Sunday, February 17, 2008

Prophetic Russian Gemstone

Alexandrite became symbolic of the reign of Alexander II, and later tsarist Russia in general. The fact that the stone colors of red and green echoed the principal colors of Imperial Russia endeared it to many. Moreover, the magic of the changing colors directly reflected the thoughts of a society ruled by Tsars since 1480, where every written and spoken word had a second meaning and allegory was the main form of expressing notions different from the official ideology.

The mystical dualism of Alexandrite lies within Tsar Alexander II's figure who ascended the throne during Russia's defeat in the Crimean War of 1855. The early part of his reign was characterised by sweeping reforms and his liberal approach earned him the title of "Tsar Liberator".

The green of Alexandrite in daylight was taken to represent the hope and revival brought to Russia by Alexander II's efforts. "Green morning full of hopes" came into the lives of many when Alexander II emancipated the serfs and initiated the transformation of the flagging agrarian Russian economy into an industrial state.

Alexandrite is the stone of duality. Green or red, good luck or misfortune, the significance is interpretive and related to the social and historical context of the time and the culture. Forever changing its colors, alexandrite is a magical gemstone with universal appeal that continues to fascinate and be admired by astrologers, scientists, and gem lovers throughout the world.

Melt techniques used to produce synthetic alexandrite

Today the Czochralski pulled-growth method is used to make synthetic alexandrite.

The ingredient powders are melted in a platinum, iridium, graphite, or ceramic crucible. A seed crystal is attached to one end of a rotating rod and the rod is lowered into the crucible until the seed just touches the melt. The rod is then slowly withdrawn. The crystal grows as the seed pulls materials from the melt, and the material cools and solidifies.

Owing to the surface tension of the melt, the crystal stays in contact with the molten material and continues to grow until the melt is depleted. Crystals formed with this method can be very large, -- more than 50 millimetres in diameter and one metre in length with a high degree of purity.

Although Czochralski pulled boules are much more expensive than flame fusion boules to produce, their cost is still a fraction of the natural materials that they imitate.