The History of Wearing Birthstones
Why is an Alexandrite June birthstone special?
Being a particular member of the chrysoberyl family, it's because it absorbs more of the red spectrum under artificial light than in daylight because of the Chromium it contains. It's this absorption that turns it from a rich bluish green to a plum purple. An ability that's very rare in gemstones.
So it will glow with a rich bluish green during the day, and when evening falls, and it's under romantic candlelight, it immediately transforms into a plum purple. Which is more than can be said for Pearls and Moonstone, the alternative June Birthstones.
Watch the remarkable color change of the June birthstone, Alexandrite.
Why are there three birthstones for June?
There are three types of birthstone. Ancient, traditional and modern. The ancient ones include diamonds and sapphires whilst the traditional ones cover garnets and lapis amongst others. And the modern ones, like Alexandrite, were created as so many new gems were discovered in the 18th to 20th centuries that in 1912 it was decided by the National Association of Jewelers to create a more up to date list which has remained unchanged for over 100 years. The 3 modern June birthstones are Alexandrite, Pearls and Moonstone.
Ultimately, they do require a particular wardrobe style to be shown at their best and may not be suited to today's fashions. Moonstones, on the other hand, are a naturally occurring semi-precious stone. In Indian mythology, they were thought to be captured moonbeams and indeed their milky opalescence does appear to embody that name.
Moonstones - June Birthstone (image-credits:gia.com)
They achieved their highest prominence in the swinging sixties when designers incorporated them into their 'Hippy' designs and again in the '90's in 'New Age' collections. Today, they're mined in many tropical countries and set in locally designed jewelry.
The source of Alexandrite
An alexandrite gemstone showing its color change in the rough (image-credits:gia.com)
Alexandrite was only discovered in Russia's Ural Mountains by Sapphire miners in 1830 and was quickly added to the list because of its strong color change ability. Alexandrite was named after the young Tsar-in-waiting, Alexander II, who came of age that year, but it also referenced the national colors of red and green of the Russian army.
For a long time, Russia was the only source of this magnificent gem and it was jealously guarded by the aristocracy. It was actually held to be the National Gem of Russia for a while. But all good things came to an end as the seams were exhausted and it wasn't until 1985 that an even richer source of Alexandrite was discovered in the central plateau of Brazil at the Hematita mine. It's from this mine (and ONLY this mine) that only the best Alexandrite is sourced before they are transformed by skilled craftsmen into eye popping jewelry pieces to adorn those born in June.
Why only Brazil?
The reason is simple. These gems are as near perfect as it's possible to get. Buying a newly mined gem is truly an art and buyers spend literally days appraising each candidate gem before buying.
The Hematita mine in Minas Gerais is the only known deposit of Alexandrites in Brazil.
Since its discovery, the gemstone has been thought to bring luck, good fortune and love. Which it would as it's also said to encourage romance. In Russia it is considered to be a good omen gem. It is also said to strengthen intuition, creativity, and imagination.
It is also thought that through the stone, joy enters the lives of people with too much self-discipline. With its changing color, it is a reminder that life is not always what it seems. Of course, it brings joy because who wouldn't be joyful at receiving a gift of an exquisite piece of Alexandrite jewelry! Contemporary practitioners of crystal healing claim Alexandrite is helpful in treating certain physical ailments although there appears to be no actual proof.
So how can an Alexandrite June birthstone be worn?
Think of a piece of jewelry and you have the answer. BUT, you want your piece to stand out and be admired as much as the wearer. So here are the different ways you can wear your June birthstone.
The power of a Ring
An Alexandrite ring against candlelight.
And it's the alexandrite ring that's the most popular because it rekindles memories of when the wedding band was slipped onto a finger in one of life's genuinely emotional moments. A Birthstone ring carries significant emotional meaning for many people, and an Alexandrite ring is no exception. It signifies the bonding of 2 souls in love, good fortune, and longevity. And isn't that what we all desire? And what Alexandrite means? It's usually worn every day, which is a constant reminder of that love, and because Alexandrite is among the most intricate gems on the Mohs scale, there's little danger of it being damaged. Cleaning is easy too by using washing up liquid and a soft brush. Ultrasonic cleaning can also be used but maybe a little harder to find.
