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19thC Antique Russian Handcrafted Alexandrite Earrings #46775

Cost: $ 269.99

One and One-Half Carats of Gorgeous, Genuine, Antique Handcrafted Russian Alexandrite Precious Gemstones on 14kt Gold Fill French Hooks.

CLASSIFICATION: Eight mandarin orange (“button”) shaped gemstones, total gemstone weight approximately 1.50-1.70 carats. Contemporary high quality 14kt gold fill french hooks (14kt solid gold available as are kidney wires, lever backs, euroclicks, or ball studs).

ORIGIN: Russia. 19th Century.


Approximate Diameter: 2-4 millimeters. Approximate Thickness: 1-2 millimeters.

Approximate Weight: 5 or 6 to the carat (average about 0.17cts).

A set of eight absolutely gorgeous, richly colored, green color-change violet-pink alexandrite precious gemstones from Siberia. These are stunning, brilliant, gorgeous, rare, natural green alexandrite gemstones from the Ural Mountains of Russia; and yes, they are green…when they are so inclined, at least. The color under most lighting conditions is the classic alexandrite green, reminiscent of both peridot and emerald. However under strong white light, depending on the angle at which they are viewed, the stones magically transform themselves to a violet-pink color. As you can see in these images, again dependent upon the angle of the gemstone to the light source, some appear green, some violet-pink. In hand, under most lighting conditions, they are most assuredly green. But the charm of these remarkable gemstones, at least in the higher qualities, is the dramatic color change they are capable of. Individually imaged the light of a scanner will turn the gemstones a bright violet pink. And a decent digital camera shows them as violet-purple. The stones are capable of all of those colors, true chameleons, quite extraordinary precious gemstones.

These exceptional gemstones were hand finished in the 19th century into these beautiful round gemstones shaped much like a tomato or mandarin orange – not spherical, but round with greater diameter than height – much the shape of a “button” pearl. Though the shaping of the gemstones was a little on the primitive side, the gemstones themselves are exquisitely colored. High quality, transparent, at a minimum eye clean, these lustrous semi-precious gemstones possess that classic rich, green color of alexandrite. They are very attractive gemstones, of very special character and remarkable color and texture. These gorgeous alexandrite gemstones have been mounted onto contemporary 14kt Gold Fill french hooks. These are not cheap gold electroplate earrings, they are high quality 14kt Gold Fill french hooks. Upon request the gemstones could also be remounted onto kidney wires, lever backs, euroclicks, or ball studs if you would prefer (all are also available in solid 14kt gold as well). 

It's a first-class piece of jewelry throughout, designed to provide a lifetime of wearing enjoyment. Keep in mind however that even casual examination will easily discern from the photo that the gemstones have been hand-finished. The coarseness of the 19th century finish is considered appealing to most gemstone collectors, and is not considered a detriment. Unlike today's computer controlled machine processes, the cut and finish of gemstones such as these is the legacy of an artisan who lived two centuries ago. Such antique hand-finished gemstones possess much greater character and appeal than today's mass-produced machine-tumbled gemstones. These gemstones have great luster and color, and to the eye are completely transparent, but they are not absolutely flawless. True, the blemishes they possess are not visible to the naked eye, and the gemstones can be characterized at a minimum, to use trade jargon, as "eye clean". To the eye they are indeed flawless; however magnified as they are here, you might be able to pick out one or two slight imperfections within the gemstones, barely perceptible even at such high magnification, and as well occasional irregularities in the finish. However these characteristics are not only expected of hand-finished gemstones, you must also consider that two centuries ago the mining techniques even theoretically possible, let alone commonly practiced, did not allow the ultra deep mining operations which are so commonplace today. 

ALEXANDRITE HISTORY:  Alexandrite is known as a "color change" gemstone.  It is emerald green in daylight or under fluorescent lighting, and a purplish red or blue under incandescent lighting, candlelight, or twilight.  It belongs to the chrysoberyl family of gems, and one of the most extraordinary types is a cats-eye variety of alexandrite, possessing a remarkably prominent "cat's eye".   Most sources credit the discovery of this very unique gemstone to the year 1830 on the birthday of Prince (and ultimately Czar) Alexander II in the Ural Mountains of Russia, near the city of Ekaterinburg.  In celebration of Prince Alexander's coming-of-age, this remarkable gemstone was named after him.  Alexandrite was popular in Imperial Russia both with the royal family and the wealthy elite, both because of its association with the Czar, and because red and green were the colors of the Russian Empire (and its flag).

