No Illusions and No Mood Meters—A Guide to Color-Changing Gemstones
Pleochroic. Phenomenal. In the world of jewelry, these two “P” words refer to an extremely unique type of gem. These gemstones are so unique because when viewed in different lighting or even just from different angles, the colors change.
Now, we’ve all seen those mood rings that supposedly respond to our body temperatures to tell us what we’re feeling in a certain moment, but these gemstones are certainly no gimmick. While there are a large variety, ranging from relatively inexpensive to rare and exorbitant, we’ve picked five to help introduce you to the world of color-changing gems.
Alexandrite—An Uncommon Commodity
This intriguing gem was discovered in Russia’s Ural Mountains in 1830 and named after Czar Alexander II. While these gemstones are rarely found in that region anymore, they can still be scarcely found in Sri Lanka, East Africa, and Brazil.
These wondrous gems change from earthy greenish blue in the daylight to a red and purplish in incandescent light. The earthy to fiery gems are hot commodities, not just because they are so beautiful in their rich colors but also because they are so difficult to find.
As they are so rare, they are normally cut by jewelers to save weight, making the price increase dramatically with size. One carat can sell for $15,000, and, above that, prices can range from $50,000-$70,000 per carat.
Sapphire—Rethink Royal Blue
While a rich, royal blue is normally what comes to mind when one thinks of sapphire, they can actually come in a wide range of colors. That range includes a color-changing variety that most often goes from blue in daylight or fluorescent lighting to purple in incandescent lighting.
No matter the color, sapphires are normally intensely saturated. Since the empires of ancient Greece and Rome, kings and queens have associated sapphires with truth and faithfulness. In those early civilizations, rulers were convinced that the sapphires protected owners from envy and harm.
Though more moderately priced when compared to Alexandrite, these color-changing gemstones can still be priced at a couple of thousand dollars per carat.
Ametrine can currently be found in only one mine in the entire world.
Ametrine—Sunset in a Gemstone
Legend has it that in the 1600s, a Spanish conquistador discovered the location of the one mine where ametrine can be found after the land came to him through a marriage dowry. After this, the mine was lost for more than three centuries until it was rediscovered in the 1960s.
This mine, the Anahí mine in Bolivia, is the only place where ametrine has been found. This gemstone is a type of quartz that has the presence of two colors: amethyst and citrine (or purple and orange).
Though there is only one commercial mining location, cuts of this gemstone tend to be rather large—the greater cuts allow for more intense colors. Like spots on a giraffe, no two look the same. Despite limited location and large cuts, the value of this gemstone is modest. The major characteristic to be considered is how vivid the colors are.
Opal—A Great Variety
Opal probably varies the most of all gemstones. To understand how it’s colors come to life, it’s important to understand its formation. It can be found inside of virtually any rock. Silica gel fills cracks and nooks in rocks, and, as water evaporates, the silica becomes deposited in the form of tiny spheres.
The play of color within the gemstone is caused by the diffraction of light by those silica spheres. Like ametrine, no two are exactly the same. The way the color plays within the gem and its patterns affect the value of the gem, and, as there are so many varieties, price per carat varies.
Many ancient civilizations valued opal as a symbol of hope and love, and many cultures credit it with supernatural origins and powers, comparing it to lightning and claiming that it instills the gift of prophecy in who owns it.
You’ll find all of the colors of the rainbow in a mystic topaz.
Mystic Topaz—Origins: Not so Mystic
Topaz has a very wide range of color spanning the rainbow, but an extremely special variety mimics the entire rainbow in one gem. This gemstone was actually first seen less than two decades ago.
Mystic topaz is a manmade variety created by coating colorless topaz with a special material. When viewed at different angles, it looks kaleidoscopic like a rainbow, though greens, blues, and purples are most prominent.
Compared to other color-changing gemstones, it is relatively inexpensive because it is not a naturally occurring phenomenon.
Looking for a unique gemstone to add to your jewelry collection? Contact Reiner’s Fine Jewelry in Houston, Texas.
Reiner’s in Houston creates custom and handmade jewelry that can provide the perfect new piece for any occasion.