Saturday, August 16, 2008
The Magic of Alexandrite and Harvest Moon
One of my favourite gems both in Harvest Moon and in the 'real world' is Alexandrite. It is a gem that was discovered in Russia in the first half of the 19th century and named after the young boy Tzar, Alexander II, as it displayed the Russian Imperial colours. Natural Alexandrite was very rare when Russian mines were the sole source of the gem, but fairly recently, it has been found in other countries and on other continents, including Brazil and Africa. Alexandrite that is found outside Russia does not display quite the same colour change as the original Russian Alexandrite, however. Russian Alexandrite changes from green to purple in artificial light.
Alexandrite is one of the rarest gems that can be found in mines in Harvest Moon games and players who are observant will discover that it displays the same colour change as Alexandrite in the real world when your character takes it outside. It is details like this that make Harvest Moon games so exceptional.
In Harvest Moon, the Alexandrites found in the mines usually are faceted gems, but when it is fashioned as a cabochon, Alexandrite has the chatoyance that characterises 'cat's eye' gems. In fact, the word chatoyance is derived from the French 'oeil de chat' which means 'eye of cat'. A cat's eye gem is one with a magical lustre that gives the impression of an eye with a shining pupil. It is similar to a 'star gem', the difference being that a cat's eye has a single line of shimmering light that runs from one end of the cabochon to the other, while a star gem has three lines that cross one another in a star formation. Sapphires and rubies are gems that in cabochon, display stars. Alexandrite, like Tiger's Eye, displays a 'cat's eye'.
I am including some photographs of natural Alexandrite, both in faceted and cabochon form. (Cabochon is another word that is derived from French, in this case, a Middle French dialect, from the word 'caboche', meaning 'little head'.) It may surprise some individuals to learn that the central red gem in the ring that includes six small Alexandrite cabochon gems (3 on either side) is a Sapphire and not a Ruby. In the ring that has three faceted gems, the smaller purple gems on either side of the central Alexandrite are Tanzanite. Alexandrite as a fairly uncommon gem even now tends to be set in unusual ways, with other unusual gems. I included a gorgeous ring with three Alexandrite cabochons because the stones have a very defined chatoyance, unlike the small accent cabs surrounding the Sapphire on the other ring.
The two screenshots from IoH show Alexandrite from the Mine when it is in your character's Rucksack, both outside in the sunlight and inside under artificial light. What is interesting about this and quite different from Alexandrite in other Harvest Moon games is that the Alexandrite in IoH appears to be from Brazil, displaying an orange tone rather than the purple or purple/red of the original Russian Alexandrite from the Ural mines.
Among others, you will find Alexandrite in Friends/More Friends of Mineral Town, Harvest Moon DS/Cute DS and Island of Happiness. In Island of Happiness, its shape is quite different from the emerald cut found in FoMT/MFoMT and HM DS/Cute DS.
A Note of Caution: Two of the rings shown in these photographs are very expensive and I do not own these beauties myself. If you are interested in obtaining Alexandrite yourself, beware of synthetics. Very often, what is advertised as 'genuine' Alexandrite is lab-created and synthetic. If that does not matter to you, you should be able to find synthetic Alexandrites that are very inexpensive but if you are looking for a natural gem, find a reputable dealer. One of my own personal ambitions is to own a very fine Alexandrite ring someday. I do own one beautiful cat's eye Alexandrite but it is extremely small, far too small to be anything more than an accent stone in a custom-made piece. I bought it at a Gem Fair a few years ago. (I am a miner at heart, I suppose, fascinated with all gems, minerals and ores.)