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Alexandrite Twilight and Dawn or Neodymium glass

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I am writing this to convey some quick, practical advice on recognizing and collecting crystal in the Alexandrite color. Being a glass nut, not a chemist, I am intentionally leaving out the difficult parts of the process. Neodymium is a rare earth binary compound, whatever that is, I have read it is mostly mined in China. When used in crystal production you get dichromatic or dichroic glass. That is glass that changes color in different lighting conditions. Alexandrite will be a pale ice blue under fluorescent lighting and a striking lavender under incandescent lights.

I am calling the color alexandrite as that is the name given the color by Moser, who invented it around 1930. But this can cause much confusion because that name was already in use. Thomas Webb, and Stevens and Williams in England were already using the name alexandrite for their late 19 century art glass that was characterized by various shades of color produced by refiring crystal. So even though it is confusing, Moser called the color alexandrite as will I. Just in case you are not confused already, each Glass company chose it's own name for alexandrite. Heisey who I have read was the first to acquire the right to produce the color, called it alexandrite. Cambridge called it heatherbloom, Fostoria called it wisteria. Tiffin is the worst, they called it twilight, unless they made it from a old Duncan and Miller pattern, in that case they called it Dawn.

Currently it is produced in China, I have mostly seen paperweights and storage items. Block has produced a tulip shaped goblet, Cristal d’Arques also did goblets. I have seen vases from Bohemia and Murano as well as the american companies mentioned above. Boyd has recently made a sitting kitten, Bohemia a cat, Paden City did a goose, and I have a bunny I am so far unable to place!

For the practical eBayer the best way to tell if a piece you have is alexandrite is to take it to a room without windows. Use only one light source and see if it changes color. Stick a florescent bulb in your lamp then a regular incandescent light bulb. The color change is striking, you cannot miss it. On another practical note, because they have to mine the stuff, neodymium does not grow on trees! So you rarely see bargain alexandrite. I have never sold a piece for under $10.00. But older alexandrite by Heisey, Steuben or Cambridge can sell in the $500 to $1,000 Dollar range. But just the color is no guarantee. Like all antiques rarity and popularity of the individual piece drives prices.

Personally I find all elegant glass attractive! But I would have to say that Tiffin achieved the best color control, possibly because they were producing that color later, or just because they had a excellent eye for color. Fostoria’s Wisteria tends to be a little grey under, fluorescent lighting, and heatherbloom is sometimes a bit pale. But I have never seen a flaw in the Tiffin color.

Finally to be fair I should mention that Vaseline glass, obviously has the same property of changing color under different lighting. It has also been produced for a longer period, so more variety is possible in a collection. I am just not fond of florescent green!

Thanks for your time, I hope this information proves useful. The cream and sugar shown is a Heisey Empress cream and sugar in alexandrite. These are the same two pieces of crystal. The lavender pair are under incandescent lighting. The blue pair are under florescent lighting . I will post this article in my store along with some other pictures of alexandrite pieces. The link will take you to my store, then you need to go to the second page.The Past Glass Store 

Happy Hunting! thepastglass

This is a recent addition to our collection, clearly alexandrite but I do not know who made it! If you have any idea drop me a note!

Another recent addition, which I believe is Murano, and is alexandrite on top and regular colored crystal underneath.

This I am reasonably certain is Tiffin modern. It can be seen on page 187 of the book Tiffin Modern, by Hemminger, Goshe, and Pina.

 
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