History and Lore of Alexandrite
Alexandrite is the birthstone for the month of June (along with the pearl) and the Anniversary stone for the 55th year of marriage. It is also considered Friday’s stone, or the stone of “Friday's Child.” It is an extremely rare gemstone and a fairly modern one to boot. It does not share the ancient history and lore of most other gems due to the fact that it was first discovered in the 19th Century. The name Alexandrite comes from the fact that the gemstone was first discovered in the emerald mines near the Tokovaya River in Russia’s Ural Mountains in 1830, on the day of Prince Alexander II of Russia’s birthday. The story of the stone’s discovery goes like this: Miners were working alone in the mountains one day, collecting emeralds. One miner gathered some stones, which looked like emeralds and took them back to the camp at the end of the day. But in the light of the campfire, the stones shone a brilliant shade of red! The miners were perplexed. When morning came and they saw that the stones were green again in the light, they realized that they had found a new and mysterious gem.
In 1839, the stones were identified and named "alexandrites." Because the stones appeared green or red, the same colors as Old Imperial Russia’s military colors, the stone became the national stone of tsarist Russia. In time, alexandrite would become one of the most prized gemstones amongst Russian Aristocracy. However, the abundance of alexandrites in Russia did not last forever. Practically all of Russia’s alexandrite was mined during the 19th Century. However, just when the gems were thought to be headed to extinction, even larger deposits were found in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, the island North of India. Later on, Brazil became another contributor to the world supply of the stone.
While Alexandrites found favor in the jewelry salons of St. Petersburg, Russia and Paris, France, it was America’s Tiffany Company that seems to have done the most to popularize the gem. George Kunz, Tiffany’s master gem buyer, fell absolutely in love with the gem and traveled to Russia in search of it. No one knows exactly how much of the gemstone he bought, but Tiffany had reserves so large, that it cornered the market on the stone for decades. For much of the 20th Century, there were no new discoveries of the mineral, and so it became very rare. Then in 1987, a new find was made at Hematita, Minas Gerais, Brazil. In 1993, there was another major find on the border of Tanzania and Mozambique.
Since the discovery of alexandrite, the gemstone has been thought to bring luck, good fortune and love. In Russia, it is considered to be a stone of very good omen. It is believed to bring balance in the interaction between the physical manifest world and the unmanifest spiritual, or astral world. It opens the crown chakra, bringing one access to the warm, healing energy and love of the universe. It is also said to strengthen intuiion, creativity, and imagination.
Alexandrite encourages romance. It is also said that through the stone, joy enters the lives of people with too much self-discipline. The stone reminds us of our purpose in life and our origin. It gives hope to those who are in despair about their lives. It brings strength and constantly reminds them of the light. With its changing color, it is a reminder that life is not only what it seems to be.