Alexandrite: Rare Color-Changing Stone

Alexandrite, what comes to mind when we hear the gemstone? Most people aren’t as familiar with this stone because of its extreme rarity. Which, because of its rarity, makes it one of the most interesting and intriguing gemstones to see in jewelry. Not only is the stone rare, but it has a beautiful color-changing effect that makes it truly one-of-a-kind.  And that’s the sort of thing we truly appreciate around here at Josephs!


Alexandrite is part of the chrysoberyl mineral family and exhibits a spectacular color-changing effect, going from a deep green in daylight to a reddish purple in incandescent light. Some in the trade say this stone is “emerald by day and ruby by night.”  There are other color-changing stones, like sapphires and garnets, but none are quite as dramatic as alexandrite.


This shows how alexandrite looks in different lighting (GIA).

The stone was first discovered in Russia’s Ural Mountains and aptly named after the country’s Czar Alexander II. The finest pieces came from Russia, but production today is extremely limited and make the stone hard to come by. Brazil, Sri Lanka and Africa also have deposits of alexandrite, but their color-changing quality has yet to match those found in Russia.

Alexandrite is considered a birthstone for June along with pearl and moonstone, but rarely will you see the genuine stone used in most birthstone jewelry. Synthetic varieties offer a steady supply and lower price point.  However, we’ve had the pleasure at Josephs to be able to see some of the most stunning genuine alexandrite stones with amazing color-changes come in (and quickly out of!) our doors.

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