How can you easily spot the difference between a natural and a synthetic Alexandrite?
The majority of alexandrites offered in the USA are synthetic, especially those sold online. The Gemological Institute estimates that less than 1 in every 100,000 Americans has ever even seen genuine, natural alexandrite.
It's very rare to find a gem quality alexandrite over one carat, it's even more rare to find one that is clean. To find a large, clean alexandrite with prominent color change is almost unheard of. Such extremely rare stones usually come from private wealthy collectors or inheritances and are sold occasionally on major auctions like Christies between $27000 to $100,000.
In jewelry stores gem quality Alexandrite 0.50ct to under 2.00cts retails between $2750 and up to $60,000 a carat just for the stone. If you see the gem quality alexandrite sold cheaply, have no doubt that it is synthetic.
Alexandrites availability especially in larger stones is very poor, because the supply is very scarce. It is really hard to find natural alexandrite in regular jewelry store, you more often see lab created stones.
Many GIA and other Gemstone Associations experts state that Alexandrite is the rarest and most expensive stone on the planet. How come then we see sellers on eBay and other online venues selling clean, large alexandrites for couple of hundred dollars or even less?
Unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous sellers selling man made stones as natural.
How to distinguish real natural Alexandrite from something which only looks like one?
Below is detailed description of different types of man made alexandrites.
Majority of man made stones are easy to spot. In the case of alexandrite, the size and the clarity of a stone are important. Since large clean alexandrites are so rare in nature, it is unlikely that a large stone offered for a low price could ever be a natural alexandrite.
Some of the fakes are not even a man made alexandrites, but synthetic corundum laced with vanadium to produce the color change. Such alexandrite resembling stones have been in the market for the last 100 years. Their distinguished feature is that they practically have no green color.
Real synthetic alexandrites are much more difficult to spot, since they share the same chemical and physical properties with natural alexandrites.
Czochralski or pulled alexandrite is easier to identify because of it extreme clarity. GENUINE EARTH MINED ALEXANDRITE IS NEVER SO CLEAN. Gemological Institute of America defined natural alexandrite as type 2 gemstone, which means that it almost always contain many inclusions.
Curved striations visible with magnification clearly expose a synthetic origin (natural gemstone never show curved growth lines). Another clue is that the color change doesn't resemble alexandrite from any known mine.
Flux grown alexandrite is more difficult to identify because the inclusions of undissolved flux can look like natural inclusions. Also flux grown alexandrites are more difficult to spot because the colors are strongly resembling the natural alexandrite and because they are not clean.
Another imitation is called doublet, - in this case the thin slice of the alexandrite is glued to the body of the other much cheaper stone.
|Many sellers don´t address this issue at all and create their own trade names for the synthetic stones they sell. Consumers are led to believe that they are buying some kind of natural alexandrite because it is not called synthetic, but by a different name.
Natural Alexandrite resembling stones oftenly sold as Alexandrite
There are also some other natural color changing stones like which is often sold as alexandrite.
COLOR CHANGE SAPPHIRE: Although this stone is is not man made,but is significantly cheaper than the alexandrite. Such sapphires are basically of two types; the ones that change from blue to purple and the ones that change from green to red. The stones that change from green to red are the ones that often sold as alexandrite and they originate in Songea, Tanzania.
COLOR CHANGE GARNET: Color change garnet look like alexandrites, but is quite different because unlike alexandrite it changes color throughout the day. This garnet is green or blue grey in the early morning and reddish in the late afternoon or even in strong sunlight.
Most of them are grey blue or green in daylight and change to red under incandescent light. The stones can show prominent color change and can easily be confused with alexandrite. Still color change garnet can be distinguished from alexandrites by the presence of needle like inclusions that are common in them or by the way the stones change color according to the time of day. Unlike alexandrites, color change garnets will appear red in the afternoon while the alexandrites remain green. There are other garnets which also change color but they change from brown or orange to red, thus they can’t really be confused with alexandrite.
Many of these stones were sold to western tourists in Mexico and in Egypt, Alexandria after the World War Two and many of them can still be found in private collections. Gemologists often receive many inquiries about these inherited alexandrite bought by a grandmother and almost all of them are synthetics.
Unlike many other sellers we never sell man-made stones.
Each stone is tested by the GIA graduate gemologist before the setting.
WE GIVE FULL GUARANTEE THAT ALL OUR STONES ARE 100% NATURAL, EARTH MINED GEMS.
All our important items have the Certificate of Authenticity issued by the reputable gemological Laboratory. ON REQUEST WE CAN ARRANGE THE SAME FOR ANY OF OUR ITEMS.
Color change of alexandrite
The Natural Alexandrite has chatoyancy which means there are inclusions of minerals in the stone which create a veil-like appearance in some lighting. The chatoyancy contributes to the beautiful color change and is a sign that the Alexandrite is completely natural .
Contrary to popular belief alexandrites do not typically change color simply by moving from one room to the other. Only synthetic alexandrites show dramatic color change. Color change in natural alexandrites are more subtle and shows a light blue or reddish purple in flame light of a candle or just a lighter.
