Where is Alexandrite Found ? – Geographical Occurrences and Mines
The color changing gemstone Alexandrite is one of the rarest gemstones in the world. It is a variety of the chysoberyl mineral. The main reason for Alexandrite to be so famous is that it shows different colors during the day and during the night. During the day its color is a bluish green or green and during the night ( that is in an incandescent light) its color is red or a purplish red.
Alexandrite is a stone which was cherished thought the history due to its extraordinary properties. In this article, I will go in to more details such as the history of alexandrite, where is alexandrite found, the colors of alexandrite and so on. I will hopefully be able to provide answers to your important questions regarding this magnificent gemstone.
Here is a good video which shows the different colors of alexandrite.
History of Alexandrite
The Swedish mineralogist Nils Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld first discovered Alexandrite in the Russian Ural Mountains during the early 1830’s. The stone was named Alexandrite after the young Czar Alexander II who later became the emperor of Russia. This naming itself created a royal personality to Alexandrite.
Since the stone had both red and green, the colors of the imperial Russian flag, alexandrite became the national stone of imperial Russia (i.e. before 1917)
Where is Alexandrite found?
Russia still remains as one of the best quality alexandrite producers. Apart from Russia, Alexandrite is now mined in Sri Lanka, Brazil, India, Tanzania and some other countries.
I am going to provide details only about these major countries where alexandrite is found. There are few countries where alexandrite is found but not up to the required quality or quantity. I will mention this list as well but won’t go into details.
Let’s go through the list of main countries one by one.
Emerald is a main gemstone mined in Russia and Alexandrite is generally a byproduct of that. Alexandrite production in Russia depleted in the 20th century as mining focus shifted to beryllium. Production came to a halt in 1991 with the fall of Soviet Union and now there are new efforts to increase the production again.
The main mines in Russia are Mariinskoye, Sretenskoye, Cheremshanskoye and Krasnobolotnoye.
Sretenskoye is the mine where emeralds in Russia were discovered and Krasnobolotnoye is where outstandingly beautiful alexandrites were discovered in 1839. Out of all the mines, historically, Mariinskoye was the largest mining location.
Sri Lanka is one of the most famous gem producing countries in the world. Different types of gems are mined in many different parts of this island nation. Some of the popular gem-bearing areas are
- Ratnapura district in in the Sabaragamuwa province
- Okkampitiya in Uva province
- Elahera Central province
- Kataragama in Southern Province
In addition to these, Morawaka area in the Southern province is where crysoberyl was reported mostly although I couldn’t find any reports of finding alexandrite there. . Alexandrite was first reported in Sri Lanka in 1923 and there was a good supply till late 1980’s when it dropped.
Sri Lankans alexandrite however does not have that magnificent bluish green and the purplish red Russian and Brazilian alexandrite have. Both green and the red in Sri Lankan alexandrite is slightly brownish making it less desirable. The color change is also not as strong as Russian and Brazilian alexandrite. But significantly large alexandrites are reported from Sri Lanka. Even a single gemstone weighing up to 600 carats was reported.
Nearly 95% of the chrysoberyl and cat’s eye chrysoberyl found in Minas Gerais, Brazi is from Americana and Santana valleys located close to the city of Padre Paraiso in the the Teófilo Otoni–Marambaia pegmatite districts. Alexandrite was also mined in these locations but high quality stones were rare. Malacacheta region in the northeast of Minas Gerais state produced most Alexandrites from Brazil from 1975 to 1988. The famous Brazilian alexandrite mine, Lavra Hematita was discovered in 1987. This mine has produced a large amount of high quality alexandrites and it is still functioning.
The stones found here are bigger in size and also cleaner than the alexandrites found in Malacacheta. Faceted gemstones with brilliant color change up to 30 cts were reported from this area. Bahia and Espirito Santo states located adjacent to Lavra de Hematita also produces alexandrite but with lesser quality in terms of size, color, clarity, etc.
Since the alexandrite supply from Russia and Sri Lanka depleted by late 1980’s, these mines made Brazil the number 1 alexandrite supplier of the world.
Alexandrites produced in Brazil demonstrate a distinct color change that is equally good as the Russian alexandrite. But the Brazilian stones have better clarity and larger in size. Availability of Brazilian alexandrites are also higher than their Russian counterparts.
In India, Alexandrite is found in the same regions where chrysoberyls are mined. Those are Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Odisha, and Madhya Pradesh.
Most Alexandrites found in India shows weak color change compared to Russian and Brazilian ones. But high quality stones which are as good as Russian and Brazilian ones are also found occasionally.
In Tanzania, Alexandrite is found in Lake Manyara in the north and Tunduru in the south. Alexandrite from Lake Manyara were in the market from 1960’s to early 1980’s. Alexandrite found in Tunduru was first reported in 1996.
Both emerald and alexandrite were found in a place called Mayoka situated next to Manyara National park in early 2000’s, but mining was stopped later in the same year due to environmental concerns.
Are there any other locations where alexandrite is found? The answer is yes. But those locations produce either a small quantity of alexandrite or the quality is not generally good.
Those countries are are Madagascar, Myanmar, Australia, United States and Zambia.
As one of the most beautiful and rarest gemstones in the world, alexandrite is truly a special gemstone.Even though the gemstone is popular, accurate geological information about where alexandrite is found is not easy to find.
This is the main reason why I wrote the article and hope it helped you to get some new knowledge. I would love to hear your thoughts as well and any question you may have.
Source : GEOGRAPHIC ORIGIN DETERMINATIONOF ALEXANDR by Ziyin Sun, Aaron C. Palke, Jonathan Muyal, Dino DeGhionno, and Shane F. McClure
If you are planning to buy an alexandrite stone or a jewelry with alexandrite, this article here will help you to do it online, “How to buy jewelry online ? “