However this most rare stone did not bring to Alexander the good fortune it is now generally associated with.  Upon ascending to the throne of Russia, Alexander II began long-awaited reforms, including abolishing serfdom, a deed that earned him the name of “The Liberator”. But a terrorist’s bomb ended his life.   In memoriam of the monarch who passed away so prematurely, many people in Russia started to wear alexandrite jewelry. It was considered to be the symbol of loyalty to the throne and compassion towards the victims of the revolutionary terror, but at the same time, it said a lot about the owner’s fortune and social position. Even in those times, it was quite difficult to buy an alexandrite ring. According to Leskov, “there were people who made quite an effort to find an alexandrite, and more often, they failed than succeeded.”

Alexandrite is well known to be an extremely scarce and very costly gem. The quality of color change with different illumination is the primary basis for its quality and price. According to the Gemstone Institute of America (“GIA”), no more than one person out of 100,000 has ever seen a natural alexandrite gemstone, although synthetic alexandrite is common and widely available.  It is likely that if you read the fine print of 99% of the Alexandrite offered at retail jewelers, you will find it to be "laboratory produced" - synthetic.  If there is a huge color change from a very intense green to a very intense red/purple, you can be 99.9% sure that both the color change and the gemstone itself is synthetic.  The shift in color of natural gemstones is generally much more subtle.  Kind of like the difference in taste between fruit juice and Kool-Aide.  One is subtle and natural, the other brassy and synthetic.

However even as an artificially grown stone, alexandrite often commands a retail price of $300.00 to $500.00 per carat.  Of course, alexandrite can be found in Russian jewelry of the imperial era, as it was well loved by the Russian master jewelers.  Master gemologist George Kunz of Tiffany was a fan of alexandrite, and the company produced many rings featuring fine alexandrite in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, including some set in platinum from the twenties.  Some Victorian jewelry from England featured sets of small alexandrite.  However the original source in Russia's Ural Mountains has long since closed after producing for only a few decades, and only a few stones can be found on the Russian market today.

In the past few decades some very small deposits of alexandrite have been discovered in Brazil, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, India, and Mozambique.  However the Brazilian gemstones tend to have washed out colors when cut, and the African and Celanese sources produce very dark, not brightly colored gemstones.  The alexandrite from India tends to be very low quality, with limited color change.  The cut alexandrite originating from Russia is usually "harvested" from vintage jewelry. For over a century this source of "recycled" gemstones from Russia was the only source of Alexandrite, and for many years, alexandrite was almost impossible to find because there was so little available.  Russian Alexandrite remains elusive.  A few specimens are still found from time-to-time in the Ural Mountains of Russia, and are sometimes available as an unset stone, but it is extremely rare in fine qualities.  Stones over 5 carats are almost unknown, though the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., owns a 66 carat specimen, which is believed to be the largest cut alexandrite in existence.

The colors within alexandrite are due to trace amounts of the mineral impurities iron, titanium, and chromium (and rarely vanadium is also present). As is the case with emerald, the chromium element both giveth and taketh away.  While chromium is responsible both for the green color as well as the color change characteristics of alexandrite, chromium also causes alexandrite (like emerald and ruby) to be characterized by fissures and fractures within the gemstone.  Just as emerald is treated under high pressure with oil, alexandrite is  is oftentimes similarly treated under high pressure with a fluxing agent such as resin, wax, or borax.  The tiny crevasses and fractures are then filled with this material under high pressure, and the treatment is generally very difficult to detect outside of the laboratory.   However whereas emerald (and ruby) are routinely treated, alexandrite is only occasionally afforded such treatment.  In Russia alexandrite is thought to bring luck, good fortune and love, and also to allow the wearer to foresee danger.  It is also believed to encourage romance, and to strengthen intuition, creativity, and imagination.  Alexandrite is also believed to be beneficial in the treatment of leukemia.  On the metaphysical plane, alexandrite is believed useful in reinforcing one's self esteem and balancing positive and negative energy.



3/23/2017 12:00:00 AM
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