June – The Alexandrite

Alexandrite / Moonstone / Pearl

Depending on who you ask, the official birthstone for June can be an Alexandrite, a Moonstone, or a Pearl. So one nice thing you can do is choose your own birthstone, if you are born in June.

I will focus on the Alexandrite in this issue, as it is the most rare colored gemstone in the world, and the average person knows very little about the Alexandrite. With its short history, it was only discovered in 1835, it has gained an amazing reputation. And in 1912, when the American National Association of Jewelers was finalizing their list of Birthstones, the Alexandrite was categorized as one of the birthstones of June.

The Alexandrite is also the stone for the 55th year of wedded bliss. It think if you can stay with someone for 55 years, an extremely rare feat, I think you are entitled to an extremely rare gem!

The Alexandrite is a transparent gemstone with a remarkable color-change property. It is an 8.5 on the Mohs hardness scale which is softer than Sapphires, but harder than Amethyst. It is one of three stones in the Chrysoberyl family. Most Chrysoberyl are colored with iron, but Alexandrite has traces of chromium, the same coloring agent found in the Emerald, as we learned in the May issue. However, the Alexandrite is not related to the Beryl family.


Mixed Light


The color change effect of the Alexandrite 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.

The Alexandrite was first discovered in 1834 by a French mineralist called Nils Gustaf Nordenskiold. It was thought to be an emerald at first because it was found in the emerald mines in Russia’s Ural region and was a deep brilliant green. But the miners soon discovered the deep green stone looked purple-ish/pink in candlelight that evening. 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 the color change properties, changing from red to green (the colors of Russia), it 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 said to be 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
  • To be associated with the crown chakra and carries warm healing energies
  • Believed to strengthen intuition
  • Aid creativity
  • Inspire imagination

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.

Fun Facts:

  • The stone is said to have been found on 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 a beautiful investment, wear it for luck, happiness, concentration, and imagination. But wear it foremost because it is one of the birthstones of June. The American National Association of Jewelry said so.

Until next time, when we discuss the Ruby, one of the four precious stones.


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