Alexandrite is one of the "official" birthstones for June. Popular alexandrite jewelry you can buy includes rings, earrings and pendants.

What Is Alexandrite?

Natural alexandrite is a very rare form of metamorphic chrysoberyl that was discovered in the 19th century.

The most notable feature of alexandrite is that it changes colour under different types of light - the word alexandritic is sometimes used to describe any gemstone that changes colour this way. Because of its chromium content alexandrite appears green in sunlight and turns a red or violet colour under many forms of artificial light; it's been described as resembling an emerald by day and a ruby or amethyst by night. The degree of colour change varies greatly between different stones and is one of the factors considered when grading and valuing natural alexandrite and hence has an effect on the price when you buy a stone.

Genuine natural alexandrite is extremely rare and the priced accordingly. Most people today buy created alexandrite and there are a variety of different synthetic, lab created forms and lookalikes available on the market.

Synthetic alexandrite is often used in lasers, both for military applications and in civilian life for purposes such as tattoo and hair removal.

Symbolism and Lore

Alexandrite was first discovered in the Ural mountains in the 1830s. It is said that the discovery took place on the exact day in 1834 when young Tsar Alexander II came of age (his 16th birthday). Whether that is true or simply a legend, the new gemstone was named after the Tsar. Since the colours of the of Russia were red and green, the stone quickly became the Russian national stone.

The relative newness of this gem means that there is little lore surrounding alexandrite. Some have said that its contrasting colours make it a stone of the intuition, for solving problems where ordinary logic would not be able to penetrate.