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Alexandrite


#1

A woman at work showed me a ring that her grandmother gave her.
It was a faceted stone about 12mm across. I looked at it and
based on the color and the way the color changed it would have
to be alexandrite. I put it under daylight and then brought it
inside and there is a dramatic color shift.

My question is two fold:

How long have synthetic alexandrite been made? My friend was
given the ring 30 years ago.

Who could she see to determine if the stone is genuine? The cut
is not what I would consider as “usual.” It’s a round stone but
the underside doesn’t go straight down to a point, it kind of
curves to the point, giving it a slightly domed effect.

A stone this size would be worth a bundle if it was genunine I
would imagine.

I’m curious to hear!

Susan E.


#2

Susan, You’ll probably find it’s synthetic color change
corundum. It’s been used as an alexandrite simulant for many
years. Jerry in Kodiak


#3

1973 seems to be the first date per “Gems Made by Man” by Kurt
Nassau (in print from amazon) and also in “A Guide To Man made
Gemstones” byMichael O’Donoghue. Testing for the sybthetic is
discribed by Nassau. Jesse


#4

Hi - Yeah - from what I have heard lately - it would be worth a
bundle. Yeah - the odd cut on the bottom sounds like it might be
genuine. I’m sure they were doing synthetics 30 years ago. I
would have GIA look at it or a GIA(Gemologist)- AGS store.

Jerry aka Lars


#5

Synthetic alexandrite-like spinel or corundum has been
manufactured fo many years-certainly over 30 years. I have been a
gemologist for 25 years and have yet to ID a large stone brought
to me as being genuine alexandrite. It still could be genuine,
but have it checked by a gemologist !!!


#6

I have a synthetic alexandrite that was given to me 30 years
ago. The style of the stone is similar. It is round and
doesn’t go to a point. My aunt bought it in Hong Kong in the
late 60’s. I’m sure it wasn’t a valuable stone at the time,
but it was in a good setting.


#7

Susan: I am by no means an expert on them. But there has been a
color change synthetic corundum around according to my sources
since about 1918 or so. And it was a very good mimic of very high
grade alexandrites. Your friends best bet would be to have it
graded at one of the GIA labs. It will cost a few dollars, but
nothing compared to the potential value of the stone if it is
truly an alexandrite. good luck

Albert Zabinski


#8

Susan, It is my understanding that synthetic alexandrite has
been made for many years. Much more than 30. However, in the
early years the color change was not as good (or as true) as it
is today.Also there are other natural stones (and syn.) with
pronounced color change - sapphire, garnet etc. Your best bet is
to send the stone to a reputable gemologist (GG) or send it to
the GIA lab for analysis. As far as cut goes, it is not
unusual to have the pavillion cut with a belly. Some stones
actually show better that way. If this stone turns out to be
natural, your friend will be very happy indeed ! An alex that
size, clean, could go 6 figures,easy ! later, MTR


#9

Synthetic sapphire (which is what most people refer to as
alexandrite or synthetic alexandrite) has been made for about 100
years. I have yet to see (in 25 years) a single large stone that
someone claims is an alexandrite to be anything but a synthetic
sapphire. If the color change is purplish to bluish it is
definitely a synthetic sapphire. Synthetic alexandrite (ie man
made alexandrite) is available but is a relative newcomer to the
market place (within the past 10 years) and is rarely seen in
larger sizes as the producers are usually trying to make it look
like a natural stone and natural alexandrites larger than 2 ct.
are extremely rare. Without seeing the stone I can’t truly tell
you what the woman has but I would lay odds on it being
synthetic. If you want to pay to find out send it in to either
the AGTA lab in New York or the GIA Gem Trade Labs (in either NY
or CA) and they will be able to positively id the stone for you.
If you need the addresses for either of these places email me off
list and I’ll forward them to you.


#10

SusanI have been working gem shows for many years and
every show I get to see one of these stones. Every person
actually believes it’s real because it was bought 30 or 40 years
age. I think 1 in 100 are real the rest are synthtic. For about
30 years a family in Mexico manufactured these synthetic color
change alexandrties and I must say they look quite the real
mccoy. Unfortunately every little shop on every little back road
in Mexico sold these AS the real mccoy and many people till this
day believes they are. Im no gemologist but to say for sure yes
or no you need a couple of tests. The GIA charges about $75 to
certify a stone as genuine but will not appraise it as for value.
Everytime I tell one of these owners the truth about these
stones they get mad as hell! Now I just look at them and say
"Sure looks real to me" Preston Reuther

