Alexandrite Cat’s eye originates from Russia, Sri Lanka, and Minas Gerais, Brazil. The stone is part of the chrysoberyl family, which is often called, “Cat’s Eye”. Alexandrite can change tones as you hold it toward the light. It can go from reddish-purple in incandescent light to bluish green in fluorescent light.
As early as the 1700’s it’s believed that Alexandrite was discovered, but it wasn’t until 1834, that Nils Gustaf Nordenskiöld, a French mineralliest introduced it to the world. His stone was discovered in the Ural Mountains of Russia. While a mineralliest, Nordenskiöld was still confused. He originally thought chrysoberyl was an emerald, later discovering it was not. The stone was named after, the then current Russian Czar, Alexander II.
While you may never have heard of Alexandrite it is extremely valuable. It is more costly than all the traditional precious stones, including diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires. Most of these jewels will always be cut and polished before hitting the market, but Alexandrite often goes untreated. A top-quality piece of Alexandrite can sell for $30,000 per carat.
The most valuable Alexandrite examples have come from antique jewelry made during the Victorian Era. Russian antique jewelry made during the Victorian Era often feature a large Alexandrite stone.
It may seem mysterious that this stone can change color, but science can explain it simply. Alexandrite is composed of chromium. Trace amounts of chromium in Alexandrite makes beryl is turn emerald, green.
The other characteristic Alexandrite is known for is the cat’s eye effect. This is in part due to chatoyancy. Chatoyancy is a white line that appears down the center of a stone. That same line can move as the stone is turned under a light source.
The Smithsonian Museum has the largest faceted Alexandrite ever found, a 66-carat stone. However, the largest ever piece of Alexandrite ever discovered is in Brazil, in Bahia. It weighs 122,540 carats. It was found in 1967.
Alexandrite cat’s eye is the third hardest stone in the world. It has a hardness of 8.5 following the diamond and the corundum. Cat’s eye is the rarest of all the gems found in the Alexandrite mines located in Brazil, Russian, and Sri Lanka. Brazilian stones tend to be more amethystine or pink in artificial light. That’s except for the latest discoveries of Alexandrite in Lavra de Hematite, Brazil, which are bluish green in daylight and ruby red in artificial light. The Russian stones are more reddish-purple or red in artificial light.