An Alexandrite of Russian origin sets world auction record for an Alexandrite at Christie's Geneva May 14,2014 Magnificent Jewels sale

  • Several alexandrites have also appeared at Bonhams auctions held at auction centers around the world, such as Los Angeles, London, Hong Kong etc. A 29.97-carat, cushion modified brilliant-cut alexandrite, with a pronounced color change from yellowish-green in natural daylight to brownish-yellow in incandescent light appeared at Bonhams Los Angeles auctions on May 20, 2014. The gemstone was mounted as the centerpiece of a platinum ring with a baguette-cut diamond on each shoulder and sold for US$ 137,000. This works out to a PPC value of US$ 4,571.


    Another alexandrite and diamond ring assigned Lot 863, appeared at Bonhams Hong Kong Fine Jewelry & Jadeite Sale held on May 30, 2008 and was sold for HK$ 912,000 (USD 117,640). The 7.65-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite was mounted on a platinum ring and was surrounded by a row of smaller, oval mixed-cut alexandrites, with small brilliant-cut diamonds set on the shoulders of the ring. The Lot was accompanied by a GGL report that certified the natural, untreated status of the stone and the country-of-origin as Brazil, with a pronounced color change from bluish-green in natural daylight to purple in incandescent light. The PPC value of this stone is US$ 15,378.


    Another Brazilian alexandrite with a pear-shaped cut, weighing 3.46 carats mounted on a platinum ring, and flanked on either side by brilliant and pear-shaped diamonds, featured at Bonhams Hong Kong Fine Jewelry & Jadeite Sale on November 27, 2007. The lot was accompanied by a GGL report that certified the natural origin of the stone from Brazil, with a pronounced color change from bluish-green in natural daylight to purple in incandescent light. The Lot was sold for HK$ 768,000 equivalent to USD 100,000 approximately. The PPC value of the stone works out to US$ 28,902.

  • More alexandrites featured at various Bonhams auctions. A 6.59-carat, cushion-cut, brazilian alexandrite mounted on a platinum ring, flanked on either side by pear-shaped diamonds, appeared at Bonhams Hong Kong Fine Jewelry & Jadeite Sale, held on November 27, 2007 and sold for HK$ 696,000 (US$ 90,000). The PPC value of the stone is US$ 13,657. The lot was accompanied by a GGL certificate certifying the Brazilian origin of the stone, and the pronounced color change from bluish-green in natural daylight to purple in incandescent light. The image shown below was taken in incandescent light.


    Another 4.10-carat, cushion-cut, brazilian alexandrite mounted on a platinum ring, and highlighted by a two-tiered pave-set diamond surround, and flanked on either side by pear-shaped diamonds, featured at Bonhams Hong Kong Fine Jewelry & Jadeite Sale, held on May 30, 2008 and sold for HK$ 460,200 (US$ 60,000), PPC value US$14,634. A GGL report accompanying the lot, certified the Brazilian origin of the stone and its pronounced color change from green in daylight to purple in incandescent light.


    A 2.48-carat, oval-cut, brazilian alexandrite mounted as the centerpiece of a platinum ring, flanked on either side by two more oval-cut, brazilian alexandrites weighing 1.32 carats each, highlighted by brilliant-cut diamond surrounds, featured at Bonhams Hong Kong Fine Jewelry & Jadeite Sale, held on November 28, 2009 and sold for HKD 300,000 (USD 40,000), PPC value US$16,129. Three lab reports issued by GGL certified that the three alexandrites are of Brazilian origin, with pronounced color change from green in daylight to purple in incandescent light.

  • An early 20th-century alexandrite and diamond cluster ring designed around year 1900 appeared at Bonhams London auctions on December 6, 2007. The centerpiece of this ring is an oval mixed-cut alexandrite weighing 3.95 carats, surrounded by two rows of old brilliant-cut diamonds, mounted in silver, platinum and gold. A certificate issued by The Gem Testing Laboratory of Great Britain certified the alexandrite to be natural, but did not give the country-of-origin of the stone. But, the historic provenance associated with this ring gives a possible indication as to the country-of-origin of the alexandrite. If the historic provenance that the ring was a gift from Queen Alexandra to her Lady-in-waiting, Lady Morgan and the alexandrite was the Queen's prize in a Christmas cracker at a party hosted by Tsar Nicholas of Russia, is accurate, the most probable country-of-origin of the alexandrite, is Russia, as during this period, Russia was the only source of alexandrites in the world. However, in spite of the historic provenance the ring sold only for £15,600 (USD 26,200), PPC value US$ 6,633.