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#11

OK…a little alexandrite story: I love alexandrites because of
their color- changing propensity, and my mother had a huge one
(certified genuine) .Over the years, I acquired a few , but they
were relatively small. Well, at a recent local gem and mineral
show, I found a dealer selling square cut (11x14mm approx.)
stones labeled “closeout…alexandrites $2.00” . I asked,
“per carat?”(sensing a bargain). “No”, said the dealer. “per
stone. They are natural, not fakes.” Even so, they would have
been a good deal, so I bought a few to fool around with. I went
to show my bargain to a friend who was talking to a lapidary
in the show. He said, “For two dollars it isn’t alexandrite.
It’s Corundum.Treated.” We asked him how he could be so sure
without testing. He said on visual examination he couldn’t; but
the price put him on to it, and we should ask one of the
demonstrators to look through his --(I think he
said’refractometer’)–and he’d tell us for sure. This we did,
The demonstrator was impressed with the stones, put them
through his scope, and announced, “Corundum. Very nice, but
corundum. Not Alexandrite. You still got a nice buy at two bucks
a stone, but you’d never pay that for alexandrite, most of which
is synthetic anyway.” So, for what it’s worth, I pass it on to
you. When in doubt, go to a lapidary who has the right
equipment to scope a stone. …Donna W.


#12

My father gave me a rectangular alexandrite set as a pendant
in 1957. It measures one and one-eighth inch by a little
more than three quarters of an inch. In the early sixties, it
was appraised by Tiffany’s for approx. $3000 and identified as
synthetic. I was surprised bec. it had been bought for me by
Swedish diplomats who had lived in Cairo for years – not
tourists, and not exactly neophytes to jewels – and it was her
alexandrite ring which had made me covetous. Tiffany’s said that
the only known genuine alexandrite of that size was in a museum
– I forget now where – but if this one were natural, it would
be worth several hundred thousand if not seven figures. When I
questioned the diplomats my father had asked to get it for me,
who were still in Cairo, they said “Of course” it and all other
large alexandrites were synthetic because big natural ones are
beyond anyone’s reach: you either buy tiny or you don’t buy;
hence even if a big one is found, it’s not going to be cut that
way. Her ring was already at least ten years old when I saw
it, so sythentic creation, at least in Egypt, was already the
rule of the day in the 40’s. Meanwhile, I still love it:
the changing of colors is mesmerizing. I love it as I would
love an opal… which I don’t have, and which, after reading
the posts, would scare me every time I touched it! So,
that’s my alexandrite info. Ryr


#13

Synthetic Corundum was first made about the turn of the century.
When they produced the first color change as a substitute for
Alex is someting I don’t know although I have seen some that
were puported to be purchsed in the late '40’s. A beginning
gemologist can check the Refractive index on a refractometer for
you to make the determination.


#14
  I'm no gemologist but to say for sure yes or no you need a
couple of tests. 

Actually, to tell the synthetic corundum (sapphire) from genuine
alexandrite can be done by eye, as the colors are not the same.
the synthetic changes color, yes, but from a steely
blue/grey/green yucky sort of thing to an amethyst-like purplish
color. alexandrite, the real ones, don’t look like that…

The testing you need, though, is a simple refractive index
measurement, if you wish to be sure. This doen’st tell you
real/vs synthetic, but it tells you corundum vs. Chrysoberyl in a
heartbeat.

GIA may charge a hefty sum, but I seriously doubt that most
gemologists would charge that much. As I said, with a bit of
experience and training, most of us would be fairly comfortable
doing that determination by eye alone.

    Everytime I tell one of these owners the truth about these
stones they get mad as hell! Now I just look at them and say
"Sure looks real to me" 

I’d suggest to you, Preston, that you’re not doing them any
favors by hiding the truth here. Especially if you then wirewrap
a nice piece of jewelry for a price… There are ways to let
people down gently with these stones. At the same time as you
let them know it’s not a genuine alexandrite, let them know these
stones have been made for quite a long time and are interesting
in their own right. Besides, though not alexandrite itself, they
ARE the stone that’s widely used in it’s place, in class rings,
mothers rings, etc. So they are not completely unacceptable.
Also, point out that whatever they are, they are pretty, and
quite hard and durable.

Also, though I don’t know whether some family in Mexico makes
these, I do know that if that’s the case, it’s only a very minor
source of the stuff. It’s made by a number of manufacturers in
europe, the far east, and the U.S., along with the other colors
of synthetic corrundum and spinel.

