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Chemical composition Al2(BeO4)Beryllium aluminum oxide
Crystal system Orthorhombic
Habit Tabular, pseudo-hexagonal
Cleavage Imperfect prismatic
Fracture Weak, conchoidal
Hardness 8.5
Optic nature Biaxial +
Refractive index 1.744 - 1.755
Birefringence 0.009
Dispersion Low, 0.014
Specific gravity 3.70 - 3.72
Lustre Bright vitreous
Pleochroism Strong

Alexandrite is a phenomenal variety of the mineral chrysoberyl. Because of the trace amounts of the chromophores vanadium and chromium, alexandrite appears different colors depending on whether it is viewed in natural or incandescent light. In daylight, the stone appears to be green; in artificial light it appears to be raspberry red. It was originally discovered in the Ural Mountains in 1830 on the birthday of Czar Alexander of Russia. Another extraordinary coincidence was that the national colors of Russia were red and green. Today, alexandrite is found in Brazil and to a lesser extent in Africa. Alexandrite has long been associated with great luck and prosperity.

Additional Phenomena

Alexandrite image gallery

  • Cat's Eye
Cat's eye Alexandrite under daylight
Photo courtesy of The Gem Trader

Cat's eye Alexandrite under incandescent light
Photo courtesy of The Gem Trader