Chrysoberyl vs. Alexandrite | Is There a Difference?

Chrysoberyl vs. Alexandrite | Is There a Difference?

Precious gems often elicit our curiosity. Gem enthusiasts may find themselves particularly drawn to learning about precious stones and their classifications. It's no wonder that exotic gems can be so fascinating. These products of the earth's natural processes are too magnificent to be ignored. 

Those who find themselves particularly mesmerized by precious gems may wish to know how to authenticate specific stones to ensure they add worthy pieces to their collection. When it comes to alexandrite, you may have questions surrounding this stone's individuality apart from color-change chrysoberyl and its relationship with chrysoberyl as a whole.

Let's walk through your questions to discover what makes alexandrite authentic. Then, we'll examine both alexandrite and chrysoberyl and explore a few pieces you may wish to add to your collection. 

The Common Misconception 

Even gem enthusiasts have deliberated over the relationship between chrysoberyl and alexandrite. While some believe alexandrite to be a mere moniker of color-change chrysoberyl, this is not technically the case. The two are related in that alexandrite, and color-change chrysoberyl are both varieties of chrysoberyl, but trained gemologists know there is a nuanced difference in these gems.

The difference has to do with the color-shift observation of both stones. This observation must take place under specific lighting conditions and strict standards. It's only after these requirements have been satisfied that a chrysoberyl may be accurately classified as an alexandrite. 

What Is Alexandrite? 

Have you ever had the pleasure of encountering this precious stone? It's a rare material only found in small deposits. Some have remarked that this stone is an emerald during the daytime and a ruby during the night. This remark stems from the miraculous way alexandrite shifts colors depending on its lighting conditions. When this stone is exposed to sunlight, it appears green. Yet, when this stone interacts with incandescent light, it appears to be red in hue. 

This color shift makes alexandrite one of the most well-known in the gem world. Despite its reputation, few people get the chance to own alexandrite because of its rarity. Still, others prioritize collecting this gem for its supernatural color-shifting properties. Let's take a deeper look at alexandrite's unique origins and properties. 

What are Alexandrite's Origins? 

Fine-grade alexandrite was historically mined in Russia's Ural Mountains in the 1800s. However, recent findings of excellent material from Brazil and other East African nations have demonstrated good-to-fine color shifts within the traditional spectrum of alexandrite.

In fact, minor deposits have been identified in Brazil, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, China, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Madagascar, Tasmania, and the United States after the Ural Mountains were wholly depleted of alexandrite findings.

It's worth noting that alexandrite was named after Alexandar Nicholavich, who grew to become Russian Czar Alexander II. Folklore claims that the gemstone was discovered on the future Czar's birthday and dubbed in his honor; however, this is debatable.

What are the Properties of Alexandrite?

Geologically speaking, alexandrite is a beryllium mineral, and it can only form under conditions where large amounts of beryllium are present. High concentrations of mobile beryllium are most commonly seen near the edges of magma masses during the last phases of crystallization. As a result, chrysoberyl is most commonly formed in pegmatites and metamorphic rocks related to pegmatites. Mica schists and dolomitic marbles are examples of these.

Alexandrite appears transparent to nearly opaque. Its luster is vitreous, giving it a glassy finish that is pleasing to the eye. Though these are notable elements of alexandrite's properties, by far the most distinctive alexandrite property is its color. Let's review the critical color changes that must occur in a chrysoberyl gemstone for it to be considered alexandrite. Take note that capital letters denote a gemstone's primary color. 

In daylight, a blue-green chrysoberyl must shift into an orange-red under incandescent light. Very slightly blue-greens in daylight will shift to red, and stones that appear green in daylight must shift to slightly purple red under incandescent light. Slightly green will change to purple-red, and yellow-green must shift to either red-purple or purple-red. 

What Is Chrysoberyl? 

Chrysoberyl is a hard, sturdy, and long-lasting gemstone well-known for its bright appearance and interaction with light. Chrysoberyl, though missing the fire of other gemstones, can be extremely valuable in its various forms.

The majority of Chrysoberyl gems are yellow, although some are brown, green, or orange. Alexandrite and Cat's Eye are two of the most well-known varieties of this precious gem. 

What are Chrysoberyl's Origins?

Origins of the impressive chrysoberyl are widespread. Chrysoberyl of the yellow-green variety originates from Australia, while the cat-eye variety hails from Brazil. India produces cat's eye chrysoberyl with sillimanite fibers, and Myanmar offers rare colorless facetable chrysoberyl.

