I am really appreciative of the fact that we humans see in color. It’s easy to take for granted, because it’s like breathing. We open our eyes, we see color. Do you remember how The Wizard of Oz starts out, in black-and-white? No matter how many times I watch that movie, I still gasp when Dorothy lands in Oz and suddenly the world is almost blinding with color. When it comes to color, we really do live in Oz.
I think that’s why so many people love colored gemstones. Many of the every-day colors we encounter are muted, and we get so busy we don’t even notice them. But then you see a rich red ruby or an eye-popping pink sapphire, and the energy flows into your eyes and straight to your brain. Gemstones are color personified.
I think that’s why so many people have fallen in love with alexandrite. It’s the ultimate two-for-one color show. A rich deep-ocean green in daylight, and purple in incandescent light; alexandrite may be the most entertaining jewel you can wear.
Does Alexandrite Actually Change Colors?
We think of alexandrite as being a “color-change” stone, but really, it doesn’t change at all. What changes is our perception of the color – the way our eyes register the color of this gemstone based on the way our eyes are processing the light around us.
Apparently, different beings process colors differently based on the way our eyes are formed and on how we process light. Dogs, for instance, see fewer colors than humans due to the structures of their eyes. On the other hand, scientists believe birds see thousands more variations of color than humans see. There are even variations among humans, with some people seeing far more color variation than others.
Emerald by Day, Ruby by Night
There are other gemstones that have a color-change effect related to light source, but no other gem exhibits such a dramatic change as alexandrite. I’ve even heard alexandrite described as “emerald by day, ruby by night.” If you asked me which gemstone was my favorite, I could not answer. That’s like picking a favorite child — it just shouldn’t be done. But I will say that alexandrite is the most entertaining gem, because it truly offers twice the color as other gemstones.
Now, if only I could see as many colors as birds can see.