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How much does alexandrite stone cost?

ALEXANDRITE is the rarest gemstone in the world today, it is one of the five most expensive stones, one of the most expensive varieties of the yellow-green mineral chrysoberyl. Chrysoberyl has been known since antiquity; it got its name from the Greek chrisos – gold. The difference between alexandrite and other chrysoberyls is the ability to change color throughout the day. This property is called pleochroism. The jewel looks like a light emerald crystal in daylight and raspberry-cherry in the evening. “Emerald by day and ruby ​​by night,” is how experts describe this unusual ability of alexandrite to change color. There are translucent and completely transparent gems – the most expensive and exclusive specimens. Large nuggets are rare, small stones are more common. Some alexandrites have a “cat’s eye” effect – opalescence. Light inside the mineral is refracted in such a way that it forms a thin strip. When processing, alexandrite requires caution: it is fragile and can easily crack when squeezed. As the temperature rises, the stone changes color and is also unstable to alkalis. Ural alexandrite is one of the most valuable minerals in the world. It was opened in 1831. The heir to the Russian throne, the future Tsar Alexander II, received the gem as a gift on his 16th birthday. Subsequently, they decided to name the stone in his honor. This stone rightfully bears the name imperial. Buying a Ural gem is much more difficult than buying diamonds and emeralds. Ural alexandrites are rare. The price of alexandrites on the world market can reach fabulous figures of up to 100 thousand dollars or more per 1 carat. Meanwhile, alexandrite is not the only stone that turns from green (in daylight and sunlight) to red (in artificial lighting). Some garnets that contain (similar to alexandrite) an admixture of chromium oxide, as well as individual samples of green polychroid sapphires, behave in the same way. A popular version says that the stone was discovered by Finnish mineralogist Nils Gustav Nordenskiöld in 1842. This is not entirely true. Nordenskiöld described the properties of the mineral and explained why this variety of chrysoberyl changes color. But he was not the discoverer of the stone. Bizarre “emeralds”, which took on a crimson color in the evening, had been found in the Urals before. The ancient names of alexandrite were lost, but peoples of ancient times probably knew it. A burial with jewelry of the Polovtsian khan, who lived in the 12th century, was found in Zaporozhye. Among the commander’s gems was a ring with alexandrite. There are also earlier mentions of alexandrite in history, for example, in the Mahabharata, an ancient Indian treatise. In 1832, a druse of 22 alexandrite crystals was found on the Tokovaya River. At first it was mistaken for an emerald. Y. V. Kokovin (Chief Gittenferwalter of the Yekaterinburg Lapidary Factory) sent a friend to St. Petersburg. The properties of the new mineral were studied by Lev Alekseevich Perovsky (1792-1856), who was the Minister of Appanages at that time. Confused by the increased hardness of the “emerald” (one higher than the 8,5 emerald), Perovsky also noted a change in color. Initially, Perovsky planned to call the new mineral “diaphanite” (from ancient Greek “brilliant, bright”), however, taking advantage of the favorable moment to distinguish himself in front of the imperial family, he presented the mineral to Alexander’s coming of age on April 17, 1834. But the description of a mineral called alexandrite (a type of chrysoberyl that changes color) was first published in 1842. A unique druse of alexandrite, consisting of 22 crystals, found in the Urals, weighing 5,38 kg. kept today in the Mineralogical Museum named after A.E. Fersman. It was the mineralogist Fersman who calculated that by 1922 no more than two thousand kilograms of alexandrite had been mined in the Urals. This is very, very little. For comparison: by this time, over 20 thousand kilograms of emeralds had been mined in the Urals. Not all mined alexandrites were suitable for jewelry production. Pylyaev wrote back in 1888 in his book “Precious Stones” that “. alexandrite inserts are very rare due to the small number of crystals suitable for polishing, that is, clean and transparent.” In the 19th century (as well as in our time), only the richest representatives of Russian society could purchase it. Alexandrite became extremely popular during the reign of Emperor Alexander II. Interest in him intensified after the death of the autocrat. He was revered among the nobility, so both men and women wore a ring with alexandrite. Next to the alexandrite, two diamonds were supposed to be inserted: symbols of the best deeds of the emperor – the abolition of serfdom and the establishment of new legal proceedings. “Alexandrite mystically predetermined the fate of the emperor, after whom he was named: the “green” beginning of his reign, reforms, the abolition of serfdom, the end of the war and the tragic “red” ending – a conflict with almost the entire royal family, a series of assassination attempts that ended in an explosion on the Ekaterininsky embankment canal in 1881, which cut short the life of Alexander II. Alexandrite adorned Russian imperial regalia, sparkled in the precious jewelry of the royal family and court, in crosses, icon frames and church utensils, in the works of the great Faberge and jewelers of his school. The mother of Alexander II, Alexandra Fedorovna, had a set of unprecedented beauty with alexandrite. Court artist Franz Kruger depicted the Empress in a ceremonial sundress and kokoshnik, decorated with exceptionally large Ural alexandrites. The kokoshnik was inlaid with eight stones of dark green and dark red shades, two more stones were in earrings, the largest stone was in a pearl necklace, two in bracelets, two on the sleeves. Nikolai Leskov in his story “Alexandrite” wrote: “. The rarity of this stone has increased even more due to two reasons: 1) from the