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Photography of Alexandrite Stones

Cina_s

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jul 2, 2020
Messages
105
Hi! Its me "conned" Alex buyer. haha

I'm hoping to have some more information on photographing an Alexandrite.
I am looking to purchase and Alexandrite. And have read many msgs on this forum! Thank you everyone for posting. As online its hard to find out information on this stone, other than the typical myth of "Emerald by Day and Ruby by Night", and a brief story about how it was found in Russian, and likely all the original mined Russian stones are depleted.

I have found most come from India, Tanzania, Brazil now.

I'm wondering if anyone can shed light on how to see based on photos only what some tell tale signs of a fake or real stone would be?

Some comments in different post have mentioned its a hard stone to photograph.
1) @LD (hope you dont mind that I've pulled you in), that the reddish tones of the ring in incandescent lighting, should be easy to capture (as per your lovely video- very envious of your ring!).
2) Should the green be easy to capture? or will they look more grey/purpleish/brown? compared to the real stone?
3) The photos and video's of the stones- that are taken on a turn table style with a white background, are these generally close to representation?
4) Does cell phone cameras capture the colour better/worst than professional ones?
5) I know lab report/appraisal photos can be photoshopped, but generally if reputable are closer to the look of the actual stone, is this the best comparison to real life of the stone?
6) Which certificates are best to look out for? GIA seems to deem any colour changing chrysoberyls "alexandrites" based on the reports I've seen online, even if they are yellow-green change to brownish red

Any thoughts? Hoping to navigate the world of Alex's online, and be successful with a purchase.
 

LD

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 29, 2008
Messages
9,682
To answer your questions is impossible if you're talking about Alex. The reason for this is that it depends on the too many variables. So, to give you a picture these are the things that make it hard:

1. The strength of the colour change. Typically, the weaker colour changers photograph a little better in the "green" state so you may be able to replicate the green in these circumstances. if they're more yellow or brown you also may be able to capture this in daylight conditions. HOWEVER, an Alex that has a great colour change, is unlikely to show its daylight green. I once had a jeweller ask me if it was an Emerald as it can be that green to the eye! However, if I try to photograph it, I get a weird grey thing looking back at me!

2. It depends on where you are in the world - and I know that sounds bonkers but in some areas (for example the UK) the light is much more grey during the day. This affects what the photograph will look like.

3. There is no background that makes this better - it's all pants.

4. In a lightbox you may be able to reproduce something close to green BUT even then the colour is generally not what you see. Most good sellers will admit that they manipulate their photos to produce what they see and I can totally understand why they do it.

5. Is a professional camera or phone camera best? Neither - they're equally as rubbish with Alex! My current iPhone 11 seems to be ok but still can't do the job. Although one day I was in my car on a sunny UK day (we don't have them often) and for the first time ever I managed to capture the green that I actually see on one of my Alex. I've never been able to replicate it since so I have no idea how I did it! This is the sort of green you should expect to see in daylight. (Photo below). My daughter has done quite a lot with photography and she thought I was being stupid until she tried to do it and it even stumped her. There are threads about photographing Alex on other forums and you'll see it's a common problem.

6. Alexandrite ARE chrysoberyls which is why you see them being called that. However, chrysoberyls don't change colour. When they do, they're called Alexandrites. Sometimes, a very nice Chrysoberyl changes colour (I had one that was yellow to pale pink) and although it changed colour and was technically therefore an Alexandrite, in the world of Alexandrites it wouldn't have been considered a good one.

7. In terms of what to look for and how to spot fakes - I can only speak for myself and say that I had to see tons of Alex (thankfully there were loads on the market when I started collected) to see what was good, bag and ugly! I now have a "feel" for when something is genuine or will be a good stone. I most definitely couldn't have done it when I first started collecting because I wasn't sure what I was looking at/for. Sorry I appreciate that sounds really vague and a bit wishy washy but it's very difficult to tell you what to look for because you have to look at each stone and evaluate it based on that (and hopefully tons of photos or videos).

