Alexandrite was discovered in the 1800s. It was found in Russian emerald mines near the Tokovaya River and named after the Tsar Alexander II because it had been discovered on the same day as his birthday.
The Russian master jewelers were fascinated by the alexandrite and produced some beautiful jewelry using the gemstone. You may find alexandrite in antique Russian jewelry. You may also find smaller pieces of the gemstone in old English jewelry created during the Victorian era.
Unique Color Properties
The alexandrite gemstone has a chameleon-like ability to change its color. It appears green or bluish-green in natural light and red, magenta or raspberry red under incandescent light. Because of this amazing ability, the gemstone matched the national colors of old Imperial Russia and was made the national stone.
Around the World
Though alexandrite was discovered originally in Russia, it has also been found in Brazil, India and New Mexico. Russia mined all of its alexandrite during the 19th century.
The alexandrite mines in India are very dangerous to visit. The tribes living there are very superstitious and not welcoming to strangers. Trying to take alexandrite from the mines could also result in serious prison time.
To obtain alexandrite from India, one would have to visit a tribal elder (tribal elders control all the mining and selling of alexandrite in their area). The person interested in buying the gemstone would have to pay a fee to the local tribal elder. Such transactions are considered illegal, however, and the buyer may have problems with the local police.
Alexandrite in the U.S.
In the U.S., alexandrite can be found in the La Madera Mountains in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico. These mountains contain a group of mines which have been reported to produce the occasional small gems with color changing properties.
A permit to go rock hunting in the area may be needed, and the mines themselves may be off-limits.
Hunting for alexandrite would be both easier and more difficult than searching for other types of stones. It would be easier because the unique ability of the gemstone to change colors makes it easy to spot; however, the rarity of alexandrite makes the task of finding it harder.
A Rare Gem
The formation of alexandrite requires specific geological conditions that have occurred only occasionally in the history of the planet, making alexandrite scarce. Because of its rarity, chemical make-up and unique color changing abilities, alexandrite is very valuable.
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