Alexandrites are among the rarest, most spectacular and expensive gemstones in the world.  The earliest important source of them was the Ural mountains of Russia.  The gem became a favorite of the Russian royal family and was named after the Russian Czar, Alexander II.

This gem is special mostly because of the enchanting way in which the color changes dramatically according to the light it is in.  Alexandrite is a gemstone of the mineral chrysoberyl. In addition to the Ural Mountains (its most famous and definitive source), quality alexandrites are found in Brazil, and sometimes Sri Lanka, Myanmar (Burma), Tanzania and India.

Most people will go there whole lives without ever seeing a natural alexandrite.  What they will see instead, is man-made (synthetic) Alexandrite.  Synthetic alexandrite comes in very large sizes with perfect color and dramatic color change.  Whereas natural alexandrite can cost $10,000/carat or more, synthetic alexandrites are available for a few hundred dollars.


Natural Alexandrite Ring

Synthetic Alexandrite

Large Natural Alexandrite

Typical Natural: If you are a collector or savvy in fine jewelry, and you go out of your way to seek out a natural alexandrite, this is the kind of stone you’ll find.  It is small, the colors are dull-ish, but you will see a color change and get to own a rare and precious phenomenon.  These retail from a few hundred to a few thousands of dollars. Synthetics are everywhere: This is something you will see much more commonly, a man-made alexandrite.  Sometimes they are sold under the name “Zandrite”, sometimes dishonest sellers do not openly state they are synthetic.  But you will know it is when you see a large, brightly colored stone with strong color change, priced in the hundreds of dollars.  Only a few in the world: This is a natural, huge alexandrite (19 carats). The color change is not extremely strong and neither are the colors bright – but it sold in a Christies auction for over 1 million dollars.  Stones like these are in museums and bank vaults.


7 Things You Should Know Before Buying an Alexandrite:

  1. Color-Change: The more dramatic and complete the change of color in an Alexandrite gemstone, the more valuable it is.  Color change is often noted in the description or lab certificate of an alexandrite in terms of percentage, with 100% being the ideal. Learn more about how color change affects the value of alexandrite
  2. Color hues: Alexandrites, like so many gemstones range widely in available colors.  The most desirable colors of alexandrite are bright, richly saturated and without tones of grey or brown. Reds and greens are the most expensive and sought after. Learn more about how color affects the value of alexandrite
  3. Size: Large alexandrites are very rare. Any quality natural alexandrite over 1 carat is hard to find, and more expensive than any diamond of similar quality.
  4. Clarity: As with all crystaline gemstones, the fewer internal imperfections, the more valuable the alexandrite gemstone.
  5. Cut: And again, a good cut is not as important inan alexandrite as it is in many other gemstones, but whenever present, a perfect cut will significantly increase the value of the gemstone. Read about how cut affects the value of alexandrite.
  6. Treatments, Synthetics and Imitations: Alexandrites are treated sometimes to improve their appearance.  Because of their high price tag and beauty that everyone loves, they are also widely synthesized and imitated.  An honest seller will clearly explain the difference, but sadly, many do not.  Read here to learn about treatments, synthetics and imitations of alexandrite and how to tell the difference.
  7. Meaning and Symbology: Alexandrites are special gems, which, despite their relatively recent discovery already have a rich folklore and history.  Learn more about alexandrite meaning and symbology to see if it”s something you relate to.