Superb 19thc Antique Natural 1/3ct Russian Alexandrite Gemstone For Sale
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Exceptionally Good Quality Antique Nineteenth Century Genuine Natural Handcrafted Russian Color Change One-Third Carat Faceted Oval Cut Alexandrite Precious Gemstone.
NOTES: Upon request we can set your gemstones as a ring, pendant, or as earrings (click here for more information).
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”.
The gemstone is green, when it is so inclined, at least. The color under most lighting conditions is the classic alexandrite green, reminiscent of both peridot and emerald. However under strong white light, the stone magically transforms itself into a hue ranging from a bright rose-peach to a saturated blue-violet. No matter what light source we used to image this gemstone, whether scanner or camera, it turned color. 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 dramatic color change they are capable of. And true to its reputation, the light of the scanner turned this precious gemstone rose-peach, a decent digital camera showed the color as blue-violet. All of these pictures are of the same gemstone! The color depends upon the light source (color spectrum) and intensity/brightness. This remarkable gemstone is capable of all of those 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 possesses superb luster and sparkle, and to the eye is completely transparent, but one cannot say with absolute certainty that it is unconditionally flawless. True, the blemishes it possesses are not visible to the naked eye, and the gemstone can be characterized at a minimum, to use trade jargon, as "eye clean". To the eye it is indeed flawless; however were one to examine it in a 10x jeweler’s loupe, it’s almost certain that a few minute blemishes could be detected. 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 minor blemishes both within the gemstone as well as in the finish, which by and large of course, 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 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.
Domestic shipping (insured first class mail) is included in the price shown. Domestic shipping also includes USPS Delivery Confirmation (you might be able to update the status of your shipment on-line at the USPS Web Site). Canadian shipments are an extra $9.99 for Insured Air Mail; International shipments are an extra $9.99 for Air Mail (and generally are NOT tracked; trackable shipments are EXTRA). ADDITIONAL PURCHASES do receive a VERY LARGE discount, typically about $5 per item so as to reward you for the economies of combined shipping/insurance costs. Your purchase will ordinarily be shipped within 48 hours of payment. We package as well as anyone in the business, with lots of protective padding and containers.
We do NOT recommend uninsured shipments, and expressly disclaim any responsibility for the loss of an uninsured shipment. Unfortunately the contents of parcels are easily “lost” or misdelivered by postal employees – even in the USA. If you intend to pay via PayPal, please be aware that PayPal Protection Policies REQUIRE insured, trackable shipments, which is INCLUDED in our price. International tracking is at additional cost. We do offer U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail, Registered Mail, and Express Mail for both international and domestic shipments, as well United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (Fed-Ex). Please ask for a rate quotation. We will accept whatever payment method you are most comfortable with. If upon receipt of the item you are disappointed for any reason whatever, I offer a no questions asked return policy. Send it back, I will give you a complete refund of the purchase price (less our original shipping costs).
We travel to Russia each year seeking antique gemstones and jewelry from one of the globe’s most prolific gemstone producing and cutting centers, the area between Chelyabinsk and Yekaterinburg, Russia. From all corners of Siberia, as well as from India, Ceylon, Burma and Siam, gemstones have for centuries gone to Yekaterinburg where they have been cut and incorporated into the fabulous jewelry for which the Czars and the royal families of Europe were famous for. My wife grew up and received a university education in the Southern Urals of Russia, just a few hours away from the mountains of Siberia, where alexandrite, diamond, emerald, sapphire, chrysoberyl, topaz, demantoid garnet, and many other rare and precious gemstones are produced. Though perhaps difficult to find in the USA, antique gemstones are commonly unmounted from old, broken settings – the gold reused – the gemstones recut and reset.
Before these gorgeous antique gemstones are recut, we try to acquire the best of them in their original, antique, hand-finished state – most of them centuries old. We believe that the work created by these long-gone master artisans is worth protecting and preserving rather than destroying this heritage of antique gemstones by recutting the original work out of existence. That by preserving their work, in a sense, we are preserving their lives and the legacy they left for modern times. Far better to appreciate their craft than to destroy it with modern cutting. Not everyone agrees – fully 95% or more of the antique gemstones which come into these marketplaces are recut, and the heritage of the past lost. But if you agree with us that the past is worth protecting, and that past lives and the produce of those lives still matters today, consider buying an antique, hand cut, natural gemstone rather than one of the mass-produced machine cut (often synthetic or “lab produced”) gemstones which dominate the market today.
Our interest in the fabulous history of Russian gemstones and the fabulous jewelry of the Czar’s led to further education and contacts in India, Ceylon, and Siam, other ancient centers of gemstone production and finishing.
We have a number of “helpers” (family members, friends, and colleagues) in Russia and in India who act as eyes and ears for us year-round, and in reciprocity we donate a portion of our revenues to support educational institutions in Russia and India. Occasionally while in Russia, India, Siam, and Ceylon we will also find such good buys on unique contemporary gemstones and jewelry that we will purchase a few pieces to offer to our customers here in America. These are always offered clearly labeled as contemporary, and not antiques – just to avoid confusion. We can set most any antique gemstone you purchase from us in your choice of styles and metals ranging from rings to pendants to earrings and bracelets; in sterling silver, 14kt solid gold, and 14kt gold fill. When you purchase from us, you can count on quick shipping and careful, secure packaging. We would be happy to provide you with a certificate/guarantee of authenticity for any item you purchase from me. There is a $2 fee for mailing under separate cover. Please see our "ADDITIONAL TERMS OF SALE."