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Chameleon Gemstones

With January coming to a close, I want to talk about a rare phenomena called color change. Color change in a gemstones means that under one type of light source (incandescent, candle light, fluorescent, or daylight), a gemstones will appear to be one color, yet under another type of light source, that same gemstone will appear to another color completely different from the previous color. I like to think of these gemstones as chameleons! There are only a handful of gemstones that exhibit this rare phenomena and they include (but not limited to) Alexandrite, Sapphire, and Garnet.

How does this work? If we hearken back to high school science class, we’ll remember that white light is actually all the colors mixed together – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, & violet. When a gemstone is red, for example, it is because it absorbs all frequencies of light except for the red frequencies so that it reflects red back to our eyes. When a rare gemstone absorbs all the color frequencies except for two of them, red and blue for example, that gemstone will color change under different light sources. When a light source is rich is blue wavelengths, like fluorescent light, that gemstone will appear blue, and when a light source is rich in red wavelengths, like incandescent and candlelight, that gemstone will appear red. Daylight has a balanced mix of the color spectrum, so often, color change gemstones will display a mix of the two colors under natural light.

It is important to note that not all color change gemstones have a dramatic or pleasing color change. Professional gemstone graders will asses the color change as weak, moderate, or strong, and that is the factor that most affects its value. As I have talked about in other blogs, choosing a colored gemstone has everything to do with how much you like that particular color, and the same goes with color change gemstones. Even more rare are the color change gemstones that have two vibrant and beautiful colors!

Alexandrite: Alexandrite is the mineral Chrysoberyl that was discovered in 1830 in Russia’s Ural Mountains. It was named after the Czar Alexander because it changed color from green in daylight to a brownish or purplish red in incandescent light which were very similar to the Czar’s royal colors.

Sapphire: Color change Sapphires come from a variety of sources including Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Tanzania, and Thailand. They can be a blue to violet under daylight equivalent light but then change to purple to reddish purple under an incandescent light source.

Garnet: In my blog, , I talk about the 5 species of Garnets. Color change Garnets are typically a hybrid of pyrope and spessartine, although, some can also contain grossularite and almandine. Very fine color gemstones can be mistaken for Alexandrite as it will change from green to red, while other colors range from brownish green to pink, or green to brown. Interestingly, blue is a color the Garnet does not come in, but some color change Garnets have exhibited blue under artificial light!

A color change gemstone is rare, so when you see one in person, you are seeing a side of nature that not everyone gets a chance to! You’ll be holding in your hand an exotic gemstone mined with passion from places like Russia, Brazil, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Norway, or Thailand, just to name a few places.

I would love to help you with your special purchase or custom design! Angela Cisneros Jewelry Concierge brings back the joy and confidence of jewelry shopping, so that you can celebrate with ease! My by-appointment approach means:

  • One-on-one appointments (personal attention and no crowds!)

  • Discretion and privacy (surprises remain surprises!)

  • Expert help from a Graduate Gemologist with 23 years of experience (yep, that’s me!)

Book your FREE appointment with me today!

*Picture credit: @giagrams

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