Alexandrite vs Zultanite: What Are They, And What’s The Difference?

Zultanite and alexandrite are two of the most beautiful gems in the world.

They’re alike in their rarity and their color-changing properties.

But that’s where most of their similarities end.

Alexandrite vs Zultanite: Explained

What is a Zultanite?

The beauty of Zultanite lies in its impressive color-changing properties and its rarity.

These valuable priorities are what gave this gemstone its name.

The Sultans of the Ottoman Empire were powerful in their time.

They use the Zultanite’s beauty to commemorate these great leaders.

Still, it didn’t gain popularity until about 50 years ago.

It remained a collector’s item until a mining company got a permit to look for it in 2006.

To this day, this mine’s access is given only to them.

It remains the world’s only source of zultanite.

As of right now, miners recover genuine zultanite using eco-friendly and cost-saving techniques.

Since its surge in popularity, gemologists classify zultanite as a new type of gem.

A lot of this is because, depending on how you look at it, the zultanite gem seems as if it’s made of different colors.

They’re not even close in the color spectrum. Their colors range from pink to green.

The secret lies in the Zultanite’s daylight color changing effects.

During this time, its color ranges from beautiful lime green to kiwi.

When seen with candlelight, it slowly changes from cinnamon to champagne.

It also changes to peach and cherry pink.

What Causes Zultanite To Change Color?

Manganese causes the Zultanite’s unique optical phenomenon.

But, the technical term for this effect is pleochroism.

It signifies that stones that present with at least two different colors.

Furthermore, the zultanite’s color scheme, though impressive, remains free of darkness.

Its darkest hue is an excellent complement to earthy tones.

This alone makes it very pleasing for jewelry connoisseurs.

It’s important to note size doesn’t matter with the color-changing properties.

Yes, it is harder to see the colors on the smaller zultanite stones.

But their brilliance is observable in any light.

The best view of the small stones, however, is when they’re worn in natural light when someone is wearing them.

This lets you see the subtly changing colors as the wearer moves.

Is Zultanite Expensive?

Zultanite is very expensive.

Finished pieces range in prices that run anywhere from $1K to $50K in value.

This is for two main reasons. Zultanite’s exquisite raw beauty and the expert skill it takes to facet this gem both add to its value.

For instance, it’s possible to get a one-carat stone for approximately $500.

But, bigger pieces with lots of carats start at $10K.

This is due to the rarity of enormous zultanite stones.

Also, zultanite has perfect cleavage.

As such, jewelers recommend owners to take special care with zultanite pieces.

Keep in mind, however, few have experience working with these rare gems.

Those who have worked with it have mentioned no problems concerning cleavage.

What is Alexandrite?

Gem enthusiasts call Alexandrite a ruby at night and an emerald by day.

It’s perhaps the most popular of all the color-changing gemstones.

Its hues change from purple, red, and blue.

Its color-changing properties are just as impressive as Zultanite, if not more.

Alexandrite hits 8.5 on the Mohs hardness scale.

This makes it easy to face. That fact, coupled with its color-changing characteristics, makes it an exceptional gem.

What Causes Alexandrite to Change Color?

Alexandrite’s basic color scheme ranges from greenish-blue to green.

But, under the right light, their colors change dramatically.

It’s possible to see hues that range from incandescent purple to a deep purplish-red.

This variety in its color-changing properties is because of its unique characteristic. Alexandrite contains chromium impurities.

Chromium is the same mineral responsible for the green color of emeralds.

It gives alexandrite its green hue as well.

Is Alexandrite Valuable?

When determining Alexandrite’s value, one of the biggest factors is color saturation.

Deep color saturation determines the value of the gem.

The same holds for Alexandrite’s color-change properties. High-value stones have a wider range of colors.

The most precious stones in today’s world reside in Brazil.

Clarity is another of alexandrite’s value determinants.

It’s called the crystal of life because of its luster and the way light interacts with the stone.

This is an extremely important factor when determining how much Alexandrite is worth.

Alexandrite and Zultanite Similarities

Alexandrite and zultanite have a couple of similarities:

  • Rare and valuable
  • Colors change depending on how the light hits the gems

Alexandrite and Zultanite Differences

Understanding the differences between these two gems has a lot to do with their history.

Back in the 1800s, Alexandrite was a lot more plentiful.

The first deposits found were in Russia.

In a region known for beautiful gem specimens. Its primary colors were the same as the Russian flag: green and red.

This made it quite popular with patriotic Russian citizens.

Unfortunately, this popularity soon depleted the Russian variety.

To this day, Russia’s alexandrites are the best found.

Nowadays, there are other Alexandrite sources like Brazil, Sri Lanka, and East Africa.

But none matches the quality of the early Russian gems.

The Rarity of These Gemstones

Even with this tragic history, Zultanite is rarer than Alexandrite.

It’s mined in one country, while Alexandrite has several (albeit limited) sources.

To compensate for the rarity of these gems, lab-grown Alexandrite and zultanite are on the market.

Both types of these fabricated gems are less expensive.

One carat of real Alexandrite will cost you anywhere from $12-18K.

The closest man-made stone is at least 10% less.

Things take a different turn when dealing with fake zultanite.

Its natural colors are hard to imitate.

Their forgeries are unable to replicate its color scheme.

Most feature harsh neon hues that only fool few.

Zultanite and Alexandrite are very rare, beautiful, and valuable gems.

They’re very sought after by high-quality jewel collectors.

Some fakes exist but they don’t compare with the originals.

You might also like:

Alexandrite vs Zultanite