All about alexandrite: The other June birthstone

All about alexandrite: The other June birthstone

Most people are under the impression that pearl is the official birthstone for the month of June. While this is technically correct, what many are not aware of is that June actually has two other gems assigned to it: alexandrite and moonstone. A sometimes overlooked stone, alexandrite boasts an awe-inspiring appearance. In fact, with optimal clarity and color, a finely cut alexandrite can match the value of a high-quality diamond. Because of it's unusual chemical composition, it's not commonly found. In fact, it was believed for decades that all deposits had been depleted, and many jewelers today sell synthetic versions as an alternative.

As you peruse the alexandrite baubles at Fine Jewelers, consider these interesting facts about the unique and sought-after stone.

History

  • In the 1830s, alexandrite was unearthed in Russia's Ural Mountains, according to The Aqua Mine. Its popularity suffered for years when it was thought that  Russian supply had run out. Fortunately, more alexandrite was found in Hematita, Brazil in 1987, restoring interest in it. Now, this region of Minas Gerais is one of the most significant sources of alexandrite, also exists in Sri Lanka, Tanzania, India, Zimbabwe and Madagascar.
  • The name of this gem has a royal association. In fact, the American Gem Society noted that the stone was named after Prince Alexander of Russia – later Czar Alexander II – who reigned at the time it was found.
  • You can find alexandrite in a lot of vintage jewels. Gems Brokers explained that Tiffany's master gemology George Kunz had a penchant for the stone, which is why the jeweler produced numerous rings with it in the late nineteenth and earliest twentieth century. Alexandrite also appears in many jewelry sets from the Victorian Era.
  • It wasn't until 1912 that the American National Association of Jewelers added alexandrite a second June birthstone.

Properties

  • Alexandrite, a type of chrysoberyl, is made up of a unique combination of beryllium, oxygen and aluminum, according to BirthstoneZodiac.
  • One reason alexandrite is such a popular choice for jewelry is because of its durability. The Aqua Mine noted that it falls at 8.5 on the Moh's scale, putting it closely behind diamonds, sapphires and rubies in terms of hardness. That means you can sport alexandrite rings on a daily basis without worrying too much about scratching it. Still, the source stressed that it's best to keep it away from high heat, which can impact its color-changing abilities, and try not to knock it into hard surfaces.
  • Think of alexandrite as a color chameleon. One of its most impressive qualities is it can change from a rich green or bluish-green in daylight to a deep raspberry or purplish-red in incandescent light. The Aqua Mine explained that the reason for this is that trace amounts of chromium absorb different wavelengths of light in varying ways, resulting in different hues. So while candlelight will cause the stone to reflect red, it will look green in fluorescent lighting. This is why, as America's Collectibles Network pointed out, alexandrite is often called an emerald by day, and a ruby by night.

Meaning

  • A major factor in the popularity of alexandrite is the fact that it is linked to good luck and good omens, as noted by BirthstoneZodiac. The source explained that many believe this stone can boost creativity and even enhance the wearer's intuitive capacity to the point that they may be able to see into the future.
  • This gemstone is also thought to have healing properties. BirthstoneZodiac reported that some believe it can even out the wearer's emotions, alleviating negative feelings. It is also believed to aid in keeping the circulatory system working properly.
  • Have an anniversary coming up? The Aqua Mine said that alexandrite is a common choice for those celebrating 45 or 55 years of marriage.