  • It's surprising that the 3.95-carat alexandrite of possible Russian origin sold for only USD 26,200, when an alexandrite of almost similar size, weighing 4.50-carat and certified by AGL as of Russian origin, sold for USD 170,500 at Sotheby's New York in December 2012. However, the pre-sale estimate placed on the 4.50-carat alexandrite was only USD 25,000 to 35,000. What are the possible causes for this disparity ?

  • As we have already pointed out premium values are attached to alexandrites of Russian origin, if one can prove the origin of the stone without any doubt, usually supported by a lab report from a reputed laboratory. In the case of the 3.95-carat alexandrite historic provenance point to the probable Russian origin of the stone, but the all important lab report to support this contention is missing. This undoubtedly is the primary reason why the alexandrite failed to impress at the auction. Apart from this the cut, clarity and quality of the color change effect might also have influenced the price fetched by the stone. The period when the two stones appeared for the auction might also have had a bearing on the price of the alexandrite. While the 3.95-carat alexandrite featured at a London auction in December 2007, when prices were generally depressed, the 4.50-carat stone featured at a New York auction five years later in December 2012, when demand for exceptionally rare gemstones, pearls and diamonds and jewelry pieces incorporating them had escalated and prices fetched had increased several folds than 2007 prices.

  • A stunning 8.02-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite with a pronounced color change from bluish-green in daylight to reddish-purple in incandescent light, and possibly of Brazilian origin, mounted on a platinum ring with a small brilliant-cut diamond surround, appeared at a Bonhams Dubai Fine Jewelry & Watches Sale, held on March 4, 2008, and sold for US$ 114,000 (PPC value - US$ 14,214).

  • A set of Alexandrite and Diamond Jewelry, consisting of a ring and pair of earrings, featured at Christie's Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels Sale, held on November 27, 2012. The centerpiece of the ring was a 7.68-carat oval-shaped Brazilian alexandrite, with a pear-shaped radiating diamond surround mounted in platinum. The centerpiece of the pair of earrings was a matching pair of oval-shaped Brazilian alexandrites, weighing 4.67-carats and 4.38 carats, with vari-cut diamond surrounds also mounted in platinum. Three lab reports from GGL certified the natural Brazilian origins of the three alexandrites and their very strong color change effect from bluish-green in daylight to reddish-purple in incandescent light.
    A pre-sale estimate of US$ 311,118 - 453,714 was placed on this lot, which sold for US$ 376,039. This works out to a PPC value of US$ 22,477.

  • A pair of Alexandrite Ear Pendants, set with a 3.21-carat and 3.11-carat, oval-cut, Brazilian alexandrites as centerpiece, with pave-set alexandrite surround mounted in 18k white gold, appeared at Christie's New York auctions held on October 18, 2011. The lot was accompanied by GGL report, certifying the Brazilian origin of the stones, and their pronounced color change from bluish-green in daylight to purple in incandescent light. A pre-sale estimate of US$60,000 to US$80,000 was placed on the lot, which sold within the estimated range for US$74,500, equivalent to a PPC value of US$11,788.
    Another fantastic alexandrite and diamond pendant necklace/brooch appeared at Christie's Dubai in April 2008 and sold within the pre-sale estimate of US$400,000-500,000 for US$481,000. The detachable pendant/brooch of this necklace is designed as a diamond foliate cascade with a flower head center, mounted with alexandrites, and seven drop-shaped alexandrites as terminals. The necklace itself is set with graduated pear-shaped alexandrites alternating with brilliant-cut diamonds. Seven lab reports issued by GGL certified the Brazilian origin of the stones weighing between 2.00 carats and 4.31 carats and their pronounced color change.