belief that has taken root among stone seekers that, where alexandrite is identified, it is in vain to look for an emerald, and 2) from the fact that the mines where the best specimens of the stone of Alexander II were obtained were flooded with water from a broken river. Thus, please note that alexandrite can very rarely be found among Russian jewelers, and foreign jewelers and lapidaries, as M. I. Pylyaev says, “know about it only by hearsay.” In the old days, emeralds were valued more than alexandrites, so prospectors stubbornly “did not notice” the iridescent crystals and did not pick them up from the ground. Most of the jewelry of the imperial family with alexandrites went abroad after the revolution. Some of them are kept in the Museum of the School of Mines (Paris) and in the Museum of Natural History. The largest cut alexandrite weighing 66 carats is kept in the Smithsonian Institution. For a long time, alexandrites were considered Russian stones, the deposits of which are found only in the Urals. And only in 1880 were mines opened in Brazil, Ceylon, and then in other countries. Russian alexandrite has a delicate bluish-green color, while Ceylon stones have an olive color. Alexandrite is also mined in countries such as Sri Lanka, Madagascar, USA, and Kenya. Alexandrite is sometimes called the widow’s stone. Allegedly, after the Russian-Turkish war, many women who wore alexandrite remained widows. In fact, no one called the stone that until World War II. But the name “widow’s stone” has nothing to do with real alexandrite. Nowhere in the old literature does the name “Widows’ Stone” appear. But in the Soviet Union people began to call him that. More precisely, not alexandrite itself, but synthetics that were sold under that name. They learned to grow Alexandrite at the beginning of the 20th century. In the USSR, it was not alexandrite itself that was sold under this name, but its imitation. Most often it was synthetic corundum with an admixture of vanadium, which could also change color. “Alexandrite” was written on the price tags, and women firmly believed that they were wearing jewelry. Such jewelry was very popular in the 30s before the war. Many brides and wives who wore the stone remained widows during the war, so this name was assigned to pseudo-Alexandrite. During the existence of the USSR, not a single true alexandrite entered trade. All stones that were purchased at that time were either synthetic or fake (corundum with vanadium). Real Ural alexandrites were only exported. In 1973, artificial alexandrite began to be grown. Today, the world’s best synthetic stones are produced in Novosibirsk; they have a purple tint, change color and are famous for their purity and transparency – a distinctive feature of alexandrite. Natural alexandrites do not have a violet tint. The advantage of such stones can be considered their cost, the price is several times lower. People believe that in order for alexandrite not to become a widow’s stone, you need to wear paired jewelry, in no case, for example, one ring – this brings misfortune. Alexandrites weighing more than one carat are rare. For a century and a half, the largest nugget was considered to be a stone weighing 531 carats, which was found in 1839. Larger nuggets were discovered not so long ago – in the 90s of the 1992th century. In 880, a crystal weighing 1993 carats of jewelry quality was found at the Malyshevsky deposit “Ural Emerald Mines”. In 348, a druse of crystals weighing XNUMX grams was found there. And in 2000, a giant nugget weighing three thousand carats (total weight – 597 grams) was discovered in a Gokhran warehouse. The stone, called “Patriot,” was valued at $170. A unique alexandrite was arrested for non-payment of wages to workers. The government refused to buy Patriot. Later, its price dropped by more than 10 times. “Patriot” was sold for 15 thousand dollars to private hands. Where the nugget is now, one can only guess. Many Ural alexandrites are found abroad, in museums and private collections. In the Geological Museum. Vernadsky has a collection of 82 alexandrites, which was donated by collector Yuri Kozlov. WHERE CAN I BUY ALEXANDRITE? In Russia there is only one deposit of alexandrites – in the village of Malysheva (Malyshevskoye deposit) – the largest primary deposit of emeralds in Europe and the only one in Russia. The enterprise processes 93,7 thousand tons of rock per year. Up to one and a half kilograms of emeralds, 30 kilograms of beryls and only 100 grams of alexandrites are mined daily. In Russia you cannot buy them in open trade – jewelers say this honestly. Jewelry with high-quality stones is made to order and is not available to everyone. If you buy Russian alexandrites, it is better to look for them in Europe, at auctions. In Russia, there is a very high risk of purchasing a stone with a “bad” history or a synthetic equivalent. Green andalusite is very similar to alexandrite, it is even capable of pleochroism, but it makes no sense to pass off one gem after another – both are almost equally rare. But they may well try to sell spinel and corundum under the guise of a “chameleon” if their samples have an alexandrite-like effect. Doublets with a clear change in color are also made: the upper part is made of red garnet, and the lower part is made of green glass. WHERE TO VIEW IN THE URALS? In the Ural Geological Museum of the Mining University, among the samples of the ancient collection, a unique druse was discovered – an intergrowth of large crystals – alexandrites, weighing 3740 carats (748 grams). Initially, the alexandrite crystals were covered with mica and the sample was considered ordinary. Only after preparation (cleaning of mica) it became clear that this crystal fusion is unique. This sample, called the “Liberator” by the museum staff, became the main exhibit at the exhibition “Emperor Alexander II and Alexandrite” in 2018, which was dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the birth of the autocrat, who went down in Russian history with the epithet “liberator”.

