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19thC Antique Handcrafted Natural Russian Alexandrite Gemstone Oval #58895

Cost: $ 249.99


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

CLASSIFICATION:  Faceted Alexandrite Oval.

ORIGIN:  Russia, 19th Century.

SIZE:  Length:  4 1/2mm.  Width:  3mm.  Thickness (Depth):  1 1/4mm.  All measurements approximate.

WEIGHT:  Approximately 0.11 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 stunning, brilliant, gorgeous, rare, natural green 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 absolutely clean to the unaided eye of the casual admirer.  Even in these 600% photo enlargements it is exceedingly difficult to discern what blemishes that the gemstone might possess.  It may be conservatively described as “eye clean”.

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 fine, seamed or sprinkles of colorless crystalline material within the gemstone, and under magnification one can discern this gemstone possesses a few blemishes of just that description.  Again, this is not discernible, and even upon close inspection with the naked eye one cannot really discern any blemishes, the gemstone is to use trade terminology, “eye clean”.  However if you look closely at the gemstone through a jeweler’s loupe, or in these 500% photo enlargements, then these blemishes are a little easier to discern, if you inspect the images very carefully that is!  Even in these 500% photo enlargements the minute blemishes this gemstone does possess are not easy to spot.

The gemstone is green, and being a rather small, thinly cut gemstone (only 1 3/4mm thick), it does not possesses really strong color change characteristics which tend to be more pronounced with thicker or dirtier alexandrite gemstones.  The thicker or more opaque a gemstone is, the more light which will be reflected back to the eye of the viewer, and so the more pronounced the color change will seem to be (just as a thin sheet of smoked glass seems very light and remains transparent; a thick sheet of smoked glass is dark and opaque – same glass, just different thickness).  Being a small and relatively transparent gemstone, this particular specimen is not going to reflect a lot of light back to the viewer, and so will be interpreted by the view’s eye as being pretty light in tone. 

That means that this specimen is viewed as a light green under most lighting conditions, a green very similar to Siberian emerald. However under strong white light, such as natural sunlight, the stone shifts to being either a pastel rose-peach or a pastel blue-violet, depending upon the intensity and spectrum of the light source it is exposed to.  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 color change they are capable of.  And true to its reputation, the light of the scanner gave this precious gemstone very pronounced rose-peach undertones, and a decent digital camera showed the undertones as violet-blue.  All of these pictures are of the same gemstone!  This remarkable gemstone is capable of all of these 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”.  This fascinating and sumptuous gemstone was hand crafted into this sparkling faceted oval in 19th century Russia, the fabled land of the incredibly sophisticated, sumptuous gemstones and jewelry of the Czars.  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 transparent, but of course as described, it is not flawless.  True, the blemishes it possesses are not immediately discerned with the naked eye.  However magnified five times over as it is here, you might be able to discern a few very slight blemishes within the stone.  Of course the same may said about 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.

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.

 

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5/7/2017 12:00:00 AM
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