This is how the color change in Alexandrite has been discovered originally. There has been not mush of electric light at that time in old Russia and the candle light was main source of illumination.
A low-lit or dark room is the best place to see the color change. Very, very infrequently an alexandrite will display a change to a more reddish color- reddish-violet, purple-red etc. These gems command a great premium in price.
Mixed light will produce either a grayer color as the green and purple mix or flashes of the green, purple, and sometimes yellow.
To properly observe the color change from all facets rotate the stone and look for flashes of color that manifest in the stone. Ruby-red flash and is the most sought after and most rare. The stronger the light source the more pronounced the colors will be. Lesser strength light sources will produce lighter or mixed colors.
Everyday light sources will produce colors less saturated or lighter than you can see on our pictures. We have tried our best with these pictures to show the range of color change possible for the Alexandrite in best lighting conditions, which is a candle light.
The greenish colors are what will be seen under most everyday conditions such as outdoors, under florescent lighting and around the home under mixed lighting or during daylight hours.
The purple/red colors will be seen in the light of a low watt yellow light bulb, a candle or open flame in a dark room or outdoor at night. Natural Alexandrite don't change color dramatically unless the light source is pure and strong.
Clarity of alexandrite
It is the paradox, that inclusions are responsible for a color change. The color change phenomenon is a result of the presence of chromium. The gemologists concluded that alexandrite with good clarity may display a less prominent color change due to the presence of the silky inclusions of rutile which often enhance the change.
Some people prefer a weaker color change in favor of better clarity and some give preference to the more prominent color change vs clarity.
In GIA Clarity Grading System Alexandrite is a Type II gemstone which means that even the best alexandrite is expected to contain inclusions.
Tips to avoid fraud when purchasing jewelry
First and most important thing to remember - any serious jewelry item must have a certificate of authenticity and an appraisal issued by a reputable independent third party institution. If a seller provides his own appraisal its validity is questionable. We consider that it is not ethical for a seller to appraise his own jewelry, because it is very difficult to expect absolute honesty and objectivity.
Secondly, there are hundreds of phony certificates and appraisals flooding the internet which are manufactured by unscrupulous sellers.
DON'T TRUST PHONY CERTIFICATES MADE BY THE SELLERS THEMSELVES!
MOST OF SUCH CERTIFICATES HAS NO VALUE AT ALL.
The real certificate must have the report number, web-site address of the Laboratory and the color picture of the item being appraised. If you have already purchased the item online without the certificate you can show it to your local jeweler or send it for testing to gemological Laboratory.
HISTORY OF ALEXANDRITE AND EFFECTS OF WEARING ALEXANDRITE
Alexandrite is the birthstone for JUNE and the GEMSTONE FOR THE 45TH & 55TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARIES so a Natural Alexandrite would make a wonderful gift for that special person who has a birthday in June or for an awesome 45th or 55th wedding anniversary gift.
Since 19th century Alexandrite has been considered to bring luck, good fortune and love. In Russia, it is believed to be a stone of very good omen. It is thought to bring balance in the interaction between the physical manifest world and the unmanifest spiritual, or astral world.
It activates the crown chakra, bringing one access to the warm, healing energy and love of the universe. It is also considered to strengthen intuition, creativity and imagination.
Alexandrite inspires romance. It is also considered that through the stone, joy enters the lives of people with too strict self-discipline. The stone helps to us to realize our purpose in life. It encourages hope to those who are in despair.
It gives strength and reminds them of the Light. By changing color, it is a reminder that life is not always what it seems to be.
Alexandrite is considered to help balance one's emotional state, to give confidence, to increase self-esteem and to help bring about change. It is also believed to bring happiness and success and to intensify feelings of love and sensuality.
Alexandrite was discovered in an emerald mine near the Tokovaya River in the Urals In April 1834, when the young tsar Alexander II was coming of age. In celebration of Prince Alexander's coming-of-age, this amazing gemstone was named after him.
This is the only gemstone named after the Prince and a Tzar. Alexandrite became extremely popular in imperial Russia both with the royal family and the aristocracy, because of its association with the Tzar, and also because red and green were the royal colors of the Russian Empire.
Alexandrite is bluish green in daylight, and a purplish red or reddish purple in candle light or incandescent light. It eventually became the gemstone of Imperial Russia.
At the end of the 19th century and in the beginning of the 20th, George Frederick Kunz, gemologist for Tiffany & Co and world-renowned jeweler, fell in love with this gemstone and created exquisite platinum sets and rings set with alexandrites.
Natural alexandrite is extremely scarce and very expensive gem. Although synthetic Alexandrite is common and widely available, it is estimated that only one person out of 100,000 has ever seen a real Natural Alexandrite gemstone.
The vast majority of jewelers are selling synthetic alexandrines and if you ask them directly it will be confirmed. If you see clean alexandrite with prominent color change sold cheaply, know without a doubt that this is man made stone.The color change in natural stones is much more subtle.