The color changing alexandrite is nature's magic trick and is a rare variety of mineral chrysoberyl. This color changing characteristic makes the gemstone one of the most valuable of all, in fine qualities. The image to the left is the same stone in daylight and incandescent light.
The alexandrite was discovered in 1884 in the emerald mines in the Urals of Russia on the day the future czar, Alexander II, came of age which is why the gemstone is named after him. When the Russian mines were depleted interest in these stones waned until another source was found in Brazil. Sri Lanka, India, Burma, Madagascar and Tanzania are other sources for this stone.
Alexandrite, Pearl and Moonstones are the June birthstone. It is a popular gem to be given for a 55th wedding anniversary. It is said to inspire creativity and incite the imagination.
The alexandrite is an 8.5 on the Mohs scale which means it is quite durable. The rarest and coveted color change is from green to red, but if you can find a GIA certified alexandrite in any color change it will command much higher prices than a regular chrysoberyl. This is a stone for experts, connoisseurs, and enthusiasts.
Warm water, gentle soap and a soft brush are the safest way to clean alexandrites. Alexandrites are usually not treated, so ultrasonic cleaning is often okay, though it is safer to err on the side of caution if you are unsure whether the stone has been treated.