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19thC Antique Handcut ¼ct Natural Russian Alexandrite Gemstone Oval #55847

Cost: $ 479.99

Antique Nineteenth Century Genuine Natural Handcrafted Quarter Carat Russian Color Change Faceted Oval Cut Alexandrite Precious Gemstone.

CLASSIFICATION: Faceted Alexandrite Oval.

ORIGIN: Russia, 19th Century.

SIZE: Length: 5mm. Width: 3mm. Thickness (Depth): 2mm. All measurements approximate.

WEIGHT: Approximately 0.23 carats.

NOTES: Upon request we can set your gemstones as a ring, pendant, or as earrings.

DETAIL: Beware! The vast majority of alexandrite offered in the USA is synthetic. The American Gemological Institute estimates that less than 1 in every 100,000 Americans has ever even seen genuine, natural alexandrite. This is a very beautiful, brilliant, rare, natural green (color change) alexandrite gemstone from the Ural Mountains of Russia. The gemstone was hand crafted and faceted by a 19th century Russian artisan, part of an heritage renown for the production of the elaborate gemstones and jewelry of the Czars of Medieval, Renaissance, and Victorian Russia. As you can see in these photo enlargements, the gemstone is not flawless. To the glance of the casual admirer, it is a nice, clean, transparent stone. However if one scrutinizes the gemstone one can make out, even with the naked eye if one scrutinizes the gemstone very intently, some overall haziness or “smudginess” (the composition of which is finely dispersed crystalline material). Of course being a natural gemstone, it’s more than likely going to have some blemishes. Most absolutely unblemished alexandrite turns out to be synthetic. 

It is not uncommon for alexandrite to have blemishes composed of colorless crystalline material within the gemstone, and it is obvious from looking at these 500% photo enlargements that this gemstone possesses just such a blemish. Again, this is not really immediately noticed by the casual admirer, and once set again into a pendant or ring it would be much less noticeable. Even now, unmounted, this blemish is not immediately noticed, one has to scrutinize the gemstone very closely, and even then while it is more easily noticed from some angles, from other angles of view it cannot be discerned at all. However without a doubt, if you look closely at the gemstone through a jeweler’s loupe, or in these 500% photo enlargements, or even scrutinizing it intently with the naked eye (if held right up to the eye), then this blemish is fairly easy to discern – though even then it is not grossly disfiguring or obnoxious. However this slightly smudgy character is offset by very pronounced color changing characteristics.

Speaking of which; the gemstone is green…when it is 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, the stone magically transforms itself into a hue ranging from deeply hued rose color with peach undertones, to violet-blue. No matter what light source we used to image this gemstone, whether scanner or camera, it turned color. In hand, under most lighting conditions, it is 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. And true to its reputation, the light of the scanner turned this precious gemstone rose-peach, a decent digital camera showed the color as violet-blue. All of these pictures are of the same gemstone! The color depends upon the light source (color spectrum) and intensity/brightness. This remarkable gemstone is capable of all of those colors, a true chameleon, quite an extraordinary precious gemstone.

The green images were produced using a filter which suppresses the normal color change so as to produce an image of matching color (to show you the normal color of the gemstone). But the remaining images which were produced with a high definition scanner and a high quality Nikon digital camera give more detail and show you what the gemstone looks like when “fully illuminated”.  It is a gorgeous gemstone, full of fire and sparkle, vibrant, and possessing good clarity and color. It is truly a special little gemstone, quite rare. It’s not a large gemstone (though for alexandrite, it is a reasonably appreciable size), but it would make into a nice ring. And of course a pair would make lovely studs.

Under magnification the gemstone shows the unmistakable characteristics of having been hand crafted. The coarseness of the 19th century finish is considered appealing to most gemstone collectors, and is not considered a detriment, or detract from the value of a gemstone. These characteristics are not only expected of hand-finished gemstones, most serious collectors consider such gemstones more desirable, possessed of greater character and uniqueness when compared to today''s cookie-cutter mass-produced machine-faceted gemstones. Unlike today’s computer controlled machine produced gemstones, the cut and finish of a gemstone such as this is the legacy of an artisan who lived two centuries ago. 

For those who do not know, alexandrite was only produced for about fifteen years during Czarist (Imperial Russia), in the nineteenth century, before the only known mine of any significance played out. For over a hundred years the sole source of alexandrite was "recycled" Russian jewelry. Russian alexandrite is still considered to be the world''s best, though very small deposits of inferior alexandrite have been found outside of the Ural Mountains in recent years. Given the rarity of the gemstone, and the enormous demand, reasonably good specimens are hard to find. Flawless or near flawless specimens of any significant size have almost resulted in duels between buyers vying for the privilege of being a selected purchaser. 

This gemstone has great luster and sparkle, and to the eye is relatively transparent, but of course as described, it is not flawless. True, the blemishes it possesses are not immediately discerned by the casual admirer. However magnified five times over as it is here, you can that the gemstone is "hazy" due to finely dispersed (microscopic) colorless crystalline material.  Though these colorless crystalline blemishes are not individually discernible, as they are microscopic, the overall effect is to create a bit of "haziness" within the gemstone, kind of like a foggy morning.  Of course (more or less) similar blemishes occur within almost any natural gemstone. An absolutely flawless gemstone simply is not the rule in nature. Most absolutely flawless gemstones will upon close examination be revealed to be synthetic. You might also notice under magnification occasional irregularities in the cut and finish. Naturally these characteristics are not only expected of hand-finished gemstones, you must also consider that two centuries ago the mining techniques prevalent did not allow the ultra deep mining operations which are so common today. 

Keep in mind that two centuries ago mankind was more or less limited to surface deposits or near surface deposits of gemstones. Higher quality gemstones which today are routinely mined from beneath hundreds of meters, even kilometers beneath the earth''s surface, were simply inaccessible then. For these reasons antique gemstones must be appreciated as antiques first, gemstones second. The relatively superlative quality of contemporary gemstones routinely mined from deep beneath the earth''s surface today were simply not accessible two centuries ago, or at least, only rarely so. However for most, the unique nature and character of antique gemstones such as this more than makes up for any minute blemishes which by and large are (if at all) only visible under high magnification.

ISTORY: 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 in Russia. 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. Alexandrite is known as a "color change" gemstone. It is emerald green in daylight, and a purplish red under artificial lights 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".

Alexandrite is well known as an extremely scarce and very costly gem. The quality of color change with different illumination is the primary basis for its quality and price. No more than one person out of 100,000 has ever seen a real 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 jeweler''s, 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 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 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 features 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 15 years some very small deposits of Alexandrite have been discovered in Brazil, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, 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 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.


5/7/2017 12:00:00 AM
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