Alexandrite History

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Alexandrites

On 17 April 1834, the Russian Empire was celebrating the sixteenth birthday of the future Tsar Alexander II, one of the most controversial characters in Russian history. At around the same time, a color changing gemstone was found in the Urals's Emerald mines on the Tokovaya River, 96 kilometers to the east of Ekaterinburg and the noble story of the most scarce and fascinating precious stone was born and irrevocably associated with Alexander II, through being named in his honor -- Alexandrite.

Alexandrite is the variety of chrysoberyl that displays a color change as a function of the light source. It is the presence of chromium that is responsible for the color change in alexandrite. The two colors are usually blue-green in daylight and purplish-red under incandescent light. Stones with a weak change or better are identified as alexandrite while stones with a faint change should be identified as chrysoberyl.

Alexandrite became symbolic of the reign of Alexander II, and later tsarist Russia in general. The fact that the stone colors of red and green echoed the principal colors of Imperial Russia endeared it to many. Moreover, the magic of the changing colors directly reflected the thoughts of a society ruled by Tsars since 1480, where every written and spoken word had a second meaning and allegory was the main form of expressing notions different from the official ideology.

And one gem in particular, more rare than diamond, a stone that magically changes color was the inspiration behind many of these stories. History and mystery, fiction and reality, the story of alexandrite is forever linked to the last of the Russian Tsars. More than any other Russian gemstone, alexandrite has captured and captivated the interest of collectors and connoisseurs since its discovery in the Ural mountains almost 200 years ago.

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