The Magic of Color-Changing Gemstones

The Russian royal family, gem connoisseurs and deeply superstitious, fell in love with the new stone. Not only had it been discovered on Crown Prince Alexander’s birthday, but it displayed the signature colors of the royal house. Surely the gem was a talisman and an omen, a sign from God of a long and prosperous reign.

The new specimen was named Alexandrite after Alexander (who became Czar Alexander II) and in the years since its discovery, thanks to the beauty of its colorations and the drama of its transformations, the stone has found a place among the world’s most beloved and coveted gems, prized by kings and commoners alike. Alexandrite is the not the only gem capable of breathtaking changes of hue. Garnet, which comes in a rainbow of colors and shades, including purple (rhodolite garnet), orange (spessartite) and green (tsavorite) also comes in a color-changing version, which morphs alluringly from dark green in daylight to purple-red in incandescent light.

Similarly, sapphire, best known in its blue incarnation, also comes in color-changing varieties, the most common change being from bright blue in sunlight to violet in incandescent light. Today, gemologists can explain the scientific reasons for color-changing gems, but no amount of explanation will make them any less awe-inspiring to the viewer than they have always been. They remain today, as they have been to people throughout history, mysterious, magical and miraculous.