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Alexandrite As A Jewelry Gemstone

Aug 18, 2007
Alexandrite is considered to be a rare variety of the color change mineral known as chrysoberyl. The combination of rarity, spectacular color and hardness properties makes this stone highly prized and often quite costly to buy, especially for stones of a large size. Stones of one carat or larger can range in price from fifteen thousand dollars to one million dollars. Alexandrite stones are known to make dramatic color changes when for example, going from sunlight to incandescent light sources. The stones that make a change from red to blue without other colors muddling the change are considered more valuable. In some instances, alexandrite may cost more than a comparable diamond and cost may be determined by the cut, clarity and certainly the size and overall quality of the stone. Another highly prized variety of chrysoberyl is commonly known as cats eye which also changes color relative to the light source it is exposed to.

History

This stone has a relatively short history compared to other gemstones having only been discovered in 1830. First mined in the Ural Mountains of Russia, the stone was dubbed Alexandrite in honor of Czar Alexander II. Since its discovery, this stone has been found in Brazil, Australia, the United States, portions of Africa and India. Depending on the region where it is mined, the stone displays very different and equally beautiful varieties in color depth. Brazil supplies most of the stones available today, though the Brazilian stones are said to not be as brilliant as the original finds in Russia.

Birthstone Information

Alexandrite is recognized as the birthstone for the month of June and associated with the astrological birth sign of Scorpio. Pearl is also recognized as a birthstone for June.

New Age Beliefs and Powers Through The Ages

The short history of this stone has not prevented it from becoming an important source of myth and popular folk lore. The Russians believe that the stone, along with being the birthstone of Czar Alexander II, was a good omen. Russian royalty was often thought to have spiritual powers and the alexandrite is said to provide a strong connection between the physical and metaphysical worlds. The dramatic color changes are thought to represent the changes that are possible in life and that first impressions can often be deceiving. Like many other gemstones and crystals, alexandrite is said to open the heart to romantic possibilities, provide inner peace and even ward off certain physical maladies.

Artificial Forms of Enhancement

There are no known methods of artificially enhancing the color or other properties of this stone though alexandrite has been manufactured synthetically and care must be taken not to buy solely on the basis of a bargain price. Always have gemstones appraised by a qualified gemologist if there is any doubt as to stones authenticity.

General Scientific Information

The chemical name BeAl2O4 and is also referred to as Chrysoberyl.

Hardness measures 8.5 on the Mohs scale - the Mohs scale measures the hardness of metals, minerals, gemstones and crystals on a scale of 1 to 10. For example the hardness properties of most quartz crystals fall around 7 on the scale, as does steel and titanium. Diamond is the hardest known substance on the Mohs scale coming in at a hard 10. To most consumers hardness generally reflects the stones able to resist scratches and cracks.

Birefringence is weak and ranges between 0.008 and 0.011.
Cleavage ranges from perfect, distinct to poor.
The index of refraction ranges between 1.745 - 1.759 and generally indicates the purity of the stone.
The specific gravity of alexandrite measures from 3.68 to 3.75
The crystalline system is orthorhombic.
About the Author
Mitch Endick is a short article writer for the popular jewelry site: JewelrySalesandService.com. Provides information on jewelry, rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces and watches. His website, www.JewelrySalesandService.com also has information on diamonds, birthstones, gemstones, pearls, gold, sterling silver, and platinum.
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