The discovery of alexandrite is attributed to Finnish mineralogist Nils Gustaf Nordenskiöld, who found the gemstone in emerald mines in the Ural Mountains. Nordenskiöld initially mistook the greenish gemstone for emerald but later realized its distinct color-changing ability when viewed under different light sources. The gemstone appeared green in daylight or fluorescent light and red under incandescent light, which fascinated the gem enthusiasts. The phenomenon is often described as "emerald by day, ruby by night."
The gemstone was highly sought after and considered a symbol of wealth, power, and elegance. Unfortunately, the Russian supply of alexandrite depleted over time, and by the early 20th century, the gemstone became increasingly rare. Although the primary source of alexandrite was Russia, significant deposits were later discovered in other parts of the world, including Sri Lanka, Brazil, Tanzania, and Madagascar. These new sources helped revive interest in alexandrite and made the gemstone more accessible.
Today, alexandrite remains highly valued and sought after by gem collectors and enthusiasts. Its scarcity makes it one of the most expensive and prized gemstones in the world.