Alexandrite is a rare and beautiful gemstone that is highly valued for its unique color-changing properties. It is a variety of chrysoberyl that was first discovered in the Ural Mountains of Russia in the 1830s. In this guide, we will discuss the factors that affect the value of alexandrite, its origin, treatments and enhancements, and how to buy alexandrite.
Factors Affecting Alexandrite Value
A. Color Change
The most important factor that affects the value of alexandrite is its color change. Alexandrite exhibits a dramatic color change from green to red or purple under different lighting conditions.
1. Daylight vs. Incandescent light
Alexandrite’s color change is most noticeable under natural daylight and incandescent lighting. The green color is seen in daylight, while the red or purple color is seen under incandescent lighting.
2. Desirable color combinations
The most desirable color combination for alexandrite is a rich green to a vivid red or purple. The color change should be distinct and sharp.
The clarity of alexandrite is also an important factor that affects its value. Inclusions or blemishes in the stone can affect its appearance and value.
1. Inclusions and their impact on value
Inclusions are internal flaws or imperfections that can affect the appearance and value of alexandrite. Stones with fewer inclusions or blemishes are more valuable than those with more inclusions.
2. Eye-clean vs. included stones
Alexandrite is graded based on its clarity, with eye-clean stones being the most valuable. Eye-clean stones have no visible inclusions or blemishes when viewed with the naked eye.
C. Carat Weight
The carat weight of alexandrite also affects its value. Larger stones are rarer and more valuable than smaller stones.
1. Rarity of larger stones
Larger alexandrite stones are rare and command a higher price than smaller stones.
2. Price per carat
The price per carat of alexandrite varies depending on the stone’s quality and rarity. High-quality alexandrite can command prices of several thousand dollars per carat.
The cut of alexandrite also affects its value. A well-cut alexandrite will display good color change and brilliance.
1. Proportions and symmetry
The proportions and symmetry of the cut affect how light interacts with the stone. A well-cut stone will display good brilliance and color change.
2. Impact on color change and brilliance
The cut of the stone affects the color change and brilliance of the alexandrite. A well-cut stone will have good color change and brilliance.
Origin of Alexandrite
A. Russian Alexandrite
The original source of alexandrite is the Ural Mountains in Russia. Russian alexandrite is highly valued for its historical significance and rarity.
1. Historical significance
Russian alexandrite has a rich history and is highly valued by collectors. It was named after Alexander II of Russia and was used in the tsar’s crown jewels.
2. Value compared to other sources
Russian alexandrite is the most valuable and sought-after variety of alexandrite due to its rarity and historical significance.
B. Brazilian Alexandrite
Brazilian alexandrite is also highly valued for its rich color and color change.
C. Other Sources
Other sources of alexandrite include Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Tanzania, and India.
Treatments and Enhancements
A. Common Treatments
Alexandrite may undergo various treatments and enhancements to improve its color or clarity. Common treatments include heat treatment and irradiation.
1. Heat Treatment
Heat treatment is a common practice for alexandrite to improve its color or remove inclusions. The treatment is generally stable and does not affect the durability of the stone.
Irradiation can also be used to enhance the color of alexandrite. The treatment involves exposing the stone to radiation to alter its color. Irradiated alexandrite can range from green to blue-green.
B. Impact on Value
The value of treated alexandrite is generally lower than untreated stones. It is important to disclose any treatments or enhancements to the buyer to avoid misrepresenting the stone.
1. Disclosure Requirements
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations require that any treatments or enhancements to a gemstone be disclosed to the buyer.
2. Value of Untreated Stones
Untreated alexandrite is the most valuable and sought-after variety of the gemstone. Its rarity and natural color change make it highly prized among collectors.
Synthetic and Imitation Alexandrite
A. Synthetic Alexandrite
Synthetic alexandrite is lab-grown and has the same chemical and physical properties as natural alexandrite. It is more affordable than natural alexandrite but lacks the rarity and historical significance.
1. Lab-grown stones
Synthetic alexandrite is produced in a laboratory using the same materials as natural alexandrite. It has the same color change and properties as natural alexandrite.
2. Value compared to natural alexandrite
Synthetic alexandrite is more affordable than natural alexandrite and is often used as an alternative in jewelry.
B. Imitation Alexandrite
Imitation alexandrite is a gemstone that looks similar to alexandrite but does not have the same properties. Common imitations include color-change sapphire, garnet, and glass.
1. Common Imitations
Color-change sapphire is a common imitation of alexandrite. It has a similar color change but lacks the rarity and historical significance of alexandrite. Garnet and glass are also used as imitations of alexandrite.
2. How to Identify Imitations
Imitation alexandrite can be identified by its lack of color change or its different color change compared to natural alexandrite. Gemological testing can also be used to determine the identity of a gemstone.
How to Buy Alexandrite
A. Choosing a Reputable Dealer
When buying alexandrite, it is important to choose a reputable dealer who provides certification and documentation for the stone.
1. Certification and Documentation
A reputable dealer should provide certification and documentation for the alexandrite, including information on its quality, treatments, and enhancements.
2. Return Policy and Guarantees
A reputable dealer should offer a return policy and guarantee on the authenticity and quality of the alexandrite.
B. Inspecting the Stone
When inspecting an alexandrite, it is important to consider its color change, clarity, cut, and carat weight.
1. Lighting Conditions for Color Change
The color change of Alexandrite is most noticeable under natural daylight and incandescent lighting.
2. Tools for Examining Clarity and Cut
A loupe or magnifying glass can be used to examine the clarity and cut of an alexandrite. A gemological microscope can also be used for more detailed analysis.
Understanding the factors that affect alexandrite’s value, such as color change, clarity, carat weight, and cut, is important when buying or selling the gemstone. Alexandrite’s origin can also impact its value, with Russian alexandrite being the most sought-after variety. Treatments and enhancements, such as heat treatment and irradiation, can also affect the value of alexandrite, and it is important to disclose any treatments to buyers. Synthetic and imitation alexandrite are available, but they lack the rarity and historical significance of natural alexandrite. When buying alexandrite, it is important to choose a reputable dealer who provides certification and documentation for the stone. You should also inspect the stone for its quality factors using appropriate tools.
In conclusion, education and research are important when buying or selling alexandrite. By understanding the market and the factors that affect alexandrite’s value, buyers and sellers can make informed decisions and avoid overpaying or undervaluing the gemstone. With its unique color-changing properties and rarity, alexandrite is a beautiful and valuable gemstone that is sure to be treasured for years to come.