  1. Avdonin V. Alexandrite illuminated the Earth with light // Ural Pathfinder. – 2009. – No. 9. – P. 76-80.
  2. Avdonin V. Their names sound in the names of Ural minerals // Ural Pathfinder. – 2011. – No. 2. – P. 20-27.
  3. Talantsev A. S. Famous Ural gems. – Ekaterinburg: PAKRUS, 2000. – 168 p.

The material was prepared by Anna Larionova.

Alexandrite is a very rare variety of the yellow-green mineral chrysoberyl, from which it differs in its unique ability to change color depending on the lighting: under natural light it is green, under an electric lamp it is almost red.

The discovery of the stone belongs to N. Nordenskiöld, a Finnish researcher who studied the Ural emerald mines in the 1833th century. When the gem first caught his eye in XNUMX, it was an emerald hue, but in the light of a night candle it turned out to be deep red, which greatly amazed the mineralogist. The find was named Alexandrite in honor of Alexander II, the son of the then reigning Emperor Nicholas I.

In the photo: Druse of alexandrites, 3740 ct

Large specimens of alexandrite are extremely rare in nature, as are pure small specimens of jewelry quality – this makes the mineral extremely expensive. The largest known nugget was found in the Urals in the 532th century; its weight was 66 carats. This alexandrite had to be divided into several parts, since it was not possible to sell it due to the incredibly high price. The largest gem known today weighs XNUMX carats.