Sri Lanka produces all types of this precious gem, including some of the world's most refined cat's eyes. This rare gem is also found in the USA and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

What are the Properties of Chrysoberyl? 

The remarkable hardness of chrysoberyl is one of its most distinguishing characteristics. Impressively, it is the third hardest gemstone and the third-hardest mineral found at the Earth's surface, with a Mohs hardness of 8.5.

Chrysoberyl breaks with distinct cleavage in one direction and indistinctly or weakly in the other two despite its exceptional hardness. It is also fragile in its tenacity.

Chemically speaking, this valuable mineral is also composed of beryllium and aluminum oxide. Although the names are comparable, it is distinct from the beryllium-aluminum silicate crystal known as "beryl."

When it comes to visible properties, chrysoberyl enjoys a translucent-to-transparent diaphaneity and a yellow or yellow-to-green color. Chrysoberyl that is transparent in nature, is often cut into faceted stones. Translucent or silky specimens are typically fashioned into cabochons.

Explore Alexandrite's Rare Beauty for Yourself 

What is the most enchanting factor of alexandrites that has captured the attention of so many gem enthusiasts? By far, its color-shifting nature causes this gem to stand out from the other exotic stones in unparalleled splendor. If you're feeling drawn to this gem's charms, allow us to show you the wonder of alexandrite jewelry.

Mark Henry's Alexandrite Collection 

Are you missing alexandrite from your precious gemstone jewelry collection? We're delighted to offer you over two hundred expertly crafted pieces of alexandrite jewelry in our selection. Whether you've long-accumulated this exotic stone or you're just beginning, you may find your next favorite piece below in this unmatched gem. 

Petite Signature Pendant 

This carefully crafted pendant displays an Alexandrite stone at its center and features a halo of glittering round and baguette diamonds. The cable link chain is adjustable to your liking to accommodate different necklines. 

Our Petite Signature Pendant is a timeless alexandrite masterpiece that you will treasure for your entire life. If you'd like, you can pair this pendant with matching earrings.

Éloise Ring 

Alexandrite's stunning color accents our warm 18-karat yellow gold beautifully. The Élodie Ring is meticulously created with a magnificent alexandrite placed in its center and a surrounding assemblage of white diamonds.

Baguette diamonds are placed vertically down the shank, with alexandrite melee at the margins. Fall in love with this ring in striking 18-karat yellow gold or a cool white gold band.

Daffodil Ring 

The marquise-cut stone is a shape with a romantic, heartwarming history. Our Daffodil Ring is composed of elegant marquise-shaped alexandrites that encircle a single sparkling round diamond placed as the center stigma of the daffodil design.

A sleek, high-polished 18-karat gold shank completes the playful, romantic design. Wear this piece alone as an everyday essential. 

Sunflower Stud Earrings 

Our Sunflower Stud Earrings include two natural fancy shape yellow diamonds that sparkle with fire. These diamonds are set in the heart of a ring of delicate round alexandrites. The beautiful golden hues of the core diamonds are enhanced by the dark tones of the alexandrite, which showcase their trademark bluish-green to reddish-purple hues.

You can fasten these with a post and butterfly backing. These joyful sunflower studs sit snugly against your earlobe and are perfect for everyday use due to their lightweight and dainty appearance.

Tuileries Ring 

Here's another piece you'll want to wear solo. Our Tuileries Ring displays an exquisite ensemble of oval-shaped alexandrites. These precious stones are placed in a flower petal arrangement reminiscent of one of the world's most magnificent parks, the Tuileries in Paris.

A shimmering round diamond lies at the heart of each flower cluster, with additional diamonds along the split shank. Consider wearing this floral piece as a companion to your finger during your next night spent on the town. 

A Final Word 

At Mark Henry, we're utterly enthralled with the alexandrite gemstone again and again. To say this precious gem is unique would be an understatement. Its remarkable durability, transparency, and hue are enough to be impressive.

Yet, these stones prove themselves to be miraculously versatile in the way they naturally shift colors. It seems like this caliber of stone should be inaccessible, yet you can adorn your neck with it and celebrate its excellence as you do. 



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1 comment

If a large alexandrite (10mmx15mm} was mined and cut in the 1940s, for example, hat might be the origins? The color is absolutely superb and the daylight to artificial contrast from warm teal to deep purple is fantastic with minimal flaws. I’d like to hear your professional opinion.
Thanks for your time.

Cathryn Turner
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