rare gemstone is named after the Russian tsar Alexander
II (1818-1881), the very first crystals having been
discovered in April 1834 in the emerald mines near
the Tokovaya River in the Urals. The discovery was
made on the day the future tsar came of age. Although
alexandrite is a relatively young gemstone, it certainly
has a noble history. Since it shows both red and
green, the principal colours of old Imperial Russia,
it inevitably became the national stone of tsarist
The most sensational feature about this stone, however, is
its surprising ability to change its colour. Green or bluish-green
in daylight, alexandrite turns a soft shade of red, purplish-red
or raspberry red in incandescent light. This unique optical
characteristic makes it one of the most valuable gemstones
of all, especially in fine qualities.
are an organic gem, created when an oyster covers
a foreign object with beautiful layers of nacre.
Long ago, pearls were important financial assets,
comparable in price to real estate, as thousands
of oysters had to be searched for only one pearl.
They were rare because they were created only by
pearls and natural pearls can be distinguished from
imitation pearls by a very simple test. Take the
pearl and rub it (gently!) against the edge of a
tooth. Cultured and natural pearls will feel slightly
rough, like fine sandpaper, because of the texture
of natural nacre. Imitations will feel as smooth
as glass because the surface is molded or painted
on a smooth bead.