8. Lastly lab reports. Even for Alex, the GIA struggle. For the one in my avatar I have a GIA report and honestly the stone looks nothing like the actual thing in terms of colour.

Alexandrite 2.jpg
 

Cina_s

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jul 2, 2020
Messages
105
To answer your questions is impossible if you're talking about Alex. The reason for this is that it depends on the too many variables. So, to give you a picture these are the things that make it hard:

1. The strength of the colour change. Typically, the weaker colour changers photograph a little better in the "green" state so you may be able to replicate the green in these circumstances. if they're more yellow or brown you also may be able to capture this in daylight conditions. HOWEVER, an Alex that has a great colour change, is unlikely to show its daylight green. I once had a jeweller ask me if it was an Emerald as it can be that green to the eye! However, if I try to photograph it, I get a weird grey thing looking back at me!

2. It depends on where you are in the world - and I know that sounds bonkers but in some areas (for example the UK) the light is much more grey during the day. This affects what the photograph will look like.

3. There is no background that makes this better - it's all pants.

4. In a lightbox you may be able to reproduce something close to green BUT even then the colour is generally not what you see. Most good sellers will admit that they manipulate their photos to produce what they see and I can totally understand why they do it.

5. Is a professional camera or phone camera best? Neither - they're equally as rubbish with Alex! My current iPhone 11 seems to be ok but still can't do the job. Although one day I was in my car on a sunny UK day (we don't have them often) and for the first time ever I managed to capture the green that I actually see on one of my Alex. I've never been able to replicate it since so I have no idea how I did it! This is the sort of green you should expect to see in daylight. (Photo below). My daughter has done quite a lot with photography and she thought I was being stupid until she tried to do it and it even stumped her. There are threads about photographing Alex on other forums and you'll see it's a common problem.

6. Alexandrite ARE chrysoberyls which is why you see them being called that. However, chrysoberyls don't change colour. When they do, they're called Alexandrites. Sometimes, a very nice Chrysoberyl changes colour (I had one that was yellow to pale pink) and although it changed colour and was technically therefore an Alexandrite, in the world of Alexandrites it wouldn't have been considered a good one.

7. In terms of what to look for and how to spot fakes - I can only speak for myself and say that I had to see tons of Alex (thankfully there were loads on the market when I started collected) to see what was good, bag and ugly! I now have a "feel" for when something is genuine or will be a good stone. I most definitely couldn't have done it when I first started collecting because I wasn't sure what I was looking at/for. Sorry I appreciate that sounds really vague and a bit wishy washy but it's very difficult to tell you what to look for because you have to look at each stone and evaluate it based on that (and hopefully tons of photos or videos).

8. Lastly lab reports. Even for Alex, the GIA struggle. For the one in my avatar I have a GIA report and honestly the stone looks nothing like the actual thing in terms of colour.

Alexandrite 2.jpg
WOW This one is beautiful!! Love the colour and how wonderful it is on your finger!
Thank you for the long and detailed msg @LD. Your wisdom and experience is so appreciated. Very helpful! :)

Would you say an IGI/GIA or AGL report is better for an Alexandrite?
Though I have heard AGL is not good for diamonds as a GIA is better for diamonds.

What other reports would you trust?
 

minousbijoux

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 5, 2010
Messages
12,379
Its funny, but I have always found it easier to x the green colourway on my alex. The purple, on the other hand took all sort of manipulation and machinations to capture well in a photo. My stone is Brazilian, 90-100% color change with an AGL report. The color change is dramatic, but equally dramatic are the tantrums I throw trying to capture the incandescent color (that could be because I have exactly one incandescent light (low wattage to boot) left in my whole house... Alex - Green.jpg Alex - Mixed Personalities.jpg Alex - Purple.jpg
 

JackTrick

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jul 23, 2019
Messages
190
To toss into the fodder, I have a small alexandrite from India. This video shows it in mixed lighting, purple incandescent, and greenish fluorescent. This was with an iphone.


I’d say the video is mostly accurate color wise. But in person the green is deeper and more prominent and a bit more evident in the center than the video shows.

