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Alexandrite - what is it?

by Judy Wood September 14, 2021 1 min read

Alexandrite was first uncovered in the early 1800s in the Ural mountains of Russia. 

At first, the stone discovered was thought to be an emerald, but they soon realised that the ability to change colour in different light that this new stone demonstrated, was unlike any emerald they had seen. 

Further testing also showed that the Mohs hardness of this new stone at 8.5 was much harder than of an emerald (which sits at 7.5 to 8).

Frenelle Jewellery Alexandrite gemstone

The new stone was named after Russia's future Tsar, Alexander Nikolaevich and became known as "Alexandrite".

For the next 150 years Russia was the exclusive source of this new and rare gemstone.  It wasn't until 1987 when deposits of Alexandrite were discovered in Brazil  Since then it has also be found in Africa, the United States, Burma and Sri Lanka.

The rarity of Alexandrite in comparison to diamonds, is making this gemstone more valuable.  Top quality alexandrite can sell for up to $15,000 per carat and larger stones over one carat command prices over $50,000.  As the supplies of this rare gem dwindles, the price increases.

Due to the rarity and cost of this gem, it was inevitable that suppliers of gemstones would seek to synthesize it.  It has been successfully reproduced in laboratories since the 1960s and these synthesized gems have the same physical, chemical and optical characteristics of natural alexandrite.  

Frenelle Jewellery introduced synthetic Alexandrite into its "Alexandrite" collection in September 2021 with earrings and rings.