The official birthstone for June can be an Alexandrite, a Moonstone or a Pearl, according to the American National Association of Jewelers in their 1912 final list of Official Birthstones. If you are born in June, you get to choose your own birthstone, which is great.
In this issue, I will focus on the Alexandrite. As it is the most rare colored gemstone in the world, the average person knows very little about the Alexandrite. The Alexandrite was only discovered in 1835, and it has gained an amazing reputation in it's short history.
The Alexandrite is also the representative stone for the 55th year of wedded bliss. I think if you can stay with someone for 55 years (an extremely rare feat) you are entitled to an extremely rare gem!
The Alexandrite is a transparent gemstone with a remarkable color-change property: the
color changes with the light. This color change effect is aptly called the “Alexandrite Effect”, which is how the eyes and the brain interprets the light waves coming from the stone. The stone looks different in different light sources. The Alexandrite Effect is different then the pleochroic effect, which is when a crystal structure in a gem refracts light in different colors back to the viewer from different angles, and only stones with crystal structures can have this effect. The Alexandrite exhibits both these rare properties, making the stone even more rare.
It is rated an 8.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, which is softer than a Sapphire, but harder than an Amethyst and one of three stones in the Chrysoberyl family. Most Chrysoberyl are colored with iron, but the Alexandrite has traces of chromium (which gives it the pick-ish color in candlelight). Chromium is the same coloring agent found in the Emerald, as we learned in the May issue. However, the Alexandrite is not related to the Emerald (Beryl) family.
The Alexandrite was first discovered in 1834 by the French mineralist, Nils Gustaf Nordenskiold. It was thought to be an emerald because it was found in the emerald mines in Russias Ural region and was a deep brilliant green. But the miners soon discovered the deep green stone looked purple-ish/pink in candlelight. It is said the stone was discovered on the
16th birthday of the future Tsar of Russia, Alexander II, and was named in his honor. Because of this and the color change properties, changing from red to green (the colors of Russia), the Alexandrite soon became the official gemstone of Russia.
It was first thought that the only deposits of the gemstone were in Russia, and soon the mines became severely depleted. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, new caches of the stone were discovered in Brazil, Sri Lanka and East Africa, though the Russian gems are still the industry standard and the most beautiful.
The stone is associated with many self-disciplines, it is said to..
Help promote concentration and the ability to learn
To evoke the wearer with the desire to strive for excellence
Encourages romance and joy
Be associated with the crown chakra
Carry warm healing energies
Believed to strengthen intuition
Aid in creativity
The Alexandrite brings good omens to anyone who wears it. The color change effect reminds us that life is always changing and is not always what it seems to be.
The people of Russia associate the finding of this gem with good luck as the country prospered under Alexander II. Once he became Tsar in 1855, he instituted many democratic reforms giving much power back to the people, modernized Russia by accepting Western culture and technology, promoting local government and reforms to the judicial system. He also abolished the feudal system and barbarous medieval punishments.
The stone is said to have been found on the very day in 1834, the future tsar of Russia, Alexander II, came to age.
Because of the red and green color change properties of the stone, it was declared the official gemstone of Imperial Russia.
It is often described as “emerald by day, ruby by night.”
It is extremely rare and even more rare to find in weights more than 3 carats
It was originally thought the only deposit of Alexandrite was in Russia
Tiffany’s loved the gem so much, the company cornered the market on the gem for decades by buying out all the reserves
So buy the Alexandrite for an investment, wear it for luck, happiness, concentration, and imagination. But wear it foremost because it is one June's Birthstones.
Until next time, when we discuss the Ruby, one of the four precious stones.
(3) The Jeweler’s Directory of Gemstones by Judith Crowe
(7) Gemstones of the world by Walter Schumann