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Alexandrite is a rare and valuable gemstone that is renowned for its colour-changing properties. It belongs to the chrysoberyl family of minerals, and its unique ability to change colour depending on the light source makes it a highly sought-after gemstone among collectors and enthusiasts alike.
Alexandrite was first discovered in 1830 in the Ural Mountains of Russia. Described as Emerald by day and Ruby by night. It was named after the Russian tsar Alexander II, and it quickly became popular among the Russian aristocracy. In the years that followed, the gemstone was also found in other parts of the world, including Brazil, Tanzania, and Sri Lanka.
Alexandrite is a type of chrysoberyl mineral with a hardness of 8.5 on the Mohs scale, making it a very durable gemstone. It has a specific gravity of 3.5 to 3.8 and is typically found in small sizes. Alexandrite's colour-changing ability is due to the presence of chromium in the crystal structure.
Alexandrite is known for its unique colour-changing properties, which are caused by the interaction between light and the chromium present in the crystal structure. In daylight, the gemstone appears green to bluish-green, while in incandescent light, it appears reddish-purple to purplish-red.
Like many other gemstones, alexandrite can be treated to enhance its colour and clarity. However rarely treated, the most common treatments include fillers using oil and/or resin, rarely heat treated and even rarer is his irradiation, which may improve the gemstone's colour and clarity.
The majority of alexandrite today comes from Sri Lanka, although it is also found in other parts of the world, including Brazil, Tanzania, Russia and Sri Lanka. Russian alexandrite is considered to be the most valuable and sought-after due to its exceptional colour-changing properties.
Synthetic alexandrite is produced through a process known as the flux method, which involves heating a mixture of chemicals to create a crystal with the same chemical composition as natural alexandrite. While synthetic alexandrite is often used as a more affordable alternative to natural alexandrite, it is not considered as valuable as its natural counterpart.
In addition to its beauty and rarity, alexandrite is also believed to possess metaphysical properties. It is said to promote creativity, intuition, and concentration, and is associated with the heart and crown chakras. Alexandrite is also the birthstone for the month of June, and is sometimes given as a gift for 55th wedding anniversaries.