  • A Pair of Alexandrite and Colored Diamond Earrings did significantly well at Christie's Geneva Magnificent Jewels Sale held on November 16, 2011. Each earring is designed as a cluster of oval-shaped alexandrites, weighing a total of 18.78 carats mounted in gold, with a brilliant-cut, fancy vivid yellow diamond top weighing 0.27 and 0.25 carats. A GGL report accompanying the lot certified the Brazilian origin of the alexandrites and their pronounced color change. A pre-sale estimate of US$120,871 - $175,812 was placed on the lot, which sold significantly above the upper estimate for US$231,989, which works out to a PPC value of US$12,353.
    Another jewelry lot incorporating a cushion-cut Ceylon alexandrite weighing 8.41 carats appeared at Christie's New York Magnificent Jewels Sale held on April 16, 2014. The jewelry piece designed by Marcus & Co. around year 1900 during the Art Nouveau period is described as An Art Nouveau Alexandrite, Diamond and Enamel Brooch. The piece designed as a green enamel plaque, centers upon the cushion-cut alexandrite, and is enhanced with bezel-set old European-cut diamonds, suspending a green enamel bead, mounted in rose gold. An AGL report certifies the Ceylon origin of the stone. The lot sold for US$87,500 within the estimate of USD70,000-100,000. This works out to a PPC value of USD10,404.


  • A 6.72-carat, oval-cut, Tanzanian alexandrite set as the centerpiece of an 18k white gold ring, framed by a marquise-cut and oval-cut diamond surround appeared at Sotheby's New York December 7, 2011 Magnificent Jewels Sale. The lot sold within the estimated range of USD 50,000-75,000 for USD71,500, working out to a price-per-carat value of USD10,640. An AGL report accompanying the lot, certified the Tanzanian origin of the stone, and its pronounced color change.

  • A stunning oval-shaped 16.80-carat alexandrite set as the centerpiece of an exquisitely designed flower ring by Wallace Chan, appeared at Christie's Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite Sale, held on November 28, 2007. The floral ring is designed to display the alexandrite's two stunning colors to their best effect, by the harmonius arrangement of pear-shaped, rose-cut diamonds and cabochon-cut pink tourmalines, like the petals of a flower, mounted in 18k pink gold and titanium. The lot was accompanied by a Gem Research Swiss Lab report certifying the natural origin of the alexandrite and its prominent color change from green in daylight to purplish-red in incandescent light. The report however did not specify the country-of-origin of the alexandrite. Despite this, the flower ring made a significant impact by selling for USD 434,842 within the pre-sale estimate of USD 360,000 - 450,000. The PPC value of this alexandrite works out to USD 25,883.

  • Incorporating all the alexandrites highlighted so far in the list of whole stone prices and price-per-carat values achieved, we can have a better and broader picture of the market values of alexandrites originating from different sources.


    The revised list of alexandrites arranged in descending order of whole stone prices is as follows :-


    1) 21.41-carat, cushion- cut alexandrite of Russian origin - US$ 1,495,395
    2) 19.05-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite of Brazilian origin - US$ 959,400
    3) 15.58-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite of Brazilian origin - US$ 934,480
    4) 18.23-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite of Ceylon/Sri lanka origin - US$ 557,000
    5) 16.80-carat, oval-cut alexandrite of unknown country-of-origin - US$ 434,842
    6) 11.66-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite of Brazilian origin - US$ 421,501
    7) Three oval-cut alexandrites totalling 16.73 carats of Brazilian origin - US$ 376,039
    8) Seven oval-cut alexandrites totalling 18.78 carats of Brazilian origin - US$ 231,989
    9) 12.00-carat, oval -cut alexandrite of unknown country-of-origin - US$ 203,794
    10) 10.41-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite of Ceylon/Sri Lanka origin - US$ 182,500
    11) 4.50-carat,cushion-cut alexandrite of Russian origin - US$ 170,500
    12) 29.97-carat, cushion modified brilliant-cut alexandrite of unknown country-of-origin - US$ 137,000
    13) 7.65-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite of Brazilian origin - US$ 117,640
    14) 8.02-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite of Brazilian origin - US$ 114,000
    15) 15.86-carat, cushion antique mixed-cut alexandrite of Ceylon/Sri Lanka origin - US$ 104,500
    16) 3.46-carat, pear-shaped alexandrite of Brazilian origin - US$ 100,000
    17) 6.59-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite of Brazilian origin - US$ 90,000
    18) 8.41-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite of Ceylon origin - US$ 87,500
    19) Two oval-cut alexandrites totalling 6.32 carats of Brazilian origin - US$ 74,500
    20) 6.72-carat, oval-cut alexandrite of Tanzanian origin - US$ 71,500
    21) 4.10-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite of Brazilian origin - US$ 60,000
    22) 10.16-carat, oval-cut alexandrite of Ceylon/Sri Lanka origin - US$ 50,000
    23) Three oval-cut alexandrites totalling 5.12 carats of Brazilian origin - US$ 40,000
    24) 3.95-carat, oval-cut alexandrite of unknown origin - US$ 26,000

