any alexandrite that is above five carats is top of the line and can fetch as much as $70,000+ per carat. The number of carats has an impact on the final per-carat price of any gemstone, so don’t be confused. Larger gemstones will fetch higher prices per carat because it is rare, generally speaking, ever to hold a processed and perfected gemstone without losing a lot of mass.
Another possible reason for an increase in the value of a smaller piece of gemstone is the purity of the specimen and its physical properties that affect its visual effects. Alexandrite, specifically, is judged by its cat’s eye visual effect. Alexandrite will photograph differently depending on the lighting conditions and the type of light available.
Colors of alexandrite
Alexandrite is not just rare because it is not mined extensively in a lot of countries (unlike sapphire and rubies), but also because it is not content in showing just one kind of color. Alexandrite is known for display a wide array of colors when held up to the light.
The first deposits of this gemstone were first found in Russia, which made it an instant hit with the aristocracy in this country. This gemstone is named after Czar Alexander II.
The colors present in this gemstone are usually a result of internal impurities or inclusions, which are natural for gemstones. In addition to natural inclusions, alexandrite also features some impurities at the chemical level.
The presence of other minerals and elements tend to change the colors that the gem reveals when light strikes it. Chromium ions in alexandrite can cause the gemstones to reflect blues and yellows. Alexandrite changes color depending on the light source.
When it is held up against natural sunlight, you will see more greens and blues of the spectrum more than reds. When you hold alexandrite against candlelight, you will see warmer tones as reds are emphasized. It is possible even to see purples and reds together.
Again, it all depends on the lighting conditions. If you want to see more intense reds, use ultraviolet light to observe the insides of the alexandrite. UV light allows the alexandrite to absorb and reflect light waves from the red spectrum instead of the usual green and blue spectrums.
Is there synthetic alexandrite?
Yes, there is. Synthetic alexandrite is manufactured in laboratories using either of two methods: flux-melt and with the pulled crystal method. The pulled crystal method produces the best synthetic alexandrite and the colors that these products are amazing. The colors have depth and
Where are they found
Alexandrite was first identified and mined in the Ural Mountains in what would become known as Russia. This happened in 1830. Alexandrite was eventually named after a czar of Russia (Alexander the Second). Since then, there have been some lodes of alexandrite discovered in other countries like India and Sri Lanka.
These two have become the two most productive areas for mining alexandrite. Russia was the main source of the gemstone for just 60 years after its discovery. After extensive and widespread mining of the Urals, the eastern flank of the mountains provided large quantities of gemstones, including emeralds. Emeralds and alexandrite share a common element, but they have different crystalline structures and different chemical components.
The largest alexandrite found so far weighs 5724 grams and has been found in the emerald mines of the Ural Mountains. The largest faceted specimen, which was 66 carats, is now proudly exhibited by the Smithsonian. As for the largest unprocessed alexandrite, that can be found in the private collection of Jules Sauer, the chairman of the Amsterdam Jewellers. This uncut alexandrite is named after the chairman himself.
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How much are they worth
The global jewelry market valuates alexandrite based on three categories relating to the hues of the gemstone: daylight and fluorescent hues and candlelight and brilliant hues. Each category has its optical standards that further split the alexandrite’s value based on hue, tone, and saturation of the colors.
There is acceptable, fair, good, very good, and exceptional clarity. On the lower end of the spectrum of pricing is acceptable alexandrite, which goes for $100-$2,000.
On the lower end (based on the criteria we set earlier), fair alexandrite is priced at $500 to $4,000 per carat, while the good alexandrite and very good alexandrite are priced at $3,000-$5000 per carat and $4,000 to $8,000 per carat. For the lower-range exceptional clarity alexandrite, the price jumps to $5,000 to $10,000.
For the highest range, acceptable alexandrite is priced at $1,000 to $15,000 per carat, while fair alexandrite is $10,000 to $30,000 per carat. Good alexandrite is $22,500 to $40,000, while those under very goodwill cost $35,000 to $50,000 per carat. The Lamborghini of alexandrite that has the best optical properties go for $40,000 to $70,000 per carat.