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Alexandrite Education


Color Change

Alexandrites are unique gemstones that are known for their natural color change. The daylight color for alexandrites is a mix of green, blue and yellow. In incandescent light, the color changes to a mix of red, purple and brown.

Impact on Price

The most prized color change is a green to bluish green color changing to red to purplish red in incandescent light.


Color Strength

 The color strength refers to the degree of color change an alexandrite has. For most laboratories, an alexandrite must have 40-50% color change to be classified as an Alexandrite. Gemstones falling below this threshold will be called color changing chrysoberyl.

Impact on Price

Because color change is the defining quality of an alexandrite, it has direct correlation with its pricing. As the degree of color change increases, so does the value of the gemstone.


Clarity

Clarity refers to the imperfections visible in an alexandrite. It is very common to see eye visible imperfections in an alexandrite. Typical imperfections in an alexandrite include feathers, cavities and color zoning. The placement and size of the imperfections affect the value of the alexandrite .

Unlike diamonds, gemstones are graded without any tool or magnification to make clarity judgments. Instead, gemstones are inspected by holding them 12 inches from the observers eye and tilting them in various directions to visually inspect if any inclusions are visible. The grading below is based on this methodology. 

Note: Only imperfections viewable on the crown (top part of the gemstone) are inspected and not the pavilion (back side)

FL - This is the highest clarity grade an alexandrite can have. This means the gemstone is 100% clean to the eye to a trained, experienced gemologist but not necessarily under 10X or higher magnification.

VVS1, VVS2 - This grading means the alexandrite would be 100% eye clean to an untrained eye but a gemologist might be able to observe very, very tiny inclusions from certain side angles.

VS1, VS2 - This means very tiny inclusions would be visible under very close inspection to an untrained eye.

SI1, SI2 - Slight visible inclusions upon inspection would be visible to an untrained eye but inclusions are not affecting the brilliance or the color in the alexandrite.

I1 - These alexandrites are highly included where the inclusions hinder the brilliance and color of the alexandrite.

Impact on Price

Higher quality alexandrites tend to be eye clean. Clarity can have a material downward impact when the imperfections are significantly affecting the appearance of the gemstone. There is no value added if an alexandrite is clean to the eye vs. magnification.

What Clarity is right for you?

If a customer wants an above average clarity gemstone, then it better to stick with minimum VS2 clarity grade. However, for customers that want to view very little to no visible imperfections with the eye, it is better to look for VVS2 and higher clarity alexandrites.


Cut

It is unfair to compare the cut of an alexandrite to a diamond. Unlike diamonds, cutting an alexandrite to text book proportions will not guarantee amazing sparkle in the gemstone. The quality of the alexandrite crystal itself dictates the sparkle you will see. Some crystals are opaque and others very transparent. 
Alexandrites are cut to maximize their color change and clarity.

Impact on Price

Pricing of an alexandrite is determined from the physical measurements  and less so from its carat weight. Alexandrites are cut to maximize the color saturation. Because there is no standardization of cut in an alexandrite, it is the least important of the 4 C's in affecting its value.

What cut is right for you?

In general, the cut of an alexandrite should not affect your purchasing decision. However, the desired look of the ring can impact the cut requirement. Certain settings look best with well proportioned alexandrite.


Carat Weight

Carat weight is the unit of measure for gemstones. One carat is equivalent to 0.20grams. In general, the higher the carat weight of the gemstone, the higher the price per carat.

To gauge the size of a gemstone (visual appearance), it is always better to look at the physical measurements as opposed to the carat weight. Color stones tend to be cut deeper than diamonds and will therefore will almost always have a higher carat weight.
Click here for our stone size chart

Finding alexandrites over 2cts is rare and as the size/weight increases so does the value. Alexandrites over 5cts are extremely rare and expensive.


Treatment

Alexandrites are typically found untreated and there are no accepted treatments.

Impact on Price

Treatments that are not generally accepted in the trade such as dying and color enhancement will have a material downward

impact on its price.

What treatment is right for you?

Customers should avoid alexandrites that don't adhere to generally accepted treatments.


Origin

Alexandrites are mined in various locations around the world.  All origins produce high and low quality gemstones. The origin of an alexandrite can have impact in its value, primarily in the higher quality. Low quality alexandrites will not receive a premium even though they are mined from a rare and prestigious origin.  See below various origins alexandrites are mined from:

Alexandrite Origins
Russia Very prestigious origin producing top quality alexandrites. Original alexandrites were sourced from Russia but there is no new gems being recovered from the region.
Brazil Very prestigious origin producing top quality alexandrites.
Ceylon Typical color change tends to be greenish yellow to brown color change. Higher color changes do exist.
Africa Typical color change tends to be greenish yellow to brown color change. Higher color changes do exist.
India Typical color change tends to be greenish yellow to brown color change. Higher color changes do exist.

 Impact on Price

Brazilian and Russian alexandrites will carry a premium over other origins. The premium grows as the quality and size/weight of a gemstone increases.

What origin is right for you?

For most customers origin should not factor into the decision making process. All origins produce low, medium and high quality gemstones. It is more important to find the quality of the gemstone you want than the origin. For investors, it is always better to purchase a high quality gemstone from a premium origin.

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