  • The revised list of above alexandrites arranged in descending order of price-per-carat values :-


    1) 21.41-carat, cushion- cut alexandrite of Russian origin - PPC value US$ 69,845
    2) 15.58-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite of Brazilian origin - PPC value US$ 59,979
    3) 19.05-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite of Brazilian origin PPC value US$ 50,362
    4) 4.50-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite of Russian origin - PPC value US$ 37,888
    5) 11.66-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite of Brazilian origin - PPC value US$ 36,149
    6) 18.23-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite of Ceylon/Sri lanka origin - PPC value US$ 30,554
    7) 3.46-carat, pear-shaped alexandrite of Brazilian origin - PPC value US$ 28,902
    8) 16.80-carat, oval-cut alexandrite of unknown country-of-origin - PPC value US$ 25,883
    9) Three oval-cut alexandrites totalling 16.73 carats of Brazilian origin - PPC value 22,477
    10) 10.41-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite of Ceylon/Sri Lanka origin - PPC value US$ 17,531
    11)12.00-carat, oval-cut alexandrite of unknown country-of-origin -PPC value US$ 16,982
    12) Three oval-cut alexandrites totalling 5.12 carats of Brazilian origin - PPC value US$ 16,129
    13) 7.65-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite of Brazilian origin - PPC value US$ 15,378
    14) 4.10-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite of Brazilian origin - PPC value US$ 14,634
    15) 8.02-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite of Brazilian origin - PPC value US$ 14,214
    16) 6.59-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite of Brazilian origin - PPC value US$ 13,657
    17) Seven oval-cut alexandrites totalling 18.78 carats of Brazilian origin - PPC value US$ 12,353
    18) Two oval-cut alexandrites totalling 6.32 carats of Brazilian origin - PPC value US$ 11,788
    19) 6.72-carat, oval-cut alexandrite of Tanzanian origin - PPC value US$ 10,640
    20) 8.41-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite of Ceylon origin - PPC value US$ 10,404
    21) 3.95-carat, oval-cut alexandrite of unknown origin - PPC value US$ 6,633.
    22) 15.86-carat, cushion antique mixed-cut alexandrite of Ceylon/Sri Lanka origin - PPC value US$ 6,588
    23) 10.16-carat, oval-cut alexandrite of Ceylon/Sri Lanka origin - PPC value US$ 4,921
    24) 29.97-carat, cushion modified brilliant-cut alexandrite of unknown country-of-origin - PPC value US$ 4,571

  • The revised list of 24 alexandrites above particularly in terms of PPC values shows that the market ranking for alexandrites based on origin - Russia - Brazil - Sri Lanka - Other sources - still largely holds good, though some exceptional Ceylon alexandrites fetching higher prices had broken this ranking at places 6 and 10 . The record-breaking Russian alexandrite occupies the top of the list. Brazilian alexandrites occupy the middle of the list and Ceylon alexandrites are found at the bottom of the list.


    According to the list the world's most expensive alexandrite both in terms of whole stone price and price-per-carat is the 21.41-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite of Russian origin, which sold for US$ 1,495,395 at Christie's Geneva on May 14, 2014. The world's most expensive Brazilian alexandrite in terms of whole stone price is the 19.05-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite which sold at Christie's New York on October 16, 2007 for US$ 959,400. The most expensive Brazilian alexandrite in terms of price-per-carat is the 15.58-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite which sold for US$ 934,480 at Christie's Hong Kong on May 29, 2012. The most expensive Ceylon/Sri Lanka alexandrite is the 18.23-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite, which sold for US$ 557,000 at Christie's New York on October 15, 2013.


    According to the list, the average price-per-carat of Ceylon alexandrites vary between US$5,000 - 10,000. However, exceptional Ceylon alexandrites may sell for much enhanced prices of around US$ 20,000 to 30,000.The average price-per-carat of Brazilian alexandrites vary between US$ 10,000 - 20,000. However, exceptional Brazilian alexandrites may have a PPC value exceeding US$ 20,000 and sometimes reaching up to US$ 50,000. The highest PPC values are for the extremely rare Russian alexandrites, provided their Russian origin can be firmly established.

  • What about the rare alexandrites showing chatoyancy - the catseye alexandrites - which have been left out of the discussion so far ?
    The following images of a perfectly chatoyant alexandrite with a green color in daylight and purple color in incandescent light, are from the gia.edu website.

