Alexandrite’s claim to fame is its ability to change from the color red to green. Alexandrite is transparent, and under incandescent light it appears red as a raspberry, but walk outside into the sunlight and it turns to a grassy green shade.
The stone was named in honor of Russia’s Alexander II. As the story goes, alexandrite was discovered in Russia on Alexander II’s birthday in 1831, the day he reached his majority. This fascinating stone is a type of chrysoberyl. Most alexandrite is cut in facets, but cat’s eye alexandrite from Brazil is sometimes cut in a rounded, cabochon style.
Alexandrite is a rather uncommon gem particularly in larger sizes. Stones larger than 2 carats are extremely rare and can command prices of thousands and thousands of dollars.
Until 1973, synthetic alexandrite stones weren’t good enough to fool gemologists. However in 1973 a convincing substitute was created. While good gemologists are able to tell the real thing from the fake, the average consumer might find it more challenging. Be particularly careful when buying alexandrite jewelry from the seventies, when the synthetic stone was new and many gemologists hadn’t yet learned to tell the difference.
Alexandrite is not on the birthstone list, probably because it is relatively rare, however it does have some folklore associated with it. Some consider alexandrite to be the stone for a child born on Friday, or just Friday’s stone. Russians consider an alexandrite to be a lucky stone, due to its red and green colors.