Peter Rowe


#15

This has been such a learning experience for this Gemini. I saw
some genuine alexandrites at the gem show a couple of years ago
and they were amazing (and very expensive). I just love all of
the and input about this strange and wonderful
stone.

My friend is now totally fascinated with lapidary and gemstones.
I went by to see her today and she had a book on her desk.
She’s comfortable that it is a synthetic stone, and has enjoyed
all of the discussion about it. She says that she would really
hate to think of it being real, as that would be an incredible
fortune for this newly widowed lady with three daughters. She
said that it was her grandmothers, and that she wasn’t going to
let go of it regardless. She said she would sleep a lot better
believing it to by synthetic. I still think she’d like to have
someone put it under a scope and wonder if there is anyone in
the Dallas area that could do that. She hems and haws, but I
feel certain she’d like to have it confirmed.

Thanks everyone!

Susan Embler


#16

Dear Susan E, When I was still an apprentice in the mid fifties,
I used to buy what was known in Australia at that time as
"synthetic corundum, alexandrite-type". A 6mm stone cost around
five shillings (this was before decimal currency) and they
exhibited nearly all of the colour-change characteristics of the
real thing - pinky-purple in artificial tungsten light, and
greeny-blue in daylight. You could pick them for synthetic with a
10x loupe which would reveal the curving growth bands typical of
the Verneiul process.

In forty two years of handling gems, I’ve only seen three
genuine ones. But once seen, never forgotten. The most notable
weighed 3.47cts and had a provenance that stretched back to the
late nineteenth century where its purchaser was in the British
army in India. I arranged for it to be offered to Andrew Grima in
London, but never heard what became of it or how much it may have
been sold for. (Sigh)

Be careful, some of the synthetics were re-cut to a look-alike
native cut.

Hope this helps, Rex from Oz


#17

To’sscwalls@webtv.net’… The rare and precious gemstone you mean must
be the Alexandrite,named after the Russian CZar Alexander II,belonging
to the mineral group of chrysoberylls,hardness 8,5,strong color
changes when viewed in different
lights(greenish/daylight-reddish,violet/artificial light).Alexandrite
is extremely rare in fine qualities;the most important source was
located in the Ural Mountains/Russia,it is said to be
exhausted;nowadays some can be found mainly in Ceylon and
Simbawve,also in Birma,Brazil,Madagascar,Tasmania and very rarely in
the US.The biggest Gemstone ever(1876ct)was discovered in Ceylon,a cut
alexandrite weighing 66ct is displayed at the Smithsonian Institute in
Washington,if I am correctly informed. There are quite some
search-engines you could use to find My favorite right now
is’www.google.com’,keyword"Alexandrite".Try it out. Best Sigrid


#18

May I offer an alternative tale of the Alexandrite;

When this beautiful green stone was found and brought before Czar
Alexander he was extremely pleased and immediately wanted it set in
gold so that he could wear it. He sent a messenger to fetch his personal
goldsmith and after deciding on making a ring the Czar told his
goldsmith that he wanted it the very same evening. The goldsmith,
horrified of course by the prospect of not being able to oblige the
Czar, ran back to his workshop to get started. Fortunately, at least
that was what the goldsmith thought, he found a ring in his collection
with a stone of the approximate size of that magnificent green gem.
After popping out the stone and adjusting the ring a bit the new
stone fitted and he could complete the job just before sunset. The
ring looked fabulous, in fact it was the most beautiful piece of
jewelry he had ever created. Immensely delighted he put the ring in
the finest box he had and went to the Czar’s palace to deliver. As he
reached the palace he was told to sit down and wait as nobody dared to
disturb the Czar during his dinner. Finally the goldsmith’s arrival
was announced to the Czar who impatiently ordered him to come forward
and show him the ring. The goldsmith, assured that the Czar would
appreciate his creation was already dreaming of how big award he was
going to get, bowed until his head almost touched the stone floor and
handed over the jewelry box. The Czar dragged one of the large 12-arm
candle holders a bit closer since by now it was already dark outside.
When he opened the box he could not believe what his eyes was telling
him. In the box was a ring with a red stone! The Czar was furious to
say the least! He ordered the guards to arrest the goldsmith and have
him executed the following day at sunrise. He also sent a squad to the
house of the goldsmith to search for his precious green gem. The ring he
gave to his youngest daughter to play with, believing that the stone in
it was just a plain old Bohemian Garnet. Not until the next day, after
the execution of the goldsmith had already taken place, did Czar
Alexander realize his mistake.

Rudolf

R.I.G.A. - Russian Institute of Gemological Art
Gemstones beyond AAA
http://www.gemstones-by-riga.com