Emerald by day, ruby by night… it may seem like the beginning of a superhero comic, but this is how gem aficionados describe the birthstone for June - the Alexandrite.
A unique variety of chrysoberyl, alexandrite is a rare gemstone. Alexandrites are what professionals call ‘pleochroic’, meaning it has an extraordinary ability to change colour under the influence of light- green in sunlight, and reddish-purple under incandescent light.
In comparison to other gemstones like the diamond or emerald, alexandrite is a fairly young stone, only discovered in 1830 in the Russian Ural Mountains. The gemstone is named after the Russian Czar, Alexander II, after it was discovered by a French mineralist, who initially thought that the gem was an emerald.
Image source: minerals.net
Because the colours of Imperial Russia were red and green, the stone became the national stone of tsarist Russia, driving an intense demand for these magnificent stones. This eventually led to its depletion in Ural, and it no longer yields any amount of alexandrite.
But just when we thought the gems were heading towards extinction even larger deposits of alexandrite were discovered in Sri Lanka, and later in India, Brazil and East Africa. Even though they are continually mined from these areas, they lack the vivid colour and the dramatic colour morph as those from Russia.
However, do not be fooled by the availability of these gemstones, as they are considered to be extremely rare and valuable; more so than a diamond, emerald or sapphire.
Image Source: gem2000.com
Good quality alexandrite, being the unique stone that it is, has few inclusions. However, in rare occasions when certain types of long, needle-like inclusions are oriented parallel to each other, they create an additional phenomenon called chatoyancy or cat’s-eye effect, raising the value of the gem even higher.
Wear and Care:
Rated 8.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, alexandrite is generally transparent with tiny spots or threads within it. This lack of inclusions actually helps strengthen the structure of the stone, making the alexandrite a durable gemstone, after sapphire and ruby. Because of its strength and durability, you can clean an alexandrite in ultrasonic cleaners or in soapy water.
The Birthstone for the June born:
Alexandrite is widely known to bring luck, good fortune, and love. Alexandrite is one of three birthstones for June - the other two being pearl and moonstone - and is traditionally gifted on the 45th wedding anniversary. It is also said to remind us of our purpose in life and helps to connect us with ourselves, and its changing colour is a reminder that life is not only what it seems to be. The gem is also said to deliver intuition, creativity, and imagination of its wearers.
Tale and Lore:
In Russia, alexandrite is considered to bring good omens. It is also believed to bring balance in the interaction between the physical and spiritual world. Encouraging romance, the stone is said to bring joy in to the lives with too much self- discipline, and bring hope to those who are in despair about their lives.
In tantric/yogic traditions, the alexandrite is said to open the crown chakra, bringing access to the warm, healing energy and love of the universe.
Image source: newsdesk.si.edu
Bancroft Crystal, Fersman Crystals & Whitney Alexandrite
Curious about gemstones and the powers they have over you? Check out The Emerald to know more about this lush gemstone.
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