Alexandrite is the rare variety of the mineral chrysoberyl that changes color in different lighting. Most prized are those alexandrite birthstones that show a vivid green to bluish green in daylight or fluorescent light, and an intense red to purplish red in incandescent light. Major alexandrite deposits were first discovered in 1830 in Russia’s Ural Mountains. The gem was named after the young Alexander II (1818–1881), heir apparent to the throne. Alexandrite caught the country’s attention because its red and green colors mirrored the national military colors of imperial Russia.
When certain types of long, thin inclusions are oriented parallel to each other in this June birthstone, they can create another phenomenon, called chatoyancy or the cat’s-eye effect. Few gems are as fascinating – or as stunning – as cat’s-eye alexandrite.