Be mesmerized by Alexandrite earrings
To get genuinely noticed, a lady's taste often gravitates to earrings because they frame a beautiful face, and it's the face that's seen first. Remember when your eyes first met? Now, imagine a pair of Alexandrite earrings that glitter plum purple in the candlelight or glow green in dappled sunlight. Imagine being mesmerized as they dance aside her eyes. Imagine her sharp intake of breath as she wears them for the first time. This is the power of an Alexandrite birthstone. Other June birthstones cannot do this.
The surprise of a June Birthstone Necklace
Remember the surprising reaction when Richard Gere opened the jewelry case before taking the Julia Roberts character to the Opera in the 1990 movie hit 'Pretty Woman'? And how she giggled when he snapped the case shut? And the admiring looks she got as she left the hotel? Now imagine opening up the case containing your Alexandrite June Birthstone necklace gift and know that the same reactions and looks can be at your disposal after you lovingly place it around her neck. An Alexandrite necklace is an obvious way of saying "our love is forever" – one of the primary meanings behind the gem. Completing the June birthstone suite… Since time immemorial and usually by people of stature, Bracelets have been worn from ancient Egyptians to Native Americans to movie celebrities.
When you wear an Alexandrite June birthstone bracelet, you're not wearing one bracelet, but two.
Encased in white or yellow gold or platinum, your Alexandrite June Birthstone will radiate bluish green during the day and glow plum purple in candle or artificial light.
According to superstitions & legends (of which there are many!), a bracelet with birthstones will supposedly bring the different wearer gifts depending on which wrist it's worn. Worn on the left wrist, a birthstone bracelet promotes openness; worn on the right wrist, the birthstone will bring self-confidence.
When you just know your June birthstone gift has to be a magnificent piece; when it has to add more beauty to the wearer, show how much she's loved and create admiring looks, then there's nothing more special than Alexandrite.
Believe it or not, June has 3 birthstones to choose from.
Pearl, Moonstone and the fabled Alexandrite.
Pearls have been a traditional wardrobe staple, especially for our Grandmothers, for centuries. (In fact, you’ll rarely see Queen Elizabeth without her 3-strand set) They signify purity, humility and innocence and have been often gifted at weddings.
Occurring naturally in both salt and freshwater molluscs, natural pearls are being replaced by cultured pearls in vast pearl farms, often miles from human habitation as they need pure, unpolluted water to survive – an increasing rarity in today’s world.
Ultimately, they do require a particular wardrobe style to be shown at their best and may not be suited to everyone.
Moonstones, on the other hand, are a naturally occurring semi-precious stone.
In Indian mythology they were thought to be captured moonbeams and indeed their milky opalescence does appear to embody that name.
They achieved their highest prominence in the swinging sixties when designers incorporated them into their ‘Hippy’ designs and again in the ‘90’s in ‘New Age’ collections.
Today, they’re mined abundantly in many tropical countries and set in locally designed jewelry.
The final June birthstone, Alexandrite, strangely enough, hasn’t been available for very long as it was only discovered in 1830 in the Russian Ural Mountains. For many years Russia was the only source of Alexandrite and, due to a limited supply, it was jealously guarded and used in only the most expensive jewelry. Think Faberge Easter Eggs!
But, as often happens, when one gem source is exhausted another will be found. And it was in the high plateaus of Central Brazil where Alexandrite of equal quality to the Russian gems was discovered in 1985.
Today, this unique June birthstone changes color under different light. In daylight it shines a striking blue-green, whilst under artificial light it radiates a plum purple.
Because of its rarity and unprecedented color change ability, many discerning people have seen Alexandrite as the June birthstone of choice. Today’s modern collections and designs handcrafted by talented artisans can perfectly set off today’s high fashion; entrance a bride-to-be who was born in June or even celebrate a special anniversary that falls in June.It is because of its rarity and color change ability that Alexandrite is naturally viewed as the most valuable of the June birthstones.
When I got my first paycheck, like many other twentysomethings in those days, I wanted to spend it on some jewelry for my then girlfriend.