Other attempts to photograph have been very tricky. Were I buying a substantial one I feel that I’d ask to see more videos, ensure a good lab report, and frequent places with good evaluate/return policies if I was unable to see the gem in person before buying.
 

minousbijoux

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 5, 2010
Messages
12,379
@JackTrick makes a good point: alex is not a stone I would buy online, as the color change phenomenon has to be seen in person to truly "see."
 

Cina_s

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jul 2, 2020
Messages
105
Its funny, but I have always found it easier to x the green colourway on my alex. The purple, on the other hand took all sort of manipulation and machinations to capture well in a photo. My stone is Brazilian, 90-100% color change with an AGL report. The color change is dramatic, but equally dramatic are the tantrums I throw trying to capture the incandescent color (that could be because I have exactly one incandescent light (low wattage to boot) left in my whole house... Alex - Green.jpg Alex - Mixed Personalities.jpg Alex - Purple.jpg
"The color change is dramatic, but equally dramatic are the tantrums" LIKED! hahaa thats funny, but interesting to know that its the purple you are having a hard time to photograph. Beautiful stone!! you really need to set that in something!
 

Cina_s

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jul 2, 2020
Messages
105
To toss into the fodder, I have a small alexandrite from India. This video shows it in mixed lighting, purple incandescent, and greenish fluorescent. This was with an iphone.


I’d say the video is mostly accurate color wise. But in person the green is deeper and more prominent and a bit more evident in the center than the video shows.

Other attempts to photograph have been very tricky. Were I buying a substantial one I feel that I’d ask to see more videos, ensure a good lab report, and frequent places with good evaluate/return policies if I was unable to see the gem in person before buying.

Thank you for this response. and the video is great! Lovely colour on that stone. The video/and my screen looks like the stone is more teal in natural light, and the indoor is more purple. Is that the case?

I would buy sight seen too if that were an option. Sadly Toronto has a limited resources where I would trust the seller. I don't personally know any jewlers well enough to ask them to find me a good stone.

The places I have found online in Toronto, don't provide a GIA/IGI report, only a local report from a GIA graduate, so I'm not really sure if that is trust worthy either, and I think its an Indian stone too.
 

voce

Ideal_Rock
Joined
May 13, 2018
Messages
3,767
Thank you for this response. and the video is great! Lovely colour on that stone. The video/and my screen looks like the stone is more teal in natural light, and the indoor is more purple. Is that the case?

I would buy sight seen too if that were an option. Sadly Toronto has a limited resources where I would trust the seller. I don't personally know any jewlers well enough to ask them to find me a good stone.

The places I have found online in Toronto, don't provide a GIA/IGI report, only a local report from a GIA graduate, so I'm not really sure if that is trust worthy either, and I think its an Indian stone too.
Check out Skyjems. They provide GIA reports across the board on gems they are selling retail.
 

Cina_s

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jul 2, 2020
Messages
105
Check out Skyjems. They provide GIA reports across the board on gems they are selling retail.
Thanks! Are you also a fellow Canadian? I have seen their page, but seems like only 2 stones right now with the GIA cert. And I don't like either of them.
 

voce

Ideal_Rock
Joined
May 13, 2018
Messages
3,767
Thanks! Are you also a fellow Canadian? I have seen their page, but seems like only 2 stones right now with the GIA cert. And I don't like either of them.
No, I'm an American, but my fiance lives in Toronto/Mississauga. At one point we had considered my moving there. I'm not impressed with either one Skyjems has right now, but a handful of times a year I'll browse what they have.

Skyjems is the only Canadian jeweler I'm aware of to have GIA certificates ready to go with what they sell, so in the event they have anything I'm looking for (at this point I'm not actively looking for anything; I already have too many stones to set), I would feel 100% secure buying from them. I had a positive experience buying an unheated sapphire in 2018. You might be able to see if they can source a stone you like; they can be a one-stop shop since they're located right on Queens Street where there are plenty of artisan crafters.
 