  • One of the finest catseye alexandrites with an extraordinary color change and prominent chatoyancy, ever to appear at an auction, was the 23.19-carat, round cabochon-cut alexandrite set as the centerpiece of an 18k white-gold ring, with a stylised bombé surround pavé-set with small circular-cut alexandrites and diamonds. Two lab reports by AGL and GGL certified the Brazilian origin of the catseye alexandrite, and its natural status without any treatment, with a well-centered and prominent chatoyancy, very high degree of transparency, and distinct color-change from bluish-green in daylight to reddish-purple in incandescent light. AGL further stated that this is the finest catseye alexandrite of its size the lab has ever examined.

    The catseye alexandrite ring appeared at Sotheby's Hong Kong Jewels & Jadeite Sale held on April 6, 2011. A pre-sale estimate of HKD 10-12 million (US$ 1,286,300-1,543,560) was placed on this lot which sold within the estimate for HKD 11,860,000 (US$ 1,525,552) equivalent to a price-per-carat value of HKD 511,427 (US$ 65,785).

  • Thanks Joan, John and Mary for taking us to the next logical topic in the discussion - the extremely rare chatoyant alexandrites - with two phenomenal optical effects, distinct color change in daylight/fluorescent light and incandescent light, and the chatoyant or "catseye" effect caused by inclusions known as rutile fibers, commonly referred to as "silk." This is one rare instance where inclusions contribute to the beauty of a gemstone. The "catseye" effect is caused by needle-like rutile fibers occurring in an orientation parallel to the c-axis, causing light entering the stone to be reflected along a single zone, producing a distinct streak of light across the crystal, known as the "catseye" effect. This effect is best seen in gemstones cut as cabochon perpendicular to the c-axis.


    Any alexandrite over 10 carats is beyond rare. In such alexandrites to have two optical effects combined together - distinct color change and prominent chatoyancy - are extremely rare indeed. The 23.19-carat, Brazilian catseye alexandrite highlighted by Johnruby is such a gemstone, which explains the high price-per-carat value of US$ 65,785 fetched by this stone, which is very close to the PPC value US$ 69,845 fetched by the world record holder for price-per-carat for an alexandrite, the 21.41-carat, cushion-cut alexandrite of Russian origin which sold for US$ 1,495,395 at Christie's Geneva on May 14, 2014.

  • Two cabochon-cut, catseye alexandrites of Brazilian origin set as the centerpiece of platinum rings appeared at Christies Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels sale held in December 2008 and November 2012. The one that appeared in December 2008, had a weight of 5.40 carats, with a distinct color change from green in daylight to purple in incandescent light and well-centered and pronounced Chatoyancy. The perfectly round cabochon-cut catseye alexandrite was set within an alexandrite trim, in turn surrounded by a pave-set layer of diamonds. A GGL report accompanying the lot certified the natural Brazilian origin of the catseye alexandrite and its distinct color-change and pronounced chatoyancy. The ring sold within the pre-sale estimate of USD 46,000-71,000 for USD 59,963 working out to a ppc value of USD 11,104.


    The other catseye alexandrite that appeared in November 2012, had a weight of 9.01 carats with a dramatic color change from dark green in daylight to dark purple in incandescent light, and a very distinct and sharp chatoyancy, highlighted by the dark background colors. The oval-shaped, cabochon-cut, catseye alexandrite was set as the centerpiece of an 18k oxidized gold ring, within an alexandrite surround consisting of 14 oval-shaped alexandrites. An AGL report certified the natural Brazilian origin of the stone, with no gemological evidence of enhancement or treatment. The lot sold within the pre-sale estimate of USD 129,663 - 194,449 for USD 158,196, working out to a ppc value of USD 17,558.

  • The images of the two catseye alexandrites highlighted by Mike are indeed very stunning. The purple color of the 5.40-carat catseye alexandrite shows that the image was taken in incandescent light. On the other hand the green color of the 9.01-carat catseye alexandrite reveals that its image was taken in daylight. Both rings are of similar design, with the central catseye alexandrite set within an alexandrite surround of smaller alexandrites of varied cuts. What puzzles me about these images is, that while in the second image taken in daylight both the central catseye alexandrite and the oval-cut stones of the alexandrite surround appear green, as they ideally should be, in the second image taken in incandescent light only the central stone appears purple, while the stones of the alexandrite surround appear green, the typicl color in daylight. What is the cause of this apparent contradiction ?