My mother advised me otherwise and this is what she said.
“Whatever you decide to buy, make sure it’s the best and it’s genuine.
Because if it’s not, sooner or later, it will break or fall apart or she’ll discover it’s not the real deal and she’ll think a lot less of you. As will everyone else”.
Thankfully, I followed her advice and didn’t buy the cheap jewelry I was thinking of.
30 odd years later I recalled her words when a good friend showed me a ring he had bought as an anniversary gift for his lovely wife.
He took me aside and quietly boasted about the low price he’d paid.
I asked him how he’d managed to get such a large stone for such a low price.
“Oh, it’s not real. It’s synthetic. Made to look like the real thing though.”
Later that evening his wife was showing me the ring and said that she was going to get it appraised for insurance.
I knew at that moment it would end in tears
And felt immensely sad for both of them.
It felt like he’d given her a bunch of artificial flowers instead of the real ones.
And it’s the same with Alexandrite.
There’s a lot of synthetic stones in the market that may look like the real thing – only they’re not.
They’re made in a pressure cooker oven in a lab in a few hours.
Whereas true alexandrite was created by aeons of natural pressure deep in the bowels of the earth.
In fact, there’s a lab in Thailand that produces over 100Kg a year of synthetic alexandrite.
Conversely, the single mine in Brazil we buy our stones from in Hematita - produces very few high quality natural gems.
We should know because we buy only the best direct from them.
And Safiya ONLY sells natural stones.
Alexandrite was originally mined in the Ural Mountains in Russia from the 1830’s onwards but those rich seams were depleted long ago. Today, the best stones come from the single mine in Brazil we buy from.
Of course, when there’s an extremely limited amount of natural gems being mined world-wide, their price inevitably rises. The Brazilian gems we purchase direct from the mine tend to be under 1ct and any much rarer, larger stones tend to be incredibly expensive.
Because of the rarity of natural alexandrite, people often ask if there’s any real difference between a natural alexandrite and one that’s created in a lab?
From a color change viewpoint, the answer is not really. Natural alexandrite changes from its natural glamorous bluish green in daylight to a rich, plum purple at night or under artificial light – as does one created in a lab. But, a trained eye can see the difference immediately between natural and artificial.
Whilst all our crafted jewelry pieces are accompanied by a Guarantee of Authenticity that our gems are pure and natural, we always advise customers to take any alexandrite ‘gem’ they have bought elsewhere to a reputed GIA lab to determine its authenticity.
A natural gem expresses so much more than love that it’s almost impossible to put into words. It’s a feeling that you value that love so much that you will gift something of great rarity to express it.To add to the wise words of my Mother all those years ago…”it’s the pride you’ll feel when you know you’ve bought the one you love something genuine. And your friends will know it too”
Like all precious jewelry, pieces containing Alexandrite should be treated with care and especially when cleaning.
Although it’s renowned for being a hard gem, the incorrect way of cleaning alexandrite can still affect it.
How do you know if your jewelry needs cleaning?
Most of the time you actually won’t, but minute amounts of debris from many sources can work their way onto the gems surface and, whilst it will not discolour it, can reduce the shine.
Make-up and hair spray can settle on both earrings and pendants or necklaces whilst dust, hand lotion and soap is most likely to affect rings and bracelets.
The best way of cleaning your precious alexandrite jewelry is to simply wash it in warm water with a few drops of liquid soap for a few minutes using as soft a cloth available.
It’s not recommended that it’s brushed with a nail brush, for example, as this can damage the setting over time. When the washing is complete, rinse it with cold water and pat dry with a soft cloth.
If you want the best cleaning from experienced hands, we at Safiya Alexandrites also offer a cleaning service for our valued customers. For more details please contact our Customer Care department on 1 213 327 0966 where we’ll be delighted to help.
Alternatively, an ultrasonic or steam cleaner can be used and they will deliver a truly professional finish. It’s not recommended to use an ultrasonic cleaner if your alexandrite has a Tungsten setting is the metal will be damaged.
If you want to purchase one yourself, you’ll find quite a few online. Otherwise your local jeweller may be able to assist.