Cina_s

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jul 2, 2020
Messages
105
No, I'm an American, but my fiance lives in Toronto/Mississauga. At one point we had considered my moving there. I'm not impressed with either one Skyjems has right now, but a handful of times a year I'll browse what they have.

Skyjems is the only Canadian jeweler I'm aware of to have GIA certificates ready to go with what they sell, so in the event they have anything I'm looking for (at this point I'm not actively looking for anything; I already have too many stones to set), I would feel 100% secure buying from them. I had a positive experience buying an unheated sapphire in 2018. You might be able to see if they can source a stone you like; they can be a one-stop shop since they're located right on Queens Street where there are plenty of artisan crafters.
Thank you for the information. Congratulations on our engagement. Must be hard with COVID and travel restriction, if you are both living separately right now. Must be a nice problem to have, with too many stones to set :) Yes the Queen street area has lots of jewelry wholesale as well. I really appreciate the Canadian/Toronto content!
 

LilAlex

Shiny_Rock
Premium
Joined
Mar 3, 2018
Messages
448
I'm wondering if anyone can shed light on how to see based on photos only what some tell tale signs of a fake or real stone would be?
You can make any photo look like anything. I've posted plenty of my own and others' examples. So, as others have said here, there are no clues in the photos that something is genuine. There can be clues that photos have been manipulated, but that can be made undetectable by an experienced operator.

Beware of iPhone (and other smart-phone) photos, in particular -- they oversaturate like crazy! Everyone loves oversaturated, high-contrast photos so the phone manufacturers oblige in their default modes. My iPhone gem and jewelry photos look more appealing than those taken with a dedicated macro lens, tripod-mounted full-frame DSLR, and off-camera multi-head diffused lighting. Guess which is more accurate?
 

Cina_s

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jul 2, 2020
Messages
105
You can make any photo look like anything. I've posted plenty of my own and others' examples. So, as others have said here, there are no clues in the photos that something is genuine. There can be clues that photos have been manipulated, but that can be made undetectable by an experienced operator.

Beware of iPhone (and other smart-phone) photos, in particular -- they oversaturate like crazy! Everyone loves oversaturated, high-contrast photos so the phone manufacturers oblige in their default modes. My iPhone gem and jewelry photos look more appealing than those taken with a dedicated macro lens, tripod-mounted full-frame DSLR, and off-camera multi-head diffused lighting. Guess which is more accurate?
YAS. TOTALLY! Everything is oversaturated and high contrast. I just want to see what the actual stone will look like normally.
 

LD

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 29, 2008
Messages
9,682
You can make any photo look like anything. I've posted plenty of my own and others' examples. So, as others have said here, there are no clues in the photos that something is genuine. There can be clues that photos have been manipulated, but that can be made undetectable by an experienced operator.

Beware of iPhone (and other smart-phone) photos, in particular -- they oversaturate like crazy! Everyone loves oversaturated, high-contrast photos so the phone manufacturers oblige in their default modes. My iPhone gem and jewelry photos look more appealing than those taken with a dedicated macro lens, tripod-mounted full-frame DSLR, and off-camera multi-head diffused lighting. Guess which is more accurate?
I would slightly disagree but only in connection with Alexandrites - otherwise I completely agree with you. I can usually tell from a photograph (taken by a normal person in a normal way - if that makes sense) as to whether the gemstone is an Alex. There are of course exceptions! As for other gemstones - you're completely right. I find it impossible to know and would be very wary of giving an opinion as to whether a stone is real or not.
 

Cina_s

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jul 2, 2020
Messages
105
I would slightly disagree but only in connection with Alexandrites - otherwise I completely agree with you. I can usually tell from a photograph (taken by a normal person in a normal way - if that makes sense) as to whether the gemstone is an Alex. There are of course exceptions! As for other gemstones - you're completely right. I find it impossible to know and would be very wary of giving an opinion as to whether a stone is real or not.
:) Because you have experience in the buy and collecting side. I think you must have purchased/photographed and seen so many! :) I wish I had that super power too! :)
 
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