There are also earlier mentions of alexandrite in history, for example, in the Mahabharata, an ancient Indian treatise. The stone was also discovered in a 12th-century burial belonging to a Polovtsian khan – he had a ring with this amazing “chameleon” on his hand.

Place of Birth

The primary deposit of alexandrites is located in the Urals, but it was quickly depleted, although it is the Ural stones that are considered the standard – they are distinguished by a pure emerald hue in daylight and turn red in artificial light.

Today, alexandrites are mined from placers in Sri Lanka, Brazil, Kenya, Tasmania, Zimbabwe, the USA, and Madagascar. But most of the gems found there, although they are “chameleons,” are not as beautiful in daylight as the Ural stones.

It is interesting that in the Urals alexandrites were always mined together with emeralds, but the miners had a strange superstition about them. Allegedly, if alexandrite was found during excavations, then emeralds would no longer be found, so they tried to ignore the stones, not pick them up or lift them.

Varieties and properties of alexandrite

Formula: Al2BeO4

Color: blue-green, blue-green, olive green, red-violet, purple, pink-raspberry

Hardness: 8,5

Density: 3,5–3,84 g/cm3

Transparency: translucent, transparent

Cleavage: imperfect

Kink: conchoidal

The most valuable property of alexandrite is its so-called “Alexandrite effect”, which ensures the variability of the color of the stone under different lighting conditions. It is due to the special structure of the crystal lattice of the gem and the specific arrangement of chromium impurities. There are specimens of this mineral that have opalescence, that is, they can scatter light in such a way that a glare in the form of a “cat’s eye” is formed on the surface.

In the photo: The color of the stone in artificial and daylight.

Depending on the place of extraction, the following varieties of alexandrite are distinguished:

  • Ural is the best example of color change; it has the deepest and most saturated shades. In daylight it is rich green, in artificial light it is purple.
  • African, Brazilian – green stone with a brown undertone during the day and red in the light of a night lamp.
  • Indian and from Sri Lanka – under different types of lighting it is bluish-green, pinkish or red.

Who is alexandrite suitable for?

On the Internet you can often find references to the fact that alexandrite is considered a widow’s stone. The prerequisites for the emergence of such a sign can be found in the history of our country. The fact is that fashion for it returned in the post-war years, when many men did not return from the front, so they began to say that the gem brings misfortune. But such beliefs are not relevant in the modern world, where alexandrite has been worn by successful people for many years, and the stone costs quite a lot, because there is a huge demand for it.

Ring “Inspirational Motif”

Alexandrite (Brazil) 2,37 carats

Inspiration is a real miracle that comes into our lives to realize plans, ideas, creative ideas, desires, dreams. And it doesn’t matter what kind of work we do: whether we paint pictures, create fashionable clothing collections or compose music. If we are inspired and passionate about what we do, then success will be guaranteed.

It is precisely these poetic motives that Maxim Demidov jewelers are guided by when creating their masterpieces. They are inspired by the perfection of the rarest gemstones from around the world. Their special passion is gems with unique characteristics and properties, when it seems that nature cannot create anything more amazing.

The rare imperial stone alexandrite has a special advantage: its color changes depending on the light, from green to red. There is even a saying: “In the morning he is an emerald, and in the evening he is a ruby.”

To highlight the wondrous splendor of the 2,37-carat alexandrite in the sensual “Inspirational Motif” ring, the craftsmen encased the Brazilian gem in a slightly muted, laconic platinum base and surrounded it with a sparkling pattern of alternating noble diamonds of various cuts.

Exclusive jewelry with alexandrites are considered one of the most expensive – for all the centuries that the mineral has been known, its price has never dropped, since it is mined only in a few places on the planet. To have such rarity is an extremely powerful inspiration.

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